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Stock Show Struts Its Artistic Side, Students Rope In Big Money

On Thursday night, about 350 western art lovers gathered at the Briscoe Western Art Museum’s Jack Guenther Pavilion to see the twenty-six winning artworks and meet the high school kids who created them. Student Western Art Committee Chair Gus Salazar runs the show.

“I’ve been blown away by the talent that these kids have. The talent is just incredible. I mean, you would think that these were professional artists up there."

To cap off the evening of food, drink and mingling with the artists, that winning art was auctioned. The amount each piece sells for goes right to the artist, but only for college tuition.

"We only provide money for their scholarship" said Salazar. "Not for supplies or room and board, or anything like that.”

I was able to look at all the art beforehand, and speak to many of the artists and their proud parents.

“My name is Rachel Hinkes."

Rachel’s Eight Years to Eight Seconds shows a very young cowboy.

“In the picture he’s stretching out the stirrups and he’s pretending to be a bronc rider.”

I spoke to Rachel’s mom Kelly about future plans.

“She’s wanting to take architecture in college. She wants to use that creative side. And she definitely wants to continue with art. I can’t imagine her not continuing.”

At fourteen, Mya Gordon is the youngest winner. But she’s been at it a long time.

"Since I was about four, I think. I just love faces and how to capture your emotions with eyes. I really would like to work with digital art…or car design."

I spoke to Mya’s mom Lois.

"When she was about five years old she turned to me and said ‘mom, I think I’m going to design the first flying car.’ And I said ‘absolutely!’ If anyone can do it, she can."

I asked "Do you kinda pinch yourself sometimes?"

"All the time! She’s not only a gifted artist but an excellent student and a great athlete. She’s just an amazing gift to us."

Michelle Huang’s Call of the Plains shows three horsemen hard at work. Her dad is a geophysicist, but that’s not all he does.

"Well, my dad—he’s an artist—he does Chinese calligraphy. I can remember when my dad drew coloring books for me, instead of buying the ones at the store, and I think that’s what really inspired me to start art."

Michelle has very specific plans to put her winnings to use.

"Well, I got accepted to Colombia University. I plan to go to New York and study business and art there."

And then I met the Grand Champion winner who told me about her portrait.

"Hi, my name is Kasey Rives. It’s of my horse, Boomer. I learned to rope off him so that’s what kinda gave me the inspiration to do the picture."

She’s also already made plans to use her winnings.

"Going to A&M and maybe studying pre-med. But I have decided that I’m going to minor in studio art."

Kasey’s mother Chris reflected on her daughter's art-oriented childhood.

"She would sit out in the yard when she was little with her little notebook and sketch her animals.  I have little pencil sketches all over my house."

As the pre-Auction social activity was ending I noticed something surprising about the students gathered there: of the 26 winners, 24 were girls.

And suddenly the auctioneer started his call--it was time for the auction.

“I need five thousand and let’s go! Five thousand!”

They were bidding on the Kasey’s painting Chrome N’ Copper, the Grand Champion winner. And the bidding was intense.

“Seven thousand, and now eight! Eight thousand!

Kasey stood next to the Auctioneer and her parents stood and applauded all the way through the Auction. And finally, it was done.

“Seventeen thousand…do I hear eighteen? Eighteen? Sold for $17,000!”

The audience broke out into huge applause as I made my way over to Kasey’s mom and asked “What just happened?”

“They just blew me away.”

“How much did it sell for?”

“$17,000!. I’m so proud.”

The Student Western Art Auction raised more than three hundred thousand dollars for twenty-six young artists’ educations.

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii