Winter Park artist claims top honors in Buffalo Bill Art Show and Sale |

Winter Park artist claims top honors in Buffalo Bill Art Show and Sale

by Reid Armstrong
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, Colorado

File photoWinter Park artist Karen Vance

Winter Park Ranch artist Karen Vance recently swept the Buffalo Bill Art Show and Sale in Cody, Wyo., one of the biggest western art shows in the country, with her painting “Emerging Spring.”

Out of six major awards presented to artists at the invitational show in September, Vance walked away with three. It was the first time in the show’s 20-year history that one artist has won so many honors.

Judge Mary Williams said of Vance’s work: “It conveys the spirit of western landscape with superior atmospherics – bravo! These are complex techniques and the artist’s execution is spot on. It is glorious and grand but intimate at the same time.”

The show comprised 107 pieces of art that were judged in a variety of categories over the month. Vance won Best Two-Dimensional Painting, the People’s Choice Award and, perhaps the most prestigious of all, the William E. Wiess Purchase Award.

“It just blew my socks off,” she said later.

For the William Wiess Award, the curator and National Advisory Board of the Museum choose a piece to purchase and hang in the permanent exhibit at the Whitney Gallery of Western Art at the Buffalo Historical Center.

“To get into a museum is every artist’s dream,” Vance said. “Most don’t get in until after they die. And now, to be hanging side by side with some of the greats like [Thomas] Moran [Albert] Bierstadt and [Frederick] Remington, and some of my contemporaries that I studied with … it’s just wonderful. It’s very humbling.”

Vance’s collectors will be happy as well, she said, “because the value of their work goes up.”

Vance sold the painting to the museum for $8,500.

“Emerging Spring” depicts the Bowen-Baker Gulch as it’s seen from the Kawuneeche Valley in late March or early April when all the snow is melting down into the headwaters of the Colorado, Vance said.

“I have painted this area, different scenes in different season, off and on over last 18 years,” Vance said. “I did this in Rocky Mountain National Park sitting off the back of my Blazer with the tailgate down. I could hear the trickle of the water as it was melting, and I could hear a mountain lion screaming in the background. This is one of my favorite places to paint something magical about it. Every time I paint it means more to me.”