The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum’s Annual Prix de West showcases the best in Western art.


Kyle Polzin’s Rough Passage, a still life of luggage strapped to a stagecoach, received the 2022 Prix de West’s Purchase Award, bringing a price of $65,000. It will go into the collection of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.


The Buyer’s Choice Award went to Curt Walters’ Inexorable Shiprock. The painting, which depicts the stone sentinel surrounded by clouds and prairie grasses, sold for $62,000 to a private collector.


Western art as a genre did not disappear with the closing of the American frontier in the 1890s but thrived throughout the 20th century. That it continues to thrive in this century was demonstrated at the annual Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition and Sale at Oklahoma City’s National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Showcasing new art inspired by the West, it is the museum’s largest fundraising event, with a special exhibit, educational programs and luncheons. The 2022 event, held on June 17 and 18, gathered $3,833,200 for the museum.

Each year art pieces in the sale that are of exceptional merit are recognized by the museum, with the top award being the prestigious Purchase Award. The piece receiving that award is purchased for the museum, joining the Remingtons, Russells and other outstanding works of art in the museum’s collection. This year’s Purchase Award went to Kyle Polzin’s Rough Passage, which brought a price of $65,000. Curt Walters’ Inexorable Shiprock received the event’s Buyer’s Choice Award and sold for $62,000 to a private collector.  


There are no known period images of Crazy Horse, a fact that did not dissuade John Coleman from giving his take on a portrait titled Crazy Horse, 1876. A buyer decided it was a pretty good effort and spent $75,000 on it.


Other special awards at the event included the Wilson Hurley Memorial Award for outstanding landscape, given to T. Allen Lawson for his $65,000 oil painting Two of Us and the James Earle Fraser Sculpture Award, given to Steve Kestrel for his $20,000 Heir of Aries. The 1903 Wickedest Town in the West & Christianity by Dean Mitchell, which also sold for $20,000, received the Donald Teague Memorial Award for the best work of art on paper.

The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum was established in 1955 to honor the American cowboy, so one of the awards at the Prix de West recognizes the best portrayal of the cowboy. This year the award went to Thomas Blackshear II for his $38,000 painting Two Americans of the Old West. Bruce Green’s $14,500 Saddled before Sunup depicts what, in one’s imagination, could have been those two cowboy’s best friends, ready to ride.

The annual Prix de West event at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. During the past 50 years, the event has encouraged the creation of new works about the American West and supported the artists who produce those works. The quality and popularity of the artwork at this year’s Prix de West has proved that, unlike the frontier, Western art persists and is not disappearing any time soon. 

Upcoming Auctions

August 18-21, 2022

The Russell Sale

C.M. Russell Museum (Great Falls, MT) • 406-727-8787

August 26, 2022

Premier Firearms Auction #86

Rock Island Auction Co. (Rock Island, IL) • 309-797-1500

September 19-24, 2022

Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale

Rendezvous Royale (Cody, WY) • 307 587-5002


All Images Courtesy Prix de West, National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

Two of the award-winning pieces at the Prix de West have intriguing titles that pose more questions than answers. T. Allen Lawson’s painting Two of Us (above), a high desert landscape with mesas in the background and clouds gathering above, sold for $65,000. A grim townscape was the focus of The 1903 Wickedest Town in the West & Christianity by Dean Mitchell (below). It sold for $20,000.


Two Americans of the Old West by Thomas Blackshear II, a portrait of two African American cowboys, brought $38,000. It received the Great American Cowboy Award at the Prix de West.


A buyer paid $20,000 for Steve Kestrel’s sculpture Heir of Aries, the head of a ram carved from California granite. The Latin term for “ram,” Aries is a sign in the Zodiac and associated with the golden fleece of Greek mythology.


While it did not receive any awards, Logan Maxwell Hagege’s Where the Sagebrush Grows Free did receive a healthy sale price of $150,000. Works by Hagege continue to grow in popularity among collectors of Western art.


Bruce Green’s Saddled before Sunup captured a moment before the workday began for two cowboys and their horses. It captured $14,500.

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