by Edd Kellerman, Executive Director, Phippen Museum
For nearly 50 years, the Phippen Museum’s annual Western Art Show & Sale in historic downtown Prescott has had a stellar reputation of presenting some of the nation’s most outstanding western fine art.
That’s what made the 2020 Show’s cancellation and conversion to an online presence such a huge disappointment for locals, art collectors and participating artists alike.
However, with necessary Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in place for everyone’s health and safety, this popular art festival is planning to return to Prescott’s beautiful Yavapai County Courthouse plaza May 29 through May 31, 2021.
And, while many of the ancillary events associated with the show will be canceled because of limitations on large gatherings, I see these circumstances as a perfect opportunity to circle back to the roots of this Memorial Day weekend tradition and what inspired it.
Local western artist and first president of the Cowboy Artists of America George Phippen was a talented painter and sculptor who passed away at the early age of 50 back in 1966. But his artistic genius, love of nature and horses, and keen sense of humor inspired those close to him to pursue the creation of an art institution in his name — one that would be dedicated to the presentation and promotion of great art of the American West and the masters who create it.
The first effort to raise funding resulted in the creation of the George Phippen Memorial Art Show & Sale, now known as the Phippen Museum’s annual Western Art Show & Sale.
Today, as I see it, the restrictions on outside events will allow a greater, concentrated focus on the outstanding western artists in attendance and their considerable artistic talent.
It’s also an opportunity to remind ourselves of the show’s original purpose — yes, the creation of the Phippen Museum was the ultimate fundraising goal, but the enthusiastic friends, family and fellow artists of George Phippen who pursued this dream on his behalf were also adamant about promoting the raw talent of the participating artists and providing prominence and prestige for this all-American art form.
As George’s wife Louise Phippen so eloquently put it in 1994 at the show’s 20th anniversary: “We’ve had the joy of seeing young artists rise to excellence and beginning collectors find pride in owning aspiring artists’ creations. The Memorial Show has been a great joy for our family, knowing George’s work is still challenging and inspiring others to develop their talents. All of you have helped to bring the Phippen Museum to national recognition. May this Memorial Show and the Art Museum continue to awaken hidden talent and open minds to history, beauty of life in the West, and the creative spirit for all who come to our area.”
So come join the Phippen Museum and its incredible roster of gifted artists for this visual feast of amazing western art on Memorial Day weekend. Booth hours are Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Monday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In addition, the museum will be open free of charge during the three-day weekend, featuring Under Native Skies, PAWs to Celebrate: Phippen Award Winner’s- Small Works to Go, and the 18th annual Miniature Masterpiece Show & Sale. For the most up to date information on these events, please contact the Phippen at 928-778-1385 or visit our website at: www.phippenartmuseum.org