More than $747K in art sold at Eiteljorg’s Quest for the West® Virtual Art Sale
First-ever online format for prestigious sale a success for museum, artists and collectors
Mark Kelso, Bargersville, Ind.
Tearin’ It Up, 2020
Oil on panel, 36 x 48 inches
Winner of the 2020 Quest for the West® Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award, presented by the Western Art Society
INDIANAPOLIS – Nearly three quarters of a million dollars in Western American art was sold online Sept. 11 and 12 during the Quest for the West® Art Sale, organized by the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.
Featuring its first-ever virtual format this year, the 15th annual Quest for the West® allowed art collectors to purchase newly created Western paintings and sculptures online from 49 of the top artists in the genre. Over the two-day sales weekend, more than $747,000 in artworks were sold. Unsold artworks remain available for purchase through Oct. 11 at quest.eiteljorg.org.
In a typical year, Quest for the West® is a two-day, on-site sale at the Eiteljorg Museum featuring a gala awards dinner followed by a month-long, on-site art exhibition. This year, the pandemic and state and local health regulations presented new challenges and opportunities. Museum management and the Western Art Society decided to transform the 2020 Quest into a virtual experience, with art collectors bidding online in the fixed price, luck-of-the-draw sale through the museum’s website.
“By connecting top artists in the Western genre with art collectors, Quest for the West® has become a prestigious art sale nationally,” Eiteljorg President and CEO John Vanausdall said. “We are pleased with the new format this year required by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are incredibly excited that the sales greatly exceeded our revised goal. Quest provided an opportunity for artists to sell their works to enthusiastic buyers and build interest in Western art during what has been a difficult year for artists generally.”
On Sept. 10, the popular Miniature Art Sale at Quest for the West® returned for a fourth year, virtually this time. Thirty-six smaller paintings and sculptures were available, created by the same Western artists who entered 187 larger works into the main sale the following evening.
During Quest weekend, artists received awards for top artworks. An oil painting of charging bison by artist Mark Kelso of Bargersville, Ind., Tearin’ It Up, won the Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award, and it will join the museum’s collections. The painting After the Snow by artist Dave Santillanes of Wellington, Colo., won the Quest Artists’ Choice Award. The painting Land of Giants by artist P.A. Nisbet of Santa Fe, N.M., won the Quest Patrons’ Choice Award. In addition to supporting the artists, proceeds from Quest for the West® art sales go toward Eiteljorg operations and to the museum’s acquisition of the Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award painting.
Dave Santillanes, Wellington, Colo.,
After the Snow, 2020
Oil, 32 x 24 inches
Winner of the 2020 Quest for the West® Artists’ Choice Award, presented by Patty and Tom Gibbs
Vanausdall and the Eiteljorg Museum thanked the presenting sponsor of the 15th annual Quest for the West®, the Western Art Society, and other individual sponsors. Some Quest registrants who entered a drawing received the 2020 Eiteljorg Keepsake: castings of a small bronze by sculptor Deborah Copenhaver Fellows. The 2020 keepsake is sponsored by Stephen and Jane Marmon and Catherine Turner.
When this year’s Quest for the West® shifted from an in-person to a virtual sale, the Eiteljorg created digital extras on quest.eiteljorg.org for participants to enjoy leading up to sale weekend, including interviews with artists, virtual cocktail chats and a new weekly e-newsletter. During the sales weekend, museum staff served as concierges to assist buyers with their online purchases. Once transactions are completed, purchased artworks will be shipped directly from the artists to the buyers; the artworks will not be on display at the museum as they were in past years. Plans call for the public exhibition of newly purchased Quest art to return in September 2021.
Shifting the format meant two other parts of the 2020 Quest for the West® were postponed to next year’s event. The scheduled special guest speaker in 2021 will be Academy Award-winning actor Wes Studi (Cherokee), who has appeared in the films Dances with Wolves and The Last of the Mohicans. Also, a special on-site exhibit of Quest artworks that were past winners of the annual Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award is planned for September 2021. The Eiteljorg Museum plans to resume its regular on-site sales format for Quest for the West® next year, if the social distancing restrictions allow.
P.A. Nisbet, Santa Fe, N.M.,
Land of Giants, 2020
Oil on linen, 46 x 36 inches
Winner of the 2020 Quest for the West® Patrons’ Choice Award, presented by Phyllis Cockerill
About the Eiteljorg Museum
A cultural pillar for 31 years in downtown Indianapolis’ scenic White River State Park, the Eiteljorg Museum seeks to inspire an appreciation and understanding of the art, history and cultures of and the Indigenous peoples of North America and of the American West by telling amazing stories. Located on the Central Canal at 500 West Washington St., the Eiteljorg is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. It was named one of the USA Today Readers’ Choice 10 Best Indiana Attractions.
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