Students prepare for 2015 Houston Rodeo Art Show

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Jenan Taha , Features Editor

Preparations have begun for the Houston Rodeo Art Show, a series of artistic events in which high school students can exhibit or auction their Texan or Western-themed art and win hundreds or even thousands of dollars in scholarship money. As a sub-event of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Rodeo Art Show is one of the most competitive art contests in Texas, and artists must strive to create pieces that are both realistic and representative of the Texan spirit.

The judges suggest that artists “pick a comfortable medium, use strong contrast and vivid colors, and tell a story through the artwork.” They look for interesting subjects with unique backgrounds and use of the student’s own photo references. Although realism is preferred, abstract pieces are not discouraged, and are considered “beautiful works of art, but can be difficult to translate to a canvas without proper instruction and practice.”

Signup for the contest must be completed before the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo begins in March, so artists are expected to complete their works before February.  Nearly all classic mediums are accepted by the contest, but 2D pieces must fit within the size range of 11”X14” to 18”X24”. 3D pieces must not be larger than 16” in any dimension and must not weigh more than 15 pounds. All work must be original and students must only use their own photos as reference. The Rodeo Art contest is infamous for its strict regulations and specific requests on student artwork; all of the general rules can be found at www.rodeohouston.com. 

The events include an exhibition of ribbon winners at the Hayloft Gallery in Houston, an art auction, quick draw contest and Children’s Hospital art contest.

Students can enter the contest through their art teacher, who must be registered and given the necessary paperwork. All Creek art teachers are registered in the Rodeo Art contest, and each must choose only eight art students to represent Creek at the Rodeo. Each piece will first be judged at the district level. Pieces receive a blue, red or white ribbon signifying advancement to state, district level award and honorable mention, respectively.  One piece from each district is given a Best of Show award, and two pieces are given gold medals, along with ten special merit awards. Pieces that received a gold or blue ribbon advance to the state level and are further awarded there. 

Any 2D or 3D piece entered in the contest can be chosen for auction. These pieces can be sold for thousands of dollars each. Last year’s Grand Champion winner, Michelle Jong, won $210,000 for her piece, titled “Reminiscence of Youth.” The Reserve Grand Champion won $196,000.  All auction pieces are guaranteed at least $1500, and usually sell for thousands more.

The quick draw contest takes place during the Rodeo, and allows competitors 50 minutes to draw a selected graphite portrait or still life on 11” by 14” paper. Winners can receive prize money and a free session at the Glassell School of Art. All senior participants also receive a Glassell college application.

The Children’s Hospital contest is held at Texas Children’s Hospital and Shriners Hospital, and allows patients to create and submit rodeo art pieces, the best of which are displayed along with other district winners at the Hayloft Gallery.

Each year, the Rodeo gives 15 four-year $18,000 scholarships to senior participants who plan to enroll in a Texas college or University. The student’s academic and artistic ability are considered, but the student’s rodeo artwork is not a deciding factor in the scholarship awarding process. After the Rodeo, designated district representatives pick up student art and return it to the artists. All art pieces will be returned before May 31.