Annual Art in the West Exhibition & Silent Auction Features Renowned Artists from Across the West

(2020 Jurors’ Choice Winner: Rapture by Millie Whipplesmith Plank)

The High Desert Museum unveiled a stellar collection of traditional and contemporary art on Saturday, August 1 in its annual Art in the West exhibition and silent auction. This year’s juried exhibition features works by 50 artists. 

 “We are excited to share the work of renowned artists in this invitation-only exhibition,” says Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw, Ph.D. “The high-quality collection of artwork offers a variety of interpretations of High Desert cultures and landscapes.”

The exhibition opened on August 1. Silent bidding will be available online for the first time, and there is also the opportunity to purchase artwork outright. The bidding continues beyond this year’s Virtual High Desert Rendezvous, the Museum’s signature fundraising gala taking place on Saturday, August 29, and through to the exhibit’s closing on Saturday, October 3. Opening bids for the art range from $100 to $5,000. 

The artwork selected for the exhibition is as varied as the artists themselves. The exhibit features sculptures, paintings and photography expressing responses to the landscapes, history, cultures and wildlife of the High Desert in mediums ranging from oil to acrylic to mixed media. 

This year’s Curator’s Choice Award is presented to Kathleen Frank for her painting Wild West Summer. Frank is a Santa Fe-based landscape artist whose family travels exposed her to a diversity of cultures and artistic styles. She has painted the land around her, from the farms of Pennsylvania to California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Her work has been shown in museums and galleries across the country, including Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, Arizona and the Susquehanna Art Museum in Harrisbrug, Pennsylvania. 

The Jury’s Choice Award goes to Millie Whipplesmith Plank for her piece Rapture. Informed by her cattle ranching heritage, Whipplesmith Plank’s work celebrates biodiversity and the preservation of open spaces. It describes the fragility of interdependence by combining the rich colors and simple shapes of traditional wood block prints with the energy and texture of spontaneous lines. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin and the Maryhill Museum of Art in Washington state.

“Every Art in the West is distinct and dynamic, making it an exhibition that Museum visitors enjoy year after year,” Whitelaw says. “And it’s a wonderful way to both bring home unique artwork and support artists and the Museum.”

Proceeds from the Art in the West auction help support the Museum’s educational programs, bringing science, art and history education to lifelong learners throughout the region. 

A link to the gallery guide of the exhibit artwork is available exclusively on the Museum’s website at The bidding concludes and the exhibit closes on Saturday, October 3, and purchasers will be contacted on Monday, October 5.

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