The 30th Annual Western Design Conference Exhibit + Sale in Jackson Hole Reveals Excellence in Design Award Winners with Strong Sales and Attendance from September Event

Bo Joe Jewelry out of Sheridan, Wyoming, won the $5,000 Best of Show Award at the 30th annual Western Design Conference Exhibit + Sale.

“When we collaborate, we inspire other artists and the public alike,” says Executive Director Allison Merritt.

The 30th annual Western Design Conference Exhibit + Sale in Jackson Hole was again a grand event, with strong attendance, big sales, design awards and incredible talent. Cited recently by the “Jackson Hole News & Guide” as the event where “cowboy and contemporary commingle”, this year’s Exhibit + Sale brought an “outpouring of talent from across the country” says executive director Allison Merritt, with artists and designers representing 20 different states featuring the finest in functional art—and cash prizes for award winners.

Kicking off with a wildly fun Opening Preview Party, guests sparkled in their Western best to celebrate 30 years of Western Design with live auction proceeds totaling over $18k, a variety of spirits offered at five open bars, tasty catered bites and the always anticipated live runway fashion show featuring couture from 13 designers.

“When we collaborate, we inspire other artists and the public alike. I am forever grateful for the energy and ingenuity of the artists and designers who are an integral part of the continued success of the Western Design Conference,” Merritt told the News & Guide. “The artists comment that Jackson Hole is their favorite—our town, our restaurants. And they spend a lot of time immersed in all things Fall Arts Festival,” she adds about the Western Design Conference’s destination appeal, “but it’s the sophisticated buyers and friendly culture that has them returning year after year.”

Design Excellence prizes totaling $20,000 were awarded to 16 artists in honor of their superb concepts and skill, with Best Artist and Honorable Mentions in six categories, as well as a Best of Show, Sonny Tuttle Spirit Award, and Exhibitors’ Choice. Beginning with the Best of Show, Bo Joe Jewelry out of Sheridan, Wyoming, received $5,000 in prize money for the pieces the artist, of Navajo and Ute descent, crafts from turquoise, diamonds, gold and other precious metals and gems. Many Tears and Lake AntlerWorks received this year’s coveted Exhibitors’ Choice honor, where the best work is selected by a vote of the artists’ peers, with a prize of $1,500.

Collections from 13 designers were strutted on the runway and even more fashion-focused art to wear was exhibited throughout the 28,000-square-foot Snow King Events Center showroom. As they did last year, the judges recognized Tres Outlaws Boot Co. of Cody, Wyoming, as the Best Artist in the Art to Wear Fashion category with a $1,000 prize, while the $1,000 for Best Collection in the Fashion Show went to Colorado designer Living and Dyeing for her unique naturally-dyed, hand-stitched and hand-painted apparel.

Jackson Hole Beadwork artist Lillie Lauterbach took home the Best Artist award in the Jewelry category for her hand-stitched beaded collection, while TimberFire Studio of Manvel, Texas, earned the Best in Accents award for handcrafted heirloom furniture, décor and lighting. Returning award-winner How Kola Furniture by Tim Lozier of Cody, Wyoming, earned Best Artist honors in the Mixed Media awards category for his Molesworth-style pieces.

Grain of Thought Woodworks received $1,000 as Best Artist in the Woodworking category in recognition of Johnny Geraghty’s wood-first approach to handcrafting one-of-a-kind furniture to last for generations. The Sonny Tuttle Spirit Award of $1,000 went to returning fine art carver Keoni of Keoni Wood Art from Colorado Springs, honored again for his process in re-imagining wood as woven and beaded basketry, sculpture and vessels.

Other 2022 Design Excellence awards went to Gina Pannorfi for Honorable Mention in the Fashion Show category; Kelly Maxwell Design in the Honorable Mention Woodworking category; Mountain Girl Studios earned Honorable Mention in the Accents category for unique shed-antler and colorful glass lighting; and the Honorable Mention Mixed Media Award went to Red Tail Forge Works out of Tennessee. The full list of 2022 winners can be seen here: westerndesignconference.com/about-us/awards/.

“Some of our exhibitors, including Henneford Fine Furniture, award-winner Grain of Thought Woodworks, and popular fashion designer Montana Dreamwear, reported record sales,” says Merritt, who also offers a shout-out to the 2022 Lifetime Achievement award winner Lone Wolf Western Furnishings as an example of the Western Design Conference’s enduring appeal. “Roy Fisk was at the very first WDC,” she says of the Lone Wolf furniture maker, “and he joined us this year for the 30th with a sideboard hutch that took five years for the now 92-year-old woodworker to create.”

Planning has already begun for the next Western Design Conference Exhibit + Sale scheduled for September 7-10, 2023.

About the Western Design Conference Exhibit + Sale:

Celebrating 30 years in 2022, the annual Western Design Conference Exhibit + Sale is a four-day, multimillion-dollar event that brings together craftspeople, collectors, interior designers, architects, and fashion designers with a love of the West. The Western Design Conference was founded 30 years ago in Cody, Wyoming, to promote contemporary artists working in historical American craft methods. The Western Design Conference Exhibit + Sale moved to Jackson Hole in 2007, where Executive Director Allison Merritt continues the strong commitment to Western arts in Wyoming while expanding the reach of the show. Additional information, including schedules and tickets, is available at westerndesignconference.com and on Facebook and Instagram.

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