Photography: The Dressmakers by C.M. Dudash

The San Antonio Museum’s signature exhibition and sale will be a grand affair showcasing some of the best of the contemporary Western market.

When Michael Duchemin hit San Antonio in February 2017 and took up his new position as president and CEO of The Briscoe Western Art Museum, its signature exhibition and sale was just weeks away. Fortunately, Duchemin was no neophyte — his career includes top stints at the Autry Museum of the American West and the C.M. Russell Museum — so he knew how to dive in.

This year, he’s looking forward to an even bigger and better Night of Artists show. “There will be close to 270 artworks by 80 living artists — a cross-sampling of some of the best of the contemporary Western market,” he says. Among them: Martin Grelle, Greg Beecham, Z.S. Liang, Kim Wiggins, Billy Schenck, Stefan Savides, Teresa Elliott, John Coleman, and Gladys Roldan-de-Moras.

There will be artists, experts, and collectors on hand to learn from and interact — even dine — with. Naturally, there’s a celebratory kickoff. “The museum really knows how to put on a party,” Duchemin says. “The preview is a great event with live music and food and drink, held outdoors on the banks of the River Walk. It’s gorgeous, almost magical — a very fun and lovely spot. And it takes place at an ideal time of year to leave a northern climate and go to San Antonio, where the winter weather is delightful.”

Planning for a party, live auction, and collectors summit aside, Duchemin might be most excited about putting San Antonio back on the Western-art map. “This year marks the city’s 300th anniversary,” he says. “It’s a city with a long Western tradition and a huge role in the history of the American West. The Alamo is one touchstone; the cattle drives of the 1860s and 1870s, almost all of which originated here, are another. There are four Spanish colonial missions — like San Diego without the beach. Instead, we have the iconic River Walk, which The Briscoe overlooks. There are great restaurants, hotels, and nightlife. It’s a wonderful and meaningful place for Western art collectors to gather — and a nice complement to Santa Fe and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on the Western art circuit. With Night of Artists, The Briscoe can really be a venue for San Antonio to reclaim its rightful place among the great Western art towns.”

The Briscoe’s Night of Artists opening weekend takes place March 23 – 24; public exhibition and sale March 25 – May 6.

From the February/March 2018 issue.