Tacoma Weekly’s own Kathleen Merryman and her husband Mike Archbold received a well-deserved honor Oct. 5, when they were presented with the “Patron’s Award” at the Fred Oldfield Western Heritage Center’s Celebration of Western and Wildlife Art show and sale. Granted to those arts patrons who have shown consistent support of the center’s array of artists and their works, each year a different collector receives the award not just for buying art, but also for supporting individual artists along their creative journey by listening to them and learning how and why they paint.
Merryman and Archbold received a large, framed and matted (and valuable) collection of miniature paintings done by Oldfield Center artists.
“Mike and I have seen who has won in the past, and we’re so out of their league – we don’t even come close,” the humble Merryman said. “We never thought that something that has brought us so much joy would bring us an award for having all that great art – and we still have wall space!”
Merryman and Archbold have been patrons of the Oldfield center for years and have purchased many works of art from the center. Like others who attended the Celebration of Western and Wildlife Art show and sale, Merryman said she and Archbold find that the art makes their home more welcoming and creates a nice atmosphere, despite the sometimes challenge to fit all the artworks on the walls. During the holidays the two know where to go for one-size-fits-all gifts and stocking stuffers. “We do our Christmas shopping there. It always fits,” Merryman said.
Tracking artists’ development is something that “Patron’s Award” recipients have in common, as do others who regularly purchase art from the Oldfield Center. “Ryan Perry, for example, began drawing wildlife as a teenager. He exhibited at the show while still a teenager and he is now an internationally known artist with works in every state and on display at the Smithsonian,” Merryman said, adding that patrons also grow sad when they learn of their favorite artist’s passing, like Bill McCusker, who died shortly after the 2012 show. “He was a terrific watercolorist,” as Merryman described him. “His family made sure he had a watercolor at this year’s show.”
Fred Oldfield, at 95 years old, is – as his daughter Joelle says – “The Granddaddy of Western art.” The family founded the Fred Oldfield Western Art Center at the Puyallup fairgrounds with Oldfield and fellow artists Aletha Deuel and Peggi Rowe. They also teach young, budding artists at the center and show their works at the show and sale event. “All the artists donate paintings to fund scholarships at the center, and the patrons are delighted to know that their money is part of that equation,” Merryman said.