Hargrave student wins top Rodeo Art Award

Oil painting of Horse beside pond; Last year’s winner sold for $135,000

HUFFMAN—“It was a very big shock.”

That was the reaction of Hargrave High School senior Andrew Cherry when he learned that his oil painting “Beside Still Waters,”was named Grand Champion of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo School Art Contest. Cherry is an 18 year old senior at Hargrave High School in Huffman. He is the son of Andy and Brenda Cherry.

The School Art Program began with an idea that became reality in 1963. Although expectations were that it would take several years for the program to grow, the Show received more than 700 entries that first year. In the past 38 years, the program has grown at a brisk pace and now involves more than 300,000 entries. This year, said Cherry, 535 pieces of art made it to Houston for final judging.

Participants range from Kindergarten through 12th grade and must submit an original project based on Western culture, history or heritage. Projects are generally created in the fall and then judged by qualified individuals from the Show’s School Art Committee.

Cherry, who has competed in the contest since the seventh grade, said that he set a goal of winning Grand Champion before he graduated. “I was praying this would be the one. It’s a wonderful way to leave. I wanted to leave a legacy at my high school.”

Cherry’s entry features a horse looking into a pond at its reflection. Cherry said that he chose this subject because he knew to win he would have to do something that was unique and had not been done before.

The win for Cherry was doubly sweet in that this was the first time that he seriously painted with oils. Last summer, he won a scholarship to study at the Western Art Academy in Kerrville under instructor Jay Hester. “When I go into oils, I fell in love with it.”

The road to Houston was long for Cherry. Hargrave High art teacher Donna Hardin said that Cherry had to first win Best of Show in a district wide art competition before he could show in Houston.

Cherry’s next big day will come on March 21, when the art auction is held. Last year, the Grand Champion art project was hammered down at a record $135,000. Cherry said that each year the price for the Grand Champion rises and he hopes this trend continues. For his effort Cherry is guaranteed 10% of the sale price or $10,000, whichever is higher. He added that he is hoping his take would come closer to $15,000.

After he graduates, Cherry said that he plans to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, where he will study painting, film and cinematography.