Donna Merchant-Crooks wins prestigious arts award


    By Michael McCoy
    Special to The PREVIEW

    Pagosa Springs artist Donna Merchant-Crooks has won the Western Spirit award at the 21st annual Western Design Conference (WDC) in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The award includes a cash prize of $1,000, sponsored by Lora A. Sandroni.

    The artist’s winning piece is a carved cherrywood chair embellished with bronze and upholstered in leather.

    Chosen by a panel of six judges, the WDC winners were announced Friday, Sept. 6, at the Design Excellence Awards Ceremony and Celebratory Reception at the Snow King Center.

    A signature event of the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival, the WDC takes place this year Sept. 5-8. Hosted by Teton Home and Living magazine, the event has brought in hundreds of crafts people, scholars, collectors, interior designers, architects and fashion designers with an interest in the West.

    The WDC’s Exhibit and Sale is a one-of-a-kind showcase for museum-quality functional art. Many of the nation’s finest western-influenced designers and artists applied to be included among the nearly 100 exhibitors displaying their work. In all, more than $22,200 in cash will be awarded for handcrafted works in leather, metal, accents, woodworking, jewelry and fashion.

    The WDC has become known as the world’s preeminent exhibition of western furniture, fashion, and accessories. Not only does it serve as a venue for the current state of western design, but also as a catalyst for the genre’s evolution. The event was established more than two decades ago to perpetuate the best traditions of western design and craft through education, economic opportunities, and the exchange of ideas.