Cody artist Steve Devenyns was recently honored with the Robert Kuhn Award by the National Museum of Wildlife Art, in Jackson.
A Devenyns sketch called “Back Country Blessings” received acclaim at the event held in mid-September as part of the Western Visions Awards.
“It is quite a show,” he said.
As a regular in the annual show that features the work of about 100 artists, this is the second time in 18 years of participation Devenyns has won a major award.
Kuhn died at 87 in 2007. Renowned as a gallery artist and an illustrator, he was living in Tucson, Ariz., at the time.
“He was an inspiration,” Devenyns said.
Some of Kuhn’s African wildlife paintings are on display at the Jackson museum.
Saying Kuhn’s accomplished style is “what I strive for in my work,” Devenyns said he was pleased to be recognized by an award carrying his name.
The Jackson event is by invitation only and Devenyns said it is flattering to be asked to join such other high-quality artists to show his work each year and to be in the company of other artists such as Kuhn whose works are always visible at the museum.
“The caliber of artist they have in their permanent collection,” Devenyns said, is one reason he enjoys being invited.
He feels his work holds a special place in the mix of wildlife artists since he is a cowboy artist and wildlife artist.
“I do work the rancher into the deal,” he said.
Devenyns’ prize-winning sketch shows riders on horseback leading a string of pack horses across a body of water with elk small in the distance. He developed the sketch into an 8-by-16-inch oil.
“Each year we are allowed to enter a sketch and a painting or a sketch and a sculpture,” Devenyns said.
This sketch award was selected by a panel of judges. Previously, Devenyns received the Red Smith Award, which is determined by fellow artists.
As part of that honor in 2010, Devenyns received a set of large medals representing Carl Rungius, who some consider the pre-eminent wildlife artist of all-time and who is heavily well-represented in the Jackson museum’s permanent collection.
Rungius died in 1959.
Devenyns said he met Kuhn once, in Jackson.
“I was able to meet him near the end of his life,” Devenyns said.
They were tape-recorded talking together.
“He was quite an illustrator,” Devenyns.