Artists travel from far and wide for 28th Cattlemen’s Western Art Show

PASO ROBLES — The Cattlemen’s Western Art Show returned to the Paso Robles Event Center for its 28th year  April 6-8. The art show touted more new artists than ever before with artists coming in from as far away as Washington State, Utah and Arizona.

The art show, which doubles as the Cattlemen’s Association’s annual fundraiser, awards two artists every year — one people’s choice and one artist’s choice. This year the People’s Choice Award went to Keith Batcheller, a 10-year participant from San Dimas and the Artist’s Award went to Susan Eyer-Anderson, a new artist from Tustin.

The turnout for the event was good according to Dee Pellandini, the art show’s coordinator for more than a decade. Pellandini said that the show’s new artists brought a freshness to this year’s event.

“Everybody was very receptive,” she said. “We had a lively crowd Friday evening and then Saturday and Sunday was one of the best ever. This year’s Saturday was wonderful and Sunday was awesome.”

Artists Larry Bees, Larry’s wife Jackie Bees, Ernie Morris and Suzanne Williams along with a cowboy named Gary Williams created the first Cattlemen’s Western Art Show. The group approached the San Luis Obispo Cattlemen’s Association for a partnership after they saw a need in the area for a western art show. Larry Bees considered the art show “a major cultural event,” and the inaugural show took place in October of 1990 with 35 artists and 500 people in attendance. The first show took in $1,500 at the Bull Sale Barn at the Madonna Inn Ranch and has since moved to its new home at the Paso Robles Event Center.

This year, Pellandini said the art was really wonderful and artists went out of their way to welcome newcomers to the show. She added that it’s a fun event and everyone who attends feels welcome to talk with the artists and hear their stories.

“There was a lot of freshness and a lot of new artists,” Pellandini said of this year’s show. “The weather was great for us, the show was fun, everyone had a great time and the art was really spectacular. It’s a great show where the artists can get in touch with each other and communicate with each other. They’re very welcoming of new artists and it’s a very down to earth show and the artists are there for three days and they can tell their story as to why they create what they do.”

The show attracts artists from several Western states including Utah, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado.

“For anyone that’s never been exposed to art, this is the show to start with, and that’s why the artists like to come,” Pellandini said. “We just want to have a nice weekend, we draw the patrons into that so when they walk in the door it’s welcoming and warm and they can go enjoy art, not like some galleries when you walk in you’re afraid, ‘oh my gosh if I breathe or touch something, am I going to ruin it?’ We’re not like that, we have a fun show for everybody.”

This year’s Artist Award recipient, Susan Eyer-Anderson, D.V.M., is a new artist from Tustin with a background in art and veterinary medicine. She was surprised and honored to receive the award at her first year at the show.

She said growing up with professional artists as parents led her to pursue art as a passion, but also led to her veterinarian career.

“This was my first major art show that I’ve been to,” Eyer-Anderson said. “I just started getting back into painting, I was blown away that I got that award and I was really honored that the artists voted for me.”

Eyer-Anderson said it was her parents that influenced her artistic passion. She would sneak into her parents’ studio and her father set up an easel for her to use while he was working. It was also seeing her parents struggle as artists that led to her veterinary career, one she said still has its stresses, even after 30 years. Now Eyer-Anderson is getting back to her childhood passion, using her knowledge of anatomy and desire to paint emotional, realistic art.

“I would try to call my style ‘realism with passion,’ because you’ve got to have something other than just an exercise in trying to get it looking like a photograph,” Eyer-Anderson said of her painting style. “It needs to say something, it needs to touch you or to convey a message to make you want to be there or touch the horse.”

Eyer-Anderson said she tries to be as natural and authentic as possible with staging or copying another artist’s work.

“One thing I try to do is not be trite,” she said. “I like things to look as natural as possible, when it looks like it’s staged, or when it looks like you’ve put something into the painting just because you think it should be there, I try to avoid that stuff, I don’t know if I really know what I’m doing or not, but I try to make it look to where it doesn’t look like it’s staged.”

Eyer-Anderson has recently been juried into an online show called American Academy of Equine Artists that will start April 16- May 23. See more of her work at

The People’s Choice award winner, Keith Batcheller, is a 10-year participant of the art show from San Dimas. He was born in the San Gabriel mountain foothills near Los Angeles and grew up admiring images of the southwest, old west, and native American people. He is now devoted to his passion of painting western scenes capturing the people who lived in a bygone era as well as those who lived in the contemporary west.

Batcheller said he enjoys working mostly in oils on canvas using a style known as “painterly realism.” His goal is to tell a story and conveying emotion through each painting that will provide enduring enjoyment for all who see his work.

“I’ve always had a passion for western subject matter going back to when I was a kid, I really enjoy doing it,” Batcheller said. “I paint a variety of things, people, horses, some landscape stuff. Mostly in oils on canvas.”

He attended the prestigious Art Center College of Design where he earned B.F.A. with honors, then got his post-graduate degree in Connecticut. He began his professional career in New York City as an illustrator, then later worked in Chicago and Hollywood for Walt Disney creating movie posters for movies like “Pocahontas,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Lilo and Stitch.”

Batcheller said he loves coming up to Paso Robles for the art show because “it’s such a beautiful area,” and he enjoys using his time to display his childhood passion.

“When I was a kid every time I saw western art published somewhere, on a book cover or a magazine, I was always very interested in it,” he said. “When I was a kid I watched all the western TV shows, always had a very keen interest in it.”

More of Batcheller’s work can be seen at

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