Eiteljorg Museum launches new virtual format for Quest for the West®

Joey Amato | August 20, 2020

The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art will feature an all-new virtual format during its 15th annual Quest for the West® Art Show and Sale, Sept. 11-12.  A newly redeveloped website, quest.eiteljorg.org, is the hub of information for the two-day sale of top-quality Western American art, along with artist information and engaging digital extras. 

The Quest for the West® Art Show and Sale will feature nearly 200 new artworks by 50 of today’s top artists specializing in Western-inspired paintings, landscapes and sculptures. Instead of the traditional on-site, in-person sale, the Eiteljorg this year will host the new online sale format, where collectors will view the available artworks online, enjoy personalized concierge service and then place their bids during the fixed-price, luck-of-the-draw virtual sale.

In previous years, Quest for the West® included a gallery exhibition, two evenings of socializing between artists and collectors, a catered banquet that often drew nearly 300 guests each year and an awards ceremony. The event is nationally prominent in the Western art world and known for its Hoosier hospitality. Due to public health concerns and uncertainty whether limits on public gatherings would be lifted in time for an on-site event in mid-September, the Eiteljorg management and the Western Art Society, which sponsors Quest, decided several months ago to make this year’s art sale a virtual one.

“Since its inception in 2006, Quest for the West® has built support for the genre of Western art; and collectors and artists look forward to it at the Eiteljorg each year,” Eiteljorg President and CEO John Vanausdall said. “The museum follows all state and local public health guidelines during the pandemic, and since it was impossible to know exactly what the circumstances will be in September, we concluded we would marshal our efforts to creating this exciting virtual version of Quest.”

Quest for the West® always has received bids from absentee bidders even when it was an on-site sale; and this year, all registrants get to bid absentee. With the new format, the registration fee to enter the online sale and place bids is $25, an affordable price for first-time bidders who are starting their art-collecting journey, or seasoned collectors seeking the right piece. All registrants will have access to an Eiteljorg concierge service that can assist them with bids and other questions. To register, visit quest.eiteljorg.org.

A popular feature of Quest for the West is returning in virtual form: the Quest Miniature Art Sale, held Friday Sept. 11, the night before the main sale. For the Friday sale, the artists create smaller, more affordable versions of their paintings and sculptures, which are prized both by new collectors and by experienced collectors who have no more room for large pieces and want something smaller.

The Eiteljorg is planning various digital extras on quest.eiteljorg.org that Quest registrants can enjoy leading up to and during sale weekend, including interviews with artists, virtual cocktail chats and other online events. Registrants to Quest receive a new weekly e-newsletter that builds interest in the event. Once the virtual sale is complete, purchased artworks will be shipped directly from the artists to the buyers; the artworks will not be on display at the museum for 30 days like they were in past years. The public exhibition of newly purchased Quest art will return in 2021.

“We at the Eiteljorg take pride in bringing together top artists and enthusiastic collectors of Western art, and are committed to making this year’s Quest very engaging and successful,” Vanausdall added.

Shifting the format means two parts of Quest for the West® will be postponed to next year’s event. The guest speaker, Academy Award-winning actor Wes Studi (Cherokee), who has appeared in the films Dances with Wolves and The Last of the Mohicans, instead will be the special guest at the 2021 Quest. Also, a special on-site exhibit of Quest artworks that were past winners of the annual Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award is postponed to 2021. The Eiteljorg Museum plans to resume its regular format for Quest for the West® next year, if the social distancing restrictions allow.

Participants in the Quest for the West® virtual sale will receive the Quest art catalog, which also will be available for purchase in the Frank and Katrina Basile Museum Store. Up-to-date details are available at quest.eiteljorg.org.

Quest for the West® is presented by the Western Art Society.