S.D. crafter recognized by artist academy
Whit Olson of Canistota, South Dakota is the recipient of the Will Rogers Cowboy Award for Braider of the Year from the Academy of Western Artists. Olson received the award before a full house at the 19th Annual Academy of Western Artists Will Rogers Awards, held in the Grand Ballroom at the Sheraton Hotel in Irving, Texas in March.
While earning his Equine Science Degree from Montana State University, Olson began studying under professional braider Hial Steele of Manhattan, Montana. What began as a part time job rapidly developed into a passion for the young man.
In 2008, Olson was awarded the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA) Scholarship, where he was fortunate enough to be able to study under Nate Wald, a TCAA Braider. Olson is grateful to continue to learn from Wald and fellow TCAA braider Leland Hensley as well as other members of the Association.
Olson’s work is on display at art shows such as Trappings of Texas, Expressions of the American West, the TCAA Emerging Artist Contest, Trappings of the American West and the Elko Poetry Gathering as well as on collectors’ walls and used by cowboys all over the country.
Olson and his wife, Megan, raise row-crops and run a small group of cattle, keep a couple horses, and do their best to raise their children right.
“It’s been said that only God and a rawhide braider can bring a dead cow back to life,” he told “Ranch & Reata” in January of 2013. “My only goal is to be the best rawhide braider I can be, have a style that’s unique to me, and do my counterpart justice.”
For more information on Olson, go to his website, http://www.whitolson.com/.
The Academy of Western Artists is an organization that promotes all things western, from saddles and boots to music and books. It recognizes the men and women who excel in their work in three disciplines: Trappings, entertainment and Media.
The Academy of Western Artists (AWA), founded in 1996 by a small group of individuals, has grown to include both dedicated members and supporters of the Cowboy way of life. Together, the organization works to bring more visibility to the amazing variety and talent of Contemporary Western artists. These talented people constantly strive to improve their art, as well as to share their craft with new artisans, stretching the boundaries and aspiring to higher levels.
The AWA is a nonprofit group. It is the AWA’s mission to preserve the image of the only Worldwide Hero — the American Cowboy. A product of the U.S.A., the Cowboy is known worldwide, and the AWA wants to ensure that the image lives forever. The Academy of Western Artists created the Will Rogers Cowboy Awards (“The Willie”) in 1996, when Western publisher and AWA founder Bobby Newton decided it was time to recognize the performers and artisans who were taking the contemporary Cowboy and Western Art movement to new and exciting heights.
Each winter, the Academy honors artists in a wide variety of categories at its Annual Awards Dinner. Each recipient receives is recognized for his or her contribution to the Cowboy way of life. The first Academy award presentation was held in Ft. Worth, Texas before a capacity crowd. Since then, the event has become one of the most respected and prestigious international gatherings recognizing Western Arts. There have been almost 500 winners over the 19 years of the awards show. Each year, some categories are added and some are deleted to meet the ever-changing scene of the Western Contemporary Arts. The AWA, along with other committed groups, has moved Western Arts to much higher profile levels.
For more information on the AWA, go to the website at http://awaawards.org/.
A complete list of award winners follows:
SADDLEMAKER: Troy West, Azle, TX
BOOTMAKER: DW Frommer II, Redmond, OR
DON KING: Don Butler, contact is Kitty Butler, Sheridan, WY
ENGRAVER: Annie Wieden, Toogoom, Australia
CARTOONIST: Ash Cooper, Senlac, SASK SOL 2YO, Canada
ARTIST: Loren Entz, Billings, MT
LEATHER: Chuck Smith, Valley Center, CA
CHUCKWAGON: JL Chuckwagon, Abilene, TX
SPURMAKER: George Blackwood, Blue Ridge, TX
BRAIDER: Whit Olsen, Canistota, SD
ELMER KELTON-FICTION: ”The Big Drift” by Patrick Dearen, Midland, TX
ELMER KELTON-NON FICTION: “Creating Texas, A Brief History of the Revolution,” by Jeffrey Dane (presented posthumously), Brooklyn, NY; and Rod Timanus, Glendale, AZ
POET-COWGIRL: Virginia Bennett, Goldendale, WA
POET-COWBOY: Shaddd Piehl, Fargo, ND
RADIO STATION: KTNK, Lompoc, CA
DISC JOCKEY: Tom Wardle; Pennsylvania
Western Music Duo/Group of the Year
Western Music Album of the Year
“Jewel of the West”
Lee Lee Robert
Western Music Song of the Year
Western Swing Male Vocalist of the Year
Western Swing Female Vocalist of the Year
Western Swing Duo/Group of the Year
Western Swing Authority
Western Swing Album of the Year
“A Platter of Brownies”
Western Swing Song of the Year
“You Can’t Make It Up”
Rick & The Ramblers
Instrumentalist of the Year
Pure Country Male Vocalist of the Year
Pure Country Female Vocalist of the Year
Pure Country Duo/Group of the Year
Michael Dart & Skyline Wranglers
Pure Country Album of the Year
“A World Away”
Pure Country Song of the Year
“Hold That Thought”
–Academy of Western Artists