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HOUSTON — The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo recognized talented young artists from across Texas at the School Art Awards Program Saturday, March 11. The School Art Committee judged artwork from 100 public school districts and 40 private schools for the 2017 competition.

Andy Wei, from Fort Bend Independent School District, took home the grand champion title with “Timeless,” an 18 x 24 in. oil painting depicting the inseparable bond between a cowboy and his dog. Wei has been planning and painting the piece since October 2016.

“I have been here for three years, and it is my last year competing [in the School Art Contest] so I put so much into it,” Wei said. “For my painting, the first thing I think about regarding Western heritage is the relationship between ranchers and their animals. We’re storytellers, and I wanted to capture the companionship.”

The reserve champion title was awarded to Anton Zhou, also from Fort Bend ISD. His oil painting, “Southern Palate,” depicts an older cowboy enjoying his meal with the glow of the sun on his face. He described his inspiration for the piece coming from a place he’s visited his entire life.

“George Ranch Historical Park has been an inspiration for me since elementary school,” Zhou said. “I have a personal connection there. I was inspired and interested in the trail journey, so I wanted to depict that and really capture a Western landscape.”

The School Art Contest received 636 art entries, which will be on display in the Hayloft Gallery, located in the lobby of NRG Center for the duration of the Show.

Champion paintings will be sold in the School Art Auction, Sunday, March 19, at noon in the NRG Arena Sales Pavilion. The auction will feature 72 pieces selected from the high school Best of Show, Gold Medal and Special Merit winners. Proceeds from the auction will benefit aspiring artists, workshops and fund 15, four-year scholarships. The auction is open to the public.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a Section 501(c)(3) charity that benefits youth, supports education, and facilitates better agricultural practices through exhibitions and presentation. Since its beginning in 1932, the Show has committed more than $430 million to the youth of Texas. For more information, visit rodeohouston.com and connect with #RODEOHOUSTON online via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for all of the latest news. The 2017 Show runs through March 26.

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