Great records were set when Houston Rodeo benefactors opened their wallets for the annual student art auction


Mia Huckman held her painting while her face went from proud to perplexed to amazed. The shock finally sent tears down her face.

The Foster High School junior held an artwork valued at more than a quarter million dollars, the second of consecutive record prices paid for art during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Art Auction.

Minutes after the 2022 rodeo’s best-in-show artwork raked in a then-record $250,000, Huckman’s painting, “Partners in Time”, Reserve Champion award winner, taking home $265,000. The total is $44,000 more than a reserve champion has ever fetched, and far more than 16-year-old Huckman was expecting from the look on her face as two bidding teams pushed up the sale price.

“I want to spend the rest of my life making things that people will love,” Huckman said after the auctioneer’s gavel fell.

The painting was captured by an eight-man bidding team and marked the third straight year that the reserve winner has been claimed by a group including Cheryl and Gary Deitcher.

Combined with the amount paid for rodeo champion Gracin Nguyen “In his hands” Draw, Sunday’s auction total should set a record for the rodeo. Nguyen’s drawing of a bull rider kneeling behind the chutes to pray attracted a lot of attention from bidders.

“That’s what it’s about, her displaying her faith,” said Paul Somerville, one of the eight buyers of the painting of the Dawson High School student.

Though the 2021 rodeo was cancelled, the auction didn’t, as the top two pieces fetched $275,000 combined. Huckman’s piece almost surpassed this solo. A total of 72 units were sold for $2.1 million.

The rodeo lasts until March 20, until the 90th year. Over the decades, officials estimated that $550 million was raised for educational causes across Texas.

RodeoHouston 2022 Lineup

February 28: CodyJohnson
1st March: Keith urban
2nd March: Tim McGraw
3 March: for KING & COUNTRY
4th of March: Rick Martin
5. March: Jon Pardi
6th March: Los Tucanes de Tijuana
7th March: Luke Bryan
8th of March: Maren Morris
9th March: Kane Brown
March 10: trip
March 11: Bun B’s H-Town takeover
March 12th: Parker McCollum
March 13: Dierk’s Bentley
the 14th of March: Sam Hunt
March, 15: Gwen Stefani
March 16: Khaled
17. March: Chris Stapleton
March 18: marshmello
19th March: Brad Paisley
March, 20th: George Strait with Ashley McBryde (concert performance only)

Students who participate in the art auction win scholarships and earn a portion of the money raised. Each painting sold is guaranteed to end up in the artist’s pocket for $1,500, with a cap of $2,500.

For many it is their first foray into the professional art world and a chance at early immortality. Although the outcome is left up to the buyers, the artworks can end up in different environments. Some hang in homes and private collections, while others adorn office walls or lobbies. Often, many of the bidding teams donate paintings to museums and other Western-themed cultural institutions, participants and officials said. There is always a chance that the artist could later sell their pieces for a lot more as many artists make careers.

Kamryn Phillips, 15, of Friendswood, didn’t know how her drawing of a cow got the title “It’s Show Time” would go, but the money would help with her school. Like many of the attendees, Phillips said her plans include building on her art experience, hopefully at Rice University or Texas A&M University. Selling a painting for $25,000 is one of them.

“It’s just very exciting, I’m grateful,” she said.

Later, as he watched drawings and paintings fetch prices in excess of $10,000, Stuart Epps, 55, joked that he was reconsidering his own ambitions.

“My mom used to hang them on the wall in the kitchen,” Epps says of his school-age doodles. “I wonder what they could go for? … I was terrible at drawing, but someone would take pity on me.”

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