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HISTORY - from a purely western group to one accepting diverse genres and subject matter

Women Artists of the American West (WAOAW) was founded in 1971 in Norco, California by a small group of women wanting to network as professionals and compete in the world of art. At that time, the Cowboys of America were exhibiting in numerous prestigious venues, but it was difficult to break into the realm of art as a woman painter or sculptor.


By pooling their efforts and promoting their careers with shows and advertising. WAOAW soon became known for its high caliber of artists and distinctive western style.

The debut exhibit was held in Palm Springs, California. They continued to show in locations such as the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas, in Las Vegas, Nevada, and then on to other areas of the country. In these early years, the membership was limited to 35 women who played an active role, investing time and money in shows and advertisements to promote their professional growth.  Eventually the decision was made to increase membership to support increased opportunities.

While WAOAW artists in the early years of the organization were known for their western pieces in various mediums, many women artists in non-western genres wanted to become a part of the group’s legacy. In 1988 the bylaws were changed to embrace additional genre, subject matter and style. The membership chose to drop “American” from their name and became the diverse group today known as WAOW or Women Artists of the West. Today, we have members across the country, and several from Australia and Canada.

See WAOW's historical pdf booklet

Early WAOWs - Tempe, AZ 1980

Women Artists of the West Remembers

The WAOW scholarship fund is currently accepting donations in honor of loved ones, family friends and past members.

Cherished WAOWs we want to honor in our thoughts and hearts:

Our beloved Gloria Bilotta died this November 2022.  She was a WAOW Legend.  Read about her HERE


Ally Benbrook

Gloria Bilotta 
Fay Bohlayer
Jane Coulombe

Nancy Crookston
Sarah Elliott
Sherryl Paula Evans
Suzanne Ferguson

Betty Russell Gates
Michelle Gladish
Marilyn Heed
Molly Kohlschreiber
Margot Lennartz
Irish McCalla
Mabel Palmer

Joyce Pike
Lois Montoya Rumohr
Ann Templeton
Mary Thompson
Lynn Thomas
Linda Walker

Lidabelle Wylie

Linda Wacaster

Joan Wright

Early WAOWs - Saddleback Show 1979

front row:  Maggie Goodwin, Carol Theroux, ,Anna Lou Anderson ,Bunny Connell , Jan Searle, Joan Wright, Mary Thomson, Esther Marie Versch, Lidabelle Wylie, Lois Rumohr

back row: Judy Crandall, 2?, man might be guest artist Jerry Crandall and then his wife Judy, ?, Jeanene Grende LaFord, Irish McCalla, Betty Billups, Lynn Thomas, Gita Packer, Bud Rumohr, Francis Woodahl.

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