Holiday Greeting Card Contest Shows Community Spirit

“Sheriff Frosty,” by Kelsie Hahn is the winner of the 2018 Sharon Gilchrist Christmas Card Art Contest.

Door Controls USA in Ben Wheeler, Texas, sends out thousands of Christmas cards every year to customers and friends all over the world. Owned by the Gilchrist family, the company began featuring colorful artwork of matriarch Sharon Gilchrist on the cover of their cards in 2002.

Sharon started acrylic and oil painting that year after retiring from the family business. She submitted one of her first paintings to the Van Zandt County Fair and won third place. She started out with an interest in nature and animals and then discovered a love of Christmas themes, especially Santa with a Western flair. The family collection today includes numerous Western paintings by Sharon including images of John Wayne, saloon ladies, and two favorite canvases featuring a little cowboy on one and a little cowgirl on another.

One of the many paintings created by the late Sharon Gilchrist.

When she passed away in 2015, the family discussed how they might continue her love for the arts. They established the Sharon Gilchrist Foundation for the Arts and have plans to create opportunities for children to enjoy and learn from arts projects. This year, they revived the tradition of art on the cover of their annual business holiday cards by creating a student art contest for Van Independent School District kids. The winning artwork will appear on the cover of the 2018 Door Controls USA Christmas card.

The project is one of several curated by the Van Zandt Arts & Cultural District Foundation for their 2018-2019 Education and Community Program Guide. Learn more about this foundation — which serves Van ISD, Edom, Van, and Ben Wheeler — at

Students were asked to create original work in acrylics, oils, watercolor, chalk, pencil, or colored pencil with a theme of “Cowboy Christmas.” A total of 360 submissions came from children in Pre K through the 8th grade.

The Gilchrist family carefully reviewed each and every one and announced the winners.

First place, going on the cover of the Door Controls USA 2018 Christmas card, is “Sheriff Frosty” by 13-year-old Kelsie Hahn. Hahn worked with her art teacher Sue Wisdom on this project. In addition to being featured on the Christmas card, Hahn receives an award certificate.

Winning 1st Runner Up is 7-year-old Camryn Reynolds with her piece titled “Merry Christmas Cowboys.” Camryn worked with her art teacher Ryan Williams.

Zoey Howell’s “Merry Little Damsel” won 2nd Runner Up. Zoey is 14 years old and also in Sue Wisdom’s art class as is 3rd Runner Up, 12-year-old Kelsi Phillips who submitted “Cowboy Christmas Card.” These winners also receive award certificates.

Van ISD Superintendent Don Dunn likes this project so much he’s also including the winning artwork on the cover of this year’s school district’s annual holiday postcard that they send to local businesses and surrounding school districts.

“We have a lot of really creative and talented artists in our district,” Dunn says. “I am thankful our kids were able to showcase their talents through the Door Controls Christmas card project.”

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