Door Controls USA in Ben Wheeler 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 little cowboys and cowgirls.

When Sharon 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 strive to create opportunities for children to enjoy arts projects. 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 appears on the cover of the 2019 Door Controls USA Christmas card.

Students were asked to create original work in acrylics, oils, watercolor, chalk, pencil, or colored pencil with a theme of “Country Christmas.” The company received submissions from junior high and high school students this year.

The Gilchrist family and a team of judges from Door Controls USA carefully reviewed each and every one and is proud to announce the winners.

First place, going on the cover of the Door Controls USA 2019 Christmas card, is “Country Christmas” by 12-year-old Olivia Ryan (featured above).  Olivia worked with her art teacher Sue Wisdom on this project. In addition to being featured on the Christmas card, Olivia receives an award certificate.

Winning 2nd Place is 15-year-old Cambrie Bryant with her piece titled “Howdy Partner.” Cambrie also worked with art teacher Sue Wisdom.

Rebecca Brown’s “Egg Nog Cow” won 3rd Place. Rebecca is 12 years old and also in Sue Wisdom’s art class.

Sannie Duran, 15, receives the 4th Place award for her piece titled “Christmas in a Boot.” She is in Karen Price’s art class.

These winners also receive award certificates.

Other budding artists that submitted their artwork are noted below. Summer Gilchrist Haltom says, “It was really hard to choose winners because they are all so good.”

“Merry Earth Christmas,” by Bailee Rodriguez, 12

“Cowgirl Christmas,” by Nallely Vela Elizondo, 12

“Wreath DC,” by Laneigh Tompkins, 13

“Cactus in a Boot,” by Lillian Warrington, 12

“Santa Riding a Bull,” by T.J. Thacker

“Cowgirl Christmas,” by Megan Mayne, 12

“Fireplace With Guitar,” by Savannah Rhodes, 13

“Country Christmas,” by Vanessa Villanueva, 12

“Truck in the Mountains,” by Madelynn Townsend, 12

The project is one of several curated by the Van Zandt Arts & Cultural District Foundation for their 2019-2020 Education and Community Program Guide. Learn more about this foundation — which serves Van ISD, Edom, Van, and Ben Wheeler — at