by Ellen Howard
This year marks the 42nd anniversary of the Buffalo Bill Art Auction in Cody, Wyoming. Kathy Thompson, Director, and Katelyn Parker, Assistant Director of the Chamber of Commerce for the Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale put on an amazing event, raising over $1.3 million this year. This auction benefits the prestigious Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody Country Chamber of Commerce, and local art organizations.
The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is comprised of five museums within its structure: the Buffalo Bill Museum, Plains Indian Museum, Cody Firearms Museum, Draper Natural History Museum, and Whitney Western Art Museum. The Whitney Western Art Museum boasts works from Charlie Russell, Frederic Remington, Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt, and other traditional and contemporary artists.
The Buffalo Bill Art Auction & Sale is not just a one-day event; the Chamber of Commerce hosts several events leading up to and during the annual Rendezvous Royale Week. This week began on Thursday, September 21st with several artist workshops which were open to the public.
These workshops were followed by a luncheon and talk by the “Cowboy Artists of America.” This group was founded in 1965 and its mission is “To authentically preserve and perpetuate the culture of Western life in fine art.” The discussion was led by Tim Newton and included Brandon Bailey, Teal Blake, Mikel Donahue, Phil Epp, T.D. Kelsey, Dustin Payne, Chad Poppleton, and Grant Redden.
Thursday evening the public was invited to a reception and awards presentation to meet the 103 artists represented. The awards were given to:
- Nicholas Coleman, Spirit of the Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale Award for “Dusk on the Lower Salt River”
- Phil Epp, Two-Dimensional Award for “Distant Thunder”
- Jeremy Bradshaw, Three-Dimensional Award for “The Red Queen”
There were four Judges Awards of Excellence which were given to:
- Vic Payne for “Sounds of the Night”
- Max Werner for “Over the Pass”
- Dustin Van Wechel for “Speed Dating”
- Kevin Red Star for “Crow Indians on Magpie Creek”
The Quick Draw People’s Choice Award was given to David Frederick Riley for his “Buffalo.”
On Friday morning, I had the honor of viewing a private collection owned by one of the Trustees of the Buffalo Bill Museum. This collection was curated by author Donna Poulton (“Painters of the Grand Teton National Park” and “Dictionary of Utah Fine Artists”). This incredible collection includes works by Maynard Dixon, Albert Bierstadt, Frank Tenny Johnson, William Herbert Dutton, Joseph Henry Sharp, Carl Rungius, and Michael Coleman just to name a few. It was an experience of a lifetime seeing these works in person!
Friday night was the big event with the Live Auction at the Buffalo Bill Center for the Arts. Artists and Collectors were welcomed with a delicious buffet dinner and a beautifully decorated venue with 50 circular tables all set with gorgeous autumn floral centerpieces lining a large stage where the auctioneers presented each artist’s works. Below are several photos from the event, which honored both painter and sculptor.
Saturday morning was the start of the quick draw, an optional event in which 27 artists participated in this 90-minute challenge. Watching the artists paint and talk to their patrons was a site to be seen. Some artists were even able to complete very large works ranging upwards of 30 x 40 inches. At the finish of the event, each artist had to walk with their artwork on stage, which was very entertaining for the audience! Below are several artist’s works during the quick draw.
The top-selling painting went to Kevin Red Star for “Crow Indians on Magpie Creek” at $32,000, and the top-selling sculpture went to Vic Payne for “Sounds of the Night” at $45,000.
What makes an event so successful is having several key factors working together, curating a talented and diverse group of artists, attracting serious collectors, support from the community, Museum sponsorship, and experienced event directors. The Buffalo Bill Art Auction & Sale had all these wonderful components, which made this event a great experience for the artists, collectors, and art enthusiasts. It’s worth making it a point to attend.