“In a violent and often irrational world perhaps my paintings can bring a moment of pleasure – of values that can be understood by many people and even rub off on a few aspiring artists. What more can I ask for or expect to attain in my own lifetime? After that, my fate and reputation will be in the hands of curators, collectors, dealers, critics and historians or, perhaps, junk dealers. This is out of my hands and I cannot dwell on it. So let my belief in hard work, older people, and virtues that are perhaps vanishing forever be my message for those who care to stop a while and look.”
— James Bama
I’m a little late in marking the passing of one of the true giants of Western Frontier Art. James Bama died in Wyoming last month at the age of 95.
Back in those formative years when I was first reading The Frontiersmen, and Mountain Man, The Big Sky and Give Your Heart To The Hawks, I owned a copy of The Western Art of James Bama. I surely did stop a while and look.
The realist paintings of Mountain Men, cowboys, Indians became part of the landscape of the imagination that I was constructing then, and which I have never left. I like to think I absorbed some of those vanishing virtues that Bama sought to capture, and in gratitude and appreciation, I tip my hat to a master gone up the long trail.