Earlier this month, nearly 700 people from around the United States gathered in a huge tent on a cold, rainy autumn evening to view – and buy – some of the best new Western artwork in the country. And in the process, they raised more than $1 million to support the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and the Cody Chamber of Commerce.
Patrons from all over the country don their finest Western attire, which like the art they come to purchase, is a feast for the eyes. Ladies in luxurious fringe and glittering jewels and men in their best bolos gathered under a heated tent outside the Center of the West to peruse the crown jewels of the Western art world.
There were big paintings and small paintings, bronze reliefs and sculptures, watercolors and pencil drawings. They were created by artists from around the country who share a common passion for all things Western. The patrons in attendance were in a generous mood.
Always ready to support the advancement of Cody Yellowstone Country, I was one of the many locals who volunteered to lend a hand during the show. I watched as piece after piece was declared “sold” by the auctioneer, and I helped carefully load the spectacular creations into vehicles, knowing they were will soon grace some of the finest homes in the country.
By the end of the evening, $1.05 million had been raised. The artists in attendance were beaming, as many of the pieces sold for far more than retail prices they garner from selling in galleries and stores.
Although most of the art was beyond my financial reach, I still had my favorite pieces, and I imagined them hanging on the walls or gracing the furniture in my modest Cody home.
I couldn’t take my eyes off a whimsical bronze sculpture called “Good Times” by Joshua Tobey, who is known for channeling his passion for wildlife in creative and personal ways. Not quite 12 inches high, the sculpture shows a chipmunk resting on his impossibly strong tail, and it sold for $2,400.
“Watching & Waiting” was another favorite. This oil painting by Laurie Lee depicting the tentative expression of a young American Indian girl on horseback fetched $1,500.
There was an acrylic called “Passing Storm in the Southfork” by Max Werner that finely illustrated how it looks – and feels – when there’s a storm coming through that rugged region along the Southfork of the Shoshone River, where climbers, anglers, hikers and campers go to lose themselves in the wildness of Cody Yellowstone Country.
Even though purchasing artwork from the Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale was not an option for me this year, I am always up for buying a small piece of pottery, jewelry or wall art from one of the many talented artists who live right here in town. And that’s what I did this week. I wandered down to the Cody Country Art League, where the work of local artists is sold, and I bought myself a beautifully carved wood bowl. It sits on my coffee table and reminds me every day of the astounding artwork made by the Western hands of Cody Yellowstone Country.
Until next time, I’m saving for more art and loving life here in Cody/Yellowstone Country.