Sage Grinder by James Bama The Whitney Gallery of Western Art at the Buffalo Bill Historical Society in Cody, Wyoming provides one of the most concise descriptions of James Bama’s artwork it has been our pleasure to read:
The artist's natural talent, academic training, and practical professional experience as an illustrator equipped him with the tools to succeed as an easel painter. Influenced by photography, abstract expressionism, pop art, and illustration, Bama fused these media and styles into an ultra-detailed brand of realism based on complex compositions. Unlike many artists working in the American West today, he steadfastly refused to paint the Old West but instead dedicated his career to painting real people of the modern West. His detailed portraits capture the ethnic and cultural complexity of the American West through people who live simultaneously in two worlds.
Sage Grinder is one of Bama’s most recognized paintings and a perfect example of his vision for capturing the West. “My model for this painting,” begins Bama, “was a young Navajo girl, a student at Brigham Young University. One summer, on the outskirts of Cody, she and a number of other Indians re-created an early native village to demonstrate the manner in which the Indians lived before the arrival of Columbus. Charging admission, they taught such crafts as sage-grinding, cooking and the making of weapons. The entire encampment was all very well done. It was a rare opportunity for me to pose them and to produce a series of paintings (Pre-Columbian Indian with Atlatl & Pre-Columbian Indian are included in this group). Before the summer ended they packed up camp and disappeared. I have not heard from them since.”
The Greenwich Workshop Anniversary Fine Art Edition of Sage Grinder puts on canvas what could previously only be viewed under glass. At 18” x 21” you can see the extraordinary attention to detail that once led a collector to x-ray a James Bama painting to determine whether he had actually painted an original work art or doctored a photograph (the x-ray proved it was a painting). No Western art collection could be complete without the inclusion of a James Bama painting as part of it. The Anniversary Edition Canvas of Sage Grinder is truly one of James Bama’s best.
Sizing & Pricing
Fine Art Giclée
Canvas: limited to 75 s/n.
18"w x 14"h.
About James Bama
James Bama was born in 1926 and grew up in the Northeast. He followed his early interest in art through New York’s specialized High School of Music and Art and the Art Students League. As a professional, Bama has earned a reputation for several facets of his talent. He freelanced briefly before spending fifteen years at the respected Charles E. Cooper Studios—at the time, the country’s top firm of illustrators—and more freelancing followed. Bama’s activities during this period were highlighted by artwork for the New York Giants football team, the Baseball and Football Halls of Fame, the U.S. Air Force and The Saturday Evening Post. Fans of pop culture may know him best as the artist who portrayed Doc Savage on sixty-two memorable book covers. Then Bama decided it was finally time to do what he most wanted to do. He moved west to Wyoming, where an artist “can trace the beginnings of Western history; see the oldest weapons, saddles and guns and be close to Indian culture.” He sold his first Western fine art painting soon after the move. The distinctive work of James Bama combines tradition with modern realities. In his much-acclaimed studies, Bama shows the contemporary West preserving its traditional culture. His portraits of inhabitants of the plains and mountains capture the true character of the West. Today the paintings of James Bama are part of many prestigious collections. Bama has been represented in major exhibitions throughout the West and has been presented in one-man shows in New York City. Bantam Books published The Western Art of James Bama in 1975 and The Art of James Bama in 1993. Jim was inducted into the Illustrator’s Hall of Fame June 28, 2000. Through his portraits of real people of the new West re-creating their history and heritage, Bama pays homage to the Old West and is renowned in yet another realm of the art world.