Some $1.18 Million Worth Of Art Sold At Cody’s Buffalo Bill Art Show

When the gavel dropped on the final piece of artwork at the 40th annual Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale, nearly $1.18 million worth of art had been sold.

Jimmy Orr

September 24, 20215 min read

Mountain goat painting scaled
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

When the gavel dropped on the final piece of artwork at the 40th annual Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale, nearly $1.18 million worth of art had been sold.

The Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale benefits the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. This event was held in conjunction with By Western Hands’ exhibit for Western Functional Art during the annual weeklong celebration of the arts known as Rendezvous Royale. 

“It is without a doubt the most successful shoulder season event bringing hundreds of people to Cody each year,” organizers said.

They called last week’s events in Cody a success, saying that, while the 2021 season looked different, they were “extremely grateful to be back in the tent and back in person.”

Produced by the Cody chamber, the art show generated more than $1.5 million in gross revenue. While in-person attendance was limited, hundreds of patrons, artists and community members enjoyed a variety of art-related events throughout the week, culminating with the annual Quick Draw Saturday morning. 

The live auction’s highest selling work went to Tucker Smith’s work “Glacier Carved,” which featured mountain sheep and sold for $65,000. Pieces were sold online with the LiveAuctioneers platform, through phone bidding and in-person bidding at the 15,000 square foot tent.

Chamber CEO Tina Hoebelheinrich praised her team and its partners at the Center of the West.

“We truly could not have pulled this off if not for the tenacity and dedication of the best art show director in the West, Kathy Thompson, the volunteers who came from Nevada, Utah and Washington to participate as well as the loyal volunteers from Cody who show up year after year,”  Hoebelheinrich said. “Workforce became an issue for our tent and food vendors, so a tremendous thank you to the facilities team at the Center of the West who never rested and helped us overcome every challenge.”

A total of 110 contemporary Western artists were invited to participate in the Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale — hailing from Wyoming to New York to Australia and offering works relating to the land, people and wildlife of the American West. Works ranged from oil paintings, watercolors, pastels, sculptures, ceramics and mixed media.

Judges of Annual Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale remarked on high caliber of artwork

The 2021 jurors were:

• Jan and Bruce Eldredge, former Executive Director and CEO of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West,

• Donna Poulton, art consultant, author, and former Curator of Art of the American West at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, and

• Tylee Abbott, head of the Department of American Art at Christie’s Auction House in New York City.

The judges praised this year’s selections overall, with Bruce Eldredge declaring the show to be “of exceptional quality.” He said it stood out especially for the works of art on paper, which “show a mastery of working in watercolor, pastel, charcoal, and collage” — mediums that Jan Eldredge said are “always unforgiving.” 

The Spirit of the Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale Award

This award recognizes the artwork that is most representative of the show in terms of location, history, and the greatness and grandeur embodied by the “spirit” of the American West. The judges awarded this honor to “South Fork Wanderers,” a 32- by 45-inch oil painting by Mark Kelso.

Bruce Eldredge said the painting perfectly embodies the “location, greatness, and grandeur” defined in the award criteria, and all judges agreed.

The judges selected “The Fence Inspector” by T. Allen Lawson as the two-dimensional artwork of exceptional execution and craftsmanship. Tylee Abbott called the 14- by 14-inch oil painting “a whisper of a Western winter landscape.”

Poulton lauded the artist for his color work on a diminutive canvas, saying that “not all artists could accomplish such a small-scale snapshot with such a limited palette.”

Three-Dimensional Award

The judges selected Joshua Tobey’s sculpture “Stepping Stone” as the three-dimensional artwork of exceptional execution and craftsmanship. This patinated bronze stands 55 by 18 by 21 inches.

Abbot called Tobey’s piece “a combination of accuracy, engineering, originality, and playfulness” and Bruce Eldredge remarked that “the artist captured both the heron and the turtle in an exceptional way.”

Judges’ Awards of Excellence

A mark of the show’s overall quality, the judges decided to recognize four additional artists for their excellence in design and execution.

• Campbell Dosch, “Apsaalooke,” bronze, 37 by 18 by 12 inches.

• Dolan Geiman, “Midnight Moonlight,” vintage paper collage, 46 by 36 inches.

• Paul Rhymer, “Chicken Hawk in Repose,” bronze, 66 by 18 by 18 inches.

• Kyle Sims, “Glider,” oil, 16 by 32 inches.  

People’s Choice Award

Members of the public who visited the Live Auction gallery cast votes for their favorite piece of artwork. Heide Presse received the most votes for her 40- by 30-inch oil painting “Tall Tales.”

Gilly Fales Fine Art Scholarship Award

The Gilly Fales Fine Art Scholarship Award is a local scholarship opportunity provided by the Gilly Fales Memorial Foundation for the Arts, which seeks to empower young artists ages 18-30 who have a passion for the arts. Olivia Christensen received the honor for her 40- by 30- inch oil painting, “Heart of Wyoming.”

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Jimmy Orr

Executive Editor

A third-generation Wyomingite, Jimmy Orr is the executive editor and co-founder of Cowboy State Daily.