Of A Cowboy's Sentiment: Paintings & Drawings by Harold Bugbee

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We first had the privilege of reintroducing the work of Harold Bugbee to Texas collectors back in 2011. It was a rousing success, with patrons snapping up the works of this Panhandle artist who has been deemed the Charlie Russell of Texas. In this exhibition, we combine forces with the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum and Bugbee descendants to show a newly found cache of the artists sketches, illustrations, and paintings.


  • Of A Cowboys SentimentP a i n t i n g s & D r a w i n g s b y H a r o l d B u g b e e

    March 25 - April 30, 2016

  • William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art | 2143 Westheimer Road | Houston, Texas 77098 | 713.521.7500Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm and by appointment, please call 713.521.7500 or email info@reavesart.com.

    On View: M a r c h 2 5 - A p r i l 3 0 , 2 0 1 6

    Opening Reception: S a t u r d ay, A p r i l 2 , 6 - 8 : 3 0 P M

    Gallery Talk : S a t u r d ay, A p r i l 9 , 2 - 4 P M ,F e a t u r i n g M i c h a e l G r a u e r , C u r a t o r o f A r t a n d W e s t e r nH e r i t a g e f o r t h e P a n h a n d l e - P l a i n s H i s t o r i c a l M u s e u m

    COVER ART: Evening Ride , c. 1925-30, oi l on canvas board, 12 x 14 inches.

    Exhibition Events

    March 25 - April 30, 2016

    Of A Cowboys SentimentP a i n t i n g s & D r a w i n g s b y H a r o l d B u g b e e

    On View: F e b r u a r y 1 2 - M a r c h 1 9 , 2 0 1 6

    Opening Reception: Saturday, February 13th, 6 - 8:30 PM

    Gallery Talk: Saturday, February 20th, 2 - 4 PM,F e a t u r i n g P e t e G e r s h o n , A r t H i s t o r i a n & C o o r d i n a t o r ,

  • It is March in Houston, and Rodeo season is underway, an annual agri/cultural gala calling all locals to embrace their genuine Texas roots and live the brand! The mammoth events associated with the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo now ranks among the citys most prized traditions, constituting a nifty, month-long Western heritage hoedown. Its all great fun when Houstonians everywhere pull out all the stops to Go Texan, making the high-classed bar-b-que circuits and rodeo rounds in freshly steamed Stetsons and flashy, custom-made boots! Just in time for all these festivities, William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art, (Houstons art gallery that actually Went Texan long agoat least in terms of their art selections), rolls out a delightful new exhibition certain to capture the fancy of darn-near every urban cowboy now carousing the town. Of a Cowboys Sentiment proudly features illustrated letters, drawings, watercolors and paintings of Harold Dow Bugbee Texas first true cowboy artist! Growing up on the Bugbee family ranch in Clarendon, Texas, Harold worked as a cowboy and ranch-hand on his fathers spread, as well as a hired hand on neighboring ranches, including those of Charles Goodnight and others. He became steeped in the ways of the Panhandles cowboy and befriended many of the old sages and prominent cattlemen of those parts. While the young Bugbee proved capable as a cowboy (with credible accounts of his acuity with horse and lariat), it was his early propensity for drawing and painting that set him apart from his peers. Inspired and informed by the paintings of Western icons such as Charles Russell (1864-1926) and Frederic Remington (1861-1909), Bugbee eventually traded his

    spurs for a life in art, recording the transitioning cowboy culture of the Southern plains in drawings and paintings comparable to his idol, Charlie Russell. He went on to achieve significant acclaim as a painter and illustrator, and to serve the first curator of art of the venerable Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas. His works from the first-half of the twentieth century comprise one of the most authentic and compelling visual records of the Texas cowboy, and are highly coveted among collectors of today. Of a Cowboys Sentiment brings a rich and engaging array of over 100 sketches and paintings by the artist, including an incredible swath of heretofore undiscovered illustrated letters penned by a then-smitten young Bugbee to his once best girl. The extensive materials for this exhibition are aptly presented by Reaves | Foltz in a two-staged rollout. The first stage of the exhibition, Bugbees illustrated Letters to Dot, goes on the walls March 1. This marvelous cache of illustrated correspondence, covering a period of about 1922-25, has descended through the family of Dorothy Carrell. Ms. Carrell, or Dot to the lovelorn young artist, was actually Bugbees first cousin who became a source of youthful infatuation and an unrequited first love. At some point along the line the full letters have been clipped and portions discarded by the family, with only the artists remarkable illustrations and partial notes remaining. However, even in their abridged state, the snippets of these wonderful letters still convey an affectionate and compelling story of romance on the Texas range, offering important bits of news from the Palo Duro, as well as interesting notes on local life upon the high-plains.

    O f A C o w b o y s S e n t i m e n t : H a r o l d B u g b e e

    Of A Cowboys Sentiment:An Exhibition of Drawings and Paintings by Harold Dow Bugbee

    (Presented In Two Stages)

  • Bugbees illustrated letters have never been the subject of an exhibition before, and in Letters to Dot, the gallery displays over 70 of the remaining fragments, each containing exquisite and complete illustrations carefully drafted by the artist as the visual overture for each intimate note to a cherished friend. The notes, along with their simple, yet elegant illustrations are nothing less than gems of cowboy history. They convey Bugbees remarkable facility as a draftsman and stand as demure and intimate statements of the cowboys true sentiment in art. This first section of the exhibition alone commands attention of local viewers seeking genuine cowboy imagery in the spirit of the Rodeo season.In the shows second stage, beginning March 25, the gallery partners with The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum to bring Houstonians an even broader array of Bugbee drawings, watercolors and oils. In this phase of the exhibition, the gallery hangs 30 additional Bugbee works reflecting the artists versatility as an illustrator and painter, and further underscoring his reputation as the Charlie Russell of Texas. These works, from the holdings of the PPHM, gives Texas art aficionados a rare opportunity to secure works by this signal cowboy painter, and proceeds from the sale go to support the museums outstanding Texas collection. All-in-all, Of a Cowboys Sentiment provides the perfect fine arts compliment to the rodeo and livestock experience. Both components of this marvelous two-stage exhibition are accompanied by an electronic catalog, containing all images, as well as a recapitulation of Joe Holleys wonderful story on Bugbee and his letter, originally published in the Houston Chronicle. The whole is experience is punctuated with Michael Grauers (the Panhandle-Plains esteemed art curator) gallery talk at the gallery on the afternoon of April 9. Always a popular and informative speaker, Grauer, who is currently in the throes writing of a Bugbee biography, will share his insights and observations on Bugbee and his work.

    This intriguing selection of sketches and paintings presented in both of these interconnected exhibitions offer a compelling story of the life and experiences of a talented young painter who emerged on the wide-open expanses of the Texas Panhandle. Of a Cowboys Sentiment is certain to inspire its viewers with exactly the type of Texas spirit and pride consistent with events at NRG Park. We issue fair warning, therefore, that the viewing experience will undoubtedly tug at ones own sentimentality, and the works on the walls will sing out for Texas buyers to take these rare objects home. So, Go Texan, Houston; do it with a cowboys sentiment, and yall come on out!

  • Background on the Artist At the suggestion of his cousin, cattleman T. S. Bugbee, Harold Dow Bugbee (1900-1963) came to the Texas Panhandle from Lexington, Massachusetts, in 1914 with his parents Charles H. and Grace Dow Bugbee. He attended high school at Clarendon and, showing an interest in sketching, studied architectural drawing at Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1917. Showing great promise as an artist, in 1919 he traveled to Taos, New Mexico, seeking instruction from W. Herbert Dunton (1878-1936) one of the founding members of the Taos Society of Artists and an artist whom he admired greatly. Although Dunton did not teach he and Bugbee remained friends until Duntons death in 1936. Following the advice of Bert Geer Phillips (1868-1956), another Taos founder, Bugbee enrolled at the Cumming School of Art in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1920. After two years of academic study at Cumming, Bugbee returned to Texas and refocused on the Old West. Under the watchful eyes of cattlemen Frank Collinson (1855-1943) and Charles Goodnight (1836-1929), Bugbee sketched the landscape and wildlife of the Texas Panhandle, Indians and cowboys, and nostalgic scenes of the Panhandle-Plains frontier. Each Fall, from 1922 until the late 1930s, the artist traveled to Taos to paint with his fellow artists Buck Dunton, Frank Hoffman (1888-1958), Leon Gaspard (1882-1964), and Ralph Meyers (1885-1948), often packing into the mountains to paint with either Meyers or Dunton. By the early 1930s, galleries in New York, Denver, Chicago, and Kansas City handled Bugbees work. He also turned to magazine illustration, a practice he maintained for some eighteen years, working for pulps and slicks. In 1933 Bugbee began illustrating for magazines such as Ranch Romances, Western Stories, Country Gentleman, and Field and Stream, among others, and books on Western history including J. Evetts Haleys Charles Goodnight: Cowman and Plainsman, Willie

    N. Lewiss Between Sun and Sod, and S. Omar Barkers Songs of the Saddleman and others. Additionally, Bugbee illustrated many Texas newspapers. He also illustrated the front cover of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Review from 1930 through 1962. All the while, Bugbee continued to make easel paintings. Bugbee exhibited first in the Texas Panhandle in the late 1920s in Amarillo and Dalhart, then at the Tri-State Fair at Amarillo, Fort Worth Frontier Centennial Exposition in 1936, the Greater Texas and Pan-American Exposition at Dallas in 1937 (in the Hall of State), and in the annual West Texas art exhibitions at Fort Worth. He also had numerous solo exhibitions all over Texas and exhibited at Taos. Bugbee designed the Doans Crossing bronze monument near Vernon, Texas, in 1931 (for which he receives no credit on the monument) then began painting murals. Under the Public Works of Art Project (1934) he painted the first of five murals for Pioneer Hall at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. Another New Deal mural followed in 1940. After being drafted by the U. S. Army in 1942, Bugbee quickly completed a mural commission for the Old Tascosa supper club in Amarillos Herring Hotel. Following his discharge in 1943 because of his age and an injury suffered in jump school, he painted three murals for the Amarillo Army Air Field, two of which are now in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Bugbee became Panhandle-Plains Historical Museums first paid curator of art in 1951, agreeing to work part-time in that position so he could continue painting. He painted 17 murals of American Indian life for the Museums former Indian Hall and finished the Pioneer Hall mural cycle by 1958, with his Working Cattle on the Open Range. Today over 1,000 Bugbee works, a reconstruction of his studio, and a Bugbee Gallery are part of the Panhandle-Plains art collection.

    Pen and Ink on the Southern Plains:Work on Paper by Harold Dow Bugbee

    (By Michael Grauer)

  • Bugbees works are fitting tribute to his devotion to the Panhandle-Plains region of Texas and the greater Southwest. Bugbees work can be found at in the Smithsonians American Art Museum; the Amon Carter Museum; Cattlemans Museum, Fort Worth; American Quarter Horse Heritage Center and Museum; Museum of the Southwest, Midland, Texas; the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, Oklahoma City; the National Ranching Heritage Center, Lubbock; and the J. Evetts Haley History Center, Midland, Texas.An Overview of Bugbees Efforts on Paper Known primarily for his pen and ink and ink drybrush drawings used to illustrate pulp magazines, Bugbee skills as a draftsman are widely praised. In fact, Jeff Dykes included him in his seminal biographical dictionary, Fifty Great Western Illustrators, based almost exclusively on Bugbees skill with ink. However, he was equally skilled in graphite and charcoal, as well as lithographic crayon on pebbled paper. Bugbee also showed great control and spontaneity in watercolor, using either washes or brushstrokes to master this most unforgiving of media. Unknown to most are Bugbees works in colored pencil. Unsatisfied with colored pencils as color fillers, he showed immense verve in his pencil strokes allowing the medium to flow and express, almost like a liquid medium. Moreover, Bugbee experimented successfully in color oil pastels, using them much as he had colored pencil. Yet, what truly sets Bugbee apart from his peers were his illustrated letters, his own Panhandle Paper Talk. Bugbees idol, Charles M. Russell (1864-1926) called his illustrated letters, verses, Christmas cards, and other personalia, paper talk. A prolific correspondent, Russells illustrated written materials are highly prized by both public and private collections alike. Throughout his career Bugbee turned to Russell and Frederic Remington (1861-1909), masters of the American West, for inspiration. Copying old master paintings has been standard practice in academic art training throughout history. Likewise, borrowing compositions or even parts of an old masters work, has been encouraged since at least the 18th century. To refer to an old master in your own work

    helped make it more intellectually stimulating and displayed your own knowledge of art history. This is not to suggest that Bugbee copied his compositions from Frederic Remington and/or Charlie Russell. Rather, in pursuing a similar subject, Bugbee, as all artists have done throughout history, and like many illustrators constantly searching for ideas, looked to the recognized masters of a certain genre for ideas and possible solutions to problems. In his library, Bugbee had more books about, by, or illustrated by Russell and Remington than any other artists. He also collected reproductions of their paintings and had three Russell bronzes in his studio. Bugbee probably first saw Remingtons paintings reproduced in Colliers Weekly. From 1903 to 1907, Remington was under contract to Colliers to create one painting per month for reproduction in the magazine. Sadly, in 1907 Remington burned at least 75 of his paintings including many done under the Colliers contract. The Snook Art Company of Billings, Montana, sold numerous Russell reproductions. In fact, in many ways, Russells commitment to depicting Western life on the Northern Plains, Bugbee paralleled on the Southern Plains some 25 years later. To be sure, Bugbee was hardly the only Western artist to illustrate his letters. Will James (1892-1942)...


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