Buffalo Bill Center of the West logo
Firearms Records Facility Rentals Raptor Experience Blog Posts Careers Internships Car Raffle About Us Business Directory Contact us F.A.Q.s
Get Tickets Museums Plan Your Trip Events Experiences School Programs Research Facility Rentals Store Membership Donate Firearms Records Car Raffle Blog Posts Employment About Us Contact Us F.A.Q.s
Loading Events

« All Events

Program: James Bama’s Photographs

July 9 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm MDT

James Bama, Cowhand, Cattle Drive, Mooncrest Ranch, North Fork, Cody, WY. P.243.00507

James Bama’s Photographs: An Essential Tool

A Presentation by Thomas Brent Smith

July 9, 2024
5:30–7 p.m.

Thomas Brent Smith with artist James Bama
Thomas Brent Smith with artist James Bama during Smith’s research residency with the McCracken Research Library.

Join our Whitney Western Art Museum for James Bama’s Photographs: An Essential Tool, a free, special program in the occasional Peter Hassrick Public Program series on Tuesday, July 9 in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Coe Auditorium. This presentation is in conjunction with the special exhibition James Bama’s Photographs: Portraits of the West, on view in our John Bunker Sands Photography Gallery through August 4, 2024.

Presenter Thomas Brent Smith is the Wylodean and Bill Saxon Director of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma. This event represents a homecoming of sorts for Smith, who was a Resident Fellow in the Center’s McCracken Research Library in 2005, researching the art of James Bama, the subject of his Master’s thesis. Smith recorded five interviews with Bama and got to know him both as a scholar and friend.

About the program

An artist known for his realism; James Bama used photography as an essential tool. His photography practice, however, went well beyond delineation. It became a way for the artist to engage, create, and carefully deliberate over what became his finished works. Bama’s camera gave him an entrée to engage with people who on the surface were dissimilar to the New Yorker who went West. The gregarious artists captured images of a wide cross section of people in the Mountain West, some of whom became subjects for his paintings. Among his most timely and compelling photographs and paintings are a group of works coinciding with the rise of the American Indian Movement. The series captures an important political moment while also acknowledging the painter’s rich artistic influences from photographers Edward S. Curtis to Richard Avedon and the Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art movements.

About the speaker

Thomas Brent Smith headshotSince joining the Fred Jones Museum in 2021, Smith has led the organization’s new strategic plan focused on financial stability, community engagement, and organization health. Previously he spent thirteen years as director of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum. In this role, he led the Petrie Institute to unprecedented growth and national stature by spearheading a $7 million endowment campaign and transforming the institute’s holdings by acquiring multiple important collections, including one of the most valuable gifts of art in the museum’s history.

During his tenure at the Denver Art Museum, Smith became known as a curator of innovative exhibitions with wide community appeal and positive critical response. He initiated an ambitious track of exhibitions, publications, and programs, including The American West in Bronze:1850–1925 with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Western: An Epic in Art and Film with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts among others.

Smith has been a fellow of The Getty Leadership Institute and is a past president of the Museums West Consortium.

About the series

Peter Hassrick was one of America’s foremost scholar-authors on western American art. The Peter Hassrick Public Program Series perpetuates his passion for innovative and creative public programming through the Whitney Western Art Museum.



July 9
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm MDT
Event Tags:
, , ,


Buffalo Bill Center of the West
720 Sheridan Avenue
Cody, WY United States
+ Google Map
View Venue Website
BUFFALO BILL CENTER OF THE WEST ◦ 720 Sheridan Avenue ◦ Cody, WY 82414 ◦ 307-587-4771Contact Us
+ +