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James E. Bama


A native New Yorker, Bama creates photo-real figures and paintings that capture the old "wild west." He keeps a very tidy studio from where he converts his many photographs into paintings whose surfaces are so smooth and satiny that some people refer to him as the "Vermeer of the West" (McGarry 30).

He graduated from New York City's High School of Music and Arts and then served in the military for three years. He attended the Art Students League and became a renowned illustrator in New York, working for Saturday Evening Post, Argosy, and Reader's Digest. He also did over sixty book covers for Doc Savage books of Bantam Press.

In 1968, he and his wife moved to Wapiti, Wyoming, near Cody, in the mountains where he continued his illustration work and was not especially interested in western themes. However, attending pow wows, rodeos, and reenactments, he became increasingly interested in the local people and in 1971 gave up illustration.

He works from a home studio. He photographs his subjects in black and white, enlarges the photos, and makes an outline on tracing paper.

The Pearce Western Art Collection is proud to be the home of Bama's watercolor Sheriff Harley Kinkade.




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Navarro College, Corsicana, Texas. Site last updated January 2004.