Where The Painted Buffalo Roam


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Buffalo Roam Art Project

Visitors to, and most certainly the residents of, West Yellowstone have frequently seen buffalo roaming the streets of this small Montana town. During the winter and springtime in particular, the buffalo are all over the place. Most residents have become used to seeing them while most visitors are wonderfully surprised and happy to see these huge and majestic animals right up close and right in town.

Though still a very new organization in the summer of 2006, WYED’s directors and supporters had an artistic epiphany. Why not use these majestic animals as the subject for a public art project? Thus was born the Buffalo Roam art project. It involved near life-sized buffalo cow statues made from fiberglass, and one year later life-sized buffalo calf statues, painted by local and regional artists. The artistic theme of the project was to depict Yellowstone National Park, Historic West Yellowstone, or the Native Americans of the region using the bare fiberglass buffalo statue as the artistic canvas.

The late Joe Halko, a Montana artist and sculptor from Chouteau, was contracted to create the buffalo cow model from which a mold was developed by Fiberstock Inc. of Buffalo, Minnesota. A public call out to artists resulted in artists from four neighboring states submitting bids to compete for right to paint one of the 27 buffalo and one year later one of the 10 calves. This project could not have happened without community support. Numerous sponsors donated $3,000 per buffalo to cover project costs which included artist fees. Some sponsors donated $10,000 to the project.

The grand unveiling for the buffalo cows was on June 2nd and 3rd in 2007. The grand unveiling for the calves was one year later in June of 2008. For more than two years, millions of visitors looked at, touched, walked under, walked around, probably climbed on (though they were not supposed to) and otherwise marveled at these incredibly beautiful buffalo sculptures. The project was written up by media across the Western United States. Literally millions of photos were taken of the 27 cows and 10 calves that graced the streets of West Yellowstone since the summer of 2007.

This three-year project culminated on the beautiful summer night of August 29, 2009. With more than 200 people in attendance, every single cow and calf was auctioned off to an enthusiastic crowd of art lovers, community supporters, and those who greatly appreciate the beauty of the Greater Yellowstone Region. Phone bids into the live auction were received from as far away as Georgia, California, and Nevada. It was a magical night and the auction raised $161,500 for WYED and its community projects including funding a local grants program (see Auction Guide).

After four years, all grant funding has been dispersed.

Though most of the sculptures have been taken elsewhere, there are still over a dozen that remain in West Yellowstone. Take a look and be sure to find each one on your next trip into West Yellowstone.

"Four Winds" "Now and Then" "IINII"

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Artist: Cameron Blagg
Hometown: Noxon, Montana
Description: This is an attempt to portray part of the North Plains Indian belief in the legend of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman, who came down from the heavens long ago to show the people the way to the sacred path.


Winning Bid: $3,100.00
Kenosha, WI

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Artist: Jan Johansen
Hometown: Anoka, Minnesota
Description: My Buffalo celebrates America's love of nature and the outdoors. With the invention of the automobile, camping boomed. Nowhere was this more evident than in Yellowstone National Park.


Winning Bid: $2,500.00
West Yellowstone, MT

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Artist: Traci Jo Nichols
Hometown: Potomac, Montana
Description: Iinii represents "Nitsitapiisinni" - Our Way of Life (Blackfoot). She depicts the journey between the Native American people and the buffalo. The buffalo blessed the Native Americans with everything they need to survive.


Winning Bid: $2,700.00
Ogden, UT


"Refuge" "Celebrate Dreamers" "Sage"

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Artist: Kevin Heaney
Hometown: Deer Lodge, Montana
Description: I am portraying Chief Joseph and Old Faithful, Chief Looking Glass and Lower Yellowstone Falls.


Winning Bid: $4,600.00
West Yellowstone, MT

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Artist: Pam Houston
Hometown: Ulm, Montana
Description: When thinking of West Yellowstone, many think of seeing the Park, wildlife and geysers. I on the other hand think of all the people that have come to visit, to work or to settle here. There are many other facets to this great town and the Park, but these are the images that mean the most to me.


Winning Bid: $4,00.00
Seattle, WA

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Artist: Rebecca McClive
Hometown: Fort Collins, Colorado
Description: The scenes I created for the painted buffalo depict tense moments in nature. The hunt for food and the decision that determines the survival of the fittest.


Winning Bid: $4,600.00
Winona, MN


"Bishee Ahpalaaxe" "Shoreline Silhouettes" "Flo" (Short for Buf-flo)
(Name Means: "Spirit of the Bison")

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artists2Artist: Pat Schermerhorn
Hometown: Cody, Wyoming
Description: She roamed the Yellowstone and provided for the Crow Indians that named her. Come see her in the darkest hour to see her true "Spirit".


Winning Bid: $3,800.00
West Yellowstone, MT

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Artist: Joe Halko
Hometown: Choteau, Montana
Description: The Madison and Yellowstone rivers and shorelines of Yellowstone National Park are teeming with life. Swans, Sandhill Cranes and Canada geese share the bounty with the bison and elk herds.


Winning Bid: $5,000.00
West Yellowstone, MT

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Artist: Pam Froemke
Hometown: Bellvue, Colorado
Description: The Yellowstone Wolf Reintroduction - a representation of the first free wild wolves in Yellowstone National Park after a sixty-year absence, in their new Lamar Valley home.


Winning Bid: $3,600.00

West Yellowstone, MT


"Yellowstone Heritage" "Ponies of the People" "White Buffalo Calf Woman"

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Artist: Anthony Floyd
Hometown: W. Yellowstone, Montana
Description: I chose to paint bears and buffalo, mountain men and Indians, forests, streams, mountains, and the beautiful skies as my theme of "The Majestic Yellowstone" area.


Winning Bid: $3,250.00

West Yellowstone, MT

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Artist: Mitzi Nelson
Hometown: Stanford, Montana
Description: Indian ponies enjoying a moment of freedom under the northern lights, with the village in the background. Painted in acrylics, using an airbrush for the sky then brushes for the horses.


Winning Bid: $3,800.00
Salt Lake City, UT

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Artist: Linda Phillippi
Hometown: Ronan, Montana
Description: Revered by Native Americans, she is a symbol of peace, bringing together the four races of the world - white, yellow, red and black - and the teacher of the seven ways to pray.


Winning Bid: $3,100.00
West Yellowstone, MT


"Sunrise to Sunset in Yellowstone" "Snaggle Tooth" "Buffalo Fancy Dancer"

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Artist: Janet McGahan
Hometown: Arlee, Montana
Description: Every May since 1974, Arlee Montana's 8th grade biology class has camped for 5 days in Yellowstone to experience the park's rich offerings of landscape, geology and wildlife.


Winning Bid: $4,000.00
Island Park, ID

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Artist: Carol Newbury Howe
Hometown: Livingston, Montana
Description: "Snaggle Tooth" greets you from diverse and historic West Yellowstone, Montana.


Final Price: $6,000.00


This item was sold and donated back to the Yellowstone Historic Center in West Yellowstone.

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Artist: Lisa Cameron
Hometown: Fort Collins, Colorado
Description: At the end of the 19th century, the meaning of the American Indian dancer changed. My buffalo wears the bright colored regalia of a modern competitive fancy dancer and represents strife which the buffalo and Native American share.


Winning Bid: $5,000.00
Las Vegas, NV


"The Unknown Buffalo" "Winter" "Spirit of Yellowstone"

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Artist: Karen Garre
Hometown: Livingston, Montana
Description: The buffalo is painted with symbolism relating to civilization's link to an animal world. Representing age-old rock paintings to ghost-like uncertain future.


Winning Bid: 5,700.00
Redwood, NY

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Artist: Tim Joyner
Hometown: Hamilton, Montana
Description: A photo I saw of some elk in a hot springs was my inspiration. I decided to paint the snow covering to continue the winter theme. I chose to use the purples and blues to carry out the cool theme and help to tie the whole buffalo together.


Winning Bid: $10,250.00
Sandy, UT

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Artist: Jim Utsler
Hometown: Choteau, Montana
Description: The Spirit of the White Buffalo as guardian of the beauty and grandeur of Yellowstone National Park.


Winning Bid: $5,500.00
West Yellowstone, MT


"Spectres of Yellowstone" "Arlo" "Rounding Up The Girls"

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Artist: Michael D. Meissner
Hometown: Glendive, Montana
Description: Images of the silent memories of Yellowstone. If such a grand place could speak, consider what we might learn of her history and her inhabitants.


Winning Bid: $3,250.00
Kenosha, WI

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Artist: Asha Murthy MacDonald
Hometown: Virginia City, Montana
Description: The focus of this piece is the changing sky and light that provide a constant backdrop for the natural wonder that is Yellowstone National Park.



Winning Bid: $5,900.00
West Yellowstone, MT

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Artist: Susan Guy
Hometown: Buffalo, Wyoming
Description: I often visit Yellowstone National Park. This is a depiction of an elk herd along the Madison River in the western section of the Park, as the bull elk rounds up his "girls" one more time.



Winning Bid: $4,300.00
Livingston, MT


"When Joseph Was The Buffalo" "Norbert The Notorious" "Olaffub Enotswolley"

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Artist: DG House
Hometown: Bozeman, Montana
Description: This buffalo tells the story of Chief Joseph's 1877 run for freedom through Yellowstone Park. It represents what Chief Joseph saw, and what saw him.


Winning Bid: $4,100.00
Pocatello, ID

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Artist: Sean Bryers
Hometown: W. Yellowstone, Montana
Description: Welcome to the representation of my mind. This bison is an eclectic vision of native nature in and around Montana. Color, Spirit, and Life.


Winning Bid: $5,500.00
Bozeman, MT

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Artist: Diane Anderson
Hometown: Power, Montana
Description: Olaffub Enotswolley (Yellowstone Buffalo spelled backwards). The buffalo on the landscape of Yellowstone Park has been reversed to the landscape of Yellowstone Park on the buffalo.


Winning Bid: $8,000.00
Salt Lake City, UT


"Frances" "Penelope"

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Artist: Collage of 15 Buffalo Roam Artists



Winning Bid: $6,750.00

West Yellowstone, MT

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Artist: Diane Hausmann
Hometown: Fairfield, Montana
Description: "Comein' Around the Mountain". Inspired by the old postcards of Yellowstone, tourists traveled by tally-ho coaches and yellow touring cars encountering many adventures.



Winning Bid: $17,00.00

West Yellowstone, MT


"Crocus-Bluebird's Daughter" "Lulubelle" "Sweet Spring"

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Artist: Pam Houston
Hometown: Ulm, Montana
Description: Comes from a Native American story about how bluebirds represented a clear, bright and serene way of being, and people who were attended by them enjoyed those same benefits.


Winning Bid: $2,900.00
West Yellowstone, MT

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Artist: Robin Berry
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Description: Lulubelle is a flower lover and enjoys the beautiful hummingbirds, butterflies and dragonflies of Yellowstone National Park.



This calf was raffled.
Winner: Dan Larson of Boise, ID.

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Artist: Joe Halko
Hometown: Choteau, Montana
Description: Spring is sweet with the fresh green, the rustling of the hatchlings and the warm rays of the sun.


Winning Bid: $4,900.00
Bozeman, MT


"Snowflake" "Buffalo Spring-Field" "Blossom"

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Hometown: Fairfield, Montana
Description: Snowflake, Penelope's calf, portrays the tourist enjoying the park in the winter season.


Artist: Diane Hausmann


Winning Bid: $7,250.00
Menlo Park, CA

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Artist: Asha Murthy MacDonald
Hometown: Virginia City, Montana
Description: This calf depicts aspects of Yellowstone National Park under the light of a full moon.


Winning Bid: $3,100.00
West Yellowstone, MT

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Artist: Jim Utsler
Hometown: Choteau, Montana
Description: For the blossoming life of spring.


Winning Bid: $3,500.00
Las Vegas, NV


"Forever Montana" "Buddie" "We Remember our Land"

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Artist: Michael D. Meissner
Hometown: Glendive, Montana
Description: From the majestic mountains in the west to the forbidding badlands of the east, Montana captures the memories and souls of all who visit her.


Winning Bid: $2,900.00
West Yellowstone, MT

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Artist: Diane Anderson
Hometown: Power, Montana
Description: Wildflowers on the buffalo calf represent spring and the continuing cycle of life in Yellowstone.


Winning Bid: $3,200.00
Macks Inn, ID

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Artist: DG House
Hometown: Bozeman, Montana
Description: A tribute to the individual birds of Yellowstone and their incredible view of this magnificent land.


Winning Bid: $2,000.00
West Yellowstone, MT


"The Babies of Yellowstone"
(Poppy)

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Artist: Pat Schermerhorn
Hometown: Cody, Wyoming
Description: Spring brings new life to Yellowstone National Park. This is just a small sampling of the new babies that arrive each spring.


Winning Bid: $4,500.00
Smyma, GA


Buffalo Roam could not have been a success without the hundreds and hundreds of volunteer hours dedicated to the project by the following people:

Project Creator: Clyde Seely

Co-Chairpersons Buffalo Roam Project – John Greve, Janna Turner, & Louise Graham

Members-At-Large – Clyde Seely, Mike Polkowske, Pierre Martineau, & Glenn Hales.

Buffalo Photographer – Jerry Johnson

Chairman Painted Buffalo Calves - Clyde Seely

Co-Chairpersons Art Show Committee - John Greve, Janna Turner

Co-Chairpersons Merchandising Committee - John Greve, Glenn Hales, & Janna Turner.

Chairwoman Marketing & Promotion Committee – Jan Stoddard

Co-Chairpersons Auction Committee – Pierre Martineau & Glenn Hales

Chairman Website Committee – Glenn Hales

Co-Chairpersons Finance Committee – Mike Polkowske & Janna Turner

 

Also Visit: W. Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce | W. Yellowstone Historic Center | Town of W. Yellowstone | Events Calendar


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