Hamilton’s art hits the market

Robert Smith
Shown here are unfinished figures created by Jim Hamilton Jr. They are among items to be up for sale in June. Robert Smith/Journal-Capital

For admirers of the western art of Jim Hamilton Jr., the auction coming up June 7-8 on Kihekah Avenue promises to be a special event.

The auction will place elements of Hamilton’s body of work on the market that have been in storage the past 16 years. A.J. Hamilton of Pawhuska, the youngest of the artist’s three daughters, has decided to give art collectors a chance to enjoy various pieces — including unfinished items that buyers can take to a foundry and have finished.

The auction, which Pawhuska businessman Cody Garnett and his Great Osage Auction & Trading Company are arranging, will be a two-day affair and will involve several categories of items. It will be held at the former Bank of Commerce building at 623 Kihekah Avenue, next to Tower Loan.

Hamilton, who passed away in 2000 at age 80, was a premiere sculptor of western themes. His talent and skill are reflected in well-known pieces of public sculpture such as the Spirit Rider figure on the Oklahoma State University campus and a bronze statue of a Longhorn at the University of Texas at Austin.

A.J. Hamilton explained her father was a self-taught artist who began his sculpture work at age 47. He built a national following and went on to create more than 170 works of sculpture, she said.

“It’s a very difficult thing for the daughters to do, but it is time,” A.J. Hamilton said. She describes her late mother, Dorothy, as a very sociable, charismatic woman who owned a downtown Pawhuska clothing and shoe store on Kihekah Avenue and her father as a gifted, philosophical storyteller. The Hamiltons were part of an older era when Pawhuska was a full-service town and the center of considerable social activity.

Jim Hamilton Jr. grew up on a ranch near Pawhuska and before he became involved in the production of bronze sculpture he made what A.J. describes as “fabulous custom furniture.” She says her father was someone who loved the ranching life for reasons that went well beyond making a living.

“He loved it because he loved the land and he loved the animals,” she said.

Garnett said the Friday, June 7 auction preview will begin at 8 a.m. The selling will begin at 10:01 a.m. That first morning, general merchandise collectibles will be on sale. That afternoon, it will be western collectibles. Art items, including bronzes, and items such as signed John Joseph Mathews books will be on sale the second day, he said.