Press RoomNew American art exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum showcases iconic images of the western United States

New American art exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum showcases iconic images of the western United States

Mar, 21, 2023

American and Western American Art

New American art exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum showcases iconic images of the western United States

William Herbert “Buck” Dunton: A Mainer Goes West uncovers the unlikely legacy of a founding member of the Taos Society of Artists

PHOENIX (March 21, 2023) – This summer, Phoenix Art Museum will present William Herbert “Buck” Dunton: A Mainer Goes West, the Museum’s newest American art exhibition. Organized by Phoenix Art Museum and the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, New Mexico, the exhibition features some of the most significant works by William Herbert “Buck” Dunton, a founder of the Taos Society of Artists—arguably the most important group to popularize real and idealized images of the American West. The exhibition considers Dunton’s upbringing in rural Maine and how his relationship with the natural world informed his depictions of the people and places of the western United States. It is accompanied by an installation of artworks from the Museum’s permanent collection created by many of Dunton’s peers who likewise transplanted to New Mexico, inspired by its natural beauty and diverse cultures. William Herbert “Buck” Dunton: A Mainer Goes West will be on view from June 17 through June 30, 2024, in the Art of the Americas galleries at Phoenix Art Museum.

“The Taos Society of Artists was critical to bringing southwestern imagery to the attention of a national audience,” said Jeremy Mikolajczak, the Sybil Harrington Director and CEO of Phoenix Art Museum. “William Herbert ‘Buck’ Dunton: A Mainer Goes West features compelling works by one of the six founding members who, like so many of us, relocated to the Southwest. Dunton saw and depicted the region’s impressive landscapes and diverse cultures as someone experiencing a place for the first time. Placed in conversation with works by others who made New Mexico and the Southwest their chosen home, the exhibition demonstrates how this region has long been a significant source of inspiration and a center of artistic creation.”

Born in 1878, in Augusta, the state capital of Maine, Dunton initially trained and made a living as an illustrator. His work was featured in Harper’s Weekly, Collier’s, Woman’s Home Companion, Scribner’s, Cosmopolitan, and several other magazines, and he also illustrated many books, including several of Zane Grey’s classic cowboy stories. Dunton and his family relocated to Taos in 1914, and it was then that he turned to painting romanticized depictions of the geography and cultures of the Southwest. Throughout his career, Dunton exhibited works at the National Academy of Design, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the 1924 Venice Biennale, among other achievements.

Despite his contributions to American art, Dunton has received little attention beyond inclusion of his work in shows featuring the paintings of the Taos Society of Artists and in a 1984 monograph. William Herbert “Buck” Dunton: A Mainer Goes West presents many of the artist’s most significant paintings, and though intimate in size, the exhibition demonstrates how Dunton channeled his love of nature—which he developed while growing up in rural Maine—to portray subjects of the actual and mythical American West, including landscapes, scenes of animal life, and depictions of cowboys and cowgirls, vaqueros, and Indigenous communities. The exhibition is complemented by a selection of works by other Taos Society artists and drawn from the Museum’s collection. Titled The Muse of New Mexico, the installation presents works by Dunton’s peers and collaborators, who likewise drew inspiration from the Southwest (specifically New Mexico), choosing to live in the region either full time or seasonally. Together, A Mainer Goes West and The Muse of New Mexico shed light on the Southwest region’s long-standing reputation as a dynamic cultural and artistic ecosystem.

A Mainer Goes West and its accompanying installation represent a unique opportunity for visitors to discover Dunton’s unlikely legacy while observing his work in relation to the output of other Taos Society artists,” said Betsy Fahlman, adjunct curator of American art at Phoenix Art Museum who co-curated the exhibition. “I hope that through viewing Dunton’s work, which has not been the focus of a major exhibition in more than 30 years, visitors can experience a fresh view of this significant artist’s accomplishments. As an outdoorsman, he appreciated not only the diversity of cultures in Taos but also the region’s abundant wildlife. Dunton’s lens was both realistic and romanticized, and he realized that the West that so inspired him began to disappear in his lifetime.”

William Herbert “Buck” Dunton: A Mainer Goes West is accompanied by a scholarly catalogue featuring essays by exhibition curators Michael K. Komanecky, former Phoenix Art Museum chief curator, who chronicles Dunton’s childhood in rural Maine, and Betsy Fahlman, adjunct curator of American art at Phoenix Art Museum, who examines Dunton’s depictions of women in the American West. The exhibition is on view now at the Harwood Museum through May 21, 2023.

About the Exhibition
William Herbert “Buck” Dunton: A Mainer Goes West is organized by Phoenix Art Museum and the Harwood Museum of Art. It is guest curated by Michael K. Komanecky, Independent Curator and Art Historian, and Betsy Fahlman, Adjunct Curator of American Art, Phoenix Art Museum, with additional curation by Nicole Dial-Kay, Harwood Curator of Exhibitions and Collections. The exhibition’s presentation at Phoenix Art Museum is made possible through the generosity of Supporting Sponsors Men’s Arts Council and Carl and Marilynn Thoma, with additional support from Kimpton Hotel Palomar. For more information, click here.

Admission is free for Museum Members; and youth aged 5 and younger; and Maricopa County Community Colleges students. Entrance into the exhibition is included in general admission for the public. Visitors may also enjoy reduced admission to the exhibition during voluntary-donation times on Wednesdays from 3 – 9 pm, made possible by SRP and supported in part through the generosity of the Angela and Leonard Singer Endowment for Performing Arts. For a full breakdown of general-admission prices and hours, see

High-resolution photography can be downloaded here. To request interviews, contact the Communications Office of Phoenix Art Museum at 602.257.2117 or

About Phoenix Art Museum
Since 1959, Phoenix Art Museum has provided millions of guests with access to world-class art and experiences in an effort to ignite imaginations, create meaningful connections, and serve as a brave space for all people who wish to experience the transformative power of art. Located in Phoenix’s Central Corridor, the Museum is a vibrant destination for the visual arts and the largest art museum in the southwestern United States. Each year, more than 300,000 guests engage with critically acclaimed national and international exhibitions and the Museum’s collection of more than 20,000 works of American and Western American, Asian, European, Latin American, modern and contemporary art, and fashion design. The Museum also presents a comprehensive film program, live performances, and educational programs designed for visitors of all ages, along with vibrant photography exhibitions made possible through the Museum’s landmark partnership with the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona. To learn more about Phoenix Art Museum, visit, or call 602.257.1880.

About Harwood Museum of Art
The Harwood Museum of Art is an international destination visited by tens of thousands of visitors each year. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, and the second oldest museum in New Mexico, the Harwood celebrates Taos’ artistic legacy, cultivates current connections through art, and inspires a creative future. Art and education have been the soul of the Harwood experience from its beginnings in 1916, when Burt and Lucy Harwood first purchased the property at the end of historic Ledoux Street, to the creation of the Harwood Foundation in 1923 and continuing to the present day. The 1935 Deed of Conveyance, which gifted Lucy’s Harwood Foundation to the University of New Mexico, stated that the property would be an educational, cultural, and art center in connection with the University. The Harwood Museum of Art is currently home to the world-famous Agnes Martin Gallery and a collection with more than 6,500 objects representing 795 artists. The Harwood regularly exhibits works from the Taos region’s historic Native American and Hispano artists, the Taos Society of Artists, and the Taos Moderns, as well as living artists creating art in the Taos region. Housed in a fully restored, adobe residence which is more than 100 years old, the Harwood Museum of Art is registered with both the National Register of Historic Places and the New Mexico Register of Cultural Properties.

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