Will James, Young Cowboy, 1935, pen, ink, and watercolor; The Abe Hays Family Will James Collection.
James (1892-1942) was a prolific Western artist, illustrator and writer who was best known as one of the greatest “action artists” of all time and as author of the award-winning book, “Smoky the Cowhorse,” which won the prestigious Newberry Medal for children’s literature and was made into three film adaptions. On loan from Paradise Valley resident and founding SMoW Trustee, Abe Hays, SMoW celebrates the return of this exhibition for an exclusive three-month showing. The Abe Hays Family Will James Collection is the largest and most comprehensive collection of James’ work in private hands. It features 80-plus original works of art, all 26 of his books and those illustrated by James for other authors; letters; photographs; posters; prints; and artifacts including his Winchester M1894 carbine rifle, pen knife, World War I dog tags and his saddle. James had 26 books published. This exhibition was first launched at SMoW with the museum’s grand opening on Jan. 15, 2015 and was brought back by popular demand in summer 2018.