A native of Lexington, Massachusetts, Bugbee came to Texas in 1912 to live on a ranch near Clarendon. He graduated from Clarendon High School, attended Clarendon College (1917) and Texas A&M College, College Station (1918), then graduated from the Charles Cummings School of Art, Des Moines, Iowa (1921). He also studied in New York City. After returning to Clarendon about 1922, Bugbee painted regularly with members of the Taos art colony in New Mexico.
Known for his portrayals of ranch life, Bugbee was an illustrator of books and magazines and a painter of historical portraits. He illustrated J. Evetts Haley’s Charles Goodnight, Cowman and Plainsman (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1936) and worked with Haley in the production of several other historical works. Bugbee’s Illustrations often appeared on the covers of the Panhandle-Plains HistoricalReview between 1929 and 1962, in pulp magazines, and in Country Gentleman, QuarterHorse Journal, Progressive Farmer, The Cattleman, and Field and Stream magazines. He taught at the Palo Duro School of Art, Canyon, and in 1951 became part-time curator of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon. Bugbee died in Clarendon, survived by his second wife, Olive Vandruff Bugbee. A re-creation of his studio as it existed at the time of his death is on permanent exhibit at the panhandle-Plains Historical Museum.
The important things in Bugee’s professional life were the integrity of his work and his continuous dedication, from boyhood, to painting the people, the animals and the breathtaking places of the Southwest of the period 1850 to about 1920 [Robinson].
1936 Fort Worth Frontier Centennial Exposition
1937 Annual Texas Artists Exhibition, Fort Worth
1940 Exhibition of paintings by Texas Artists , J. W. Young Galleries, Chicago
1953 Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon
1961 Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon
1970 Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon
1987 Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon
1994 Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon
1992 Nita Stewart Haley Library, Midland
1993 Cattlemen’s Museum, Fort Worth
1997 Hock Shop Collection: Rediscovering Texas Artists of the Past, Museum of the Big Bend, Alpine
Findler Gallery, Chicago
Feragil Art Galleries, New York
· Amarillo Hotel and Herring Hotel, Amarillo
· Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon
· Hall of State, Fair Park, Dallas
· National Museum of American Art, Washington, D. C. (two of three murals formerly at Amarillo Army Airfield)