Even in ruin and abandonment there is renewal and rebirth, an intricate paradox of decay and regeneration. Within these frozen moments sculpture my wish is that the viewer may pause and reflect upon these ongoing cycles of physical and spiritual evolution, which spring from hope, and are in play all around us.
The bronze sculptures: The delicacy in the extremities of the compositions contrast and compliment the dense center cores of the pieces, creating complex rhythmic counterpoints suggesting growth and regeneration. Observation from a more objectified distance suggests organic objects pulled from the earth. A closer, more intimate analysis reveals man-made refuse entwined, emerging, abandoned. The bronzing process freezes this image and seems to lift it outside of time, where the eye can contemplate the scale of man to nature, and consider that even in ruin and abandonment there must be renewal and regeneration, creating a intricate paradox of decay and evolution, and even in this frozen moment meditate upon the ongoing cycles of physical and spiritual rebirth.
The mixed-media sculptures: These pieces engage and explore the same themes on a more tactile, delicate level. The surfaces are treated with chemically oxidized metallic paints to give them a sense of found permanence, suggesting a hybrid born of necessity. The oxidizing process introduces a random chemical evolution that mirrors the seeming spontaneity in the organizational essences of these combines. The “bows” in these pieces imply tension, movement, and sound. They are the gestural lines of the compositions, providing an elegant path of movement for the eye and suggesting conduits of growth and possibility. They also suggest vulnerability, impossibility, and fragility in strength, the embodiment of the omnipresent life-force that animates material manifestations, an energy that at any moment could be uncoiled or broken, and its energy released to take on a new form.
When given a chance to pursue their own logic, their own dream, the materials of these sculptures, abandoned by Man and Nature, never fail to give birth to something new. It's really an evolutionary process grounded in hope.
James K. M. Watts has journeyed from the ancient rain forests of Australia to the Pagan landscapes of Lithuania seeking inspiration for his artistic vision. James was born in San Francisco. His earliest memories are the sound of crashing waves and the lonely call of foghorns, and drawing on the reams of white paper manufactured by a paper company started by his great-grandfather after the gold rush. The expansive beauty of the American West and the meditative work of the Nineteenth Century California Tonalist painters were his starting points. “I have always been enchanted by views and vistas and their relationship to the solitary wanderers who carry with them their own inner landscapes. The eye acts as a kind of threshold between these two worlds.”
Beginning with traditional paintings on canvas, his work evolved into unique painting-sculpture hybrids. “Living in New York in the Eighties confirmed my long-held suspicion that painting on canvas was an exhausted enterprise.” In many travels including wanderings through the western deserts of the United States, he sought out places where “culture and the landscape are inseparable. Where inanimate objects seem alive with an energy and presence.”
Since the early Nineties James has focused on creating pure sculpture, using the discarded refuse of both Man and Nature, and working with oxidation techniques and bronze casting. “I wanted to create objects pulled from an alternative nature, recognizable, yet completely different from our own, objects that seem animated by a life force. When given a chance to pursue their own logic, their own dream, these abandoned materials never fail to give birth to something new. It’s really an evolutionary process grounded in hope.”
James studied at U. C. Berkeley in the mid Seventies. A trip to Florence in 1974 inspired him to finish his BA in Italian Renaissance History, and attend the College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, founded by the Tonalist painters whom he admired. He received a BFA and has gone on to participate in over fifty solo, group and juried shows across the country and in Japan. He has received numerous awards and scholarships for his work, and recently completed a major bronze installation for a private residence on the East Coast.
James has enjoyed a successful career as an illustrator, illustrating twenty-three published books for children. His books have won numerous awards and his work has been shown in the Society of Illustrators Museum of American Illustration. He has also served as President the Executive Board of Southern Exposure, the legendary San Francisco arts organization, and Vice-president ZYZZYVA, the West Coast literary Journal, and on the Advisory Board of The Prague Project, a U.S.-Czech Republic cultural exchange program.