Photo of James Wilcox

James Wilcox

Dowagiac, MI, United States

Curriculum Vitae - James Wilcox Travel Experience: Europe: I was commissioned to do a large, bronze portrait bust my senior year in college. I earned enough to backpack through the art capitals of Europe for six weeks that summer. Athens, Crete, Rome, Florence, Paris and London were on the itinerary. I was in Carrara Italy for the International Sculpture Symposium. Dozens of marble carvers lined the Piazza working on very large sculptures. I was fortunate to travel Europe previously with my mother, sister and brother-in-law during my sophomore year in high school. That trip was centered more on Northern Europe. The highlight was taking the Autobahn to Berlin. The difference between the East and West was both striking and frightening. We passed through Checkpoint Charlie and spent a day behind the wall in East Berlin. Even during the 70’s the devastation from WWll was still everywhere. The Pergamon Museum survived the war and was open to western tourists. It remains one of the most impressive museums I’ve ever seen, housing huge architectural reconstructions from Greece and Syria. I was very glad to make it back to West Berlin that day. We were told explicitly that being a blue-eyed blonde teenager I looked German and was a high risk of being killed for my passport. Richard Rush Studios: While at Rush Studios I worked on the coral reef reproduction for the Seas Pavilion at Epcot Center. I was sent to the Bahamas to see what a real coral reef looked like. I learned to scuba dive and went on two dives, one at 60ft. We were given permission by the Bahamian Government to collect specific corals to mold and cast from. We also took molds off several large Brain Corals removed before the strict reef protection laws were in place. Later that year I was sent to Epcot Center for several months to assemble the large rockwork from smaller sections fabricated in Chicago. I lived in a Disney apartment complex with temporary workers and private contractors from all over the country. We had plenty of time to see Epcot and Disneyland from inside the parks and behind the scenes. That included a day in their giant fabrication facilities. While in Florida my boss, Rick Jr., took me on a bonus scuba trip to Blue Springs. The state park is one of the largest manatee refuges in the country. At the time divers were allowed to swim with the manatees if they maintained the legal distance of twenty feet. They were awesome. School of the Art Institute of Chicago: I was awarded one of the two plum summer teaching-assistantships when I went to Graduate School. One was for the summer at Oxbow, the other was “The Artist in the Landscape” a summer travel class. I was hired for the later. We spent extended weekends all summer on excursions throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan exploring anything from grottos built by missionaries to Louis Sullivan’s and Frank Lloyd Wright’s where you would least expect them. Publications: The Chicago Sun-Times: I had freelance articles published on many occasions as myself and my alter-ego Miles Pennwright, Art Critic. I am particularly proud the editorial staff allowed me to use my pen name in the editorial pages where pseudonyms are strictly forbidden. As a result of Miles I became friends with Harold Haydon, the Sun-Times art critic, was invited to a Marcel Duchamp opening in NY, invented an artist who works exclusively in bananas and ultimately was accepted at the Art Institute. “F” Studentnewsmagazine: I contributed articles to the student newspaper as Miles while at art school. One was a lengthy interview with mall mogul and art collector David Bermant who patronized many artists to fill his malls with intriguing, sometimes controversial sculptures. Show Catalogue: I wrote a short story about my life at the Spice Factory which was published in my catalogue for a one-man show sponsored by the Elmhurst Artists Guild at the Elmhurst Art Museum. The photos and design were also mine with a little help from friends. The booklet was underwritten by the Charles Levy Company. Adventure: The Spice Factory: After Grad School I found myself back to freelance exhibits work. So I sold my house in the suburbs and moved into an “artist’s loft” on the Chicago River just south of the Loop. The Old Maxwell Street, Chinatown and Pilsen were minutes away. The rustic factory building was more of a giant dormitory for a wide variety of artists, musicians and other kindred spirits. Life was slightly dangerous but sheer excitement from day one. My second floor space was like a little cabin with a spectacular view of the river. The building and people in it were the subjects for a series of relief sculptures I was making. My neighbor, Herbert, was the Design Director of the Joffrey Ballet. I did a portrait of him as “Dr. Gachet” from the Van Gogh painting. Thanks to Herbert I was able to make another relief working with the Joffrey dancers during morning class as the subject. The Spice Factory provided a world of resources and entertainment. There were comp tickets to the ballet, Chicago Cow commissions, college teaching connections and plenty of opportunities to make, show and occasionally sell my work. There were also rats the size of Buicks in the basement space, break-ins and a revolving door of new owners, one of whom rented to the Latin Kings. That was a little too dangerous for me. When encroaching gentrification sent the rent soaring it was time to move on.

James's ArtPrize Entries

These are James's official ArtPrize entries from this year and past years.

  • Photo of The Sanctuary Project

    The Sanctuary Project

    2018 ArtPrize Entry James Wilcox
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  • Photo of Relief Sculptures

    Relief Sculptures

    2012 ArtPrize Entry James Wilcox
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James's Past Work

These are images of past work that James has done.

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