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 James (Jim) Elwood Reynolds  (1926 - 2010)

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Lived/Active: Arizona/California      Known for: cowboy genre and landscape painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography is submitted by Shari Morrison, art professional from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and is from the memorial service and obituary of Jim Reynolds.

James E Reynolds
 
Born: November 9, 1926
Died: February 8, 2010
 
James Elwood Reynolds passed away at his home in Scottsdale on February 8, 2010. He is survived by three sons: James Grant Reynolds, Las Vegas, NV; Christopher Lee Reynolds, Scottsdale, AZ; John Paul Reynolds, Reno, NV and long time companion Sheila Cottrell of Tucson, AZ.

A prominent Western painter for the last forty years, Jim Reynolds was known for his impressionistic paintings of the life of Old West cowboys.  His works are in museum and private collections throughout the United States.  Traildust: Cowboys, Cattle and Country: The Art of James Reynolds by Don Hedgepeth chronicles Jim’s Western paintings.

Born in Taft, California, his early childhood led him to a love and respect of the cowboy.  He spent summers at his grandmother’s hotel in the old mining town of Washington, where he heard stories of the Old West and where he fell in love with the art of Frank Tenney Johnson.
 
After serving in World War II, Jim attended art school at the Kahn Institute of Art and the School of Allied Arts in Los Angeles. He went on to work as a commercial illustrator, first in the aircraft industry and then in the movie industry.  From 1954 to 1967 Jim worked on 150 films, many of them Westerns.
 
In 1967, Jim left the movie industry and moved to Sedona, AZ where he met Joe Beeler and Charlie Dye, founding members of the Cowboy Artists of America. He was invited to join their group and throughout the years he exhibited with them, he won numerous awards for his art.
 
He was also a proud member of the National Academy of Western Artists.  In 1992 at an exhibit at the (then) Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, OK, he swept the awards with his painting “Arizona Cowboys” —the only artist ever to win the prestigious Prix de West purchase award, the Nona Jean Hulsey Buyer’s award and the Gold Medal for Best Painting.
 
Known as an artist’s artist, Jim dedicated his life to mentoring younger artists. In 1983, he was instrumental in helping establish the Scottsdale Artists’ School, which is recognized as one of the countries foremost art schools.
 
He turned to his love of painting landscapes in most recent years and met with great success. A new book, The Landscapes of James Reynolds, is awaiting release. Claggett-Rey Gallery in Vail, Colorado represents Mr. Reynolds work.
 
A memorial service will be held March 6, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. at the Zelma Basha Salmeri Gallery of Western American and Native American Art located at 22402 S. Basha Road, Chandler, Arizona 85248.
 
Donations may be made to the National Military Family Association.
 


Biography from Trailside Galleries:
James Reynolds is known for his realistic landscape paintings of the American West. He was born in Taft, CA in 1926, and has had an affinity for the West from an early age when he visited his grandmother each summer in a remote area of the Sierra foothills.  He spent years on ranches immersed in his subject matter and gathering experiences to last a lifetime.

After serving in the Navy during World War II, Reynolds went to art school on the GI Bill.  He attended the Kahn Institute of Art in Los Angeles, CA and then the School of Allied Arts in Glendale, CA.  Reynolds’ first job after art school was as a technical illustrator in California’s booming aircraft industry.  He then found a job as a sketch artist for the film industry working for studios such as Columbia, Fox, and Disney.  His movie credits include The Dairy of Anne Frank, The Long, Hot Summer, and My Fair Lady.

In 1967, Reynolds moved to the wilderness of Arizona to pursue a career in painting. He met Joe Beeler and Charlie Dye, two founding members of the Cowboy Artists of America, and they invited him to join the group.  Over the next decade his reputation grew as his work improved.  In 1979 he decided to withdraw from the CAA, and worked alone in his studio.

During this period of solitude, Reynolds’ paintings continued to improve, and he began to receive honors and awards.  In 1992 he became the first artist in the history of the National Academy of Western Artists to win the show’s three highest honors: The Prix de West Purchase Award, the gold medal in the oil category, and the Nona Jean Hulsey Buyer’s Choice Award. The following year he was honored with a retrospective exhibition at the Gilcrease Museum and also rejoined the CAA.

Most recently Reynolds was the recipient of the 2000 Thomas Moran Memorial Award at the Autry Museum Show and the 2001 Masters of the American West Award at the Autry Museum Show.

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, V:
James Reynolds

“Broad realist” painter of contemporary cowboys at work, born in Taft, California in 1926 and living in Sedona, Arizona since 1967. “Critics don’t bother me a bit,” he declares. “I’m just doing my own thing, with no phony non-sense. I just like to paint cowboys. I’m a realist in every sense of the word, but in painting I lean toward impressionism. As far as my goals are concerned, I just want to be a good painter. And naturally, I want to leave something behind.

When Reynolds was a boy, summers were spent in a small town in the Sierra Nevadas, near Donner Pass. “The whole town was just so full of the mood of the Old West,” he recalls. His interest in art was heightened by getting a calendar with a Frank Tenney Johnson painting that “just turned me on.” After service in World War II, he studied at Kahn Institute of Art in Los Angeles and the School of Allied Arts in Glendale, became a free-lance commercial artist, worked for Lockheed Aircraft as an illustrator, and then for fifteen years sketched and painted for the major movie studios in Hollywood. When he resigned his high paid job to paint full time, his supervisor was concerned, but Reynolds made more money his first year of painting than he had in Hollywood.

In 1974, Marlboro chose a Reynolds oil painting for billboards and magazine around the world. He is a member of the Cowboy Artist of America and has won the “public choice” medal twice. Franklin Mint has published his prints and he has been featured in Southwest Art, February 1977 and Artists of the Rockies, fall 1981.

Resource: Contemporary Western Artists, by Peggy and Harold Samuels 1982, Judd’s Inc., Washington, D.C

Biography from Conservation Design Inc:
James Reynolds was born in a Standard Oil lease house in 1926 and raised in Taft, California. As a boy, he spent summers at his grandmother’s Nevada City hotel, which was situated just beyond the infamous Donner Pass and literally above the south fork of the Yuba River, supported by stilts. In Nevada City he experienced firsthand the remnants of the Old West and heard the stories of that time. Although he dabbled with drawing during grade school, Reynolds didn’t investigate it seriously until after World War II.

The trip home from China was a long and boring one; luckily, the sailor on the bunk beside him had a painting kit. Reynolds took to it immediately and, upon returning to America, enrolled in the Kann Institute of Art in Beverly Hills. Reynolds soon found work in Hollywood.

For almost two decades, he sketched storyboards and sets for most of the major studios. Finally, after a particularly grueling assignment designing and helping to apply a body of tattoos for the film version of The Illustrated Man, he moved to Sedona, Arizona, and never looked back.

Today Reynolds is considered to be one of the finest artists of the Western experience. He was a proud member of the National Academy of Western Art (NAWA) and an active member of the Cowboy Artists of America. In 1992, for his painting Arizona Cowboys, NAWA awarded Reynolds the Gold Award for Oil Painting, the Nona Jean Hulsey Buyer’s Choice Award, and the Prix de West. Reynolds’ other honors include Gold Awards from NAWA, and, from the Cowboy Artists of America, gold medals for best oil painting, Colt Awards, and two George Phippen Memorial Awards.

Biography from Claggett/Rey Gallery:
Reynolds childhood growing up in California steeped him in the lore of the Old West.  He spent many summers in the rustic mining town of Washington where his grandmother ran a hotel, built during the gold rush days, on the Yuba River.  His love of capturing images of the West was sparked by a Frank Tenney Johnson painting on a 1939 calendar.  It represented not only the West he loved, but more specifically, it reflected the painter's impression of it.

After a stint in the Navy during World War II, Reynolds attended the Kann Institute of Art and the School of Allied Art.  For almost two decades, Reynolds worked as a production illustrator and designer, the majority of the time spent sketching storyboards and sets for Fox, MGM, Columbia and Disney.  In 1968, Reynolds retired from the Hollywood scene to pursue his life long dream of painting the West full-time.

Over the intervening years since, Reynolds has been honored with many awards, including two Colt and two Phippen Memorial Awards.  During his years with the Cowboy Artists of America he received Gold and Silver Medals, most recently a Silver Medal for his painting Rest Stop in 2003.

Reynolds has had numerous one-man shows and a retrospective of his work was held in 1993 at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Biography from Pearce Collections Museum:
James Reynolds played out the adventures of childhood away from the sprawl of the cities, in the shadow of California's high Sierras. He fell under the spell of the mountains, of uncrowded country, and reveled in stories of wild times and bonanza gold.

His initial interest in art centered upon a Frank Tenney Johnson calendar reproduction he saw at the age of 13. Following service in the South Pacific during World War II, Reynolds studied at the School of Allied Arts in Los Angeles. He then pursued a brief career in commercial art and soon went on to Hollywood to the motion-picture studios where he would remain for the next 15 years.

In the tradition of the great illustrators before him, Reynolds kept a part of himself separate from the routine of his professional work. On his own time he remembered Frank Tenney Johnson and dreamed of unspoiled places against the mountains far from the clatter and clutter of the city. And he painted those places, at first for himself, and then for others who recognized his talent and shared his love of the land.

In 1967 Reynolds gave up a solid career in the film industry and chose instead the uncertainty of a fine-art future on a piece of raw land outside Sedona, Arizona. His art came alive there with the colors of sunup and sundown among the rugged red rocks and beneath the royal blue midday skies. There was an eager audience for his work through the galleries in Scottsdale, and the acceptance of his peers came with membership in the Cowboy Artists of America in 1968.

In the 30-plus years since, James Reynolds has continued to paint from his heart, and his love of landscape remains a dominant force in his art. It is forever the places - wide open, wild and still unscarred by civilization that retain a fierce hold on James Reynolds's sensibilities and inspire his approach to painting.



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James Reynolds is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Western Painters



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