Destination Fine Art

James Tracy Studio features
award-winning artists’ work

Tracy brings his fine art to rural Jefferson County, Ind.

DEPUTY, Ind. (December 2017) – A crackling wood fire in the fireplace creates a welcoming warmth in the newly opened James Tracy Fine Art gallery, located in Deputy, Ind. This cozy atmosphere invites the visitor to linger over each painting and handcrafted art object on display. The paintings fill the walls with the colors of peaceful Indiana country scenes.
The light streaming in the window highlights the glazed ceramic art and creates shadows of the cutouts in the elaborately designed gourds. Bright hues of exotic fish seem to swim as they are suspended in the air. The gallery features not only the work of award-winning artist, Tracy, but also the work of six other award-winning artists. The result is a fascinating blend of paintings, creative ceramics, wire art, decorative gourds, turned wooden vessels and whimsical fabric art. 

Photo by Sharyn Whitman

Artist James Tracy poses outside of his studio in Deputy, Ind.

Tracy was born in 1950 and spent his early years in the flourishing art colony in Nashville, Ind. Famous painters such as L.O. Griffith and Anthony Buchta were frequent visitors at his grandmother’s house. They noticed that young James was always drawing and coloring, and they took the time to encourage him. He then began formal training at age 8, taking advantage of the opportunity to learn from local talented artists.
“I always wanted to paint,” Tracy said. 
Tracy followed his dream, continuing formal art studies at Indiana University. He worked as a Broadcast Graphic Designer for Indiana University Radio and Television Center.
He then moved to Albuquerque and enrolled in art classes at the University of New Mexico. The next move to Los Angeles led to other opportunities to create stages and huge, wall-size backdrops for television.
After a few years of work on the West Coast, Tracy was drawn back to Indiana in 1992 to be closer to his family. While living in Bloomington, he finished his Bachelor of Studio Arts degree at Indiana University.
His career in graphic design and illustration grew steadily, and he began to work as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator.
He continued to paint, receiving recognition in the 1997 Hoosier Salon with “Best Traditional Painting in any Media” for “The Joy Farm.”
In 2001, Tracy was featured in an exhibition of contemporary Indiana art, “75 Miles in any Direction,” at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Columbus Gallery.
In 2002, Tracy’s work was further recognized when he was selected for inclusion in the Marquis Who’s Who in America.
Recently, he has focused on his family during a period of his mother’s declining health before her death in 2015. He endured a health challenge himself with treatments for a tumor on his neck that was diagnosed as benign. Next he experienced the death of a close friend. Through all of these challenges, he continued to work in his graphics design career.
It was that career that had funded his education, his travels and his lifestyle.  
Part of that lifestyle included the purchase of a “fixer-upper” house in Deputy. In his “spare” time, he is renovating, refinishing, repainting and rewiring the house, plus working on the yard. It was known as his “country house” when he would drive over from Bloomington.

Photo provided

The painting above is a sample of James Tracy’s work.

Today, it is his home, his studio and his gallery. “The more I am here, the more I like it,” he said.
He had a good response to the “Grand Opening” of James Tracy Fine Art on Oct. 21-22. He is working to make James Tracy Fine Art a destination location, since the Main Street location in Deputy is easily accessible from State Road 3. Future expansion will make room for more artists.
He is currently working on a one-man show to be held at the new Thomas Gallery in Bloomington on Dec. 1 from 5-8 p.m., and each Friday in December.
Tracy said he values this time in his life, this opportunity to focus on serious painting. He is looking forward to future shows in Ann Arbor, Mich., Chicago, St. Louis and Louisville, Ky.
The inaugural Christmas Open House at James Tracy Fine Art is planned for Saturday, Dec. 16, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition to the artwork currently featured at the gallery, unique Christmas themed gifts, cards and décor will be available. Light refreshments served beside the fireplace will create the perfect environment to shop for distinctive holiday gifts.
Tracy says he paints every day. He especially enjoys the scenic Crosley Wildlife Area nearby. His next series of paintings is a wildlife series, including native Indiana animals and owls.
“I paint what I love, That’s what good art is,” he said.
The daily painting and continuing renovations provide his own form of therapy, working through the pain and loss of recent years. Tracy has the unique ability to paint what he sees and also to compose an image using more than one source for reference. The result is the perfect combination of rural scenery and vintage vehicles in some of his paintings. 
This compassionate, talented artist was not content to focus on himself and his own work. He has reached out to other artists to offer space in his gallery to feature their work. One of those artists is Elizabeth Wamsley, a contemporary clay sculptor from Syracuse, Ind. She met Tracy at a show at the Oakwood Resort on Lake Wawasee, located southeast of Syracuse, Ind. Tracy invited her to add some of her original ceramic pieces to James Tracy Fine Art gallery.

Photo provided

Elizabeth Wamsley works with a kiln at the James Tracy Studio in Deputy, Ind.

Wamsley, like Tracy, was drawn to the arts at an early age. But it was clay sculpture, not painting, that captured her attention. She found that she liked the 3-dimensional work, using her hands to create “something out of nothing.”
“I also loved the technical aspects of mixing glazes and building the kiln,” she said.
Different temperatures create different effects with different glazes, affecting both the color and the opacity of the glaze. She has won many awards for her original pieces, including a First Place award at the Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art in Madison, Ind., several years ago. Most recently, she won First Place at the annual Members Show at the Lakeland Art Association in Warsaw, Ind., in November 2017.
The other artists featured at James Tracy Fine Art include:
n Dale Armstrong of Deputy. He creates hand-crafted copper wire tree sculptures, both as art and for practical use in Christmas décor or jewelry storage.
n Jan Baer of Brown County, Ind. She makes fanciful fabric art. Tracy is the exclusive dealer for Baer’s art.
n Patricia Rhoden Bartels, known as “Rhoden.” She is a nationally acclaimed Brown County, Ind., artist with oil and acrylic paintings that celebrate the “exceptional beauty of nature” with “vivid and passionate color highlighting the seasonal changes in Indiana landscapes.” 
n Gary Chapman, a wood turner from Madison, Ind. He creates exquisite turned wooden vessels, meticulously engineered with a variety of natural wood colors and designs.
n Kay Schmarje, a award-winning artist from Evansville, Ind. She creates gourd art and textiles including unusual gourd shapes crafted into decorative vessels with hand-carved patterns and openwork.
Today, painting and creating glicee prints as well as crafting his linoleum and woodblock prints is Tracy’s full-time job. “That’s liberating,” Tracy said.
These are new challenges while living his dream as a full-time artist, but he now has a better life.  There is an old saying: “Choose a job you love, and you will never work another day in your life.”
For Tracy, this new life is not work. It is a labor of love. 

• Area artists interested in joining the James Tracy Fine Art studio may contact Tracy via email at: www.jamestracyarts.com.

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