Clayton James: Art and Archives

Exhibition Website

Jul 1 2017 - Sep 24 2017

This summer in the upstairs galleries, MoNA celebrates the life and work of Clayton James (1918 - 2016), with an exhibition of art and photographs from the permanent collection and selections from archives recently donated to the museum. Clayton’s sculptural works in clay, bronze and wood and his abstract and landscape paintings will be featured, along with notes, letters, exhibition announcements and reviews documenting his 60-plus-year artistic career. An essential part of the exhibition also involves Barbara Straker James (1918 - 2007) -- artist, writer, Clayton’s wife, MoNA’s first curator, and the archivist of their lives as individuals and together.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website

Whether or not you go, Clayton James explores the life and work of an artist who travelled to the Pacific Northwest involuntarily when he was 26 years old, and then stayed by choice. As a conscientious objector to World War II, he was shipped to a camp on the then-remote Oregon coast, where he first saw conifer forests and great blue herons. After the war he eventually settled in the Skagit Valley, a flat, fertile area of coastal Washington State known for its fields of cultivated tulips and for artists gripped by nature and scornful of wealth, whose simple lifestyles seemed as much a moral imperative as a financial necessity. There, in La Conner, James created sculptures and vessels of cement, wood, and clay, and completed the plein air paintings of recent years. This volume includes color reproductions of works from throughout his career. 

Clayton James

  • American
  • 20th Century
  • Clayton James

Exhibition Venues & Dates