James Byrd Biography

James Byrd




Painter, sculptor, designer, and assemblage artist James Byrd was born in Gloster, Mississippi, in 1935. His family relocated to Stockton, California in 1941 when his father was employed as a ship builder during World War II. Byrd graduated from Amador High School in 1953 and soon found work as a technical illustrator, despite having no formal art education, at the Westinghouse Electric Company in Sunnyvale for their Polaris submarine project. 

In 1962, after marrying and starting a family, Byrd took a year's sabbatical and traveled to Europe for a year with his wife and daughter. While there, he found inspiration in the galleries and museums of Paris, Amsterdam, and Madrid. When they returned to the States, Byrd continued his technical illustration work, now as an employee of Lockheed Missile and Space Company. 

After his divorce in 1970, he quit his job in aerospace illustration and moved to San Francisco, where he set up a studio south of Market Street and began teaching himself how to paint in oils and gouache, with a focus on Abstract Expressionism. In the 1980s he began working on three dimensional works including ceramic and glass sculpture, wood sculputure, furniture design, and enamel-painted steel panels. 

He has returned to focusing primarily on painting and continues to live and work in San Francisco. His work can be found in the collections of the Achenbach Foundation, Fine Arts Museums San Francisco; the Brooklyn Museum; DeCordova Museum, MA; National Gallery of Fine Arts, Washington, D.C.; Stanford University; Washington University, MO; and several corporate collections. 

Solo Exhibitions:
1978: ADI Gallery, San Francisco
1979: Dubins Gallery, Los Angeles; ADI Gallery
1980: Judith Christian Gallery, New York; Swearingen Gallery, Louisville, KY; Van Straaten Gallery, Chicago; Dubins Gallery
1981: Swearingen Gallery; Gillette-Frutchery Gallery, Atlanta, GA
1985: Harleen & Allen Gallery, San Francisco
1986: Dubins Gallery
1987: Boody Fine Art, St. Louis, MO
1988: The Art Collector, San Diego, CA
1990: Dubins Gallery