James, Gordon C. 1973-

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James, Gordon C. 1973-


Born 1973, in Washington, DC. Education: School of Visual Arts, B.F.A., 1995. Hobbies and other interests: Figurative drawing and painting, spending time with family.


E-mail—[email protected].


Painter and children's book illustrator. Hallmark Cards, Kansas City, MO, artist and designer, 1997-2001. Artist-in-residence, McColl Center for the Arts, 2003; University of North Carolina at Charlotte, adjunct professor of art, 2006. Exhibitions: Work included in permanent collections at Hallmark Cards Illustration Archive, Kansas City, MO; Prince George's County (MD) Public Schools; and Paul R. Jones Collection, University of Delaware. Work included in exhibits at School of Visual Arts, New York, NY, 1994; Hallmark Cards Black History Month Exhibition, Kansas City, 1997; El Dorado Gallery, Kansas City, 1998; Artists of the Greater Washington Urban League exhibit, Washington, DC, 2001; National Press Building, Washington, DC, 2002; and National Black Fine Art Show, Puck Building, New York, NY, 2003.


Oil Painters of America, Portrait Society of America.

Awards, Honors

International Artist Magazine Challenge finalist; Best Portfolio Award, Portrait Society of America, 2003.


Patricia C. McKissack, Abby Takes a Stand ("Scraps of Time" series), Viking (New York, NY), 2005.

Patricia C. McKissack, Away West ("Scraps of Time" series), Viking (New York, NY), 2006.

Patricia C. McKissack, A Song for Harlem ("Scraps of Time" series), Viking (New York, NY), 2007.

David A. Adler, Campy: The Story of Roy Campanella, Viking (New York, NY), 2007.

Patricia C. McKissack, The Homerun King ("Scraps of Time" series), Viking (New York, NY), 2008.


Inspired by artists such as John Singer Sargent, Nicholai Fechin, and Henry Ossawa Tanner, Gordon C. James has enjoyed a successful career as a painter and illustrator. James has provided the art for a number of children's titles, including books in Patricia C. McKissack's "Scraps of Time" series of chapter books for young readers.

The "Scraps of Time" series explores the history of an African-American family. In Abby Takes a Stand, cousins Mattie Rae, Aggie, and Trey Webster find an old restaurant menu while exploring in their grandmother's attic. The discovery of the menu prompts the elderly woman, named Abby, to recall a turbulent episode from 1960. As a youngster, Abby was denied entry into a circus-themed restaurant at a local department store because of the color of her skin. Abby's humiliation stirred her to action, and she became a proponent of civil rights as a member of the Flyer Brigade, which advocated civil disobedience, including sit-ins. "This accessible, lively, and heartfelt chapter book reads like a memoir," noted Horn Book contributor Robin Smith in a review of Abby Takes a Stand. James's illustrations also drew praise, School Library Journal critic Mary N. Oluonye citing the "liberal sprinkling of Gordon's expressive black-and-white drawings," and Ilene Cooper writing in Booklist that his artwork "adds to the ambience of the time."

In Away West, the second installment in the chapterbook series, the Webster children find a memento belonging to their ancestor, Everett Turner. Born after the

U.S. Civil War, Turner flees the South by stowing away on a riverboat bound for St. Louis, where he learns to work with horses. Turner eventually settles in Nicodemus, Kansas, a town founded by former slaves. As their grandmother narrates Everett's tale, the two youngsters learn about the contributions of the black soldiers who served in the Union Army during the War between the States. "Short chapters, simple sentences, and James' pencil sketches make this an appealing choice for newly independent readers," wrote Kay Weisman in Booklist. James also illustrated A Song for Harlem, the third offering in McKissack's "Scraps of Time" series. Set in 1928, the story centers on the literary triumphs of Lilly Belle Turner, who studied with celebrated author Zora Neale Huston. Lilly Belle also faces a crisis of conscience when her friend and classmate plagiarizes an article from a prominent magazine.

In addition to his collaboration with McKissack, James also provided artwork for Campy: The Story of Roy Campanella, a biography by David A. Adler. Campanella, who helped break the color line in major league baseball, played catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1948 to 1957. His career ended abruptly after he was severely injured in an automobile accident. Noted for his spirited play, "Campy" led his team to five World Series appearances and was named the National League's Most Valuable Player three times and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1969. According to Bill Ott in Booklist, "James delivers evocative illustrations in [a] soft-focus, pastel-heavy style," and a Kirkus Reviews critic stated that the artist's "compelling oils present a beautifully lit, softly focused view of the events" detailed in Adler's biography.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, May 15, 2005, Ilene Cooper, review of Abby Takes a Stand, p. 1675; April 15, 2006, Kay Weisman, review of Away West, p. 59; February 1, 2007, Bill Ott, review of Campy: The Story of Roy Campanella, p. 59; August, 2007, Carolyn Phelan, review of A Song for Harlem, p. 62.

Horn Book, September-October, 2005, Robin Smith, review of Abby Takes a Stand, p. 585.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2005, review of Abby Takes a Stand, p. 593; February 1, 2007, review of Campy, p. 119; July 1, 2007, review of A Song for Harlem.

School Library Journal, July, 2005, Mary N. Oluonye, review of Abby Takes a Stand, p. 78; May, 2006, Pat Leach, review of Away West, p. 94; September, 2007, Donna Atmur, review of A Song for Harlem, p. 171.


Gordon C. James Home Page,http://www.gjamespaintings.addr.com (October 15, 2008).

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