James S. Negley resides in the Fox River Valley of the Greater Chicago Metropolitan area. He was born in 1967 to loving Lutheran parents, William, an Army veteran and retired human-resource director and Eileen, a former elementary school teacher.
Growing up, summer vacations in the ancient Anasazi ruins, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and the Rocky Mountains sparked James imagination. During this time, James began to teach himself how to paint with acrylics. He produced such quirky paintings as “Bloxam’s Chair” and draws photo-realistic images such as “Grebe and Chick.”
During his college years at Illinois Wesleyan and Iowa State University, painting and drawing became both an escape and avenue for understanding the duality of life, the power of the drawn line, and self-realization. While driving to and from college, James was deeply affected by the Midwest terrain. The landscape paintings of Edward Hopper in particular influence his future work. Later, the work of the German Expressionist Anselm Keifer imparts a new perspective on mixed media. Classes in ceramics plant the seed for future ideas of how to structure three-dimensional form as influenced by the work of David Smith.
During classes in printmaking, James produces the Intaglio print, “Within a Defined Space” which is a watershed for the core of his artistic vocabulary going forward.
Post graduate, while working menial jobs, he produced his first noted sequence of drawings called “August Series” that pulls together the many influences of his life.
In 1990 he moved to Chicago with his girlfriend and future wife, Rachel. There he focused on his art and exhibiting in regional art galleries and shows. Through that decade, Chicago was a hotbed of artistic exploration and output. Neighborhoods like Wicker Park, Logan Square, and Pilsen were experiencing an influx of creative energy. Such artistic giants like Ed Paschke and members of the Chicago Expressionist movement could be found hosting shows and traversing the galleries. Within this period, James befriends local artist James Mesplé, who introduces him to the power of myth, story, and allegory, as seen in the work of Joseph Campbell and others.
In 2001, he and Rachel made the decision to travel to Australia, New Zealand, and later to the Canary Islands with the spiritual channel Samuel from the Phoenix Institute in Kentucky to explore self-empowerment and practical spirituality. It was a turbulent time in his personal life. From 2003 very little artwork is produced however he delves into journaling and poetry writing as an outlet. In 2005, his marriage to Rachel ends and as a reaction, James destroys much of his art from the decade in Chicago.
In 2006 he moved to Spring Lake, Michigan to rejuvenate his art career and become a companion to the noted hypnotherapist and psychic Terry Bienkowski. In 2008 renewed excitement and production of small drawings occurs as he continues to explore abstraction, figuration, and allegorical themes. No paintings or significant work of any note was produced at this time. To support himself, he continues his web development business. In July 2011 Terry died from a short illness and shortly after that James returns to Illinois to be closer to his family.
From 2011 to present, James enters a very productive period as he produces work that explores change, chaos, and struggle.
In September of 2016 his work, “Kiva,” is presented at Gray Skies Distillery as part of the Grand Rapids ArtPrize Eight Competition.
More recently, James has become active in the Elmhurst Artist Guild in Elmhurst, Illinois, and has displayed his latest paintings during seasonal member shows.