About

 
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The realism in my work is oriented toward the sensuous consumption and reinterpretation of the real world. I am not interested in how closely I can mimic physical images in paint, but rather in how I can change and distort them to suit my personal aesthetic. When I paint an image, I break it down in my mind and put it back together in the second dimension as if it were a puzzle. The pieces of the puzzle are the compositional elements of shape, texture, light, value, hue, line, etc. If the elements are assembled harmoniously, the painting will function well as both an abstract composition and a realistic image.

I have been working as a professional fine artist since 1971. My realist oils, watercolors, aquatint etchings, and drawings have been widely exhibited nationally and internationally. Many of my artworks are housed in the permanent collections of American Museums.

I am best known for my photo-based realism, though working from life is still an active part of my creative process. My imagery has centered on “everyday” America; shifting over the years from trucks, to railways, to amusement parks, to waterfronts, to fireworks booths, to deserted drive-in theaters, to coastal landscapes.  Through these shifts in subject matter, related architecture has been a steadily repeated motif.

Recently, my creation of realist images has been interlaced with explorations into video productions, computer generated imagery, experiments with a more graphic surrealist style, and the digital recording of my own songs and musical compositions.

Find specifics on collections which include my work, solo exhibitions, group exhibitions, and publication references to my work below.


Academic Training

San Francisco State University  1973 - 1974
Painting / Printmaking  M. A.

California College of Arts and Crafts  1969 - 1973
General Fine Arts  B. F. A.  (with high distinction)


Museum Collections

  • SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART; San Francisco, CA
  • OAKLAND MUSEUM; Oakland, CA
  • ACHENBACH FOUNDATION FOR THE GRAPHIC ARTS,
  • CALIFORNIA PALACE OF THE LEGION OF HONOR; San Francisco, CA
  • BROOKLYN MUSEUM; Brooklyn, NY
  • ALBRIGHT KNOX ART GALLERY; Buffalo, NY
  • MUSEUM OF ART, CARNEGIE INSTITUTE; Pittsburgh, PA
  • MUSEUM OF ART, RHODE ISLAND SCHOOL OF DESIGN; Providence, RI
  • NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY, PRINT COLLECTION; New York, NY
  • CHICAGO ART INSTITUTE; Chicago, IL
  • LIBRARY OF CONGRESS; Washington D.C.
  • DELAWARE ART MUSEUM; Wilmington, DE
  • DENVER ART MUSEUM; Denver, CO
  • SANTA BARBARA MUSEUM OF ART; Santa Barbara, CA
  • DETROIT ART INSTITUTE; Detroit, MI
  • STANFORD UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART; Stanford, CA
  • UNIVERSITY ART MUSEUM, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY; New Jersey, NJ
  • DE CORDOVA MUSEUM; Lincoln, MA
  • JANE VOORHEES ZIMMERLI ART MUSEUM; New Brunswick, NJ
  • BOISE ART MUSEUM; Boise, ID
  • UNIVERSITY ART MUSEUM; U.C.Berkeley; Berkeley, CA
  • ARKANSAS ART CENTER; Little Rock, Arkansas
  • HEARST ART GALLERY; Saint Mary¹s College; Moraga, CA

Solo Exhibitions

  • 2017  CITY ARTS GALLERY, City College of San Francisco, CA
  • 2013  OCEANA ART GALERY, Pacifica, CA
  • 2012  SFMOMA ARTIST GALLERY, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA
  • 2011  OLIVER HYDE ARTGALLERY, Freemont, CA
  • 2004  DISTRICT ARTS GALLERY, Birmingham, MI
  • 2001  33 GOUGH STREET SHOWCASE, San Francisco, CA
  • 2000  POWELL STREET GALLERY, San Francisco, Ca
  • 1999  CITY ARTS GALLERY, City College of San Francisco, CA
  • 1999  SANCHEZ ART CENTER; Pacifica, CA
  • 1997  FOG CITY JAVA, Pacifica, CA (funded by grant from Philanthropic Ventures Foundation)      
  • 1997  SAN MATEO COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM, San Mateo, CA
  • 1996  ERIKSEN GALLERY, Half Moon Bay, CA
  • 1994  ART FORMS UNLIMITED;  Pacifica, CA
  • 1993  HORVATH  GALLERY;  Sacramento,  CA
  • 1992  CUDAHY’S   GALLERY;  New York,  NY
  • 1991  JOHN  BERGGRUEN  GALLERY;  San Francisco,  CA
  • 1988  JOHN  BERGGRUEN  GALLERY;  San Francisco,  C
  • 1987  CONCEPT  ART  GALLERY;  Pittsburgh,  PA
  • 1986  JOHN  BERGGRUEN  GALLERY;  San Francisco,  CA
  • 1984  DUBINS  GALLERY;  Los Angeles,  CA
  • 1983  GRAPHICS  1  and  GRAPHICS  2;  Boston,  MA
  • 1983  JOHN  BERGGRUEN   GALLERY;  San Francisco,  CA
  • 1982  MUSEUM  OF  ART,  CARNEGIE  INSTITUTE;  Pittsburgh,  PA
  • 1981  GELTER  /  PALL;  New York,  NY
  • 1980  GRAPHICS  1  and  GRAPHICS  2;  Boston,  MA
  • 1980  JOHN  BERGGRUEN  GALLERY;  San Francisco,  CA
  • 1980  RICHMOND  ART  CENTER;  Richmond,  CA
  • 1979  SAN  JOSE  MUSEUM  OF  ART;  San Jose,  CA
  • 1978  VAN  STRAATEN  GALLERY;  Chicago,  IL
  • 1978  JOHN  BERGGRUEN  GALLERY;  San  Francisco,  CA
  • 1977  GALERIE  JURKA;  Amsterdam, NL
  • 1976  ACHENBACH  FOUNDATION  FOR  THE  GRAPHIC  ARTS,  CALIFORNIA  PALACE OF  THE  LEGION  OF  HONOR, San Francisco,  CA
  • 1975  CONTEMPORARY  GRAPHICS  CENTER,  SANTA  BARBARA  MUSEUM OF  ART; CA
  • 1975  NANCY  HOFFMAN  GALLERY;  New York,  NY
  • 1974  JOHN  BERGGRUEN  GALLERY;  San Francisco,  CA  
  • 1973  GUMP’S GALLERY;  San Francisco, CA
  • 1972  REISINGER GALLERIES;  San Francisco, CA
  • 1972  ALMOND ROD GALLERY;  San Francisco, CA

Group Exhibitions

EXHIBITION RECORD 2011

  • Open Road (3 person exhibition) Oliver Hyde Art Gallery, Fremont, CA
  • Annual Faculty Shows 2010; City Arts Gallery, C.C.S.F.; San Francisco, CA

EXHIBITION RECORD 2010

  • CCA Alumni Exhibition; Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica CA
  • Annual Faculty Shows 2010; City Arts Gallery, C.C.S.F.; San Francisco, CA
  • Ralph Borge  A Symbolic Realist and His Circle, Hearst Art Gallery, S.M.C., Moraga, CA
  • American Art and Culture: Past and Present, De Young Museum, San Francisco, California

EXHIBITION RECORD 2000-2009

  • Annual Faculty Shows 2000-2009; City Arts Gallery, C.C.S.F.; San Francisco, CA
  • Comix/Cartoons Show; Rosenberg Library, C.C.S.F.; San Francisco, CA
  • Creative Roots; Rosenberg Library, C.C.S.F.; San Francisco, CA

 EXHIBITION RECORD 1999

  • Watercolor: City Arts Gallery; City College of San Francisco; San  Francisco, California
  • Spirit of the Coast; Impact Zone Productions; Cotanoa Lodge; Pescadero, California
  • Millennium: City Arts Gallery; City College of San Francisco; San Francisco, California
  • www - internet gallery exhibition: www.PowellStreetGallery.com
  • www - internet gallery exhibition: www.NextMonet.com

EXHIBITION RECORD 1998

  • 10: San Francisco State University Art Alumni; Sanchez Art Center Gallery; Pacifica, California 

EXHIBITION RECORD 1997

  • Structures: Buildings in American Art 1900 - 1997; John Berggruen Gallery; San Francisco, California

EXHIBITION RECORD 1996

  • Art From The Driver’s Seat: Americans and Their Cars: Kalamazoo Institute of Arts; Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Art From The Driver’s Seat: Americans and Their Cars: Hudson River Museum; Yonkers, New York
  • Seventh Annual - All Creatures Great and Small: John Natsoulas Gallery; Davis, California
  • Surf’s Up: Bolinas Museum; Bolinas, California

EXHIBITION RECORD 1995 

  • Art From The Driver’s Seat: Americans and Their Cars:  Boise Art Museum; Boise, Idaho
  • Art From The Driver’s Seat: Americans and Their Cars: Tarble Arts Center, Eastern Illinois State University: Charleston, Illinois
  • Faculty Exhibition:  Skyline College; San Bruno, California
  • Henrik Ibsen Park (private three person exhibition): Kings Mountain; Woodside, California

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1994

  • Group Exhibition:  Magidson Gallery;  New York  NY
  • Group Exhibition:  Art Forms Unlimited;  Pacifica  CA

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1993

  • American Paintings:  Museum of Our National Heritage;  Lexington  MA

 EXHIBITION  RECORD  1992

  • New Horizons in American Realism: Knoxville Museum of Art;  Knoxville  TN
  • Local Landscape:  PacTel Corporation;  Walnut Creek  CA
  • Oakland:  Oakland Museum Collector’s Gallery;  Oakland  CA
  • Artists of  Skyline College: Peninsula Art Association;  Belmont CA
  • Summer Show:  Cudahy’s Fine Art Gallery;  New York  NY

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1991

  •  New Horizons in American Realism:  Flint Institute of Arts;  Flint , Michigan  and  Philharmonic Center for the Arts;  Naples, Florida
  • Selections from the Permanent Collection:  Achenbach Foundation for the Graphic Arts,  California Palace of the Legion of Honor;  San Francisco  CA
  • Large Scale Works on Paper:  John Berggruen Gallery; San Francisco  CA
  • Summer Show:  Cudahy’s Fine Art Gallery;  New York  NY

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1990

  •  Group Show:  Cudahy’s Fine Art Gallery;  New York  NY
  • Contemporary Realist Painting:  Perception and Experience:  Oliver Art Center,  California College of Arts and Crafts; Oakland  CA
  • Concord Collectors:  Walnut Creek Art Center;  Walnut Creek  CA
  • College of  San Mateo Faculty Art Exhibition:  San Mateo County Arts Council;  San Mateo  CA

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1989

  • Collector’s Choice - Contemporary Paintings and Drawings from the Collection of  Ron and Cherie Petersen:  Pence Gallery;  Davis  CA
  • Capitol a’la cARTe  (food images):  State Capitol Building  (presented by Natsoulas / Novelozo Gallery); Sacramento  CA
  • Faculty Art Exhibition:  Skyline College;  San Bruno  CA

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1988

  • Waterworks  (three artists):  Sierra Nevada Museum of Art;  Reno, Nevada
  • Torlakson Watercolors and Prints:  Natsoulas / Novelozo Gallery;  Davis  CA
  • Torlakson Prints:  Wenniger Graphics;  Boston  MA
  • Billboards:  Littlejohn - Smith Gallery;  New York  NY

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1987

  • Realism:  Art Museum of Santa Cruz County;  Santa Cruz  CA
  • Drawings By Contemporary Masters:  Himovitz - Jensen Gallery;  Sacramento  CA
  • Two Realists:  Concept Art Gallery;  Pittsburgh  PA
  • 31st National Print Exhibition:  Hunterdon Art Center;  Clinton  NJ
  • Parkside National Small Print Exhibition:  Communication Arts Gallery;  Kenosha  WI
  • Mainstream America:  The Collection of Phil Desind:  The Butler Institute of American ART; Youngstown  OH
  • Prints In Motion:  Associated American Artists;  New York  NY

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1986

  • James Torlakson,  Watercolors and Graphics:  Bechtel International Center,  Stanford University Palo Alto  CA

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1985

  • The 20th Century:  The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Collection:  San Francisco Museum of Modern Art;  San Francisco  CA
  • American Realism:  Twentieth - Century Drawings and Watercolors:  San Francisco Museum of Modern Art;  San Francisco  CA

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1984

  • Recent Acquisitions:  Achenbach Foundation for the Graphic Arts,  California Palace of the Legion of Honor;  San Francisco  CA
  • The Twenty - Third National Print Exhibition:  The Brooklyn Museum;  Brooklyn  NY

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1983

  • Gene Baro Collects:  The Brooklyn Museum; Brooklyn  NY
  • West Coast Realism:  Laguna Beach Museum of Art;  Laguna Beach  CA
  • The American Artist as Printmaker,  23rd National Print Exhibition:  The Brooklyn Museum; Brooklyn  NY
  • Contemporary American Realism, since 1960:  Chicago Art Institute;  Chicago  IL

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1982

  • Contemporary American Realism, since 1960:  Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts;  Philadelphia  PA and The Oakland Museum;  Oakland  CA
  • Perspectives on Contemporary American Realism;  Works of Art on Paper from the Collection of Jalane and Richard Davidson:  Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts;  Philadelphia  PA

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1981

  • Twenty - Second National Print Exhibition:  The Brooklyn Museum;  Brooklyn  NY
  • 100 New Acquisitions:  The Brooklyn Museum;  Brooklyn  NY
  • Recent Acquisitions in Prints and Drawings:  Rhode Island School of Design;  Providence  RI

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1980

  • Realism:  Civics Arts Gallery;  Walnut Creek  CA
  • The Light Is Different In California:  Pratt Manhattan Center Gallery;  New York  NY
  • American Drawings In Black and White:  The Brooklyn Museum;  Brooklyn  NY

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1979

  • Recent Acquisitions:  The Brooklyn Museum;  Brooklyn  NY
  • Recent Acquisitions:  Achenbach Foundation for the Graphic Arts,  California Palace of the Legion of Honor;  San Francisco  CA
  • Recent Acquisitions:  The Oakland Museum;  Oakland  CA
  • VX International Soa Paulo Biennial,  courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum and the International Communications Agency; Washington D. C.  This exhibition traveled throughout Latin America. 

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1978

  • Eight West Coast Printmakers:  The Brooklyn Museum;  Brooklyn  NY
  • Leading Realists and Current Abstract Art:  Madison Gallery;  Madison  NJ

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1977

  • Prints of the 1970’s:  Museum of Fine Arts;  Boston  MA

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1976

  • 20th Annual Brooklyn Museum Print Exhibition:  The Brooklyn Museum; Brooklyn  NY
  • Contemporary Images in Watercolors:  Akron Art Institute;  Akron  OH

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1975

  •  Permanent Collection:  Recent Graphic Acquisitions:  San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; San Francisco  CA
  • Photography and Hyper-Realism:  M. Knoedler & Company;  New York  NY
  • Realist Painting in California:  John Berggruen Gallery;  San Francisco  CA
  • California Graphics Exhibition:  Three Dimensions Gallery;  Berkeley CA and Printmakers Council of Great Britain;  London,  England
  • Hyper-Realism:  Liliane Francois Galerie;  Paris,  France

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1974

  • Selections in Contemporary Realism:  Akron Art Institute;  Akron  OH
  • Fourth British International Print Biennial:  Bradford Art Galleries and Museums;  Yorkshire, England
  • Works on Paper:  Virginia Museum of Art;  VA
  • Variations on the Camera’s Eye:  Smithsonian Institute;  Washington D.C. and Occidental College; CA;  Traveling Exhibition - South America
  • Three Printmakers Who Work From Watercolors:  The Oakland Museum;  Oakland  CA

EXHIBITION  RECORD  1973

  • Young Talent:  John Berggruen Gallery;  San Francisco  CA

Video

SFMOMA Artists Gallery (YouTube) - Work of James Torlakson and William Farley, Link to 2013 interview (opens new browser window)

Bay Area Artist Episode One (Vimeo) - James Torlakson, Link to to 2012 film by Khaled Sayed (opens new browser window)


Publication References

NALU Longboard Surfing Discovery #19  2000: this 8 page interview in this Japanese magazine explores the artwork and life views of artist/surfer, James Torlakson; includes many photographs of Torlakson’s studio, oil paintings, watercolors, graphics, and cartoons. 

THE MANY FACETS OF THE ART OF SAMSON LAW  1998: Preface by James Torlakson for book published by the Government of Macau

ART WEEK  1997: Article (and reproduction of  painting) by James Torlakson on “Painting Water” relating to publications theme: THE ELEMENTS OF WATER

THE  SURFER’S  JOURNAL  1993:  Volume Two,  Number Four,  Page 20;  reproductions of MAVERICK’S / CLARK,  18” x 56”  oil on canvas  (big wave surfing image) and photo of artist with canvas

THE  ARTIST’S  MAGAZINE  April 1989:  “Deepening the Third Dimension”  by James Torlakson with Judith Gordon;  pages 50 -55;  Article on oil painting and illusionary devices,  numerous reproductions of paintings and instructional illustrations

AMERICAN  REALISM  Twentieth - Century  Drawings  and  Watercolors  1986:  Abrams; by Alvin Martin;  pages  161, 225;  figure 211:  watercolor reproduction

MENDELOWITZ’S  GUIDE  TO  DRAWING  1982:  Holt, Rinehart and Winston;  revised by Duane A. Wakeham;  page 13,  figure 20:  drawing reproduction

CONTEMPORARY  AMERICAN  REALISM  since  1960   1981:  New York Graphics Society; by Frank H. Goodyear, Jr.;  pages  153, 200, 201;  figure  119:  watercolor  reproduction

ARTnews  October 1975:  by Peter Frank;  Review of solo exhibition with Nancy Hoffman Gallery, New York and watercolor reproduction


Television References

In the Spring of 2005, I was interviewed by KTVU  Channel 2  in relation to the issue of SSRI antidepressant suicides and the related artworks I have created.

In the Spring of 2002, I was interviewed in my studio by Sparky Parker, host of Breakers (a program on surfing and surfers). This television interview focused on my relationship to surfing and the sea and its influence on my artwork. This episode, Breakers #17, airs periodically on Pacifica Community Television. 

Channel 8  Pacifica, 1998: 15 minute video, ROCKAWAY BEACH - the lighter side of El Niño, filmed            and produced by James Torlakson; featuring spectators and surfers playing with huge storm surf

Channel 8  Pacifica, 1994: 1/2 hour program interviewing James Torlakson featuring images relating to the design and development of the 1994 FOG FESTIVAL poster

KQED Channel 9, San Francisco, 1988: short appearance by James Torlakson discussing his art work   donated for auction 

KQED  Channel 9, San Francisco, 1985:  short program featuring James Torlakson working in studio,   images of art works, and slides revealing development of watercolors and etchings

Channel 8  Pacifica, 1985: 1/2 hour program interviewing James Torlakson and featuring images of his art works and slides revealing the development of art works

ABC Sunday Night National News, 1981: interview with Torlakson relating to his art works reproduced         on full scale bill boards as part of promotion for The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art


Awards & Honors

32 Purchase Awards from competitive exhibitions of prints, drawings, and paintings—including $5,000 award for purchase of a canvas by the San Francisco International Airport

Full size Billboard shown in various Bay Area locations depicting my art work — part of a 1981              promotion for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Poster Commissions (design & illustration)

  • 1984: 38th Annual San Francisco Arts Festival
  • 1994: Pacific Coast Fog Festival, Pacifica CA

Television Programs (about James Torlakson and his art work)

  • 1977: KQED, San Francisco  
  • 1986: Channel 8, Pacifica CA
  • 1994: Channel 8, Pacifica CA
  • 2002: PCTI, Pacifica, CA

Grants

  • Skyline College Trustees Fund, 1994: production of Art Instruction Videos
  • Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, 1998: art exhibition in non-gallery environment