Local artist places in contest, pursues dreams

Published 1:14 pm Thursday, October 24, 2019

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Charlotte County native and local artist James Bouie doesn’t think of himself as a struggling artist.

Then again, why should he, having recently won second place and being awarded the Juror’s Impact Award for an art show sponsored by the MacCallum More Museum and Gardens, located in Chase City.

He said his two pieces, “Radiant Child” and “Mandela,” colored pencil portraits on 19×24 Bristol paper, will remain on display at the museum until Oct. 25.

“I am grateful that I was even selected to display my work at the museum and, winning second place really means a lot to me,” Bouie said. “Also, being given the Jurors Impact Award means more to me because art jurors rarely give that type of award to artists.”

Radiant Child, a portrait of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, took two months to finish, he said. The portrait of Mandela, one of the most prominent civil rights activists in history, took three to four months to finish, he added.

He chose the subjects of his paintings because of the respect he has for each.

Bouie noted Basquiat basically used his art to describe his experience as a black youth in New York City.

“He also focused his art to attack systems of racism and social injustices,” Bouie said. “In my opinion, Basquiat is one of the greatest artists from the 20th century and I chose to do a portrait style drawing while drawing inspiration from his most famous works and some of my personal favorites to incorporate into the piece.”

Meanwhile, Bouie said Mandela’s “story of perseverance has always inspired me to never give up on what I believe in.”

The first place prize was $500, second place $300, and third place $150. The museum’s goal is to be a premier cultural center for the region, providing members and visitors with events and displays that are rich in educational, horticultural, historical and artistic value.

Meanwhile, Bouie’s goal is to have his own solo art show by the end of next year if possible. Bouie said he’s enrolled at Southside Virginia Community College but has taken the semester off and plans to return in the spring.

“My plain is to transfer to VCU to focus on obtaining my Ph.D. in Art Education,” he said.

Bouie, 20, said he doesn’t think of himself as the stereotypical struggling artist because of all the success and support he’s had.

“Over the years I have gotten more opportunities and support than most artists which I am very grateful and humbled by,” he said. “I know how difficult it can be to become recognized.”

His mother, Phoebe, said he started drawing at four years old.

“He used to make me cards,” she said. “I still have many of his early work. Since this was something he’s always done and it was natural, there’s never really been any thought about him doing anything that wouldn’t include his ability to draw.”

James briefly thought about being an artist for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Phoebe said, “but he’s changed over time and has looked more into being able to express himself, make money, and share his talent with others.

“He continues to evolve as a young man and artist, so I’m not surprised by whatever career path he will take. I continue to be amazed by his love of art, his humble character, and his ability to see things that are invisible to non-artist eyes and bring them to life.”