James Surls is an internationally known artist and one of the most preeminent sculptors in the United States. James was born in Terrell, Texas in 1943. He graduated from Sam Houston State Teachers College in 1966 and from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1968. He taught at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX from 1968 to 1976. He then moved to Splendora, TX with his wife and artist-Charmaine Locke. He lived in Splendora a little over 20 years. While there he founded the Lawndale Alternative Arts Space at the University of Houston in the late 70’s. Lawndale was a thriving artist community where he continued to teach and encourage and, where he produced a large body of work.
Surls currently resides and has his studio in Carbondale, CO. He has lived Carbondale, CO since 1997.
Growing up among the trees of east Texas, he played for hours in the woods and pastures. His attraction to and affinity for nature and its beauty are evident in his work. More profoundly, though, they speak about the man himself. Surls’ works are often based on objects and symbols that are made to take on the shapes of human or other life forms. Expressionist in style, his tall metal sculptures stand majestically against the sky. His simplified wood pieces seem rough-hewn and naïve, cloaking his great skill as a craftsman. Surls’ work is a self-portrait, not in detail but in soul.
His wood, steel and bronze sculptures, drawings and prints, which reflect his unique sensibility to natural forms, are in major art museums and public and private collections throughout the world, including: the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, NY; Arizona State University; the Centro Cultural Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City; City of Houston; Country of Singapore; the Dallas Museum of Art; the High Museum in Atlanta, GA; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX; Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, MO; San Antonio Art Museum, San Antonio, TX; Smithsonian American Art Museum, DC; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, and many others.
His international career has taken his work all over the world. He has exhibited and is collected internationally in countries such as: Singapore, Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Mexico, The Netherlands, Norway and Peru. A few highlight exhibitions of his career are Visions at the Dallas Museum of Art, In the Meadows at the Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, James Surls: The Splendora Years at Blaffer Gallery on the University of Houston main campus. These books and catalogs chronicle James Surls’ career: The Splendora Years, 1977–1997, From the Heartland from The Grace Museum, and James Surls: Being Forever in Plain Site, a catalog of James most recent works.
James Surls artwork has been in over 350 solo, group, museum and gallery exhibits across the world, and he has been featured in over 425 publications.