I am currently working on the James Bama: Personal Work” book. I originally conceived this collection back in 2007. I had visited Jim that summer. While I was there I had the opportunity to see some of his private paintings based on his travels for the first time. I had no idea they existed. After returning home the imagery stuck in my mind. A few months later I called Jim to see if he would be interested in having a book made. “Sure,” he said.
It was during that same visit that I was also introduced to Bama’s sketches. I broached the idea of a sketchbook at the same time as Personal Works. I decided to focus on the sketchbook first (James Bama Sketchbook published in May 2010), then follow-up with his Personal Works book. I had originally intended on publishing them in 2008 and 2009. But with the economy being so bad in 2008 and continuing to limp along to today I held off and have been waiting for the economy to get better. I’m tired of waiting for the economy to turn around. I feel this book is important and needs to come out sooner than later. After nearly five years of waiting, talking and thinking, I’m finally wrapping it up.
I am writing some lead-in text and designing the book. Jim has supplied commentary for each piece of art included. I also have pictures of Jim on his travels and details about where he visited. I spoke with Jim on the phone a few days ago and asked many questions relating to the imagery in the book. I was able to get quite a bit of good quotes and fresh stories that I will include in my text. I want the whole package to feel very personal and allow people to connect with Jim and his paintings. It will be available this fall.
A lot of people ask me how he is doing. Jim is in terrific shape. He is a life-long athlete and still continues to exercise daily. When I spoke with him he had already done 1000 push-ups off of his bookcase in his studio. If I recall correctly it is three or three-and-a-half feet tall. Sound easy? Try doing 300 and see how you feel the next day. Even in his mid-eighties he is solid.
He is an impressive individual. Even though his artwork speaks for itself I also hope to share some of what makes Bama, the man, so special.
Text © 2012 John Fleskes. All rights reserved.