James Pringle Cook



James Cook took his first art classes at the Mulvane Art Museum when he was about seven years old.  That early exposure to art launched Cook on a lifelong exploration of urban settings, landscapes and nature.  There have been many paintings completed since his first art class at the Mulvane Art Museum, and we are pleased and proud to present this exhibition of new works by James Cook.

Cook studied painting and printmaking in Emporia where he received B.A.  and M.A.  degrees.  He went on to study in Wichita where he earned an M.F.A.  degree.  In 1971 he took a faculty position at the University of Arizona in Tucson where he taught painting and “Readings in Contemporary Art."  In 1978, Cook resigned from the U of A in order to work full time in the studio.  Since that time, Cook has earned the distinction of being one of the country’s most important landscape artists.

Residing in Tucson, Arizona, and traveling the world, exposes Cook to diverse environments that inform his aesthetic views.  Inspired by nature and the world around him, his canvases are powerful evocations of nature’s majesty.  Cook’s work has been described as monumental, but the essence of his paintings (whether it is a cityscape or landscape) is contained in the singular brush stroke, line, and mark he orchestrates.  Each stroke, each line, each mark is a distinctive note contributing to a chorus that echoes and resounds in a grand symphony.  The viewer may be inspired by the grandeur of colorful and untamed worlds created by Cook, but it is the radiance of the painted surface that invites one to plunge into the depths.  There is a lush quality to the surface of the canvas that is visceral, and even as you are engaged in the ripples of still pools, the patterns of fall foliage, or the complex patterns of a city skyline, it is the thick impastos and scraped textures that engage the senses in the expressive temperament of the medium.

It is obvious that James Cook is in love with paint.  To experience his paintings is to comprehend the spirit of color, depth and movement.  His love of beauty finds its way onto the canvas as he strives to create visual excitement.  Cook compares himself to abstract expressionists in the way that he works, noting that there is a great deal of invention in the paint itself. 

Stephen Vollmer writes, “Cook’s paintings are powerful while remaining remarkably sensitive to an environment that is fully revealed through the brush and mind of the artist.  In each painting one is fascinated by his ability to translate refracted light through color interwoven with textures, shadows, and depths of field.  Adeptly he guides us down paths we might normally not see, to look more closely at the space and planes between the fore and backgrounds.”

James Cook has been engaged in a lifelong dance with light, texture, shadow, and space.  Through his paintings, Cook shares a vision of the world that hovers between the intimate and the heroic.  Seeing nature and the land through his eyes expands our awareness and understanding of the world around us.

Connie Gibbons, Director
Mulvane Art Museum

View Artist's Image Gallery