James Burkhart, American, 1933-2011
James Burkhart is one of the Ozarks Regional Artists that we have featured at the gallery since the 1960s. Robertson Gallery held a special gallery show for him and was one of the four galleries in the Midwest that featured his artwork early in his career. Pop did some framing for him and James was friendly and quite the talker, as Philip remembers.
James Burkhart was born on October 15, 1933 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. After intensive art training in high school, and becoming the ship’s artist while in the Navy, the decision of becoming an artist was easy for him to make. Burkhart’s formal art education began with two years at the University of Omaha and was concluded at the Kansas City Art Institute with a BFA degree. After his 1963 graduation, he became a commercial artist in Kansas City and later in Springfield, where he worked for a commercial design company and later started his own commercial design firm. He spent ten years in advertising art.
In 1967, he and his wife moved to land on Bryant Creek, deep in the woods of Ozark County, Missouri. He switched his emphasis to fine arts and started his career as an independent artist, focusing on capturing the scenes and people of the Ozarks. His watercolors and canvases depicted the native elements that surrounded his home and studio. He created commissioned paintings and limited-edition prints and developed a reputation throughout the Midwest. He chose to use acrylic paint that was watered down to be a wash to paint Ozark scenes. And he created folios of graphite drawings. He did a black and white series of Springfield Victorian homes. He did a limited edition of the Four Mills of Ozark County. He did a series of Ozark scenes, such as the “Touching the Ozarks” collection, featuring the land, people and wildlife in the area. The artist’s works embellished hundreds of offices and homes through the country, including such collectors as the R.T. French Co., Harry S. Truman Library, and past Governor of Missouri Kit Bond.
James was a resident of Gainesville, Missouri at the time of his passing on October 25, 2011. We have a few of his pieces at the Gallery. Stop in, we’ll be happy to show them to you.