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James C. Litz

James C. Litz

(1948-2009)

James C. Litz (1948-2009) was born September 17, 1948 in Buffalo, NY grew up in Cheektowaga, NY and was a graduate of Cleveland Hill High School. In 1968, he was drafted into the Army to serve in the Vietnam War.  James spent his entire duty in the jungles of Tay Ninh Province, Ho Chi Minh Trail, and the Central Highland areas of the southern portion of Vietnam.  This would, as with so many others, alter his life forever. Upon returning from the service he had a lot of trouble holding down employment and he moved from job to job. Eventually alcohol became a way of dealing with his shattered youth and lack of direction in his post-war life.  By chance, while babysitting his nephews and looking for a way to entertain them, he picked up some crayons and started drawing for them.  This provided him with a great deal of joy and soon after he bought his first set of paints, he was thirty-three years old.  What resulted was the “primitive-naïve” style of oil and acrylic paintings that feature colorful & humorous characters and scenes, for which he will forever be remembered.  He received national recognition through-out the 1980’s and 1990’s with his representation by Yolanda Fine Arts in Chicago and when his painting “La Carriole” was selected for the permanent collection of the Museé D’Art Naïf de l’lle De France (the leading museum in the world for naïve art and now called Museé D’Art Naïf-Max Fourny.  The same painting was also included in the book about naïve art entitled La Cité et les Naïfs, by Max Fourny, publisher, art collector and founder of the Museé D’Art Naïf, and also published in France.  The Burchfield Penney has highlighted his work in numerous exhibitions since the first acquisition of into the collection of Noah’s Ark in 1989.  Since that time and through the generosity of many donors, most notably the artist and his family, the Burchfield Penney’s collection of James Litz works has grown to over twenty-five pieces.