Self Portrait
The Juggler
Drawing, with Watercolor & Ink Wash, 1961, 24” x 14.25”

Mr. McMillan is currently being featured in an exhibition at the Bakersfield Museum of Art, Bakersfield, CA, from Dec. 10, 2000 through Feb. 21, 2010.

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Bakersfield, CA 93301
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catalog available in PDF
It may take up to three minutes to access the brochure for Mr. James C. McMillan's West coast exhibition premier at the Bakersfield Museum of Art, Bakersfield, CA (2009-2010).

Current Exhibitions

The Art of James C. McMillan: Discovering an African American Master
Greensboro, North Carolina, USA
March 20 - May 6, 2011

The Art of James C. McMillan: Loss and Redemption - A Restrospective
The African American Atelier, Inc.
Greensboro Cultural Center
200 North Davie Street
Greensboro, NC 27401
African American Atelier Website
March 20 - May 6, 2011

Exhibited Works (partial listing):

1946, Portrait of Mother, charcoal, 24 x 19.5
1947, Study for African Scene, pencil, 10.5 x 10
1947, African Scene, lithograph, 10.5 x 10
1948, Self Portrait as an Artist, oil on canvas, 16 x 12
1949, Hilda, Bennett Student, 21.5 x 16.75
1950, Weeping Christ, oil on board, 25 x 18
1950, Paris Suburb with Trees, ink/wash, 10.5 x 8
c. 1950s, Cold War, oil on canvass, 18 x 24
1950/51, Sharecroppers, charcoal, 25 x 18
1950/51, The Weepers, red conte, 18 x 20
1950/51, Pensive Nude, red conte, 25 x 18
1950/51, Seated Nude, From the Side, red conte, 25 x 18
1951, Study for Pensive Nude, ink, 12 x 9
1951, Racism Condemned, charcoal, 24 x 19
1951, Home Yard - Vista, oil on canvas board, 20 x 16
1951, Pensive, brush/ink, 9 x 7
1951, Shrouded Parisian, brush/ink, 9.5 x 3
1952, Looking Back: Looking Over My Shoulder, oil on paper, 20 x 12
1952, Mother and Child, oil on board, 27 x 21.5
1953/56, Afro-Thinker, wood sculpture, 26 x 6 x 6
1954, Broken Doll, pen ink/wash, 9.5 x 7.5
1957, Holocaust/Apartheid, oil on canvas, 24x50
1958, Self Portrait, sepia ink/wash, 18 x 12 (approx.)
1958, The Prisoner, charcoal drawing, 27 x 20
1959, Escape, oil on masonite, 36 x 24 (approx.)
1959, Dream Chaser, oil on masonite, 24 x 36
1959, Red Bird, oil on masonite, 36 x 24 (approx.)
1960, Voyagers, oil on masonite, 24 x 36
1960, Syracuse Cafe, pen ink/wash, 6 x 4
1960, Chair with Sketch Pad, ink/wash, 8 x 10.5
1960, Greensboro Before Redevelopment, pen/ink, 8 x 10.5
1961, Study for Dark Corner, ink, 12 x 9
1961, Dark Corner, oil on canvas, 36 x 28
1961, Politicos, etching, 12 x 16.5
1961, The Juggler, watercolor ink/wash, 24 x 14.25
1963, Breaking Free-At Last, oil on canvas, 30 x 24
1964, Abandoned Workshop, pen/ink, 12 x 16
1967, Condemned Innocence, black conte, 25 x 19
1968, Three Carolina Students, sepia pen/ink, 19 x 23.5
1968, I Am My Brother's Keeper, oil, 24 x 30
1968, Contemporary Cubicle, ink wash, 26 x 18
1968, H. Rap Brown-New Minstrel, sepia pen/ink, 23.25 x 18.25
1979, Time (Old Man), sepia pen/ink, 6 x 4
1986, Am I My Brother's Keeper, oil on masonite, 31 x 23
1991, IO Bird, found wood sculpture, 20 x 13 x 31
2001, Four Dream Builders, oil on masonite, 48 x 32
2011, Contemporary Precipice/60s Symbols, oil on masonite, 24 x 32

The Art of James C. McMillan: Elegance and Line - A Drawing Retrospective
Bennett College, Steele Hall Art Gallery
900 East Washington
Greensboro, NC 27401
March 20 - May 6, 2011

Exhibited Works (partial listing):

1948, Rescue, pastel wash, 12 x 22
1950, Reclining Nude, black conte, 18 x 24
1950, Hallelujah, ink/newsprint, 14 x 24
1950, Suppression, ink/newsprint, 14 x 24
1950, Blvd. St. Michel, Paris, felt marker, 14 x 18
1950, Au Cafe, Paris ("Karen Heiberg"), pen/ink, 11 x 13
1950, L'Hotel de Ville, Paris, felt marker, 14 x 16
1951, Paris Suburb with Trees, ink wash, 20 x 12
1951, Montmartre with Sacre Coeur, Pais, felt marker, 16 x 14
1951, Luxemburg Gardens from Window, felt marker, 24 x 30.5
1951, Le Concierge, felt marker, 14 x 16
1951, Moulin de Galette, Paris, felt marker, 14 x 16
1951, L'Hotel de Ville, Paris, felt marker, 14 x 16
1951, St. Germain de Pres, Paris, felt marker, 15 x 18
1951, Notre Dame Apse, Paris, pen/ink, 15 x 12
1951, Notre Dame, Paris, felt marker, 15 x 18
1951, Street Corner, Paris, felt marker, 15 x 18
1951, Hands, ink/felt marker, 15.5 x 15.5
1951, Racism Unleashed, pen/ink, 16 x 20
1951, Luxemburg Palace, Paris, ink/felt marker, 14 x 18
1951, Sidewalk Cafe, Paris, ink/felt marker, 14 x 16
1951, Cafe Table with Wine, Paris, pen/ink, 13 x 16
1960, House Crane, 9.5 x 6.5
1960, Victorian Icon, woodcut, 16 x 20
1960, Sentinel, lithograph, 13 x 16
1961, Complex Interchange, lithograph, 13 x 18
1961, Nature Embraced, wood cut, 16 x 20
1963, Flight to Egypt, pastel, 17 x 24
1977, Carolina Dunes, black conte, 28 x 32
1977, Cedar Lane, black conte, 27 x 32
1977, Our Days are Numbered, pen/ink 7 x 10
1977, Windsor Composite, black conte, 19 x 23.5
1979, Rubber Plant with Broken Vase, black conte, 27 x 32
1979, Figure Composition: The Admired, black conte, 32 x 27

Joint Exhibitions

Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S.A.
March 20 - May 6, 2011

The Art of James C. McMillan: Elegance and Line - A Drawing Exhibition
Bennett College, Steele Hall Art Gallery, Greensboro, North Carolina

The Art of James C. McMillan: Loss and Redemption - A Retrospective
The African America Atelier, Greensboro, North Carolina

The Art of James C. McMillan: In His Own Words

In connection with the above-referenced exhibitions, it may be helpful in viewing the works on exhibit at The African American Atelier, Inc. and the Steele Hall Art Gallery of Bennett College, to consider the artist's reflections on his work. The passages excerpted below are taken from both public documents authored by Mr. McMillan, as well as his private correspondence. When considered with the art on display, and other written materials provided to the public during these exhibitions, a greater appreciation for this master artist's work may be gained.

In 1970, Mr. James C. McMillan, then chair of the art department at Bennett College, curated an exhibit at Bennett titled "Invitational Exhibit" hosted by the Afro-American Studies Institute of Bennett and dedicated to the late James A. Porter and James V. Herring, both former chairmen of the Howard University Art Department, and McMillan's college professors. In the forword to the exhibit brochure, McMillan wrote of his view that black art is both specific and universal.

"For some the emergence of the Afro-American artist is a recent phenomenon. For others more acquainted with history the Black artist has contributed significantly to the evolving American culture concurrently with his arrival on these shores. Since the 18th Century his achievements have been documented nationally and internationally as he met the rigorous esthetic standards at home and abroad. More recently it can be said the Afro-American artist is well-entrenched in the 'contemporary manner.' He is concerned with many things seen, felt, heard and smelled - with textures, colors, space, the quality of light and air - with LIFE in its most diverse forms (the microcosm; the macrocosm) and with death too! He is concerned with relationships - of objects and ideas, philosophies and revolutions, peoples and places. He takes cues from the recesses of the mind, as surrealistic as well as realistic imagery; he explores the realms of intuition and reason as a continuum of past, present, and future. Joy, sorrow, love and hate, being and becoming are all a part of his themes." (April, 1970)

McMillan’s abstract works include his found wood polychrome sculptures such as a IO Bird (1991), which is included in the Atelier exhibit. Of this category of abstract works, McMillan has written:

"These things are not about 'pleasing things of beauty.' They are foremost about sculpture and a search for unique sculptural form: An arrangement of elemental and related shapes, textures, and weathered color to define a unique three-dimensional space, in varying configurations of asymmetry and balance while, hopefully, imparting through their imagery some of the mystery of a primeval past. Sculpturally speaking, the forms represent an intuitive play, yet introspective search for a formal synthesis of contrasting and unlikely elements: formal vs. intuitive, organic vs. architectonic, old vs. new, ect. They also reflect an identification with the landscape idiom - - its cyclical analogy to life and the time-space continuum. Other pieces refer to the primeval human predisposition to erect edifices at hallowed sites for divination and worship. I have attempted to impart through these forms, as altars and totems, a sense of mystery and awesomeness that speak to a collective imagery meant to evoke the ultimate. ...

My sculptural works are essentially Afro-centric in nature, relating to man's insatiable search for inspired symbols of his unity with all of nature and spirituality - as the altar, totems, steles, icons, ect. These pieces derive from recent perusals of the Matty Reed African art collection, the Musee de L'homme (Paris), and the Brussels Musee Tervuren where I re-discovered a spiritual energy and meaning in early African effigies (and other ethnic cultures) in their socio-religious constructions. Ancient ritualistic forms seem to evoke an awe, mystical associations that connect with us today. Serious art forms should provide this. This is my challenge. The challenge, stylistically, draws heavily from Afro-Cubism and a very personal constructivist manner employing found, weathered wood, twigs, and more recently a combination of the sculptured relief panel, subdued earth tones with accents of metal, cord, fibers, ect." (May, 1999)

Mr. McMillan was asked if he considers himself an exclusively a "southern" artist. He responded, in pertinent part, as follows:

"I have some difficulty in defining myself regionally, let alone as a 'southern' artist per se. Though, I confess a pervasive saturation of emotional recall throughout those years, that filter ideas and issues of esthetic consideration. I have the impression, too, through broad contact with fellow artists of national and international persuasion, that there is considerable concurrence. Needless to say, with such an amalgam of experiences coupled with diverse formal exposure, I am uncomfortable with a 'southern' label. My art seems to reach backward, forward, and primarily inward for meaning and expression, including immediate family and ancestral references, ‘primitive’ cultures and issues affecting the human condition. In my own work I feel quite comfortable in the use of natural imagery, though my professional evolution has moved toward abstraction. Regarding post-modern ideologies, I have reacted with a sense of euphoric relief, and a breath of fresh air, to the whole of visual art." (August, 1999)

Mr. McMillan has commented on his landscapes as noted below.

"During my 1977 sabbatical study leave I re-discovered the exciting diversity of the North Carolina landscape while driving some 2500 miles up and down the Eastern shore from Elizabeth City to the Islands of Charleston to the Blue Ridge Parkway in the west. Coming out of a primarily social-figurative style of painting in the 60s, followed by a dormant 70s (due to demanding chairmanship and teaching responsibilities) my urge to paint was channeled through thought. The free semester and the exhilaration of movement through landscape space evoked a new and mature awareness of color and light in the particular but changing milieu of diverse North Carolina. The paintings and drawing explore some of the imagery and sensations only. More specifically, however, is that these are only the beginning of a search for new form." (Mid-2000s)

In January of 2010, Mr. McMillan commented on his drawings, such as those appearing in the Bennett College exhibition.

"As I review this broad-ranging collection of work, I am reminded of a basic tenet of my studio teaching, that drawing is a fundamental preparatory process for really seeing well - - seeing to know and to understand. A rediscovery of the natural sense of looking. Drawing, in this context, intensifies the act of discovery and transference of graphic images to paper, and with character. In effect, the empathetic identification of the subjects rendered, whether animate or inanimate, bestows a life of its own. Does it shrug? Does it stand tall and defiant, or slump in resignation? A still-life set of bottles, books, fruit, drapes, become unique individual characters of uplifting shoulders, or squat masses, or dangling fabric on stage, exhibiting their unique presence as expressive forms. These drawings (spanning decades) represent, too, my personal learning and discovery, a motivational search for meaningful graphic images, sometimes caught at a casual glance, sometime more studied and analyzed. And sometimes carried over to be a potent metaphor in the finished canvas. The process I discovered generated an automatic interest in natural forms, found objects, unusual plant foliage, gnarled roots and tree trunks, weathered and discarded drift-wood, a copse of tree-groupings along the roadside, tidal flotsam or sea-oats on sand dunes, ocean clouds, and of course, the human figure. All are demanding in their portrayal." (January, 2010)