Clayton James, Yellow Night, 1961, acrylic on canvas, 38 x 67 inches; MoNA, Gift of Phyllis D. Massar, 2001.108.005
Posted by Christy Lyman

The Museum of Northwest Art mourns the passing of Clayton James.
A Northwest favorite and friend to fellow artists, Clayton is known for his wood, clay, and cement sculptures and vessels, pure and elegant in form. His plein air paintings capture the rugged beauty of the region. MoNA is honored to hold in its collections a variety of Clayton’s work in 2D and 3D, spanning nearly fifty years of his long and productive artistic career. In 2002, MoNA held a retrospective of Clayton’s work, curated by Vicki Halper and accompanied by a catalogue.
One of Clayton’s large pots was featured in MoNA’s 35th Anniversary permanent collection exhibition this summer, and his painting Yellow Sun is currently on display in our Matched Makers exhibition alongside a painting by his wife, Barbara Straker James (1918-2007).
Last year, the Clayton James award for Mid-Career Artists was given to Seattle artist Whiting Tennis at the MoNA Luminaries Awards, in acknowledgement of Clayton’s legacy and contribution to Northwest art.
Next summer, MoNA will mount an exhibition of Clayton’s work from the permanent collection in our second floor galleries that will also include photographs and archival materials.
In her review of the 2002 MoNA show, art critic Regina Hackett wrote: “In the Northwest, few artists embody the concept of elementary harmony with the passion and purity of Clayton James.”
The Museum of Northwest Art honors the creativity and legacy of Clayton James. 


Museum of Northwest Art


The Museum of Northwest Art connects people with the art, diverse cultures and environments of the Northwest. 



MoNA collects and exhibits contemporary art from across the Northwest, including Alaska, British Columbia, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.