James Lavadour’s work is deeply rooted in the landscapes of eastern Oregon. He grew up in the foothills of the Blue Mountains on the Umatilla Reservation near Pendleton, Oregon. An avid hiker, Lavadour’s connection to this geography is reflected in the slow and labor-intensive processes he undertakes in his daily painting practice. Paint becomes a vehicle to mimic the gradual layering and subsequent erosion, exposing the trace of previous vestiges of color. Lavadour favors translucent glazes, which leave hints of each preceding layer, creating tremendous depth and luminosity through these topographical surfaces. Often juxtaposing vivid color with subdued passages, each painting strikes a balance between serenity and optical vibration.
Lavadour has been making artwork and exhibiting for more than four decades. Largely self-trained as a painter, he drew his early inspiration from a wide variety of sources, from Romanticist painters such as Turner, to more kinetic processes such as those exemplified by Chinese ink painters. Long held in high esteem among the art world in the Pacific Northwest, Lavadour’s paintings have also been shown in numerous major institutions throughout the United States, with more national recognition building over the last ten years. Lavadour has exhibited at: The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (in both Washington, DC and New York, NY); The Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, IN; Portland Art Museum in Portland, OR; the Heard Museum in Phoenix, AZ; and the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, NM among many others. Notably, Lavadour, with the assistance of his Portland gallerist, Jane Beebe of PDX Contemporary, were invited to bring a large grid of 15 of his paintings to show in Personal Structures at the Palazzo Bembo in the 2013 Venice Biennale.
Another significant turning point occurred in 1990 when Lavadour was invited to do a Fellowship at Rutgers Center for Innovative Printmaking (now the Brodsky Center) housed at the Mason Gross School of Arts at Rutgers in New Brunswick, NJ. While visiting Rutgers, Lavadour worked with Master Printer, Eileen Foti who encouraged Lavadour to get a press for his studio. Two years later, Lavadour had assembled a team of interested artists and likeminded friends and in 1992 Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts (CSIA) was founded. Crow’s Shadow has a prestigious artist-in-residence program and is the only professional fine art print publisher located on a Native American reservation in the United States. Located in the same area where Lavadour grew up, Crow’s Shadow enjoys the same formative vistas and inspiring quietude that propels Lavadour’s studio practice. More than twenty years after its founding, Crow’s Shadow is still guided with Lavadour’s vision in mind.
100% of proceeds from James Lavadour prints sold by Crow’s Shadow are donated back to Crow’s Shadow in support of CSIA’s ongoing operations and programming.