I love having a sculptor as a nearby neighbor in this rural area. As I drive by, I can check out the latest 15’ abstract art piece towering over a stand of bamboo on my way to the ferry dock, or into town. I used to slow down as I passed James’ place long before I knew who lived there. Even his mailbox is cool. When we finally did meet in person I was thrilled: “You have the garden that I always look forward to driving by!” For some time he had a huge sign that read Buy Art, making his roadside garden even more compelling.
James Kelsey is a self taught sculptor whose large scale pieces are found throughout Western Washington and beyond. Specializing in stainless and bronze, his works also include brightly enameled steel, Cor ten and glass. His website is the best, not simply because you can see his amazing works, but because his sense of humor is there and you don’t feel like you’re being hit over the head with ego. Certainly James takes his art seriously, himself less–refreshing.
James is a gardener, too and art looks its best surrounded by cool plants. Recently he treated my husband and me to a garden tour and a peek into his studio—a Quonset hut that for sure stands out in Port Orchard. Bamboo is one of James’ favorite plants, and he has regal stands of it that shelter his property from the road. Besides his own art, he has creatively placed found objects like giant auger bits protruding from the ground. I personally like the weathered and headless Trojan statute placed among the froth of weedy horsetail.
Good movies are another passion of James’. As the leader of an informal film group Reel Friends, he does his best to promote film art in our area and works to support the downtown Port Orchard movie house the Dragonfly Theatre. By encouraging local movie lovers to get out and take in a flick together and then discuss its merits over a pint or coffee, he’s fostering art appreciation and community. Every Sunday, Reel Friends heads to the movies. Email James for more information on the groups’ activities and of course, to inquire about commissioning an incredible sculpture.
© Colleen Miko, 2011