James Lawrence

James A. "Jim" Lawrence pursued careers in both commercial photography and advertising in San Francisco before settling in Nevada in 1949. Lawrence, primarily a watercolorist, and his wife, Gerri, also a painter, established their home/studios at Rock Creek Ranch outside of Gardnerville, Nevada, and were founding members of the East Fork Gallery in that community.  

Lawrence was born in San Mateo, California, in 1910. As a youth, he loved the outdoors, and spent a great deal of his free time on a friend's large cattle ranch in Northern California. He attended the University of California at Davis, and graduated in 1933 with a degree in landscape design. During his studies, a fellow student kept telling Lawrence about the magnificence of the Carson Valley in Nevada, a relatively unspoiled ranching region south of Carson City. He visited a few times, and, by the late 1930s, Lawrence had taken to frequenting a sheep shack on the old Cardinal Ranch south of Gardnerville in the summers–painting and photographing around the region.

Lawrence was a restless spirit; he studied at Art Center School and Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles. In 1940, he was in New York City taking classes at the Art Students League and New York School of Modern Photography. 

The artist's record of exhibitions is lengthy, and includes the Art Institute of Chicago, Los Angeles County Museum, H. M. De Young Museum in San Francisco, and Stanford University, where he was featured in a solo exhibition of watercolors. Lawrence was a frequent exhibitor in the galleries of northern Nevada: Nevada Art Gallery (now Nevada Museum of Art); University of Nevada, Reno; and Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko.

In addition to his role as a founder of the East Fork Gallery in Gardnerville, Lawrence helped organize the Carson City chapter of the Nevada Artist Association and Carson Valley Art Association. Reports of Lawrence's activities often found their way on to the pages of the Carson Valley News, Nevada Appeal, and newspapers in Reno.

The subject that most captured Lawrence's imagination and creativity, whether it was in painting or photography, was the Western landscape. The artist moved his brush swiftly across the paper—the result was often more gestural than literal, with brevity in place of overwrought details. The same held true when he introduced old structures or wildlife in his images.

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