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ca. 1937

ca. 1940



1944 - 1945

1945 - 1946


1946 - 1952




1953 - 1954


Born on February 16 in Indianapolis, Indiana, to James Alexis (1888-1965) and Suzanne (Conlin) Jarvaise (1890-1978). His father, born in Turkey of French parents, was a scholar of Greek studies, spoke five languages and was a collector of antiques, largely informing young James’ interests in arts and culture. The family, which included his sisters Julia and Catherine, spent time in New York City and Chicago, but Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania remained their main residence until 1940.


James’ art education began at the Henry Clay Frick Elementary School where he was selected to participate in a “gifted art student” program at Carnegie Tech (Carnegie Mellon University) for a series of classes led by Mr. Sam Rosenberg.

Graduates from Henry Clay Frick Elementary School and begins high school at Taylor Allderdice.

Family moves to Los Angeles where he enters John Marshall High School.

Graduates from John Marshall High School.

Enlists in the United States Army on April 23 in Los Angeles; receives training at Camp Roberts, California; he is selected for the Army Air Corps and receives training at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Ships overseas to Heidelberg, Germany with the United States Army Air Corps, where he remains until the war ends.

Remains in Europe and travels through France and Germany. Studies briefly with Fernand Léger in his studios in Paris and Biarritz, France; meets Matsumi “Mike” Kanemitsu while studying in Paris.

James Jarvaise: Army Air Corps, 1943

Returns to Los Angeles, California.

Enters the University of Southern California in the fall, studying at College of Letters, Arts and Science’s Fine Arts Department under Francis de Erdely and Edgar Ewing. Meets future wife Olive Lorraine Weber (1924-2011) while both are attending USC. She is a Literature major.

During this period, Jarvaise begins developing the mixed media collage technique that he will experiment with throughout his career. Working in an improvisational fashion, Jarvaise assembles a range of found objects, paint, industrial materials, and metals to compose these works, often in monochrome palettes of blacks, grays, whites, and beiges. 

Marries Lorraine Webber in Inglewood, California and resides in Manhattan Beach. They have five children, James Laurens, Julie Lorraine, Jeanne Marie, Anna Alexis, and Jean Rene.

Graduates with Bachelor of Fine Arts, University of Southern California, College of Letters, Arts and Science, Fine Arts Department.

Crystal Lamp at Addison Gallery of American Art

The work: Crystal Lamp receives purchase award at Annual Exhibition “Art Schools U.S.A.” Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts.

The Jarvaise family, from left to right: Julie, James, Lorraine (front), Jean, Anna, Jeanne, and Jim, 1973.

Invited to attend Rico Le Brun’s Art Workshop at Yale University; sits in on classes of Josef Albers.

Lorraine receives a teaching assignment from the U.S. Air Force in France; James travels with her and studies throughout Europe.

Returns to U.S. in August with Lorraine.

Completes a Master of Fine Arts, University of Southern California, College of Letters, Arts and Science, Fine Arts Department.


1956 - 1957




1958 - 1959










Impressed by the design and cantilever of Vic Sease’s new developments, James and Lorraine buy a home by Sease in Tujunga, California. James worked from the back bathroom, and stored his paintings in the second bedroom. 

Serves as a lecturer for classes in the Fundamentals of Drawing and Painting at the University of Southern California, College of Letters, Arts and Science, Fine Arts Department in the Fall semester. Following this appointment, James joins the faculty at USC and continues teaching at the university, on and off, over the next thirty years. 

Begins working on a new series of horizontal abstract paintings with subtle colors, mainly painted on masonite board. At the time, Jarvaise was studying Hudson River School painters of the 19th century like Asher Durand and Thomas Eakins. In their studies of nature, Jarvaise began to find relationships to his won abstract works. He titled this new series the “Hudson River School Series,” and deeply integrated his surrounding environment into his practice. In a MoMA Catalog from 1959, Jarvaise referred to this series, saying:

“In the process of translating my reactions to my surroundings, I have acquired a new understanding of previous generations of American landscape painters. I have come to feel a special sympathy for such artists as Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, John Kensett, and Frederick Church. It is to these Hudson River School painters that I have dedicated my own landscapes.” 

Hudson River School Series, Untitled, 1957
Hudson River School Series, Untitled, 1965

Begins teaching regular classes at the University of Southern California, namely in their design, drawing, and painting departments. Teaches Drawing from Life I, II, III at USC in the Fall Semester.


During this time period, Jarvaise begins exploring abstract figuration. This study of figuration would produce a series of work titled Man in the Room, where Jarvaise experimented with placing the outline of a human profile on colored grounds and abstract landscapes.

Participates in a juried exhibition at Carneigie Tech (today’s Carnegie Mellon University) and the piece Hudson River School Series, No 28, is acquired by the university collection.

Participates in Sixteen Americans at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, New York. Curator of painting and sculpture Dorothy Canning Miller selected Jarvaise alongside J. De Feo, Wally Hendrick, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Alfred Leslie, Landes Lewitin, Richard Lytle, Robert Mallary, Louise Nevelson, Robert Rauschenberg, Julius Schmidt, Richard Stankiewicz, Frank Stella, Albert Urban, Jack Youngerman. Six works were included.

Sixteen Americans at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, New York
Sixteen Americans at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, New York.

Participates in Artists of Los Angeles and Vicinity at the  Los Angeles County Museum. Hudson River School Series #61 is purchased for the collection.

Following the exhibition, the painting Hudson River School Series, 32, 1957 is acquired for the MoMA collection with funding from the Larry Aldrich Foundation Fund.

Takes up a post as a guest instructor during the summer at Pennsylvania State University, University Park.

Family moves to Altadena, California.

Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, N.Y., acquires the painting Hudson River Series, 30, 1957 for their permanent collection.

Hudson River Series, 30, 1957 

Takes a sabbatical from USC, traveling to Spain to teach at the Palacio de Cristal del Retiro, University of Madrid (two terms) in connection with the International Art Exposition. 

Jarvaise and wife in Madrid, Spain

Begins teaching regular courses at Occidental College, Los Angeles, California.

Begins teaching regular courses at Chouinard Art School, California Institute of Art Los Angeles, California.

Joseph H. Hirshorn gifts eight paintings, all from the 1961 series of still life paintings and landscapes, to the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Woman with View of Sea, 1961
Still Life by Window, Red Vase, 1961

Untitled painting is used to illustrate Anthony Boucher’s article, “Criminal At Large,” New York Times, January 15, 1967.

Serves as an Artist in Residence at the University of California, Santa Barbara, California.

Serves as Chairman of Seminar Committee and is a member of Screening Committee at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

1969 - 1970

1970 - 1974



1974 - 1975

1975 - 2004




Family moves to Santa Barbara, California.

Teaches at Santa Barbara Art Institute, Santa Barbara, California.

Teaches at Brooks Institute School of Fine Arts, Santa Barbara, California.

Serves as Painting Department chairman and as director of Seminar Projects, Santa Barbara Art Institute, Santa Barbara, California.

Serves as Artist in Residence at Moorpark College, Moorpark, California.

Teaches and serves as Department Chair of the Fine and Performing Arts, and Communication Departments at Oxnard College, Oxnard, California. In his tenure at Oxnard, James was a mentor to many dozens of aspiring artists including Henry Taylor.

Retires from Oxnard College, Oxnard, California.

Lorraine passes away peacefully at home in Santa Barbara, CA on December 9th.

Participates in his first solo exhibition since 1990 showcasing his earlier works, James Jarvaise and the Hudson River Series, Louis Stern Fine Arts, West Hollywood, CA.

James Jarvaise and the Hudson River Series


Last exhibition, James Jarvaise: Collages Redux at Louis Stern Fine Arts features a selection of his latest work from 1989-2013. The show earned him a positive review on KCRW ArtTalk by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp. The review praised the work for being the most youthful art on exhibit in April 2015. James Jarvaise was 91 and energetically attended the opening.

James Jarvaise: Collages Redux

James passed away peacefully at home in Santa Barbara, CA on June 19th.

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