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Jim Cantrell received his BFA from the Univ. Of Nebraska and his MA from the Univ. Of Northern Colorado with a double emphasis in ceramics and painting.  After teaching at the college level for several years, he became an independent studio artist in both ceramics and painting in 1971 when he and Jeannette moved to Bardstown, KY.

During the past 35 years he has been represented by galleries in Louisville & Lexington, Nashville, Atlanta, Des Moines, St Louis, Lincoln, Indianapolis, Chicago, Winston-Salem, Santa Fe, Boston, New Orleans, and Cincinnati.  Awards include two Al Smith Fellowships (1991 & 2005), Southern Arts Federation Fellowship (1994) and numerous purchase awards.  In 2000 he was named Alumna of the Year for Creative Achievement from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.

His work can be seen in numerous public and private collections in the US, Europe, & Japan as well as in the following art museums: Speed Art Museum, & Owensboro Museum of Fine Art in KY; Evansville Museum of Arts & Science, IN; Mississippi Museum of Fine Art, MS; Austin Peay State University, TN; Museum of Nebraska Art & Sheldon Art Museum in NE; & the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, MO.  A major oil painting is currently hanging in the American Embassy in Riga, Latvia sponsored by the Art in Embassies program.
With over 250 solo, group, invitational, and competitive exhibitions, over 50 awards,  a plethora of publications, presenting lectures, seminars, and acting as a juror in both major and minor competitions, he says “I still feel the excitement at the beginning of each new painting.  The initial pleasure comes from my research for the subject or idea to be painted.  Then the building of the “set” or composition —the choice of cloth, objects, models, lighting, etc., begins.  I ask the question ‘Will it convey that elusive quality of truth, mystery, & magic, that universal element of the human condition that will ensure its passage through “the test of time”’?  Finally, I allow myself to sink into the right brain mode and let intuition and years of practice guide my hand.”

Jim was also the featured painter in the “The Mark of the Maker”, the documentary movie about Twinrocker by film maker David McGowan which was nominated for an Academy Award.