Over the last 20 years, James Arthur Vogel has acquired an integrated mastery in the arts of painting, sculpture, illustration, design and fabrication. His uncanny ability to infuse raw materials with personality and life in the service of character and storytelling are the culmination of his wide-ranging personal experiences in the field, including apprenticeship and collaboration with recognized masters. His art is an expression of the nature of storytelling, whether it’s the story inside a still image, or the evocation of a narrative in an enchanting costume or an exquisitely-designed mechanical creature.
James completed his Fine Arts degree from Columbus College of Art and Design with a thesis titled Power of Performance, exploring the dynamic nature of art beyond the static confines of the studio – an expanding paradigm that underlies James’ professional career as a Production Designer, Art Director, Fabricator, Performer, and Fine Artist. Early on James was inspired by music and live shows, conducting his own live paintings in a fearless fascination to use art in capturing the dynamic nature of characters in context. James also integrated the traditional disciplines of drawing, painting, and sculpture to create a fantastic vision of marionettes and puppetry which he employed in solo and group performances.
A timely visit to the Wexner Center in Columbus, featuring Julie Taymor’s first retrospective, confirmed his greatest suspicions about the limitless potential of using combined media in storytelling. This watershed encounter quickly set him on a path to New York City, where his dream of working with Ms. Taymor and Jim Henson’s crew would soon be realized.
James has made New York City his home for the last 15 years, working on some of the top productions in music, film, television, and Broadway. His creations have appeared in stage and video productions for such artists as Bette Midler, Lou Reed, Madonna, Iggy Pop, The Edge, and Bono. His television credits include Sesame Street, 30 Rock, SNL and The Dailyshow with John Stewart.
As a sculptor, fabricator, and designer, Vogel has worked on numerous Broadway hits including Avenue Q, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, and Disney’s The Lion King. His mask and costumes have appeared in productions by Michael Mao, Mikhail Baryshnikov, the Boston Ballet, and the New York City Opera.
James has also worked on many independent and feature films, and he was a key member of the team that received a Golden Globe for the film, Revolver. His latest work in film includes costume design and fabrication for the independent film, Dreams of the Last Butterflies, a movie that is being produced in collaboration with the conservation group, Saving Species.
When not working on large-scale productions, James still finds time to tell stories through his own painting, sculpture, and performance. The nature of his work allows him to take his art wherever he goes. His artistic drive goes beyond just the design, fabrication, and production of a piece, but bringing that work to life through live performance. He often performs in many of the costume props and giant heads he has constructed, and his credits include work as a vaudeville circus performer, a clown, and a character actor.
Additionally, James’ paintings, drawings, and sculpture have appeared in numerous pop-up galleries in New York City, and he has recently exhibited his work at Gilles Larrain’s private Gallery in Soho.
His sensitivity and expertise in understanding and blending multiple artistic personalities and concepts yield results that are both novel and iconic. Beyond the merely ‘entertaining’ James’ work fuses artistic mastery with the integrative, healing potential of the human story in ways that touch and inspire audiences.