Although I had once worked with Jimmy in his Yates Street studio, our lives had long since gone in different directions. Sadly, I was among many it seems who did not even know he was ill. If you did spend time with "Victoria artist" Jimmy, you may think you knew him...but after listening to his daughter, Treece, speak so lovingly of her father and the life they had shared, and then Jimmy's two close buddies each with their own memories, it was clear I did not know him at all. I am grateful to his wife, Pat, for inviting me to witness Jimmy, the man, and not just Jimmy, the artist.
Not a day passes in which I don't think of Jimmy: how could I not, a 4 ft by 5 ft bear (above) hangs in my living room. My brother-in-law, who does not appreciate Jimmy's love it or leave it painting style, calls it my molar bear. Personally I love it and will not leave it, or rather, it will not leave me unless by some act of God. Not long after news of Jimmy's death became public, a visitor to my home, upon entering my living room, took one look at this painting and said, "That will be worth a lot more now." I almost slapped her, however, the comment simply reflects a sad truth about our smoke and mirrors art world.
Treece graciously shared many thoughts about her father, one in particular still resonates with me today, and which he obviously felt very deeply. How else would you explain his choice of iconic imagery from which to create his "cash cow"?
"I'd rather meet one bear a week than one hundred people a day."
James Dee Wright 1937-2008