James Brian Fetterman was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1950. He revealed artistic ability as a child but had little opportunity to develop it. He was, however, "always drawing." In his late teens he left home and established an important friendship with a Canadian. They spent some time together "traveling around the States" and finally, at the suggestion of his Canadian friend, moved to Toronto where Fetterman entered the Ontario College of Art. Because of the surprising quality of his work -- until then he was largely self-taught -- he was entered at the second year level. In addition to drawing and painting he took several design and conceptual courses. He eventually concentrated exclusively on life drawing with Eric Friefield, Tom LaPierre and Hugh MacKenzie. It was while working under Friefield that he experienced something of a revelation.
Having had very little formal exposure to art before he began his studies at Ontario it was not surprising that he had never heard of certain legendary figures until educationally introduced to them. Friefield let him work and produce for some time, scrutinizing the output carefully, and finally asked a simple but most pertinent question, "Do you know the work of Paul Cadmus?" Fetterman did not know it and indeed did not even know who Paul Cadmus was. It was shortly thereafter, while poring over a book with reproductions of Cadmus works in it, that he experienced a wonderful shock of recognition. It was like seeing a hitherto unknown brother incarnated before his eyes. He was suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of relatedness -- overwhelmed with the kind of joy one experiences upon discovering a kindred spirit.
Fetterman feels that younger artists have to have ideals who set standards for them. With no apologies he regards himself as a diciple of Cadmus. He says, "Paul Cadmus is the only artist I know who is continuing, in the purest sense, an otherwise discarded practice"...But there is, of course, something different too. Fetterman's work has a lyrical quality that is wholly his own. There is a romantic sexual vibrancy in his images that weds spirit with flesh and makes them inseparable.
After two years in Toronto the artist moved to Montreal where he took a degree at the Montreal School of Art and Design. Since his return to the U.S. he has continued the study of art by taking courses at New York's School of Visual Arts and at the Art Students' League. Now a permanently settled New Yorker, he lives in Brooklyn Heights with his friend and frequent model.
Fetterman first exhibited in New York in 1978 with the Addison Green Gallery. Then he formed a lasting relationship with the Leslie-Lohman Gallery. Fetterman had a one-man show at the Leslie-Lohman Gallery on Broome Street in 1979. In 1980 he had a sold out one-man show in Chicago at the gallery A Plain Brown Wrapper. For the last four years Fetterman has been represented in numerous group shows with the Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation.
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