James J. "Jim" McGarrell

  • Born: February 22, 1930
  • Died: February 7, 2020
  • Location: Newbury, Vermont

Cremation Society of New Hampshire

101 Union Street
Littleton, NH 03561

Tel. (800) 493-8001

Tribute & Message From The Family

James J. "Jim" McGarrell, 89, of Newbury, Vt., died February 7, 2020, at Cottage Hospital in Woodsville.

McGarrell was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on February 22, 1930. Orphaned at 13, as a teenager he had a strong interest in jazz, particularly the music of early New Orleans and Kansas City. After exhausting the books on the subject in the public library, he began to look at art books on the neighboring shelves. At 20, he dropped out of a pre-law curriculum at Indiana University to take a job at a steel casting plant and began to draw and paint in the basement of his family home. He returned to the University in Bloomington as an art student and continued his studies for a summer at the Skowhegan School in Maine, followed by two years of graduate school at UCLA and a Fulbright grant to Stuttgart, Germany.

His first gallery shows were in Los Angeles in 1955, and he showed in New York starting in 1961. He gained increasing recognition in Europe starting in the mid-1960s, with shows in galleries and museums especially in France and Italy.
He was part of many group shows, notably New Images of Man at the Museum of Modern Art in 1960, and as one of five painters selected for The Figurative Tradition in American Art at the U.S. Pavilion of the 1968 Venice Biennale.
Paintings by McGarrell are in the permanent collections of many institutions. In 1995 he received the Jimmy Ernst Award for lifetime achievement from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and in 2008 the New York Community Trust awarded him The Oscar Williams and Gene Derwood Prize in visual arts.

McGarrell's teaching career – Reed College, 1956-59; Indiana University, 1959-81; Washington University in Saint Louis, 1981 to his retirement in 1992 – was modified for more than a decade after 1970 when he spent more of the year for uninterrupted time in the studio while he lived with his family in Grimaud in Southern France and Umbertide in Northern Umbria.

He was also invited to teach or work in residence for brief periods at many institutions, including Skowhegan, the International School in Umbria, the Roswell NM, AIR program, the New York Studio School and Dartmouth College. It was while he was at the latter, in 1993, that he and his wife of sixty years, the late writer and translator Ann McGarrell (1933-2016), settled into an early 19th-century house in Newbury, Vt., where he continued to live and paint until his death.

He is survived by his son, Andrew McGarrell and his wife, Margaret of Vermont. He was also preceded in death by his son Flores, sister, Joan Morical and two brothers, Patrick and Michael.

ARRANGEMENTS: Plans for a memorial will be determined later.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Jakmel Eskpresyon arts center in Haiti, www.jecenter.org .