JAMES "JIMMY" TROTTER
Originally from Miami, James Trotter refers to himself as an art school dropout; he briefly attended Kansas City Art Institute, and continues to live and work in Kansas City. Nonetheless, Trotter has been celebrated for his witty, funny, mixed media drawings and installations that demonstrate his all-consuming passion for popular culture in all forms. As Julie Rodrigues Widholm, Associate Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago notes, Trotter’s work “appears to be trying to get at the daily struggles that beset everyone as part of the human condition. Perhaps this angst is what turns him to music and toys, the safe-havens of childhood fantasy and escape.”
In addition to his studio practice, creating colorful, densely layered drawings and toy “shrines,” Trotter is an avid collector of toys, records, and comic books. Images of and from these objects make their way into his artwork, while the records are used by his alterego Superworlf, an acclaimed DJ in his own right.
James Trotter’s work has been exhibited at ADA Gallery in Richmond, Virginia, Grand Arts Gallery in Kansas City, MO, solo shows at Mulherin + Pollard in New York, NY (2010, 2011, 2013) and at the NADA Art Fair in Miami, FL, in 2011 and at numerous fairs with ADA gallery since 2010. He awarded a $10,000 grant by the Charlotte Street Foundation for his drawings in 2007. Trotter currently lives in small town in Missouri.
wrote about Jimmy Trotter for the Charlotte Street Foundation in 2007.
When looking at James Trotter‘s drawings it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that his artistic pursuits began as a child drawing Star Wars characters and writing graffiti while visiting his grandmother in Brooklyn. His interest in popular culture—music, comics, toys, garage sales, flea markets, and e-bay—find their way into his burgeoning toy collection and prolific drawing practice; he has made more than 500 drawings so far this year.
Originally from Miami, Trotter briefly attended KCAI and has stayed in Kansas City, making a career as DJ Superwolf, playing 1960s and 70s soul and funk records and dealing rare 45s overseas in the U.K. and Japan. Trotter maintains a three-pronged engagement to popular culture through drawings, toy installations, and music. His drawings range from quick line sketches to more elaborate constellations of cartoon characters in the vein of R. Crumb, along with food, corporate logos, body parts and records overlapping and interacting and fighting to make sense. Trotter is peculiarly un-precious about his work, which is strewn all over his studio and pinned to the wall. Trotter’s insistence that there are no “corrections” in his drawings demonstrates the conviction of his mark-making using only ink or gouache. He does not use pencil or erasers, although he has developed a recent fondness for white-out as an additional layer to the work. Concerns of conviction and correctness translate into the subject of Trotter’s work as well. He frequently voices his frustration with the United States, not in terms of politics, but more social frustration with political correctness and being afraid to say what one really thinks. While his views may seem brusque, he appears to be trying to get at the daily struggles that beset everyone as part of the human condition. Perhaps this angst is what turns him to music and toys, the safe-havens of childhood fantasy and escape. He collects vintage toys and records from the 1970s and 1980s: seeking out specific toys he couldn’t afford as a child, while others recall the abundance of free candy and toys symbolized by Halloween and Christmas. A tree-house overflowing with his toys, lights and a miniature train embodies the notion of a child’s (and perhaps adult’s) utopia of innocence. At first, I thought Trotter’s work must be a critique of consumption, but it is not. It is about value and resuscitating value into objects, ideas, and memories that are so quickly discarded.
Julie Rodrigues Widholm
Associate Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
ada gallery 228 west broad street richmond, virginia 23220
ADA GALLERY CONTEMPORARY FINE ART in RICHMOND VA since 2003!