.james osher

Pennsylvania based artist James Osher attended Carnegie Mellon University, then San Francisco Art Institute, and the Cooper Union. Studying with John Baldessari and Alan Kaprow, Osher received his Masters of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia. Osher’s career evolved from painting to conceptually focused work, creating a large-scale urban environmental sculpture for Cleveland State University and The New Gallery.

Artist Resume



Studies have shown that the average gallery/museum audience spends three seconds viewing individual artworks.  My work explores the transitory aesthetic of contemporary art viewing audiences in relationship to the contemplative intent of most art objects.  Based on the painting of Masters and Old Masters I question the accepted and culturally assumed "value" of the "priceless" object.  A fundamental objectives of my work is to create a dynamic that engages viewers in evaluating their relationship to art objects, breaking through the casual glancing norm which has culturally become the assumed method of experiencing art. 


By appropriating highly composed and executed subject matter that has withstood curatorial vetting, in some cases for hundreds of years, I eliminate the issue of contents' significance. Similar to the appropriation of commercial icons by Pop artists, the Readymades of Duchamp, and the compositions of many Hip Hop artists this work questions assumed relationships within the art environment as well as independently sustaining its own aesthetic and narrative presence.  



I am interested in the transformative content and transitional dynamic of viewing original painted images in motion and at different angles, including art environments as subject matter. My focus encompasses the relational subject matter of different art objects experienced in the same space/time. My art is not documentary in nature it is experiential, object oriented (surface, scale, composition) where content expands beyond a narrative subject matter to include the holistic experience of viewing.  I embrace the peculiar qualities of technology and am drawn to parallels with developments in art history such as pixeliization / pointillism.





I have obtained a M.F.A from CalArts, with areas of concentration in conceptual art and environmental sculpture/painting.  Studying with John Baldessari and Alan Kaprow as well as interactions with Judy Chicago. My student colleagues at CalArts include James Welling, Matt Mullican, and David Salle. 


In the mid to late seventies I created and co-directed a comprehensive large-scale urban environmental sculpture project for Cleveland State University and The New Gallery. As a program director  I spent serious time exploring projects with Christo, Victor Vasarely, Charles Simmonds, and Terry Schoonhoven (L.A. Art Squad).  This project encompassed  addressed issues of  visual aesthetics, the social/political impact of visual art, and the art making process as a medium outside of the realm of traditional institutions.


In 1979 I stopped making art objects. At the time it was my conviction that the ultimate work of an artist was to perceive one’s experiences of living as art and that documentation of these experiences was only a means to perpetuate antiquated institutions. I became a stockbroker with the conscious perception that my activities of trading equities were art making (stockbroker as art performance). This decision was based on the conceptual purity of the investment industry –work that makes money (a parallel to Andy Warhol’s dollar paintings). After a little over two years of equity trading I made the self-declaration that my activity was no longer art making.  By this point I had refocused my analytical energies on developing an understanding of markets, macro and micro economic forces, cycles of business development, methods of entrepreneurial and business visionaries, external influences on human consumption, the human herd and greed instincts. Over my thirteen year successful tenure in the investment industry I had developed a clientele that included numerous pubic companies. 


In the early nineties I was dramatically impacted by my mother’s terminal illness in addition to the public announcement that a close acquaintance and her son were HIV positive and that her young daughter (similar in age to my eldest of three sons) had died of AIDS.  I began to seriously confront the issues of my own mortality and values, coming to recognize and accept my inherent desire to create objects, and my physical and spiritual need to communicate through artwork. After a few years of soul searching I retired from the investment industry and refocus my lifework on art making. 









M.F.A.    California Institute of the Arts; Valencia, California

Dates Attended: 9/72-6/73  3/74-6/74

                    Area of specialty:  Conceptual art, environmental art


The Cooper Union; New York, NY

Dates Attended: 9/73-3/74


B.F.A.     San Francisco Art Institute 

            San Francisco, CA

            Dates Attended: 9/71-6/72


Carnegie-Mellon University 

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Dates Attended: 9/69-6/71 






9/2010    Contessa Gallery

        Cleveland, Ohio


2/2010    Shore Institute of the Contemporary Arts

        Long Branch, NJ


12/2009    Rosenbaum Contemporary 

        Boca Raton, Florida


10/2009       Addison /Ripley Fine Art

         Washington, D.C

Solo exhibition- Three Seconds With the Masters, based on pieces of major U.S. Art Museums, Special focus on the collection of the National Gallery of Fine Arts, Washington D.C.


9/2009    Westmoreland Museum Of American Art

        Greensburg, PA

        Solo exhibition-Three Seconds With The Masters, based on the 

        Permanent collection of the Westmoreland Museum


12/2008    Mark Wolff Contemporary Art

        S.F., CA



7/2008    Winston-Wachter Fine Art

        NY, NY


4/2008    Kim Light Gallery

        Los Angeles, CA


11/06        Mattress Factory


        Pittsburgh, PA


7/2006    Spaces

        Pittsburgh, PA            


7/2005    FE Gallery

        Solo Series

        Three Seconds With the Masters    

        Pittsburgh, PA


3/2000    Jewish Museum

        Searching for the Spirits

        Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


10/1999    Artist’ Museum

        Searching for the Spirits

        Washington, DC