James E. Ulrich (1949-2001) was an artist of tremendous emotional intellect who created visual symbols that expressed the predicament of being human and existing in the world, or as he would say, “…this is how things feel.” Intuitively drawn and conceived through the process of his studio practice, Ulrich’s work is a journey so deeply felt and personal as to become universal in its ability to resonate and connect empathetically with the viewer. The images are iconic in their presentation and the semiotics of the work enriched by the various metaphoric references and relationships depicted in his compelling compositions.
Born in Minneapolis and raised in the Midwest, Ulrich lived and worked as an artist in New York City during the mid-1970’s before moving to Oregon in 1977. He realized his mature work there, influenced by the atmosphere and mystical aesthetic of the Northwest. Recurring thematic subjects such as the wayfarer, the holy fool, candles, illuminated trees, wounded protagonists and vanitas objects populate Ulrich’s canvasses like archetypes in a Medieval Passion play. They are his actors in a visually stunning choreography of the duality and dependency between light and dark.” The piece is finished when there is the correct balance between despair and hope.” (Ulrich)