James C. Palmore grew up in Kalamazoo’s Eastside neighborhood, and works out of a studio in his childhood home on East Michigan Avenue. After serving in Germany as a medic during the Vietnam War, Palmore moved back to Kalamazoo and eventually became the Youth Program Coordinator at the City of Kalamazoo Parks & Recreation Department for 25 years. He was a founding board member of the Black Civic Theater, and, with Bertha Barbee McNeil, a member of the Velvelettes, Lois Jackson, and Gayle Sydnor, he helped found the Black Arts and Cultural Center. Palmore has been awarded a Community Medal of Arts by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo. Palmore’s large-scale portrait Chief received the Peoples’ Choice Award in the 2018 West Michigan Area Show.
“I’ve always investigated things. How does stuff work? How do people work? That’s always been a fascination to me and so that transferred into art subjects. Art is a polysynthesism of thoughts, dreams, feelings, manifested through the manipulation of materials, motion, sound, and sense. I don’t know where all the ideas come from. Maybe it’s life experiences. But I know I don’t want to be old with a tube in my neck saying, ‘I should have.’ The art that I make appears in a verity of styles and techniques that are dictated in most part, by the idea and subject. I am totally open to using any material, technology or concepts that will aid me in conveying the statement. Part of my intent is to reflect back what I hear people saying regarding social, economic, ecological, environmental and political conditions. Communicating what I perceive and what others tell me shapes my art into forms that are constantly changing. Let’s see, maybe I’ll use a little of this instead of that?”