ABOUT THE ARTIST
JAMES CALCARA, long time Kansas City architect, focused his career on functionality, efficiency, and sustainability. His numerous architectural projects over the last forty years have yielded signature buildings and remodels like the Power & Light District, Union Station, and Valencia Place. His firm-- CDFM2, which merged to become 360 Architecture-- took part in Avenue for the Arts and One Percent for Art programs with KCMO which gave him creative opportunities like choosing the artist who created the original and well-loved floor mosaics for the KCI. What you may not know about Calcara is that he is a long-time artist. He is a true painter’s painter. Whether it’s landscapes or mixed media, he serves up a rich color palette and a subtle sense of humor and playfulness in his studio work. Where does he get is amazing color work? “I credit that to architecture,” he says. As an architect “you learn composition and line and a little sense of drama…that’s where the color comes in.”
There’s nothing Calcara can’t do in the studio. He creates mixed media collage, generous florals and intimate landscapes that glow with the perfect blue skies one can only imagine he memorized from his childhood growing up on a farm in Great Bend, Kansas. Calcara boasts abstracts as well in homage to that same vivid Diebenkorn-styled hue. Best of all, his gestural abstract figure work is intriguing, subtle and spare with a mental acuity that pulls viewers into a world of instinctual characters they are sure they might have met once in a story they couldn’t put down.
Calcara serves on several nonprofit boards and is a staunch alum of Kansas State, but he has traveled the world studying with master painters such as Julien Merrow-Smith (Postcards from Provence) and Phil Starke. He’s sojourned frequently to Santa Fe, Scottsdale, and as far away as Italy. There is a certain stillness to his paintings-- it’s as if they beg you to pause and sit a while. You’ll want to stop in front of one of his pieces and take the time to reflect, bask in its warmth, and if you are lucky to take one home with you. When asked what he will do next with his art, Calcara says with a laugh and a twinkle in his eyes. I knew it was time to share my paintings because “I’ve run out of space for them under my bed.”