Jim Gion was born in Oregon and began playing with clay as a youngster. Since that time his interest in making sculptural images never flagged. Even while serving in Vietnam he sought out an old Vietnamese sculptor who taught him to make bronze castings.
After returning from Vietnam, Jim studied Fine Arts at Oregon State University and Portland State University. Jim graduated from Oregon State with his B. A. in 1976 and then returned to Asia where for ten years he lived and worked in Japan, maintaining a studio and producing numerous works in clay and plaster.
Since returning to the U.S. in 1984, he has continued to work in bronze and other media including terra cotta, raku, steel, glass, and cast paper. Jim’s work is in international collections, and he has completed commissions for private and religious organizations. His mastery of clay and bronze has been praised by both individual and corporate clients. Jim has been featured in magazine and newspaper articles on numerous occasions. Animal Planet has included segments of him working on figurines of championship dogs for the Eukanuba championship trophy during their national broadcast of the AKC/Eukanuba Championship show several years in a row. On January 11, 2005, Deborah Wood referred to him as “The head master” in an article she wrote for The Oregonian. Deborah also wrote a feature article on Jim entitled “Capturing the Essence” for the December 2004 edition of the AKC Gazette. His work was featured on the cover of the October 15, 2009 Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Hundreds of satisfied customers are a testament to Jim’s communication skills, his ability to bid projects accurately, and his commitment to deliver his work on time. Throughout his career he has shown he was able to work within an established budget, whether the project was a large monument such as the nine-foot-high bronze columns for the Japanese American Historical Plaza in downtown Portland, or a four-inch-high bronze figurine of a Bichon Frise for the IAMS pet care department of Proctor & Gamble. Between 2006 and 2010, he has successfully completed an average of 35 commissioned bronze sculptures a year.
Jim is interested in non-profit and community work. He has donated his time and art to help with fundraising for the Oregon Humane Society, Parkrose School District and other non-profit groups. In 1997 he volunteered to teach a year long course in portraiture at Parkrose High School and in 1998 he modeled and donated a one half life sized bronze figurine of the “Prescott Panther,” the school mascot, to Prescott Elementary School in Portland. He occasionally makes trips to Vietnam where he is an official guest artist of Maison Chance, a not-for-profit organization that helps orphans and physically disabled people in Ho Chi Minh City. Clay may be the most humble substance on the planet – the Earth itself, trod upon, dug up, shaped, and slowly returned to its humble beginnings time and again. Its simplicity, combined with its limitless potential, has made it a great source of joy and adventure in my life. Like many children, I began playing with clay when I was young. But when I was twelve, I began to see more than stick figures and crocodiles. I sat down and tried to make a head of my favorite uncle, my first portrait. When I saw for the first time how clay can come alive and capture the feeling of a person or a moment, I knew that this was what I would be doing for the rest of my life.
I am moved by the concrete specifics of my life more than any abstract conception of underlying principles. I am more interested in the reality of the woman sitting across from me in a coffee shop than in that of “the ideal beauty.” I have always tried to express larger archetypal concepts in the way that I experience them, that is through the particularity of the individual. I don’t mean that I am a slave to detail and spend endless hours polishing ringlets of hair or trying to recreate the shape of thread running through the button holes in a costume. It is not my intent to convince you that clay is anything other than clay. What I set out to do is to make the people or events being depicted feel as real to you as they are for me. I work in a simple and straightforward way that does not sacrifice the beauty of the form to the beauty of the material.