James F. Hutchinson
1932 - Present
Inducted in 2011
James Hutchinson's lifelong passion for capturing the beauty and diversity of Florida's natural environment and heritage has won him the respect of art lovers and fellow landscape artists the world over. In the 1960s and '70s, his keen interest in the lives of Florida's indigenous peoples–notably the Seminoles and the Miccosukees–produced an invaluable pictorial record of people and a culture that has few peers in American cultural history.
Born in 1932, Hutchinson moved to Florida with his family as a young boy, growing up on the north fork of the St. Lucie River near Stuart, Florida. He spent his youth exploring the area's lush environment and developed an intense appreciation of nature that would profoundly shape his career as an artist.
After high school, Hutchinson attended Florida State University, where he met his soon-to-be wife, Joan Austin. After a stint in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, Hutchinson returned to his home state determined to make his living through his art.
After receiving his first commission in 1948, he began to study Florida's natural surroundings in great detail. He took an interest in educating Floridians about the importance of preserving the delicate ecosystems of the Everglades.
In 1962, Hutchinson received an Arthur Vining Davis Foundation grant to produce a total of 50 paintings depicting the lives of the Seminole Indians. To fully immerse himself in the subject matter, he and his wife moved onto into a Seminole community on the Brighton Reservation near the northwest shore of Lake Okeechobee where they remained for six years.
Hutchinson's introduction to the Seminoles came at a time when the tribe had not yet fully engaged mainstream society. He produced the first paintings of tribal elders and their families at then-remote camps in the Everglades–capturing this traditional culture in a time of rapid disappearance.
His artwork was used by the state in museums and other public places to promote understanding of tribal cultures. Each landscape painting and portrait captures in stunning color and detail the magnificence of Florida's natural beauty and its people. This rare, historically-accurate artwork is now in the permanent collection of Miami's Historical Museum of Southern Florida and the Elliott Museum in Stuart. Commemorative prints of these were published in Florida's Official Bicentennial Book, given to international heads of state.
To celebrate the nation's bicentennial, Hutchinson produced a folio of four prints depicting the most famous Seminole leaders: Osceola, Alligator, Wildcat and Billy Bowlegs II. In 1983, he created a limited edition bronze bust of Osceola. As a result of his intimate understanding of the people and places of Florida, Hutchinson was chosen to represent the State of Florida during the World's Fair in New York City in 1965.
Hutchinson has long enjoyed a reputation as one of America's truly great impressionist landscape artists. When viewing a Hutchinson painting, one can almost smell the campfire, hear the grass rustling, and taste the Indian fry bread in the cooking pan. His images provide a visually-compelling, historical record of not only of Florida's indigenous peoples but also of the state's wild back country which remains threatened by human encroachment. Hutchinson has earned collectors from all 50 states, Canada, Europe, South America, Japan and elsewhere. He often receives commissions to depict the natural wonders of the Great State of Florida, and of the State of Hawaii, where he also maintains an art studio.
The late South Florida writer Al Burt said of Hutchinson's legacy: "Colors came to the eye of Jim Hutchinson in ways that the rest of us didn't see until he painted them with the touch of an old master. Then, they enlivened a canvas and enriched our perspective on the world. His works kept the disappearing beauty of natural Florida alive (bringing) form and color to visionary truths about our heritage."
Hutchinson's eldest son Kevin also is an accomplished Florida landscape artist who lives in Stuart with his wife Mary.