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James Richard Blake

Service: A private graveside service will be held at Greenwood Memorial Park. A memorial service will be held at a later date when it is safe for friends to gather.

Memorials: In lieu of customary remembrances, contributions may be made to Rusty’s Morningstar Ranch for autistic men (PO Box 759 Cornville, AZ 86325-0759, rmr.org) or any Fort Worth-area organization that helps fight hunger.

James Richard Blake, aged 87, died at his home on August 16, 2020 from heart disease in Fort Worth, Texas.

Born on December 8, 1932 in Pontiac, Michigan, he was the son of Elfie Bacon Blake and Carlton Blake. Blake was raised in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, and Iowa City, Iowa, and graduated from North Phoenix High in Phoenix, Arizona in 1951. He went on to study at the Los Angeles Art Center School. He came to Fort Worth in 1954 and entered TCU as an art major. That endeavor was interrupted by the draft. He entered the U.S. Army in 1956 and was discharged in 1958. While in the Army Blake traveled from his post in Germany to England, France and Italy allowing Europe to take root in his soul, never to be dislodged. After his discharge from the Army, he returned to the Los Angeles Art Center School and graduated in 1960. He pursued his career as an artist from 1961 until his death. Mr. Blake met his future wife, Cornelia Cummins, in January of 1961, and they married in March of 1963. While showing his work at the Carlin Gallery, the success of a one-man show gave him the confidence that he needed to pursue a career in painting. Later in 1963, still showing at the Carlin Gallery, Blake and his wife enjoyed a life of extensive and productive travelling. On a trip to Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta and Mexico City he made numerous landscapes, which echoed his work in Tarrant and Parker Counties in Texas.

Eventually Blake became known as a regionalist painter. Great names in the field notwithstanding, he felt an urge to break that mold, and in 1964 he and Cornelia went to France. That European trip lasted thirteen months. It yielded countless gouache landscapes painted from windowsills and the back of a Volkswagon van. The European excursion continued and the paintings reflected experiences in Rome, London, Paris and the countrysides in between.

Continuing to show with Mrs. Carlin until she retired, Blake then moved to the Dutch Phillips Gallery. Upon the death of Phillips, he moved to the William Campbell Gallery on Byers Avenue. He had shows in New York, Houston, Palm Beach and Paris and continued to show with Campbell Galleries until his death. With the birth of their son, Andrew, in 1975, Blake became a studio painter in Fort Worth. Over the years he rented numerous studio spaces. In 1978-79 he built his own place on the corner of Darcy and Boland Streets next to the museums. But despite the new Fort Worth Studio he returned to France, in particular, with greater frequency. He eventually leased his place in Paris.

He maintained that apartment and studio on Blvd. St-Germain for nineteen years, but in 2017 he gave it up and the trans-Atlantic life that it fostered. With Paris behind him Blake continued to paint the things from his chosen surroundings; trees and flowers from Fort Worth and Santa Barbara.

Blake was peripherally involved in the Fort Worth classical music world. He served on the board of the Fort Worth Opera, and on the production committee of the Cliburn Concerts Series. He was the best father one could hope for and a treasured friend to many. His thoughtful, analytical conversations will be deeply missed by his family and friends.

James Blake is survived by his wife, Cornelia Cummins Blake; his son, Andrew Carlton Cummins Blake; his grandsons, Theodore Pointer Blake and Linus James Blake; and his daughter-in-law Lauren Pointer Blake; and by his brother, Roy C. Blake and his wife Irene Blake of West Chester, PA.