James Zar was born in San Pedro, California in 1941 and came from a family of hard-working fishermen. The vitality of strong working men set against the background of the eternal sea's enchantment was the influential environment where he learned about life.
Zar attended Valley Junior College, the Pasadena Playhouse and the San Francisco Art Institute where his interest in art was encouraged and expanded by his mentor, the late master painter, Keith Finch. Joe Hales and Raymond Escar were influential instructors. He holds a lifetime adult teaching credential in California. As with other artists, an education in art is never complete and he is continually studying, exploring and growing in process, concepts and subject.
"Great Painting, like all great performances in the arts, is always performed in a state of heightened awareness; the personal disappears, the universal identity leaps into being! My own philosophy of painting is the constant inner demand for more color! More dark and light contrast! More life! A new greater beauty!
Zar’s tribute to Al Davis hangs in Canton, Ohio’s Football Hall of Fame. He has participated in many shows including the Port of L.A. Bicentennial Art Show where he won First Place and People's Choice Awards and he was awarded the San Dimas Art Festival's Gold Medal. Other shows include the American Heritage Show in San Diego, the Boy's Club Golden Alumni Show (winner) and many one-man gallery shows, as well as the Taos Visitor's Center Show and the Taos Fall Arts Festival.
Publications showing Mr. Zar's work include Desert Magazine, New Mexico Magazine, Rendezvous Magazine, Southwest Profile, Coyote News, Taos Magazine and Southwest Art.
Zar was involved with major movie studios where he worked professionally and became friends with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Among other celebrities are Frank Sinatra, Jack Palance, Don Rickles and Hal Holbrook, all of whom have his paintings in their private collections. Zar, also referred to as The Still Life Magician, continues to create his striking still life and visionary works in oils.