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At the age of fifteen, James Fiorentino became the youngest artist ever to be featured in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for his likeness of Reggie Jackson. In 1998, James became the youngest artist to be inducted into the prestigious New York Society of Illustrators, along with such artists as Norman Rockwell and Andrew Wyeth. A graduate of Drew University where James was also the starting shortstop for all four years of his college career. He has painted for and met many legends of the past and stars of today, including Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Cal Ripken Jr. , Arnold Palmer and Muhammad Ali to Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Albert Pujols. His photo-realism in watercolor has helped him become a nationally-known wildlife and portrait artist, painting people from everyday life to Presidents and Nobel Peace Prize winners. Many of James’ works currently grace the walls of notable museums, galleries, Universities, companies and private collections. James’ work has won numerous awards and can be seen nationally in books and magazines and on trading cards. In 2001, “The Fiorentino Collection” consisted of approximately 100 paintings for Upper Deck Trading Cards depicting legends in five major sports. James’ work and story has been carried on international and national television shows, and in magazines and newspapers.
James Fiorentino was born in Somerset , New Jersey in 1977 and currently resides in Hunterdon County , New Jersey with this family. Prestigious companies, galleries, museums, politicians, athletes, and entertainment personalities have commissioned James. James has had the honor of painting and meeting Yogi Berra, Cal Ripken Jr., Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Muhammed Ali, Congressman John Lewis, Buzz Aldrin, President Gorbahev, Desmond Tutu and hundreds of contemporary athletes. His artistic ability has evolved into more than just a childhood hobby. James has painted and illustrated hundreds of intricately developed works in watercolor since he was a young child. Like many artists, Fiorentino enjoyed painting at an early age; however, his talents displayed a unique maturity for someone so young. While others his age were coloring rough images, his mother Jackie noticed that he could draw fully developed anatomy at the age of three. He was recognized as a prodigy and has been prolific ever since. Included in his diverse collection are photo-realistic portraits ranging from sports figures and celebrities to everyday life, most recently adding wildlife and landscapes to his portfolio.
James is considered one of the most renowned sports artists in the country. His skill embodies a compelling sense of realism. His remarkable, realistic qualities evoke a great deal of emotion. James’ theme in every painting is the image of the human spirit. James indicates that being an artist comes naturally for him; it is as much as an act of will as it is the product of inspiration. “Sometimes, I step back and wonder if what I am painting will be rendered the way I want it to, but when I am finished, the painting looks exactly the way I imagined it.” James continued, “I don’t concentrate too much on painting a flawless image. I let my eyes and hands do the work. Just as a poet expresses himself through words, I express myself through paint. I feel fortunate to be able to use my art as a means of communication.
At the age of fifteen, James was the youngest artist to be featured in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for his likeness of Reggie Jackson, which hung beside the paintings of Norman Rockwell and Andy Warhol. His painting commemorating Roberto Clemente remains in the museum as a part of their permanent collection.
“Although James’ extensive portfolio resembles the like of contemporary painter Norman Rockwell, James’ paintings are more trenchant and have a candor that is almost lost in the sentiment that Rockwell emphatically displays,” said Michael Peaglau, professor at Drew University and acclaimed artist. He adds, “Unlike Rockwell, James displays in his paintings sweat and grit that baseball is really about. This most likely has to do with the fact that James is not only an established painter, but is also an avid player of the game.” In fact, James was an all-state player for his high school team and was a four year starting shortstop at Drew University.
James’ watercolor paintings speak more eloquently than photographs. Each painting emanates detail and realistic imagery that comes to life right before your eyes. Unlike many watercolor painters, James stresses the fluidity of the medium while using an almost dry brush. This allows him to focus on such minute detail, giving his paintings a level of definition and detail like that of a Renaissance tempera painter. James uses a technique autonomous from traditional watercolor and a style developed on his own. In viewing his diverse collection of portraits and sports paintings, one feels as if he or she has stepped into the action of a live sports arena. James has also painted and presented many of his horse racing watercolors to the most recognized jockeys, trainers and owners in the field of racing in Saratoga, New York for over the last 15 years including legends like Todd Pletcher, Mary Lou Whitney, Jerry Bailey and Edgar Prado.
Many of James’ lithographs are part of the permanent collection in the United States Sports Academy Museum (Daphne, Alabama). James also has his work displayed at the National Basketball Hall of Fame, The National Museum of Art & Sport (NAMOS), Drew University Hall of Fame, Missouri University Football Hall of Fame, National Italiann American Foundation (NIAF), President George Bush Presidential Library, Cycling Hall of Fame (New Jersey), Roberto Clemente Museum (Puerto Rico), and The Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center (New Jersey), just to name a few. His artwork has been displayed in numerous Museums including the The San Diego Museum of Natural History, The Bennington Museum, The Hiram Blauvelt Museum, The Arizona Sonara -Desert Museum, Muhammed Ali Learning Center, The Negro League Museum and Ted Williams Musem just to name a few.
In 1994 he became the youngest artist to win Beckett Magazine’s annual sports art competition for the likeness of Hall Of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton. When Beckett opened up the competition worldwide the following year, James triumphed again with a stunning collage of Muhammad Ali. When Ali saw James latest work of himself, the greatest said, “James, you are the greatest.” James’ artwork has been featured in numerous national publications and published as cover art for official commemorative programs for the 1995 Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies, Don Mattingly Day in 1997 at Yankee Stadium, 1996 Red Cross Calendar, and the 1995 and 2001-2003 covers of the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame Induction program. James was also the official artist for Cal Ripken Jr’s 2131 Consecutive Game Streak and 2632 Ending of the Streak for which he created limited edition lithographs.
As the youngest artist inducted into the prestigious New York Society of illustrators in 1998, along with Rockwell, Pyle, Wyeth, Kent, Peaks, Holland, and Fuchs. James continues to prove his achievements as a highly regarded illustrator and painter. Although James is one of America’s renowned sports illustrators, he is currently developing a collection of nature themed artworks. Review by famed Author and Curator David J. Wagner, Ph.D. James Fiorentino has had his artwork juried into exhibitions like America’s Parks, and Art and the Animal, museum tours of which I manage. The jury process for these exhibits is extremely competitive so this is no small achievement. Fiorentino has also produced an alternative body of work — portraits of sports icons and celebrities. The breadth of artwork produced by James Fiorentino reminds me of the breadth of work of America’s richest artist of the Twentieth Century, LeRoy Neiman, whose subject matter ran the gamut of sports icons, celebrities, wildlife, and much, much more. Though their painting styles differ, Fiorentino is adept, like Neiman was, at drawing, which is of course the most fundamental skill required to succeed as a figurative artist. Very few wildlife artists that I know of, can handle the human figure in convincing fashion. Fiorentino has distinguished himself as a wildlife artist with skill and versatility that positions him above the rest in this regard.
James has painted trading cards for iconic companies like Topps, Upper Deck and Kellogs. James followed up the success of his ten baseball cards which he created for Topps Gallery Heritage in 1999 with “The Fiorentino Collection.” James created fifteen cards, over 70 paintings, of baseball, basketbal
l, hockey, and football legends for Legends’ 2001 sports season. He also illustrated seven cards of golf legends. Two years later Upper Deck commissioned James once again to create more cards for their 2003 Upper Deck Playball Series. Modeled after the 1941 Playball series, James created over forty paintings depicting current stars, legends of that 1941 year and a tribute to Ted Williams. His latest series of cards were with Kelloggs Company.
James is a member of the New Jersey Watercolor Society, American Watercolor Society, Salmagundi Club, Society of Animal Artists and Artists For Conservation. James is also a trustee of the Raptor Trust of NJ and D & R Greenway Land Trust.
Fiorentino has been featured on international, national and regional television, magazines, and newspapers including ABC World News Tonight with Dick Schaap, CBS This Morning, ESPN’s Baseball Magazine, ESPN Magazine, The New York Times, Fox After Breakfast, Rai Italia, NBC Good Day New York, MSG’s New York Yankee Pre-game Show, and the New York Mets television broadcast just to name a few. He has been interviewed by ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, and many affiliates throughout the country. Locally James has been featured on New jersey 12, The Star Ledger, New Jersey Magazine just to name a few.
“Spurred by his involvement in The Raptor Trust where he is now a trustee, Jim has created an amazing body of work celebrating wildlife in his home state of New Jersey. Many of the creatures he paints are endangered. Through his work Jim celebrates their uniqueness and their beauty. Hopefully his art will spur us on to give them the help they need to survive.”-Governor Tom Kean
“Conserve Wildlife Foundation biologists work to ensure rare wildlife species can survive and recover, but an equally important role we have is reconnecting New Jerseyans with the natural worlds around us. The stunning art created by James Fiorentino is making those connections in a way that inspires the viewer , while offering an unparalleled vision of these imperiled wildlife species.”-David Wheeler, Executive Director, Conserve Wildlife Foundation
“Every time I see a painting that James Fiorentino does of my grandfather, Babe Ruth, it brings him to life for me. You can see the passion for the love of the game and the man in every piece. James’ eye and his work in wildlife is also wonderful! He is an incredible talent!”Ruthian Regards, Linda Ruth Tosetti (Babe’s granddaughter)
“I feel honored to have my portrait painted by a guy who has painted Ali, Gorbachev and Ted Williams among many others. And the fact that you were painting professionally at the age of 14 (amazing) reminds me of me. I was writing professional at 17-but you still beat me by three years.” –Stan Lee
“James Fiorentino’s art draws you in from the first glimpse. His insights into the passage of time in his portfolios shows remarkable maturity.”-Lee Lowenfish-author of award-winning biography “Branch Rickey: Baseball’s Ferocious Gentleman”