James Surls b. 1943

Born and raised in Texas as the son of a carpenter and cattle rancher, James Surls grew up working and building with wood. His often large-scale sculptures blend an organic sensibility with rough-hewn forms rendered in wood, steel, and bronze, echoing his rugged youth and affinity for the natural world. As one writer put it, "In the 1970s, (Surls) emerged like a folklore hero, the Paul Bunyan of Texas art, an enormous, burly man with long hair, deer-antler-tip earrings, and an ax, for sculpting, by his side."

After completing his undergraduate studies at Sam Houston State University, Surls enrolled in the Cranbrook Academy of Art and graduated in 1968. After a four-year stint teaching at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, he and his wife relocated to Splendora, where Surls founded the Lawndale Alternative Arts Space at the University of Houston in the late 1970s.

Surls has lived and worked in Carbondale, Colorado, since 1997. In 2020, he received the Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award. His works are held in private collections and major art museums including the Cranbrook Art Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Auction Results James Surls