Artist James Vann was born and raised in the projects of Brownsville in Brooklyn, New York. Though the Brownsville projects where Vann was raised is sometimes characterized as "a tough section of Brooklyn," Vann describes his home life as "rich in the joy of gospel music," which was no hard feat since his father was a Baptist minister whose church boasted a full instrumental band. On Sunday nights, memories of his father's church are of an "almost Dixieland sound that raised the congregation to a spiritual fever pitch."
Influenced by his musical upbringing, Vann's love of jazz came naturally. A budding musician himself, Vann and his brother would visit the now legendary jazz clubs of New York, such as "Birdland", where he had the great fortune to experience the sounds of jazz legends such as Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach. At the jazz club, Vann would sketch the legendary scenes unfolding before him. Critics of Vann's current renditions of similar scenes submit that Vann "is able to translate the rhythms of jazz to brushstrokes on canvas."
Vann graduated from the High School of Art and Design and attended the Albert Pels School of Art in New York. He was the art director with the New York City Department of Correction for twenty years. His accomplishments in that capacity, amongst many, include two published children's coloring book for the New York City Board of Education. Though Vann now resides in Tampa, Florida, he continues to pursue active service in his community as a counselor for the Agency for Community Treatment Services in Tampa.
The art of James Vann celebrates the exuberance and soul of jazz in a style that combines realism and cubism His philosophy being that each geometric shape is acting collectively while still maintaining its individuality. "When I study a subject; be it figurative, still life or landscape; I immediately begin to dissect it into cubes of flat bright colors and angular shapes, lights against darks which set the rules applied to light source and shadows. The process, in thought, is spontaneous, calculated with a soulful balance."
James Vann lives in Tampa, Florida, where he continues with each brushstroke to "search for the origins of African art..."