Arts Leadership Award Program

James Gayles

Representing Alameda County Supervisorial District Four —

James Gayles of Oakland, is known for his distinctive watercolor portraits. James attended Pratt Institute in New York. While on staff at NBC Television, he won an Emmy for his graphic illustrations. James moved to Oakland in the mid 1980s. While working as a newspaper illustrator for over 20 years, his artworks were featured in all of the major Bay Area newspapers. His artwork has also been published in the New York Times, Essence Magazine, Preview Magazine, Black Enterprise Magazine, Random House and many others. James’ artwork has been represented by galleries throughout the US. In 2003, he was honored at the Annual Art of Living Black Exhibition and received the Jan Hart-Shuyers Award for Artistic Excellence. In 2014, James launched his first book “Reflections” which is a collaboration between James, Pochino Press, and more than 20 national and international writers. A number of James’ water color portraits featuring community members are in the Alameda County Art Collection and can be seen at the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center, the Alameda County Social Services Agency office in Oakland, and REACH Ashland Youth Center. James has also completed public art commissions for the City of Oakland Craft and Cultural Arts Department and the City of Richmond. James is a master artist who has inspired thousands of community members through his art and his vision of peace, harmony, and cultural preservation.