C. M. James – Artist, Poet, Publisher

C. M. James - Artist, Poet, Publisher
C. M. James – Artist, Poet, Publisher

His family name is Charles Michael James. As an artist-poet, and publisher, Mike is known among the art world and literary circles as C. M. James.

Mike was born in Somerset, Kentucky, a second great-grandson of Rev. Joseph Martin James and Permellia Estepp. He attended Youngstown and Ohio State Universities.

As a poet, artist, and illustrator, Mike founded Fantome Press. He began to publish poets of the Beat Generation. He also published classic American and British poets.

Robert Lewis Stevenson by C. M. James
Robert Lewis Stevenson by C. M. James

A retrospective of his work as an artist brought the following comment:

“Several of his pictures are offered in different sizes, combinations, and colors, offering surprise after surprise. An element is offered alone and is quite sufficient. Later, admiring a patterned work of almost ornate intricacy, it is amazing and a little disconcerting to find it composed of repetitions of that element.”

Poet Lawrence Ferlingetti writes to C. M. James
Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti writes to C. M. James

The Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti wrote to Mike:

“Dear James – You’ve done a beautiful job of my poems on your tiny press. Please thank everyone involved. Ad thanks for all the copies. I didn’t expect as many.

“Confused–

Lawrence Ferlinghetti”

As a book collector, Mike assembled a vast library of books on the subject of the tattoo.

William Blake poetry published by C. M. James

Poems of William Blake published by C. M. James

CURRICULUM VITAE

Since 1989: Artist in residence, Trumbull Art Gallery, Warren OH

1988 Board of Directors, Trumbull Art Gallery

1988 Kenneth Patchen Literary Festival Committee, Warren, OH

1987 A.A. Degree with an emphasis in painting, Kent State University, Trumbull Campus, Warren OH

1976 Founded Fantome Press

1971 Youngstown State University, graphic design & life drawing

1966-1968 Ohio State University, major in graphic design

1947 Born Somerset, KY on January 20

C. M. James, aka Charles Michael James
C. M. James, aka Charles Michael James

EXHIBITIONS

1990 One man exhibition: Ohio Historical Society Museum of Labor & Industry, Youngstown, OH

1989-1990 Butler Institute of America Art Area Annual

1990 Performance piece at Picture Show Gallery, Warren, OH

1988-1990 American Cancer Society Annual Art Show, Warren OH

1989-1990 Exhibition: Park Hotel lobby, Warren OH for 6 months

1990 Mahoning Bank Building, Warren OH for 3 months

1990 Installation at Dimitri’s Restaurant, Warren OH

1989 Trumbull Art Gallery Annual, Warren OH (Award for Painting)

1988 Exhibition: Block prints & Fantome Press material, Library of Trumbull Campus of Kent State University, Warren OH

1988 Exhibition: Trumbull New Theater Gallery, Niles, OH

1988 Exhibition: Youngstown Playhouse, Youngstown, OH

1988 One Man Show: Eastwood Mall, Niles, OH

1988 Exhibition: Celebration of the Square Festival in downtown Warren, OH

1986-1988 Trumbull Art Gallery Annual, Warren, OH

1981 “Art of the Macabre” Exhibition, Ashtabula Arts Center, Ashtabula, OH

1973 Butler Institute of America Art 35th Area Artists Annual, Youngstown, OH (Award for Painting)

1973 Group Exhibit: Avalon Inn, Howland, OH

Jack London, illustrated by C. M. James
Jack London, illustrated by C. M. James

COLLECTIONS

Covellie Enterprises, Warren OH

Jack Gibson Company, Warren OH

The University of California at Santa Cruz Library, Special Collections

I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World) Permanent Collection, Chicago, IL

J. Abronovich, New Jersey

William Mullane, Warren OH

Ohio Historical Society, Museum of Labor & Industry

Drs. Joseph & Ann Chester

Trumbull Memorial Hospital

GRANTS & AWARDS

Recipient of Regrat: Fine Arts Council of Trumbull County for feasibility study & model for Labor Memorial for Trumbull County

Award: Trumbull Art Gallery Annual, 1989

Award: Butler Institute of American Art, 35th Area Artists Annual, 1973

Charles Michael James
Charles Michael James

Mike’s ARCHIVES are found at the Ohio State University, Rare Books and Manuscripts Library,   Identification: Spec.cms.315

“The C. M. James/ Fantome Press Collection consists of documents, publications, videotapes, cassette tapes, correspondence, etc. all relating to the small press owned by C. M. James, The Fantome Press, and the cassette distribution project he ran, called the Underground Culture Vultures. The Fantome Press has been operating in Warren, Ohio since 1976 and publishes original works by various authors including C. M. James.”

Since suffering a stroke in 1993, Mike has retired from writing and publishing.

Hart Crane poem illustrated and published by C. M. James
Poetry of Stephen Crane illustrated and published by C. M. James

___________________________________________

UPDATE:  April 16, 2018

C.M. James has two works of art in the archives of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. See “bird” and  Ephemera.

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Tuesday February 9th, 2021
Stray Leaves

Theater advertisements for plays appeared like this in newspapers. This ad for Bloomer Girl appeared in August of 1845. Bloomer Girl was the product of Daniel Lewis James Jr. and principally his wife Lilith Stanward. The following excerpt about them appears in JJSL:

Written against the backdrop of World War II, when blacks were moving out of the South into an industrial workforce, and women also were moving out of the home into the workplace, Bloomer Girl is set in the pre-Civil War era, interweaving themes of black and female equality, war and peace, and politics. The play’s principal character, Dolly, is based upon the inventor of the bloomer, Amelia Bloomer, a contemporary of an acquaintance of Vassie James and Susan B. Anthony. As a fighter in the suffragette movement for women’s rights, Bloomer advocated, “Get rid of those heavy hoop skirts; wear bloomers like men; let’s get pants; let’s be their equal.” In the play, Dolly politicks for gender equality, as her rebellious niece Evelina politicks her suitor, a Southern slaveholding aristocrat, for racial equality. As the play’s librettist, Yip Harburg, stated,
Bloomer Girl was about “the indivisibility of human freedom.”

Bloomer Girl opened on Broadway on October 5, 1944. Dan (Daniel Lewis James) insisted Lilith’s (Dan’s wife) name come first in the show’s credits. The play was an instant hit, lasting 654 performances. Dan remained modest about the show’s success, considering his contribution a failure. “...I seem not to have given full credit to my collaborators on the 1944 musical comedy Bloomer Girl...The facts, in brief, are as follows: the originator of the story idea from which the musical grew was my wife, Lilith James, who charmingly chose the perversities of Fashion to dramatize the early struggles of the Women's Rights movement. She also developed the principal characters. I joined her in writing a first draft of the libretto. It failed to satisfy our lyricist, E. Y. Harburg, and Harold Arlen, the composer. It also failed to satisfy us. An impasse developed at which point all agreed to call in the team of Sig Herzig and Fred Saidy who were experienced writers in the field of musical comedy. They reworked the material to the satisfaction of everyone but Lilith and myself, who had hoped to invade Gilbert & Sullivan territory, with what we thought was a light-hearted paradoxical look at history. What I took for a personal artistic failure for which I blamed, first of all, myself, went on to become a lavish entertainment which played on Broadway for eighteen months and has since often been revived in summer theater. If I was not delighted, audiences certainly were and full credit for this should be given to Sig Herzig and Fred Saidy (now deceased) without whom the production would never have taken place...”
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Wednesday February 3rd, 2021
Stray Leaves

YOU CAN'T HELP BUT WONDER...What might have happened if Alan Pinkerton assigned Kate Warne to track and capture Jesse James?In 1856, twenty-three-year-old widow Kate Warne walked into the office of the Pinkerton Detective Agency in Chicago, announcing that she had seen the company’s ad and wanted to apply for the job. “Sorry,” Alan Pinkerton told her, “but we don’t have any clerical staff openings. We’re looking to hire a new detective.” Pinkerton would later describe Warne as having a “commanding” presence that morning. “I’m here to apply for the detective position,” she replied. Taken aback, Pinkerton explained to Kate that women aren’t suited to be detectives, and then Kate forcefully and eloquently made her case. Women have access to places male detectives can’t go, she noted, and women can befriend the wives and girlfriends of suspects and gain information from them. Finally, she observed, men tend to become braggards around women who encourage boasting, and women have keen eyes for detail. Pinkerton was convinced. He hired her.

Shortly after Warne was hired, she proved her value as a detective by befriending the wife of a suspect in a major embezzlement case. Warne not only gained the information necessary to arrest and convict the thief, but she discovered where the embezzled funds were hidden and was able to recover nearly all of them. On another case she extracted a confession from a suspect while posing as a fortune teller. Pinkerton was so impressed that he created a Women’s Detective Bureau within his agency and made Kate Warne the leader of it.

In her most famous case, Kate Warne may have changed the history of the world. In February 1861 the president of the Wilmington and Baltimore railroad hired Pinkerton to investigate rumors of threats against the railroad. Looking into it, Pinkerton soon found evidence of something much more dangerous—a plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln before his inauguration. Pinkerton assigned Kate Warne to the case. Taking the persona of “Mrs. Cherry,” a Southern woman visiting Baltimore, she managed to infiltrate the secessionist movement there and learn the specific details of the scheme—a plan to kill the president-elect as he passed through Baltimore on the way to Washington.

Pinkerton relayed the threat to Lincoln and urged him to travel to Washington from a different direction. But Lincoln was unwilling to cancel the speaking engagements he had agreed to along the way, so Pinkerton resorted to a Plan B. For the trip through Baltimore Lincoln was secretly transferred to a different train and disguised as an invalid. Posing as his caregiver was Kate Warne. When she afterwards described her sleepless night with the President, Pinkerton was inspired to adopt the motto that became famously associated with his agency: “We never sleep.” The details Kate Warne had uncovered had enabled the “Baltimore Plot” to be thwarted.

During the Civil War, Warne and the female detectives under her supervision conducted numerous risky espionage missions, with Warne’s charm and her skill at impersonating a Confederate sympathizer giving her access to valuable intelligence. After the war she continued to handle dangerous undercover assignments on high-profile cases, while at the same time overseeing the agency’s growing staff of female detectives.

Kate Warne, America’s first female detective, died of pneumonia at age 34, on January 28, 1868, one hundred fifty-three years ago today. “She never let me down,” Pinkerton said of one of his most trusted and valuable agents. She was buried in the Pinkerton family plot in Chicago.
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YOU CANT HELP BUT WONDER...What might have happened if Alan Pinkerton assigned Kate Warne to track and capture Jesse James?
Monday January 18th, 2021
Stray Leaves

None of this surprises Stray Leaves. We exist for stories like this.
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