Artist Jim Adams pictured in 2017 in the “cockpit” of his home studio in White Rock. (File photo: Tom Zillich)

Artist Jim Adams pictured in 2017 in the “cockpit” of his home studio in White Rock. (File photo: Tom Zillich)


‘Vancouver Special’ show a home for art by one Surrey Civic Treasure starting May 22

White Rock’s Jim Adams welcomes the ‘major exposure’ at Vancouver Art Gallery

At an age when some artists put down their brushes and retire, Jim Adams is earning new appreciation for his acrylic paintings.

Vancouver Art Gallery will showcase his work this spring, and a gallery in Los Angeles has represented him for close to three years now.

“It’s taken awhile for my work to gain traction,” affirmed the longtime White Rock resident, who turns 78 in October. “But it’s there now and, you know, to get noticed before I kick the bucket, that’s all we can ask for,” he added with a laugh.

For more than four decades Adams has been an advocate for the visual arts in Surrey and beyond, and in 2008 was given Surrey’s Civic Treasure award for his contributions.

Opening May 22 for an eight-month run at Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG), “Vancouver Special: Disorientations and Echo” is a group exhibit that includes Adams among the 30-plus featured artists.

It’s second in a series of shows planned to provide an expansive look at contemporary art in the Greater Vancouver region, a post on explains. “For the 2021 version of ‘Vancouver Special,’ primary emphasis is on recent works that hold a particular resonance for this time and place that have not been previously exhibited in Vancouver.”

Adams said he’ll have 10 of his works featured in the show – five of them “quite recent,” the other five finished over the past decade or so.

“Way back in the distant past I had a little show there (at VAG) for a short period of time, in the early 70s, before the gallery moved to the old courthouse,” Adams recalled, “but this will be the first time I’ve been part of a major show there, with major exposure.”

(Story continues below photo)


PICTURED: Jim Adams in a 2019 self-portrait, “Nubian Express (The Artist Explores his Life),” as seen on

Born in Philadelphia, Adams has lived in the Vancouver area since the early 1970s. At a school in Surrey, he found a job in the fine-arts department of the newly created Douglas College.

Now retired from teaching, Adams spends his days painting and being with his partner, Audrey.

His health is good, he says, despite recent back surgeries. “That’s slowed me down,” he admitted, “but (Audrey) helps a great deal. She’s real boon to my existence and does a lot for me.”

Adams is represented by Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, which this year featured his art in an “Eternal Witness” exhibit at the gallery and hosts an online “viewing room” of his work, on

“It’s been about three years I’ve worked with them,” Adams explained, “and it came about in a serendipitous way. My daughter Anya, who’s in the film business and lives in L.A., was at an opening at the gallery and walked up to Luis and spoke the phrase every gallery owner has heard: ‘My dad’s an artist!’ I imagine he’s going, ‘Oh God, not another one,’ you know. So he politely said, ‘Why don’t you stop by and show me some of his work?’

“And so the next day she showed up with a portfolio I’d sent her, because she was interested in seeing what I was doing. And he was interested enough that he was up here within a week or so, looking in a locker of my work, and added it to a traveling show they were putting together. It was one of those ‘right place, right time’ sort of things, and it’s gone well since then.”

(Story continues below photo)


PICTURED: A view of Jim Adams’ 2017 exhibit at Surrey Art Gallery, “The Irretrievable Moment”

Four years ago, in the spring of 2017, Surrey Art Gallery featured Adams’ work in “The Irretrievable Moment,” the biggest exhibition of his career. The title reflected the tone and nature of his art, which curators said “combines historical events with speculative futures, real people in imagined situations, and mythological people in contemporary scenarios.”

Meantime, the ongoing pandemic hasn’t really changed the way Adams paints at his home studio.

“Well, when you’re an artist you’re in isolation anyway,” he noted with a chuckle. “In a way, the pandemic is something that has been going on outside my door for a long time, and I wouldn’t know the difference one way or the other because I’m always in here working, regardless. That’s just the nature of the occupation.”

Read more about Adams in a bio posted to and also

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin stopping drivers on BC highways – checkpoint at Manning Park

Four checkpoints are set up Thursday, May 6 around the province

This year’s PNE Prize Home is to be built in-place, in South Surrey. (
PNE’s first-ever built-in-place grand prize home to be constructed in South Surrey

Pandemic-related touring options prompts break from tradition

A woman walks past a long lineup that snaked through the parking lot at the Cloverdale Rec. Centre April 27 after Fraser Health allowed people age 30 and over from “high-transmission neighbourhoods” to access the AstraZeneca shot. The temporary vaccination centre is located on the Cloverdale Fairgrounds. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Cloverdale now considered ‘high-transmission area’

Anyone 30 and over can now register for a vaccine

South Surrey nurse Brittany Williams has been involved with the Burn Camp since 2013. (Contributed photo)
Burn camp ‘really puts things in perspective,’ says South Surrey nurse

Brittany Williams’ experiences hoped to boost Hometown Heroes Lottery fundraiser

(Delta Police Department photo)
Police remind residents to lock doors and windows after series of Ladner break-and-enters

Warning issued after trio of incidents on Ferry Road and Frigate in the early hours of May 6

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

A worker rides a bike at a B.C. Hydro substation in Vancouver, on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Hydro report raises safety concerns as pandemic prompts jump in yard work

Incidents involving weekend tree trimmers, gardeners and landscapers have risen 30% since the pandemic hit

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)
Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read