James Watts

James E. Watts: Storyteller

April 2-july 17, 2022

Curated By Beth Smith

James E. Watts thinks of his studio as a sanctuary. He named it The James Watts Institute for Artistic Behavior. Located at street level in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego, he welcomes people who walk by and pause to look in the window. Watts’s sculpture is often inspired by classic literature such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Don Quixote. Characters from books are transformed as Watts carves, hammers, fastens, and bolts pieces of salvage and scrap metal. He is known for repurposing metal lunch boxes, cookie tins, and assorted metal ephemera.

Curated by Beth Smith, this exhibition sees Watts’s personality in every figure, a light-hearted mix of humor and social commentary.

James E. Watts: Storyteller, installed at OMA

Image 1 of 35


Celebrate with us on May 21, 2022, 5:00-7:00pm


Follow the artist on Instagram.

If you would like to learn more about the artwork on view or OMA's collection please email exhibitions@oma-online.org.

Artwork pictured at the top of the page: James Watts, Frankenstein (detail), 2021. Recycled tin, alabaster, metal, and wood, 63" x 24" x 28".

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