I was saddened to learn of James (Jim) Archer’s death today. He always had that steady form of persistent but serious energy for art and the lives of visual artist that distinguishes true trail blazing champions from mere art supporters. As the first director of what eventually became named the Archer Gallery (after him) at Clark College he gave Portland’s neighbor to the north its premier visual art space. He was also an avid collector donating 129 works to to Clark College last year, doubling his legacy and cultural footprint in Vancouver Washington, just as the city is beginning to embark on a more ambitious arts agenda. One could rightly say that Archer was a foundational figure for that city and a model for advocacy I wish there was more of. A very active member of the Portland art scene, he will be missed. He was always right there with a thoughtful question.
Here is the comprehensive obituary that Clark College shared on Facebook today:
James (Jim) Archer, April 20, 1942 to November 28, 2017
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Jim Archer. Jim was the first director of the Archer Gallery, a position he held from 1982 to 1995. He established the traditions and mission that are central to the Archer Gallery. Under his direction, the gallery quickly gained a regional reputation for exhibiting emerging NW artists due to his prescient eye for recognizing young talent. Through the next several decades, significant regional artists could point to their initial exhibition in the Vancouver-Portland metro area at Clark College’s Archer (formerly Index) Gallery.
Jim was a passionate, sometimes fierce, man with strong opinions. The gallery exists in its present form because of the battles that Jim fought to shape it. All of his strength and determination was needed for his struggle with AIDS. Jim was diagnosed with HIV in 1987 and AIDS in 1994 before medications had been developed to manage the disease. In Winter 1995 Jim became dangerously ill but survived and became an early successful recipient of the AIDS drug cocktail. The dignity, resolve, and humor with which he handled the treatments and advancing illness was inspiring. He never yielded to his illness and continued to live and enjoy life fully.
After his retirement from Clark in 1995, Jim continued to champion young artists: collecting work, visiting studios, and curating exhibits – including “Next/Now” (Littman Gallery, Portland State University, Portland, OR and “Modern Zoo” (St. Johns, OR).
Jim returned to his own studio work after retirement creating and exhibiting collage and painting on paper. Both his work and his art collection (much of which was donated to Clark College and the Hallie Ford Museum, Willamette University, Salem, OR) were featured in Archer@Archer in 2016.
Jim was a great friend, father to Stephen and Peter Archer, and Grandfather to Isabella (Bella) Archer.