James Neal

Artist in New York, NY

We are all the sum of many identities. My principal identity is that of a gay person- and thus other. After four decades of activism through organizing, protesting, and writing I’ve turned to painting as another way to critique political regime/environments.

As a visual artist I seek to weaponize the male form and my own self-imagery to render the complex emotions triggered by negotiating identity in a world that vacillates between toleration of and contempt for otherness. By recasting the otherwise charged symbolism of the erotic male form, I put forth a challenge to normative constructions of masculinity, beauty and morality -- coaxing the viewer to play a role in this dynamic of otherness.

I am a native of North Carolina and live in Brooklyn with my partner Dylan. I'm the father of two adult sons and I love telling stories. After graduating from Chapel Hill and the University of Chicago I worked as an investment banker and CEO of several start-up companies. In 2008 I became the second openly-gay person in US history to run for the US Senate (D-NC). I work as an advisor to private company stakeholders in the biotech and fintech spaces.

In 2019 I completed a compilation of 50 portraits in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. In 2022 my work was featured in expositions of outdoor art in Montpellier and Paris, as well the exhibition Transforming Minds at the East Village Art Collective in New York.

I have been a contributing writer to a host of publications mainly on current social issues and a lecturer on contemporary US politics as an adjunct professor- focusing on the corrosive influence of money in politics. News outlets CNBC, NPR, NBC, ABC, FOX, Channel One (Britain) and ORF (Austria) have featured me as a guest.

  • Education
    • The University of Chicago
    • The University of North Carolina