Article in “New Scientist”

A short piece about James L. Acord was recently published in the New Scientist. The article does a good job of summarizing one of the last projects Jim was working on before he took his life. He was making plutonium for inclusion in his “Fifth Reliquary.” Though the quantities of plutonium being produced were practically insignificant (otherwise I would likely have had more than one “difficult” conversation with some serious men at an undisclosed location by now), let’s not forget that he was making plutonium in his (subsidized) apartment!

It is a sweet irony that I should learn of the New Scientist article the same day that I toured the Hanford B Reactor where the plutonium for Fat Man, and classified thousands of other warheads, was produced. In Hanford, enough plutonium to destroy the Earth hundreds of times over. In Seattle, Jim produces plutonium in quantities practical only for conceptual art.

You can’t make this shit up

Jim at FFTF Photo by Arthur S. Aubry

The Arts Catalyst, a contemporary art agency in London that commissions contemporary art that experimentally and critically engages with science, is hosting an evening to remember Jim’s life and work: James Acord: A Life in the Nuclear Age “You Can’t Make This Shit Up.”

The evening will include an exhibit of work by James Acord, stories of his work, film clips, photos, and a reading from ‘The Book of Ash’, a novel based on Acord’s life, by the author James Flint.

The Arts Catalyst
50-54 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1M 5PS

29 March, 20110

Thanks to Nicola Triscott, Rob La Frenais, and everyone else at the Arts Catalyst.

You can see more on Jim’s work with The Arts Catalyst on their site:

Memorial for James this Saturday

A memorial is being held this Saturday, March 12, for James. View the Evite Invitation to RSVP.

Seattle Times Obituary for James L. Acord

Many thanks to Tom, Linley, and Janet for getting this done!

Seattle Times Obituary.

Jim’s Final Trip

Tom, Linley, Janet, and I witnessed the final trip of James L. Acord. The memorial (March 12) is probably a better way to remember Jim and his life, but it was important to us that we be there when he was cremated, and so we attended him one last time.

We put the following into the box with James for his final trip (cremation): A hand rolled cigarette of his own tobacco; some sage and wheat from Richland; a picture of Push Button, a cat he loved and who loved him back; a picture from Jake that Jim had hung in his apartment and another picture from Jake’s sister Evelyn; a book of Jim’s on loan to Tom, *Suttree* by Cormac McCarthy; and Jim’s Zeitgeist coffee punch card.

The crematorium had a much more industrial aesthetic than I anticipated. I think Jim would have appreciated it. It was an austere space with 20′ high ceilings. The massive furnace dominated the space; Jim’s box was tiny in comparison. We all said goodbye, hugged each other and cried.

Memorial, March 12

There will be a public memorial for James Acord on Saturday March 12, 3:00 – 6:00pm, at the New Orleans in Pioneer Square, Seattle.

View the Evite Invitation to RSVP

Please join us to remember and celebrate the life of James L. Acord who passed on January 9 in his Seattle apartment.

It is a testament to his life that his friends–his surrogate family–have banded together to handle his final affairs, honor his life, and preserve his artistic legacy. It is through his art and through his community that Jim will live on.

Food and soft drinks will be provided; beer, wine and spirits may be had from the cash bar.

Come to share stories of Jim with others who love him and to be surrounded by his drawings, paintings, sculptures, and photos of his work.

We are asking for donations in lieu of flowers to cover legal and funeral expenses and memorial arrangements. Any funds collected above cost will be donated to a charity patronized by Jim. Cash or checks written out to Sandra Bauer will be collected at the memorial.

Memorial for James L. Acord
New Orleans
114 First Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98104

Saturday March 12, 3:00 – 6:00pm


In 1991, Philip Schuyler wrote a two-part profile on Jim for the New Yorker.

Today they posted a postcript on Philip’s piece, a thoughtful obituary.

James Acord, Alchemist for the Nuclear Age, by Jon Michaud

Photo update

New photos are being added to the James L. Acord flickr group every day. For some reason, they are not all showing here on the photos page yet, but we will fix it. In the meantime, check out the group often for updates.

Some amazing history is being compiled, thanks to Arthur S. Aubry, Phil Munger, Fred Moody, Joey King, Barry Messer, Tom Putnam, Nick Vroman, Linley Storm, and others. There are over 100 photos and counting. Please share your bit of history with others by adding your own.

The Transmutation of James L. Acord

Artist James L. Acord, 66, passed away on Sunday, January 9, 2011, in his Pioneer Square apartment. Please check back for information on a public memorial and other updates.

Jim was an only child born in Seattle on October 19, 1944, in the Holocene Epoch, to Gail Elizabeth Chapman and James Leroy Acord.

Jim was at one time a devout altar boy, a cowboy, a master stone carver in Barre VT, a farm hand, and an artist in residence at Imperial College London. Barre stone carvers respected him enough to elect him union president and despite lacking a high-school diploma, James completed post-graduate courses in nuclear engineering.   

He was a perfectionist in all his pursuits, whether sculpture, riflery or technical mountain climbing. His superlative draftsmanship is evidenced in the hundreds of finely detailed drawings of bird’s nests, seed pods, animal bones and the like, turning mundane natural objects into poignant art.

Continue reading


We are just getting this site up and running… it will serve as a way to remember James Acord, his life and work. More soon.

Please click on the “Thoughts” tab above and leave a comment or a memory.

You are also encouraged to contribute photos to the James L. Acord flickr pool.