James J. Fenton

  • Scenic Designer
  • New York, NY

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James J. Fenton is an award winning and critically acclaimed scenic designer, fine artist, sculptor, scenic painter, draftsman, graphic artist, and fabricator. Combining his academic and professional training in art history, philosophy, painting, sculpture and theatre, he creates both entertainment and environmental designs. He has been steadily working as a designer in the entertainment industry (Theatre, Film, Television, Live Music and Events) for the past 20 years.

His design experience has taken him to New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Austin, Vancouver, Denver, Coachella Valley, the Berkeshires, New Jersey, Connecticut, Ashland, Portland(Oregon), Arkansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Edinburgh (Fringe Festival), Australia, Croatia, Bosnia, Spain and Italy. His most notable recent theatre design work includes the GLAAD Media and Jonathan Larson Award winning production of SOUTHERN COMFORT, THE MUSICAL at the Public Theatre, the World Premiere of PROMISING, written by Michelle Elliot and directed by Terry Berliner for InProximity Theatre Company at the Beckett Theatre, the World Premiere of DROP DEAD PERFECT, written by Erasmus Fenn and directed by Joe Brancato that moved Off-Broadway to St. Clement’s Theatre in NYC, the World Premiere of DANCING LESSONS, written by Mark St. Germain at Barrington Stage Company, the World Premiere of KUNSTLER, written by Jeffrey Sweet at Hudson Stage Company, directed by Annette O’Toole and starring Jeff McCarthy and the NY Premieres of HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, written by Steven Canny and John Nicholson directed by Mark Shanahan, FALL TO EARTH AT 59E59, by Joel Drake Johnson and NAVY PIER by John Corwin.

Recent Film and Television credits include the Production Design for the Badmouth Films pilot episode of AVENUES and the final episode of the upcoming season of SUBLETS. He was also the Assistant Art Director for the upcoming HBO Film, THE WIZARD OF LIES, starring Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeifer as well as the Pilot episode and second season of the NBC series BLINDSPOT.

In James' early career he managed the scenic design studio for the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco for two years, and assisted on over 20 productions for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival design studio. These experiences provided him the opportunity to work with some of the most relevant and vital contemporary designers while developing his own distinctive design aesthetic. He taught Scenic Design from 2008-15 at the Professional Performing Arts School of NY(Winning the YAA for Scenic Design in 2014 and 15)and has served as the Associate Scenic Designer for: Tony Award winner John Arnone, Obie Award winner Donald Eastman, Robert Innes Hopkins at the Juilliard School, Michael Counts at the New York City Opera, and Patrick Fahey of 8 Hands High (Radio City Music Hall). He also attended and worked the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland with Stage by Stage for the 2003 season and spent two years as an artistic ensemble member of R Productions in the fabrication and installation of BMO funded interactive sculptures for the Burning Man Festival. He has developed, produced and created several interactive art installations both in galleries and as mobile art happenings across the US including several exhibitions and production of an immersive site-specific theatre production using the script for ON THE OPEN ROAD by Steven Tesich.

James has traveled extensively throughout his career. He has studied Renaissance Art and Architecture throughout Tuscany, Rome, Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast, showing his sketches in various small galleries while en route. In addition, he has walked the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage from the North Eastern border of France and Catalonia to the Western Coast of Galicia, Spain to study the progression of culture, art and architecture from Pagan Rome through the Islamic Moorish Empire and the Catholic Crusades. While completing field research in architectural and artistic period styles, he has participated in samaritan based design and artistic work. He traveled to the Istra region of Croatia exploring hidden Romanesque cathedrals and learned to paint fresco murals using the native soil from surrounding organic farming communities. He designed, decorated and created murals for a youth club to provide a musical performance space for a community battling the rampant heroin use epidemic in Bugojno, Bosnia, located on the post-conflict border of the Muslim-Croat Federation and the Republic of Serbska. He has also designed free-form weather shelters for livestock in organic farming communities outside Barcelona, Spain. And while exploring the Moorish monuments and agricultural systems of Andalucía, he salvaged and helped restore an ancient almond orchard and an authentic Cortijo village in the Alpujares Mountains of Spain during and after the worst blizzard in 20 years.