James B. Mason is recognized as the first artist to create a third dimensional effect in mosaic art using only wood chips. He achieved color by selection of natural hues and was a pioneer of wood mosaic portraiture.
Born in 1898 in Durham, North Carolina where he was interested in the variety of trees from an early age. He was fascinated with their different grains and natural colors and became his favorite hobby. Each mosaic piece contains hundreds of thousands of wood chips to achieve great detail and dimension. Mason never used dyes, stains, or paints in his work.
He graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1921 and became a real estate operator. He continued to work on his wood mosaics and eventually he left the business world to become a mosaic artist when it began to bring in a small revenue.
Mason completed a set of ten Texas Heroes portraits which won him the Texas Distinguished Service Medal and an award from the Texas Heritage Foundation. He is also known for original mosaic portraits of Christ and the United States Presidents.
Mason eventually opened the Texas Mosaic Museum and Gallery, Inc. in Longview, Texas where he was its Director. A. Garland Adair served as its Honorary Curator and Valma Webb Mason as its Curator and Researcher. Dale H. McDaniel, Norman P. Taylor, and H. Cecil Keys served as the museum's trustees. The museum is no longer in existence and it is unknown where its collections are now.
From "Texas Heroes Mosaics by James B. Mason," First Edition. Longview, TX: Texas Mosaic Museum and Gallery, Inc., 1962.Mason Portraits on display during the Race for the White House Exhibit.