San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)
James Oliver Mitchell
September 22, 1933 - January 21, 2021
James Oliver Mitchell, great Beat Photographer of the 1950’s, died on January 21, 2021, at 87. He passed peacefully at his home in Oakland, CA.
Jim was born in Norfolk, VA on September 22, 1933 to Gladys and James Mitchell. The oldest of 5 children, he was raised by his mother in New York City. His father was a merchant seaman. Jim studied Photography at the High School of Art & Design in NYC. Following his 1952 graduation, he traveled to Europe, photographing in England, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden. He served in the U.S. Air Force 1953-1957, then in the U.S. Army Reserves.
Jim earned his B.F.A. in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1964 and his M.F.A. from Lone Mountain College in 1974. He studied under renowned photographers including Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Wynn Bullock and Dorothea Lange.
Alfred Stieglitz was Jim’s “champion photographer.” For Jim, photography was very personal. He took his first photograph at 10 years old, and his career spanned 7 decades. An intricate study of the world around him, Jim’s work was insightful, intimate, fascinating. His photographs captured moments from the 1950’s Beat Era & 1960’s Counter
Culture, through current day. They’ve been shown in museums and galleries throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Jim taught Photography at several colleges including the S.F. Art Institute, Stanford University, S.F. State and Chabot College. Jim also enjoyed 16 years working at Adolph Gasser Cameras, where he made life-long friends.
Aside from his many accomplishments, Jim was a good man. He was softspoken yet blunt, curious and intelligent. He loved his family and friends. His was a life well-lived.
Jim is predeceased by his parents, two of his siblings and his first wife, Bernice. He is survived by his children, David (Wendy), Jonathan, Robin and Hilary; grandson Hiroshi; sisters Marlene and Dolores; and former wife, Susan.
A private burial service with Military Honors will be held April 30th at Calverton National Cemetery, NY.