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James Barker

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Died at the age of 63 on November 5 , 2005 in Santa Fe, NM of complications resulting from surgery. Born in Wisconsin in 1941 he received training in painting and sculpture at the old Layton School of Art.

In the early 1960's he opened the Avant-Garde coffeehouse on North Prospect Avenue, which became a haven for poets, musicians and other members of the Bohemian culture in Milwaukee. Many nationally-known blues and folk artists got their first local exposure at "The Garde", including Tracy Nelson and Koerner, Ray and Glover.

In the early 1970's Jim moved to Hopeland, California and became a well-established jewelry-maker, a career that went on for 34 years. He became one of the most respected artists in his field and won numerous prestigious awards, including the 1983 Gold Award and Third Place in Japan's International Pearl Competition.

In 1988 Jim moved to Santa Fe where he marketed his jewelry nationally and internationally. He was regarded by peers and collectors as an icon in the jewelry world and was widely published in jewelry magazines and books.

In addition to his artistic talents, Jim was an accomplished slide-guitar player.

Though no longer a resident, Jim maintained close ties to the Milwaukee community through his many friends and family here. He was preceded in death by his parents, Delores and Earl Barker. He is survived by his brothers, Darrel, of Dousman and Bob of West Allis and sister Carol "Sissy" Fischer of Los Angeles; numerous nieces and nephews and a multitude of friends and admirers.

A Memorial Service will be held Sunday, November 20th 2 PM at

Von Trier's, 2235 N. Farwell Ave.
Published in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Nov. 13, 2005
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