In James Gortner's paintings, his personal conflicts, moods, and dreams combine with other people's stories and magical myths of the past and present to create new myths. Gortner's paintings lean into sculpture, sometimes reference photography, and involve circumstances and processes akin to performance. He usually incorporates into his paintings reclaimed wood and sustainable materials, as well as paints on layers of reclaimed artist's paintings, adding physical texture and tension to enhance the narrative, or abstract the storytelling at play.