A deeply passionate, sensitive and personal story of one man’s journey through a painful childhood of abuse, alcoholism and suicide. This book will touch all your emotions, from heartbreak to arousal, as you follow Randy’s depiction of a troubled relationship with his father and its parallels to relationships with men in his life’s search. A classic story that will move you. Gay or not, there is something in this book for many of us to take to heart.
ArtCare co-founder chronicles memoirs in new book
May 15, 1997
In a passionate and personal story that encompasses a troubled and abused-filled childhood, the heady and frenetic New York art and party circuit of the ‘70s and early ‘80s, well-know Atlanta artist James Randall Chumbley explores the relationships and experiences that have shaped his life in his first book, "In the Arms of Adam: a diary of men."
From his perspective as a successful former model, visual fashion coordinator, and now an Atlanta-based mixed-media artist with work in corporate and private collections across the country, Chumbley has produced a unique memoir that traces his relationships while also tracing our changing times. "In the Arms of Adam" evolved from a series of poems Chumbley wrote over the course of several years.
"I began writing this book in an effort to understand where I had been and where I might be going Chumbley says. "When I finished, I felt that the experiences chronicled in the book, while very personal, could be of interest and help to others. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life and I’ve wasted a lot of time. Maybe this book can help someone else sort through and conquer their demons.
In 1989, Chumbley and a group of other artist and business people founded ArtCare, an annual charity auction that has since raised more than $850,000 for Atlanta AIDS service groups, including AID Atlanta, Project Open Hand Atlanta and the Grady Memorial Hospital Infectious Disease Unit.
In addition to donating his time and art to ArtCare, Chumbley has volunteered with several AID Atlanta programs, delivers meals for Project Open Hand Atlanta and has donated his art work to several organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign.
In the book, Chumbley reveals the dynamics of his relationships with friends, lovers and family and introduces the colorful characters that have shaped his life and his work.
"There really is nothing like this in print," said Chumbley’s publisher John Paul Lee of Xanthus Press of Savannah." It serves as a memoir of one of Atlanta’s best-known artists, and as a guide to healing for others dealing with some of the same circumstances.
Chumbley was born in 1955 in Fayette, Ala. and grew up primarily in Columbus and Warner Robins, Ga., except for the four years his father, a U.S. Army Sergeant, was stationed in Germany. After retiring from the military, Chumbley’s father became a private security officer. He continued inflicting physical abuse on Chumbley until his suicide in 1973.
Chumbley moved to Atlanta in 1977 where he began making his way in Atlanta’s art world. In the early1980s, after a period that included frequent trips to New York to promote his work and to take part in that city’s heady social and party culture, Chumbley witnessed first-hand the dawn and devastation of the AIDS crisis.
"I’ve had some tough times in my life, and they are chronicled in the book, but I’m still here, and I believe in giving something back to help others and in memory of the people who aren’t still here" the people who didn’t make it. This book is a way for me to learn from my past and put many of my troubling experiences behind me while also giving something to people who’ve faced similar problems and haven’t yet come out the other side. I’ve learned over my 41 years that, in the end, it doesn’t matter who you love, but how deeply that love is felt."
New York Resident Review
By Phil Hall
New York Resident Book Editor
November 25, 2002
Far more mature in its subject matter and composition is James Randall Chumbley’s autobiographical "In the Arms of Adam: a diary of men" (Xanthus Press, 331 pages, $15.95). This extraordinary work of self-discovery follows the writer’s rocky and often heartbreaking life’s journey from the pain of an abusive childhood to the gradual coming to terms with his homosexuality at the dawn of the AIDS pandemic.
Chumbley, an Atlanta-based mixed-media artist of national reputation, started his life on the receiving end of physical and emotional torment from his father, an alcoholic army sergeant. His father’s suicide when Chumbley began college brought an abrupt and painful end to a harrowing youth, yet it also fueled his drive into adulthood as the money from his father’s veteran benefits financed his college education.
Chumbley’s coming to terms with his own gay mind frame corresponded with the initial wave of AIDS, leaving him a witness to a world of painful loss.
"Arms of Adam" is sensitive without being sentimental in
recalling trauma, focused without being flabby, and intelligent in its treatment of the reader and the many individuals who passed through the author’s life. While some readers may be uncomfortable with Chumbley’s detailed encounters of his romantic liaisons, his story nonetheless offers a courageous tale of establishing and maintaining a proud self-identity in the face of immense struggle. A man as intelligent and sincere as Chumbley would be an asset to any family.
As well, it had been almost that many years that had passed since I stood by father’s open grave and heard the rifle shots echo through the leaf barren trees up into a cloudless blue sky. The Honor Guard - seven soldiers in dress uniform - stood in a row, stiff as boards. Each with three rounds in his rifle. Twenty-one bullets rang out in succession, making three loud shots. And in truth, there was a fourth shot, silent to all but me. The first muffled shot - the one entering my father’s mouth - rang in my ears that day, as I looked up to watch the bullets hit the sun.
Like a flash from a camera, the service burst in my head, and then it was gone. I looked back at Todd for a moment, watching his eyes fight their desire to shut until they closed. The hospital noises faded and I found myself drifting back to a long forgotten day.
It was early fall. The remnants of summer had returned after a short cool spell, the heat still trying not to give in to the first cool days as the year slipped its way into October. A few green leaves clung to the tree tops, resisting their cycle of life. They were changing their color, losing lushness as if being choked by the very source which once gave them life. The green palette meeting the sky now transformed by the vibrancy it once held so proudly in spring and carried into summer. Hints of yellow, orange, gold, red and auburn crept across the palette, eventually turning it brown. In the onset of death there would be beauty before the last leaf turned and eventually fell to the ground.
As each year came and went, that October remained constant in my mind. I knew of its approaching without the aid of a calendar and without the season’s hints of its arrival. There is a clock of months, weeks and days ticking inside me. I know it’s coming; a battle ensues, a struggle over life and death and the first casualties fall from the trees.
The house was quiet that morning; a palpable kind of quiet. Everything seemed backwards that day. There is a difference between the darkness that greets the day and the darkness that ends it. As light breaks through the black of morning there is hope and a sense of cautious certainty, unlike the darkness before night that brings despair and confusion. Yet, that morning there was no light breaking on the horizon, nothing to mark the junction between earth and sky. Instead it brought uncertainty. With morning came the night and the end of a troubled, lost soul. A man long dead before he pulled that trigger. Daybreak would come late this day, no light moved across the rooms of this house. The morning air brought a chill to the bone as gray autumn clouds filled the sky hovering just beyond the tree tops, shielding the new day’s light. By midday the air turned as the sun burned its way to blister the ground and soak up the last bit of moisture from the fallen leaves.
Copyright James Randall Chumbley 2018 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED