Art in the City

“Just Some Lady.” Ink and wood stain, 13 x 20. Photo: Jim Haller

Artist Profile: Jim Haller
Emotions that bind. Emotions that tie you in knots or chain you to someone else. Emotions that rage through pain and anxiety or soar through the joys of seeing, sensing and being.

The drawings of Jim Haller are not blasé.

“Chained.” Ink and wood stain, 14 x 17 inches. Photo: Jim Haller

He can bring you to the edge of a nightmare, feeling the repressed alarm that bad things are living on the periphery, out there somewhere on the fringe of consciousness. And, back again. It’s not all dark and doom. There’s a message of hope – surviving and continuing to be creative.

Jim Haller’s art brings the satisfaction of dealing with his own health issues, Crohn’s Disease, and its secondary conditions.

In “Triptych,” the skull is a tipoff that there is a personal conversation going on. The turned-over vial of pills adds to the story. What isn’t so obvious is the artist’s control. The composition is balanced to emphasize the tense interaction, yet the reflections on the table help to soften the eye-lock between the living and the dead.

With “Just Some Lady,” the artistry of pen and ink intensifies the marks of aging, yet the power of her eyes declares an undimmed passion for living, a refusal to surrender.

“Triptych.” Ink and wood stain, 23 x 28 inches. Photo: Jim Haller

Jim Haller believes that honesty about pain, and facing truths of living, can at least bring understanding: the enemy of fear. He says, “People get it – they can see it.” It is every person’s war with the demands, burdens and limitations of life.

Jim teaches high school art in Leesburg, Virginia. He came to this area 12 years ago from Pittsburgh and has entered numerous art shows. “Triptych” is his entry in the current Hill Center show. (See At the Galleries.) He was awarded second place from the 85 included works.

You can see all of his work at

Jim Magner’s Thoughts on Art
The first thing you notice about Jim Haller’s work is his skill with the pen and his exacting observation of people and things. Then you sense the immeasurable emotional connections. His message is open-ended but stark. Intense. There is a declaration that life can be hard – that there is pain and anxiety.

Yes, pain and anxiety have often been the forces that drive the arts. Painting, music and theater have been the citadels where depression and brokenness have come to roost. The pain can be deeper than anyone knows. How many have committed suicide, often surprising those who were close?

But making art is in itself a bugle call that passion to create is the great overcomer. It’s the undeniable force that shines through the darkness. As in Jim Haller’s “Just Some Lady,” the eyes scream defiance, a refusal to let go of thought, imagination and the one-of-a-kind life that has made a difference, if only in a private way.

Some have reached fame and even money, what we call success. A few have even reached a higher level and will be always recognized, honored and remembered by other artists. But there is a price to be paid by wanting to please and impress people you don’t even know. The shadow can fall. Darkness can descend before the curtain.

The answer, of course, is returning to the dreams and imagination where creativity is born. That is what art is really all about – that flash of creativity, that solo flight beyond the mundane. Above pain. It’s the passion that shines through the darkness.

At the Galleries
Hill Center

921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
―April 18
This is the annual Regional Juried Exhibition. Myrtis Bedolla, owner of Galerie Myrtis, Baltimore, was the juror. She selected 85 artists from the 165 DC-area artists who submitted works. The three cash prizewinners are: first place, Linda Lowery, “Aya”; second place, Jim Haller, “Triptych”; third place, Sally Canzoneri, “DC Stores: 1942 and 2014.” There are nine honorable mention awards.

Artists & Makers Studios
11810 Parklawn Drive, Suite 210
Rockville, Maryland
March 4-26
Raised by TV – Paintings by David Amoroso
Opening reception: Fri., March 6, 6-9 p.m.
David Amoroso, like most of us, grew up watching television. It was that golden era of light comedic series like “The Brady Bunch,” “Maude” and “Bewitched.” Some, like “All in the Family” and “Good Times,” delivered a sharp social message along with the laughs. For David, they became an escape from a “sometimes horrific childhood.” Television and drawing became the combined refuge that he still celebrates. This exhibit of portraits of your favorite characters will certainly make you smile. You may want one in your family room.

Capitol Hill Art League
545 Seventh St. SE
―March 14
You still have time to drop by the Capitol Hill Art League (CHAL) for the juried show Rhythm and Blues. It’s a great mix of related subject matter but widely inclusive techniques. Juror Justyne Fischer presented awards at the February reception. First place, Tamora Ilasat for “Composition in Blue II”; second place, Ken Bachman for “Presence”; third place, Jane Mann for “San Diego.” Honorable mentions went to Karen Cohen for “Federal Brass Band 2019”; J. Jaffrey for “All I am are the rhythm of my breath”; Nan Raphael for “This Too Shall Pass.”

Touchstone Gallery
901 New York Ave. NW
March 4-29
Opening reception: Fri., March 13, 6:00-8:30 p.m.
Gallery A hosts the Touchstone Gallery Member Show.
In Gallery B, Dana Brotman presents a series of paintings titled “Transitional Spaces.” Brotman explores the “liminal space” between what is here, gone, remembered or only dreamed. She includes the Marrakech Portraits by Steve Alderton from a trip a year before his death last summer. Brotman, a close friend, has been experimenting with painting on top of his half-finished paintings, allowing his original colors to bleed through. Brotman, a psychologist, will explore this experiment with fellow psychologist Michael Krass at the gallery on Saturday, March 21, at 1 p.m. I profiled Steve Alderton in this column in 2004 and became familiar with his attempts at geometric orderliness and mathematical proportions. Each painting was tied to all of his works through geometric shapes, but in this cohesiveness he wanted progression, “or face stagnation.” It should be an interesting discussion.

National Museum of Women in the Arts
1250 New York Ave. NW
―May 25
Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico” is a “monumental survey” that features 140 personal and poetic photographs celebrating the artist’s homeland. It spans Iturbide’s career, from 1969 through 2007, and highlights “culture, ritual, tradition and modernity with compelling portrayals of indigenous and urban women, explorations of symbolism in nature and rituals.”

Jim Magner, a Capitol Hill artist and writer, can be reached at