Artist Portrait: Aleksandra Katargina


Aleksandra Katargina wants to hold on to time…not just moments but the emotions of time: the expressions that flow through her consciousness and compose feelings and ideas. She captures the magic of it with a deliberate attention to every aspect of oil painting as a medium.

“The emotion” she says, “is in your head.” It’s the power to look, to contemplate, to create something to compete with reality, not just interpret it.

In “Lost in the Moonlight” you enter Aleksandra’s spirit in a time of solitude and emotional seclusion. It is the inner bewilderment we feel when our paths are no longer clearly marked. It can be a sudden awakening or a gradual absorption of uneasiness. 

Give yourself time to think and you can identify with “Persephone’s Plight” —the goddess torn, divided, by the unexpected complications of simple actions with the dismay of apparent hopelessness.

Aleksandra uses music to exist in that space between mind and soul and all the requirements of life and motherhood.  “Silence can chatter in your mind and music helps to balance art with and all the demands on everyday life.”

Aleksandra was born in Moscow, Russia. In 2001 she moved to the United States, “driven by curiosity and a desire to explore new paths in life.” She earned a BFA in Painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art, May, 2009, and an MFA in Painting from Towson University, in May 2013

Lately, she has been turning more to landscape. In looking at nature you can cleanse your mind…slow down to the pace of growing things.  “You become integral to nature, not just an observer.” Aleksandra projects her inner emotions onto the scene and welcomes you to make your personal interpretation. 

She is included at the current exhibit at the Hill Center: see At the galleries. •

Jim Magner’s Thoughts on Art

I recently heard a man on television say that he didn’t like art. What? Gasp. He was joking, right? No. And this is a very successful person who makes lots of money. 

Maybe art, real art is too much to think about. Too much to see. What good is it anyway? We are long out of the caves and into hard cold reality, so maybe we don’t need the magic of art and imagination. Maybe we’ve advanced beyond all that. 

Nope.  We may be receding. Retrogressing. Without art, we are merely simians with laptops.

The universe is made of art, not matter.  Atoms are merely the brushstrokes, the means of expressing the idea.  It was the idea that burst from nothing. It exploded and formed atoms—particles of matter that swirled and tumbled and filled the idea with art. Glorious art. Never static. Never still. The universe is made of beauty. Wonder. Art. An idea so immense it can overwhelm and disappear in the begoggled mind of the beholder.

Humans have been allowed to encounter the idea in tiny but ever expanding amounts. It has been a glimpse of universal time, forever brightening as we grow and expand in the idea. We have become able to think beyond the immediate and nibble at its edge. Why us? We don’t know. Some magic has lifted us—allowing thoughts so large, so frightening that they are usually put away—locked in a dim vault in the mind and permitted only occasional contemplation. 

But when we do—when we give ourselves enough time to think and figure things out—like Aleksandra (See: Artist Profile)–then the vision becomes clearer. It’s all there in beauty and wonder: Art.

At the Galleries

2022 Regional Juried Exhibit
Hill Center Galleries
921 Penn Ave. SE

This is really a terrific show. Artists from the DC, Maryland and Virginia metropolitan area submitted original work and 118 pieces were selected—including Aleksandra Katargina (See: Artist Profile.) Just about every art medium is here and you’ll find artistic styles and techniques that represent just about everything going on in the art world today. Prize winners have been selected by the juror, Arts Consultant Claude Elliot. The gallery is now open to in person viewing as well as virtual.

Foundry Gallery
2018 – 8th Street, N.W.
March 4 – 27
Meet the artist each Sunday

Allen Hirsh’s show, Phases, uses his personal, unique mathematical painting program that transforms “mundane photographs into multi-layered fantasies pulsating with color, firing imaginative landscapes full of startling phases.”

Touchstone Gallery
901 New York Ave NW
March 4 – 27, 2022
Public Opening:  Sun. March 6,  3 – 5 pm

“Another look on the Bright Side.” Cold wax has become Cookie Kerxten’s principal medium as she concentrates on abstractions of color, design and shape. She has left most of her works untitled so that you can interpret them on your own. 

‘Introspection’ is a pop-up exhibition also at Touchstone featuring American University MFA candidates. Artists investigate their experiences and memories through the lenses of growth, hometown, family history, and more. Participating artists: Brianne Anderson, Jarrett Arnold, Shiloah Coley, Hyunsuk Erickson, Katie Hartley, Naomi Le, Josh Tetzlaff, Jiazi Yin.

Note: With this column, I complete 20 years of conversations with artists, visiting galleries and museums and writing about it all. I have loved every minute of it and hope to write many more.

A Capitol Hill artist and writer, Jim can be reached at