Pictured above: Patty Haller’s mother in the Smith & Vallee Gallery
Patty Haller was invited to use the front studio space at the Seattle Artist League so she could prepare several large panels, including a 12′ painting for her January show “Growth Patterns” at the Smith & Vallee Gallery. Haller spent the fall and winter at the League, sharing her process with League members and guests, fully taking on her very serious role as the beloved and very official League Artist-Not-In-Residence. Her show has been a huge success, sparking a lot of questions from painters who haven’t seen this style before. Now we see her new work has received a glowing review in the Cascadia Weekly. We are thrilled, we are proud, and we are not at all surprised.
Below: excerpts from Stephen Hunter’s review of “Growth Patterns” in the Cascadia Weekly January 18, 2017
On the bitter-cold day I visited Smith & Vallee Gallery in Edison to see Patty Haller’s oil paintings of flowers and forest scenes, it was like entering a verdant greenhouse. No wonder so many of her beautiful paintings have been chosen by hospitals—they offer healing, visual therapy.
Haller has been a forester and a financial analyst. A keen observer of nature, she admires artists of historical significance, like Mondrian, Piero della Francesca, David Hockney, and Gustav Klimt. In her own work, she seeks to create a dialogue “between contemporary and full-on old school” techniques.
Many pieces have a filmy haze to the colors and outlines, as if seen through sleepy eyelids. She blends her oils with thinned paint and wipes them with tinted glaze, leaving subtle traces of the brush.
Her study of art history inspired her to incorporate memento mori in her paintings. Dead branches and dried ferns are little reminders to acknowledge “life’s seasons and natural cycles.”
This concept inspired her to paint a life-sized portrait of a fallen tree, which in decay is smothered beneath foliage and flowers. She labored on the 15-foot-long triptych six days a week for two months.
But here she focuses not on death, but life, calling it a memento vivere—a “reminder to live in the present, to laugh and love, make new friends, celebrate babies and enjoy nature.”
She continues to celebrate nurturing with “Madonna of the back 40” in the form of a live, mature tree, shown as an upright trunk shadowed in violet. Under its branches flourish delicate, pastel flowers, rendered in silhouette. A tangle of stems and twigs metamorphoses upward into a semblance of stained glass.
Haller has not forgotten the male principle. She names her small painting of a logging slash pile, “Schumpeter’s Logic,” in memory of the Austrian-American economist who justified “creative destruction” as an essential part of capitalism.
One large painting stands out from others, seemingly an outlier with its comparatively monochromatic scheme. In “Jaune Brillant,” a forest pool glows with magical, golden light in a blue/violet forest. It’s a nice break from the stuffy, curatorial logic that requires an artist to stick to one style. Is this a new direction for Haller?