"James Hilleary . . ."





  Music and art were equally influential in my early development.  As a child I displayed a special talent for piano and drawing, which were encouraged by my amateur artist and musician father.  He had studied painting with C. Law Watkins at the Phillips Collection, to which I was introduced at an early age and, like many other Washington artists, was influenced by the art I encountered there.



  I never considered a career in art. Music was a possibility.  In high school, I played with orchestras, in clubs and on radio, and enjoyed the experience.  However, along the way I developed an interest in architecture. My education was interrupted by World War II and after three years in the army, I returned to study architecture, gain subsequent experience, and eventually establish my own practice.


 I could have become a contented art collector had I been able to afford the work of artists I admired.  Lacking funds, I began painting in the manner of all the artists I coveted.  Eventually, I executed an original work, and the realization inspired the development of my personal style. Living in the suburbs and busy supporting a family, I was somewhat isolated from the city art scene and was completely unaware of the art school that Leonard Berkowitz and his first wife founded a gathering place for emerging artists.   I am sure that attending the school would have hastened my development.


Eventually, a museum director who saw my paintings pointed out that my independent development paralleled the direction of a group referred to as the Washington Color School, who were beginning to dominate the local scene and gain national recognition.  Several of these artists were represented by the Henri Gallery in Alexandria, and I met them when I started exhibiting in group shows there.  When the owner decided to relocate her gallery in Washington near the Phillips Collection, I became architect for the building’s renovation.  I also held my first solo show there, thus beginning an unplanned and unexpected second career.





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