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Monday, September 11, 2017

Sally Haley

Mail--the Connecting Link, 1938, 
Post Office mural, Sally Haley
Today as I was poking around various artists' index Websites, I stumbled upon the name of Sally Haley. As I traced down over her biography, all of a sudden, the words, McConnelsville, Ohio, popped out at me. My first reaction was simply, "that's weird," but that's not all that unusual. If there's not something "weird" about an artist or their work I'm not much interested. As near as I could ascertain, Sally Haley had absolutely nothing to do with McConnelville, Ohio. She was, after all, born in faraway Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1907, and lived in Portland, Oregon, (even further away) from 1947 until her death in 2006 (at the age of ninety-nine). She was educated at Yale, and painted in a clean-cut, straight-forward, Social Realism style. The main possible connection between Sally and McConnelsville was that people in this southeastern Ohio town during the Depression years of the 1930s, would have admired her no-nonsense approach to art. I can speak with some authority as to their tastes and attitudes in that I grew up in Stockport, Ohio, just ten miles down the Muskingum River from McConnelsville, the county seat of Morgan County, Ohio.
Sally Haley, artist extraordinaire, fantastic chef,
wonderful homemaker, the list is so extensive,
In 1938, Sally Haley worked for the Treasury Section of Fine Arts. During that year she apparently spent several weeks (or months) in McConnelsville painting a 5-ft. x 17-ft. mural in that community's U. S. Post Office. That's it. That's the connection. I know, it's a thin one. I've never seen the mural, I don't even know if it's still there after over seventy-five years, but as Depression era government-sponsored murals go, it's a pretty good one by a pretty good artist.
Untitled, Sally Haley
Sally Haley's career spanned much of the 20th-century. Besides painting post office murals during the depression, she is credited with helping to expand the emerging art scene in Portland, Oregon, during the middle of the century. Much of her work was done in egg tempera, a technique which leaves a flat, brushless surface. She preferred domestic subjects and interior spaces but with hints of the indoor or outdoor space that lay beyond. Sally Haley graduated from Yale University in 1931. She came to Portland in 1947 with her husband, artist Michele Russo. Through the years she had many one-person shows in the Northwest including major museum exhib-itions nationally. Haley has also had shows at the Hubbard Museum in New Mexico and the Seattle Art Museum in Washington. She was honored twice with retrospectives, one at the Portland Art Museum in 1975, which holds her work in their collection, and another at Marylhurst College in 1993.

Lilacs Pink on Purple, Sally Haley
Virginia, Sally Haley
In addition to early work in painting the McCon-nelsville mural, Haley's paintings are also part of many public and private collections, including the Tacoma Art Museum, Washington; The Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University, Salem, Oregon; the American Telephone and Telegraph Company of New York, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, California; and the Kaiser Foun-dation and Portland Civic Auditorium in Oregon. Sally Haley died at an assisted living facility in Portland, Oregon, in September, 2007.

I'm doing my part.


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