James “Jim” Wyly (15 Nov 37) was born in Kansas City, Missouri. As a child, even at the ages of 2 and 3 he could draw recognizable people and buildings. He was encouraged by his great uncle, a professional painter, but his parents’ priority was music, especially the keyboard, as they had a piano in their home. By the age of 5 Jim was able to play classical music. He always had teachers for music theory and composition.
At the age of 17 Jim enrolled in Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he received his BA in English literature. He attended graduate school at the Conservatory of Music of the University of Missouri where he received his Doctorate in Music. His dissertation, on 18th century Spanish organ construction, was written in Madrid, Spain with the aid of a Fulbright grant, and was finished in 1964. Jim worked for 4 years at Elmhurst College, in Illinois, and 8 years at Grinnell College, in Iowa, as a Professor of Music.
In the 1970’s Jim became interested in the psychology of Carl Jung. Life in rural Iowa was beginning to feel rather limiting so in 1976 Jim and his wife, Mary moved to Chicago where he went back to school and received a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology in 1981, after which he got a certificate in Jungian Psycho-Analysis. In Chicago he set up a private practice which he maintained until 2003 when he and Mary retired and moved to Oaxaca.
In Chicago Jim’s wife, also a musician, worked as the Associate Librarian at the Newberry Library of Chicago. Mary has been very supportive of Jim’s art.
When they first moved to Oaxaca they rented a 300-year old home owned by the Rodolfo Morales Foundation. They loved the house but found that it didn’t suit all their needs so, with the help of Oaxacan friends, they were lucky enough to find property in the Centro Histórico; and with their architect friend, Guillermo de la Cajiga, they designed and over the next two years built and finished (2008) their dream home, where they currently live. Here, Jim has all the space he needs to play his music and paint as well as does Mary, with her great kitchen and well stocked library. In Jim and Mary’s spacious and modern front room they have Jim’s clavichord and harpsichord and Mary’s piano.
With the move to Oaxaca Jim was at last able to return to his childhood passion and paint full time. Jim studied painting in Chicago with the artist and restorer Helen Oh, who taught him historical techniques from the 17th and 18th centuries. In addition to her, among artists whose styles influenced Jim’s are 17th century masters such as Rembrandt, Velázquez, Caravaggio, and Vermeer, as well as twentieth century painters, such as Remedios Varo, Leonora Carrington, Balthus, Paul Delvaux and many others. Jim describes his art as “somewhere on the line between surrealism and realism.”
Jim has had four art exhibitions in Oaxaca, the most recent (2010) at Casa Oaxaca by Galería Quetzalli.