James R. (Jim) Battell passed away on December 27, 2017. Jim was born in Spokane in 1955, and raised by his father, Richard “Dick“ Battell, and his grandmother, Myrtle Battell, in Spokane. After high school, Jim began his career in radio broadcasting. He started as an on-air DJ, and then moved into sales. He was hired by KREM FM, which later became KZZU, where he became the top salesperson. After 12 years at KZZU, he achieved his objective of early retirement in 1996.
After retiring, Jim enjoyed spending time in the great outdoors with his Dad and pursuing creative projects. Some of Jim's first artwork evolved from woodcarving: making walking sticks and mobiles from found wood. A few years later he found his true passion, which was painting. Jim initially taught himself to paint landscapes. While nature remained an inspiration, his subject matter evolved into more narrative depictions with a generous dose of his trademark wit. He really found his niche when he started painting with acrylics on recycled cardboard. He quickly became known as Spokane’s “Dumpster Artist.” He loved making “something out of nothing,” and recycling cardboard gave Jim the artistic freedom to create anything he could imagine. He often cut through multiple layers of cardboard to create three-dimensional images. He was influenced by Picasso's use of color and Van Gogh's textural style. Over the years Jim painted hundreds of amazing and whimsical scenes, many of which included quirky squirrels, smoking cats, rubber chickens, and fish with ladies peering out of port holes carved into their sides. Jim also loved painting political and religious figures as well as current and past pop icons. His colorful works were often on display at local coffee shops, galleries, libraries and restaurants.
Jim found his philanthropic match with Safety Net Spokane, a local nonprofit organization that assists teens that age out of foster care. Over the years Jim helped raise a significant amount of funds for Safety Net through paintings that he donated to their auctions. Jim’s last auction item was an autographed painting of Willie Nelson.
Jim will be missed by many and remembered fondly, not only for his artistic gift but also for his kindness, great sense of humor, and his love of animals and nature. A memorial in his honor will be announced in the Spring of 2018.