This is a love story between an artist and the rolling plains of western North Dakota.
Bro Halff is a painter and poet, who’s spent much of the last three decades using a paintbrush to make his visions of the state everlasting.
“The land is so beautiful, so infinite, and it’s just, it’s a land that speaks to promise; of hope. And the people are the kindest people I’ve ever met anywhere I’ve lived,” Halff shared.
The artist/writer visited the Peace Garden State for the first time 28 years ago. Now, it’s his home.
“Almost 30 years ago, I saw an exhibit of Karl Bodmer’s watercolors done in the 1830s, which recreated many of the scenes from the Lewis and Clark expedition. I decided to retrace that same route. So I flew to Bismarck 28 years ago. I was going to stay three days…I kept delaying my departure, I never left,” he laughed.
Although it’s not his only medium, Halff says watercolor painting has been a favorite.
“It’s spontaneous, you don’t have long. Because the watercolor paper absorbs the paint, you can’t really change it much afterward. So it’s just always appealed to me,” he said.
He likes the high stakes nature of using the paint.
From grain bins on an abandoned farmstead to the Missouri River, as it rolls through the Capital City, to old wagons left behind by the times, Halff takes it all in and reimagines it for onlookers.
It’s all in his two newest books: “North Dakota Days” and “North Dakota Travels”. The books and paintings are all on display starting today at Gallery 522 in Bismarck.
“Two friends came from out of town and read them at my request. And one of them took me aside afterward, and he said, ‘Bro, I just want you to know that one thing comes across: you really, really like North Dakota,'” Halff laughed. “He said, ‘That comes across in every page’. And I do, I love North Dakota. It is my spiritual home.”
Halff says if he’s ever having a bad day, all he has to do is go out and run a few errands. And by the time he gets back home, he feels better after interacting with a few kind North Dakotans.
The gallery opens Friday night for an opening ceremony from 4 to 7 p.m. Halff’s work will be on display for several months. Gallery 522 is open Wednesdays – Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The books and artwork, including the original paintings and prints, will be on sale.