Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Jim Balestrieri earned a B.A. in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University, an M.A. in English from Marquette University, and an M.F.A. in Theater and Playwriting from Carnegie-Mellon University. He was also a Screenwriting Fellow at the American Film Institute.
In 1986, intending to tour around Europe, he found himself teaching theater for a year at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, where his first play was produced in an abandoned brewery. The writing bug bit.
Jim worked at J.N. Bartfield Galleries in New York for 20 years and did all the research and writing—as well as working with clients, taking bids, and packing art—for the Scottsdale Art Auction’s first 15 years. Every year before dawn on the day after the auction, Jim would light out with a friend, exploring Arizona’s deserts, mountains, canyons, caves, and legends. In 2020, Jim hung out his own arts consulting shingle.
In addition to his responsibilities as Western Spirit’s Communications Manager, Jim is finishing a new monograph on American painter Clark Hulings for the Clark Hulings Foundation, assists The Couse Foundation in Taos as their Estate and Collections Consultant, and writes for several national arts publications.
When he isn’t at his post, he can usually be found writing. His tennis ghost story, “Back to Deuce” just appeared in Aethlon, the Journal of Sport and Literature and his aging gangster yarn, “Perch,” was just published in Volume 7 of Short Story America. An avid angler and ardent baseball fan—Let’s Go Mets! —Jim lives with his wife and three kids in Tarrytown, New York, a stone’s throw from Washington Irving’s Old Dutch Church, home of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman.