Photo by Steve Shay
The Burien Community Center lobby features oils by Renton artist and long-time firefighter Richard Jahn. The show runs through the end of March.

Richard Jahn, veteran firefighter & artist, shows work at Burien Community Center

The City of Burien Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services presents the works of artist Richard Jahn at the Burien Community Center lobby through the end of March.

In his statement he writes, "My earliest love of art came from looking at psychedelic posters and album covers back in the 60′s. I also love the early Dutch artists and their depictions of everyday life. I hope that you see at least a little bit of these influences in my paintings."

Jahn, 60, a Kent resident and Renton firefighter for 21 years, paints oils and generally begins with a photo of a local scene. He sells the originals, prints, and tiles. While his main show is Renton River Days, he has also shown at the 909 Coffee & Wine during the Burien Art Walk.

"I paint with the intention that the final product will be a print," he told the Highline Times. "I think a lot of artists paint a picture and the reproductions are kind of an afterthought. Mine is the opposite. I am creating a print and the original is one of the steps along the way. The prints are not necessarily the same as the original. They are scanned and I can add things.

"I relate to Henri Rousseau from Paris," said Jahn, referring to the late-19th Century French Post-Impressionist painter of imaginative, idyllic jungle scenes. "Near as I can tell he had a job similar to mine, a full-time job with the city. I love his art."

According to, Rousseau "is also known as 'Le Douanier' (the customs officer) after his place of employment (...) Rousseau gathered the elements for his paintings from numerous sources: engravings in illustrated magazines, all sorts of paintings, photographs, and advertising catalogues furnished a detail here, the posture of a person or an animal there, or even a compositional structure."

"There are struggling wannabe artists, who maybe sold a couple of pieces, and others who make a fortune at it," Jahn said. "I see myself as somewhere between those two. It is beyond a hobby. It doesn't actually pay all the bills. It's my fun money. I treat myself to special things like season passes to Crystal Mountain and new skis."

He said he gets ribbed now and then for his art by others on the force.

"The big comment I get is, 'Well you got to cut your ear off before you'll be famous.'"

Joking aside, he said many of his workmates are his customers. He has also sold his work to the last several Renton mayors, he said. Some of his scenes have brought him "fun money" unintentionally, you might say.

Looking west from inside the tall Renton City Hall building he explained, "If you look straight out the window I painted a picture of the houses down below. I chose the scene because I considered it a typical, unrecognizable place, and people would just like the brush strokes, the passion I put into the painting. I figure nobody is going to know where this is. What surprised me is that families who lived in this neighborhood started buying multiple prints of this because they recognized the houses."

The Burien Community Center is located at 14700 6th Ave SW and is open Mon-Thurs 8:30AM-8PM and Friday 8:30 AM- 5 PM.

For more information on Mr. Jahn’s work visit:

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