Dorothy Churchill-Johnson



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Artist Statement

Early on I realized that my greatest strength as an artist was my drawing skill. As a result, I've always looked for ways to take hard-edge realism in new directions by combining it with more contemporary influences such as neo-pop, op art, and pattern painting, with a touch of surrealism. I've been working toward a synthesis of realism and abstraction by finding beauty in the tiny details of ordinary things and blowing them up to visual extremes. Intricacies of surfaces – the mathematical patterns of plaid and houndstooth, cracks in the pavement, fragments of torn notices from sign posts, even the growth pattern of botanicals become abstractions of texture and design.

The images point to the ephemeral nature of all human events, from weeds growing through the cracks in the pavement to the torn remnants of notices that were once timely. I call it instant archaeology in that one can extrapolate from the remnants, the presence and passage of life above. Aspects of the microcosm become metaphors for the macrocosm. I sometimes like to play with mirror images to form kaleidoscopes. These and the Suits series have been described as “neo-pop abstraction.”

I emphasize the intersections where man and nature come together. Pavement and chain link symbolize the artificial barriers between us. Decaying leaves are juxtaposed with pods or blossoms to remind us of the ineluctable transitions we all face as organic beings. In the surreal landscape series the light is almost always transitional – either waxing or waning – and, for me, they evoke an alternative world of odd juxtapositions and the sense of being an isolated consciousness in a universe which is constantly changing and chillingly indifferent to individuals. Beauty plays an important role because beauty is its own excuse for being, but the images emphasize the poignancy of its fleeting nature. There is a subtly bleak subtext of loneliness and global climate change implied, along with the question “Is the universe friendly and are we in harmony with it?”

The paintings are meticulously rendered on a grand scale. Like good photography, realist painting depends on selective exaggeration. By adding, removing, rearranging or enhancing certain elements and manipulating color, I can idealize an image while maintaining the illusion of random discovery. I call this process “photoshop by hand.” I start all my paintings with a red undercoat and build the image with many layers of thin glazes, sometimes allowing the color underneath to show through to achieve complex but subtle variations. My hope is that the combination of color and enormous size will make the viewer feel as if he is looking at something familiar for the first time.


2020 – The Butler Institute of American Art (upcoming) Youngstown, OH
2012 - The Architectural Foundation, Santa Barbara, CA, Instant Archaeology
2010 - Ormond Memorial Art Museum, Ormond Beach, FL., Visual Haiku
2010 - Elverhoj Museum of Art and History, Solvang, CA, The Beauty of Ordinary Things
2008 - Bakersfield Museum of Art, Bakersfield, CA, Transcendental Observation
2006 - The Gallery of Modern Art, Yekaterinburg, Russia, California Surrealism
2005 - The Corridan Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA, Surreal Beauty
2005 - Bank of America, Malibu Colony Branch, Malibu, CA
2003 - SoHo, Santa Barbara, CA, Virtual Reality
1999 - Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, Thousand Oaks, CA
1998 - University of California Santa Barbara, Faculty Club
1997 - Frameworks De La Guerra Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA Macrovision
1995 - Indigo Gallery, Lake Oswego, OR
1995 - Lakewood Center for the Arts, Lake Oswego, OR
1994 - Karpeles Manuscript Museum, Santa Barbara, CA
1993 - The Heritage Society, Houston, TX
1992 - Aries Gallery, Houston, TX
1990 - Artworks Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
1989 - Mount St. Mary's College, Jose Drudis Biada Gallery, Los Angeles, CA Drawings
1988 - 801 North Brand Gallery (Allstate Plaza) Glendale, CA
1984 - The University Club, Santa Barbara, CA


2018 _ South Coast Contemporary, Southern California Women’s Caucus for Art, “Pulse of LA”, Los Angeles, CA
2018 – Sullivan Goss, An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, Spring Break
2018 – Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA. Annual Auction, by invitation, catalog
2016 – Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA Annual Auction by invitation.
2016 _ The Arts Fund Gallery, “Then/NOW” by invitation. Curated by Metrov.
2014 – Sullivan Goss, An American Gallery, For Real? Magic Realism in American Art.
2014 – The Arts Fund Gallery, Obsession, by invitation, Curated by Nancy Gifford
2013 – Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art, Confluence, Juried by Peter Frank, Award
2011 - Westmont Museum of Art, Montecito, CA, Works from the Permanent Collection
2009 - National Association of Women Artists, New Members Exhibition,New York, NY
2008 - Los Angeles International Airport, Oceano Romantico,curated by Giorgio Calavero
2008 - Los Angeles City Hall, Bridge Gallery, Invitational
2008 - Santa Barbara Arts Fund Gallery, Across The Board, Invitational
2003 - Laredo Center for the Arts, 11th International Juried Show, Laredo, TX (Award)
2003 - Saks Fifth Avenue Windows, Santa Barbara, CA, by Invitation
2002 - Santa Barbara Arts Fund Gallery, The Canvas Project, by Invitation
2001 - Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH, Midyear Exhibition (Catalog)
2001 - Laguna Museum of Art, Laguna Beach, CA, Spring in Bloom (3 person exhibition)
2001 - The Fielding Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, CA, The Woman's Journey and Bloom of a New Day, Selected Work from Santa Barbara Artists.
1999 - Karpeles Manuscript Museum, Santa Barbara, CA, Gang of Six (Six Santa Barbara Women Artists)
1999 - Faulkner Gallery, Santa Barbara Public Library, Santa Barbara Printmakers Sixth
1999 - Reynolds Gallery, Westmont College, Montecito, CA, The Art of Dining, Invitational
1998 - Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Juried Exhibition
1997 - San Bernardino County Museum, Redlands, CA, 32nd Annual Juried Exhibition
1996 - Bernard Milken Jewish Community Center, Finegood Gallery, West Hills,CA Eclectic Expressions, by invitation
1995 - Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA, Homework, by invitation
1994 - Indigo Gallery, Lake Oswego, OR
1992 - City of Brea Gallery, Brea, CA, From Real to Surreal, Juried Exhibition
1990 - Brigham Young University, Provo Utah, Drawing 1990, Juried Exhibition, (catalog)
1988 - Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Sales Rental Gallery, 3 person show
1988 - Gallery Henoch, New York, NY, Works on Paper II
1987 - Delaware Museum, Sales Rental Gallery, Wilmington, DE
1987 - 9th Annual Santa Barbara Art Festival, curated by Graham Beal
1986 - Littlejohn-Smith Gallery, New York, NY
1986 - Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
1986 - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Sales Rental Gallery
1985 - Littlejohn-Smith Gallery, New York, NY
1984 - Newport Harbor Art Museum, Sales Rental Gallery, Newport Beach, CA,
Two Person Show
1983 - The Alexandria Museum, Alexandria, LA, September Competition (catalog)
1982 - L. A. Artcore, Los Angeles, CA, Juried Exhibition
1982 - Conejo Valley Art Museum, Thousand Oaks, CA, Juried Exhibition
1980 - Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California Roadsides, Two Person Exhibition


Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art, Arts Council Award juried by Peter Frank, 2013
Laredo Center for the Arts, 11th Annual International Juried Exhibition, 2003 People's Choice Award.
Fine Art Santa Barbara, First Place, Two Dimensional, 2001
Santa Barbara Arts Fund, Awards in Painting, Finalists Exhibition, 1997
Lake Oswego Art Festival, First Place 1994
Santa Barbara Visual Art League Invitational, First Prize for Watermedia 1993
Honorable Mention, New Orleans National Biennial, 1982


Art Auction 2018, Crocker Museum of Art
Seasons Magazine, Santa Barbara, Fall Edition 2016
Santa Barbara News-Press, Scene Magazine, May 30, 2013
Santa Barbara News-Press, Scene Magazine, August 26, 2011
The Daytona Beach News-Journal, December 24, 2010
Bakersfield Californian, Eye Street, September 11, 2008
Southwest Art, September 2007, Pg. 56
Santa Barbara News-Press, Scene Magazine, Cover and Center Spread, Sept. 1, 2006
Vecherniy, Ekaterinberg, Russia, July 6, 2006
Casa Santa Barbara, July 21, 2006, Pg. 51 and Oct. 3, 2003, Pg. 30.
Santa Barbara Independent, June 5-12, 2003, Pg. 55
Dining and Destinations, Spring/Summer 2003, Pg. 28
Butler Institute of American Art 65th Annual Mid-Year Exhibition Catalog 2001
Santa Barbara News-Press, Scene Magazine, July 13, 2001
Santa Barbara News-Press, Scene Magazine, October 20, 2000, Pgs 6 &7
Santa Barbara Independent, April 27, 2000, Pg. 57
Museum and Arts Magazine, Houston, TX, October 26, 1992
American Artist Magazine, "Watercolor 92" Fall Edition, Pgs. 48-51
Brigham Young University, Drawing 1990, Catalog
Glendale Daily News, October 10, 1988
The Alexandria Museum, Alexandria, LA, September Competition, Catalog
Santa Barbara News-Press, Sunday People Section, September 19, 1982


American Home Products, New York, NY
Abbott Labs, Ross Pharmaceutical, Columbus, OH
Bakersfield Museum of Art, Bakersfield, CA
Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Lawrenceville, NJ
County of Santa Barbara Arts Commission
Andy and Dolly Granatelli, Montecito, CA
Kidder-Peabody Financial Services, Philadelphia, PA
Lancaster Rose Vineyard, Healdsburg, CA
Las Ventanas el Paraiso, Los Cabos, Mexico
Mactan Shangri-La, Cebu, Philllipines
Northwest Hospital, Chicago, IL
Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, Ojai, CA
Sergey Odoefsky, Ekaterinberg, Russia
Sheraton Torrey Pines, La Jolla, CA
Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art, Montecito, CA


Graduated from The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, MA