Dorothy Churchill-Johnson Art Show at La Cumbre Plaza

First Thursday is always full of music and art downtown and last week was no exception. My artist friend Pali told me there was another part of the First Thursday show worth seeing over at La Cumbre Plaza. Pali exhibits in one of the galleries there and invited me to get over to the new office of Voice Magazine right near his gallery.

The next day I went there and was very grateful for the experience! Here are my photos.

I am sad to say that this joyous experience came as a result of the passing of the extraordinary local artist Dorothy Churchill-Johnson. For many years I made the rounds of the Annual Open Studio Art Tour sponsored by the Arts Fund. She and her art stood out as perhaps the most memorable of all. Here she kindly posed for me in August 2008 in her studio, along with two of her pieces.

Her art spanned many genres. In her own words, she described the categories: Surreal Landscapes, , Kaleidoscope, Floral/Succulent, Neo-Pop, Still Life in Major Proportion, Pen and Ink Drawings.

While quite varied, they share some common features. All are incredibly detailed, with great care and skill. Many are photo-realistic, but even those that are not feel like photos as a result of her attention to detail!

The entire Voice office is rented out now to display her art and offer it for sale. I was greeted by Voice Editor Kerry Methner, who answered my many questions.

She was quick to explain that she was just providing space for the show. But she said I really needed to talk to Lynn Holley who was a friend to Churchill-Johnson as well as being curator of the show. Here was Holley’s memorial tribute in the Independent:

Holley indeed provided more information to me. She wanted to be sure to pass along this information:

“That she was a master of oil painting (rare these days) She lifts the mundane to importance, and was a master of detail and color. Her work is larger than life, and she was an environmentalist, which shows in her work. She did nothing else except paint steadily and daily. Look at her website, and make sure you come to Voice gallery and experience a world that you will not face in any other gallery, believe me.”

Here is that website with many examples of her work and more about her life:

Holley went on to explain that the show is a retrospective of Dorothy Churchill-Johnson (1942-2023), who had a fine arts degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She lived in Santa Barbara for 50 years. She had no husband or children, but she does have two nieces and one nephew. She left a couple of hundred large “exquisite” works.

Below I will share some of my photos from the show. Be sure to hurry over, as it has to get packed up before the end of January!

This one was displayed at the Sullivan Goss fine arts gallery and was featured in the First Thursday announcement for the gallery at the time.

Again, be sure to get over the Voice office at La Cumbre Plaza before the end of the month! And check out the other nearby galleries, too!

Robert Bernstein


Written by sbrobert

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