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John St. John

Painting reflects
       the purest freedom
                of a soaring spirit
searching for
                 truth and
                 reality with
Integrity, courage and independence…
seeking to touch the spirit of another*

John St. John was born in Oak Park, Illinois in 1911. In his book,
Visions of Reality, he states that he experienced a modest home life, but a privileged childhood through his family and his public education. Both of these influences demonstrated that artistic experiences were a necessity for gaining an appreciation of history and an understanding of other cultures.

Although St. John never intended to become an artist as a youth, he believed that his visits to the Chicago Art Institute and the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago made a great and lasting impression on him. The original paintings that lined the walls of his childhood schools set a journey in motion that would lead him to make a life-changing decision to become an artist at the age of 37.

St. John graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1935 and the Maxwell School of Public Administration at Syracuse University in 1938. Although he worked in public administration until he went to serve in the military during World War II, it was not until after the war was over that he began painting. He called this endeavor into the world of artists his “second career,” and he did it with the same focus and success as his early professional life. He quickly mastered the techniques of watercolor and oil painting while training under a number of art teachers and mentors. He studied at the famous Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida and then traveled to Mexico, where he worked with Jose Gutierrez in vinyl and fresco mural painting at Mexico City College. 

After returning to the United States, St. John became a pioneer in exterior mural painting. In 1955, he was commissioned by the City of Coral Gables, Florida to paint the first large scale mural on the exterior of a public building in the United States. It took five months of work to produce Epochs of Florida History. After a few years of mural painting, St. John moved to Puerto Rico, where he spent 12 years painting the countryside and the sea. He returned to the mainland again and began painting in North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky and California. By this time he had developed his own distinctive style using, among other colors, dark reds and pale greens to depict scenes and impressions of nature and people, often from a perspective above the earth. After a few more years of painting in Hawaii, he settled in Solvang, California and founded his own gallery.

St. John paintings are included in numerous private and permanent collections, including, but not limited to:  the Musaeo De Arte, Ponce, Puerto Rico; Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel; Syracuse University; Palacio Nacional, Cartegena, Colombia; Knox College, Illinois; Palacio De Bellas Artes, Lima, Peru; Catholic University of Puerto Rico, Ponce, Puerto Rico; St. Xavier University, New Orleans; Instituto De Cultura Dominico-Americano, Dominican Republic; and Scripps College, Claremont, California.

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, headquartered in Santa Barbara, was the recipient of John St. John’s estate after he passed away in 1986. The Foundation has an extensive collection of his art, tapestries, prints and books. All items are for sale, as it was St John’s intent that his work be used to promote peace and justice. What is currently on exhibit is just a selection of his work; the rest is held by the Foundation in its offices or displayed elsewhere.

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is a 25-year-old, non-partisan, non-profit organization whose mission is to advance initiatives to eliminate the nuclear weapons threat to all life, to foster the global rule of law, and to build an enduring legacy of peace through education and advocacy.

For more information on the Foundation’s activities and mission, or to view or purchase any of the John St. John paintings not currently on display, contact Lynn M. Holley at 805-965-3443. You may also go to

*from the book, Visions of Reality in oil paintings, John St. John, 1981.
On sale at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation for $35.00.