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 John Pugh  (20/21st century)

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: social commentary mural, trompe l'oeil, narrative illusion

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Ad Code: 4
John Pugh
Drain ( City of Bishop, California Public Mural)
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A San Francisco Bay area artist especially known for murals, many in trompe l'oeil style, completed a controversial mural in 2005 in Bishop, California about the Owens Valley diversion of water from local use to Los Angeles.  The mural is called Drain and references the buying of the river about 100 years ago by Los Angeles businessmen, who then diverted the water about 200 miles---a move that allowed the urban growth of Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Water Agency, still one of the largest property owners in Bishop and a donor to the local mural society that commissioned Drain, retaliated by withdrawing financial support of the mural project.  Representatives claim the mural stirs much ill will against an entity that has become a positive promoter of the community. 

The artist, John Pugh, responded to the negative charges by saying of his mural: "It was meant to be edgy, but it was a historical concept mural that has been transformed into a historical, political issue. . . I am not unhappy that it is controversial, if only because people are talking about their feelings.  By keeping it quiet it is like a dysfunctional family." (Archibold)

Other sites of murals by John Pugh include the entrance of the Palo Alto, California Medical Clinic; Anchorage Alaska High School auditorium; Boise, Idaho chasm between the new Boise Tower and the older Boise City National Bank; and the Gunnison, Colorado Arts Center.

Selected Public Commissions:
2002 - 2003  Rotorua Public Library, Arts Commission – Rotorua, New Zealand
Boise Tower, Boise City Arts Commission – Boise, ID
Downtown Breezeway, Chandler Arts Commission – Phoenix, AZ
Sarasota Health Department, Florida Art in State Buildings – Sarasota, FL
Dimond School, Anchorage Arts Commission – Anchorage, AK
Crossroads Mural Project, City of Dublin – Dublin, CA

2001  Mainplace Merced, Redevelopment Agency – Merced, CA
Berryessa Community Center, San Jose Arts Commission – San Jose, CA
El Camino Hospital – Mountain View, CA
Palo Alto Medical Foundation – Palo Alto, CA

2000  Opa Locka Health Services, Florida Art in State Buildings – Miami, FL
Hayward City Hall, Hayward Arts Commission – Hayward, CA
Global Mural Conference Project – Twentynine Palms, CA

1999  University of North Florida, Florida Art in State Buildings, Jacksonville, FL
Levi Strauss – Dayton, NV & Jacksonville, OR
University of Alaska, 1% For Art Commission – Fairbanks, AK
Kaiser Permanente Hospital – Santa Clara, CA

1998  The Pleasant Company – Middleton, WI
Victor Valley College Library, Arts Commission – Victorville, CA
Standin' on a Corner in Winslow, Arizona Park – Winslow, AZ

1997  Grand Avenue Project, City of South San Francisco, S. San Francisco, CA
Cafe Trompe L'oeil – San Jose, CA
ICTV, California Design International – San Francisco, CA
Silicon Graphics, Inc. – Mountain View, CA

1996  Cafe Bravo –Taipei, Taiwan
Moore Technologies –San Jose, CA

1995  Park Meadows Shopping Center – Denver, CO
Crossroads Center, Palm Desert Arts Commission – Palm Desert, CA

1994 - 1980  County Parking Facility, Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission – Sacramento, CA
Stanford Shopping Center, Stanford University – Palo Alto, CA
Los Gatos Design Center – Los Gatos, CA
California State University Chico
Selected Exhibitions:
2003  Los Gatos Art Museum – Los Gatos, CA
2002  City Council Art Gallery – Long Beach, CA
2000  L. A. County Art Museum – Los Angeles, CA     

Selected Awards:
2003  Distinguished Alumnus – California State University, Chico
2003  Master Muralist – Precita Eyes Mural Art Center – San Francisco, CA
2003  Most Successful Mural Artist – California Mural Symposium
John Pugh’s work has appeared in articles throughout the world including Time, Focus, Artweek, Art Business News, Rocky Mountain News, Southwest Art, L.A. Times, New York Times, Tokyo Mainichi, San Francisco Examiner and San Jose Mercury.

Sources include:
Randal C. Archibold, "Mural Comments About Water, and a City Doesn't Like It", The New York Times, November 3, 2005, A21

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John Pugh is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Trompe l'Oeil Painting

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