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 John N. Battenberg  (1931 - 2012)

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Lived/Active: Michigan/Arizona/California/Wisconsin      Known for: sculptor-abstract animal

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Ad Code: 3
John N Battenberg
from Auction House Records.
Untitled (Two Women)
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Kimberly Garrison, General Manager of Battenburg Studios, Phoenix Arizona:

John Nelson Battenberg was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1931. An artist named John Goray first influenced him when Battenberg was about 10 years old. Goray moved into Battenbergs neighborhood in Kenosha, WI from Chicago, IL. Goray became his mentor, introduced him to classical music, books, and art, and encouraged him in painting.

After high school, John chose to study painting at the University of Wisconsin. The Korean War and a brief stint in the Marine Corps interrupted his studies. By 1953, he was back to continue his education, this time at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. In 1955, he decided he wanted to use the remainder of his G.I. Bill in Europe. He found that the only government approved art school was the Ruskin School, Oxford University so he moved to England and remained at Oxford until 1957. John traveled extensively during that period and feels that his time abroad was a special time that helped to shape his views and philosophies.

In 1960, he received an MFA in painting from Michigan State University and returned to England to continue work as a painter. A few short years later, he became an artist-in-residence at Western New Mexico University in Silver City NM. It was in Silver City that John began experimenting with sculpture.
In 1963, John, his wife and son left New Mexico to head for the San Francisco Bay Area which became his home from that point on.

He did graduate work at California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, CA. During the next two decades, he taught at San Jose State University, he lectured, and served as an artist-in-residence at colleges and universities worldwide. John became an innovator in establishing bronze casting on the West Coast of the United States in the late 1960s.

In the 1970s, John influenced not only the establishment of bronze casting in the United States but also many young aspiring artists. In the mid 1980s, John left San Jose State and academia to pursue his career in sculpture full-time.

Although he has experimented with a wide variety of sculpture, John is well known for his Pilot Series and his sculptures of North American Wildlife. Battenberg was fascinated by the concept and art of flight from a very young age. The pilots John created in the late 60s and early 70s were making more of a statement against war. These pilots, done in aluminum and bronze, are bodiless, nameless forgotten. Pieces of their uniforms are ripped and or torn symbolizing perhaps both the physical and mental torture and futility of war. His recent pilots although still bodiless are more of a tribute to pioneer aviators. They seem to capture the spirits of the young men and women who fought, flew and sometimes died developing flight, which John considers mankinds greatest achievement.

When John decided to pursue his sculpture career full-time he started working on a new type of sculpture, which he has described as three-dimensional drawing. This type of sculpture took the form of various North American Wildlife. From wolves to bears, ravens and hawks, John has successfully captured the quintessence souls of these animals. There are many of these sculptures gracing universities, museums, public areas, private homes and business parks of North America and Europe today.

In 1999, John completed a two-year project and what he considers his most monumental work, "The Procession". Commissioned for a private residence, it consists of four bronze panels mounted on cast aluminum gates. The gates are each eight feet tall by seven feet wide and weigh approximately three tons. The total opening is fourteen feet. The panels are mounted on the inside of the gates and can only be viewed by the public when the gates are swung open. There are two panels on each gate: "The Procession of the Men" on one side and "The Procession of the Women" on the other. They show the two groups marching to the center of the gates. Thirty-one human characters compose the total "Procession" and are real people from Battenbergs life. The panels also include classical fantasies: Pegasus, Satyrs, Unicorns, Winged Women, etc. The upper panels depict a flock of doves escaping two hawks coming out of the hinge end of the panels. The lower panels depict two Cougars and two Coyotes chasing and finally eating the doves. There are two pigeons escaping freely from the bottom panels. The entire work is Johns tribute to his interest in Classicism.

John currently lives happily with his wife Lynn, in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California and commutes weekly to his studio in Phoenix, Arizona. He was honored with a distinguished alumni award from St. Cloud State University in October of 2000, receiving their Fine Arts and Humanities Leadership Award. John continues to create pilots and wildlife with as much, if not more, passion as when he first started sculpting forty years ago.
1949 University of Wisconsin
1954 Bachelor of Science, Minnesota State University, St. Cloud, MN
1955-57 Ruskin School, Oxford University, England
1960 Master of Fine Arts, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
1963-64 Master of Fine Arts, California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland CA

Selected Commissions
2000 "Lukes Last Flight", Green Valley Technical Plaza, Fairfield, CA
"Phoenix Warrior", Green Valley Technical Plaza, Fairfield, CA
"Puma, Wolf, Bear, and Coyote", Parkway Corporate Plaza, Roseville, CA
1999 "The Procession" - Monumental Bronze Gates, Phoenix, AZ
1997 "Wolf Trio", University of Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ
"Spirit of Ruth", Phoenix Zoo, Phoenix, AZ
"Arizona Wolf Pack", The Apollo Group, Phoenix, AZ
1995 "Totem Spirit Structure", Pacific Graduate School of Psychology,
Palo Alto, CA
"Stevie", Sacramento Zoo, Sacramento, CA
1994 Parma Park Project, Community Arts Council, San Jose, CA
1993 "Prairie Wolf," South Area Sheriff Substation, Sacramento
Metropolitan Arts Commission, Sacramento, CA
1992 "Mystical Bear," Millbrae (CA) CalTrain Station, California Arts Council, Sacramento, CA
1991 "Creatures of Nevada," Truckee River Walk,
Reno Redevelopment Agency, Reno, NV
"Howl, Russ," MTS, Inc., West Sacramento, CA
1989 "Murphy Street Scene," Murphy Street Project, Sunnyvale, CA
"Morning At Eden Landing," Koll Industrial Park, Hayward, CA
1986 "Flying Lady," Park Center Plaza, San Jose, CA
1980 "Flying Pilots," BFW, Inc., San Jose, CA

Selected Solo Exhibitions
1998 New School for the Arts, Phoenix, AZ
1997 Joseph Chowning Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1996 Solomon Dubnick Gallery, Sacramento, CA
1995 Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, CA
1994 Harcourts Modern and Contemporary Art, San Francisco, CA
Academy of Art, San Francisco, CA
1992 Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV
1991 Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, CA
1985 Joseph Chowning Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1979 University Art Gallery, California State University, Dominguez Hills, CA
1978 San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA
1975 Oscar Krasner Gallery, Inc., New York, NY
Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, CA
1961 Temple Gallery, Knightsbridge, London, England

Selected Group Exhibitions
1999 "Pierwalk 99", Navy Pier, Chicago, IL
1997 The 'Old' New Garde, JJ Brookings Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1996 CCAC Alumni Exhibition, CCAC, Oakland, CA
1994 "Fifty Years: A Syntex Retrospective," Syntex Corporation, Palo Alto, CA
1992 Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, CA
1986 North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks, ND
The Pompidou, Paris, France
1985 Gallerie Birch, Copenhagen, Denmark
"Artist and Antigone," Pietrasanta, Italy
1983 Museo deo Bozzetti, Citta di Pietrasanta, Pietrasanta, Italy
1982 De Saisset Museum, University of Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
1975 Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, CA
1974 Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
1972 Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
1970 Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN
1969 Smithsonian Institute, International Collection of Fine Arts, Washington, DC
Musee d'Art at d'Histoire, Geneva, Switzerland
Museum des 20, Jahrhunderts, Vienna, Austria
1965 "Edge of Pop," Western Association of Art Museums, traveling exhibition, U.S.
1963 New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts, Albuquerque, NM

Teaching / Art-Related Activities
1995 Artist in Residence, Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, CA
1994 Visiting Artist, Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, CA
1989 Visiting Artist, Stanislaus State University, Turlock, CA
Visiting Artist, California State University, Chico, CA
1988 Exchange Artist, Moscow, Leningrad, Lithuania, USSR
1987-88 Artist in Residence, Lakeside Studios, Lakeside, MI
1986 Sculptor in Residence, Pietrasanta, Italy
1983 American Academy in Rome, Rome, Italy
1980 Sculptor in Residence, University of Hawaii, Manoa, Honolulu, HI
1966-85 Professor of Art, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
1964-65 Sculpture Instructor, Contra Costa College, San Pablo, CA
1964 Casting Instructor, California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA
1962-63 Artist in Residence/Director, McCray Gallery, New Mexico Western University, Silver City, NM
1962 Art Instructor, New Mexico Western University, Silver City, NM

Lee Weimers,"Battenberg: Treasuring the Artistic Attitude,"
The San Jose Mercury News, June 1995
Ken Robison, "Cat Tale: Art that explores myth of animals," The Fresno Bee,
January 1995
John Marlowe, "John Battenberg: Indigenous Ghosts," Southwest Art, May, 1994
"In the Galleries," Art-Talk, June-July, 1994
"Recent Works by John Battenberg: Animal Spirits Take Flight,"
Academy of Art College Newsletter, March 14, 1994
"Wild Things -- Where Wild Things Are," Art week, June 3, 1993
Leslie Vestrich, "Imposing Figures," Los Gatos Weekly Times, February 3, 1993
Holly Johnson, "Sculptor casts life into animal figures," Sacramento Bee,
August 23, 1992
"Sculpture site adds new dimension to state fair," Sacramento Bee, August 20, 1993
Kim Schneiderman, "Sculptor preserves Millbrae's 'bear essentials,"
Millbrae Sun, November 4, 1992
Sandra Macias, "Wild Thing," Reno Gazette-Journal, April 26, 1992
Laura Tuchman, "John Battenberg: Maximum Effect with Minimal Means,"
Art of California, May, 1992
"Sculpture Walk," Southwest Art, April, 1992
Marcia Tanner, "Getting Over Gallery Phobia," San Francisco Chronicle,
April 15, 1992
Victoria Dalkey, "West's Oldest Art Club Turns 100," Sacramento Bee (Encore),
February 9, 1992
"Tying It All Together," Northern California Home and Garden, November, 1991
Anne Stein, "From Out of Quake Rubble A Garden Wall," San Jose Mercury News,
October 12, 1991
Sandra Macias, "Downtown Sculpture," Reno Gazette-Journal, October 6, 1991
Tony Marek, "The Works of John Battenberg," San Jose Spartan Daily,
October 4, 1991
Dorothy Burkhart, "Eye Openers," San Jose Mercury News, September 20, 1991
Laura J. Tuchman, "The Bronze Age," San Jose Mercury News, September 15, 1991
Shirley Anderson, "Sketches with Wolves," Peninsula Magazine, September, 1991
"Putting It All Together: John Battenberg," Triton Museum of Art Members Bulletin,
September-October, 1991
"Battenberg At the River Walk," Encore, Reno, NV, October, 1991
Fran Harvey, "Work of Nationally Recognized Artist Displayed," Reno Gazette,
July 27, 1991
Dorothy Burkhart, "A Bronze Bestiary in Walnut Creek," San Jose Mercury News,
May 3, 1991
Carol Fowler, "Battenberg Art at the Bedford," Contra Costa Times, May 11, 1991
Kenneth Baker, "Sculptor Tamed and Untamed," San Francisco Chronicle,
May 16, 1991
City Scene, Walnut Creek, CA, Spring, 1991
"A Look At an Artist," Diablo, June 1991
Chiori Santiago, "Vision in Flight," Regional Center for the Arts Magazine,
April-August, 1991
Suz Rubinson, "Community Arts Council To Present Statue Mock-Up
To the Almaden Community," Almaden Times, November, 1990
Robert Klindt, "Almaden Valley Arts Group Wants Stature with Statue,"
San Jose Mercury News, August 9, 1989
Nora Zamichow, "Sunnyvale's Public Art Plan Refined," San Jose Mercury News,
August 16, 1989
Robin Worthington, "Art Honors Dockworkers," San Jose Mercury News,
August 9, 1989
Mike de Give, "Sunnyvale's Newest Work of Art," Times Tribune, July 14, 1989
Dorothy Burkhart, "Clothes Tailored into Fresh," San Jose Mercury News,
February 3, 1989
Alexandra Wise, "Diplomacy of Art," Peninsula Magazine (San Jose Holiday Issue), 1988
John Marlowe, "Power, Politics and Publicity, But Is It Art?" San Francisco Magazine,
May 1988
Dorothy Burkhart, "Sculptors' Inspiration Comes from Life, Death,"
San Jose Mercury News, June 6, 1986
Thomas Albright, Art in the San Francisco Bay Area,
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985
Georgianna M. Lagoria, Northern California Art of the Sixties,
Santa Clara: De Saisset Museum, 1982
Suzanne Muchnic, "The Look of a Troubled Alliance," Los Angeles Times,
October 16, 1979
Tom Pakusich, "A Risqué Display?" South Bay Daily Breeze, October 5, 1979
Arthur Bloomfield, "Sculptor Fleshes Out Bronzes," San Francisco Examiner,
February 9, 1978
"Arty Look for the Fashion Plaza," San Jose News, February 8, 1978
J.H Weeks, "Artists Give Final Salute to Things Historical," San Jose News,
January 27, 1978
Gay Weaver, "The World Seen through a Sculptor's Eyes," Palo Alto Times,
October 8, 1976
Jan Butterfield, "John Battenberg," Currant, San Francisco, August-October, 1976
Los Angeles Times, September 24, 1976
Gail Tagashira, "He Makes 'War,' Not Love," San Jose News, September 21, 1976
"Comic Strip Art and Angry Sculptures," Palo Alto Times, September 17, 1976
"Paper Art Displayed," Wisconsin State Journal, December 26, 1975
Gallery of Greater Victoria Bulletin, September 18, 1974
Contemporary American Painting and Sculpture, Chicago: University of Illinois Press,
Mollie O'Neill, "A Sky to Fly," Artweek, September 22, 1973
Thomas Albright, "'Fly-Sky' Art in Group Show," San Francisco Chronicle,
September 8, 1973
Gay M. Weaver, "Sculpture Show One of Finest Ever Held at Palo Alto Center,"
Palo Alto Times, January 19, 1973
John Canaday, "Art: Harlem, Peggy and the Mongols," New York Times, 1972
"Totality of Art," Artweek, January 8, 1972
Jim Marshall, "Cloaked in Smog: Foundry Art at HSC," Eureka Times Standard,
July 20, 1970
John Gardner, Art through the Ages, 5th Edition, New York: Harcourt and Brace, 1970
"L'art Americain a Geneve Richesse Creatice et Eclatement des Tendances,"
Feuille D'Avis De Lausanne, July 25, 1970
"La Nerva Figurazione Americana in una Mostra a Milano," Le Arti, February, 1970
"Lo Spirito de Recerca Degli Artisti Americani," Gazetta di Parma, February, 1970
"Le Protesta Erotica dei Pop Americani," Panorama, No. 200, February, 1970
"Hanno Esposto Anche l Pantaloni," Gente, No. 7, February 16, 1970
"Il Ritorno della Figura Umana Nell, Arte della Giovane America," Giornale de Brescia,
February 15, 1970
Sculpture for the Campus, Fresno State College, Fresno, CA, 1969
"L'Art Figurativa Americana dol 1945 ad Aggi," La Praelpina, February 11, 1970
"Hanno Fissato in Calco le Cronache dell, Orrido, Il Giorno, February 3, 1970
"L'Art Figurativa Americana der 1945 ad Aggi," Il Giornale di Pavia, January 31, 1970
"Neoerotismo Americane," Corriere della Serra, January 29, 1970
"Avanguardisti di Giorgio Mascherpa," Avvenire, January 27, 1970
"Zweierlei Lustgewinn," Wechenpresse, December 10, 1969
"Altes und Neves, Bunt Gemischt," Neve Figuration USA im Museum des 20 Jahrdundants, December 6, 1969
"Kunst - Eder Was?," Velksstimme, December 5, 1969
"Terugkeer Van Het Beeld in de Amerikannse Kunst," De Nieueve Gids,
October 25-26, 1969
"La Nouvelle Figuration Americaine," Tribune de Geneve, August 6, 1969
"Selections from the Collection of the University of Illinois Arts Club,"
Chicago Art Institute, 1969
John Weller, 14th Biennial Exhibit of Contemporary American Painting and Sculpture,
University of Illinois, Champaign, IL, 1968
Bill Hannan, "Parts for Art's Sake," August, 1968
Vaughn Meisling, "Noted California Artists Show Here," Times-Standard,
March 10, 1968
Sun Telegram, "Battenberg Sculpture Exhibit at Orange Show until Nov. 26,"
November 12, 1967
Allen S. Weller, Contemporary American Painting and Sculpture 1967,
University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1967
Sun Telegram, "BPW to Co-Sponsor Sculpture Exhibit," October 29, 1967
Inya Register, "Reception to Honor John Battenberg to Be Held Friday at High
School," Bishop, CA, October 12, 1967
Sunday Times-Herald, "Aviators are Saluted," November 28, 1965
Alfred Frankenstein, "Romance and Irony in 'The Heroes' Series," San Francisco Chronicle, November 25, 1965
Arthur Bloomfield, 'Dawn Patrol Flies Again," 1965
William Wilson, "Ramos Art Mirrors Transience"

Biography from Triton Museum of Art:
Born in Wisconsin in 1931, John Battenberg has resided professionally as an artist in both Italy and England for five years. He was a professor of sculpture at San Jose University and holds the title of professor emeritus. He left his professorship to pursue his sculpture full-time.

1949 University of Wisconsin
1954 Bachelor of Science, Minnesota State University
1955-57 Ruskin School, Oxford University, England
1960 Master of Fine Arts, Michigan State University, E. Lansing MI
1963-64 Master of Fine Arts, California College for Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA.

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