The following information has been provided by George Palovich, curator, West Valley Art Museum.
The basic facts about John Dawson are that he was born in Joliet, Illinois in 1946; he received his BFA in 1969 from the University of New Mexico and his MFA from Arizona State University in 1974. At age 20 he spent a summer at the University of Hawaii. His parents were in the insurance business and encouraged him to seek work as an art teacher. Thinking he would teach on the college level, he obtained the necessary degrees only to quickly abandon any thought of teaching since he decided the only thing he wanted to do was paint.
Paintings, drawings, works on paper and sculpture have been the occupation of Dawson for well over 30 years. His work can be found in museum and private collections across the country and he has had more than 60 one-man shows both in private galleries and public museums. He has also done a number of works in association with the Arizona Opera and Ballet Arizona. Publications reviewing his work include Art News, Art Week, Southwest Art and Art Voices South. His work has been selected for such publications as World Artists 1980-90. The book Dawson: Thirty Years was published in 2004 and contains an excellent overview of the artist’s career.
In writing the book’s forward, Arizona State University Director Emeritus, Rudy Turk writes: “In studying the nature of man, Dawson has turned to the artists of the romantic tradition, most notably Titian, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Gainsborough, Gericault, Delacroix, Manet, Gauguin, Picasso, Baskin and LeBrun. Moreover, he updates many of their self portraits for a contemporary extension of their art and emotion. Likewise, he looks to the uncanny wisdom and artistic found in the art of children, the insane and the so-called “primitives”. His mentors, thus, are multiple. His images, derived in part from these sources, are conflicted, provocative, irreverent and, always, tragic-comedic.”