b. 1893 d. 1994
John August Dominique was born in Viserum, Sweden on October 1, 1893, of a family line with a French ancestor, hence the French name. At age 7, his family immigrated to the United States, settling in a farming area near Portland, Oregon. A plant nursery man in Sweden, John's father worked as a florist in Portland and later became a landscape architect.
Though John was to use the skills learned from his father in caring for plants and the land, his early inclination was toward art. An interest in drawing as a youngster led him to study cartooning and he began supplying cartoons to local newspapers. In 1913, with a growing interest, John enrolled in the School of the Portland Art Association, where, according to the art training of the day, he drew from casts of classical sculptures.
John decided to make art his life's work and in December of 1914, left Oregon for San Francisco. Living in Berkeley where his sister was attending school, he took classes at the California Art School of Arts and Crafts, where he studied with early California painter Perham Wilhelm Nahl and went to lectures by artist/art historian Eugen Neuhaus.
Following his stay in Berkeley, Dominique crossed the Bay and enrolled at the California School of Design of the San Francisco Institute of Art (since 1961 called the San Francisco Art Institute), where he would study for two years.
The war years intervened, and Dominique enlisted in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, serving in Camp Meade, Maryland. During his leaves, the young artist was able to visit the museums and galleries in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. He was honorably discharged in 1920, and traveled to Santa Barbara, California, where his father was working as a nursery owner and landscape designer.
Thus began an era during which Dominique would live a landscape artist's dream. His father had helped lay out the garden for a large Montecito estate, which was in need of a caretaker. Through his father's connection, Dominique secured the job of looking after the vacant estate. He had a small house and studio on the premises, which included beautiful views of the Santa Inez Mountains, a lily pond, trees and flowers. He would live on the Ward estate for fourteen years, and its scenery is reflected in many of his early paintings.
During this time, Dominique took courses at Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara School of the Arts. These were seminal institutions in California painting, attracting plein air artists who loved the fine weather and unspoiled scenery of the region.
Two artists prominent during this era were Colin Campbell Cooper and Carl Oscar Borg, both of whom lived and worked in Santa Barbara. Dominique studied with them and said he learned a lot from Cooper and went out sketching with Borg. During this time also, he received informal instruction from Thomas Moran, who had settled in Santa Barbara in 1922. He recalls attending Moran's funeral in 1926.
This was a fertile period in Dominique's artistic life. With the time to paint and study, his innate talent, coupled with training, came to prominence. His work began to be exhibited widely in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, in galleries, art association shows, libraries and state fairs.
Expanding his repertoire in 1925, Dominique began to do the abstract work that had so intrigued him at the Panama-Pacific Exposition. He said he was also influenced by the work of Wassily Kandinsky, whose book, The Spiritual in Art, and whose work, he much admired. When asked about whether or not the abstracts and landscapes influenced one another, he said, "I've often wondered about that. I've done so many landscapes, and I wonder if I don't add that to my abstracts."
Until the abstracts are better known, Dominique will be known for his powerful landscapes of California and Oregon, which embody 80 years of insight, experience and talent in art. His historical place in art is a plein air painter who, while partaking of the best of California's 20th century, still forged his own individualistic vision.
Condition Report: Very good and has been stored in a temperature controlled space. Video to be uploaded soon. Please inquire if you'd like to see it prior to upload.