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“Opie’s tone is always bright, even when he portrays nighttime subjects. It is also relaxed and conversational with the rhythm and pace of a born raconteur. He’s adept at recognizing what makes something timeless yet natural in gesture. His pictures are exquisitely buoyant and silky in terms of touch. Opie’s ability to keep on producing challenging new canvases within an accessible idiom takes on the aura of some kind of genius.”
-Victoria Donohoe, Philadelphia Inquirer
“Opie’s style-freely painted landscape, friendly, pleasant human beings-is as natively American a way of looking at things as photoprecisionism. The sophisticated innocence this artist brings to the contemporary scene is a delight, and its own slightly goofy, rakish manner, exemplary. Opie’s paintings are all picnics, in the finest, fete galante sense of the word.”
-Gerrit Henry, Art News
John Opie, best known for his paintings of jazz musicians, became interested in jazz while a student at Kent State University in the 1950s. After several years of teaching at private art school, Pasadena City College and Louisiana State University, Opie began working as a full-time artist. Initially an abstract painter, Opie’s artistic forms over time gained more recognizable elements while retaining their ambiguous spatial qualities. Today, Opie’s works depict famous jazz artists, such as Dizzie Gillespie and Louis Armstrong. While figures now appear in most of his works, Opie does not consider himself a figure painter.
Opie has had solo exhibitions of his work at the Sylvia Schmidt Gallery, New Orleans; The Allentown Art Museum; The More Gallery, Philadelphia; The Baum School of Art; Swarthmore College Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; Galerie Simonne Stern, New Orleans; New Orleans Museum of Art, and at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. He has also been in many group exhibitions, among them, Smith College Invitational Drawing exhibition; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Kornblee Gallery, New York City and the Corcoran Museum, in Washington, D.C.
Opie lives with his wife, Susan, an accomplished sculptor, at their home in Pleasant Valley, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Opie’s daughter, Amelia, is also an accomplished painter.
John Opie received his B.F.A. and M.A. in painting from Kent State University.
John Opie. Image courtesy of the artist. James A. Michener Art Museum archives.
Allentown Art Museum
Akron Art Museum
ARA Services, Inc.
City National Bank, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Community College of Philadelphia
Delaware County Community College
Canton Art Institute
East Tennessee State University
Edinboro State University, Pennsylvania
Equitable Life Assurance Company, New York
Finnegan, Henderson, LLP, Washington, D.C.
Follette House, Sandusky, Ohio
Insurance Company of North America
The Keating Group, Philadephia, Pennsylvania
Kent State University
Lytton Financial Corporation, Louisiana
1st Place and Best in Show, William Penn
Memorial Annual Exhibition, William Penn
Museum, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1989, 1988
National Endowment for the Arts, 1989, 1967
American Greetings Corporation Scholarship Grants, 1957, 1956
B.F.A., Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, 1958
M.A., Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, 1959
Teaching and Professional Appointments
Associate Professor and Head of Painting, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1965-1970
Pasadena City College, Pasadena, California, 1963-1965
Akron Art Institute School of Design, Akron, Ohio, 1959-1963
Graduate and Undergraduate Teaching Assistant, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, 1957-1959
Connections to Bucks County
John Opie, and his wife, sculptor Susan Opie, lives in Pleasant Valley, near Quakertown, in Bucks County.
Major Solo Exhibitions
Sylvia Schmidt Gallery, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1991, 1994, 2000
Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania, 1984, 1997
More Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1982, 1987, 1989, 1993, 1996
Baum School of Art, David E. Rodale Gallery, Allentown, Pennsylvania, 1994
Swarthmore College, List Gallery, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, 1994
State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton, Pennsylvania, 1993
Galerie Simonne Stern, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1980, 1983
Bowery Gallery, New York, New York, 1973, 1976, 1979
Cedar Crest College, Allentown, Pennsylvania, 1972
Edinboro State University, Edinboro, Pennsylvania, 1967, 1971
New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1968
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1966
Hiram College, Hiram, Ohio, 1966
Wisconsin State University, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, 1965
Major Group Exhibitions
Masur Museum of Art, Monroe, Louisiana, 2001
Smith College Invitational Drawing Exhibition, Northampton, Massachusetts 1996
New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1995
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1990
William Penn Memorial Annual Exhibition, William Penn Museum, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1988, 1989
Noyes Museum, Oceanville, New Jersey, 1987
Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, 1984
Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania, 1984
The More Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1983
One Penn Plaza, New York, New York, 1983
Kornblee Gallery, New York, New York, 1983
National Academy of Design 157th Exhibition, New York, New York, 1981
Moravian College 12th Annual Invitational Exhibition, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1981
Allan Frumkin Gallery, New York, New York, 1980
Summit Art Center, Summit, New Jersey, 1979
Bronx Museum, New York, New York, 1978
40th Annual Mid-Year Show, Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio, 1976
Corcoran Museum, Washington, D.C., 1975