Curriculum Vitae
JOHN M. ORR, born March, 1973

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Summer 1996 Completed BFA at the University of Texas at Austin
Austin, Texas

Major: Studio Art with primary focus on abstract acrylic, oil and spray- painting, intaglio, color viscosity printing, collage, photographic and applied encaustic intaglio printmaking with a slighter focus on performance art, video art and site-specific installation art.

Studied oil and acrylic painting methods with Richard Jordan and Lillian Garcia-Roig. Studied intaglio and color viscosity printing techniques with Lee Chesney. Studied performance art with Linda Montano and video art with Bill Lundberg. Studied sculpture with Thana Lauhakaikul and Margo Sawyer. Studied Pre-Columbian Southwest Art History with Dr. Terence Grieder and Sumerian Art History with Dr. Denise Schmandt-Besserat.

Fall 2007 Completed Master of Arts in Painting at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas

Major: Painting with primary focus on acrylic abstracts and landscapes.
Minor: English with primary focus on novel writing.

Studied Meso-American and Latin American Art History with Bob Hext and painting and contemporary art with Carol Fairlie.

Studied the structure and execution of the novel, focusing on writing acceptable work for potential publication, with Sul Ross State University writer-in-residence David Marion Wilkinson. Studied the structure and execution of the memoir with Dr. Barney Nelson and poetry with Dr. Nelson Sager.

Spring 2009 Completed Master of Arts in English at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas

Major: English with focus on novel and short story writing, Southern Gothic and American Western literature.
Minor: Painting.

Studied aspects of the short story writing and novel writing processes, focusing on character development, with Dr. Laura Butler, specialist in the Southern Gothic genre and in the writing of William Faulkner. Studied Post-Colonial literature with Dr. Sharon Hileman, Romantic poetry with Dr. Nelson Sager, American folklore with Dr. Ira Blanton and the literature of dissent with Dr. Beverly Six. Examined the Cajun landscape of Louisiana rice, sugar cane and bayou country extending from Houma to Plaquemine and Abbeville to Ville Platte including the Atchafalaya River Basin in August 2008 for research on a character in novel.

Fall 2009 to present Attending MFA program in Art at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Work Experience

Summer 1994
Membership Department at the Corcoran Gallery
Tasks included handling payments, answering member questions and data entry.
Washington, D. C.


1992 Day of the Dead drawing exhibited at Mexic-Arté Museum
Austin, Texas

1995 Intaglio print Robot Nebula exhibited at the University of Texas Student Art Show
Huntington Gallery
Austin, Texas

2005 Five paintings exhibited at Sul Ross State University Student Art Show November 2005
Alpine, Texas

2006 Three paintings exhibited at Sul Ross State University Student Art Show November 2006
Alpine, Texas

2007 Broken Sky painting received honorable mention at Sul Ross State University Student Show April 2007
Alpine, Texas

2007 Sixteen paintings displayed at Purgatoire Master’s in Art Exhibit from November 12 through November 30, 2007
Francois Fine Arts Building
Sul Ross State University
Alpine, Texas

2007 Buried Ghost exhibited at Sul Ross State University Student Art Show November 16 and 17, 2007
Alpine, Texas

2009 Okmulgee Orpheum After Storm exhibited at Pure Conversation
October 10th through November 7th, 2009
Sugar Gallery
Bentonville, Arkansas

Current Projects

1995-2010 Working on a book to combine my poetry, writing, painting and photography focusing on the North American landscape as experienced in my extensive travels in Western America, Mexico and Canada.

2000-2010 Working on first fiction novel, begun as a short story, now a novel-length thriller involving elements of the modern western, Southern Gothic and magical realism genres as informed by McCarthy, Abbey, Ford, Faulkner, Dickey, Capote, West, Momaday, Anaya and Marquez, tentatively entitled Lone Cloud.

2006-2010 Working on three photography projects examining the American landscapes of the Southwest and the plains, focusing on Art Deco and Art Moderne theatres and service stations as well as on the small towns and back roads found in those regions and the continuing effects of accelerating change.

Artist Statement- November 2007 Purgatoire Show

The paintings on exhibit all relate to the plains stretching from Texas to North Dakota. Broken Sky relates to my experiences when lost in the South Dakota Badlands in May, 1998. I walked across the Buffalo Gap National Grassland, the Pine Ridge Reservation and reached the Cheyenne River the next day. I gained a deeper appreciation for the plains during my time spent lost on them. Although they are fractured by cities, ranches and farms, there are places where one may still sense the vast land once divided only by mountain and river.

The series began following a trip in March to Lubbock from Alpine. On returning I watched the sun set in the area around Seminole, Texas. I was struck by the colors of the sky, the grass and the soil. The next day I started a painting. The color choices I made related to the land seen the day before. I finished the painting and noted the twelve colors I had utilized because I liked the way they worked together. I titled the painting Seminole after the town as well as the tribe, members of which were in Texas as scouts. I decided to continue to work with the same set of twelve colors.

As the first had been a reflection of the southern end of the Panhandle Plains landscape, the others would be related to other landscapes from Montana to North Dakota and into Central Texas. It would also relate to the tribes formerly inhabiting the prairie. In some cases I would have had a long standing knowledge of a landscape, in most only a fleeting one. The Tonkawa once lived in the hill country of Central Texas and having grown up in Austin I had a better picture in my mind of that land than any other.

Returning to Alpine in April I traveled through Eastland and painted Wichita, the tribe having lived in Northeast Texas. I would think of memories I had of South Dakota’s grassy rolling hills, North Dakota’s ghostly buttes, Montana’s broken badlands, Colorado’s Arkansas River plain, Oklahoma’s red dirt, Kansas’ bluestem prairie grass, Wyoming’s raw plains, New Mexico’s western extent of Llano Estacado and Nebraska’s sand hills as in Ponca.

I researched the areas inhabited by the tribes, before they were forced out by larger tribes such as the Lakota who had forced the Shoshone west into the Rockies or by European settlers. Seminole, Comanche, Apache, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Wichita, Arikara, Ponca, Shoshone, Tonkawa, Pawnee and Arapaho were the names selected and were so chosen based on an attempt to represent the widest extent of the American Great Plains as possible, from Texas to the Dakotas.

I had no compositional requirements other than each painting would be abstract and not directly depict the plains. They are expressions of vanished and vanishing lands. The White Arcades by Harold Budd was influential in my travels on the plains and in my paintings after May 2007, the final five of the series. Richard Diebenkorn is my primary influence. Kline, de Kooning, Rothko, Van Gogh and Native American pictographs and other arts are also significant influences.

Following the completion of the twelve painting series I added other colors but continued to work in a way that reflected the plains. Apishapa is named for the river in Southern Colorado. It is a word that means “stinking water” as the river is shallow and often stagnant. Las Animas is named for the town in Southeast Colorado. It also means “souls” in Spanish.

Purgatoire is named for the Purgatoire River in Southeast Colorado, on the plains. In May I was impressed by the beauty of the shallow river at a spot west of the Comanche National Grassland. I parked and walked to the bridge and stood among drifting cottonwood seeds watching the translucent brown water ripple in the sun. The river was named by Spanish explorers and later changed by the French. A legend recalls a murder among conquistadors and armor found centuries later on the river’s banks. The conquistadors were killed by Indians along the river, once called El Rio de Las Ánimas Perdidas en Purgatorio. This translates to River of Lost Souls in Purgatory. Thanks to my parents, Carol Fairlie, Jim Bob Salazar and David Marion Wilkinson for their support and encouragement.

John M. Orr


Artist Statement- Fall 2009

In my painting I seek to suggest remembered landscapes as seen through the filter of my memory. Most of my recent paintings from August and September relate to the highways of Texas or Oklahoma and the landscapes enveloping them. Driving over the summer, late at night, through storms, in the afternoon, eight hundred miles on some days, and until early in the morning on others down interstates or two-lane highways I reflected on the inherent danger involved. I attempt to convey temporal shifts seen across disparate settings and to reflect the movement of lightning, clouds, automobiles, moon, sun, rivers and the vision fields of drivers passing through. Daylight, twilight, dusk or night, ephemeral terror and ebullience, become depicted as one moment.

The compositions evoke flowing through the small towns of Atoka, Kiowa, Okmulgee, Idabel, Broken Bow, and Sallisaw and the transient phantom energies of the distant past, which still resonate behind the standard limits of perception. Caffeine, neon, gasoline, bayous, plains, hell, heaven, cloudbursts and clearing skies exist as simultaneous occurrences, revealing the co-existence of vanished time and painted present.

Mark Rothko and Richard Diebenkorn are my primary influences. Nemesio Antúñez's painting entitled New York, New York 10008 influenced my painting Aialik as well as the mood of Aialik Bay in Alaska seen in 2008. Fernando de Szyszlo's Inkarri and Enrique Tábara's Región de los Shiris also inform my most recent painting.


John M. Orr