Dec. 2013




 Bio of Cultural Realist, Painter/Sculptor


John Sherrill Houser,


Early years


John Sherrill Houser was born in South Dakota where his father, Ivan Houser, was assistant sculptor to Gutzon Borglum during the early years of carving Mt. Rushmore. His parents encouraged his natural art aptitude from childhood and John received his first training as a child from his father. While still in his formative years he moved with his family to Portland, Oregon where his father, Ivan, continued his career and eventually became a professor of art at Lewis and Clark College.




Following graduation from Lewis and Clark College (Portland, OR) with a double major in science and art John was awarded an alumni fellowship for graduate art studies at UCLA. He also attended classes at Art Center College of Design, (Los Angeles, CA).


Houser later received the Elizabeth T. Greenshields Award for independent European studies. In Italy he was associated with the Florentine painter, Pietro Annigoni. He also assisted the American sculptor, Dr. Avard Fairbanks, in Pietra Santa, Italy in the creation of a Pony Express monument now installed in Reno, Nevada. In the early 1970s John worked in the studio of the Boston Classicist painter, R.H. Ives Gammel where he also did anatomical dissection at Harvard Medical School. The artist was also influenced by the art of his friend, Ben Kamihira and the Mexican Monumental sculptor, Julan Martinez.


Art Travels


As a cultural realist, John is dedicated to interpreting (not documenting) the human condition in all it’s contemporary variation through direct experience. He has traveled extensively through Europe – with extended periods in Denmark, Italy (including Sicily), Spain, as well as  Morocco, Mexico, Ecuador and the United States.


He has lived and worked among such diverse groups as the mountain people of Appalachia, the Gullah Blacks of South Carolina, Italian street fakirs (faquiri) in Rome, hippies of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury (1960s), Mexican and Black migrant laborers, American gypsies (Portland Oregon) and Native American tribes in the U.S.: Taos Pueblo, NM, Ysletta del Sur Pueblo, TX,  Eastern Cherokee, NC, Tonto Apaches Yaqui and Tohono O'odham (Papago), AZ.


In Mexico the artist has painted and sculpted the Seri Indians on the Sonoran Gulf Coast, the Tarahumara Indians of the Copper Canyon (Chihuahua MX) and the Lacandón Indians of Lacanjá in the jungle of Chiapas (southern Mexico). In Ecuador John also painted the Shuar Indians (Jivaro) of the Upper Amazon.


In 1996 John visited Morocco for two weeks as a guest of the Moroccan Embassy where he modeled a Black Moroccan as a reference for a monument representing Estebanico the Black (and Cabeza de Vaca) in a grouping for the XII Travelers Memorial of the Southwest, El Paso, TX: The Cabeza de Vaca Expedition Across What is Now the Southern Border of the US in1525.


In 2011 John spent nine months living and painting in Sicily, Italy.  In 2013 John’s drawings were exhibited in Rome, Italy followed by the unveiling of his bust of British biologist Francis Crick at Churchill College in Cambridge.




Publications and Videos


His work has been featured in many publications including The Connoisseur; New York Times; USA Today; London Sunday Telegraph and The Independent (GB).; American Artist; Pallette Talk, Artist's Magazine; Southwest Art; Art Talk, National Sculpture Review, National Sculpture Society Bulletin, (interview), Der Spiegel (German news weekly); Blanco y Negro (Spanish news weekly); CNN Television News (Spanish/English); Reuters, The Houston Chronicle; ABC, (Spain); Siémpre, Mexican news weekly (John was the first American artist to be featured in Siémpre  with images of his work), Equine Images Magazine, The Conquistador Magazine and others




The American Experience, PBS Series


The artist was interviewed  in Mt. Rushmore, The American Experience PBS Series,


The Last Conquistador, 60 min. PBS documentary (POVTV)


Houser is the featured sculptor of an hour-long PBS documentary, The Last Conquistador, This film documents the artist’s decade long struggle to create The world’s largest equestrian Bronze for El Paso, Texas, depicting Don Juan de Oñate – XII Travelers icon for the period of Spanish settlement in the Southwest, 1598 -- 1680 (one of twelve such icons of history spotlighted by the XII Travelers Memorial of the Southwest in a sculpture walk across four centuries of history at The Pass of the North. The Last Conquistador was premiered nationally on POVTV in 2008.


Awards and Exhibitions


Houser has received prestigious national awards and participated in numerous exhibitions including: Outstanding alumni Award (Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR). The National Academy of Western Art; The National Sculpture Society, the Forest Hills Sculpture Exhibition Boston, MA; TheWestern Heritage Show (Houston, TX); Salamagundi Club’s Open Photography/sculpture Exhibition (NY, NY) (Martin Lumen Winter Award,); American Artists Professional League, (NY, NY) (Council of American Artists’ Societies Award);the Santa Fe Museum of Fine Art, (Santa Fe, NM) “Sculpture of New Mexico Exhibition”; Forest Hills "Art of the Spirit" Sculpture Exhibition, Boston MA (The colossal bronze bust, "The Franciscan Spirit," was purchased for the permanent outdoor collection); Buffalo, New York Contemporary Sculpture Exhibit, 2001-2002” "The Franciscan Spirit" (Buffalo, NY), the Mountain Oyster Contemporary Western Art Exhibition, (Tucson, AZ) and The Loveland Sculpture Invitational. John’s paintings were exhibited with the work of British transplant surgeon/artist Sir Roy Calne in a year-long national touring exhibition, "The Gift of Life," 1992, sponsored by Sandoz Pharmaceuticals. Novartis) Pharmaceuticals Corporation.


2008 the Adelantado award by the New Mexico Hispanic Preservation Culture League for his contributions in highlighting the early Hispanic history of the Southwest.


2009 The Loveland Sculpture Invitational.


2009 and 2110 National Sculpture Society exhibitions


2010, Portrait Society of America Members Only Exhibition, Honorable mention


2012 Workshop with John Sherrill Houser “Anatomy and Structure of the Figure”.  Brookgreen Gardens, SC: May 7-11, 2012




2012 Exhibition: The Wild West in American Art, May 5-July 22, Brook Green Gardens Murel’s Inlet, SC




2012 Exhibition: John Sherrill Houser, American Artist on the Road. 50 years of drawings: La Galleria Augustiniana,


Piazza del Popolo, Rome, Italy. May 16 – May 26. 2012




2012 Unveiling of Francis Crick, First Annual Francis Crick Memorial Consciousness Conference , Neurovigil, Churchill College, Cambridge England July 2, 2012


Public and Private Collections


John’s work is found in many public collections including The U.S. Library of Congress (Wash. D.C.), The Southwest Museum (Los Angeles, CA), Portland Museum of Fine Art (Portland OR), Lewis and Clark College (Portland, OR), The Arizona State Museum (Tucson, AZ), The Greenshields Museum (Montreal, Canada), the Museum of the University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), the city of Veracruz, MX, Forest Hills sculpture garden (Boston MA), U.T.E.P. (El Paso, TX), the El Paso International Airport and the city of El Paso, Texas, and numerous private collections. Mill Hill School, Francis Crick’s Alma Mater, North London, UK




Non-currently scheduled.




Houser proficiency and sensitivity in portraiture has been widely recognized (See letter from America’s Dean of Sculpture: Walker Hancock.   John has modeled busts of many notable personalities including a colossal bust of Lic. Gutierrez Barrios, Presidente de la Gobernación, (Vice-President) of the Republic of Mexico; Robert E. and Evelyn McKee, ( philanthropists and civic leaders of El Paso), Texas; Sir Francis Crick, Nobel Laureate and co-discoverer (with James Watson) of the DNA structure; Maestro Abraham Chávez (Conductor, El Paso Symphony); José Cisneros (renowned artist/historical illustrator); Tom Lea (internationally known Texas artist and author; Lic. Jaime Bermudez, founder of the maquila movement, Mexico; Dr. Ricardo Sánchez, Ph.D., Chicano Poet and Bishop Alfonso Gallegos (First Hispanic Bishop of Northern California) among others.


The XII Travelers Memorial of the Southwest


Houser is the originator and creator of “The XII Travelers Memorial of the Southwest Inc”, a large-scale sculpture walk through four centuries of history at The Pass of the North (El Paso, Texas). The XII Travelers depicts this history in a series of twelve iconic  monumental sculptures representing twelve historical periods from1535 to 1910.


The first three monuments, Fray Garcia de San Francisco (The Building of the Missions 1659 – 1680), Don Juan de Onate (The Spanish Settlement of the Southwest) and Susan Magoffin (Growing Commerce and the Santa Fe Trail) are installed in El Paso Texas.  The fourth monument, Benito Juarez  (Mexico’s President in Exile), 1864 is now in progress.


Bronze casts of the Juarez maquette  and other XII Travelers related art are currently available for sale as separate works of art. Enquiries can be made through the artist (


Fundraising and promotion for project development is conducted by The XII Travelers Executive Board, a non-profit volunteer organization.




Current and Other Projects:


From Dec, 2013 through May, 2014 John will be working for an exhibition of paintings depicting the Seri Indians of Coastal Sonora, Mexico.


A maquette for The Pochteca, a colossal monument representing a pre-Columbian Aztec Trader to be installed along the US/Mexico border is in progress.


Professional affiliations:


John is a fellow of The National Sculpture Society and member of The National Portrait Society.