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John Nava - Artists - Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara's Finest Art Gallery

Check Out, 2005
63 x 63 inches | oil on canvas over board

John Nava studied art at UC Santa Barbara under Howard Warshaw and did his graduate work in Florence, Italy. His work is found in numerous private, corporate and public collections throughout the United States, Europe and Japan including the National Museum of American Art in Washington D.C., the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) of Hawaii, the Triton Museum in San Jose, California and the Ventura County Museum of History and Art, Ventura, California. 

His work is represented in such important publications as Post-Modernism: The New Classicism in Art and Architecture (Rizzoli, New York) by Charles Jencks who coined the term Post-Modernism and American Realism (Abrams, New York) and by Edward Lucie Smith, the first comprehensive history of realist painting in the United States. Nava has done large-scale public works including a 45’ wide mural for the Tokyo Grain Exchange in Tokyo, Japan and a 56’ wide fountain sculpture at 100 Brand Blvd. in Glendale, California. In 1998 he was commissioned by the Seattle Symphony to paint a life-size double portrait of Jack and Rebecca Benaroya for Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle.

In 1999 Nava was commissioned by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to create three major cycles of tapestries for the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The primary cycle of 25 tapestries depict The Communion of Saints and comprise 136 over life-size saints from throughout history and from all parts of the world. The tapestries were specially woven in Belgium combining custom weaving craftsmanship and digital technology. Our Lady of the Angels, the largest Catholic cathedral in the United States, opened in September of 2002. In 2003 Nava’s tapestries for the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels won the National Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture (IFRAA) Design Honor Award for Visual Art.


1:29:52  |  With John Nava lecturing to a thoughtful and well-informed group of Museum docents

2:57 | Narrated by Nathan Vonk  | Released for JOHN NAVA: Painting and Tapestery, 2017


More Information


In John Nava's work, technical sophistication and a solid foundation in art history meet with a tremendous ambition for producing heroic works. In each of the artist's works, the choice to engage in technically difficult projects or to tackle complex ideas impresses at first glance. Where a lesser artist might hide behind his facility with oil paint, Nava chooses instead to make paintings that are also intellectually stimulating. He avoids a pedantic or preachy tone about the conflicts exposed in his paintings, giving his work the depth and complexity of real life.

For Our Lady of Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles, John Nava innovated a new process for creating monumental tapestries. The artist starts by making a moderately-sized painting of the image he will eventually make into a tapestry. When the oil painting is ready, he scans the image into a computer. The artist then works through an exhaustive process whereby the digital image is configured for a special loom in Bruges, Belgium. The limited color palette of the loom and various textural considerations require special attention at this stage. When the specialized digital file for the loom is finished being prepared, Nava uploads the file via the internet to Belgium. A tapestry arrives several weeks later.

The artist holds several patents on the process and has completed numerous tapestry commissions since his work at the cathedral.


1973  M.F.A., Villa Schifanoia Graduate School of Fine Art, Florence, Italy
1969  B.A., College of Creative Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara


2003  National Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture (IFRAA) Design Honor Award for Visual Art (for tapestries in Our Lady of Angels Cathedral)
1993  Los Angeles Dramalogue Award for Stage Design


National Museum of American Art, Washington D.C.
Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Hawaii
Triton Museum, San Jose, CA
Ventura County Museum of History and Art, Venura, CA


2004  Corpus Christi Tapestries, Corpus Christi University Parish, Toledo, OH
2004  St. Ann's Altar Triptych, St. Ann Catholic Church, Bartlett, TN
1999-2002  The Communion of the Saints, Our Lady of Angels, Los Angeles, CA
1998  Jack and Rebecca Benaroya, Benaroya Hall, Seattle, WA
1991  Prosephone, 48' mural for the Tokyo Grain Exchange, Tokyo, Japan
56' wide Fountain Sculpture, Glendale CA


Solo Exhibitions (selected list)

2022  JOHN NAVA:Florimar, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

2017  JOHN NAVA: Painting & Tapestry, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

2009  Facing West, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

2008  The West Coast Ten, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

2008  Neo-Icons, Fresno Art Museum, CA

2006  JOHN NAVA: Neo-Icons, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

2003  John Nava: Selected Works, (catalog) Ventura County Museum of History and Art, Ventura, CA

2001  Communion of Saints, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, CA

2001  Hendrik Pickery Zaal of the Halls of the Belfry tower, Grote Markt, Bruges, Belgium

1999  Van de Griff Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

1997  Wright Gallery, New York, NY

1992  Koplin Gallery, Santa Monica, CA

1991  Modernism, San Francisco, CA

1989  Weingart Gallery, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA

1987  Koplin Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

1986  University Art Gallery, Sonoma State University, Sonoma, CA (catalog)

1986  Western Gallery, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA

1985  Pamela Auchincloss Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

1984  Modernism, San Francisco, CA

1982  Sabbatical Studies, Johnston Art Gallery, University of Redlands, Redlands, CA

1980  University Art Gallery, California State University at Fresno, CA

1979  Art Gallery, Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, CA

1973  Galleria Vives, Mahon, Menorca, Balearic Islands, Spain

Group Exhibitions (selected list)

2005  A Broken Beauty: Figuration, Narrative, and the Transcendent in North American Art, Laguna Museum of Art, Laguna, CA

2005  Scenes of American Labor, Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA

2004  Face to Face: Selected American Portraits, Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA


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