Artist John Card Celebrates Long History With Valley Art Gallery

Rebecca Rose

Artist John Card Celebrates Long History With Valley Art Gallery

John Card has drawn since his earliest days growing up in Montana, but it wasn’t until his retirement on the Central Coast that his “spare-time diversion” became a more serious artistic endeavor.

Since then, Card has expanded his range of media and has become a familiar face in the local art scene. For more than a decade, Card has been involved with the Valley Art Gallery in Orcutt, a nonprofit co-op gallery run by artists. The Sun recently connected with Card to speak about his work, inspiration, and being involved with the gallery.

Sun: How long have you been with the Valley Art Gallery?

John Card: I started at the art gallery when it was at the Veterans’ Memorial [Hall]. In 2006, we moved over to Town Center West at the mall. … We were there for awhile and then we moved out to Orcutt. I was on the board of directors from 2006 to 2017, I believe.

Sun: What are some of the things they do that you support or feel are important?

Card: We help with a scholarship fund for [Allan] Hancock [College] art students, … we provide a $1,000 scholarship every year. We’ve held shows all over town at different venues. We also have a partnership with the Santa Maria Library where we have children’s art classes.


Sun: How did you get started as an artist?

Card: I retired in 1997 and didn’t have any real hobbies, so I decided to take an art class at Allan Hancock College. I took a drawing class and then my daughter had taken a watercolor class and didn’t like it so she sent me all her equipment that she bought. So I signed up for a watercolor class. I’ve taken a lot of classes at Hancock; it’s amazing, how well they treat the senior citizens. That’s how I got started. I just continued to take classes. I’m still taking classes over there.

Sun: What are some of your favorite subjects to paint?

Card: I go out to my little painting room during the day and I don’t even know what I’m going to do. Something strikes me–it might be a watercolor or it might be an acrylic. But the subject can be almost anything. I don’t really stick to one subject matter. I liked to paint just about anything. I’ve never stuck to one subject or even one medium. I do watercolor, silk painting, acrylic, pencil drawings, pen and ink. I like it all but I’ve never tried oil.

Sun: How would you describe your style and the way that you paint? What are some of the things that have helped or inspired you along the way?

Card: I really don’t know how to describe it. It can be almost anything. Fortunately, I was in a class with [former Ann Foxworthy Gallery director and teacher] Marti Fast, who retired last year, and her class and the students in it were very imaginative and very cooperative. Everyone had lots of different ideas. She would give us a topic and you’d have 30 different responses to that topic that next week in class. A lot of my inspiration just came from this vague topic thrown out and watching what everybody did with that in mind.

Sun: Some of your paintings feature remote rural areas, farms, grain elevators, and trains. What were those based on or where did you get the idea for them?

Card: It had to be more than 10 years ago; I was traveling from my hometown in Whitefish, Montana, to my birth town of Havre, along Highway 2. I passed a grain elevator and took a photo of it. I did several paintings of that grain elevator. I put them in with boxcars that came from the Great Northern Railroad. I’ve used that grain elevator in quite a few paintings.

Sun: What’s a highlight of being part of the art community in greater Santa Maria?

Card: The art crowd in Santa Maria is very sharing in their techniques and ideas. It seems like there is a lot of camaraderies and that is exciting in itself. If somebody comes up with something new, they are always more than willing to try it out.

Arts and Lifestyle Writer Rebecca Rose has another quippy close for arts secondaries. Contact her at

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