Green Doors Blog > Artist Spotlight: The Work of John Curran

Artist Spotlight: The Work of John Curran

Here at Green Doors, we are proud to count numerous talented artists among our residents.  In our new blog series, Artist Spotlight, we will share with you the vibrant work of these artists who we are so lucky to know.

Treaty Oaks resident John Curran is an entirely self-taught painter. Though he dabbles in the abstract, as seen in this beautiful piece above, his works are mainly landscapes, done in vivid acrylics and featuring busy harbors, sandy beaches, lone surfers and other renderings of human interaction with the sea. When asked about this recurring theme, John explains that the image of water is comforting to him. “It’s a funny thing: I have a phobia concerning heights. But I’m not afraid of the height itself; I’m scared of this urge I have to jump. I never get that urge over water, no matter how high the bridge.”

Born in 1953 in “Savannah, Georgia by way of Hilton Head,” Curran spent most of his young life in Florida before he left to travel in Mexico and South America.  He was first inspired to pick up a paintbrush while in Hawaii back in 1980.  “I was just sitting around with friends near the water, when I saw a boat on the horizon,” he remembers.  “I just thought, man, I could paint that. So I did.”

Since then, John has been making work, on and off, for what is now more than half his life.  “It has come in spurts, you know,” he says. “Living out, I didn’t have the access to materials, or a place to store the paintings.” In 2003, he discovered Art from the Streets, an art program run by the Austin-based Front Steps that culminates in an annual art show open to the public. This past year, John sold 60 paintings; in years previous, he’s sold even more than that. (Incidentally, John’s something of the public face for the program: He, along with four other artists, was prominently featured in Layton Bleylock’s film Art from the Streets: The

This painting above is John’s all-time favorite, and one he will never sell. “It reminds me that I was once a surfer, and a pretty good one, too,” he says, holding the captured memory gingerly between his thumb and forefinger. “I think it’s just a tragedy when people can’t swim or are afraid of the water. Surfing and swimming is the closest feeling to flying, you know?”  After reminiscing about a life spent surfing and beach-bumming around, John pulls a well-thumbed guidebook called The Hidden Coast of California from his bookshelf, which also prominently displays the recent Keith Richards memoir Life, and admits that, sometimes, it’s tough being landlocked and he misses the feeling of freedom that living on the coast gives.

The painting above is of Belize City, where John traveled in the Eighties. “I was cutting through Belize on my way to Guatemala,” he recalls. “Man, it was the most vibrant place I’d ever seen, all ramshackle and crazy. That was back in 1985, and I’m sure it’s different now, but I loved it.” He adds, laughing, “I never did make it to Guatemala.”

Green Doors is always looking for financial or in-kind donations for art supplies, books, cameras, and other materials that will enhance our residents’ lives.  If you are interested in learning more about how you can become involved in Green Doors’ programs, please contact our development associate Diana Welch at 512-469-9130 or

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Diana Welch

Diana Welch joined Green Doors in November 2011. As development associate, her goal is to help spread the word of this organization's mission while expanding community awareness of the issues surrounding homelessness. Through her careers as an author, journalist, and communication consultant, Diana's professional passion has always been telling stories, be them her own or someone else's. In 2009, she and her siblings co-authored a memoir called The Kids are All Right, which recounts from four first-person perspectives the experience of being orphaned and separated as children, only to be reunited as teenagers. The memoir won the 2009 Alex award from the American Library Association and was featured on Good Morning America, People Magazine, and elsewhere. Preceding publication of her book, she worked at the Austin Chronicle as community editor as well as a reporter specializing in issues such as community activism and subcultural movements.


  1. Posted March 11, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    It is wonderful to see this vibrant, inspired art!
    As an artist and designer with a focus on art as public practice, I am 100% in agreement about the importance of art as a creative force for positive social change. Congratulations!

  2. Posted March 12, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Thanks so much, Luann!

    If you live here in Austin, be sure to check out John Curran’s work at the new fabric store Fabricker on Airport Blvd through May. The store is showcasing his paintings, along with other artists who participate in Arts From the Streets.

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