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Spelman  Evans Downer                                                                                    


P.O. Box 919 Joshua Tree, CA 92252

(h) 760 228 1661

(c) 760 401 9018

Turquoise MultiMedia channel on YouTube


Summer address:

P.O. Box 825 Cooper Landing, AK 99572

mile 49.5 Sterling Highway




Conceived in Washington DC, born in Pasadena, California (1954). Has worked as a visual artist since 1977, with studios in New York City, Santa Fe, NM, San Francisco, CA, Anchorage, AK, Hoboken and Jersey City, NJ. Lives in the Mojave Desert in Yucca Valley, CA where he is director of Gallery Turquoise South. Has summer studio & gallery in Alaska at Cooper Landing on the banks of the Kenai River. Is director of Gallery Turquoise North at that location.


1982              M.A.  Painting and Drawing - San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA

1977              B.A.  Multi-discipline major; Environmental Design - Stanford University, Stanford, CA

1973              Lawrenceville School, Lawrenceville, NJ


Grants, Awards and Prizes

1998            New York State Council on the Arts, Arts in Education Grant,

                        "Accessing Cultural/Historical Information", Workshops at The Museum of the City of New York

1997            Dodge Foundation Fellowship Grant for The Vermont Studio Center, April '97

1996            Best of Show "International Juried Show 1996", New Jersey Center for Visual Arts

                        Juror-Thelma Golden, Curator, Whitney Museum

1995           2nd Prize "All-of-a-Piece", Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY

                        Juror-Robert Storr, Curator, MoMA


Selected Solo Exhibitions

2021.            "Spelman Downer: The Art of Ummapping, Prints, Drawings, and Paintings 1981 -2021"

                     The Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum, Reno, NV

2019            "Ecotopia North", curated by William L. Fox, Director of The Center for Art + Environment

                     at the Nevada Museum, Reno, NV

                     Gallery Turquoise North, Cooper Landing, AK

2015             “A History of Southern California Landscape”, Sabbatical Exhibition

                     Copper Mountain College, Joshua Tree, CA

2014             “The Art of Mapping: Twenty-Five Years of Paintings by Spelman Evans Downer”

                      Founders Hall Art Gallery, Soka University, Aliso Viejo, CA

2009-22      Solo shows every summer at Gallery Turquoise North, Cooper Landing, AK

2008           “Rhythm of Life at Black Mesa, Design Proposal Drawings”, Copper Mtn. College, Joshua Tree, CA

2008           “Old and New Work”, Gallery Turquoise North, Cooper Landing, AK

2007           “Underway”, Gallery Turquoise South, Joshua Tree, CA

2007           “Cosmic Rivers”, Gallery Turquoise North, Cooper Landing, AK

2006           “Turquoise Rivers”, Gallery Turquoise North, Cooper Landing AK

2006           Copper Mountain College, “New Photographs”, Joshua Tree, CA

2005           Alaska Abstractions, Gallery Turquoise North, Cooper Landing, AK

2005           Kenai Peninsula College, Soldotna, AK

2005           Well Street Art Company, Fairbanks, AK

2005           Twentynine Palms Art Gallery, “Seki-America”, 29 Palms, CA

2004           Grand Opening, Gallery Turquoise, Cooper Landing, AK

2004           A Roadside Attraction Gallery, “Earth Goddesses Now”, 29 Palms CA

2003           Copper Mountain College, "Considering Copper Mountain", Joshua Tree. CA

2001           Automatic Data Processing, Roseland, NJ

2001           Sam Citron Gallery, Jersey City, NJ

2000           Art Center on First Street, Jersey City, NJ

1999           New Jersey Center for the Visual Arts, Summit, NJ

1999           New York Life, New York, NY

1999           Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ

1998           Lord & Taylor, Fifth Avenue Windows, NY, NY

1998           Museum of the City of New York, "New York From Above: An Aerial View", NY, NY

1997           Museum of the Hudson Highlands, Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY

1997           Charles Chamot Gallery, Jersey City, NJ

1996/95    Dru Arstark Gallery, NY, NY

1996           Arsenal Gallery, NY, NY

1996           The River Gallery, Irvington, NY

1995           The Hudson River Museum of Westchester, Yonkers, NY.

1994           American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, DC

1993           Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage, AK

1992            Pratt Museum, Homer, AK

1991           Artique Ltd. Gallery, Anchorage, AK

1991           Kenai Fine Art Center, Kenai, AK

1991           National Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA

1990          The Charles Street Gallery, Fredericksburg, VA

1989           International Gallery of Art, Anchorage, AK

1989           University of Alaska, Soldotna, AK

1989           Visual Arts Center of Alaska, Anchorage, AK

1989           Fairbanks Arts Association, Fairbanks, AK

1988/87/86     Artique Ltd. Gallery, Anchorage, AK

1987           The Design Center of Los Angeles, CA

1983           Clarion Cafe, San Francisco, CA

1979           Le Mirage, Santa Fe, NM



Selected Group Exhibitions

2020           Made in the Mojave, Yucca Valley Visual and Performing Arts Center, Yucca Valley, CA

2010/12     Faculty Art Exhibition, Copper Mountain College, Joshua Tree, CA

2010           The Earth Through a Lens, City of Palm Springs, Palm Springs, CA

2009-11      Water in the Desert; Show organizer and juror,

                        Traveling show; Copper Mountain College, UCR Graduate Center, Palm Desert,

                        Mt San Jacinto College, and Hi-Desert Nature Museum

2007           Evidence 11, Copper Mountain College

2007           Landscapes, Well Street Art Company, Fairbanks, AK

2005           EarthWorksNow International Biennial, Copper Mtn. College and Hi-Desert Nature Museum

2005/7       Desert Diversity, Twentynine Palms Art Gallery, 29 Palms, CA

2003           EarthWorksNow, Copper Mountain College and Hi-Desert Nature Museum

2002           Survey, Hi-Desert Nature Museum, Yucca Valley, CA

2001           Mission Copper Mountain, Copper Mountain College, Joshua Tree, CA

2002          Texas Fine Art Association, "New American Talent 17"; Austin, TX

2001           Sam Citron Gallery, Jersey City, NJ

2001           Art in Embassies, "Algiers '00", Algiers, Algeria

2001           New Jersey Center for the Visual Arts Faculty Show, Summit, NJ

2000           Boston University Art Gallery, "Mapping Cities", Boston, MA

2000           Printmaking Council of NJ, "Preserving the Garden; Saving NJ Landscape", Somerville, NJ

2000           Central Academy of Art & Design, "USA - China 2000", Beijing, China

2000           Jersey City Biennial, Jersey City, NJ

1999           U.S. Federal Reserve, NY, NY

1999           New Jersey Center for the Visual Arts, “International Juried Show 1999”

                      Juried by Lisa Dennison, Chief Curator, Guggenheim Museum

1998           New Jersey Fine Arts Annual 1998, Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, NJ

1998           Rudolph Poissant Gallery, "Scale", Houston, TX

1997/98     Pratt Manhattan Gallery & Pratt Brooklyn, "Landscapes Seen & Unseen", NY, NY

1997           D.C. Moore Gallery, "Aerial Perspectives: Reality, Imagination, and Abstraction" NY, NY

1997/98    Texas Fine Art Association "New American Talent 13", Austin, TX

1996           Seoul International Art Fair, Seoul, Korea

1996           Aljira, A Center for Contemporary Art: "Aljira National 2", Newark, NJ

1996           Chuck Levitan Gallery, "National Juried Small Works", NY, NY

1996           Downey Museum of Art: "All California: All Media" Downey, CA

1996/97     The Art Exchange Show-Dru Arstark Gallery, NY, NY

1996           Trenton City Museum, Trenton, NJ

1996           New Jersey Center for Visual Arts, "International Juried Show 1996"

                       Juried by Thelma Golden, Curator, Whitney Museum

1996           Irvine Fine Arts Center, "Maps, Charts, & Routes", Irvine, CA

1995           Katonah Museum of Art, "All-of-a-Piece" (Juried by Robert Storr, Curator, MoMA)

1995           St. John's University, Jamaica, NY

1994            East-West Cultural Studies, NY, NY (Juried by Robert Storr, Curator, MoMA )

1994            Dru Arstark Gallery, New York, NY

1994/95     The Hudson River Museum of Westchester, Yonkers, NY

1994/95     Anchorage Museum of History and Art, Anchorage, AK    

1994            Mesa Southwest Museum, Mesa, AZ

1994            Rochester Museum and Science Center, Rochester, NY

1993            Irvine Fine Arts Center, Irvine, CA

1992           Anchorage Museum of History and Art, Anchorage, AK

1991/92     Madison Gallery, Library of Congress, Washington, DC

1991           Visual Art Center of Alaska, Anchorage, AK

1991           Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Annapolis, MD

1990           Arlington Arts Center, Arlington, VA

1989           University of Alaska Museum, Fairbanks, AK      

1989           The Institute for Contemporary Art, Long Island City, NY

1982           San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA

1979           Artists' Co-Op Gallery, Santa Fe, NM



Library of Congress                                                                               

United States National Park Service                                                 

New York Historical Society                                                                

Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Morristown, NJ                           

American Association for the Advancement of Science               

University of Alaska, Fairbanks and Soldotna, AK                                           

University of Alaska Museum, Fairbanks, AK                                   

Herzog-Anton-Ulrich Museum, Braunsweig, Germany

Boston University, Boston, MA      

Lawrenceville School, Lawrenceville, NJ

Carr Gottstein Corporation

British Petroleum Corporation


Public Commissions

2005                 “No Opuntias Garden” and “Mojave Mini Mountains”

                        Hi-Desert Water District, Yucca Valley CA

2005                 “Half Henge” with sculptor Simi Dabah for

                        Copper Mountain College

8/90                  Gates of the Arctic National Park and Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge

                        "Central Brooks Range", Bettles, AK

7/90                  Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce

                        "Alaska and U.S.S.R. '88", Yakutsk, Yakutia, USSR

7/89                  Anchorage Mural Committee

                        "North Pacific Arc with Iditarod Trail", Anchorage, AK

6/88                  State of Alaska and Alaska Airlines

                        "Siberia Meets Alaska", Provideniya, Chukotka, USSR

5/87                  Petersburg School District

                        "Petersburg Quadrants", Petersburg, AK


Private Commissions

12/19                 Private Collector, Pine Mountain, GA

8/12                   Private Collector, Municipality of Anchorage                     

10/09                Private Collector, Janis Joplin

11/09                 Private Collector, Pearl Harbor

8/09                  Private Collector, Kodiak Island Ship Wreck Site

7/09                  Private Collector, Upper Kenai River

4/00                  Private Collector, "Parks Portrait", Kensington, MD

4/98                  Lawrenceville School

                           Central New Jersey Geologic Progression" and "Delaware Bend 1998", Lawrenceville, NJ

1/98                  Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, "All of New Jersey", Morristown, NJ

6/95                  Private Collector, "Buzzards Bay", New York, NY

4/94                  Private Collector, "Delaware Valley", Philadelphia, PA

6/93                  Alaska Wildland Adventures, "Kenai Peninsula", Cooper Landing, AK

2/91                   Private Collector, "Yellowstone Area", Cincinnati, OH

12/90                 Private Collector, "Soviet Far East Meets Western North America", Anchorage, AK

9/88                  Private Collector, "Bering Strait '88", Anchorage, AK

3/87                  Carr Gottstein Properties, Inc., "Chugach Range", Anchorage, AK

1/86                  Private Collector, "Large Chigmit to Chugach", Anchorage, AK



                                                                                                Selected Bibliography


Selected Articles

2021     The Act of Unmapping; Cartography, Painting, and Spelman Evans Downer,  William L. Fox, Center for Art + Environment, Nevada Museum


2019     Peninsula Clarion, Ecotopia Impressions, Joey Klecka, October 9, 2019


2014     ArtScene, Spelman Evans Downer, Liz Goldner, October, 2014


2014     The Sun Runner, The Art of Mapping, Steve Brown, Oct/Nov, 2014


2007     Hi-Desert Star, Morongo Basin Stock Photography Project, Rebecca Unger, Dec 15, 2007


2006     Hi-Desert Star, The Sacred Catwalk, Stacey Moore, May 6, 2006


​2005     Swiss Magazine, Die Wuste Lebt, (The Desert Rocks), Frank Matter, March Issue


2005     Hi- Desert Star, Exhibit Takes Part in Earth Art Renaissance, Staff, Mar 11, 2005


2005     Press Enterprise, Down-to-Earth Exhibit, Mark Muckenfuss, April 1, 2005


2005     Desert Post Weekly, Forged from the Elements, Dan Carlin, March 5, 2005


​2005     Desert Post Weekly, EarthWorksNow, Tom Loret, April 23, 2003


2003     Desert Sun, Art of Nature, Jennifer Chen, April 13, 2003


2003     Hi-Desert Star, CMC Prof. hopes to put Earth Art on Map in Basin, Mark Wheeler, March 19, 2003


2002     The Sun Runner, CMC Art Show sets the stage for future campus Earth Art, Vickie Waite, Summer Issue


2002     Desert Post Weekly, From Earth Day to Earth Art, Vickie Waite, May 1, 2002


2001     Arts Plan New Jersey, Illustrated Edition, All of New Jersey 1998 #1, Painting transcends cartography, p. 7


​1998     Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Annual Report, All of New Jersey, Cover, Scott McVay


1998     Princeton Packet, Environmental Design, Louise Handelman, May 1


1998     Newsday, Celebrating the Making of New York, Jonathan Mandell, January 11


1997     New York Times, Big Picture: New York from the Top Down, Staff, Dec. 14


1997     Art Market Guide, Contemporary American Art, Richard Polsky


1997     New York Times, Paintings that take the Long (and High) View of Landscape, Carl Sommers, March 30


1997     Times Herald Record, Giving Landscapes New Form, Chris Farlekas, Jan 10


1996     New American Paintings # 8, The Open Studio Press


1995     New York Times, Landscapes Below, Staff, Feb. 12, 1995


1995     Scarsdale Inquirer, Hudson River Portrait, Staff, Feb. 17, 1995


1994     American Association for the Advancement of Science, Satellite Paintings-About the Artist, J. Murray, June


1991     Anchorage Times, Downer Art in D.C., Staff, Dec. 20


1990     Anchorage Times, The Man Who Makes the Maps, John Foley, July


1990     The Free-Lance Star, Fredericksburg, VA, Aerial Artist: A Birds' Eye View of

              Civil War Battlefields, Daryl Lease, March



Selected Reviews


8/07      Peninsula Clarion, Artists follow the tides to a Cooper Landing gallery, Laura Forbes


7/06      Anchorage Daily News, Artists take contrasting views of the land, Mark Baechtel


11/04     Desert Post Weekly, Exalting the Goddess, Dan Carlin


5/00      Courier News, Preserving the Garden, Mark Terenzi


11/99     Worrall Newspapers, Artist's Work Defies Classification, Joe Lugara


1/98       New York Times, The Metropolis, Glimpses of the First 100 Years, Roberta Smith


8/97      Time Out New York, Aerial Perspectives: Reality, Imagination and Abstraction, Robert Mahoney


12/96     Art in America, Spelman Evans Downer at the Arsenal and Dru Arstark, Matthew Milford


6/96      Review Art, Dru Arstark Gallery and The Arsenal in Central Park, Frederick Ted Castle


6/96      Columbia University, The City Reconstructed, Julie Yufe


4/96      New York Times, International Juried Show, William Zimmer


3/96      Star Ledger, Exhibition Perspective, Eileen Watkins


6/95      New York Times, Friday Reviews, Roberta Smith


6/95      New York Times, Katonah Museum Juried Show, William Zimmer


2/95      Gannett Suburban Newspapers, Downer Strives for Inclusive Oneness in Art, Georgette Gouveia


11/93     Anchorage Daily News, Artists Expanding the Landscape, Mike Dunham


11/92     Homer News, Kenai Peninsula Portrait, Shana Loshbaugh


2/91      TPE Active Arts, Perception/Presence/Progression, Mike Purvis


10/89    Anchorage Daily News, Well-Matched Solo Exhibitions Take Viewers Close to the Land, Jan Ingram



Short quotes from Bibliography

William L. Fox Essay,   January 2021

"Spelman Evans Downer’s paintings are inspired by maps and aerial views, and by geology and the manifestations of civilization as imaged from above. In viewing one of Downer’s paintings, depicting the shorelines of Alaska, the street grids of Manhattan, or the San Gabriel Mountains bordering the Los Angeles Basin, you will end up knowing more about these places than you did before, but his overarching concern is structure upon the planet — natural and cultural pattern, and the intersections of the two."


Peninsula Clarion,  Joey Klecka      October 9, 2019

“Using maps and satellite images, Downer creates a real-life canvas of a particular area, using oil and enamel paint to create texture and relief of geography and topography.”


ArtScene,  Liz Goldner      October 2014


“His lifelong love of travel, along with his interest in abstract gestural painting and photorealism, has led to his numerous paintings of maps. “The Art of Mapping” consists of five-dozen works painted over the last 30 years. “Transverse" (2008), a large horizontal depiction of an unidentified coastline, is painted gesturally to evoke mid-century abstract expressionist work.”


Peninsula Clarion,  Laura Forbes      August 2, 2007

“Downer has incorporated the influences of a varied artistic background, including references to American Color Field paintings, Abstract Expressionism, Photo Realism and the 2000-year-old Asian art of suiseki rock appreciation and display, into the continuing evolution of his own explorations in painting and multimedia artworks”.


Swiss Air,  Frank Matter     March Issue 2005


“Since moving out to Joshua Tree, the painter Spelman Evans Downer has increasingly devoted himself to site specific installations made from stones and other natural materials.”


Hi-Desert Star, Staff from press release    March 8, 2005 


“EarthWorksNow has positioned itself as an important forum for the current environmental art renaissance in America by showing artworks that contain ideas relating back to early cultures which created a lasting art about the environment and seasonal/human cycles of time. The show also references the land art movement in America and Europe from the 1960's to 1980's, and expands the possibilities of works from this seminal period.”


Desert Post Weekly, Tom Loret    April 24, 2003


“Earthworks, at its core, seeks to reestablish a balance between human beings, our planet, and all creation. …    

I was pleased to meet Spelman Downer. I learned new ways of seeing, thinking, and creating art. It is always refreshing to discover new ambitions and designs for the return of this world to its garden days. Spelman’s skill, knowledge, and enthusiasm makes him a perfect steward of this project.”


Hi-Desert Star, Mark Wheeler    March 19, 2003


“EarthWorksNow, according to Downer, intends to revive and renew what he considers to be a most exciting art form. He further contends it to be an art form which, because of its scope and scale, belongs in the desert. "This basin and Copper Mountain College can be a beacon for developing this genre in an environmentally sensitive way." In the process, he and many others here are hoping that by putting this art form back on the map, the basin's own place on the map will be most fortuitously illuminated.”


Desert Post Weekly, Vickie Waite    April 25, 2002


“Recent abstract paintings are map-like perspectives of the Mojave, oil and enamel on panel, based on desert geology. Expanding his perspective beyond two-dimensional works, Downer is now exploring earth art and altering the land as a form of sculpture. Downer sees a new earth-art vision for the Mojave Desert.

With any luck, CMC may host its next major revival. Downer's art department is embarking on a long term project with an EarthWorksNow  theme for the expanding campus, and to form a program to create, study, and promote this kind of work.”


The New York Times, Roberta Smith    January 2, 1998


"Spelman Evans Downer, a 43-year-old contemporary artist replicates, or more accurately expands upon, existing maps to a highly refined degree.  Mr. Downer's paintings may not do everything you want art to do, but the best of them fuse beauty and fact with dazzling efficiency."



New American Paintings #8,  1996     The Open Studio Press


"Downer's aerial landscapes trace an area's history of development.  These views of the man-made world shows us what we have created on the landscape over time. Downer's approach is to synthesize various forms of visual information and make visible what can only be completely comprehended from an aerial perspective."



The New York Times,   Carl Sommers   March 30, 1997


"…his paintings are often made up of multiple panels, an allusion to the way natural dynamics affect image making:  in aerial photographs, and his works from them, the movement of the Earth puts the frames a bit out of synch with one another, creating a mosaic effect."


Thelma Golden, Associate Curator and Branch Director of The Whitney Museum at Philip Morris

International Juried Show 1996, New Jersey Center for the Visual Arts, Best of Show, Curator's Statement:


Meadowlands by Spelman Evans Downer

"I feel it is a very interesting take on the landscape tradition, an artist looking at landscape in the industrial environment and finding a way to relate that pictorially.  I was also interested in how he combined topography and mapmaking with the painting tradition: how the work, when looked at close up, really begins to show his interest in abstract painting technique; where as moving far away from it, you see his interest in topographical photography. It’s a real artist working with a lot of influences in a very interesting way."


The New York Times,   William Zimmer   June 11, 1995


"The two "Hudson River Portraits" by Spelman Evans Downer are absolute abstractions of abutted panels painted thickly to resemble topographical maps through which the river runs, like a splash painting by Clyfford Still."


The New York Times, Roberta Smith   June 9, 1995


"A show that will grow on you: small, folkish paintings that are wonderfully wrought surprisingly accurate maps of Manhattan-its grids, parks and neighborhoods, and adjacent boroughs, in various colors and points in history."


Art in America, Matthew Milford   December 1996


"In areas where the relationship between nature and civilization is not too lopsided, Downer's work achieves a kind of utopian lyricism."


Art Market Guide 1997, Contemporary American Art, Richard Polsky


"Spelman Evans Downer makes art that draws inspiration from aerial landscape photographs. Downer's work is also informed by the 'Earthworks' artists (Robert Smithson, Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer, and James Turrell).  These artists altered the land as a form of sculpture that couldn't be experienced within the four walls of a gallery or museum.  But their two-dimensional works served more as diagrams rather than works of art in their own right.  Downer could put together an interesting career by doing the opposite; making two-dimensional works that are significant."


Gannett Suburban Newspapers, Georgette Gouveia   February 26, 1995


"Downer's landscapes combine the qualities of topographical maps with those of abstract paintings."


Review Art, Frederick Ted Castle   June 1996

"Spelman Evans Downer tries and succeeds to include everything in his painting of a place. He's not just acknowledging that people have moved the earth around, the way geologically young rivers do all the time, changing course on the flood plain, creating lakes and new deserts. He is really staking our claim (not only his own) as collaborators on the earth's creation."



As Author


1995                 Artists and Maps, The Portolan, Washington Map Society, Washington, D.C. & New York Map Society.

1994                 Second Manifesto of Maximalism, AK Artistic License, Anchorage, AK.

1994                 State of the Art, Art Review, AK Artistic License, Anchorage, AK.


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