John Checkley
1922 - 1991
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New Zealand born, Checkley got his early art school training at St. Andrews College later majoring in fine arts at Canterbury University where he did teaching in graphics and compositional drawing.   He entered thbe advertising profession only to have his career interrupted by three years of military service in the Pacific area during World War II. 

Following the war, he concentrated on graphic arts where his career led him to the U.S. in 1948.  It was shortly thereafter that John joined Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborne, one of the world's great ad agencies in New York City.  After several successful one-man shows he was invited to exhibit in New York where he later settled.  Specializing in documentary work, his watercolors

were accepted by the Bank of New York for the board of director’s room and the artist’s “Cast of the 3rd Avenue Elevated” was chosen for permanent preservation in the collection of the New York  Historical Society, where it is a graphic memory of the now dismantled landmark.

Several one-man shows later, his work attracted the attention of San Francisco Magazine by whom he was invited to contribute cover illustrations for the inception of the publication.  Moving to San Francisco in 1955, the artist set up his studio in Sausalito where he produced some notable watercolors, emphasizing both the passing scene in Sausalito and the vast scenic beauty of San Francisco. His works appeared on numberous media events and he conducted classes in painting to the delight of many of The City by the Bay's artisans.

Checkley enjoys a well-deserved reputation for his charming watercolors which capture the ever-changing moods of the surroundings which he so beautifully paints. He has developed a unique style in acrylics, gaining immediate recognition for himself and winning an enthusiastic following in art circles across the nation.  The artist was well known for engaging in capturing what he terms the “individual psyche” of San Francisco in a series of graphically attractive treatments dealing with the timeless cable cars and bridges.  These have won him appreciative recognition for their draughtmanship and coloration.


Chekcley’s art work hangs in numerous private collections and are prominently displayed in the permanent collections of the New York Historical Society and in the Bank of New York. A realist by nature, Checkley's works interpret the many faces of San Francisco as he saw them. His travels took him to Tokyo, Twiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Tahiti and several trips to Hawaii during the 1950’s. Checkley and his family (wife and two children) lived most of their later years on a houseboat converted from a World War II landing craft – moored in Sausalito, California. John Checkley died in California in 1991.