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Renowned Central Coast artist John Landon dies at age 68 after car crash

In 2003, John Landon created this painting to be used on T-shirts for the Dinosaur Caves Park grand opening in Shell beach.
In 2003, John Landon created this painting to be used on T-shirts for the Dinosaur Caves Park grand opening in Shell beach. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Well-known artist John Landon, whose murals have added color to the Central Coast for many years, died Wednesday at age 68 after being injured in a car crash near Avila Beach on Aug. 2.

“He was prolific, and he had many more paintings in him,” his son, Shawn Landon said.

A memorial service to honor Landon will take place Sunday, Aug. 19, at 1 p.m. at the Avila Beach Community Center, located at 191 San Miguel St.

“He lived a very interesting life,” his son said. “He was the smartest person I knew. ... He was a very magnetic personality.”

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John Landon painting in Portland, Oregon. Shawn Landon

Landon lived on the Central Coast for more than three decades and became well-known for his “California expressionism.” His son said his style of work was studied at Cuesta College for a number of years.

Many movie stars and the White House during President George W. Bush’s administration have displayed Landon’s work, his son said. And over the years Landon painted murals on many buildings in the area, including the Shell Beach Post Office.

He owned two art galleries — one in downtown San Luis Obispo, the other in Pismo Beach — where he showcased his art along with work from regional and international artists.

His art ranged from colorful expressionism to realist landscapes.

“I think his favorite was vibrant art,” Landon’s friend James Davis said. “And the art was reflective of his personality.”

Davis met Landon at a concert five years ago, and the two became fast friends, Davis said.

“I have a huge hole right now in my life,” Davis said. “I’m an artist, and he said so many things that helped me with my art and he said so many things that helped me with my life.”

Another friend, Scott Andrews, founder of the San Luis Obispo Jazz Festival, said he will miss Landon dearly. The two became friends after Andrews took interest in his artwork and wanted to commission him for his jazz band and the festival.

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“He knew color better than any other artist I knew,” Andrews said.

Andrews said Landon was a tremendous supporter of the festival. In the years to come, Andrews said he is at a loss of how the festival will be the same without Landon’s iconic art.

“It’s a tremendous loss to not just his friends, but the community. His art is everywhere,” Andrews said. “He is irreplaceable,” he added.

Landon is survived by his four children, seven grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

Editor’s note: The article has been updated with the correct date of the memorial service, Sunday, Aug. 19.

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