John Whitton Bria completed his earliest documented work before the age of three when he undertook a surprise decoration of the walls of his Grandmother’s bedroom, moving on to the gray kitchen door and displaying a bold use of green enamel. His grandmother, author Mary Royce Ormsbee Whitton, marked the event with a poem, and young Johnny, discovering there was some acclaim to be found in painting, continued his career.
At The Taft School, he studied with Mark W. Potter, still a constant influence, and won the Art Prize. In Virginia, at the College of William and Mary, he played varsity tennis and studied painting, graduating with a degree in Fine Arts. Next, he completed his formal study painting the figure with Robert Brackman at the Art Students League in New York.
His first sale, while he was still in high school, was a large abstract painting, but from his early experiments in abstraction, Mr. Bria's work evolved to painterly realism. He keeps the architecture of his landscapes and other subjects absolutely accurate and recognizable, but he applies his paint with a free hand. His landscapes.still lifes and self-portraits are represented in private collections across the country.
His newest painting fascination is the Southwest, especially the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, the colors of which richly complement his Northeastern paintings of the Adirondack High Peaks and the fields of the Pound Ridge Reservation.
During thirty years of community service, Mr. Bria spent time as a Pound Ridge volunteer firefighter and EMT, was elected to public office, serving two terms on the Pound Ridge Town Board, was President of the Pound Ridge Tennis Club, was the first President of the Pound Ridge Library Foundation, was Vice-President of the Pound Ridge Land Conservancy, is a member of the Open Space Acquisition Committee and recently accepted an appointment to the Pound Ridge Planning Board.
He lives with his beautiful wife, Kris, in an old family home, Stone Steps, and when not at his easel, Mr. Bria may be found in his garden.