"You're either a genius or completely nuts." - John F. Casey, Sr. [my dad]


For most of my art career I have been exploring open-ended narratives in my work. Using mostly a portrait format, I tap into my subconscious to conjure loose metaphors and symbols, and weave them into compelling characters. Some of these beings represent a kind of psychological self-portrait. Others represent people (or critters) I have encountered throughout my lifetime, friends, neighbors, and generally everyday folks. Often these characters are amalgamations. These beings are not specific portraits, more like fictional impressions of various people or animals. The character’s life-story is left open to interpretation, inviting the viewer into the story-telling process. The results are what appear to be damaged or vulnerable beings, but a second look reveals complex and sensitive spirits, more like enthusiastic upstarts, rather than rejects or troublemakers.


Born on Friday the 13th in Salem, Massachusetts, I started inventing creatures as soon as I was able to hold a crayon. Drawings that my mother saved from when I was only three years old reveal my obsession with the figure. The figures in these drawings show not only the distorted perceptions of a child, but my fascination with skulls, teeth, spirographic eyes, and invented body parts. My obsession with strange creatures continued throughout my youth. Monster models, dinosaurs, and horror movies on television occupied much of my time as well as drawing.

I graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston in 1988 with a BFA in Painting. At the time I was making art that focused on surreal and psychological figurative painting and drawing. A bit later I added sculpture as part of my process, and my subjects continue to reveal a surreal bent in both structure and narrative. I have shown in galleries in Boston, Portland, Los Angeles and the Bay Area, as well as international venues in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Denmark. My work is included in collections at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, the di Rosa Preserve in Napa, California, and the Artothèque de Caen in France.

I moved to the Bay Area a number of years ago and currently live in Oakland, California with my wife, artist Mary Kalin-Casey.

Curriculum Vitae

b. Salem, Massachusetts


B.F.A. (Honors), Massachusetts College of Art

Selected Solo / Two-Person Exhibitions

  • 2024 Wild in the Streets, Moth Belly Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • 2023 Work by John Casey, Transmission Gallery, Oakland, CA
  • 2021 Round & Round, Faultline Artspace, Oakland, CA
  • 2019 Odd Blossom, Nielsen Arts, Oakland, CA
  • 2019 GMO/OMG, Antler Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 2018 Parts Is Parts, Bench Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • 2016 How to Get a Head, NIAD Art Center, Richmond, CA
  • 2015 Okay, Not Okay, Galerie Polaris, Paris, France
  • 2015 Happy Accidents, The Compound Gallery, Oakland, CA
  • 2014 Upstarts and Rejects, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA
  • 2013 Silver Cord, Rock Paper Scissors Collective, Oakland, CA
  • 2013 Little Exorcisms, Breeze Block Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 2012 Big Idea, Galerie Polaris, Paris, France
  • 2011 Tall Tales, Swarm Gallery, Oakland, CA
  • 2010 New Works, Galerie Polaris, Paris, France
  • 2010 Hope Springs Internal, POVevolving, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2009 Distant Cousins, Swarm Gallery, Oakland, CA
  • 2009 No One We Know, The Clay Studio, Philadelphia, PA
  • 2008 Picket Fencing, Swarm Gallery, Oakland, CA
  • 2008 New Works, TAG Art Gallery, Nashville, TN
  • 2007 Strange Fruit: Bad Seeds, Receiver Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • 2007 Metamorphosis Chamber, FPAC Gallery, Boston, MA
  • 2007 New Works, TAG Art Gallery, Nashville, TN
  • 2006 Headache, Boontling Gallery, Oakland, CA
  • 2006 Along Came a Spider, 33 Grand, Oakland, Oakland, CA
  • 2005 Creature Double Feature, National Product, San Francisco, CA
  • 2005 Unusual Suspects, Cricket Engine Gallery, Oakland, CA

Selected Group Exhibitions

  • 2024 Faultline 8×10, Faultline Artspace, Oakland, CA
  • 2024 Radiant Souls, NIAD Art Center, Richmond, CA
  • 2023 Birds Rising, Brassworks Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 2023 The night before, Galerie Polaris, Paris, France
  • 2023 About Face, Bedford Gallery, Walnut Creek, CA
  • 2022 Eye Spy, Transmission Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • 2022 The Pigeon Show, Bench Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • 2022 Mushi Mushi, Helvella Art, Oakland, CA
  • 2022 SFMOMA Soapbox Derby, McLaren Park, San Francisco, CA
  • 2022 Drawings, Transmission Gallery, Oakland, CA
  • 2022 Untamed Splendor, Antler Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 2021 Softer Solstice, Rolodex Gallery, Berkeley, CA
  • 2021 Ethereal Folk, Rock Paper Scissors, Oakland, CA
  • 2021 Svane Family Foundation, SFAI Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA
  • 2021 Art of Art, Modern Eden Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • 2021 Posies: A Pocketful, Gearbox Gallery, Oakland, CA
  • 2020 Discolandia, 111 Minna Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • 2020 Don’t Wake Daddy XV, Feinkunst Krüger, Hamburg, Germany
  • 2019 Rendezvous at the Gardens, Château d’Esquelbecq, France
  • 2019 Pareidolia, Talon Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 2018 Don’t Wake Daddy XIII, Feinkunst Krüger, Hamburg, Germany
  • 2018 The Art of The Mushroom, The Compound Gallery, Oakland, CA
  • 2018 Il sole è cieco, Galerie Polaris, Paris, France
  • 2018 Strange Forest, Richmond Art Center, Richmond, CA
  • 2018 Sentimental Mood, First Amendment Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • 2017 Little Utopias, Talon Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 2017 Don’t Wake Daddy XII, Feinkunst Kruger, Hamburg, Germany
  • 2017 Creature Feature, Red Truck Gallery, New Orleans, LA
  • 2017 Tekelili, Faultline Artspace, Oakland, CA
  • 2017 Sweet n Low, Bedford Gallery, Walnut Creek, CA
  • 2017 Tondo, Spoke Art, San Francisco, CA
  • 2017 me/you, c2c project space, San Francisco, CA
  • 2017 Familiar, Talon Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 2016 Achroma, Modern Eden Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • 2016 Subtle Gaze, Gravity Gallery, Aspen, CO
  • 2015 Don’t Wake Daddy X, Feinkunst Krüger, Hamburg, Germany
  • 2015 Partie de campagne, Galerie Polaris, St. Briac, France
  • 2015 Habitats, Antler Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 2015 Zealot’s Elixir, Modern Eden Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • 2014 Corrective Course, Marcas Contemporary Art, Santa Ana, CA
  • 2014 The Passage, Orinda Public Library, Oakland, CA
  • 2014 Beacons, Faultline Artspace, Oakland, CA
  • 2014 Revolver: Once Around the Sun, Hellion Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 2013 Neu Folk Revival, Le Qui Vive Gallery, Oakland, CA
  • 2013 Art Dorks: Rise, Space:Eight, St. Augustine, FL
  • 2013 Head Case, Echo Gallery, Calistoga, CA
  • 2013 Désirance, Galerie Polaris, Paris, France
  • 2012 Don’t Wake Daddy VII, Feinkunst Krüger, Hamburg, Germany
  • 2012 A Show of Heads, Le Qui Vive Gallery, Oakland, CA
  • 2012 Oakland NOW, Spoke Art, Oakland, CA
  • 2012 FAX, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • 2011 Dig For Fire, C.A.V.E. Gallery, Venice, CA
  • 2011 Outlandish: Contemporary Depictions of Nature, Bedford Gallery, Walnut Creek, CA
  • 2011 There Is No Telling, Double Punch Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • 2010 Gone, Southern Exposure, San Francisco, CA
  • 2010 Secret Drawings, Palo Alto Arts Center, Palo Alto, CA
  • 2010 Four Play, Webb Gallery, Waxahachie, TX
  • 2009 Don’t Wake Daddy IV, Feinkunst Krüger, Hamburg, Germany
  • 2009 From One Hand to One Mind to One Hand to Your Mind, Los Medanos College, Pittsburg, CA
  • 2009 Tales from an Imaginary Menagerie, Palo Alto Arts Center, Palo Alto, CA
  • 2009 Characters R Us, Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux, France
  • 2008 Crossing the Line, New Perspectives in Drawing, Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa, CA
  • 2008 Bay Area Currents, Oakland Art Gallery, Oakland, CA
  • 2008 No Brow, Black Maria Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2008 FasTrak — A bridge and Tunnel Survey, Lobot Gallery, Oakland, CA
  • 2007 The Diane & Sandy Besser Collection, de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA
  • 2007 Banzai/Godzilla, SFMOMA Artists Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • 2007 Free Parking, OKOK Gallery, Seattle, WA
  • 2007 Graphic: New Bay Area Drawing, di Rosa Preserve, Napa, CA


  • Feature in Hi-Fructose Art Magazine #41, USA
  • Feature in Hey! #24, Bilingual Art Magazine, Paris, France
  • “Call & Response,” Underline Press, Oakland, CA
  • “John Casey, Scarecrow,” Rowan Morrison, Oakland, CA
  • “The Upset: Young Contemporary Art,” Gestalten, Berlin, Germany
  • “Pen to Paper,” Pictoplasma, Berlin, Germany


Awards & Residencies