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Frame of Reference Fine Art, Tucson, AZ


Collection of Marriott Hotel, Tempe, AZ,

Frame of Reference Fine Art, Tucson, AZ

Reference Location
Phoenix, AZ

Sun Villa Motel

Acrylic on canvas
48" x 36"
Sun Villa MotelSun Villa Motel


Dennis Johnson's "Sun Villa Motel" captures the essence of mid-century modern painting through its evocative depiction of a vintage motel sign. This retro Americana artwork is a standout piece, showcasing Johnson's ability to blend nostalgia with bold, colorful wall art. Created in 2022, this acrylic on canvas piece measures 48" x 36" and is part of a private collection.


Subject Matter

"Sun Villa Motel" features a vintage motel sign prominently displaying the words "Sun Villa" against a clear blue sky. This 1950s motel sign painting evokes a sense of nostalgic travel art, transporting viewers to the golden age of American road trips. The sign's retro design, with its geometric shapes and vibrant hues, is a testament to Johnson's mastery in creating geometric retro design art.


The composition of "Sun Villa Motel" is meticulously balanced, with the sign positioned slightly off-center to draw the viewer's eye. The use of perspective creates a sense of depth, leading the eye from the foreground sign to the distant horizon. This technique enhances the painting's realistic yet stylized appearance, making it a perfect example of blue sky motel sign painting.

Elements and Principles of Design


Johnson employs a striking color palette in "Sun Villa Motel," using contrasting colors to create visual interest. The bright reds, yellows, and blues of the sign stand out against the muted tones of the background, emphasizing the sign's prominence and importance in the scene. This bold, colorful wall art captures the vibrancy of mid-century Americana.

Line and Shape

The clean, crisp lines and geometric shapes of the sign are characteristic of Johnson's style. The use of sharp angles and straight edges creates a sense of order and stability, while the soft curves of the letters add a touch of playfulness and movement. This geometric retro design art enhances the visual appeal and draws viewers into the nostalgic travel experience.

Balance and Proportion

"Sun Villa Motel" demonstrates excellent balance and proportion. The large sign dominates the foreground, providing a focal point, while the smaller, more subdued elements in the background create a sense of scale and context. This balance ensures that the viewer's attention remains focused on the main subject without being overwhelmed by the details.


The texture in "Sun Villa" is subtle but effective. Johnson's brushstrokes are smooth and precise, giving the painting a polished, finished look. The texture of the sign itself, with its weathered and slightly rusted appearance, adds an element of realism and history to the piece, enhancing its nostalgic travel art appeal.

Artistic Significance

"Sun Villa Motel" is a testament to Dennis Johnson's skill in capturing the essence of a bygone era. The painting not only serves as a visual delight but also as a cultural artifact, preserving the memory of mid-century American motels. Johnson's ability to blend realism with artistic expression makes this piece a valuable addition to any art collection.