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Overland Gallery of Fine Art

Author: LeeAnn DiSanti
Issue: January, 2012, Page 142
Trudy Hays (left) and Robyn Graca Dill stand with Ed Mell’s Caballo del Prado, a 8.5"H x 12.5"W x 6"D bronze sculpture.


PRINCIPALS—Raymond E. Johnson and Douglas Johnson (co-owners); Trudy Hays (director)

OPENED—Early 1970s; purchased by current owners in 1983

CONTACT—7155 E. Main St., Scottsdale; (480) 947-1934;

HOURS—Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

ARTISTS—G. Russell Case, Valerian M. Formozov, Martin Grelle, Yuri P. Kugach, Joseph Lorusso, Ed Mell, Vasili K. Nechitailo, Igor I. Popov, Gary Ernest Smith, Vladimir F. Stozharov, Aleksei P. Tkachev, and Sergei Tkachev. 

In the 1970s and early ’80s, Overland Trail was one of many Western galleries in Old Town Scottsdale’s art district. Former art-print publisher Raymond E. Johnson purchased the property in 1983, and later renamed it Overland Gallery of Fine Art. The name change was a reflection of the new genres of artwork the owners decided to feature, which emphasize modern Western and Soviet-era Russian paintings.

Overland still offers Western art. However, the works are what Director of Sales Robyn Graca Dill calls “new West.” She explains that a bold color palette often is used in these paintings to depict the modern-day American Southwest.

Russian works are Raymond’s passion. Long intrigued by that country’s art, he often travels to Russia to meet with local art historians and sift through thousands of works from the Soviet period. “You have to be an adventurer to purchase these Russian works because originally little was known about that era,” Hays says. Johnson also founded The Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis, which is dedicated to various types of Russian artwork.

Exceptionally rare or unique Russian paintings from Johnson’s private collection frequently are on display at Overland as “exhibition only.” “People ask why we show pieces that aren’t for sale,” Dill remarks. “It’s because Raymond loves the artwork and wants to share it with others.”

Hays says the gallery is designed to encourage visitors to enjoy the works. Art students and collectors often come to the gallery to study the Soviet paintings, she explains. In addition, seating areas are placed throughout the space to show how the art might look in a residential setting. “This is more like how galleries used to be,” she notes.

From left: Martin Grelle’s The Road Home, 40"H x 30"W oil on canvas • Ajo Longhorn, 44"H x 56"W oil on linen by Ed Mell

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