B. Maxine Johnston, 1925-2020

B. Maxine Johnston, age 94, of Paradise Valley, Arizona, a founder of the Scottsdale Artists’ School, passed away peacefully on Friday January 3, 2020 in Scottsdale. Maxine was born June 18, 1925 in Payette, Idaho.

In her obituary, it is noted that Maxine moved to Arizona in 1950 with her husband, Harry D. Johnston and was a prominent Valley artist who co-founded the Scottsdale Art School in 1983.

A quote in the obituary tells that “Maxine’s true passion in life was art. She was always a loving, caring wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend. She never failed to help in any way possible, family or friend. She was truly an incredibly kind-hearted, intelligent, and sharing individual. The world will seem emptier without Maxine in it.”

“Maxine Johnston was not just one of our founders, she was our friend, mentor, an amazingly talented artist, teacher, and so much more. We are going to miss her very much. We are here because of her love of art and community. She wanted anyone who had a love for art to have a place to come and collaborate in a creative and nurturing environment. We love you, Maxine. You will forever be in our hearts.” ~shared by the Scottsdale Artists’ School on social media

“Maxine was an amazing artist and instructor,” Trudy Hayes tells us. “As a founding member of Scottsdale Artists’ School, she dedicated her time and her talents to ensure the success of this great institution. I was inspired by Maxine as she was a wonderful mentor and friend. It is an honor and a privilege to be entrusted with Maxine’s legacy, Scottsdale Artists’ School.”

In 1983, Ms. Johnston, Mr. Wade Fairchild, and Mr. Jim Reynolds spearheaded an idea to form an arts school in Scottsdale, Arizona where working professional artists could teach the fundamentals of art to students who were seeking opportunities to become more expertly trained in the fields of drawing, painting, sculpting, and other mediums.

The school opened in September 1983 and, almost immediately, outstanding artists whose works hung in some of the finest museums, and were the “who’s who” in American art, came to teach at the school. These professionals previously had only taught privately to a select few.

“I’m a goal setter,” Ms. Johnston said in a 2018 toast. “We set a goal of being the finest art school in the West. At that time it was a dream and we fell way short of that, however today we do have the right to claim that status. It has taken so many people working together towards a common goal. I was not the only one… I just happen to be the only one left who is still living!” Ms. Johnston continued, “I would not be a gallery artist today if it were not for the instruction that I received here. The quality instructors we hire are the best of the best. They taught me how to draw and paint and so much more.”


  1. I finally found her, the artist behind wall paintings. Sure just a copy.but non the less so beautiful. May her work live on. 🙏 peace be with you M.Johnston


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