|Biography from Kelley Gallery - Pasadena:|
|Roman E. Johnson (1917-2005)|
Roman Johnson was born Sept 4, 1917 and raised in Columbus, Ohio. As one of six children, Johnson was a sickly child who was encouraged by his mother to draw. He studied painting formally for two years with African-American artist Cletus Butler, and in 1941 met Ohio-based painter Emerson Burkhart (1905-1969), whose influence and association would prove instrumental to Johnson's artistic advancement. For the next six years Burkhart and Johnson worked together painting scenes of Eastside Columbus, Ohio. During this period Burkhart painted his iconic portrait of Roman Johnson entitled The Confused Process of Becoming (1946; collection of Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio).
In 1946 Johnson traveled to New York to study at the Art Students League where he spent ten years, followed by a year in Paris before returning to Columbus. While in New York, Johnson studied under Edwin Dickinson and Ernest Fiene, and exhibited works at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the National Academy of Design.
A statement Johnson wrote for an exhibition when he was 72 summarizes his purpose as an artist: "I do paintings in an effort to enhance or continue the culture of Black people. In the 40s and 50s when I visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York, I never saw any art by or about Blacks. So I decided to do that. I am personally indebted as an artist to Edwin Dickinson, Emerson Burkhart, Ernest Fiene and Kuniyoshi. It would be a damn shame to let those guys down considering all the time and attention they gave me. I labor on every painting out of respect for them; to do my subjects justice; and because painting is hard work."
Johnson received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts Degree from Ohio Dominican College in 1998, and in 2003 was bestowed with the Ohio Governor's Award for the Arts. Dr. Roman E. Johnson died Oct 24, 2005.
Underground Railroad & Black History Museum, Newark, Ohio; The King Arts Complex, Columbus, Ohio; Flint Institute of the Arts, Flint, Michigan; Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio; The South Side Settlement House, Columbus, Ohio; Schumacher Gallery, Capital University, Columbus, Ohio.
From AAVAD.COM / African American Visual Artists Database:
Johnson, Roman (Columbus, OH)
Monographs and Solo Exhibitions:
Columbus (OH). Wehrle Gallery, Ohio Dominican University.
December 15, 2002-January 30, 2003.
General Books And Group Exhibitions:
COLUMBUS (OH). Columbus College of Art & Design.
ACE Founding Artists Exhibition.
Thru November 11, 1999.
Exhibition celebrating the 20th anniversary of Art for Community Expression, Inc., which operates ACE Gallery, Columbus. Curated by Larry Winston Collins and Kojo Kamau, the exhibition features the works of ACE Ambassador Artists such as Aminah Robinson, Queen Brooks, Barbara Chavous, Roman Johnson, Smokey Brown, Willis Bing Davis, and others, some of whom have achieved a national reputation.
COLUMBUS (OH). Columbus Cultural Arts Center.
Roots and Legacies.
November 18-December 30, 2007.
Group exhibition of work by 17 Central Ohio artists. Included: Bill Agnew, Ralph Bell, Smokey Brown, Ed Colston, Gilda Edwards, Roman Johnson, Mahler Ryder, Robert Stull.
COLUMBUS (OH). Columbus Museum of Art.
People, Places & Things: An African-American Perspective.
September 5, 1992-February 28, 1993.
Exhib. cat., illus. Curated by Deirdre D. Hamlar. Includes: Larry Collins, William Hawkins, Carlyle Johnson, Roman Johnson, Debra Priestly, Aminah Robinson, Vincent D. Smith, Pheoris West.
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