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 Joni T. Johnson  (1934 - 1988)

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Lived/Active: Indiana      Known for: children and female figure

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J T Johnson is primarily known as Joni T. Johnson

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Ad Code: 3
Joni T Johnson
from Auction House Records.
Portrait of a Boy
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following was submitted as a bulletin by Nelson Begley.

Watercolor artist, Joni T. Johnson was a native of Swayzee, Indiana. She went to high school in Indianapolis and attended the Herron Art School. Two of her paintings are in the White House East Room. Her works have hung in 27 countries and owned by such notables as Katherine Hepburn, Harry Belafonte and Lana Turner.

The following, submitted January 2005, is from Gerald A. Notaro, University Librarian, University of South Florida St. Petersburg. His source is the artist, who was his close friend from 1983 until her death. Of her work, he wrote:

"Her wispy watercolors of round-eyed children and sad faced Victorian girls, sometimes decorated with poems and splatters, brought untold pleasure to the large number of people who collected them, including Harry Belafonte, Joel Grey and Vincent Price who trooped through Indianapolis at one time or another with theatrical ventures."

Born Joan T. Johnson in Swayzee, Indiana, she attended Tech High School and the old John Herron Art Institute. She was a founder of the Talbott Street Art Fair, which still attracts thousands annually. She was married for a short time to Merle Griggs.

But nobody knew her by that name. She always signed her paintings J.T. Johnson.

She had one son, Merle Griggs, Jr.

In the 1950's she had a studio upstairs at the southwest corner of Alabama and 16th Streets that she called Belle Reve, after Blanche Dubois' lost plantation in Tennessee Williams' `A Streetcar Named Desire.'

She also lived and worked in Chicago for a time and studied with Charles E. Burchfield. Joan was 54 years old at the time of her death in June of 1988.

Much of this information was placed in the Congressional Record on Tuesday, March 21, 1989, by Congressman Andrew Jacobs, who was also a close friend of Joni's.

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