Local artist returns home

Meigan Woods

After 34 years in the New York art scene, Gerald Johnson returns to Joplin with his art exhibition titled Is it a Painting, A Collage, Print?

Missouri Southern’s Spiva Art Gallery will host the exhibition from Aug. 27 through Sept. 21. There will be a reception on Monday Aug. 27, where the public will have a chance to meet Johnson, as well as one of his inspirations’ Harry Krug.

The exhibition in MSSU’s Spiva Art Gallery will showcase a variety of Johnson’s works. There will be prints, paintings, collages, weavings, sculptures and combinations of the later.

“The unfortunate thing is there is a dialogue that the artist carries with his work,” said V.A. Christensen, MSSU’s Spiva Art Gallery coordinator. “His memories are good in terms of the past, and he recognizes his work, but the dialogue is difficult.”

Johnson was a fan of geometrical abstraction. Many of his works were influenced by his earlier days in South Dakota, and New Mexico where he took interest in the Navajo weaving techniques.

Although Johnson was born in South Dakota, he grew up in Joplin. He attended Pittsburg State University, where he studied under Harry Krug, who soon became a great influence to Johnson. Krug taught Johnson the art of silkscreen printing.

In 1967 Johnson moved to New York, where he worked for Chiron Press. He improved his skills by working along with artists such as Victor Vasarely, Chuck Close, and Alex Katz.

In 1981 Johnson became a studio assistant to Ilya Bolotowsky.

Johnson was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s so he has not created any recent artwork.