Al Johnson the Artist


Al Johnson, The Artist


Al Johnson, illustrator, fine artist, educator, and mentor has developed an artistic style that captures the classical, weaves it with the contemporary to create bodies of work that exemplifies his individual style. Spiritually connected to his work, his mix of color and shapes through abstract expressionism allows the viewer to interpret what they see and feel.

While formally trained in the techniques of the great masters, Mr. Johnson honed these skills, while attending famed institutions such as Pratt Institute, the Albert Pale School of Commercial Arts and the Arts Student League, constantly challenging the creative force within.

Mr. Johnson most recently exhibited at the Maison des Arts Gallery located LeBacares, France where his “New Yorkers” exhibition was widely received by the residents of the south of France.  The 40+ paintings in this show will also be on tour in five major cities in France.  His work has also been shown at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum in Japan, the Guangzhou International Art Fair in China, countless galleries in New York and other major cities within
the United States.

His scope of worked has crossed many boundaries including the creation of the original renderings of the Georgia Aquarium, the largest aquarium in the world.  Chosen out of a nationwide search, Mr. Johnson’s 5 by 7-foot oil on canvas commissioned portrait of Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm hangs in Brooklyn Borough Hall.

The Energy Tile Series commissioned by the YMCA for permanent installation created by Mr. Johnson remains to inspire reflecting the spirit of the movement. And, he has been listed as one of the top 100 in celebration of the Romare Bearden Centennial Celebration.  Continually participating in events focused on the uplifting of a Nation, Mr. Johnson’s original painting “The Arrivals” was presented at the LGBT Leadership Council of the Democratic National Conference to First Lady Mrs. Obama.

His unwavering self-identity and respect for the gift of art motivate him to give back to future artists through his unique teaching style designed by Al Johnson Art Studios.

His passion is to inspire.

March 17, 1957 Alfred Johnson born to Alfred and Georgianna Johnson in Jamaica Queens, New York City.
1967 Attended P.S. 135 Queens Village. Was named most talented young artist in District 29 by the Long Island Press Newspaper.
1968-1969 Won art poster contest for public safety. Selected for an exhibition for young artists at the Whitney Museum by a panel of judges. One of the judges was Romare Bearden, who told Mrs. Johnson, “your son is a composer!”
1969 While attending Junior High school P.S. 109, art teacher, Rita Dominques, spoke to New York Daily News reporter Jimmy Breslin of Al Johnson’s ability to realistically render people. She asked Mr. Breslin if Al could go in and sit with the court room sketch artist. Mr. Breslin would drive Al to the court room in Paterson, N.J. to sit in on the Rubin Hurricane Carter and John Artist trial. Al sketches both men and these sketches are part of Al Johnson’s private collection.
1971 Jimmy Breslin introduces Al Johnson to Shirley Chisholm in Brooklyn Borough Hall when he was 14 year old.
1973 Al Johnson wins awards to attend Pratt institute Arts Program in Brooklyn, New York at the age of 16.
Al Johnson works at Jamaica Arts Center in Queens as a mural artist.
1977 Attends The Art Students league. Takes life drawing and painting classes with Jack Faragrasso. Al meets illustrator and mentor Maurice McCaddy.
1979 Al Johnson joins New National Guards completes his term and returns to New York. Joins arts organizations: Urban Visions, Inc. and The Black Graphic Designer Group of New York. Works as a layout and comprehensive illustrator for African American advertising agency Larkhart and Pettus and Mingo Jones Advertising.
1982 Al Johnson and Maurice McCaddy, helped to form a cooperative studio called The Formost Group located in New York City.
1983-1985 Al Johnson is represented by Rita Butler as an illustrator. Al Johnson illustrations are found in most advertising agencies such as J. Walter Thomson and Gray Advertising agencies.
1986 Now married and still freelancing, Al Johnson moved to Washington D.C. and worked as a layout and design artist for Woodward and Lathrop stores. Designing by day and painting by night, Al also worked at the Washington Post on off days and weekends as a layout artist.
1989 Separated and moved to Atlanta, Ga. This is when I began work as a storyboard artist for feature full length films by MGM studios, Morgan Creek and all of the major ad agencies in Atlanta.
1990 Became a member of the “Film Makers of Color” an alliance of minorities film professionals that network in and around in Georgia. Al Johnson storyboards are used in many commercials and feature films.
1994 Opened a studio and created the Cross Culture Gallery in downtown Atlanta Ga.
1996 Cross Culture Gallery became an alternate venue for visiting delegates during the Atlanta Olympics.
1996-1998 Approached by the Atlanta Mayor’s office to create renderings of what is now the Shedd Aquarium, the largest aquarium in the world. These renderings are part of Al’s private collection.
1996 Akwaaba Mansion, New York
1996 African Museum of Art
1998 Al Johnson travels to Japan to exhibit at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum for group show
1998 Rush Fine Art Gallery
1999 Al Johnson returned back to New York due to his father’s health issues. He reconnected with his New York network and opened up Al Johnson Art specializing in storyboard art and becoming one of the busiest storyboard studios in the City. Al creates the storyboards for Stephen Daltry’s The Hours. During this time, Al continues to exhibit his artwork in New York galleries.
2000 9/11 destroyed the downtown New York studio where Al Johnson Art operated. Al’s commercial business suffered while New Yorkers regrouped. Work in the film business dwindled due to a lack of filming in the city.
2000 University of Rochester
2000 SONYA Art Studio Tour
2001 Artist Loft Show, New York
2002 Rush Fine Art Gallery, New York
Al Johnson focused on his fine art only. Continues to paint. One of note is his first portrait of Shirley Chisholm. This portrait becomes the marquee for the Shirley Chisholm Bedford Stuyvesant Post Office.
2002-2005 When the film The Hours wins an Oscar, Al Johnson becomes an internationally known storyboard artist.
2003 Great Neck Library, 32nd Contemporary Black Artist
2003 Rush Fine Art Gallery, New York “Aspects of Urban Life”
2003 Westside Arts Coalition, New York “Music In The Key of Life”
2003 Heather Edelman Gallery, New York
2003 Susan Benton Gallery, London
2004 Museum of Contemporary Diasporian Art (MoCADA), New York
2005 Westside Arts Coalition, New York “Blacker Than Thou – Visual Messages of the Black Experience” – Curator
2005 Pleides Gallery, New York 32nd Juried Exhibition, Jordan Kantor, Curator, MOMA
2005 Taller Boricau Gallery, New York “Blacker Than Thou – The Exhibition” – Curator
2005 Saga Art Gallery, Sonoma, CA “Cross Culture, The Exhibition”
2006 Westside Arts Coalition, New York “Blacker Than Thou – Painted Reflections” – Curator
2006 Art on The Main – Puck Building
2006 Al Johnson Art Studio, New York “7th Avenue Comes to Bed Sty” – Curator
2006 ` Shirley Chisholm Cultural Institute for Children, Inc. commissions Al Johnson to paint the portrait of Shirley Chisholm which hangs in Brooklyn’s Borough Hall.
2006 Joyce Gordan Gallery, Oakland, CA
2006-2008 Al Johnson Art Studio opens in Brooklyn, NY. Al also creates the Al Johnson mentoring program, teaching budding artists from the ages of six to sixty.
2007 Tom Joyner Foundation Cruise, Miami, FL
2007 Clay’s Gallery, Atlanta, GA
2008 Al Johnson ceramic energy tiles are a permanent instillation at the Bedford Stuyvesant YMCA.
2008 General Electric’s Corporate Headquarters, Stamford, CT Cultural Fine Art Gallery
2008 Harlem School of the Arts, New York “A Day In The Life” – curator
2009 National Black Fine Art Show, New York
2009 Jacob Javitts National Fine Art Show, New York
2009 The International Center in New York “Innervision of Hope” – Curator
2009 Taller Boricua Gallery, New York “Pulse” Group Exhibition
2009 Temple M, New York “NUDE” – Curator
2009 Brazilian Foundation for the Arts, New York “Art and Literature – The Multi-Media Dream”
2009                             storyboard art for feature film After.Life Director Agnieszka Vosloo
2009 Al Johnson is studio management proctor at Chashama Studios in Harlem. Al managed studio operations for 31 artists and curated exhibitions.
2010 Chashama Gallery, New York “Artist DNA” One Man Show
2010 Limited edition portrait commissioned for naming ceremony of Shirley Chisholm State Office Building in Brooklyn. Al Johnson is name one of the top 50 artists Brooklyn of Artcurion.
2011 Al Johnson was curator and creative director at Knox Gallery in Harlem. He opens a studio in Montclair, N.J. continues to create and is listed as one of the top Bearden 100.
2012 Al Johnson named one of the top 50 artists of the Leroy Nieman Center Art  Horizon in Harlem, N.Y. And does POP up gallery showings with Leanne Stella’s ArtInfluxMichelle Obama becomes a collector Al Johnson Art.
2013 Al Johnson’s portrait of Shirley Chisholm becomes a commemorative stamp. The Arts Students League of New York featured Al Johnson’s art on the cover of their Lines from the League an alumni magazine.
First Lady Michelle Obama graciously accepted the Al Johnson original painting “The Arrivals” at the LGBT Leadership Council of the Democratic National Conference. Accompanying this painting was an original poem written by Mr. Johnson’s 89 year old mother
2014 Storyboards for feature film Fate by director Jonathan Baker – a Paramount Pictures Production.
Jan. 2014 Artist Danny Simmons, selected Al Johnson‘s art work for exhibition Rush Art Gallery “We Can do Dat “ Show Chelsea gallery New York City.
Jan.31, 2014 Al Johnson’s portrait of Shirley Chisholm becomes a commemorative stamp.
Feb. 8 – March 15 The Room of Wonders exhibition at the La Masion D’Art Gallery in Harlem. One man show.
Feb. 28 Video taping at La Masion D’Art Gallery of Al Johnson’s “The Room of Wonders” along with Carol Johnson, current lead singer of The Marvelettes and gospel singer, and Noelle A. Francis, artistic director, Hoboken School of Music and opera singer.
March 1 When Artists Talk. Al Johnson and Ademola Olugebefola sit down for a lively discussion on expressionistic art and the making of “Interpretizm.” Location: LaMaison D’Art Gallery, 4-6 p.m.
March 14 Opening of South Orange Performance Center (SOPAC), New Jersey. COSMOSIS Exhibition. One Man Show of Al Johnson Art in the Herb and Milly Iris Gallery. Opening reception, March 14, 6 – 7 p.m. Exhibition runs until May 31.
March 15 Closing of The Room of Wonders exhibition at the La Masion D’Art Gallery in Harlem. One man show. 5 – 8 p.m.
March 29 Afroart “Art for Jazz” at For My Sweet , 1103 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11238, 3 – 9 p.m. Featuring the artwork of Al Johnson and Jimmy James Greene. This is a kick-off for Jazz Appreciation Month and to celebrate our brothers and sisters in South Africa! Exhibition runs until April 30.
May 14 When Artist Talk. Al Johnson and Micha Hamilton, curator, South Orange Performance Center discuss COSMOSIS and “Interpretizm.
May 21 Closing Exhibition of COSMOSIS at South Orange Performace Center.
Sept. 11 Al Johnson’s Visual Healing exhibition at Studio J, Long Island City, NY.
May 2016 One man exhibition at the La Maison des Arts Gallery, Port-Barcares, France.
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  • Al Johnson Art Gallery
    1338 West Ruscomb Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19141

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