The Artist's Eye: Vernon P. Johnson's Watercolors of 1950s Small Town America

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Knox County Historical Society, 2010 - Mount Vernon (Ohio) - 128 pages
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"The Artist's Eye: Vernon P. Johnson's Watercolors of 1950s Small Town America" uses Mount Vernon, Ohio as the setting to document the enduring legacy of this transitional decade in which the first generation of Baby Boomers was born. In the 1950s, Mount Vernon in Knox County in central Ohio was an iconic example of small town America, animated by the tug between tradition and progress. Johnson was an accomplished watercolor artist and Ohio native who studied under the influential artists of the popular "Cleveland School" in the late 1930s and, after serving in World War II, became a graphic design innovator in the burgeoning flexible packaging industry. He had a particular vision for the everyday scenes and values of small town America. In a volume that is part memoir, author Janis Johnson, the artist's daughter and a published journalist and writer, takes us back to the 1950s using extensive family memorabilia and her father's paintings, drawings, journals and writings. She returned to her hometown of Mount Vernon, Ohio to capture the voices of those who knew the artist and own his works. In partnership with the Knox County Historical Society, The Artist's Eye translates the story of one community into the larger and more far-reaching story of the 1950s across America.

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About the author (2010)

Janis Johnson, the artist’s daughter, is a Baby Boomer who was born in Mount Vernon, Ohio. She has chronicled people and places in magazines such as Smithsonian and Humanities, and as a staff writer for The Washington Post and correspondent for USA Today, MiamiHerald, Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Globe and International Herald Tribune. Her insider’s view uses original and historical material to document changing communities, landscapes and cultures, from the Irish Immigration and Willa Cather to Miami Beach Art Deco, school desegregation in Virginia and the byways of France and Italy. In the Introduction to Hollin Hills: Community of Vision in 2000, she described the enduring character of the award-winning 1950s-era neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia. Janis Johnson is a consultant and writer in the San Francisco Bay Area and owner/principal of Johnson Consulting/Strategic Communications – www.jjohnsoncommunication.com.

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