Beginning February 18, the Newsome House will be the site of the “Anderson Johnson Art & Soul Exhibition Series.” Anderson Johnson (1915-1998) was a self-taught artist, musician, and a preacher who established a house of worship in the mid-1980s in his Southeast Community home. To attract people to his mission, Johnson adorned the exterior and interior of his house with his paintings. His portraits included U.S. presidents, women, Biblical figures,
celebrities, animals and angels – most painted on cardboard and other scrap materials. In the 1990s, Johnson’s home was razed for an urban renewal project, but prior to demolition, his murals were saved and are now on display in a permanent exhibition at Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center.
Johnson taught himself to sing and play music in a highly personal, deeply passionate style. Later, he would come to feel that his artwork, preaching and drawing were all part of his call to serve God. Pursuing service to humanity, in the 1950s, Johnson transformed his home at 1224 Ivy Avenue into the Faith Mission, covering the interior and exterior walls and ceilings with visionary art. He rapidly gained recognition as one of America’s most prominent folk artists, famous for his portraits of big-eyed women, cats, U.S. presidents and biblical figures, especially angels.
Newsome House is located at 2803 Oak Avenue and open 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Thursday through Saturday. There is no admission fee, but there is a suggested $2 donation. For those unfamiliar with The Newsome House, it is the former home of J. Thomas Newsome, a respected attorney, journalist and civic leader in Newport News who prospered as part of the post-Civil War South’s new urban African-American middle class. For more information call 757-247-2360 or visit www.newsomehouse.org