Distinguished Artist Series


Addison Johnson 1892-1986


Addison Johnson was a talented artist in both oils and watercolors who captured a pastoral lifestyle which is only a memory to most Californians. Farm houses, barns, children swimming in the river, deserted coastlines and quiet places in the hills and mountains of Southern California were his subjects. (left: photo of Addison Johnson)

Born in Missouri, Johnson studied art with Frank Dumond at the Art Students League in New York City in 1917 and 1918. During the same time he studied privately with Kate Swope. At a showing for the Art Students' League George Bellows introduced himself to Johnson, saying, "I am a painter, too."

In 1922 Mr. Johnson displayed his work at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Also in that year he moved to Santa Monica, California. There, he studied at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, as well as privately with George Melcher. He lived in Santa Monica for 24 years, working as an illustrator and commercial artist.

As a member of the Santa Monica Art Association, he served as vice president and treasurer during the 1930s and 1940s. This is where he met Iris Richards, a talented artist and the secretary for the Association. They were married in 1930. During WWII Johnson drew political cartoons for the Honolulu Advertiser.

(left: 1943 political cartoons in The Honolulu Advertiser)

In 1950 Johnson completed a mural showing the Oath of Hippocrates for the Santa Monica Medical Center. In 1951 he moved with his wife and son to Riverside. There he taught at the Riverside Art Center at the same time as Milford Zornes. Visiting artists to the Art Center included Millard Sheets and Sam Malouf. Johnson also taught at the March Air Force Base and the Moreno Valley Art Association. He was a member of the Fine Arts Guild of Riverside and the Desert Art Center of Palm Springs. (left: The artist at work early in his career)

Mr Johnson showed his works regularly in Riverside County, having one-man shows at the Mission Inn, University of California, Riverside and the Paschke Gallery, also in Riverside. He was a two time winner of the Sweepstakes Award at the Riverside County Fair and won various other awards. (right and left: California back country paintings)

In addition to his painting, Mr. Johnson was an accomplished musician. He played the role of the cowboy, guitar-player in the 1940 production of the Will Rogers Memorial Pageant. His string quartet and Hawaiian band performed at various functions and parties.

Addison Johnson's work will forever capture the Southern California back roads and quiet places where he loved to spend his private time.

Text and images courtesy of Jeff Appleby. Mr Appleby may be reached at 760-233-0404.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 11/1/10

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