By Abbey Snow
Floyd Johnson “Keeping an Eye on Art”
As a child, Floyd Morris Johnson started his art journey ‘with a pencil in hand’ creating artwork that has expanded over time, from being an editorial cartoonist to showcasing his work in notable museum exhibits.
“I had two older brothers who became artists, so I was brought up with a pencil in my hand,”Johsnon said. “We all did cartoons for our school newspapers and I had no doubt that I wanted to be an artist.”
Johnson was born in 1936 to immigrant Norwegian and Swedish parents. He attended the University of Minnesota contributing to the Minnesota Daily campus newspaper as a cartoonist while working in a sign shop. After graduating in 1956 from UMN with an ALA degree, he started his professional career designing packages for a manufacturing company for three years before exploring his adventurous side with his artistic brother during a tour of Europe. Afterwards, he moved to New York City and began working as a freelance commercial artist for two years with his two older brothers during which he gained valuable experience. He then moved back to his home state of Minnesota where he continued to sharpen his skills as a commercial free-lancer.
“I worked as a free-lancer in commercial art until 1974 when I lost sight in one eye and had only partial vision in my other from previous eye surgeries,” Johnson said. “ So, fine-art painting, which had been a hobby, then became a full-time quest along with doing editorial cartoons for 17 years.”
Despite suffering from a deteriorating retina condition, Johnson went on to open his own gallery in 1978, Viking Art Gallery, inspired by his heritage. A year later he opened his second gallery, Floyd Johnson Gallery, which he owned and operated for a number of years.
“I really enjoy doing a variety of styles and techniques,” Johnson said. “ I did my last oil painting in 1965. Since then I have used acrylics along with pen and pencil work. I like to do portraits, landscapes, Western, Viking Art and novelties. It’s always fun to try new approaches”
Johnson’s art creations have been displayed in various museums and exhibits. Amongst these include:paintings permanently owned and hung at the Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum in Decorah, Iowa; commissioned paintings by the Minnesota Vikings Football Club; The National Hockey Hall of Fame;Stavanger Art Museum in Norway; artwork in the private collections at General Mills, Honeywell, the Viking Building in NYC,Sister Kenny Institute and the Mesquite Fine Arts Center.
His artwork was shown on the CBS network show “60 Minutes.” He’s also had feature articles written about him in American Artist Magazine, Boy Scouts of America,Viking Magazine and the Minneapolis Star/Tribune. In 1987 he was chosen as the American/Norwegian Artist of the Year which resulted in a one-man exhibition of his original art at the Stavanger Art Museum in Norway.
Johnson moved to Lake Tahoe in 1987 where he marketed his freelance paintings and drawings, and contributed to the Lake Tahoe Tribune as an editorial cartoonist for 15 years. He also became a member of the National Cartoonists Society. He eventually settled into his current residence in Mesquite in 2014 and became involved with the Virgin Valley Artists Association and the Mesquite Fine Arts Center.
“I moved here to Mesquite in 2010 after a forced foreclosure of my home at Lake Tahoe,” Johnson said. “ I lived for two years at the Far West side of town and (ashamedly) never once got to the Mesquite gallery back then.I moved to the Phoenix area in 2012 for two years, living with my son and returned back to Mesquite in 2014. This time I visited the gallery and was overwhelmed by its size and presence. I went right over to the front desk and signed in. I’ve been an active and appreciative member ever since. I have even signed up my son (who now lives in the Philadelphia area) as a gallery member. He’s won some gallery ribbons and had sales too, at the gallery. He’s very busy in Philly, but I encourage him to still do art as his hobby. He’s good!”
At the MFAC, he has won six Best of Show ribbons as well as many others.
“What is most important to me is the satisfaction I get from everyday folks who have been supportive,”Johnson said. “Most of all, has been the unfailing support that my dear family has given me all my life. I’m a lucky guy, still plodding along.”
Johnson said he’s received kind remarks from many through the years about his artwork, which gives him a sense of satisfaction.
“I love my association with Mesquite Arts Center as their monthly themes “forces” me to come up with new art on a regular basis.” Johnson said.
Amy Wells is the chairperson for ‘Artist of the Month’ at the Mesquite Fine Arts Center.
“Floyd is amazing!” Wells said. “ I love some of the mixed media he does.He has done multiple works that feature more than just paint. He has a large Lady Gaga painting where he used a CD for her eye. There are landscapes where he has integrated rocks and sand as part of the landscape. I love this because it provides depth. He is also a Vikings fan, but I won’t hold that against him.”
Currently Johnson sells art prints nationally, but his concentration has been creating originals for Mesquite Fine Arts Center.
For more information regarding prints and/or commissioned art work visit www.floydjohnsonstudio.com
Art by Floyd Johnson ( submitted by Floyd Johnson).
“Honoring Those Who Served” is a 36 x 48″ acrylic painting.
“New York, New York” 24 x 48″ acrylic painting which was the first canvas at the Mesquite Fine Arts Center to win all four of the competitive ribbon awards.
“Music in Lady Gaga’s Eye” is a 24 x 36″ acrylic painting.
“Bronson” is a 16 x 40″ acrylic painting.
“Tempest” is a 12 x 36″ acrylic that won ‘Best of Show’ at Mesquite Fine Arts Center.
“Psycho Shower” is a 24 x 72″acrylic painting with a real shower curtain. ” It was interesting having it displayed at the Mesquite Gallery, with the shower curtain slightly open,”Johnson said.
“The Old Man and the See” is a 16 x 20″ acrylic.
“Forever Marilyn” is a 36 x 72″ painting Johnson had hanging in the Mesquite Fine Arts Center for his ‘Artist of the Month’ wall in 2020.
“Depth of the Grand Canyon” is a 24 x 36″ acrylic, sand and rock piece currently on display at the Mesquite Fine Arts Center.
“Churchill ” is a 28 x 28″ white pencil and acrylic on black board
“I Can’t Read” is a 9 x 12″ acrylic that won First Place in the National Small Arts Competition.