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Buena Johnson Art Exhibition ‘Soul’s Cry!’ Highlights American History
By Brian W. Carter, Contributing Writer
Published March 11, 2021

Artist, arts instructor and the owner of Buena Vision Art, Buena Johnson Courtesy Photo

“My show is a reimagining of history—the taking back of culture and truthful depiction of America’s evils that are too often hidden,” said artist, Buena Johnson about her upcoming virtual artist exhibition “Soul’s Cry!” which opens March 16 through April 10, at TAG Gallery on Museum Row.

“On display will be newly created powerful artworks addressing the themes of America’s history of slavery, racism, & injustices.”

A local, Los Angeles fine artist, arts instructor and the owner of Buena Vision Art, Johnson stated she grew up as a “PK” AKA “Preacher’s Kid.” The youngest of six siblings, she used art as an escape growing up during the segregation and integration era. She discovered she had a passion for drawing early on and wanted to become an artist. Despite her interest in art, Johnson shared her parents didn’t see it as practical career.

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“My first degree was a teacher’s degree—Bachelor of Science in education because my parents couldn’t visualize how I’d make a living as an artist,” said Johnson. “Then, I continued my studies in art at Pratt Institute of Art in New York, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.”

Johnson recounted people of color were severely underrepresented in the art world. She decided that she was going to do something about the void.

“Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen” by Buena Johnson (c)2018 a 22×30 Acrylic Pencils on Rag Board based on Negro Spiritual Slave Songs-referred to as sorrow songs Courtesy Photo

“During my college years, there wasn’t any Black history studies nor positive Black imagery present to inspire me,” said Johnson. “The omission of contributions by Black Americans throughout history and art inspired me to make art with positive Black and Brown images.”

Johnson shared she is inspired by African American artist, Charles White and current artists like Kara Walker and Kehinde Wiley. Johnson’s medium of choice is pencil and uses it towards the style of realism, being a fan of portrait and figurative art. Some of her earlier works were of legendary jazz, blues and gospel artists, which received widespread recognition. Johnson has also done a series on Angels inspired by the Bible.

Her work has been showcased in the Smithsonian, The Getty Collection, MOCA Los Angeles as well as other museums and galleries nationally and internationally. Some of her collectors and art commissions include, actress Halle Berry, Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post, Dick Van Dyke, Barbara Sinatra, Queen Latifah, Tavis Smiley, The Los Angeles Dodgers, United Airlines, McDonald’s, Cecil ‘Chip’ Murray, Bernard & Shirley Kinsey and more. The police shootings and racial reckonings of 2020 have inspired her more recent works.

“During this unprecedented time of disproportionate killing of my brothers and sisters and ongoing racial injustices and inequalities, and America’s history of slavery, my work is directly affected as an artist, a woman, and an artist of color,” said Johnson. “Therefore, it’s important for me to use my art as a means to educate, inspire, inform, heal, and uplift the viewer.”

Johnson continued, “The killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Avery, and so many more opened the eyes of the world to see the mistreatment and racial injustices of minorities during this pandemic. Thus, it has caused me to reflect on and research our history, America’s history of injustices and portray these images symbolically and realistically in my artworks.”

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In 2019, Johnson participated in the debut of Bakewell Media’s Taste of Soul Art Experience, which showcased the works of local artists. She shared what it was like to be a part of the installation and the impression it left upon her.

“Underneath the huge artist-only tent, thousands of attendees had access to our artwork and we had access to them one-on-one,” said Johnson. “The largest outdoor gallery (in my opinion) that I’ve had the pleasure to participate.

“US, A NATION” by Buena Johnson is a pencil and collage, a symbolic pc showing animals which represent greed, deceit, dishonesty, treachery & trickery. Courtesy Photo

“I’ve exhibited in the Beverly Hills Art Show and won numerous awards but I think the attendance was greater at Taste of Soul. Being within my own community to showcase artwork to hundreds of thousands who may not have access or frequent galleries and museums, and also to those who collect and appreciate art, some collecting for the first time, had a special meaning for me. I am very grateful to everyone at Taste of Soul for a stellar event!”

Johnson shared her excitement in being selected to show an exhibit at TAG Gallery. There is limited in person visits with safety measures allowed at the gallery by appointment observing COVID-19 guidelines. There will be a virtual component to the exhibition.

“I am delighted to have been selected for a solo virtual artist exhibition,” said Johnson. “My work is to educate and bring hope and motivation for others to join the fight for change. As an inspired artist, I am serving as a recorder, storyteller, and advocate for these souls…for my soul to keep thriving. I am here now, with the strength of my ancestors to speak for us now through this artistic medium.”

It is free to attend but participants must register for a free ticket purchase on TAG Gallery’s website. Buena Johnson’s solo Virtual Artist Exhibition titled “Soul’s Cry!” opens March 16- April 10 at TAG Gallery on Museum Row located at 5458 Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles, CA 90036. A virtual artist talk and walk through takes place Thursday, March 18 at 7pm.

“I believe my art skill and talent is a gift from God and I am thankful,” said Johnson.

For more information, please visit www.taggallery.net

To contact Buena Johnson, please send inquiries at [email protected] You can also find her on Instagram and Facebook.

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