Cahoon Museum of American Art

photo © 1996 Paul Murphy, Hyannis, MA

Cotuit, MA



ABC...123: Still Life Paintings by Stephen Johnson


The Cahoon Museum of American Art will present the exhibition "ABC...123: Still Life Paintings by Stephen Johnson" through November 11, 2000.

The show features 15 of the large, handsome watercolor-and-pastel combinations that became the illustrations for two children's picture books by Stephen Johnson -- "Alphabet City" (Viking, 1995), which won the Caldecott Honor and other prestigious awards, and "City by Numbers" (Viking,1998).

The plan to create "Alphabet City" evolved after Johnson spotted a keystone in a New York City archway that looked liked an "S" and a fire escape that resembled a "Z." He made it his goal to find scenes representing every letter of the alphabet, then carried the concept over to the numbers one through 21 for "City by Numbers."

The exhibition at the Cahoon Museum will include Johnson's "3," picturing a decorative shape in the grating over a window; "8," in which the number is formed by the touching brims of two trash baskets; "A," the side view of a sawhorse; and "M," a representation of the M-shaped support of a bridge. Children - and adults, too! - will have fun finding the images of letters and numbers that unexpectedly appear in the everyday urban environment. The paintings may well inspire all of us to take a closer look at the world around us. (left: "A" from Alphabet City, pastel and watercolor)

After living in Brooklyn for 13 years, Johnson recently moved back to his home state of Kansas. His illustrations have appeared in such major publications as Time, Forbes Magazine and The New Yorker, as well as in 13 children's books. His 2 year-old daughter, Sophia, served as the subject for illustrations in an upcoming book.

This show has been generously underwritten by a grant from the Marion Jordan Charitable Foundation.

Read more about the Cahoon Museum of American Art in Resource Library Magazine

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This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 4/6/11

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