Artist Leroy Johnson Preserves Heart Of West Philly

 

Leroy Johnson in his studio, 2014 | Photo: Ryan Collerd, The Pew center for Arts and Heritage

Leroy Johnson in his studio, 2014 | Photo: Ryan Collerd, for The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage

  •  Michael Liberman, writing for Artblog, explores self-described Urban Expressionist Leroy Johnson’s Eyewitness, an exhibition now on display at The University City Arts League (4226 Spruce Street) through March 18, in which the artist chronicles the disparate visual landscape of West Philadelphia through disparate media. Leiberman assures readers that Johnson is not an angry man and that his meditations, appearing as commentary on the “hyper-segregation in Philadelphia, about the racial divide, about the concentration of dense poverty in circumscribed areas of the city,” are more preservationist than activist. Lieberman says the sense of unease evoked by Johnson’s work says more of the gallery-goer than of Johnson, the artist-of-record. “Too many of us have our eyes closed to the neighborhood worlds that Johnson is depicting, remembering, and trying to preserve. But if we open our eyes, or let Leroy Johnson open them for us, we become participants rather than witnesses, and there perhaps arises the hope of overcoming some of the barriers, some of the forces that separate us from those communities.”
About the author

Stephen Currall recently received his BA in history from Arcadia University. Before beginning doctoral studies, he is pursuing his interest in local history, specifically just how Philadelphians engage their vibrant past. Besides skimming through 18th century letters, Steve is also interested in music and travel.

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