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Art and reading comprise Sunday presentation and launch of new exhibition at Richland Library

Art and reading synthesize twin passions Dr. Tom L. Johnson cultivated over many years. The passions ultimately become a private art collection, “A World of Readers.”

He will show and discuss paintings from his collection during a free presentation Feb. 25, at 3 p.m. at Richland Main’s Auditorium (1431 Assembly Street).

Johnson was inspired to begin collecting works of art in which subjects were reading after he organized a sweeping 2008 exhibition entitled “People Reading” for the Spartanburg Art Museum.
The sixty pieces of art exhibited in Spartanburg, representing a broad range of media, were on loan from the private 1,300-piece collection of New Yorkers Donald and Patricia Oresman; the cosmopolitan couple already had been adding to and curating the collection for more than four decades.

As guest curator of that landmark exhibition, Johnson noted in a 2008 article published in South Carolina Homes and Gardens, the only other venues in which works from the Oresman’s collection had appeared were in The New Yorker, the Paris Review, and in a New York exhibition earlier in the 21st century.

After serving as Caroliniana field archivist for 28 years, retiring in 2002, Johnson ultimately relocated to the Asheville, NC area. Last year, Johnson showed works and presented anecdotes from his collection, “A World of Readers,” at Spartanburg Day School. His return for this February presentation at Richland Library will be the first time for works from his collection to be shown in Columbia.

Johnson authored, with Phillip C. Dunn, the evocative “A True Likeness: The Black South of Richard Samuel Roberts,” based on Roberts’ iconic black and white photographs, many taken in Columbia.

Johnson’s “A World of Readers” presentation also will launch “Art of Reading,” a ripple effect exhibition of works by local and regional artists, on view at Richland Library. Opening just ahead of Deckle Edge Literary Festival Saturday, March 3, “Art of Reading” serves as a visual prologue for that literary event.

For “Art of Reading,” Richland Library Arts Librarian Ashley Warthen chose paintings, drawings, charcoals, and lithographs created by some of Columbia’s top-tier artists. “Art of Reading” will remain on view at Richland Library through mid-March.The combination presentation and exhibition launch were featured in the January-February issue of Columbia Living Magazine’s Art Seen.

For additional information, visit RichlandLibrary.com.

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