Contemporary Landscapes Incorporate Interpretations of Nineteenth-Century Sketches

Winchester, VA 10/02/13…Fourteen contemporary paintings by artist Teddy Johnson are now on view in the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV) Art in the Halls Glaize Hall space.

From Frederick County, Virginia, Teddy Johnson has spent much of the last decade working as an artist in Baltimore, Maryland. In his Art in the Halls display at the MSV, 14 paintings comprise These Two Highways, a grouping inspired by his travels on highways 70 and 340 between his Baltimore and Shenandoah Valley homes. Each painting features personal interpretations of the present-day landscape and incorporates interpretations of sketches by David Hunter Strother (1816–1888), a nineteenth-century Harper’s Weekly illustrator, writer, and journalist. Born in Martinsburg, West Virginia, Strother trained as an artist in Europe and then, working under the name Porte Crayon, gained fame as a writer and illustrator for national magazines. These Two Highways will be on view in the MSV through December 15, 2013.

According to Johnson, the works on view in the MSV are part of an ongoing series that he started in 2010; all paintings on view in the MSV were completed in 2012 and 2013. Featuring vibrant colors, notable works in the display include the 2012 painting Near Adventure Park USA On His Way to the Mineral Springs at Bath. The painting depicts a stretch of highway near Frederick, Maryland, and incorporates Johnson’s interpretation of a Strother sketch of a man on horseback near Berkley Springs, West Virginia. This painting, says Johnson, describes his mental reflections during long drives to visit family and teach a drawing class at Shepherd University. 

Another 2012 work, Betty Sweat by Route 340, juxtaposes a modern-day view along Route 340 with a nineteenth-century African American laborer whom Strother documented. It is among several paintings in These Two Highways depicting antebellum African Americans who worked in the area and were documented by Strother. Johnson imagines that some of the individuals featured in his paintings could have passed through the area by the Underground Railroad or other means.

Painted in 2013 and one of the newest in the series is Single Family Homes: David and Anne Near Brunswick. In this work, Johnson pictures a landscape near Brunswick, Maryland, featuring new home construction and real estate signs coupled with a reworking of a Strother illustration of himself and his first wife, Anne Doyne Wolff Strother (1830–1859).

Teddy Johnson’s paintings play with the traditions of western art and history as a forum to explore storytelling, human psychology, color, and culture. He has presented solo exhibitions in Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, and New York City. In addition to the MSV display, this fall he is exhibiting work at the Cade Fine Arts Center Gallery at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Maryland, and at the Linda Matney Gallery in Williamsburg, Virginia. Johnson’s paintings have been featured in the Korean magazine, Art People, as well as in Urbanite and Baltimore Style Magazine. His work has been exhibited in Italy and Korea, and he has curated shows in Baltimore, Maryland, and Brooklyn, New York, with the Rotating History Project, which he co-founded with fellow Baltimore artist Heather Rounds in 2010. The duo is currently working on an upcoming show, The Clermont Forum II: Interpreting Clermont’s History Through Art, which is scheduled to open in the spring of 2014 in the historic buildings on the grounds of Clermont, a 361-acre, eighteenth-century farmstead in Clarke County, Virginia.

A graduate of James Wood High School (2000) in Frederick County, Virginia, Johnson’s education includes a bachelor’s degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art, a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia, and two semesters of study in Cortona, Italy.  

Johnson will be at the MSV from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on December 14 and 15 to meet visitors and have an informal discussion his works, all of which will be available for purchase following their display at the Museum.

The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley is located at 901 Amherst Street in Winchester, Virginia. The MSV complex—which includes galleries, the Glen Burnie House, and six acres of gardens—is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Additional information is available at or by calling 540-662-1473, ext. 235.