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1939 Sargent Johnson SFAI Artist

Sculptor, muralist, and public artist, Sargent Claude Johnson (studied 1919-1923; 1939-1940) was one of the first African-American artists from California to achieve a national reputation and the only West Coast artist considered a part of the Harlem Renaissance. Johnson worked as a supervisor for the Federal Arts Project of the WPA in San Francisco while executing major public art projects including a glazed tile relief at the Maritime Museum in Aquatic Park as well as sculpted the Vermont Granite at the building’s entrance. Johnson’s tile work was never completed because of a controversy with how the building was going to be privatized, and he walked off the job in protest.

He also completed an elaborate frieze depicting athletics at George Washington High School (highlighting women athletes, anticipating Title 9), as well as artwork at the 1939/1940 Golden Gate International Exhibition on Treasure Island. In 1944 he received the Rosenberg Travelling Scholarship administered by the School to travel, study, and do archaeological research in Mexico investigating the influence of color in ceramics.


With permission, SFAA is re-posting the emails Jeff Gunderson Librarian/Archivist Anne Bremer Memorial Library has been sending out since March 2020. Please enjoy this magnificent archive.





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SF Artists Alumni Inc., San Francisco, CA 94131