City to unveil statue of noted artist
EDITOR'S NOTE: According to a press release from city officials sent our Tuesday, the unveiling will be held as planned but will be limited to no more than 50 people and social distancing will be requested.
The City of Florence will hold an unveiling ceremony for the statue of William Henry Johnson on Wednesday, March 18 at 4 p.m. The event will be held in the in the West Evans Street Breezeway, located in the 100 Block of W. Evans Street. The public is invited to attend.
William H. Johnson was an African-American artist best known for his paintings and prints of landscapes and portraits that depicted the experience of African Americans during the 1930’s and ‘40s. Johnson used a primitive style of painting in conjunction with what was considered a “folk” style, which consisted of the use of bright colors and two-dimensional figures. The Smithsonian American Art Museum considers Johnson a major American artist.
Johnson was born March 18, 1901 in Florence. He realized his dreams of becoming an artist at a young age, and at seventeen left home and settled in Harlem, New York. In his pursuit to be a cartoonist, his teacher at the National Academy of Design, Charles Webster Hawthorne, encouraged him to pursue painting instead of illustration.
“In honor of William H. Johnson, the City of Florence is pleased to have this statue homed in our downtown area for all to enjoy,” city officials stated in a press release.
The statue was designed and created by sculptor, Alex Palkovich. Alex is a native of the Ukraine, but made Florence home during his tenure as a CEO of GE Electric. Sculpting was a passion that began when he was six years old.
Many of his works can be enjoyed throughout Florence, including the eagle which resides atop an obelisk over the Florence Veterans Park and a statue of Dr. Beck, which welcomes students at the FMU School of Health Sciences Building.