MOV File
Online Collections

George Johanson

American, born 1928


Seattle 1928



Occupation or Type



Northwest artist

Oregon artist


A Scholastic Magazine scholarship brought George Johanson to Portland from Seattle in 1946 to attend the Museum Art School. It was his first acquaintance with fine art and it also introduced him to printmaking. He joined fellow artists Rick Norwood and Bob Galaher in a traveling exhibition of best student artists in 1949. He assisted artist Lucia Wiley with the murals she completed in Tillamook in 1950. In 1951 he traveled to New York to study etching at Atelier 17. He spent two years as a volunteer in rural Mexico and then returned to Portland in 1955. Soon after his return he joined the faculty of the Museum Art School and remained there for twenty-five years until his retirement in 1980, serving as head of the printmaking department for fifteen years. Johanson received the Governor’s Award for the Arts in 1992.

Working out of a studio in his home, Johanson always divided his time between painting and printmaking. His subject matter often included figures in interior spaces with the cityscape in the distance. Strong surrealist tones, underlying mystery with colors that evoke another time or place, figures caught up in situations that are fascinating to observe and yet distanced from the observer are all characteristics of his work. The omnipresent cat is also a feature. Little affected by the landscape of the region, Johanson’s studies grew out of his own invention and originality.

Artist biography reproduced with permission from the authors, Oregon Painters: the First Hundred Years (1859-1959), Ginny Allen and Jody Klevit.



Related People

Associate of: Robert Galaher (American, 1919-1974)

Assistant to: Lucia Wiley (American, 1906-1998)

Related Terms
Related Artworks
IMLS logoNEA logoNEH logo

The Portland Art Museum’s Online Collections site is brought to you thanks to support provided by the State of Oregon through its second Culture, History, Arts, Movies, and Preservation funding program and generous awards from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts.