Parables of Life


An Exhibition of Contemporary Art by
Bergsma Gallery
Grand Plaza Hotel (Pearl at Monroe)
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

(616) 458-1776

Exhibited at the Marian Library: May 3 - June 25, 1993

N.B. The images reproduced below are copyrighted to John August Swanson. He permits us to display them for this one-time on-line use only.

"Not many contemporary artists tell full-length stories in their paintings. But John August Swanson of Los Angeles does. A narrative artist par excellence, he tells his stories in lively appealing scenes of brilliant color.

"[John] Swanson ... discussing his art:
'Each work evolves from many sources. It may be a chance remark. I make a sketch. A year passes. I go back to it. I read the story again. I make more sketches. It's like ground being prepared for planting. It may take a long time. You keep the story in your dark imagination, fermenting.'

[Each Time I Think of You, Madonna and Child]
Each Time I Think of You
(C) 1986 by John August Swanson
Drawing 16" x 15"

"Swanson paints in oil, acrylic, water-color, and mixed media. He is an independent printmaker of limited edition serigraphs, lithographs and etchings.

[Wedding Feast serigraph]
Wedding Feast
(C) 1996 by John August Swanson
Serigraph 24 3/4" x 16 3/4"
"As much as Swanson loves to paint Biblical stories, he does not limit himself to these. The whole world is his subject. He paints the circus, the concert, the opera, city and country walks, the train station, clowns, astronauts, animals, puppets, everyday life. There is joy, color, life, inner transformation.

"He cannot be typed as an artist, except that he is a storyteller. His art is for everyone - all classes, all religions, all nationalities. And so is he.

"He decided to take a course in calligraphy from Sister Corita Kent at Immaculate Heart College in the '60s. He discovered the kind of art he was looking for. Once he helped Sister Corita make serigraphs.... He said to himself: 'This is something I can do and want to do.'

"He credits her with giving him the initial knowledge and desire to become an artist and for opening his eyes to the meaning of color and joy in living.

"Swanson believes the spiritual is everywhere in life.

"'Just creating an artwork is spiritual. Any image can be spiritual. I find the circus is spiritual. It brings great joy and laughter. Clowns are spiritual. I think music is spiritual. People's lives are spiritual. I want to reach as many people as I can. I want to communicate with people everywhere. I want to connect with them.'" (Martha Mary McGaw, CSJ, The Sooner Catholic, Sept. 15, 1991.)

Mr. Swanson's work is in renowned collections throughout the world, including the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the Tate Gallery and the Vatican Museum Collection of Modern Religious Art. He was recently featured in a five-page layout in Christianity and the Arts (Aug.-Oct. 1997).

In 1996 Mr. Swanson received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from California Lutheran University.

(The Bergsma Gallery of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has provided the works on display at The Marian Library.)

[Nativity Scene]
(C) 1988 by John August Swanson
Ed 210 Serigraph 38 1/2" x 11 3/4"


Acrobats, 1986, 66/100, multi-plate etching

The Carousel, 1975, A/P, serigraph

Circus Gallop, 1986, 20/150, etching

Circus Horses, 1982, 15/100, lithograph

The Concert, 1977, 66/115, serigraph

Daniel, 1983, 22/50, etching

The Dream of Jacob, 1974, 37/70, serigraph

Dvorak's Quartet, 1984, 23/50, etching

Ecclesiastes, 1989, 78/260, serigraph

Flying Trapeze, 1986, A/P, 6/15, etching

Francis of Assisi, 1986, 7/100, lithograph

Jonah, 1983, 33/60, lithograph

Lion Tamer, 1986, A/P, 2/10, etching

Loaves and Fishes, 1986, acrylic

Morning Suite, 1979, all 78/100:

Alarm Clock, etching
Dressing Up, etching
Ironing Clothes, serigraph
Let the Sun Shine In, engraving
Milkman, engraving
Morning News, serigraph
Morning Post, etching
Morning Scenes, engraving
Morning Shave, etching
Sunny Side Up, lithograph

Nebuchadnezzar, 1983, 32/40, lithograph

The Opera (The Magic Flute), 1991, 28/110, serigraph

Pentecost, 1983, 14/50, etching

The Procession, 1982, poster

Prodigal Son, 1984, 35/150, serigraph

Rainy Day, 1981, 74/150, serigraph

The River, 1987, 21/225, serigraph

St. Michael, 1983, 28/50, etching

Story of Joseph, 1986, 38/200, serigraph

Story of Ruth, 1991, 46/280, serigraph

The Train Station, 1975, 75/175, serigraph

Triptych, 1988, serigraphs

Epiphany, 120/210
Nativity, 118/210
Shepherds, 52/175

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