PARABLES OF LIFE
An Exhibition of Contemporary Art by
JOHN AUGUST SWANSON
Grand Plaza Hotel (Pearl at Monroe)
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
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
"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
(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.
(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
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.)
(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
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
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