Philadelphia artist showcases artwork in center city

By Felicia Melvin
January 30, 2011

Trash, paint and street scenes are used as the materials in  the creative and innovating artwork of Leroy Johnson’s art exhibit titled The Remnants of a City.  The Magic Gardens in Philadelphia showcased the artwork of Philadelphia native Leroy Johnson in Center City.
“God taught me how to paint. I didn’t go to art school for any degree. When I was 7 years old I read Richard Wright’s “Native Son” and I heard a voice telling me I was going to be an artist,”  Johnson said.
The Magic Gardens is a gallery space and nonprofit organization that displays the work of Isaiah Zagar. Many artistic events are held at the Magic Gardens for inexpensive prices.
“I like Philly. Anytime I travel somewhere else I want to come back. I need a place with a lot of trash and stuff for my art. Everywhere else is too clean,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s art entails tiny street scenes, using different objects thrown together to produce his imagery of Philadelphia.
“I love Leroy’s art. I love how it’s pretty and gritty at the same time. It’s beautiful and it represents Philadelphia,” Johanna Roebas, an observer, said.
“Art should be used as a therapeutic and remedial tool. There are people who have things happen to them that they can’t express. Art can help them. Art in the proper context can give you academic skills. You can learn everything you need if you learn through art,” Johnson said.
“His art is very dynamic. He tells a lot of Philadelphia’s story. He is also a pleasure to work with,” Ellen Owen, executive director of the Magic Gardens, said.
“This is what I do. I’m going to do this till God takes me,” Johnson said. “I work every day. I have an obsession about doing this. This is what God called me to do.”

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Felicia Melvin

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