art galleries

"working in the spirit": The Visionary art & life of elder anderson johnson, 1915-1998

Permanent exhibit located on the 2nd floor.

The son of a lunenburg county sharecropper, eight-year-old anderson johnson was hoeing his father's cornfield when he was struck by a life-changing vision of angels. baptized at the age of 12 by Bishop C.M. "Sweet Daddy" grace, he began his ministry and became an attraction on the revival circuit. 

in the ensuing years, johnson traveled throughout the united states, teaching himself to draw, play piano and guitar, and preach the gospel. in his home at 1224 ivy avenue, he established the faith mission. to attract passersby, he adorned both the exterior and interior with folk art paintings. 

in 1987, the city of newport news purchased his home for an urban renewal project. Prior to the demolition, the mrals and other significant pieces were preserved to become part of our permanent exhibit. utilizing over 600 pieces of visual art and architectural salvage, the gallery at downing-gross cultural arts center recreates vignettes from the faith mission. you are invites to enter the world of anderson johnson- his zion - to view the man and his work on his own terms.