The 2018 Panelists for The Saga of Faith Mission


More information on the panelists and individuals involved in the event held on March 17th, 2018. To register for this event, click here.

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Deborah McLeod

Deborah McLeod has been a curator of contemporary art for nearly thirty years. She has written art reviews, art criticism, art essays for catalogs, and articles about artists for much of that same period. She has worked in the curatorial service of art for 2nd Street Gallery, The Peninsula Fine Arts Center, The Hand Workshop Art Center, The Arts Council of Virginia, The McLean Project for the Arts, and most recently in her own gallery, Chroma Projects Art Laboratory. Her writing has been published in ArtPapers, Sculpture Magazine, Ceramics: Art & Perception, Style Magazine, The Virginian Pilot Ledger Star, The Easton Star Democrat, C'Ville Magazine, and Baltimore City Paper. She received a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council to produce Purification, a film on river baptism on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and a Virginia Foundation for the Humanities grant to publish Repository of Missing Places, a book on the life work of artist, Richard Crozier. She created and organized FLOW: The 2017 Rivanna River Art Festival. One of her proudest accomplishments was spearheading the community effort to preserve the works from the Anderson Johnson Faith Mission in Newport News, Virginia. Ms. McLeod currently lives in Charlottesville, VA, where she is working on this coming year’s FLOW Festival.

Mary LaPrade Kayaselcuk

Mary LaPrade Kayaselcuk is a proud native of Newport News and a local historian. She has a BA from Longwood College, History and Art, 1974, and an MA from Hampton University in Museum Studies, 1986. Kayaselcuk has been a career city employee with the Division of Museums & Historic Services since 1978. As a city employee she has worked as a designer and historian at all the city’s museums including the Virginia War Museum, Endview Plantation and Lee Hall Mansion. She has also been involved with numerous exhibit design and historical print publications, most recently the gallery “Working in the Spirit: The Life & Times of Elder Anderson Johnson, 1917-1986" at the Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center.  As site coordinator at The Newsome House Museum & Cultural Center, she oversaw restoration of that property.  Presently, she is the site coordinator for the Lee Hall Depot.


Kayaselcuk authored, Heroes Forever: The Story of the Newport News Victory Arch, that was published in 1986 by the City of Newport News.  The book is an extension of her interest and pride in her hometown and of her desire to communicate the city’s dynamic legacy to other. For the last ten years she has been restoring the 1900 Harwood mansion at 5400 Huntington Avenue in North End.  She recently gifted this period house to the City of Newport News to be used for historic and educational endeavors. In her spare time, she does first person living history interpretations as The History Missie.

For her full bio, click here.

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Ann and William Oppenhimer

William Oppenhimer is a retired obstetrician-gynecologist from Richmond, Va.He is the Co-founder of the Folk Art Society of America, a collector of Folk Art and friend of Elder Anderson Johnson.Ann Oppenhimer is a retired Art History Instructor at the University of Richmond. She is the Co-founder of the Folk Art Society of America and its President from 1987 to 2014. Oppenhimer is also the Editor and Publisher of the magazine, Folk Art Messenger. She is a collector of Folk Art and friend of Elder Anderson Johnson.

Together they have donated a portion of their folk art collection to Longwood University and to the Downing-Gross Cultural Art Center's Anderson Johnson Collection. Their folk art collection traveled to 8 museums during a 4-year period in an exhibition sponsored by the University of Richmond.Folk Art from their collection has been shown in more than 60 exhibitions.

Everna Lee Taylor

After a 39 year hiatus, this self-taught artist only recently resurrected his innate ability to create his own brand of art. In the course of the revival, Everna believes that the absence of formal training actually worked in his favor. He is void of any inhibitions, thus allowing him complete freedom of expression without being shackled to any one style or medium.

Actually, Everna has vigorously avoided labels and never considered himself an artist in the traditional sense. He prefers to be thought of as a “pictorial storyteller”. The depth and intensity of the stories in his works are only limited by the interpretation of the viewer.

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Claude O. Jones III

Claude Jones has a B.S. in Graphic Arts and a minor in Graphic Design. He was a good friend of Elder Anderson Johnson and often bought him food, various supplies and materials, and gallons of his favorite paint. Jones knew Johnson for many years and even acted as one of his biggest advocates by introducing Johnson to some of his would-be collectors. In the end, Jones honored Johnson by speaking at his funeral and is featured in the short documentary on Johnson shown in our permanent exhibit “Working in the Spirit”: The Visionary Life of Elder Anderson Johnson, 1915-1998 in the Anderson Johnson Gallery.

Vernon L. Carter

Although a federal acquisition analyst by training, Vernon Carter developed a passion for art and art history early in life.  His father was a well-known commercial artist in the Middle Peninsula and the Northern Neck of Virginia, and his three brothers are all artists.  Vernon holds degrees in Fine Arts and Photography from Northern Virginia Community College, Museum and Gallery Acquisition Management from George Mason University, and Federal Acquisition Management from George Washington University.  In addition he has begun to pursue a MA in history at George Mason University.  He has a keen interest in acquisition management as it relates to federally funded museums and galleries and he is an avid art collector.  After retiring from the federal government at the executive management level, he has held art exhibits at the Reedville Fisherman’s Museum, the Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, and Gloucester Arts on Main.

He is a member of the Smithsonian Associates, the Virginia Historical Society, and the Reedville Fisherman’s Museum.  He is a charter member of the National Museum of African American History & Culture and a board member of the Woodville Rosenwald School Foundation.  He works at the White House Visitor Center and President’s Park as a volunteer park ranger where he is researching and documenting information on colonial historical localities in Virginia and their direct connection to the White House and early U.S. presidents.

Vernon Carter first met Anderson Johnson in Newport News, Virginia, in the early 1980s when Johnson was not a well-known artist.  He and his wife, Yvonne Johnson Carter visited Elder Johnson quite often at his Faith Mission on 26th Street.  The two of them are co-authoring a book entitled, A Man Inspired by God: The Art and Life of Elder Anderson Johnson.  The book will be available this Spring.

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Andrew Baxter

Andrew Baxter, President of Bronze et al Ltd. in Richmond, VA, has extensive experience with the conservation of monuments, sculpture, and objects including:  The Virginia Washington Monument, Richmond. The Martin Luther King Memorial, Roanoke.  A.P. Hill, Christopher Columbus, The Reconciliation Monument, The City of Richmond.  He also installed Sculpture Garden at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.  Baxter carried out the complete restoration and installation of the 22 ton marble Moghul Empire Pavilion for the McGlothlin Wing at the VMFA as well as outdoor sculpture, the Presidential Seal, objects in the Oval Office, and the Monroe Plateau at The White House.  Baxter led the welded structural repairs and complete repatination of the monumental scale Henry Moore bronzes in front of the National Gallery of Art, among other projects at the NGA, for the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Museum of American Art, and National Museum of African Art.  He has also done Condition Surveys for the North Carolina Museum of Art, University of Miami, and the City of Roanoke. 

For a complete list, click here.

Valeria T. Hundley

After retiring from the Newport News Public School System, Valeria Hundley became a volunteer at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center in Newport News, VA. There, she met Deborah McLeod and James Warwick Jones who had followed Anderson Johnson’s work long before his Faith Mission on Ivy Avenue was marked for demolition making space for city development. Anxious to learn more about this folk artist, as well as to work with McLeod, Jones, and other staff at PFAC, Hundley began to work to save the Faith Mission.

Hundley was appointed to the Southeast Community Cultural Arts Center Task Force and the Downing-Gross Building Task Force. She was specifically assigned to obtain approval and funding from the City of Newport News for the Downing-Gross Project, in addition to obtaining funding from grants, fundraising and donations. For these efforts Hundley sold Anderson Johnson t-shirts, enlisted community support from east end churches, community organizations, local TV stations, and the Hampton University Museum. She also did Folk Art presentations in elementary school classrooms on the topic of Folk Art and Anderson Johnson. Hundley even attended many City Council meetings on behalf of this project. Finally, Hundley worked with the planning commission and the city architect on the architectural design for the Downing-Gross building.

Hundley states, “I must say that being an integral contributor to the Faith Mission’s journey is the most rewarding and exciting community service I can ever perform”.