Jan A. Johnson

BORN TO A RANCHING FAMILY in Hulett, Wyoming in 1943, Johnson gained degrees in business, engineering, and economics from Claremont, Stanford, and Berkeley. He served in the US Army in Vietnam. After the war, he discovered art as a release from the brutalities he had seen. He eventually settled on Vancouver Island, alternating stints as a transportation consultant in the developing world with time at home making art. He died in 2011.

Using discarded metal and found objects, Johnson welded creations brimming with humour and implied meaning. He explored myths and monsters, distortion and dystopia, power and conflict – all with an ironic eye. His richly textured pieces invite interpretation and reinterpretation, especially since they are filled with historical and current references. Blending tragedy with whimsy, his playful satires become profound meditations on human frailty, human cruelty, and human suffering.



The Photographer:  James R. Page 

Jim. an established nature and wildlife photographer, is author of Wild Prairie (Greystone Books, 2005), principal photographer of Candace Savage’s Prairie: a natural history (Greystone Books, 2nd ed. 2011), and long-time friend of the artist. After shooting Jan’s work extensively in the days of film, Jim turned more recently to digital cameras in creating the images for this book. He currently lives on the edge of Grasslands National Park, in the village of Val Marie, Saskatchewan.




Project developer, Preface: Mary Alice Johnson

 Mary is the late wife of Jan Johnson. She brought together the writers, photographer, and book designer/project co-ordinator for this book. She has done considerable research on the background and sources of Jan’s work, which is an ongoing project. Mary is also a well-known organic farmer, educator, and seed saver. She was born in Colorado, studied English at Barnard College and Towson State University and received an MA in Education from Michigan State University. She was living in Malaysia when she first met Jan in 1976. When Jan returned to Malaysia in the early 1980s he asked Mary to join him at his home in Sooke, BC. They married in 1986 and were presented with the keys to the Jordan River Dump.


Foreword: Robert Amos,

writer and painter, has dedicated himself to painting the urban landscape, focussing on Victoria, British Columbia, and environs. He has published four books and has been the art writer for the Times Colonist for twenty-six years. He is one of Victoria’s best-known artists. 


Introduction: Mija Lee

was born in Calcutta, India of a Korean father and American mother.  She continues to be a world traveller and is an avid climber and backpacker.  She received her early schooling in Korea and Malaysia and has an undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley in psychology and a graduate degree in research psychology from San Francisco State University. She works in scientific computing for the Fred Hutchinson cancer research center in Seattle. When Jan married her mother, Mary Alice, she got to know and love him as a father over the last 30 years of his life