The Artist’s Eye is a book about a time that has been lost all over America — the first full Baby Boom decade of the 1950s, an era of small towns, families who lived in their communities for generations and held a  spirit of  optimism about the future. While I began this book as a way of honoring my parents, our family’s legacy and the great gifts of Mount Vernon, Ohio, and Knox County, I soon understood that this is an unretrievable story of our Baby Boom generation.

The watercolors of Vernon P. Johnson, my father, along with his writings and commercial illustrations are enduring snapshots with vivid details of 1950s America and the post-war transitions that were transforming everyday life. There were Mount Vernons all over America — and the people of Mount Vernon are, without our knowing them personally, essentially our cousins.

Dad’s brush strokes exacted his vision. He manipulated colors within lines and forms to create people and places resembling those we knew, and, for us Boomers, the hometowns that were the safe and often magical havens of our youth. How one artist’s eyes documented Knox County and Mount Vernon becomes our collective memory, so that each of us can say, “that’s my history.” Vernon Johnson’s images represent our universal experience of the 1950s in America. Read excerpts of each chapter below.


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