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Marie Johnson-Calloway

Marie Johnson-Calloway was born Marie Edwards on April 10, 1920, in Pimlico, Maryland. Johnson-Calloway attended an all girls’ high school in Baltimore, Maryland, and received her teaching certificate from Coppin Teachers College in Baltimore in 1939. Receiving her B.A. degree from Morgan State University in 1952, Johnson-Calloway would later earn her M.F.A. degree from San Jose State University in California. In 1975, Johnson-Calloway received her doctoral equivalency degree from San Francisco State University.

During the early 1950s, Johnson-Calloway traveled around the United States with her first husband, U.S. Air Force doctor Arthur Johnson. While Johnson was stationed in Alaska, Johnson-Calloway held her first art exhibit. After Johnson-Calloway’s husband left the service, her family moved to San Jose, California, where she was hired as the first African American public school teacher in San Jose. Continuing to paint while running San Jose’s Mecca Art Gallery, Johnson-Calloway later became an art teacher for the Santa Clara School District. In 1969, Johnson-Calloway became an assistant professor at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, and San Jose State University. From 1973 to 1983, Johnson-Calloway worked as an associate professor in the art department of the San Francisco State University.

Johnson-Calloway’s paintings, based on her memories of life in the South, have been exhibited throughout the United States and Japan. Some of Johnson-Calloway’s exhibits included Hope Street: Church Mothers, Mama’s Room, Passages, and Marie Johnson-Calloway On Stage: A Retrospective, 1950-1999. Many of Johnson-Calloway’s creations are part of permanent museum collections and private collections. A sought after presenter and lecturer, Johnson-Calloway received awards from the Women’s Caucus for the arts of Northern California, the San Francisco Library Foundation Award, the Pioneers of African American Art, and the National Women’s Caucus for the Arts.

Johnson-Calloway passed away on February 11, 2018 at age 97.

Accession Number

A2005.083

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/29/2005

Last Name

Johnson-Calloway

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Frederick Douglass High School

Coppin State University

Morgan State University

San Jose State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Marie

Birth City, State, Country

Pimlico

HM ID

JOH20

Favorite Season

March

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

You Don't Know Where You're Going Until You Know Where You've Been.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

4/10/1920

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/San Francisco

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Apples

Death Date

2/11/2018

Short Description

Painter and art professor Marie Johnson-Calloway (1920 - 2018 ) was hired as the first African American public school teacher in San Jose. Calloway's paintings, based on her memories of life in the South, have been exhibited throughout the United States and Japan.

Employment

San Francisco State University

California College of Arts and Crafts

San Jose State University

San Jose Unified School District

Baltimore City Public Schools

War Production Board

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marie Johnson-Calloway's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marie Johnson-Calloway lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes her mother's childhood in Manning, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes her mother's educational work for the African American community in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes meeting her estranged paternal aunt

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes her siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes her siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes her education in segregated Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Marie Johnson-Calloway talks about skipping grades in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes her school years in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes influential teachers at Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes her childhood best friend

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marie Johnson-Calloway talks about her parents' divorce

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marie Johnson-Calloway talks about her father's funeral

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes attending Coppin Teachers College in Baltimore, Maryland and her early teaching career

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marie Johnson-Calloway talks about her teaching and job with the War Production Board

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marie Johnson-Calloway remembers living in a trailer in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes her art and creative writing classes at Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes her family's move to Fairbanks, Alaska in 1952

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marie Johnson-Calloway remembers starting to paint in Alaska

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marie Johnson-Calloway talks about her life and artwork in Alaska

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes integrated living in Fairbanks, Alaska

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes moving to San Jose, California

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marie Johnson-Calloway recounts finding a teaching position in San Jose, California

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marie Johnson-Calloway remembers integrating her neighborhood in San Jose, California

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Marie Johnson-Calloway talks about adjusting to San Jose, California

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marie Johnson-Calloway talks about her friendship with HistoryMaker Willy T. Ribbs' family

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marie Johnson-Calloway talks about her graduate art studies at San Jose State College and Stanford University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marie Johnson-Calloway remembers organizing an NAACP chapter in San Jose, California

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marie Johnson-Calloway talks about resistance to civil rights issues at Stanford University in Stanford, California

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes her curriculum on African American artists at San Jose State University in San Jose, California

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes African American professors at San Jose State University in San Jose, California

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marie Johnson-Calloway remembers her involvement with the Selma Civil Rights March, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marie Johnson-Calloway remembers her involvement with the Selma Civil Rights March, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes her experience in the 3rd Selma Civil Rights March

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marie Johnson-Calloway talks about her trip to Ghana

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marie Johnson-Calloway explains how she was hired to teach art at San Francisco State University in San Francisco, California

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marie Johnson-Calloway remembers participating in various art shows

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marie Johnson-Calloway talks about the origins of her assemblage work

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marie Johnson-Calloway talks about awards and publicity for her art

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes her exhibit 'Hope Street'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marie Johnson-Calloway explains the evolution of her art from abstract to autobiographical

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marie Johnson-Calloway explains how she creates an assemblage

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes her various artistic mediums and styles

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes her friendship with jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Marie Johnson-Calloway recounts her son's reunion with jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Marie Johnson-Calloway talks about the other artists in her family

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Marie Johnson-Calloway reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Marie Johnson-Calloway shares her values and message to future generations

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Marie Johnson-Calloway reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Marie Johnson-Calloway describes her hopes for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Marie Johnson-Calloway talks about her second husband, Charles Calloway

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Marie Johnson-Calloway narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Marie Johnson-Calloway narrates her photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Marie Johnson-Calloway narrates her photographs, pt. 3

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

2$9

DATitle
Marie Johnson-Calloway remembers starting to paint in Alaska
Marie Johnson-Calloway describes her experience in the 3rd Selma Civil Rights March
Transcript
You couldn't go out in the wintertime beyond twenty minutes, and so your life was pretty much confined to the inside. And a lot of people got cabin fever. I mean they would really kind of crack up. And that's when I started painting. I had just finished Morgan [College; Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland] and had all this art training, and I started doing painting. I didn't have any paints, didn't have any canvases, but we took scrap wood and covered it with lead, white lead. Have, had I know the dangers of (laughter) lead--but we coated these boards with white lead paint, and that's what I painted. Some of the pictures you saw downstairs are the early paintings that I did by wiping off--I found out this what the masters used to do: they would paint like a glaze and then wipe it off and expose the white. So anyway, that's how I got started. And I had my first solo show there in the offices, office--what do you call that? You know. What do you call that, the main room where the offices ate and something? Anyway, that's where I had my first show, and then somebody saw it there. And the biggest hotel there in Fairbanks [Alaska] was the Northern [Lights] Hotel or something like that, and so they asked me to have a show there in the lobby. So that was my first exposure, was in Alaska, with, with the painting. So we--$$How--$$--we met Eskimos, and we, it was like a frontier living. It was quite interesting. And we, our kids would learn to ice skate on a pond out there, and our life was confined to the base. And my, my husband [Arthur Johnson] was flight surgeon, so he would fly to Nome [Alaska] and the very, the very remote places. But we had a, a, a really nice life there in the winter. And in the summer, you know, it was light all summer, so we were fascinated with the gardens and the big lettuce and stuff that grew up. And we met, we became friends with a, a survival expert consultant who was from London [England], and the [U.S.] military hired him in, living in, in frozen areas. So he exposed us to a lot of back country up there, and we went a lot of places that most of the people didn't go, 'cause he knew. That was interesting.$$Could you tell us, you, you had your first exhibit. Could you describe your art, your, what your early pieces were about or--$$Well, they were about--$$--and things.$$--Eskimos and life in the, in that frozen land. And I think most of the paintings that I did at that time were Eskimo paintings. I sold some of them, and I kept a few, some of them my children's.$But, so then came time for the walk, the Selma walk [Selma to Montgomery March]. And everybody couldn't do it because they said there would be too many people. So they just let some of us go five miles, and then the rest of them could go all the way. So I was in the group that could go five miles, and I did that walk--$$Oh--$$--five miles. But then--are you waiting?$$You can finish up--$$Okay. What I did find out was that they really were running out of food. And when I called San Jose [California] and told my sister [Anita Edwards Posey] that they were running out of food, she organized a food drive before I got back. And she and my daughter [April Johnson Watkins] and some of my friends collected food, and the collected so much food that she couldn't get it in her garage. They had to put it in a fire station. And they, the whole town of San Jose turned out for this food drive. And the mayor of San Jose at that time had a trucking company, because it was who's gonna, how are they gonna get the food down there? And he gave a truck. He lent one of his trucks and drivers to pick up the food from the fire station and take it to Selma [Alabama]. So that was another big event, this big truckload of food goes down there to Selma. In the meantime, I had made friends with several of these ladies who were all very poor because the stores, you know, they were boycotting all the, the stores. And they didn't have any food, and they didn't have any jobs, so I organized an, a, adopt a family. So there were sixty families in San Jose that sent food and clothing regularly for about a year--