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The Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Awards

The Phifer-Johnson Foundation/The Johnson Collection

2016 Business/Foundation Award


Phifer Johnson Foundation

When Susu and George Johnson’s personal art collection outgrew their home and office space, they decided to share it. What began as an interest in paintings by Carolina artists in 2002 has grown to encompass over 1,200 objects that chronicle the cultural evolution of the American South. Three scholarly books have been published around the Johnson Collection’s holdings. Each of the books is accompanied by a touring exhibition that travels to leading museums in South Carolina and across the South for two to four years. In contrast to most touring shows, the Johnsons share these exhibitions with all participating museums at no cost. These efforts to provide broad access to the arts for free have attracted national attention from such prominent publications as American Art Review, The Magazine Antiques and Garden & Gun. A website for the collection features images and notes on hundreds of Southern artists and a searchable catalog of the collection’s library of over 4,000 volumes. The collection’s curator serves as a visiting scholar and lecturer at local colleges, and students are invited to apply for curatorial internships. A gallery in downtown Spartanburg presents regular exhibitions from the collection and loans artwork to a variety of public and educational institutions, making the collection highly accessible to the public.

 

The Johnsons’ philanthropic commitment to community, arts and culture extends beyond the Johnson Collection to support local and statewide arts programs and initiatives. The Phifer-Johnson Foundation is a major benefactor of the South Carolina First Novel Prize, which is establishing a national profile for South Carolina’s most promising writers. They have been important to the success of Spartanburg’s Chapman Cultural Center, a centerpiece in Spartanburg’s active cultural scene. They are key supporters of arts organizations and activities that add vibrancy and attract youth and talent to their community, including the Hub-Bub Artist in Residence Program, Ballet Spartanburg, the Music Foundation of Spartanburg, Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Brookgreen Gardens, and more.

 

Equally dedicated to arts advancement and arts accessibility, the Johnsons generously share their vision, energy, passion and resources to benefit the arts in South Carolina.


About the Verner Awards

 

For more information about the Verner Awards, please contact Victoria McCurry, 803-734-8696.