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Local artist Johnny Johnson offers lessons in artistic technique and inspiration.
PETER CIHELKA/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Johnny Johnson is the reason I am who I am. In 1989-1990, I was taking a drawing class at Germanna Community College with Johnny Johnson. One evening Johnny said to me, "Mary, you need to go to college and major in art. I told him I was 46 and couldn't afford to go to college, and he told me I'd find a way.
That Mother's Day, my three children came downstairs and said they had just had a meeting. Between them they had enough money for me to take two classes that summer at Mary Washington College.
There were some conditions: I couldn't go out on a date with my husband, Bob, or watch TV until my homework was done, and I had to get A's. I registered for two art classes, and got two A's.
I looked into the program for older students and found out about scholarships and financial aid. The woman in the financial aid office found all kinds of scholarships for me, and I was on my way.
I graduated in 1994 (should have been 1993, but I flunked Marine Geology and Oceanography--I'm not much of a mathematician or scientist) at 50.
I received my master's from Virginia Commonwealth University at 54, and, at 68, a certificate from the Rhode Island School of Design.
Thank you, Johnny Johnson, for seeing my potential and encouraging me to get an education. You are a true teacher. I love you.
And I never would have gotten started if it hadn't been for my children and the support from them and my husband.
I am now retired from teaching art and living in Providence, R.I. I hope that I, too, have inspired my students to climb mountains and reach for the stars.
Mary Jane Bohlen