Daniel and Marjory Johnston
"Don’t be Scared"
East and West Gallery
May 6 - May 27, 2023
Saturday, May 6, 6pm-9pm
Austin musician Kathy McCarty will perform Daniel Johnston songs and
Marjory Johnston will do some storytelling followed by a Q & A:
Sunday, May 21, 3pm-4:30pm
I, Marjory Johnston, am writing this statement for my brother, Daniel Johnston. Daniel died on Sept. 11, 2019, after years of declining physical and mental health.
Daniel began drawing at a very young age…pre-school in fact. He was an avid comic book fan and dreamed that he could become a comic book artist himself. By studying the comic book art of Jack Kirby, his idol, he taught himself to draw. By third grade he was creating comic books about his cat, “Sassy Fress”, and showing them to his friends at school. With his super creative mind, he also began writing songs and directing home movies. He took art electives in school and studied art briefly at Kent State University (East Liverpool Branch) and Abilene Christian University.
Mental illness entered his life, to some degree, in junior high but became more pronounced in his early 20’s. As the mental illness became more terrifying and disturbing, Dan turned to his love of drawing as a type of self-therapy. He created his own world of superheroes and bizarre characters where he could control and even defeat his demons. Good triumphed over evil while love and hope were his constant themes. He employed his drawing therapy almost daily.
Dan used a black flan to start his drawings, adding color with TOMBOW brush-tip markers. Markers were his preferred medium because of the bright colors and instant dryness. He was able to skip the brush cleaning and color mixing with his ever ready markers.
Because of his therapeutic themes of love and hope, Dan’s fans find help and reassurance in their own troubled times. The fact that he shared openly about his struggles with mental illness in his art and his songs made others realize they were not alone and gave them new views of living with mental illness.