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Jay Johansen

Born in 1946 and raised by his artist father in Oakland California, Jay began his journey into the Art

World. His father Melvin was a celebrated Artist, but despite accolades, struggled to make ends meet,

which had a lasting impression on Jay.

Full Biography

Born in 1946 and raised by his artist father in Oakland California, Jay began his journey into the Art

World. His father Melvin was a celebrated Artist, but despite accolades, struggled to make ends meet,

which had a lasting impression on Jay. His father would work tirelessly and Jay would join him in the

studio creating his own work progressing at an astonishing rate. When Jay was in the 8th grade, his skills

were well honed, his father asked him; “Do you want to be an artist when you get older?” Jay thought

about it, seeing the hard times his father had, even though he possessed the passion said; “No I want to

study and pursue an education.”

Graduating Berkeley at 20 years old and receiving an MBA from San Francisco State, Jay served as an

officer in the US Army. With his exceptional education, it kept him state side during the Vietnam War,

which few of his fellow soldiers were able to do. After his service to our country, Jay landed a position

with an insurance firm to where he rose in the ranks rapidly and soon opened his own agency at the age

of 26. Within 6 years, Jay grew such a successful enterprise, that it allowed him to pursue the passion he

had as a child, Fine Art.

Working incessantly to perfect his skills he mastered a Hyper Photorealism style, which he thought was

the pinnacle to gain respect in the Art World. Painting Ballerinas, Matadors and Hula Dancers, Jay

established an international collector base. Which led to commissioned paintings of music icons to world

dignitaries as well as a long list of celebrity collectors. Even though Jay was at the top of his game and

celebrated for his accomplishments, he felt unfulfilled. Tapping into his business prowess. In 2007 he

cofounded a software company that became a monumental facet of the tech industry. Jay split his time

between painting and operating the company, which he and his partners sold in 2015.

Getting back full time in the studio, Jay continued to create figurative paintings that were difficult to

distinguish from photographs. But he knew there was something missing and started to reflect on his

childhood growing up during the ‘50s and ‘60s in Oakland. Remembering the Urban scenes, he recalled

the artwork that was painted on buildings, some sending social messages and others just the

imagination of tremendously talented artists who most will never know. This sparked his creative juices

and he started to study some of these artists from the past as well as up and coming urban artists of

today and decided to pay homage to these brilliant painters. The “Urban Art” series is born.

This new form of artistic interpretation brought Jay back to his days in Berkeley, being able to express

himself untethered was something far different from the exacting techniques he had been doing for

decades, in essence, this was a rebirth. Jay combines monochromatic faces of women with vivid colors

that seem to bring life to that canvas. Using broad strokes as opposed to his previous style, gave Jay a

freedom that he has never felt as a professional artist and has given him the energy to create like when

he was a child in his father’s studio. The “Urban Art Series” will be a major part of the history of this

American Artistic Icon.

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Artwork Collections

Illustiration Art Collection

Like Norman Rockwell, Seuss personally created every rough sketch, preliminary drawing, final line drawing and finished work for each page of every project he illustrated. Despite the technical and budgetary limitations of color printing during the early and mid-twentieth century, Dr. Seuss the artist was meticulous about color selection. He created specially numbered color charts and elaborate color call-outs to precisely accomplish his vision for each book. Saturated reds and blues, for example, were carefully chosen for The Cat in the Hat to attract and maintain the visual attention of a six-year-old audience. By the time Seuss’s book career took off, sharp draftsman skills were evident in drawings. His ability to move a storyline ahead via illustrations filled with tension, movement and color became a hallmark component of his work, and the surreal images that unfolded over six decades became the catalyst for a humorous and inspired learning experience.

Bronze Collection

Artist Leo Rijn, the inaugural sculptor for the Dr. Seuss Tribute Collection I, was selected to launch this project due to his prized work with some of today’s top talent in the world of film, entertainment and the visual arts (including Tim Burton, Ang Lee and Steven Spielberg). Rijn has been identified as one of today’s brightest sculpting talents because of his ability to breathe life into the written word and successfully transform two-dimensional ideas into three-dimensional works of art. Universal Studios commissioned Leo to develop and oversee the creation of numerous maquette scale models for the Monumental Dr. Seuss Sculptures at Seuss Landing in Orlando, Florida. Leo was instrumental in the art direction for many of the sculpted characters and buildings now on display at this permanent Seuss attraction. His strikingly accurate Seuss works embody a masterful and intuitive Seussian sensibility, establishing him as a leading talent in interpretive sculpting.

Taxidermy Colletion

Seuss embarked on an ingenious project in the early 1930s as he evolved from two-dimensional artworks to three-dimensional sculptures. What was most unusual for these mixed-media sculptures was the use of real animal parts including beaks, antlers and horns from deceased Forest Park Zoo animals where Seuss’s father was superintendent. Unorthodox Collection of Taxidermy was born in a cramped New York apartment and included a menagerie of inventive creatures with names like the “Two Horned Drouberhannis,” “Andulovian Grackler,” and “Semi-Normal Green-Lidded Fawn.” Shortly after Seuss created this unique collection of artworks, Look Magazine dubbed Seuss “The World’s Most Eminent Authority on Unheard-Of Animals.” To this day, Seuss’s Unorthodox Collection of Taxidermy remains as some of the finest examples of his inventive and multi-dimensional creativity.


Secret Art & Archives

Illustrator by day, surrealist by night, Seuss created a body of irrepressible work that redefines this American icon as an iconographic American artist. Yet, the Secret Art often shows a side of the artist that most readers, familiar with him through his classic children’s books, have never seen. This collection, created over a period of more than 60 years, encompasses the entirety of Seuss’s multi-dimensional talent. The artistic golden thread highlighted throughout this collection is apparent in each wildly imaginative and surreal Secret Art image. The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss is an inimitable collection of artworks created at night for his own personal enjoyment. These works were rarely, if ever, exhibited during his lifetime and provide a deeper glimpse into the art and life of this celebrated American Icon.

All Artwork
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