The Morris Museum – Augusta, GA
The McKissick Museum – Columbia, SC
The IFCC Cultural Center, Portland , OR
The Norton Gallery – West Palm Beach, Fl
The Beach Institute Museum – Savannah, GA
The Afro-American Museum of Philadelphia
The Gibbes Museum of Art – Charleston, SC
The Greenville Museum of Art, Greenville, SC
The Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Naples, FL
The Afro-American Cultural Center, Charlotte, NC


  1. "Certificate of Appreciation" for his contributions in expressing the imagery, values, traditions and way of life of the Gullah culture --- Portland, OR
  1. Honorary Doctorate Degree in Fine Arts – University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

"Alberta Peacock Award" for contributions to the arts – Naples, FL

  1. "Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award" for the arts – Beaufort, SC
  1. "Penn Center Heritage Celebrations Resolution" to Jonathan Green for artistic rendition of Gullah life styles and artistic contributions – Saint Helena Island, SC
  1. "Recognition of Outstanding Contributions To The Arts," Beaufort County Council – Beaufort, SC
  1. "Chatham County Medallion" for artistic and cultural contributions – Savannah, GA

1987 "On The Move Award for Artistic Expressions" Human resources Development Institute – Chicago, IL

1985 "Key to the City" – Savannah, GA


May 16 - July 31, 1999
" I Made This Jar.." The Life and Works of Enslaved African-American Potter, Dave. Exhibition includes 5 painting by Jonathan Green that support the theme of the exhibition and the works of the potter, Dave.

High Museum of Art
Georgia- Pacific Center
133 Peachtree Street, NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30303

July 1 - September 5, 1999

Across Two Worlds
Albany Museum of Art
311 Meadowlark Drive
Albany GA, 31707
(941) 497-1283
Kris Miler Zohn - Curator

October 3, 1999 - February 28, 2000

Ties That Bind - Julia J. Normal Collection
McKissick Museum
University of South Carolina
Colombia, SC 29208
(803) 777-7251
Jay Williams, Curator
Includes approximately 22 painting by Jonathan Green

October 9, 1999 - January 2, 2000
" I Made This Jar.." The Life and Works of Enslaved African-American Potter, Dave. Exhibition includes 5 painting by Jonathan Green that support the theme of the exhibition and the works of the potter, Dave.

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History Detroit, Michigan

November 6, 1999 - January 5, 2000

The Art of Jonathan Green
The Self Family Arts Center
14 Shelter Cove Lane
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
(843) 686-3945
Solo exhibition of approximately 25 painting by Jonathan Green

February 5 - June 25, 2000
" I Made This Jar.." The Life and Works of Enslaved African-American Potter, Dave. Exhibition includes 5 painting by Jonathan Green that support the theme of the exhibition and the works of the potter, Dave.

Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Winterthur, Delaware

1983-99 37 Solo Exhibitions including 14 Museums

1984-99 41 Group Exhibitions including 22 Museums


  1. The School of the Art Institute, Chicago, IL – B.F.A.
  1. Independent studies throughout the United States and 8 countries

Collected Artworks Displayed In Public Spaces in Charleston

  1. Charleston Grill located in the 5 Star Charleston Place Hotel, Charleston, South Carolina
  2. Embassy Suites Hotel, Historic District, Charleston, South Carolina
  3. Louis's Restaurant and Bar, Charleston, South Carolina
  4. Medical University of South Carolina, Courteney Street Art Gallery, Charleston, South Carolina
  5. The Gibbes Museum, Charleston, South Carolina



    A Master of Historical Memory

    American Born 8/9/55

    Noted art critics and reviewers consider Jonathan Green one of the most important painters of the southern experience. His work, which has been exhibited in major venues nationally an internationally, reflect an intrinsic sense of history and place. A mature artist in his forties, Jonathan Green's art is noted in hundreds of reviews, and publications, the most noteworthy being Gullah Images: The Art of Jonathan Green by the University of South Carolina Press.

    Jonathan Green first found support for his interest in the arts at Beaufort High School near Gardens Corner, South Carolina where he was born and raised. When he left the state in the early 1970s to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, his acute historical awareness and propensity for documentiation were already inherently germinated. Since earning the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1982, Jonathan Green's work has progressed, integrated, and recorded essential elements of American culture comparable to that of other master artists such as Edward Hopper, Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, and Jacob Lawrence. Recognizing his outstanding and extensive documentation of southern culture and tradition in his work, the University of South Carolina in 1996 awarded Green an honorary doctorate degree in fine art.

    The multicultural uniqueness and historical authenticity of Jonathan Green's paintings, prints, and constructions are skillfully extracted from his recollections of life among grandparents who raised him and other proud descendents of the rural African American community in South Carolina where he grew up. Collectively these works chronicle the vibrant lives of his extended family and neighbors who elected to live harmoniously with the land and each other. They affirm how nurturing and cohesive are the relationships and communities of the southern culture.

    The tales, stories, and rituals passed down for generations through oral traditions have been further authenticated and visually immortalized by Jonathan Green's interpretive, colorful adaptions in his paintings. A monograph published by the McKissick Museum in Columbia, South Carolina declares that "Jonathan Green's work comes from the Southern experience. Out of his fond childhood memories come celebrations of life. His goal is to bring forth a story and reflect it visually in a language to which people can relate. This is why his paintings appear pure, innocent, and honest. He pulls the past generations to the present and builds a bridge between the two. In the process he emphasizes the importance of love, belonging , and a sense of spirituality and work."

    In spite of the detailed contents of his elected subject matter, Jonathan Green's work evidences mastery of southern history and documentation, imbued with simplicity and integrity that refrain the contributions his immediate and extended family made to advance their community traditions, replete with refinement of purpose and resoluteness of spirit.

    Jonathan Green's art is grounded in his real life experiences with a profound respect for the sacredness of heritage. Strong compositional skills, brilliant expressions of color and innovative use of materials reflect his mastery of modernist techniques. Love for the human figure and the placement of his subjects in harmony with their community and environment are among many of his universal strengths as an artist

    Jonathan Green's work reflects the everyday life of African-Americans in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Born in 1955, he was raised in Gardens Corner where he learned to speak the Gullah dialect and developed a strong feeling for his cultural heritage. As a child, he lived with his grandparents and visited his mother in New York during his vacations. She had moved there seeking better opportunities. He lived with her for several years during his preteen years before returning to South Carolina.

    Like many young people, Jonathan Green had no specific career plans after completing school. College was not a possibility. Jonathan Green liked to draw, but was sure he could not support himself as an artist. His experience living out of state had given him a taste of what the world outside South Carolina was like. So Jonathan Green joined the military in order to obtain an education and to have the opportunity to travel. The military recruiter had told him he would be able to attend illustration school while in service. However, despite his artistic ability, Jonathan Green was assigned the job of cook and sent off to North Dakota. In an interview he recounted his depression over what seemed a hopeless situation. But he discovered a technical college nearby in Minnesota where he was able to study illustration. His teachers encouraged him to visit Chicago with its art museums and to consider a career in art. After completing military service, he attended the Art Institute of Chicago and earned a bachelor's degree in 1982. While enrolled in school, he worked part-time as a security guard at the museum. This enabled him to study great art at the job he needed to support himself. Learning about great art, he first imitated others and then found his own direction, painting the world of his youth. By the time he graduated, he was becoming known as an artist and became able to support himself with his painting since that time.

    Jonathan Green paints the scenes and the people he knew as a child, pictures of what may be a vanishing way of life. His colorful paintings in acrylic and oil have helped to preserve the Gullah culture. His work ranges from scenes of everyday life, such as a girl walking a dog, a woman hanging out laundry, and men picking oysters, to special occasions such as a wedding or a christening. While Jonathan Green paints the world in which he lived as a youth, his work also focuses on the problems of living in a multi-racial society today.

    Jonathan Green has had many shows and exhibits, including one at the McKissick Museum in Columbia in 1993 that traveled to a number of states. He has co-authored a successful children's book. His work has also appeared on calendars, posters, and on the cover of a cookbook. His paintings can be found in the permanent collections of a number of museums, including the Greenville County Museum of Art in Greenville, S.C., the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Ga., the Norton Gallery Museum in West Palm Beach, Fl., the McKissick Museum in Columbia, S.C., and the Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples, Fl. He has received a number of awards recognizing his work and his civic contributions. He received six awards for contributions to the arts from civic and other organizations, was a nominee for the NAACP's National Image Award, received the Alberta Peacock Award in 1996, and was the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Fine Art from the University of South Carolina in 1996. He was listed in Who's Who in American Art in 1995-96.

    Jonathan Green has also been a contributing member of the community. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Share Our Strength, a community organization that helps to combat hunger, Vice-President of the Collier County United Arts Council in Naples, Fl., and a board member of the Chicago Academy for the Arts.

    A new book that reproduces a number of his most beautiful paintings showcases his work. Gullah Images: The Art of Jonathan Green demonstrates how Jonathan Green's work has grown and changed over the years. In an article in The State newspaper, Jeffrey Day wrote, "His earliest images, from 1985, are somber and simple...by the late '80s his palette bloomed with bright colors and bolder patterns that would become the dominant forces in his art".

    Green now lives in Naples, Florida, in an area that he says is very similar to the South Carolina Lowcountry.




Commentary by

Pat Conroy

When Jonathan Green came into the world, he brought with him an inescapable sign of his specialness. He was born wearing a caul, an inner fetal membrane that covered his head at birth. In some societies, this is interpreted as a token of great luck or that this child will never know death by drowning. But in the Gullah society along the South Carolina coast, it insures that the child is touched by an uncommonness and magic that will bring inordinate grace to the community. From the beginning, Jonathan Green was marked and grew up known as "the child of the veil."

Jonathan Green, an artist indigenous to Beaufort County, South Carolina, is in the middle of a career that finds him painting the autobiography of his childhood.
Jonathan Green paints what made him, the source he issued out of, the forms that inspired his rare sensibility. It is this singular, unshakable vision that gives his work its aura of astonishing originality. Each one of Jonathan Green paintings looks as though it were a commemorative stamp imagined out of the backcountry of Jonathan Green's unconscious. Jonathan Green is the immaculate, real thing, and his art is a cry of pure love for his community, his family, and the geography of the Carolina Sea Islands.

In his art, Jonathan Green is that rarest of twentieth-century painters in that he dares to tell a story. There is a strong narrative flow that binds his work to a central theme. By capturing the essence of the Gullah culture that raised him, there is a sense of both celebration and rediscovery to all his work. His paintings contain some of the primitive, raw beauty I once saw when I visited the cave paintings of our Cro-Magnon ancestors in the Dordogne Valley of France. They possess that kind of mythic grace and nameless grandeur that I observed in those thrilling, ill-lit French caves filled with fabulous images over ten thousand years old. Like those anonymous cave painters, Jonathan Green paints what he considers sacred and essential and mysterious in his own life. It remains a primitive urge for the artist to search for a definition of self that he can live by, and Jonathan Green chose to illuminate the life of his community along Highway 21 from Gardens Corner to Yemassee. By narrowing his vision so finely, he discovered himself as an artist and made his works both magisterial and universal. By returning to the source, he discovered the inexhaustible mainstream of his life's work. Because he so fully understands what he is doing and why, there is never a false note registered on his canvases. Few painters can match Jonathan Green's shining authenticity.

If you study his work carefully, you can detect the peacock-tail love of color found among Haitian painters, then on a much deeper level, you begin to sense the timelessness of Africa. The influence of African culture is still found today in Beaufort County in rich and delightful ways and the imprint of the lost and scattered tribes is still written on the faces of the Gullah people. Jonathan Green himself possesses a face of exceptional beauty that makes you think of exiled princes. When he speaks of  his dreams, you know that he sometimes paints from images stolen from his sleeping life. You also know that he dreams in fabulous colors. His use of bright colors is reckless enough that he could easily land a job painting new species of parrots and songbirds in some undiscovered rain forest. The Gullah people depicted in Jonathan  Green's world look like they got dressed while staring at rainbows. His art is a love song to his past. You imagine him singing as he paints, an ode to joy and the bright astonishment of memory.

In the South where Jonathan Green and I were born, we could not have sat together on the same bus, drunk from the same water fountain, attended the same school, sat in the same waiting room at a doctor's office, worshiped the same God together, or voted in the same election. It was a hard, unregenerate South we were born into, one obsessed by race, and it was the one part of the country where a white man would never be asked to write an introduction to a book praising a black man's art. Both of us came of age during the Civil Rights movement and both of us lived in Beaufort when Martin Luther King and his lieutenants came to Penn Center on Helena's Island to plan the marches and demonstrations that would change our part of the world. The Ku Klux Klan would meet along the same Highway 21 where most of Jonathan's paintings have their origin. I attended an all-white Beaufort High School, yet he graduated from that same school, fully integrated, ten years later. Both of us share an ardent love of Beaufort County and both believe it is one of the loveliest parts of the planet, but our Beauforts are still two different places, worlds apart both texture and time.

I had been a fan of Jonathan Green's work, having admired his paintings Elayne Scott's Red Piano Too Gallery on St. Helena's Island long before His work reminded me with startling clarity of the one year I spent teaching black children on Daufuskie Island, the first year that white teachers were sent to formerly all-black schools. My stay on the island had ended badly when the superintendent fired me one Friday night, but he could not dim the powerful associations I had built up between my students and their parents. I had fallen in love with the people of Daufuskie Island and I wrote my book The Water Is Wide to give voice to that love.  Jonathan Green's art took me directly back to that time when I steered a boat out across the marshes of Beaufort County to teach everyday. Here were the oystermen I passed in the river, the baptisms in the small creeks, the yards full of children and chickens and dogs, the companionship of women, the wisdom of old men, the dignity of cattle and hogs-all of it coming out in a great tide of artistic labor. He was painting the life that he had led and the one I had been allowed to visit for a single year of my life, and like a fine novelist, Jonathan Green was getting all the details right.  One Saturday in March of 1996, I drove Jonathan Green through the lowcountry that we both cherish and both use as the basis for our art. I wanted to see his Beaufort and he showed it to me as we rode out toward Yemassee to his father's trailer and an amazing yard filled with derelict cars and bizarre, oddball collections of castaway fencing and building supplies, as hunting beagles barked at us from homemade pens. His grandmother's trailer was nearby and she welcomed us inside and instantly we were engulfed in color as though we had entered into a Byzantine tent in a story of the Arabian nights. An artist was destined to come from a family with such passion for color and sense of form.

Then we drove among his mother's people and I learned where Jonathan came by his extraordinary gentleness, his all-encompassing serenity. Many were farmers and they lived in simple but lovely houses off the main highway with wood-burning stoves and pictures of Jesus on the wall. I sat with his mother and aunt in Burton, South Carolina, and they talked about the early signs of Jonathan's artistry surfacing throughout the long, growing seasons of his childhood. In many of the houses we entered, there was an original oil painting that Jonathan had given to some of his favorite relatives as a gift.

We paid a special visit to his maternal grandmother's grave near the church of his childhood and he showed me the remnants of that church that had been destroyed during Hurricane Gracie. Jonathan described the rituals of total immersion in the saltwater creek near the church and the fasting for seven days and nights in the lowcountry woods that his congregation required of any candidate for baptism. He was telling me that his art had a spiritual origin intimately related to his mission as an artist to preserve the Gullah culture that had nurtured and cherished and brought him into manhood. No one we met that day, as we went from house to house along the country road off Highway 21, had any doubts about the great talent of Jonathan Green. Most had been there or close by on the day of his birth and knew that his gift had come preordained, that his artistry was written into the symbols and myths surrounding his birth, and that extraordinary things were expected of the "child of the veil" by the Gullah people who knew how to read the secret signs of the lowcountry.


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