Job title: artist ANYONE intrigued by the bright painting along Macrossan St entitled Goin’ Troppo - which depicts well-known characteristics of Port Douglas - might like to take the chance to dive a little bit deeper into its art community.
They’ll walk up an orange-red, brick path to see a few paintings on easels under an enclosed patio area.
Inside the simple space, to the left of the door, sits Terry Johnson on an orange stool with splattered paint on it, fast at work, but happy to take the time to greet his guests.
“The question I’m most asked is, ’Where are you from’, as soon as I say hi,” Terry said.
Originally from Pennsylvania, USA, the artist first came to Australia with his wife Nancy, also American, on an assisted passage in 1972.
In the ’90s, the ex-pat couple opened Wilson’s at Robe in South Australia, a large art gallery featuring the works of about 40 artists in the small beach town. It was here Johnson was influenced to share his talent with a beach town up north, Port Douglas.
“There was a customer and she said you should apply for the artist in residency at Carnivale,” he said.
“I didn’t apply. Then a few months later I got a letter saying you’ve been short-listed for it.”
Terry’s customer had entered Johnson for the position. He came to Port Douglas for an interview and won the Carnivale artist in residence for 2004.
After one season, Terry was hooked and started spending May to October in Port Douglas and opened the studio gallery off Macrossan St in 2009.
“I think we both loved it as soon as we came,” Johnson said. “The art community here, I think is really exciting and fun. As far as the environment goes, for inspiration, well I don’t think it can get any better.”
Johnson draws inspiration from everything from St Mary’s Church to the Daintree to the people of Port Douglas.
Operating on feeling rather than reality, his work is bright, lively and busy, featuring images of swinging, red fish, even people in stinger suits.
Terry said about 40 guests visit the gallery per day. Now he’s conquered the ability to paint and listen at the same time, he says the ratio of painting to talking is about 50/50.
“It’s really the most fun here because the people who walk up the trail want to,” he said. “On an average day I meet people from 14 different countries, it’s exciting.”