Published: August 11, 2015
PHILADELPHIA, PENN. — The Antiques Dealers Association of America (ADA) has named Joan and Victor Johnson the winners of its Award of Merit for 2016. The prize recognizes outstanding contributions to the American arts. The Johnsons, the 16th recipients of the prize given annually since 2002, are to be honored at a dinner planned for Friday evening, April 15, at the Philadelphia Antiques Show.
“Joan and Victor are two well-deserving people. Their contributions go well beyond their collecting activity and support of the antiques trade. They have also been major supporters of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the American Folk Art Museum, among other institutions. Joan has been integral to the success of the Philadelphia Antiques Show over many decades,” said ADA president James Kilvington.
“The Johnsons are excellent recipients. Their search for knowledge and their generosity in sharing it with others made them clear favorites for the 2016 award,” said Judith Livingston Loto, the ADA’s executive director.
The Johnsons began collecting American decorative art soon after they married in 1955, filling a 1937 stone farmhouse in the Philadelphia suburbs with antiques. Focusing on folk art, much of it from Pennsylvania, they built the finest collection of Pennsylvania fraktur in private hands. Their fraktur collection, a promised gift to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is documented in the book Drawn With Spirit: Pennsylvania German Fraktur from the Joan and Victor Johnson Collection. The collection was shown in an exhibition of the same name at the museum earlier this year. On the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary in 2005, the couple endowed a gallery of Pennsylvania German and other rural Pennsylvania decorative arts at the museum.
A longtime member of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s board of trustees, Joan Johnson has served on several PMA committees, including the influential American Arts Committee. Additionally, she is a past member of the board of trustees of the American Folk Art Museum in New York, a founding and still active member of the American Folk Art Society and a past trustee of the Mercer Museum.
As a professional interior designer, Joan Johnson encouraged her clients to collect and furnish with Americana. Her work dovetailed with her active participation in the Philadelphia Antiques Show. Encouraged by the sampler collector Theodore H. Kapneck, a friend of her father’s, she chaired its loan show committee between 1976 and 2012. During this time she was also instrumental in the selection of the show’s exhibitors.
In 2007, the Johnsons moved to Society Hill in Center City, Philadelphia, installing their collection in a 4,200-square-foot penthouse apartment in the former premises of publisher J.B. Lippincott & Company.
Managed by DiSaia Bittel, the 2016 Philadelphia Antiques Show will open on Thursday, April 14, with a gala preview benefiting Penn Medicine and continue in a structured tent on the Navy Yard’s Marine Parade Grounds through Sunday, April 17.
The Philadelphia Antiques Show’s website is currently under construction. For show details, call Diana Bittel at 610-525-1160 or Karen DiSaia at 860-908-0076. Information on the awards dinner will be posted at www.adadealers.com or call 603-942-6498.
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