On Wednesday, Oct. 9, internationally recognized sculptor and Forsyth County resident Gregory Johnson unveiled a new work, a larger than life bronze figure of Eugene Bullard, World War I hero, at the Museum of Aviation near Robins Air Force Base in Houston County.
Bullard, nicknamed “The Black Swallow of Death,” escaped the Jim Crow South in the early 20th Century. He played drums in a jazz band in Paris, fought for the French Foreign Legion, served as a French spy, and became the world’s first African American fighter pilot.
Unveiled by Georgia’s World War I Centennial Commission and commissioned by the Atlanta Chapter Tuskeegee Airmen, the Department of Georgia Veterans of Foreign Wars; Gulfstream Aerospace and Epps Aviation, the 6-foot-3 bronze finally recognizes a man who was not accepted by the U.S. Army in his time because of his race.
Johnson is a prolific, award-winning artist who has been creating contemporary sculptures for nearly 30 years. He has created commissioned pieces throughout the United States, and seven countries internationally. His works are represented in more than 200 public collections, and 50 unique public spaces, many of which feature monumental works. Over his life, Johnson has created and sold about 800 sculptural works of art.
Johnson is well known in north Georgia for the largest tiger in the country (and possibly the world.) Measuring 7-feet, 6-inches tall and 14-feet long, “Lucile” the 2,200-pound golden tiger was welcomed to the campus of Brenau University in Gainesville in 2012 and, more recently, the Quinlan “Q” a stainless steel contemporary work unveiled at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center last month.
With a portfolio of nearly a thousand commissioned works worth millions of dollars installed on three continents in nine countries, his art has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people each day. Most notably his three-story stainless steel peach at the Georgia World Congress Center is seen every day on CNN broadcasts.