From auto repairman to artist, Wichita man finds his passion

Positive Connections

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita man is combining his love for cars and art.

“I think every single person is born with a talent and if they are lucky they find it. I was lucky I found it because I didn’t do anything to nurture it,” said Greg Johnson.

Greg Johnson, 69, was drawn to cars at a young age. He started working in an auto shop in high school.

“I started in the summers on the weekends just sorting sandpaper pushing a broom. I wanted to do this just to pay for college kind of a part-time job,” he explained.

That part-time job turned into a full-fledged career. By the 1980s, Johnson was running his own auto collision repair shop with 14 employees.

He eventually moved locations and started working solo. That’s when he found his so-called hidden talent.

“I hated to throw things away, so I would take scraps of things and I started making little vignettes of cars, like a fender, a headlight, and a bumper then I would get some funky colors on them,” Johnson said.

Greg Johnson poses next to Gerald, an arc angel he created.

From there, Johnson’s passion for art took off. He started putting together old car parts, transforming them into unique pieces. He hosted his first art show in 1996.

“I want people to like what they see and enjoy. That’s the pay,” he said.

His hard work has paid off. Johnson has many commissioned pieces.

“I have got a couple of big pieces that are down in Old Town that have already sold and moved away,” Johnson said. “Another big piece I’m proud of is the big dragonfly at Botanica.”

One of Johnson’s most memorable pieces of work is an 800 pound arc angel named Gerald.

“I got all involved building him and got done with one leg and ran out of material, so I cleared out two salvages twice in the process of building him,” he explained.

Gerald, along with about a dozen other works, sits in Johnson’s body shop. They are a constant reminder to the father and grandfather of what he is capable of creating.

“My talent isn’t running computers. There’s a lot of things my talent is not, but I can squeeze something out of cawking tube and play around with it and make faces. I don’t take credit for it. I just have it. I have a responsibility to use it,” Johnson said.

Johnson has had art shows across the United States. Despite his success, he said he has no plans to retire from the auto repair business.

The only regret he has is not taking an art class before the age of 34.

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