Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Johnny Van Slyke Summers, grew up surrounded by art on the walls. His father was a naturally-gifted artist. While Johnny admired his dad's work, he never considered himself to possess the same skills. Outside of his high school's elective art classes, Johnny didn't receive formal training or art education. Back then, his passion was basketball, his dream the NBA. Paintbrushes, endless seas of color, and art galleries were the farthest thing from his mind.
When his dreams of dribbling across stadium courts and playing ball with the greats were dashed due to tendonitis, Johnny pursued the family business--lighting and electrical. His grandfather, the original John Van Slyke Summers, built an electrical distribution renowned across the southern United States. Summers Electric was synonymous with quality and customer service. His business savvy grandfather also had a heart of gold--qualities that Johnny revered. While the doors of Summers Electric closed by the time Johnny entered the workforce, he knew the industry and wanted to learn every aspect of running a business.
While his career was taking off, his life was falling apart. A nasty divorce sent him into a downward spiral of drug addiction. Compounded by the loss of his job and a near fatal car crash, his life's trajectory was irrevocably changed. The crash left him with a reconstructed steel leg and a new addiction to painkillers. Bed ridden and unable to perform basic tasks, he depended on friends and family for help.
You hear of people developing new talents after near-death experiences. Is this what happened with Johnny? Possibly. It started the day his mom, Rebecca, visited him and mentioned the idea of painting to keep him busy. At first, he laughed it off. His dad was the painter; Johnny had no idea how to create art. However, his mom gave him a few canvases and paints anyway to keep his mind and body engaged. So, Johnny put a canvas on his lap and started to paint.
What he painted didn't matter. The far greater gift became the opportunity to paint as it was very therapeutic. It became a way for him to channel his feelings onto canvas. The colors, the textures, the brush strokes expressed his feelings in a way his words and body could not. After a few guests complimented his collection of paintings, he thought maybe, just maybe, he had a talent worth pursuing. So, he stuck with it and over the years his expression of art became his emotional catharsis.
While the body can heal, scars of the mind and heart take far longer to mend. Battling the darkness of depression in the years to come, Johnny's nine lives were put to the test as a few more brushes with fate left him with a few more scars and permanent damage to his dominant hand--the one he uses to write and paint.
With the support of his love, Andréa Kohalmi Summers, who is also an artist in her own right as a published author, Johnny pursued art professionally and launched his business, Van Slyke Art & Lighting Concepts. Through his business, he is able to marry his lighting design background with his love of art. Johnny has participated in art shows across the United States, and his collectors are located in the United States and Europe.
As Johnny's life and career evolved, so did his artistic expression. Many artists have a theme; that one thing that makes them recognizable. For Johnny, that one thing isn't visible to the naked eye. From one painting to the next, his creations can look vastly different. However, every painting has that one thing that makes it uniquely Johnny's. He channels the energy of the world and those around him. He paints the feelings of words that often elude others. To look at his paintings is to literally feel a moment in life.
Johnny takes form and function to a whole new level on canvas. Acrylic paints, sprays and inks fill up his toolkit. From there, inspiration drives the look and feel of each work of art. Spanning nearly 15 years, Johnny’s collection draws on personal experiences and some of his favorite places that he’s visited or had the privilege to call home including Louisiana, Hawaii, Colorado, Texas, and the Caribbean. Johnny’s paintings are currently located in over 50 private collections and over 20 public collections worldwide.
“Art is a moment, a fleeting feeling. It’s like capturing lightning in a bottle. Whether it’s vibrant colors, layers of texture, or a blend of shapes that melt together to create something new, my paintings explore a moment of emotions and thoughts. It’s something that needs to flow through me; it can’t be planned or forced. If divine inspiration in art is possible, this is it in its purest form,” says Johnny Van Slyke, Owner and Artist, Van Slyke Art & Lighting Concepts.