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By Miriam Raftery

September 18, 2017 (Rancho San Diego) – Heritage of the Americas Museum invites the public to a special presentation and reception, “Padre Johnson and his Gift of the Global Human Family” on Friday, October 6 from 3 to 5 p.m. 

Meet the artist, Ray “Padre” Johnson” and view the 25 paintings from his “Faces of the Global Human Family” which he has generously donated to the museum for permanent display. Light refreshments will also be served.

These 25 portraits can be seen in Cases 56, 57, 58 and 59 and on the upper walls on both sides of the Art Wing. His story is best described in his book, Journeys with the Global Family: Insights Through Portraits and Prose.

Because of his experience with both the seminary and medical school, he served in the Vietnam War as a Navy Special Forces Medical Chaplain. That's where he was branded with the respected names "Padre" and "Doc." During the war, he served the "Black Berets River Raiders" River Assault Force One in Vietnam's Mekong Delta where he was wounded twice, receiving a Purple Heart and a Silver Medal for valor. His exceptional courage is described in the book, Brown Water, Black Berets, by Thomas J. Cutler.

After his service, Padre worked in leadership positions in human services at national, state, and local levels. His work over the years brought him in contact with many cultures. He also earned his doctorate in cultural anthropology. It was the research for his thesis that provided the motivation for his project on the "Faces of the Global Human Family" that would ultimately take him all over the world painting the unique, yet common, faces of humanity.

He returned to Wyoming and worked as a hired hand on high-country ranches as a true American cowboy. This was when he started sketching and painting and his professional art career was born. As his success as an artist soared, he realized he finally had the income and the time to pursue his dream of capturing the global human family.

Padre spent the next 14 years living with the people in 159 countries and capturing the common humanity in their faces. He says he wanted to "listen, observe, feel, enjoy, laugh, and appreciate the cultural tastes of almost every racial, ethnic and cultural group on our revolving globe."

Upon returning from his fourteen-year journey, he put together an exhibition. The centerpiece painting provides a view of earth from outer space surrounded by the open faces of children and adults, each representing a cross section of the cultures of the world. The exhibit also includes 24 major canvases of Padre's oil portraits representing the human diversity on Earth.

The first exhibition of his work was held at the United Nations. His second was at the Heritage of the Americas Museum for its Grand Opening in January 1993! He then took the exhibit to a showing in Beijing, China at the Royal Palace in the Forbidden City. He was the first American invited to do so. He planned on leaving his paintings to the United Nations, but later decided that the belong in the Heritage of the Americas Museum.

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