Raised at the foot of Mount Timpanogos in Utah’s Wasatch Range, in a small town called American Fork, Brett Allen Johnson remembers having an interest in art throughout his life. However, he didn’t immediately see the potential of becoming a professional fine artist, although his grandmother was a watercolor artist who would frequently paint the Southwest. After high school, at age 18, he married his high school sweetheart and took a job as a carpenter, where he would remain for the next 16 years. Carpentry helped establish a meticulous work ethic and laid the groundwork for what would become the foundation of his art career: the ability to visualize an idea and then bring that to conception and beyond. In 2003, Johnson began attending Utah Valley State College, where he started to explore graphic design. After three years in school, he realized he wanted to be a different kind of artist and left to pursue art in his own way.
Over the course of the next decade, like his grandmother before him, he would hone his craft and his voice as an artist through his experiences painting the Southwest. Once in the studio, Johnson’s paintings skewed toward expressionism, modernism, and abstraction. He started filtering his subjects through this unique lens—hard edges, complex forms, and vivid colors—and coming away with astonishing results. In 2011 he would visit the groundbreaking Wide-Open Spaces exhibition at the BYU Museum of Art, and after discovering the work of Maynard Dixon and the Taos Society of Artists, everything started to click into place. The West, he learned, could be as modern as he wanted.
Painting by painting, Johnson developed his work into a profound and unified Western vision—a vision that brought the iconography of the land and the people together as monuments to the West. In 2016, he started posting his work online, and within a year he had generated important and loyal fans at Maxwell Alexander Gallery in Los Angeles. It wasn’t long before he was showing with some of the biggest names in contemporary Western art, and then taking center stage in his own solo shows. Still in his 30s, Johnson has ascended quickly through the ranks of Western art to become one of the must-watch rising stars.
Today he lives in Lehi, Utah, with his wife, Tosha, and their four children. He still makes those pilgrimages south to explore the desert, find subject matter, and paint the beauty of the West.