Iconic African-American Artist - Life in the Early 20th Century
Mary Martin is the sole agent for the originals of John Gregory DASO
719-338-9000 - Mary Martin's Phone
843-723-0303 - Gallery Phone
"DASO (John Gregory) is one of the most important historical artists painting his memories and his grandparents' memories as well as the history of the African American culture of the 1800's and 1900's up to present day. There is a story for each painting and he is happy to share the story with you. His work hangs in many distinguished buildings in the nation's capital and around the country. He has donated years of his life to teaching children and teenagers to paint mostly providing the materials, as well. A true American HERO!"
Children taking one of Daso's painting classes
"Will You Buy My Basket" 24 x 30 Acrylic On Canvas
"Negro Street at Boone Hall" 22.5 x 30 Giclee on Canvas
"Young Entrepreneurs" 27 x 18 Giclee on Canvas
Works In Process
Murals By John Daso
Work in Progress of a Food Truck Mural
John DASO, iconic African-American artist whose work has won international fame is represented by Mary Martin Gallery. Museum quality work indicative of an age in the lives of Southern African-Americans. He paints the life he has lived, still lives, and touches the deepest regions in the hearts of those who know the South. John loves the South and all it is and all it stands for. He is an inspiration to all of us.
John is the boy in the blue hat in the foreground watching the little boy by the tree who is not a member of this church but who wants to be invited to eat at this big pot luck big church meeting, common in church communities in the South. Of course, the boy will be invited to eat and John will have a playmate.
Daso tells the story that back in the 1920's a young girl was being taught to make Sweetgrass baskets. Hwy 17 was still a dirt road. She had the notion that some wealthy people may want to buy her basket. Many tried to tell her that she should not even try. She ran out to the road and flagged down a car, and the wealthy woman stepped out and bought her basket. That was the beginning of the Sweetbasket trade along Hwy 17. Daso met the woman as an older lady a few years back and heard this first hand.
The Smithsonian has honored this art form with exhibitions of the Gullah Sweetbaskets from South Carolina. The tradition came over from Africa with the forced immigration of men and women in the early formation of this country. This painting honors that first young girl who dared to offer her handiwork to the public and, thereby, created a thriving business for many African-American families of Coastal Carolina.
"I remember that as a child I was walking on the sidewalk in a little town near Clemson, when I was approaching a black man. He did not look me in the eye, but he stepped off the sidewalk until I walked past and then stepped back on the sidewalk. As my parents were never bigoted or prejudiced I could not understand why he did that. I was little and asked my father why the man’s facial expression was so sad and defeated. I was horrified that humans could cause such misery. My dad would not let me catch the man and put him back on the sidewalk properly or lecture him about standing strong. He is long gone but I can still see his face and his stepping off the sidewalk and how hurt I felt and how defeated he looked.
Daso remembers his childhood where chores were often done out-of-doors such as washing dishes and washing clothes. The house-yard was busy with chickens, dogs and children running around and adults doing the day to day chores.
I think that is one of the reasons I love DASO’s work so much. He is painting a life that is joyful in ways and yet a history lesson for us. I love that John’s spirit is not broken with what he was taught and that he believes that God gives him the inspiration to record history for all to see. I believe he is right. He is inspired. If only people could see that many Southerners lived identically, white and black. Corner stores, kids playing with tires, chores, and the old Coca Cola and Nehi signs all over the place.
Someday, we will produce a beautiful book with his stories. There is so much to do in this world to better mankind. John’s work is a step in that direction. I admire him. I really admire his work. I believe that every appropriate museum needs a collection of his work." - Mary Martin
DASO’s work conveys a deeply held meaning that is so often lost on those that have forgotten the realities of the past in favor of the gilded version that have been forced on the public by those that have never experienced those times. As his work transports the viewer back to a time that is being ever skewed by the dominance of our current political paradigm, I can see the old accepted truths reawakening from the past, bleary eyed, to take a brief glimpse of this age of technological dogma.The vibrant colors of his works so well compliment and contrast the subtle voice that speaks a true remberance of how things were as opposed to how they should have been. He expertly depicts the attitudes that were once the accepted norms of everyday life without prejudice or modern influence. The balance he has achieved is incredible. At first glance, the paintings sing of the hopes and simple joys of the era almost to a point of the fairy tale happy ending, but as the eye becomes more intimate with the images the somber whispers of the realities become much stronger, thus, striking a balance that breathes a complex life into his paintings that leaves the viewer with questions that lead to a deeper understanding between the deep rooted traditions of the Old South and the new age progression of the New South.
by Joseph Miller
Mary Martin Gallery I is located on 103 Broad Street, Charleston, SC 29401 843-723-0303
Mary Martin Gallery II is located on 122 Market Street in Charleston, SC 29401 843-640-3324
Mary Martin Galleries have been selected as the best galleries in South Carolina for nine years in a row and in the top 25 in the nation, Also, selected as the best gallery by several local publications.