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About Thelma Johnson Streat

The Artist


Ms. Streat’s paintings have appeared in exhibits at such prestigious institutions as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), American Contemporary Gallery, Honolulu Academy of Art, San Francisco Museum of Art, DeYoung Memorial Museum, City of Paris Gallery, Art Institute of Chicago, and the Albany Institute of the History of Art.

Her most famous painting, “Rabbit Man,” is part of MoMA’s permanent collection.

During her years as a WPA artist, Streat worked with muralist Diego Rivera, sculptor Sargent Johnson, Ruben Kadish, and other notable figures of the San Francisco art scene.

Artist Diego Rivera: “The work of Thelma Johnson Streat is in my opinion one of the most interesting manifestations in this country at the present. It is extremely evolved and sophisticated enough to reconquer the grace and purity of African and American art.”


World personalities who have owned Ms. Streat’s work include actor Vincent Price, singer Roland Hayes, artist Diego Rivera, actress Fanny Brice, dancer Katherine Dunham, and actress Paulette Goddard.

The Dancer


In addition to being a prolific painter, Ms. Streat traveled to Haiti, Mexico and Canada to study traditional dance and culture.

 She was best known and loved for her work with children. Throughout her career, she performed interpretive dance, sang, told folk tales, taught, and showed her paintings to thousands of youngsters in Europe, Canada, and the United States.


The Teacher


With her husband, playwright John Edgar Kline, Ms. Streat founded Children’s City near Honolulu to introduce children to art and to the value of cultural diversity.

 Ms. Streat is included in “Who’s Who in American Art: 1940-41,” “Encyclopedia of the World,” “Reference Library of Black America,” “Who Was Who in American Art: 1898-1947,” "African-American Art," and featured in the summer 2005 issue of American Art magazine and numerous other publications. Please see the Sources page for more information. 

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