The gallery is pleased to present :
Bird Brained | New Work by Heidi L Johnson
opening July 3rd with a reception on Saturday July 7th from 5:00-7:00pm.

Heidi L Johnson’s paintings are no stranger to abundance — the artist is almost mystically drawn to the bombardment of information that gives rise to over-stimulation.  Johnson absorbs the rush of contemporary visuals, data, texts, tweets coming non-stop at us, embracing the whole of it with an uncanny understanding of how best to make sense of it.  Earlier works were a reflection of rabid consumerism. Canvases mirrored the vulgarity of wealth gone off the rails. But Johnson is also an exquisite colorist and doesn’t shrink from using every hue in the cosmos.  So those ignoble depictions were lushly seductive, sumptuous and breathtaking.

Recently, Johnson has freed her mind, and thus her work, from the disappointment of the current cultural (and perhaps political) state of affairs toward something to refresh the mind and lift the spirit.  The abundance in the new works gives nod to the splendor of Dutch still-life paintings; imagery has taken flight from the coarse and tawdry and soared to higher ideals.  And what better imagery to portray flight — and with it freedom — than birds.  Freedom, however, is only part of the equation.  Johnson admits to ‘reconciling opposites,’ as she calls it. If freedom is expressed as a flock of fluttering, unbound birds, then containment needs a visual acknowledgement; thus the glass dome that acts as a restriction in the painting Silent Stirrings.

“The birds in these paintings are a bit confused. As they look at their reflection in the membrane of a glass dome, they see their brethren frozen from flight forever.”

And then there is a layer of the personal in these new works.  Johnson says: “These recent paintings came from a very personal space; but isn't all artistic response drawn out of one’s very personal interior?  I’ve always loved poring over natural history collections and taxidermy, mostly for visual stimulation and to marvel at the variety of creatures. How did this world all happen? Birds for me are an impossible species. They have no fur; they fly; their young develop in packages outside of the body and birth themselves by a small insistent struggle. How many different types of adaptations of feathers, talons, beaks, patterns are there?”

If this is sounding a bit transcendental, then remember the Transcendentalist movement, with its progressive and humanitarian views, was born in New England.  “Artists of the area were part of that movement, too, and continue to be — myself, as a native New Englander, included,” says Johnson. “Hudson River school aside, one only has to look at the work of Paul Manship — his experience with natural forms; his animal sculptures full of emotion, vigor and fire; or the orchestrated and undulating light in the paintings of Fitz Henry Lane.  Lane’s direct response to nature — the rollings of the sea, effects of atmospheric coastal light — were marks of his consistent dedication to articulating the natural phenomena. This was a Transcendentalist attitude.”

But back to those birds and the attraction of opposites for Johnson.  The birds and their natural freedom is in contrast to a world trying to seep insidiously under her door to analyze, categorize,  and pigeon hole her.  And their extraordinary richness in color and song is a jubilant reminder of the fullness of life outside our frenzied, strangled society.

Freedom and constriction — two sides of Johnson’s new series.

Heidi L Johnson holds a BFA from Tufts University and a Diploma from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston where she was awarded the Traveling Scholar prize in 1990, after which she lived and worked in Italy. Johnson is the recipient of several prestigious awards, including two Pollock Krasner Grants, the Elizabeth Foundation Artist Grant, the Bronx Council on the Arts BRIO Award in Painting. Fellowships include the Nordisk Kunstnarsenter Dale, Norway; the Bronx Museum Artist in the Market Place, New York; and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Residencies include Byrdcliffe Foundation for the Arts, New York; Robert M. MacNamara Foundation, Maine; Marie Walsh Sharpe Studio Program, New York; and ARTOMI International Residency Program, New York, among others. She has exhibited widely in the US and internationally in Sweden, Norway, Australia and Canada.  Her work is held in numerous public and private collections.  Johnson maintains a studio in the Bronx, New York City.



The exhibition will continue thru July 31st.
Gallery hours: Saturday & Sunday 1:00 - 4:00pm
and by appointment @ 978-223-8625
 
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