Seattle Real Estate Associates October Artist Jack Johnston





An artist most of my life, three years of study in the 1970s at the San Francisco Art Institute instilled a conceptual and process approach to visual art. Photographs were, and are, documentation of performances, performances for small gatherings and for one, just the machine and me. I reconnected with visual art in the neo-expressionist eighties, then in the nineties returned to process-generated drawings and paintings, as now, pulled from or inspired by life but not literally drawn from life. For a long period I retreated to punk-era duplication and appropriation modes, collages built from headlines and ripped from papers, manipulated only slightly to reveal the questioning hand of the not-so-gullible consumer.

For the last several years I have been working in series, often based in short texts and usually executed on whatever is cheaply available—consumer-product packaging, the pseudo-credit and discount cards received in the mail, and business reply cards. Media are approached as nonchalantly as support material: ink pens, permanent markers, water-soluble crayons, spray enamel, and random elements affixed by glue. I am drawn to creating ever new spaces, non-existent but non-fantastic images.

The works here are explorations of grisaille, the generally monochromatic range of tones available from black and white. Starting with some pieces on matt board discards, I began to fill sketchbooks with drawings, notations in grey, random pieces, always trying to be different from the last, in which the very process of placing the mark is primary. I try to undercut that self-imposed importance—“the burden of originality”, which is a certain block to creativity, by using templates cut from cardstock; random dots, lines, and shapes through which I make marks. The template-instigated marks may disappear, or they may re-appear as the finishing statement.

Jack Johnston has published non-fiction and artwork in KNOCK Magazine, the literary journal of Antioch University Seattle. Three vintage, self-portrait Polaroid SX-70 photographs were in the group show, “Instant Joy,” at A. M. Richard Fine Art, Brooklyn, NY, in June 2010. Nine more of the self-portrait Polaroids, circa 1978, were included in the Gay City Health Project anthology, Re-Pulped, Vol. 3, summer 2010. Additionally, he has exhibited in numerous group shows since 2007 at Antioch University Seattle, for which he was one of a team of curators. Jack remains a vital member of the art committee at AUS, most recently curating a show by Mary Coss and June Sekiguchi. Jack and his partner David are monetarily-deprived but avid art collectors.

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