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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Interview with James W.Johnson

Q)So, can you tell me a little about yourself? Full name, age, some background info, etc?

A)James W Johnson, age 52. I was born and raised in suburban Upstate New York and went to college to study chemistry. After growing bored with science and math, I took a drawing course because I heard they had nude female models. Knowing nothing about art at the time, I soon discovered that it was something that interested me like nothing I had ever encountered before. I also learned that it was something that could be learned and developed. By the age of 20, I had decided that I was going to spend my life making art. In 1978, I moved to Lubbock, Texas to attend graduate school. I majored in printmaking and was kicked out of the painting program for disagreeing with the professors. After receiving my MFA I continued to make prints and drawings and began painting again. I continued to live in Lubbock, painting houses part-time and making art full-time. In 1989, I stopped painting houses and have since lived off of art sales, fulfilling my goal of being able to spend my time making art. I am currently married (for the 3rd time) and have a dog and a cat. I worked primarily in oil and acrylic painting and digital video/animation. However I have and continue to make art in a variety of medium.

Q)How did you get started making art?

A)See above.

Q)How would you describe your art?

A)In general, I would describe my art as realism with a twist. Over my 30 years of making art it has periodically varied from being very confrontational to being “beautiful and enchanting.” A sense of humour is almost always present. A few years ago, I founded Anti-Stylism with the online publication of the Anti-Stylist’s Manifesto. ( ) Anti-Stylism is meant as a guide for artists to escape the pseudo-intellectual and commercial pressures of the art world and to trust one’s own intuition and taste when deciding the best form for communicating an idea as a work of art.

Q)Where do you get the inspiration for your art?

A)Difficult question. One piece may grow from a previous piece in an almost organic development.. Sometimes it is a compelling emotional experience. Sometimes the inspiration might be an observation or thought. I probably have to say that life is where I find inspiration for my art.

Q)What are you working on now?

A)At present, I am painting on a 2 meter tall steel heart for a local fundraising project. However I just finished putting together an exhibition called “Seeing Erika” that is a group of 28 paintings, a couple digital photographs and a 30 minute video about my wife. The pieces span 8 years and, all together, are meant as a portrait of her. What I do next, who knows…

Q)Are there some web sites that you would like to recomend? Artists, art communities, xxx,...!?

A)There are many artists, past and present, whose work I enjoy. Bosch, Bronzino, Jacob Jordaens, Bougereau, Knopff, Magritte, Ed Paschke, Donald Roller Wilson, Joel Peter Witkin… to name a few. Here are a couple sites that have links to some interesting work 1- 2-

Q)What programs / materials / tools do you use to create your pieces?

A)Mostly oils, acrylic, canvas, paper, wood, found objects, Photoshop, Lightwave, Adobe Premier

Q)What advice would you give to younger up and coming artist?

A)Read the Anti-Stylist’s Manifesto:

Q)What is your personal definition of life and art and everything else in between?

A)Life is a gift that doesn’t last very long. It is yours and you only get one chance. I believe one should spend his or her time engaging in enjoyable, productive activities. For me, this is making art. It gives purpose to my life and forces me to search for meanings. When I die, at least I’ll be able to say that I did something and it was what I wanted.

Q)Do you think that art is a universal language - transcending all the different languages, cultures and religions etc?

A)I think visual art can be a universal language that can cross cultural differences and time because humans are humans and we have changed very little in the last 10,000 years. But this depends on the art. Some is very culturally specific. But there is nothing wrong with that either. One’s present time and location also needs this mysterious form of elevated communication.

Q)What are your artistic influences?

A)Life, art history, my own drive and ambition, and everything I have ever seen or thought.

Q)How are the reactions on your work in general?

A)This depends on the piece. Some are “love it” or “hate it”. In general, I would say appreciation and respect. Others might think it’s crap but I don’t pay any attention to them.

Q)Do you have many connections in the underground scene?

A)I suppose I have some connections with the “underground scene” but where I live in Texas is a small city (200,000 people) that is very conservative. Any respectable artist here has to stay underground. I used to be more involved on a larger scale but I have become more of a hermit because time to make art has become more important to me than making connections.

Q)Tell us about a recent dream you had.

A)I have frequent dreams about living in a collapsed society where anarchy reigns. It is not very pleasant. But I don’t place any significance on dreams. I believe they are the permutations of random synaptic activity in the brain. A biological function to maintain brain activity while you sleep.

Q)What is freedom to you as an artist?

A)Freedom is being able to do what you want with your time. Within reason and social norms.

Q)Are there any particular works you've done that stand out as your favorites?

A)Having made over 1800 pieces of art, I have many favorites. Here are a few:

Q)Last Books you read?

A)The Long Emergency

Q) Last records you bought?

A)Taj Mahal – The Natural Blues, Bruce Springsteen – Seeger Sessions .

Q)Who are your favourite artists & Your favourite galleries?

A)See above for some favourite artists. No favourite galleries. I prefer museums and contemporary alternative spaces.

Q)Your contacts….E-mail…Links



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3:46 AM  

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