Examine the meaning of community in silkscreen prints by Joseph Craig English and paintings in gouache and acrylic by Cynthia Farrell Johnson.
This exhibit is on display from Monday, February 4 to Friday, March 29,, 2013. Opening Reception is on Thursday, February 7, 5:30 – 7:30 PM. The Gallery is open from 9AM to 6PM, Monday through Friday.
Community Reflections captures the spirit of neighborhoods, here and abroad. The exhibition pairs the work of two Montgomery County artists whose silkscreens and gouaches are a study in opposites: English bases his hand cut lacquer stencils on pencil drawings made from photographs, creating meticulously detailed serigraphs of local architecture and landmarks, while Johnson relies on her memory to form painted impressions of the street scenes and community life she observed during her years of travel in West Africa and Central and South America, as well as visits to her native New York.
English directs our attention to the play of light and shadow, leaf patterns, and architectural ornaments that might go unnoticed. He often focuses on doorways, cars, signage, window frames, and stoops, recasting his subjects into bold color compositions built from successive printings, sometimes with as many as forty colors. For this exhibition, English has created a special edition of Silver Spring Skaters, a dynamic composition of gliding figures set against the dramatic architectural back-drop of Veterans’ Plaza.
Johnson takes us to village life in Western Africa and Central and South America, where she served as a United States diplomat. Like English, most figures are generalized, engaged in activities from everyday life. They perform domestic chores, enjoy a meal with family and friends, or work as street vendors. Some images document political unrest, but without the ominous threat of violence. The Gossip Session (Panamanian Street Cleaners) references the1980s, when pro and anti-government graffiti covered Panama City walls, and the government employed female cleaning teams, referred to as the “Celestial Brigade,” to keep an eye on neighbors who might be protesting the regime.
Despite their differing viewpoints, techniques, and subjects, both English and Johnson use vibrant colors and strong graphics to celebrate the ordinary and document local events. The Kramer Gallery, a civic gallery dedicated to exhibiting the work of Montgomery County artists, is pleased to present Community Reflections.
--Michele Cohen, PhD, Curator
Washington-born Joseph Craig English has been producing and exhibiting vibrantly colored silkscreen prints since 1972. The artist prints all his work himself, working from his home studio in the historic town of Washington Grove. His work appears in numerous museum collections, including The Virginia Museum, The Chrysler Museum , The Fort Lauderdale Museum , and the Museum of Western Virginia. Public and private collections include the City of Baltimore, DC Commission of the Arts, Georgetown University, IBM, Microsoft, U.S. State Department, Montgomery County, MD, The Washington Post, Xerox and others. English has had numerous solo exhibitions, mural commissions and artist’s residencies in Montgomery County schools. Most recently in 2012, the Washington Metro Airports Authority commissioned him to create an edition of original serigraphs to mark the 50th Anniversary of Dulles Airport.
Cynthia Farrell Johnson’s works in gouache and acrylic have been inspired by the people she met and places she lived during 25 years of globetrotting as a U.S. diplomat. Service in West Africa, Central and South America exposed her to a wide variety of artistic traditions and forms of expression. Currently a Silver Spring resident, Johnson is a member of the Rockville Art League, the Black Artists of DC, Artomatic, and the Washington chapter of Women’s Caucus for Art. She is also included in the Maryland State Artists Registry. Her work can be seen in numerous local venues, including the Parish Gallery of Georgetown, ArtSpring (Pyramid Atlantic's Community Art Store), and Wesley Theological Seminary, where she was recently the Artist in Residence. In 2012 she had three solo exhibitions, most recently at the Holy Cross Hospital Community Art Gallery, Silver Spring.