Steve Johnson & Bob Ray
From the Ground Up
White Days Unswallowed
Aug. 27 - Oct.7, 2011

The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art presents two concurrent solo exhibitions: “White Days Unswallowed” by Bob Ray and “From the Ground Up”  by Steve Johnson. During the opening reception on August 26th, Bob Ray and collaborator Kevin Hardy debuted an original performance entitled “White Days Unswallowed”.

Throughout the exhibition, guided group tours will be offered through the Halsey Institute’s Looking to See program. All events are free with the public encouraged to attend.

“Rise & Fall” from Kitchen Sink Studios ®, INC. on Vimeo.

We all have place in the world, but do we know where it is?

In this short film by Kitchen Sink Studios, South Carolina artist Steve Johnson asks himself the same question. Without knowing exactly where he belongs, Johnson knows art will always be something he is drawn to.

For one of his latest art projects, “Rise & Fall,” Johnson drew a series of birds in flight, nesting, nurturing, and dying. He has a certain affinity for their fleeting beauty, and attempts to capture the commonalities between them and society.


Steve Johnson
From the Ground Up

Steve Johnson was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona and moved to San Francisco in 1996. He graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in printmaking and painting in 2003 and received an M.F.A. in painting and drawing from Arizona State University in 2008. Johnson was invited as a Master Printmaker artist in residence at the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop in NYC in 2010 where he completed a suite of lithographs. The published prints have since been shown in art fairs and exhibitions both nationally and internationally: Editions/Artists’ Book Fair and New NY Print Publishers, NYC; Impressions Orlando Print Fair, FL; and Frans Masereel Centrum, Belgium. This year, Johnson has had a solo exhibition at 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco, CA and at Blackburn 20/20 in New York City. Steve Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Drawing at the College of Charleston.

Johnson states, “One of my objectives as an artist is to bridge conflicting views by revealing shared concerns and common ground. The basic desire to find and maintain security, whether in a home, job, or relationship, in a forever shifting landscape, can create more losers than winners. Using a cast of chickadees, rats, and hummingbirds, my current work navigates the gray areas and middle grounds inhabited by animals with competing interests.”

For the exhibition at the Halsey Institute, Johnson merges drawing with painting as he layers a variety of dry and wet mediums on wood panels. The warm tones and textures of the wood panels serve as a background for the small animals rendered with a cool palette of colored pencils and watercolors. In addition to showing a sampling of recent prints and drawings, Johnson will be creating a large, site-specific drawing installation as part of the exhibition.

Steve Johnson Studio »

Bob Ray
White Days Unswallowed

Bob Ray, born just east of Kansas City, MO, works in a variety of media, from drawings, paintings, collage, and sculpture, to correspondence and performance works. His aesthetic borrows heavily from the Dada and Fluxus movements, with a strong combination of word, gesture, and image. Since 1990, he has been very active in international correspondence art activities and projects in Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Egypt, Japan, United States, Bolivia, Spain, Hungary, Switzerland and Latvia. He has had extended exchanges with some of the most significant correspondence artists in the world, including Ray Johnson, Richard C, Giorgio Cavalinni and Torma Cauli.

Bob Ray’s works are as illusive as his artist statement:

“it was not made of words so I ate what I could grasp”

What is made poorly, what is made well — an Ozark hog pen, a thoroughbred stable in Kentucky– what runs between these constructions? How does one arrive at these points? The poetic image, mysteries of a nocturnal fable, random juxtapositions of the man made and the natural which eventually leak into each other; this is the composition of my visual interest at the moment.

“it wasn’t what I thought it was, and isn’t what I think it is”

In addition to his complex and varied visual works, Ray is also an accomplished “honky tonk” singer and guitar player. Currently living twenty-three miles out in the Atlantic Ocean on the island of Ocracoke, NC, Ray’s work has been published and exhibited internationally.

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