Bartley Johnson works on a painting in his Corrales studio
Bartley Johnson: visionary artist
Beneath the good-natured surface of artist Bartley Johnson rumbles the subconscious of a beleaguered soul in a mad world.
“I’m personally optimistic and globally pessimistic,” Johnson said in his Corrales studio. “Everything to me is paradoxical.”
That conflict spawns a stream of paintings, clay figures, and comic books with skewed perspectives, vibrant colors, and the occasional animal head, vegetable, or teapot on a human body. References to classic art lurk in his work, and he considers himself an extreme traditionalist in his love of painting and use of materials.
Rejecting labels like postmodern, abstract, or cubist, Johnson, forty-nine, sees his work as humorous and calls his vision comic-apocalyptic.
“There’s a great wellspring of bad feelings about the future that I draw on for my work,” he said. “I never paint consciously, that’s the bedrock issue to me.
“I kind of let the painting develop itself.”
And so it has in the twenty-one years since he received his graduate degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and moved to the belly of the art beast, New York City. During most of that time, with his art hanging in a city gallery, he earned his living as a typesetter working at a computer keyboard.
A move to New Jersey transformed him and his wife into Manhattan commuters, so in 2001 they decided to take a chance on both his art and New Mexico. The sale of their home closed as dust from the World Trade Center still hung in the air.
Now Johnson works full time at his art taking illustration jobs, displaying in the Blue Dome Gallery in Silver City, and last year showing at the Albuquerque Museum. The Signpost artist of the month opens his next show, “Way Out West,” December 6 at the Arte Loca Gallery in Bernalillo.
Johnson considers himself an observer of society rather than a social critic and occasionally takes his sketch pad to a shopping mall to draw people in their natural habitat.
“As an artist, I don’t have enough conviction to say how society ought to be organized,” he said. “I just look out at the absurdity of the chaos.”
His clay figures provide a mental break, a relaxing change from channeling his dreams and deeper emotions into paint. His comics, begun as a way to blow off political steam, include “Printed Matter,” a silk-screened edition of one hundred, as much art as publication, sold for a while through a New York gallery.
Inspired by the gritty streetwise story lines of artist Robert Crumb, the comics led him to alternative publications where anticonsumerism supplants the focus groups of modern American marketing.
“That’s why I like the comic world, there’s not enough money in it,” Johnson said. “You look into someone’s real world, not some test-marketed formula.”
That world also led to a current illustration assignment, the cover art for Scram, a Los Angeles underground music magazine.
Johnson said he is still making selections from his paintings, prints, and clay figures for the Arte Loca show. Beginning with a December 6 reception from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., the show continues through February 5.
Arte Loca is located at 373 Camino del Pueblo north of Bernalillo High School and is open Thursday through Saturday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. and by appointment. Some of Johnson’s work can be seen in the Signpost Featured Artist of the Month Gallery.
Santa Fe Pro Musica presents “A Baroque Christmas”
PAS Board of Directors
On December 21 at 3:00 p.m., the Placitas Artists Series takes great pleasure in presenting a special holiday concert, “A Baroque Christmas,” by the Santa Fe Pro Musica. Santa Fe Pro Musica was established in the spring of 1994 as an outgrowth of the former Ensemble of Santa Fe, with a mission to bring together outstanding musicians to inspire and educate audiences of all ages through the performance of great music. The group performs classical music from 1600 to the present, using the musical instruments for which the work was originally composed. In 2002 Santa Fe Pro Musica became the only performing arts group affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution.
For the PAS concert, Thomas O'Connor and Carol Redman will lead the Santa Fe Pro Musica Baroque Orchestra in a special Christmas program featuring the music of Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Gluck, and traditional Christmas carols from around the world. The orchestra consists of ten musicians playing soprano, flute, oboe, two violins, viola, and basso continuo (organ and harpsichord, lute, cello, bassoon). All musical instruments will be authentic to the Baroque era or "original instruments."
The concert will be held at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (exit 242). There will be an artists’ reception at the church before the concert. This month’s featured artists are Michaela Carson, Lisa Chernoff, Nancy Hawks, and Susan (Suki) Willoughby.
Carson’s focus is on scenery or portraits, which she renders in impressionistic and realistic style, respectively. Chernoff is an award-winning artist focusing on large wall and table sculptures and large bowls. Hawks works with pastels and works on landscapes of the Southwest area. Willoughby specializes in oil paints and enjoys watercolor as well. Please view samples of the artists on the Placitas Artists Series Web site at www.PlacitasArts.org.
Tickets for the concert will be available at the door one hour before the concerts, or can be purchased ahead of time at La Bonne Vie Salon and Day Spa in the Homestead Village Shopping Center in Placitas (867-3333). Tickets can also be purchased on line. The prices for this concert are $15 for general admission and $12 for seniors and students. For additional information and ticket brochures, call 867-8080 or visit the Web site.
This concert and the art exhibit are made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and New Mexico Arts, a division of the Office of Cultural Affairs. There is handicapped access and free child care for children under six.
Poetry for the solstice
Local poets Dick Hopkins, Kate Miller, Carolyn Kinsman, Deborah Green Tilford, and John O'Keefe will read winter-solstice poetry at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church on Monday, December 22, at 7:00 pm.
There will also be readings from the work of American poets Marge Peircy, William Stafford, Linnartz, Nancy Corson Carter, and Lucie Brock-Broido; Latin American poet Carmen Valle; Irish poets Eamon Grennan and Eavan Boland; and Poets Against the War contributor Bob Strain.
Winter-solstice celebrations have a four-thousand-year-old history, with both pre-Christian and Christian symbols, says Charles E. Little, organizer of the the event. "Winter-solstice poetry is rich in imagery, for this is not only the darkest night, but a change of seasons which promises lengthening days to come. For thousands of years we have lit candles and bonfires to entice the sun to return."
This is the sixth annual winter-solstice poetry reading at the church, and it is part of the interfaith Earth Vespers series sponsored by the Las Placitas Earth Care Committee. This year's event is entitled "From the Darkness, Light," and, as in the past, poems will be read by the light of a single candle, with a moment of silent reflection after each. After the reading, a memento booklet containing the poems will given to those attending. Refreshments will be served in the church's fellowship hall. All are welcome.
For further information on the reading, contact Charles Little at 867-1973 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on the Las Placitas Earth Vespers series, contact Leland Bowen at 867-2731 or email@example.com. Las Placitas Presbyterian church is six and a half miles east of I-25 on NM 165.
Radio-theater holiday special at Adobe
Radio Theater –1945, an all-new edition of the Adobe Theater’s acclaimed Radio Theater series will be presented at 8:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, 2:00 p.m. on Sundays, from December 5 through 21. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $8 for seniors and students.
Radio was the entertainment of the home and 1945 was part of the “golden age of radio.” The Adobe will bring the Continental Broadcasting Network to life for your holiday enjoyment, a wonderful, nostalgic trip down memory lane, and a new experience for youngsters who missed the opportunity to take these journeys into the imagination. Actual scripts from the period will recreate classic radio broadcasts, complete with commercials and authentic sound effects.
For reservations, call 898-9222 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The theater is at 9813 Fourth Street NW.
Call for entries for Contemporary Hispanic Market
A call for entries for the eighteenth annual Contemporary Hispanic Market, a juried exhibition to be held July 24 and 25, 2004, in Santa Fe, has been issued. For further information and prospectus, send an SASE to: Contemporary Hispanic Market, P. O. Box 6863, Santa Fe, NM 87502. The deadline for entries is January 25, 2004. For information, call Judy Ortiz 983-2640.
Modern Hispanic art on sale in Santa Fe
The Contemporary Hispanic Winter Market, a community celebration of contemporary Hispanic art, will be held for the third year on December 6 and 7 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, 1615-B Paseo de Peralta (in the Railyard). This year’s market invited submissions from more than 140 artists who have earned worldwide notoriety and acclaim as well as a place in public and private collections. Work in the various modern media for sale will include painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, furniture, ceramics, jewelry, and much more.
Anyone interested in volunteering at the market should call Judy Ortiz at 983-2640. For general information, contact Maria Martinez at 992-0591 or Judy Ortiz at 983-2640.
Corrales Fine Crafts Show marks 15th year
The Visual Arts Council of the Corrales Historical Society will present “Fifteenth Annual Fine Crafts Show,” a New Mexico craft exhibition and sale, at the Historic Old San Ysidro Church in Corrales from December 6 to 14. The show will feature selected artists exhibiting crafts in a variety of media including jewelry, sculpture, woodwork, glass, painting, clay and fabric art, and will be open to the public from 11 :00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. Participating artists are from Albuquerque, Cedar Crest, Corrales, Española, Jemez Springs, Rio Rancho, Ruidoso, Socorro, and Tijeras. There is no charge for admission or parking. An opening reception will be held on Friday, December 5, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.
A portIon of each sale at the show goes to the Corrales Historical Society for restoration and preservation of the Old San Ysidro Church.
The church is on Old Church Road three tenths of a mile west off Corrales Road.
Toys by artists on display in Bernalillo
Julianna Kirwin Studio/Gallery will present a reception for “The Toy Show” on December 6 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. The show will feature toys by Terry Bluhm, Mary Carter, Alvaro Enciso, Roger Evans, Ben Forgey, Julianna Kirwin, Katrina Lasko, Gene McClain, Wayne Mikosz, Riha Rothberg, and Irene Terronez. “The Toy Show” will run from December 6 through 22. Julianna Kirwin Studio/Gallery is at 1019 Camino del Pueblo in Bernalillo. For further information, call 771-0590 or visit www.juliannakirwin.com.
Westside Community Chorale presents holiday concert
The Westside Community Chorale, directed by Ruth Ann Hanlin, will perform its annual holiday concert at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 7, at the Parish Hall of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Rio Rancho. The culturally diverse program spans the last five centuries and includes Latin American, European, Mediterranean, and African selections, as well as traditional favorites.
Tickets are available in Corrales at Frame-N-Art, in Albuquerque at Bookworks, in Rio Rancho at the Chamber of Commerce, and at the door. Ticket prices are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $5 for students. Tickets may also be purchased from members of the Westside Community Chorale. St. Thomas Aquinas Parish Hall is located behind the main church at 1502 Sara Road in Rio Rancho.
The Westside Community Chorale is a group of all ages who share a love of music, friendship, and performing. The thirty-four members all live west of the Rio Grande in Bernalillo and Sandoval Counties. For further information, call 896-1639.