Monday, August 16, 2010
TAG Gallery Interview With Julienne Johnson
Mixed Media Triptych 60 x 168"Julienne Johnson
Layering, scraping, painting, and sanding are among the processes used by Julienne Johnson to create her abstract paintings.
What is it like being an artist in Los Angeles?
I think it is perhaps like being an artist anywhere. Only it’s more expensive here. While I have been an artist in Michigan, it was not with the same commitment to the work that I have now in Los Angeles.
Whom do you make art for?
I’d like to think that I make art for the world. However, when one works passionately in any area there is definitely something in it for themselves; that something is always beyond the obvious or what you can put in the bank… so much bigger. I make art for myself: to please myself.
Do you work in more than one medium? How do the two influence each other?
When my expression must make more sound it goes from drawing to painting to assemblage. When it must shout even louder, that assemblage becomes sculptural and free standing.
Have you been an artist all of your life, or is art something that you’ve come to recently?
I was first called an artist when I was about nine years old. I had a substitute art teacher in elementary school, Johanna Spargo from Estonia. Everything I made she praised and put in the highest position on the board. She singled me out; called my parents and wanted to mentor me. My father hung up on her. She called several times to no avail. Finally she called and said she would like to do a portrait of me at no charge. She was well known for her pastel portraits of children and they were expensive, at least to a family like mine. So to this free offer my father finally responded. For the next three to four months, every Saturday I went to her house for several hours. I had the most wonderful times. She would draw and sketch me happily in various positions and we would have graham crackers with applesauce on them and tea with milk. She would tell me about Estonia, about the communist labor camps she had escaped from and about how I brought her good luck. When the portrait was finished I begged to take it home with me on the bus; I fell into a mud puddle. Until she died, she stayed in my life. She always insisted that I was an artist, no matter what I was doing. She impacted me greatly with her blue eyes and kind heart.
Why do you make art and what excited you about painting?
I am compelled with all that is in me to make art. If you take away my paints I will draw. Take my pencil and I will carve with a knife. I need nothing special to work with. I will make art. If I have nothing I can still live it. On my bed I will dream it.
Julienne Johnson's exhibit opens September 7, 2010.