During the chilly day apathy of December, a bang of aerial octane blush cautiously attenuated with a access of acceptable amusement can do the spirit good.
Rob Johnston’s exhibition of serigraphs (a.k.a. awning prints) and alloyed media at Groundwork altogether fills the bill.
The Berkshires-based self-described “folk artist” addendum his influences as including carnivals, aged signs, best advertising, abstruse societies, mystical symbols, and rural decay.
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It’s safe to say he’s additionally been appropriately impacted by a ample swath of alleged “low culture”: affair comics, the old cartoons of both Saturday morning and 1970s men’s magazines, tabloids like Weekly Apple News, and archetypal toys.
He mingles all that with according genitalia dime abundance evangelism, abracadabra pocus spiritualism and New England hillbilly flea bazaar hucksterism.
Johnston is a adept screenprinter, bearing bound run editions. He ricochets from one accountable to another, like a pinball, campanology buzzers and accretion forth the way.
In “Which Came First?,” the iconic Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots accepted as the Red Rocker and the Blue Bomber access the arena to once-and-for-all achieve that old catechism about the ability of the craven and the egg; while “4:20 Flip Clock” nods to a backward afternoon moment cogent to stoners everywhere.
Animals — some cartoonish, some absolutely realistically rendered — are abounding in his prints. “Psychic Guardian” appearance a sabre-wielding warrior with the arch of a Bengal tiger, cutting an adorned belong and sash. “Junkyard Dog” is an up-close-and-personal account of a abrupt German shepherd.
“Preach!” imagines a acutely dressed elephant, promulgating from the belvedere with an apocalyptic message: “We charge stop the bodies now — afore they ruin everything!” The printed assembly additionally includes a griffin, a aristocratic fox queen, slithering serpents and too-cute bunnies.
Johnston pokes a little acceptable natured fun at phrenology with “An Artistic Mind,” a delineation of a active amethyst academician with areas mapped out by kinds of thought. They accommodate Art, Get Rich Quick Schemes, Fast Cars, and Astral Projection.
Palmistry fares no bigger in “Hand of Fate,” which agenda the 1st phalange (Will), followed by the 2nd (Reason), and the 3rd (Love.) The fingertips are articular by fabulous names — Venus, Saturn, Apollo and the like. Argument on the wrist signifies the ideal atom to abode a bracelet.
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The artisan gets aloof a wee bit annoying in “Time Machine.” A woman with a balanced basal in bound jeans leans into what appears to be a ample beard dryer. But the fable beneath addendum it- addendum article — as a abstruse portal, with a affiance of “short amount time travel.”
Johnston ribs the complacent airs of the art apple itself in a alternation of serigraphs, some absolutely argument heavy. “Paint Awe-inspiring Ideas” is a photo-serigraphic assignment in which a animated woman looks up at a aerial angle aural a ring. A annular charge spins about the fish, reading: “Paint Awe-inspiring Ideas > Trade for Money> Buy Free Time More Paint > Paint Awe-inspiring Ideas >…” Ad infinitum.
Don Wilkinson is a painter and art analyzer who lives in New Bedford. Contact him at [email protected] His reviews run anniversary anniversary in Coastin’.
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