HEATHER L. JOHNSON: In Search of the Frightening and Beautiful

September 24, 2016 - February 19, 2017

In the Spring of 2015, artist Heather L. Johnson took to the road on her Yamaha XT250 motorcycle in pursuit of her ongoing quest,  In Search of the Frightening and Beautiful (ISFB), and rode through the United States, Mexico,Central and South America for ten months.

Upon her return to Houston, she began an artist in residency at Cherryhurst House and distilled her travel experiences into embroideries, watercolor paintings, large wall drawings along with writing on her popular ISFB blog. This new body of work is the latest chapter in her ongoing project and the focus of the exhibition.

A petite woman, Johnson encounters concern more often than encouragement when she reveals her plans for solo motorcycle travel into territories unknown. But the journey ignites her passion. By increasing her strength and speed, the motorcycle becomes an extension of the artist's body. When she stops along the road she sometimes leaves behind hand embroidered art works of motorcycle parts, accompanied by Spanish phrases describing experiences she has had on her travels thus far. She places the embroideries in select locations in the landscape with the hope they will be encountered, taken, and kept. Since the start of ISFB in 2013, Johnson has traveled over 38,000 miles and left 47 artworks in her wake.

While the embroideries, painstakingly made, serve as conversation starters and map markers, her large watercolor painting based on photographs taken while on the road unravel stories from the journey itself.

Cinematic images depict uncanny subjects ranging from a roadside brush fire to a family battling torrents of rain with a picnic umbrella; from a barbed wire-lined wallof concrete stained with streaks of blood-colored rust to a cemetery’s Virgin Mary locked in her own glasshouse; from a shipping container painted with ecstatic dancing people surrounded by piles of rubble to ascraggly tree whose ultra-long roots cling for dear life to a tall clump of earth. “This project is all about embracing spontaneity, random interactions and occurrences that testify to the ‘frightening and beautiful:’ thecoincidences, contradictions, and struggles that reveal the essence of human experience.

Born in 1969, Johnson has shown her work in galleries, museums and in the public realm throughout the U.S., Europe, Japan and Mexico.  She has given lectures about her work at CalPoly University (San Luis Obispo, CA), Moravian College (Bethlehem, PA) and other venues, and has curated several exhibitions and collaborative projects, including Cracks in the Pavement: Gifts in the Urban Landscape, involving artists from around the world, and Love Letter, a collection of collaborative site-specific works presented in New York and Paris. She is currently based in Twentynine Palms, CA.

Cherryhurst House is open Saturdays and Sundays 12-5 (except holidays) The artist will be present to give tours of the exhibition.

For further info or press release contact Barbara Levine, Cherryhurst House Curator.

 

Strangely Familiar: Works of Visual Fiction by Barbara Levine and Daniela Edburg

October 24, 2015 - April 30, 2016

Strangely Familiar is an exhibition of photography and mixed media artworks that explore ideas of being at "at home": in one's environment, time and place. The exhibition features work produced by Daniela Edburg and Barbara Levine during their Spring 2015 artist residency at Cherryhurst House.

Daniela Edburg is a visual artist who mixes photography, crochet and other media. During her residency, she focused on representations of adaptability by crocheting artificial moss and using it as a metaphor for exploring ideas about living structures, boundaries and identity.  Moss, according to Edburg, "is an ancient plant that defies the idea you need strong roots to thrive. Instead of deep roots moss just needs a favorable environment."  As part of her process, Daniela invited people from Houston's craft and artist communities to Cherryhurst House twice a week to crochet moss and help her create characters for a series of family portraits titled "The Mossmakers." Also on view will be Edburg's large format constructed photographs and intimate shadow boxes that invite the viewer into worlds of pure fiction.

Barbara Levine is an artist, collector and curator who uses found photographs to enact, or comment on, the inherent tension between the familiar, the remembered and the mysterious. For her residency project, Levine was inspired by the environment of Cherryhurst House to create a large object in the shape of a house which she then covered in antique tintype photographs. The miniature tin house is instantly recognizable as a domestic form, something that suggests it can be lived in and is a repository of memories and stories. In Levine's hands, the house is abstract and remote with no doors or windows. The found family photographs form a fragile skin on the house, softening the structure, yet remaining only as an exterior reminder of what might have been. Accompanying the house are photographic collages (made in collaboration with artist and graphic designer, Martin Venezky) which address the sometimes irreconcilable dimensions of time and space, as anonymous figures and details from old photographs interact in a landscape composed of geometric structures and abstract color blocks.

In Strangely Familiar, both Daniela Edburg and Barbara Levine investigate the meaning of place by creating provisional structures, spaces and topographies. Edburg intervenes in domestic and natural environments by inserting her artificial Mossmaker characters in timeless settings thereby creating new fictions about place and identity and Levine deploys the juxtaposition of vintage photography with contemporary artistic methods, technologies and imagery to create new ways of experiencing the photographic image. In this exhibition, each artist invites us to enter a place both familiar and strange - some aspects of which are recognizable, and others, wonderfully unexpected.

Schedule your visit

 

Out of Place: Photographs and Other Fictions by Barbara Levine and Daniela Edburg

November 22, 2014 - May 30, 2015

The first reaction when one feels out of place is to look for ways of connecting. Artists Daniela Edburg and Barbara Levine met in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico in 2009, a town they called home but felt dislocated from.  From this feeling of dislocation, they started a dialogue about photography and collecting and making images to express personal maps and anchors to navigate unfamiliar environments.  Out of Place presents viewers with a window into Levine and Edburg’s extended ongoing conversation and challenges us to consider places between certainty and uncertainty, natural and artificial and our own sense of place, home and memory.

While the artists share similar interests, their methods and techniques are quite distinct. Daniela Edburg analyzes certain aspects that define our human nature, particularly the artificial world we inhabit, simulation, accumulation and notions of preservation.  Her fictional landscapes and portraits are impeccably
plotted and constructed to manifest her recent experiences of startling and contradictory environments. Wild natural forces erupt within domestic
interiors; animal heads crop up on human bodies; human hands holding crocheted objects interrupt natural landscapes. Her images such as the portrait, Civilized Goat, depicting a half-human, half-goat creature smoking a cigarette in a library, suggests utterly confounding realities.

Barbara Levine’s approach, on the other hand, starts from the opposite direction, with presumably completed images.  She collects and curates vintage vernacular photographs, and then assembles, edits, remixes and intervenes in these found images to form unique compositions and collages replete with narrative possibilities.  In her piece, Cactus between us, an invasive cactus - a prickly inhabitant of an alien environment – spoils a romantic studio portrait. Throughout Levine's works, disparate images are combined to create new patterns rife with interpretive associations in order to make new connections to scenarios, landscapes and relationships that are both familiar and strange.

From the start of their collaboration, Barbara and Daniela felt the best place to present their work was in a space that was both public and private, intimate like a home but also unexpected. Cherryhurst House’s unique structure provides them such an opportunity. Within the house, each shows work in adjacent rooms and in a third room their work they present their work together. Their collaborative photograph, Civilized Root, which portrays a contemporary root headed odalisque, feels quite at home over the fireplace. Each artist, in her own way, beckons us to enter a place both familiar and disorienting… some aspects of which are entirely recognizable, and others, like déjà vu, seem an elusive
and illusory trick of the mind.

Barbara Levine: www.projectb.com
Daniela Edburg: www.danielaedburg.com

Camera Era

July 22, 2014 - November 9, 2014

Project B’s founder Barbara Levine—artist, curator, collector—has long been sensitive to the unique mystery of found photographs. Together, she and Paige Ramey find and preserve anonymous images from the lively margins of history and recast them as large format archival pigment prints. What results from this practice is a fresh encounter with the past and with photography itself: the humble original images take on unaccustomed starring roles as freeze frames from a world long gone, while their meticulous, breathtaking enlargements invite us to engage with that world in contemporary ways.

CAMERA ERA features photos that reveal a special relationship with the camera. It may be a sitter striking an iconic pose, or hiding her face... or it may be camera or printing errors or maybe the photographer altering the photo by hand—the kind of photographic 'mistakes' that can now be instantly corrected, but which we love for their very human texture. In today’s digital reality, where every device is a camera and every blip, click and ping contains a picture, it is easy to forget the charisma and mystique of the physical printed photograph.

This exhibition is a collusion between vintage and contemporary technologies. Original small snapshots are shown together with archival images that have been re-photographed and digitally “remastered.” The large format prints reveal the surface wear, detail and patina of the long forgotten photographs to offer a different point of view and remind us of the power of the photograph to stop time and bring alive moments and relationships at once instantly recognizable and deeply enigmatic.

The works in CAMERA ERA invite us on a speculative journey; as anonymous images without a clear backstory, provenance or authorship, they beckon us to fill in the gaps with our own stories and suppositions. We become collaborators in an interactive game of discovery—an exercise at once aesthetic, intellectual, and simply fun. 

Project B's website is: www.projectb.com

© 2017 Cherryhurst House