Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday 13, 2010 Response to Magpie Tales and Johnnie Winona Ross

Today is Friday, and this morning I opened to the Magpie site, to see the writing prompt. To tell the truth I was stumped, I started a couple of ideas and no luck. When I looked carefully at the picture, I began thinking about the surface of the pipes pictured and was struck by the contrast of the paintings I saw yesterday by a wonderful artist, Johnnie Winona Ross. And surface is so important to his work. While the pipes in Magpie's picture were rusty, and oxidized, rough to the touch, Johnnie's painting are smooth as a polished stone.

I found on Elins Eagles-Smith Gallery site his biography: Johnnie Winona Ross creates elegantly abstracted paintings that evoke both the austere landscape of Northern New Mexico's high plain and the burnished surfaces of ancient Pueblo pottery.

These are two things I love. I have seen Johnnie's work since he moved to Taos in 1999, where he first showed at the Parks Gallery. But one thing that was so wonderful about his show at the Museum in Santa Fe, was to see his work in the context of many of his other works. And of course to get to meet him was a very special privilege.

The Elins Eagles-Smith Gallery describes his process this way, beneath their satin, burnished surfaces are revealed subtle drips of colored pigment that appear in banded stripes. In a rhythmic flow that is reminiscent of falling rain, the dripping is sparse at the top and becomes more intense as it nears the bottom. These works are composed of more than one hundred layers of glazed pigments. Each of these is shaved with a straight razor until a chronology of the painting's history is revealed to the viewer. Finally, utilizing the traditional burnishing stone of native Pueblo potters, Ross buffs the surface of the painting until he achieves a soft warm gloss.

Johnnie Winona Ross resigned his post as chair of the art department at the Maine College of Art in Portland and moved to Taos New Mexico in 1999, to devote himself full time to painting. He exhibits his work in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, and throughout Northern New Mexico.

Johnnie Winona Ross
August 13, 2010 --January 9, 2011
New Mexico Museum of Art 107 West Palace Avenue, on the Plaza in Santa Fe

And for more information go to Kate Beck: Art Notes
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
On and of the Mesa: Johnnie Winona Ross, Carole Sue Ross