Teachers have a huge impact on their students. Good or bad – one cannot deny their influence. They often lead us to a destination where we may never have ventured.
See image: Cries & Whispers (detail) 2012, 72″x96″ oil with mixed media and collage on canvas
For artist Julienne Johnson, that was just the case. Teachers have inspired her throughout her life’s journey and a few stand out from the rest. The first, an Estonian substitute art teacher, observed her artistic talent in primary school and sought to mentor her.
Now, years later, the late artist Franklyn Liegel, her teacher and mentor (Art Center College of Design and Otis College of Art and Design), has inadvertently led her full circle to her latest exhibition.
See image: Franklyn Liegel
While in his classes, Johnson attended his exhibition opening in 2007, and now she follows in his footsteps with an exhibition in the same gallery: LA Artcore – Brewery Annex, which opened on Sunday March 3rd and runs through March 29th.
Another person of influence is Peter Frank, art critic and curator (Huffington Post, Fabrik Magazine, past Senior Curator of the Riverside Art Museum). Frank re-introduced Johnson to gallery director Lydia Takeshita via her book, Julienne Johnson – Ashes for Beauty (edited and curated by Frank).
See image: Peter Frank
Before Johnson had even met the renowned art critic, she was learning from him, avidly following his trail of essays through the most prestigious of art publications and seeking out venues where she could hear him speak. “I was particularly attracted to the poetic device and metaphoric language that Peter used in his essays to add clarity to his critiques,” says Johnson.
Speaking fondly of another mentor, Johnson says, “Jack Grapes was my poetry teacher, and he taught me that I too had a voice.”
See image: Jack Grapes
He’s like the teacher Robert Frost was talking about when he said, ‘There are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fill you with so much quail shot that you can’t move and the kind that just gives you a little prod behind and you jump to the skies.’ Jack’s that kind of teacher. I have so much respect for him.”
The exhibit opened on March 3rd at LA Artcore Gallery – Brewery Annex. For the closing of the show, Johnson has coordinated a poetry reading: SPOKEN Word & Paint, featuring Jack Grapes and Peter Frank, who will read against a backdrop of the exhibition. The event takes place Friday, March 29th at 7:30 p.m.
LA Artcore – Brewery Annex is located at 650 A. South Avenue 21 (in Lincoln Heights) Los Angeles, CA 90031. Please RSVP julienneART@me.com if you would like to attend the Spoken Word Event on March 29th.
Signed copies of her book Julienne Johnson – Ashes for Beauty will be available throughout the exhibition. The work of Gurdon Miller and Alexander Sadoyan will also be on view at the gallery.
See image: Obbligato 1, (detail) 2012, 30″x40″ oil with mixed media and collage on canvas
When asked what it was like to once again be working with Peter Frank, she replied, “Joyous! Peter was immediately receptive to the idea. I am not going to forget this – ever. Best of all – it’s thrilling for me that with this reading, I will have played a part in exposing Peter’s pure poetic expression to those who have known him for years without knowing him as a poet.”
Frank has been writing poetry for the past fifty years. When asked what inspires him, he replied, “Sounds and images, real and imagined.” He explained that being an art critic adds to the process of writing poetry, “I take most of my inspiration from extra-verbal stimuli, including visual art and music. Conversely, my current critical style allows me the pleasure I take in words and phrases themselves (although not, I trust, at the expense of the images and objects I’m discussing).”
Jack Grapes often finds inspiration from his colleagues. “I’ve been influenced by so
many different poets from the last two millennia, and I’ve allowed those influences to have their way with me, much like a kid in a sandbox playing with different kinds of toys,” cited Grapes.
Teachers have always been important to Julienne Johnson, who admits that she’s managed to surround herself with mentors who are considered the “best” in their perspective fields. She has high hopes for the future and will continue to create, learn, and challenge herself as an artist. “A good life is about learning,” laughed Julienne.