Exhibition at 555 California Street, San Francisco

Plato's Promise, 2019, acrylic on canvas, 48" x 60" by Clay Johnson

Wide Open Spaces: Paintings by Clay Johnson is an exhibition consisting of eleven recent works, installed in the A.P. Giannini Gallery (Bank of America Building), 555 California Street in downtown San Francisco. The exhibition is curated by Casey & Associates Art Advisors, and artwork is courtesy of Kim Eagles-Smith Gallery. The show will be up through August 1.

Shizen Handmade Paper

Clay Johnson painting on Shizen handmade paper

I recently bought ten sheets of Shizen paper. These are 12″x12″ sheets (approximately), handmade in India. The surface is rougher than what I normally use, and very irregular, so I’m having to make some adjustments in my process, which has led to some interesting results. When these small paintings are finished, I intend to feature them in an online exhibition, a fundraiser for frontline health care workers.

New Paintings at Kim Eagles-Smith Gallery

Installation view of solo exhibition at Kim Eagles-Smith Gallery

I am honored to have one of the first exhibitions at Kim’s new gallery space in Mill Valley. The space itself is beautiful, and Kim did an excellent job of installing the show. It was great to spend some time in San Francisco again, to see old friends, and to make some new ones. The exhibition will be on view for the next six weeks.

The Luxembourg Experience

The exhibition opening at La Pinacotheque was packed
The entire Luxembourg experience was really fantastic. It’s such a well-organized event, and the finalists were a wonderful bunch of people. A big thanks to Hervé Lancelin for coordinating everything and being such a gracious host. After three days in Luxembourg, it was on to Paris for a few days. Dinner with Christelle Thomas (of Ideelart) was a lot of fun. I have to say, though, that the highlight of the whole trip was a visit to the Musée de l’Orangerie to see the panoramic Monet water lily paintings. Perhaps my favorite museum experience ever.

2019 Luxembourg Art Prize – Finalist

2019 Luxembourg Art Prize Finalists

I am very pleased to announce that I have been selected as a finalist for the 2019 Luxembourg Art Prize. A group exhibition of the eleven finalists’ work will open September 28 and run through December 14 at La Pinacothèque, a private museum in Luxembourg City founded by Hervé Lancelin. The winner of the prize will be announced September 28 at the opening reception.

Exhibition at George Billis Gallery, New York

Just Like That, 2018, acrylic on aluminum panel, 48"x48" by Clay Johnson

In September, I will be having a small solo exhibition at George Billis Gallery in New York. The paintings will be installed in the side room exhibition space in the Chelsea gallery, 525 W. 26th Street, ground floor. The opening reception will be September 6th, 6-8 pm, and the show will run until September 27th.

George Billis Gallery

Clay Johnson is represented in LA by George Billis Gallery
I’m very pleased to announce that I am now represented in Los Angeles by George Billis Gallery LA. I’m excited to join a roster of talented artists working in a variety of media and exploring a wide range of important themes. My first exhibition with GBGLA is scheduled for April 2019.

In addition, some of my work will be included in a Summer Group Show at George Billis Gallery in New York. That show runs from July 10 to August 4, with an opening reception July 12, 6-8 pm.

Feeding the Animals

Clay Johnson at work in the studio

My path to a good painting is indirect. I begin by dividing the picture plane horizontally into two or three sections, and the rest of the process is a series of corrections. I try to fix the things I don’t like without destroying the aspects that appeal to me. Of course, this is often not possible—sometimes destruction is necessary, and usually in the end something good comes from it.

But all of this, in a way, is a distraction. These are design decisions, and while they can be important in themselves, they also serve the critical function of occupying my mind so that I don’t think too much about “making art.” Because the art in the paintings happens surreptitiously, while my back is turned. I’m aware of it, and I try in a subtle way to encourage it without scaring it off. But it’s better for everyone if I just do my job, focus on the task at hand. “That section needs to be larger.” “These colors aren’t working together.” These sorts of thoughts let me pretend that my intention is important and that I’m in charge. But in fact I’m trying to coax a timid creature into eating from my hand, and making sure not to look directly into its eyes.