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.

New Aluminum Panels

Dibond panels in the studio of Clay Johnson
I recently had some new panels built. The faces are made of Dibond aluminum sheets, which are mounted to poplar cradles. They look beautiful, and the aluminum composite means no warping whatsoever. I wasn’t sure about painting on metal, but I really like the feel of it, and I can control the surface texture depending on how I prime the aluminum.

Upcoming Exhibitions

Installation view of Clay Johnson show at William Havu Gallery 2017

Elins Eagles-Smith Gallery will be showing my work at the Art Market SF fair, which runs from April 26th to the 29th at The Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.

Also, my second show at William Havu Gallery (Denver) has just been scheduled for spring 2019. My first exhibition there was beautifully installed and rather successful, so I look forward to showing new work next spring. The show will open March 8th. (photo courtesy William Havu Gallery)

New Acquisitions at UW Art Museum

Lesson 1, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 48" x 48" by Clay Johnson

Lesson 1, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 48″ x 48″

I’m very pleased to be included in the New Acquisitions exhibition at the University of Wyoming Art Museum. This particular painting, Lesson 1, I feel is strongly influenced by my surroundings here in Wyoming, so I can’t imagine a more appropriate place for it to live than the University Museum. Also, it makes me very happy to be a small part of the legacy that the great Susan Moldenhauer (museum director and chief curator) will leave behind when she retires later this year.