Thursday, July 17, 2014


Installation at Holly Johnson Gallery re-post of my article

Last Saturday I made my way over to Holly Johnson Gallery to see the new works by Otis Jones and Bret Slater. I stopped by early in the morning and I found foldout chairs were set up, facing two comfy arm chairs. I immediately remembered the invitation I got for a town hall style interview with Sharon Louden and Annette Lawrence. Both would be at the gallery that day at 4:00 PM to talk and sign the book, “Living and Sustaining a Creative Life Essays by 40 Working Artists.” Needless to say I came back to the gallery to hear the talk.

Artist and Editor of the book, Sharon Louden interviewed Denton artist and contributor to the book, Annette Lawrence. The conversation centered around Lawrence’s experience as a professor and as an artist. She shared how she set aside several hours a day to work on her art. Sharon Louden read a passage from the book which illustrated how being creative from an outside observer might not look like the person is working. However, the creative process of thinking and planning is as important as producing the work. I would have picked up a book right there and then, but my six year old had had enough after sitting quietly for an hour, and he bolted out. That is OK, I now have it on my Kindle and I am currently devouring the book.

Flashing back to that morning, I was able to spend some time with both Otis Jones’ and Bret Slater’s object paintings. I once compared Slater’s paintings to a thick frosted cake and some of those same elements are present in these works, but subtle shifts in style have begun to emerge in his work. Slater is still a rebel minimalist of eye popping color and texture. However, these object/paintings seem sleeker and more refined than my last encounter with his work. I am happy to see he is sticking with the playful titles. By being nonsensical in naming his work, he manages to be simultaneously irreverent to past traditions while accomplishing the same goal of allowing the works to become subjective.

The descriptive titles of Otis Jones’ object/paintings accomplish the subjective interpretation while maintaining a strong connection to the tradition of minimal and abstract painting. Jones is not repeating the formalist formula of abstracting, rather he is pushing the boundaries of painting through furthering the conversation of sculpture and painting. His hybrid forms, object/paintings are important in the development of contemporary art language and innovation. In the last 20 years or so, this breed of painting has been developing and refining. It has its roots with Jasper Johns and Rauschenberg, but they were attaching parts in more of a collage style. Jones and Slater are making the painting and sculptural elements into a seamless construct.

“Living and Sustaining a Creative Life Essays by 40 Working Artists” is available at a bookseller near you or online. You can find this interview and other interviews from the book tour online as well. Otis Jones and Bret Slater will be showing at Holly Johnson Gallery through July 26th.

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