This is documentation from the opening of my recent one-person exhibition Cold War Photomontages. (March – April 2010)
The Cold War Photomontages project is an extension of a another one-person show project I presented in Los Angeles in the spring of 2007 at LAXART.
The title of that show was Civil Air Defense Project # 1. It features a 12 by six foot long sculptural recreation of a 1956 Chrysler Air Raid Siren. That show received international press coverage and numerous reviews. In the fall of 2010 I will be presenting a new project at the Kellogg Museum at Cal Poly Pomona called Dreams of Technology, as part of a group exhibition entitled Crisscrossing.
I was told by the gallery director that several music industry executives at the opening showed a great deal of interest in the work. Las Cienegas Projects is an extremely energetic and lively artist run space in Los Angeles. It’s opening art packed with visitors, numbering well over 300 for each opening. Las Cienegas Project’s gallery directors Amy Thoner and Steven Hull have provided a superb venue for artists.There is 2,800 square feet in three gallery spaces. There is an artist bookstore in the front of the gallery. Many students from the LA art schools work as interns in the gallery, which has been in operation less than a year. The primary focus for the gallery has been work by good artists who are not getting exposure in Los Angeles in commercial galleries. Several of the shows have been reviewed, including the show I did, which got 2 excellent reviews. Canon Hudson’s show was reviewed in the Los Angeles Times. The gallery is listed as one of those to check out on For Your Arts website.
There are two online reviews of the show. They are posted below.
Vincent Johnson, American Cold War Shelters, 2008.
“Vincent Johnson presents five framed photographic montages (appropriately displayed in the bunker-like Back Room) created by mining the cultural history of the Cold War era. Much like Gerhard Richter’s Atlas, this suite of photographs lays bare the indexical nature of the photograph while calling it into question in our current digital age.
Gleaned from online sources, resized, and categorized, the montages speak to our fears while reaffirming the power of the vernacular image. Along with the building of the “military industrial complex” of Southern California, a simultaneous housing boom spurred the creation of suburbia. Especially in American Cold War Shelters, 2008, but in ABOMB (2nd Version), 2010 and Watching Television, 2010, the language (both linguistic and visual) of domestic anxiety is intelligently codified and presented by the artist.
These three solo shows come together to present the lingering power of the photographic image to operate on various intellectual levels. The works are not to be read as simply nostalgic longings for an idyllic time or place; but more so, as critical engagements with history, domesticity and meaning.”
Las Cienegas Projects
2045 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Continues through April 24th
Frenchy But Chic (LA artworld blog)
“Speaking of good spaces that should be mentioned more often, the current show at Las Cienegas, featuring FBC! occasional collaborator Vincent Johnson is very good. I had a blast at the opening, and met people I hadn’t seen in about a decade, sure, but the space is magnificent and the curating interesting.”
Geoff Tuck’s Noes on Looking / ForYourArt / Los Angeles artworld blog
“All the way to the back now, turn right. Vincent Johnson in Cold War Montages shows us exactly what he promises: collections of historical photographs from the period mentioned. Sometimes these images repeat to nice effect, some you recognize and some you never even heard of. (To misquote Ray Davies and the Kinks and probably mis-attribute Johnson’s project.)
Hey – there’s plenty of interesting documentation along with a cool exhibition poster at the front desk – stop and say hello to Amy Thoner as you grab stuff on your way out!”
CIvil Air Defense Project # 1 reviews:
Catherine Taft’s Saatchi on-line blog review: June 2007
Vincent Johnson: Civil Air Defense Project #1
Matt Lucero: Travelogue
2640 South La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles 90034
Through July 7, 2007
At the non-profit, Culver City gallery, LAXART, two L.A. based artists, Vincent Johnson and Matt Lucero, offer sculptures that mirror SoCal experiences, past and present. Johnson’s “Civil Air Defense Project #1” recreates two cold-war era American defense mechanisms, a massive air-raid siren and a prefab underground bunker intended for any mid-century nuclear family. While Johnson’s reflects on the paranoia of our past, he intimates America’s current devices of fear and defense. Matt Lucero’s eight-foot tall abstract sculpture employs fetish finish on a monumental scale. The piece is accompanied by a sound installation mixed from fragmented movie scores creating a cinematic atmosphere and speaking to Los Angeles’ chief industry.
Daily Serving review 7.27.07
The recent works of Los Angeles-based artist Vincent Johnson expound upon his research of the American Cold War Civil Air Defense Program. Johnson focuses on forms related to the mechanics of this period. For example, the artist has a new site-specific sculptural installation currently on view at LAXART in Los Angeles called “Civil Air Defense Project #1.” For this installation, Johnson took the form of a Cold War Chrysler Air Raid Siren that was used in the ’50s to warn the public about upcoming air raids and used the device for formal experimentation and as a deceptive tool to comment on current social, political and military relations.
The show was a Critic’s Pick on Artforum.com. It was written about in WWD and several other publications. Ed Schad reviewed the show and listed it as the third best exhibition in Los Angeles in 2007.
Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles. He has recently been named a 2010 United States Artists Project artist.
The USA site went live on December 7, 2010
Johnson received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in 1997. He studied with Mike Kelly, Jack Goldstein, Stephen Prina, Liz Larner, Chris Williams, Mayo Thompson (formerly of Art&Language), and Liz Larner. He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was nominated for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 nominated for Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. S
See http://icallitoranges.blogspot.com/2008_01_01_archive.html Thoughts on a Year of Art
Vincent Johnson Artist Statement
Vincent Johnson’s work is a form of sustained cultural mining that explores the depths of his subjects. His photographic works created from 2001-2007 delved into architecture as fantasy, from the vernacular architecture of Los Angeles to that found throughout the American West. He has documented several of the no longer extant commercial vernacular structures in both South Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley that came into existence during the birth of long distance family travel by car. In 2007 he presented a fully fabricated work of sculpture – a 12 foot long six-foot high replica of a 1956 Chrysler Air Raid Siren. This project developed as he was both researching and documenting a former military corridor in the San Fernando Valley that included a retired military airfield. His newest photographic works, all created in 2008 and 2009, are large-scale photographic montages, each of which confront significant cultural figures and several dramatic signal events of Cold War era Western cultural history, including Television, the launch of Sputnik, the Soviet Space program, American home-based bomb shelter program, and Vietnam. He is working on large-scale photomontages of the several major American political figures of 1960’s, including Martin Luther King, the Kennedy family, and Malcolm X, as well the representations of both Communism and Capitalism, Hollywood and Los Angeles and many related Cold War era subjects. Johnson’s photomontages can take several months to create as he captures hundreds of images from online sources, before selecting those which most well index a particular historical moment, personage or event. The creative juxtapositions and scale shifts of the found images is what he most relies on to develop his potent and illuminating photographic works.