A series of painted landscapes, titled “Fixation,” by Idaho artist Aaron Cordell Johnson is the first exhibit of Utah State University’s fall season displayed in Gallery East that runs from Sept. 7-29.
“I am in pursuit of finding an authentic experience through the act of creation,” Johnson says. “My work involves physical interaction and passion for the subject.”
Painted in a relatively unconventional medium, Gouache (or opaque watercolor), the work focuses on locations in the artist’s neighboring landscape—the Palouse Region of Idaho. He said, “The paintings I create are the result of time, searching for just the right cloud formations, watching the colors, and experiencing what it means to be in an environment. Through these experiences I use color, brushstrokes, drawing and texture to express the lay of the land and its effect on me.”
Johnson’s paintings are straightforward—seemingly effortless—applications of paint but full of color and detail. With swipes and dabs of the brush, Johnson is able to capture the fleeting moments of light and cloud cover on the landscape.
“As an avid nature lover and passionate painter, I hope to use my work to heighten our awareness of the significance of our surroundings, such as the way a cloud floats, how a dead tree’s branches pierce the sky, or the brilliant colors of the evening sky. Each painting is the culmination of absorbing, listening, feeling and observing my surroundings.”
Johnson grew up in a small southern Idaho town and is the son of a high school art teacher and Emery County-native parents. “Art and the outdoors have always been a part of my life. I grew up visiting the San Rafael Swell each summer, visiting museums and national parks.”
Johnson attended Pacific Northwest College of Art where he received my BFA in painting and printmaking. After a three-year break and some time spent working in Montana, he moved to Moscow, Idaho, where he attended the University of Idaho and received an MFA in 2011.
Johnson participates in regional and national plein air events and exhibitions, including a recent exhibition called “Landscape Today” at the Harrison Center in Indianapolis, an exhibit at the Grand Central Atelier plus a plein-air exhibit at the Sugarlift Gallery, both in New York.
He is an assistant professor of painting and drawing at the University of Idaho and lives in Moscow with his wife and four children.
Gallery East is located in the Central Instruction Building and its exhibits are free and open to the public during the academic year from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is closed weekends and holidays. The gallery observes COVID-19 precautions, including face coverings and a limit of 10 people in the gallery at one time.
The reception for this exhibit will be Sept. 10 from 6-8 p.m.
Johnson is conducting a two-day plein air workshop on Sept. 9-10 (Contact the Art Department for details and pre-registration). The event is free and open to the public.
Contact Noel Carmack, at 435-613-5241 or email [email protected] for any questions about the exhibit.