A Monkey, Some Marionettes and Other Assortments: New Work by Josh Johnson

Three and a half stars 

AV Framing Gallery

The first time I met Josh Johnson he was selling his character-based illustrations outside the Harrison Center for the Arts during the Talbot Street Art Fair. My uncle bought Johnson’s stylized, cartoon-like rabbit on paper. The rabbit is an older creature from Johnson’s cast of animals, people and antique objects that has moved from drawings, paintings, prints and standing cutouts to the picture book The Spindletons (2006). Now Johnson has advanced to a new method of presentation, creating his watercolor washes and pencil-lined imagery on plywood canvases. The plywood adds a natural richness to his muted earth tones while enhancing the works’ patterns and textures. Johnson’s also added a new character to his repertoire, himself. “Muses, Friends, Juniper, Olivia & Sofa” is the first self-portrait he’s exhibited. Interesting since many artists exhibit self-portraits early on. So what’s the significance? Johnson drew himself centrally in the same style as his cast, which surrounds him and his subtly depicted letterpress. Coffee cup in hand, his white pupil-less eyes stare straight at the viewer. This is not about confrontation, but confidence (along with sly humor). I’m glad Johnson’s acknowledged his role as master within his own work. Through June 30; 317-356-3776, www.avframinggallery.com.

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