Staff Pick: Caught in a Stasis

From the February 21, 2013 edition

Every summer, artist Ron Johnson gets in his car and heads from his Virginia home to “somewhere out west.” That is his only parameter. There’s no set of MapQuest directions in his hand, just the open road beneath him and a tank full of gas in his car.

Johnson finds that the long stretches of blacktop usually pull him to Colorado or Wyoming. He spends his time exploring, watching.

“I like the visuals. I pay attention to the colors,” Johnson said. “But there’s also something about the expanse of being out west. I like driving around. I love the idea of being able to look about and have these very subtle moments and quiet moments. You can see everything out there. It really makes you slow down the viewing process, which definitely feeds into my work.”

Restraint echoes in Johnson’s acrylic paintings and hanging mylar paper drawings as well as in his process.

“I allow myself to stop working on something,” he said. “I try not to get fidgety with stuff. I’ll have four or five paintings going at a time, everything flat on the table.”

Johnson is a Columbus ex-pat who is now an assistant professor of drawing and painting at Virginia Commonwealth University. His paintings, all their discreet movement in tow, will be at the contemporary gallery Ray’s Living Room through the beginning of April. Johnson said he’s excited to see Columbus again. But no doubt he’ll be sure to enjoy the view on the way up here, too.