Free Art and an Invitation October 2012
Lake Superior Painting
Bad River Native Community, Odanah, Lake Superior
The painter here are the rocks, mud, sand, and currents of Lake Superior. This new water immersion art is featured at Art with Water and was part of an exhibition at the Great Lake Commons Gathering at Notre Dame University two weeks ago.
The Return of Free Art September 2012
To capture the wetness and beauty of my process of painting I have begun creating photographs of The Water Paintings as they dry in the open-air studio.
shadows traces undercurrents
Two of my Specimens (#161 and #133) will be part of this international and local exhibition at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery at the University of Minnesota. The show co-curated by Christine Baeumler and Joyce Lyon will be run from October 16th through November 17th, 2012. Please join us at the opening on Thursday October 18th from 6 to 8.
Free Art March 2012
Styrofoam Evidence # 197
Minnesota River, Montevideo, MN
Seeing the Big River # 196
Mississippi River, Saint Paul, MN
Here are two of the twenty-one Specimens that are part of the exhibition, Watershed Moments, at Saint John's University through April 4th only. Six triptychs from the Nature Paintings series are also on view. The campus' pine trees and Saint John's Pottery are worth the drive all by themselves plus there is free art to see with their stories to tell.
Free Art February 2012
Smiling Cow Sign #191
Limited Edition Inkjet Print
This story of finding this specimen still stuns me. On a Sunday morning I took this photo 20 feet from the water near the Minnesota River on a commodity farmer’s property. This dried river mud and sediment was sitting eight feet below last Spring’s flood line that was evident on the trees farther up the bank. I came back in the afternoon and the mud had been plowed in rows for planting next year. Even if the farmer is not able to get a crop next year out of this illegal field (too close to water) crop insurance money could add to his income. Come to the opening at 7 on Thursday March 1 and I will tell you more about the smiling plastic cow.news content
Free Art January 2012Bad River Headwaters # 202
Limited Edition Inkjet Print
2012's first journey was to visit here, the headwaters of the Bad River in the Penokee Mountains. The spirt of the waters, land, and Bad River Tribal Community are standing up to a proposed change in mining laws in WI. The greedy want to mine for even lower grade taconite in these old, beautiful mountains. This will destroy the ecosystem of the Bad River Slough where the food that grows on water, the wild rice, holds on against the onslaught. You can see the spirits of the water are ready for the challenge.
Free Art October 2011
River Valley Dream # 187
Limited Edition Inkjet Print
For a change their was no obvious evidence of environmental devastation in this image I discovered in our watershed... well except that algae is often a sign of excess nutrients. This pool that has been left as the river levels have dropped this Fall showed me an imaginary aerial view of what a healthy river ecosystem might look like. The Big River is there for us if we just go see.
Free Art November 2011
Sedimental Journey # 188
Limited Edition Inkjet Print
I discovered this sediment in action on the property of Easy Bean Farm in Milan, MN. It is an addition to a small island that is growing in the river. Unfortunately the water itself may contain traces of any number of agricultural chemicals and other contaminants from further upstream in the watershed so the farm cannot use the water to irrigate the crops for their thriving CSA. Thanks Malena and Michael for the ease while at the Bean and for harvesting the roadkill pheasant breast for me.
Free Art September 2011
Mississippi River Bound # 184
Mississippi River Gorge, Minneapolis, MN
New addition to my Specimens collection this Summer.
Free Art July 2011
Mississippi River and Trout Stream Mud, buckthorn berry juice, and watershed juices paintings
This Spring and Summer I have been painting in and with a trout stream that flows into Lake Pepin. The resulting Andecdote Paintings will be paired with the gasoline-infested Hazardous Alchemy series completed last fall at my exhibition Sediments in Pepin, WI. Show details are below. Please come to the premier of this body of work and more importantly spend some time being with the Mississippi River.
Free Art May 2011
Mississippi River Bound # 178
St. Paul, MN 2011
The receding spring wildness of the Big River left behind this Mississippi Mud on a Harriet Island sidewalk in St. Paul. As I was working I considered how hard the River's ecosystem has to struggle to survive in the impoverished state we have caused. If we really See the Big River, what are we willing to do?
Free Art April 2011Mississippi River Bound # 177
Limited Edition Inkjet Print
Before a meeting to hear about the findings of the state pollution control agency about the sediment filling in Lake Pepin (the Mississippi River) I was working at sunrise on the banks of the River. Here rogue tire tracks right next to the water were creating another path for soil to erode into Lake Pepin. At the meeting we talked about the devastation caused by sediment runoff from the Minnesota River (especially originating in Le Sueur and Blue Earth County) and to the spirit of the River that is so important in our lives. Both can be seen in this photo.
Frre Art March 2011
This toxic polymer goo was on the lid of an abandoned oil barrel in the industrial area near where I live. Rain and snow will slowly wash this onto the pavement, into the gutter, and eventually into the Mississippi River. The movement of the lines and shapes drew me in and the hazardous waste smell insisted I work quickly.
January 2011 Free Art
This Thursday, One Night Only, I will be putting my new paintings and myself on display. Please consider coming to my opening Thursday at the Mill City Museum to see if I can dust off the rusty performance art skills as I present Seeing the Big River: the performance piece. It most likely will only be painful for me. Show time is 7. I would love to be able to share with you this deep peak into my work with the Mississippi River.
Image of the Month, December 2010
The exhibition, Seeing the Big River, opens on Thursday evening January 13th. The show will feature the Immersion Project , Specimens, the Immersion Video , and for one night only the paintings I created this fall with the gasoline-laden mud and buckthorn berry juice in Father Hennepin Park entitled Hazardous Alchemy . All the work on display at the Mill City Museum was created in the Mississippi River either with the poison (do not worry, it is safe for gasoline to be in the source of our drinking water according to the City of Minneapolis) in Father Hennepin Park or on Immersion Beach on Nicollet Island. At 7 that evening I will do a short performance/talk about my work with the sacred Mississippi River. I hope you can join me in Seeing the Big River Thursday January 13th from 6 to 8.
November 2010, Art of the Month
Mississippi River Mud and Buckthorn Berry Juice Painting on heavy duty cotton rag paper
As part of my continuing work to get the gasoline cleaned up in Father Hennepin Park I created a series of paintings this fall entilted Hazardous Alchemy . I used the water of the Mississippi River, its mud, the toxins in its stream, and the juice of the berries from the invasive species Buckthorn that I found on its banks as the paint. The flow of the creek, a lead pipe found on scene, and the grasses next to the water were just a few of the things I used as brushes. In the photo below taken in my Father Hennepin Park studio you can see the gasoline on the surface of the water if you look carefully. More information about my work in Father Hennepin Park can be found at peterljohnsonatwork.com or the Father Hennepin Park Facebook Page.
Image of the Month, October 2010
Plastic video box on shoreline of the Mississippi River # 161
I took this out of the Twin Cities section of the River during my two day paddle with Friends of the Mississippi River. A few weeks later I returned to a spot near where I found this “specimen” and created this image that stirs up images of sacred texts.
Algae bites Katie's Tail, Peter L. Johnson Image of the Month
Agricultural runoff nurtured algae on Lake Pepin shore # 158
I am pretty sure that while we were making this photograph in this excessive, vibrant, radiating algae on the shoreline of the Mississippi River my canine artistic assistant, Katie, picked up an infection in a wound I did not know she had. Within a couple days her tail tissue was dead and had to be amputated.
Images of the Month, August 2010
Father Hennepin Park Earth Day “clean up” of toxic stream #146
Collected detonator wire and jug that was washed up on the Mississippi River shore # 120
My artist's talk, 911, Father Hennepin Park, and Immersion, oh my, will tell the story of the why the 911 Emergency Response Team was called to the Bloomington Art Center because of my "dangerous" art. Which "specimen" shown above caused the ruckus? Also during the presentation in the gallery I will reveal how art is involved in getting the oil infested water of Father Hennepin Park tested, twice by the MPCA and six images from my new Immersion Project , which were just installed mid-exhibit, will be discussed. More information on all can be found at my new working process and studio site peterljohnsonatwork.com. Would love to see you at the talk on Thursday.
Images of the Month, July 2010
Earth Day “clean up” of toxic stream two hundred yards from entering the Mississippi River #146
Oil sludge-filled bottle waiting in floodplain for trip down Mississippi River #110
Both the above images and up to 26 more of my work are featured in the exhibition Impact at the Bloomington Art Center opening July 16th and running through August 27th. The opening is this Friday from 6 to 8 pm. I will also be at the gallery giving an artist talk on Thursday August 12th at 7 pm. I am delighted with this opportunity to present the most complete vision of my series, Devastating Beauty, to date. The "specimen boxes" are being displayed for the first time. I hope to see you there.
Images of the Month, June 2010
Splatter from paint can that exploded in the middle of a city street and left #140
Polymer debris, left behind by Minneapolis sanctioned X-country ski race, thawing into lake #142
Both these images will be exhibited at IMPACT at the Bloomington Art Center opening Friday July 16th from 6 to 8. The frame for #140 is painted in the paint I found splattered all over University Avenue in NE Minneapolis. The red polymer in #142 that floated on the ice surface in February is now on its way to the Gulf.
Images of the Month, May 2010
Public Works bucket of oil, tar, and ice on the banks of the Mississippi River # 86
Often I find evidence of what a sloppy species we are. This was sitting up above the banks of the Mississippi River. As I worked inside this bucket I saw swirling images that felt toxic, viral, and gene threatening. Right now this image for me is a reference to all the devastation our fossil fuel addiction is manifesting in the Gulf of Mexico. Leave it in the ground and under the sea. This image will be on display in the exhibition Impact at the Bloomington Art Center from July 16th to August 27th.
Earth Day Images of the Month, April 2010
Made in China plastic ball in toxic stream connected to the Mississippi River # 133
Inner reflections of the Mississippi River #138
This stream nestling the plastic ball smells as devastating as it looks. Next to an Xcel power station, this metal-laden water flows from underneath stone and cement into Father Hennepin Park on the west bank of the Mississippi. It reaches the river in downtown Minneapolis about two hundred yards from where I took this photograph. As an anecdote I offer #138. Among the reflected tree branches my artist's eye was captivated by symbols and textures floating on the surging waters of early Spring. A deep bow to Gaia on this upcoming Earth Day, March 22nd, and every day. (Click above to see these images on my web site)
March 2010 Images of the Month
Watershed district stormwater pond #127
Deep Winter spiral ice under bridge #126
These images represent two new directions of my ongoing look at our connection to the planet, other species, and ourselves. #127 is the photograph of the surface of a stormwater pond built by the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District. The wetland area filters and cleans street stormwater before it flows into Gervais Lake. The lake feeds into the Mississippi River watershed, our drinking water. #126 during its original creation and editing has triggered in me thoughts of the “Great Turning”. This evolving internal shift is allowing me to see and deepen my connection to my work, nature, and myself. Enjoy.
November Image of the Month
Oil sludge floating in draining water of bumper car ride # 125
As I wondered the day after on the grounds of the Minnesota State Fair I was fascinated with this footprint. Its white paint mark had been permanently slopped and planted at the bottom of the plastic pool of the water bumper car ride. Only puddles of the ride water with its floating oil sludge remained. The rest had already been drained into the storm run-off gutters for its travel into the Upper Mississippi River Watershed. Like me if you live in Minneapolis or St. Paul your drinking and bathing water come from the Mississippi River.
October 2009 Images of the Month
Limited Edition Inkjet Print
Limited Edition Inkjet Print
To allow plenty of room for your natural wonder I am omitting the titles this month. One hint is that these photographs were taken together in downtown St. Paul. There is another slightly more devious reason I am doing this. I have redesgined my web site and I would love you to visit it. So if you need to know what I saw here in image # 124 you can visit the Watershed Moments Gallery and all will be revealed. Enjoy
Septmeber 2009 Image of the Month
Exposed adhesive and putty on old parking lot booth # 114
From the beginning of this artistic practice, I have expanded on the slogan, “Take only photographs and leave only footprints”, by carrying away corroding batteries, Styrofoam, and those ubiquitous Mountain Dew bottles (along with my images) from our lakes, rivers, and oceans. At times I am able to remove the “specimen” that I just photographed. As I was framing this I realized that images referencing views underneath the earth’s surface were entering into my way of seeing. What seeps and is buried just waiting to create a little havoc? I pealed away the old glue and took it with me for later display. Enjoy.
August 2009 Image of the Month (13th of the month email)
Inside of ditched paint bucket, State Fair Grounds # 95
Last year I came across this photograph as I wandered the State Fair grounds after I dropped off my entry into their annual Art Exhibition. I must admit I relish finding abandoned paint buckets and oil barrels. Often there is horrifying beauty nestled inside, just waiting for its close-up and to ooze into our watersheds. Alas, they are all too plentiful in the drosscapes that I visit. This leaf tricking the eye into thinking it is sitting on sand got accepted this year. If you visit the Minnesota State Fair Art Exhbit please try to find it amongst the hundreds of pieces of art work on display. Enjoy.
July 2009 Image of the Month
Oil on surface of Nine Mile Creek #2
An early image from my work that will be on display at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum through October 4th as part of the exhibition, Seeing Our Nature. Here oil on the surface of the creek added to the beauty of the reflection of the fall leaves above me as I photographed. I will talk about this "devastating beauty" at my Ted Conference style gallery talk at the Arboretum this Sunday July 12th, 2009. I would love to see you there. Enjoy.
June 2009 Image of the MonthWind blown nest on Missisippi River bank asphalt # 115
Polymer liner of corroding diesel oil barrel in Minnesota River floodplain #113
Working with the banks and flood plains of the Minnesota Mississippi River Watershed presents clues to me about our challenged relationship with the body of water that created and sustains our communities and economies. The asphalt where the nest landed triggered connections for me to cars and the burying of so much land under tar and concrete. My attention was awakened by the beauty of the fossilized floral motif in the diesel barrel liner and this was later transformed into something more dangerous in the final print. Enjoy.
May 2009 Image of the Month
Oil and water in feeding trough on Mississippi River barge, # 88
While photographing I smell, see, and envision the hidden synthetic chemicals dancing and off-gassing, floating into the soil and our food, and impregnating the skies, waters, and veins of all flora and fauna. The beauty in this truth is that maybe it will awaken us to a new connection with our environmental and economic choices. “The Earth doesn’t need healing. We do.” Ian McCallum, quoted in Ecological Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.
April 2009 Image of the Month
Deep winter under lake bridge # 109
Pacific Ocean garbage dump remnants embedded in tide pool # 27
While organizing an exhibit on my studio wall I paired these two prints together. For a few weeks every time I settled in and saw this diptych an intense response stirred my soul. Take a moment. See what you see. Enjoy.
Premier of Image of the Month Email
Frozen over hole in the Minnesota River # 1
I was walking in the woods with my dog, friends, and a borrowed digital camera. A scabbed over hole in the ice stirred my dormant need to create photographs. Wake up. Here was a soulful blue wound full of raw beauty. Without much thinking, always a good idea, I took a few pictures. Only later did I see the orange maple tree seeds, the string, and the image’s simultaneous galactic and microscopic form. Much later I realized that this gift from nature was where a new way of seeing came alive in me. This still evolving series of work continues to surprise, evoke smiles, and force me to journey deep inside. Enjoy.