The artwork of Stacie Johnson begs for a closer look. And a look from farther away. And maybe a look from the side, below or above. Each angle brings something different to the viewer’s attention.
Guests of the Pearson Lakes Art Center have from Aug. 11-Oct. 15 to check out all 16 pieces from as many viewpoints as possible. Johnson’s work is on display in the McIlrath Landing and Weaver Lobby galleries.
“It’s cool that she’s from Lake Park since it’s not typical for us to get artists all the way from New York City showing their work here,” visual arts director Britney Hansen said. “She’s been so professional to work with and it’s striking what she’s done with the space.”
Johnson, originally from Lake Park, IA, actually worked at the Pearson Lakes Art Center in the mid-1990s, then earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Iowa and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Illinois-Chicago.
She has also taught at several colleges and art institutes, as well as curating galleries in addition to her work as an artist.
“I always liked art a lot, but really more as a hobby at first,” Johnson said. “But I was able to exhibit a lot right after grad school, which was easy considering all my friends were curators and artists.”
Johnson eventually made the move to New York City where she currently resides with her husband and daughter.
“As long as you have a community and a part in it, that is what matters,” Johnson said. “Being around other artists was, and is, key to learning how to do everything. Teaching for me was one way to be part of the art community and same with curating and having a gallery, it’s whichever job you can have that will keep you active in the art community.”
Johnson has kept active in all facets and phases both working in the art community and as an artist herself. She says her work is, in a way, kind of all one painting.
“I’m usually building off previous work. I have an idea for my next painting by the time I’m done with my current one and take pieces from each one that spark ideas and keep evolving,” Johnson said.
The art itself evolves as the viewer looks at it from a distance up to a few inches away. What was once two-dimensional becomes 3-D both visually and in reality.
“Working with color and space I can have a 3-D representation on a flat surface. I’m always playing with what tricks the eye a bit,” Johnson said. “I’d say my style has mostly always been the same with tightly composed and well-designed abstractions depicting real space. Different things happening from different distances.”
Some of those unique effects come from site specific installation. Johnson painted some parts of her pieces directly on the gallery walls in the Weaver Lobby and situated them specifically for the space.
For Hansen it was enjoyable to see the work itself, as well as watch Johnson work with the space.
“She’s very multi-dimensional and has a hand in every step of the process, which is definitely a true artist,” Hansen said. “A lot of artists go to New York and to be able to bring her back to this space as an established artist is great. It’s important in our role as an art center and truly a cool thing to see.”
At a Glance:
What: Stacie Johnson exhibit
Where: Weaver Lobby and McIlrath Landing galleries, Pearson Lakes Art Center
When: Aug. 11 - Oct. 15
List of Works:
The names of the pieces in the McIlrath Landing Gallery include:
“An Open Book”
“Double Heart With Earrings”
“Various Toppings On Chocolate Cale”
The names of the pieces in the Weaver Lobby Gallery include:
“My Slanted Path”
“Not An Ice Cream Cone”
“Premium Samples Packet”
“Three Black Triangles”
“Let’s Be Loud”
“Diamond In The Middle”
“Vibrating Without Movement”