The new Prairie Gallery in Northside opened Friday night with a two-person exhibit entitled Happy Valley or Helltown, featuring two large-scale pieces — a found-object sculpture by Voss Finn and a mixed-media installation by Samantha Johnson. Here are some photos of Johnson’s piece which, as you might imagine, really resonated with me.
Johnson’s installation is made of photo transfers onto canvas, stitched together to form the architectural, textural and typographic topography of Spring Grove Ave. The component pieces in this collage join together landscape elements that shift scale and perspective, forming a singular panorama whose breaks follow the gallery’s interior configuration.
Johnson’s artist’s statement from the exhibit:
The Spring Grove Avenue project began as a treasure hunt on the back of a bicycle with a borrowed camera. My fascination with the avenue grew out of my daily commute from Clifton Heights to Northside. Twice a day I rode past. In the morning it was — delivery trucks and steam clouds — in the evening — sulfur street lamps and the smell of brunt steel. Industry and Spring Grove are two bodies moving in unison. Form following function over decades. At times it is difficult to discern if the road bends to accommodate the architecture, or if the architecture bends to allow the curve in the road. I discovered the beauty of Spring Grove Avenue in the details — a hand-written note on the door, a makeshift ashtray, an inaccessible entrance to a forgotten office. This piece is an attempt to capture some of those details and bring the essence of Spring Grove Avenue off the street and into the gallery.
Check out Prairie Gallery’s schedule of upcoming exhibitions and programs. I’m especially curious about the Kid’s View project entitled Mill Creek Expedition. If only I were a 10-to-12 year old living in Northside…