The busy, intersecting circles and lines of Milton Wilson paintings catch the eye first at Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery — they are on the wall opposite the door after all and their hum is hard to ignore. But this isn’t about Milton Wilson. Take a few steps more and pivot to the right and the maneuver leads to a set of seven sweet prints by George Johanson.
Maybe they won’t read as Johansons to many of us who own Johanson prints — those great Portland night scenes, with the river below us full of rowers, the volcano erupting in the distance, a cat streaking across the frame, full of interesting textures and visual delights. The prints at Pulliam-Deffenbach date back to 1970 — no night scenes, no cats and, of course, no volcanoes. There are seven of them — part of the 10-part Juxtapositions series, that Johanson created on an Arts Advocates grant in London at the Birgit Skiold studios — consigned to the gallery by their owner. And, not to make too big a deal out of them, they make a great case all by themselves for what has made Johanson so much fun to follow during his career, namely, his skill with line, his happy refusal to allow any “school” to limit him, and his imagination, which we already know about from his later prints and paintings. (No one I can think of has re-imagined Portland to the extent Johanson has, a theatrical Portland, filled it with sensual mysteries and a taste of the surreal, where the carnival never stops, all staged on a deck somewhere in the hills above the city.)
Continue reading George Johanson, printed and embossed!