Past Exhibition 2013: Community Reflections

Community Reflections captures the spirit of neighborhoods, here and abroad.  The exhibition pairs the work of two Montgomery County artists whose silkscreens and gouaches are a study in opposites: English bases his hand cut lacquer stencils on pencil drawings made from photographs, creating meticulously detailed serigraphs of local architecture and landmarks, while Johnson relies on her memory to form painted impressions of the street scenes and community life she observed during her years of travel in West Africa and Central and South America, as well as visits to her native New York

English directs our attention to the play of light and shadow, leaf patterns, and architectural ornaments that might go unnoticed.  He often focuses on doorways, cars, signage, window frames, and stoops, recasting his subjects into bold color compositions built from successive printings, sometimes with as many as forty colors. For this exhibition, English has created a special edition of Silver Spring Skaters, a dynamic composition of gliding figures set against the dramatic architectural back-drop of Veterans’ Plaza.

Johnson takes us to village life in Western Africa and Central and South America, where she served as a United States diplomat.  Like English, most figures are generalized, engaged in activities from everyday life.  They perform domestic chores, enjoy a meal with family and friends, or work as street vendors.  Some images document political unrest, but without the ominous threat of violence. The Gossip Session (Panamanian Street Cleaners) references the1980s, when pro and anti-government graffiti covered Panama City walls, and the government employed female cleaning teams, referred to as the “Celestial Brigade,” to keep an eye on neighbors who might be protesting the regime.  

Despite their differing viewpoints, techniques, and subjects, both English and Johnson use vibrant colors and strong graphics to celebrate the ordinary and document local events.  The Kramer Gallery, a civic gallery dedicated to exhibiting the work of Montgomery County artists, is pleased to present Community Reflections.