Push Crank Press features printers’ works

Published 5:56 pm Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The works of Greg Skaggs and Jerry Johnson are on display now at the Johnson Center for the Arts. (Messenger Photo / April Garon)

The works of Greg Skaggs and Jerry Johnson are on display now at the Johnson Center for the Arts.
(Messenger Photo / April Garon)

The Johnson Center for the Arts will host a reception for the Push Crank Press exhibition from 6 until 8 p.m. Friday. The public is invited to view this 1950s style artwork that was inspired by World War II comic books.

Also featured at the reception will be the artwork of Troy University art professors, Jerry Johnson and Greg Skaggs, and the photographs of the late Holman Johnson.

“We are extremely pleased to present these exhibits as a part of our summer exhibitions,” said Vicki Pritchett, Johnson Center executive director. “The Push Crank Press is a group of printers led by Mike Riddle of Dothan. Their prints, featuring soldiers and military aircraft, give you a sense of having walked into a war zone.”

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Pritchett said printmaking has experienced resurgence in the art world.

“The Push Crank Press graphic designers collaborate on their work, which is based on ‘Recurring Pattern,’” she said. “Each panel’s black and white plane is interrupted by the emergence of pattern and color and is often as violent as it is sublime. The ‘patterns’ may be observed by any of the fives senses.”

Pritchett said the Push Crank Press exhibit is one that people of all ages will enjoy, including young people who will identify with the comic book look of the artwork.

Skaggs’ exhibition, “Exploratory Drawings” is featured in the North Upstairs Gallery and spans the years 2001 to the present.

“My focus has been continual, a narrative relating to both childhood memories and future fears and dreams,” Skaggs said. “Common signifiers include the egg and the nest as it relates to new life and hopes of success through change. Also repeated are heavenly bodies, which represent a desire to explore and my childhood fascination with the stars and planets.”

New to Skaggs’ work are elements that relate to electricity.

“These signifiers are important to me as they represent a desire to spark new energy in my creative work after the death of my brother in 2011,” he said. “Todd was a creative genius and I miss him very much.”

Johnson’s “Synthesizing Analog and Digital” exhibit hangs in the West Upstairs Gallery.

Johnson said, as a contemporary artist and designer, his immersion with pixels and digital screens has become fundamental.

“I admittedly surrender to the notion that the computer is more than merely a tool for me, rather it has become as ubiquitous and life-giving as the air that I breathe,” he said. “I find it a scornful necessity and not just for solving visual communication problems in advertising and design.”

Johnson said, for him, digitization has evolved into an environmental and social space from which much of life actuates, including that of art making.

“ The analog world is ‘virtually’ full of surprising juxtapositions of light, texture and distress,” he said. “Ironically, I want the same for the ‘virtual’ world.’

“‘A Place of Sense’ is a virtual exploration of earlier analog drawing that I have created in a surreal fashion. After digitizing these, I created imaginary settings and for the original mixed-media drawings. Through the use of digital means, I experimented with all those things that make reality vibrant and exciting—texture, light and distress.”

In the downstairs gallery, the late Holman Johnson’s photographs of Troy are on exhibit. Johnson opened his photography business in Troy in 1946 and continued through 1990.

Pritchett said Johnson used his camera to document everyday life in the Troy area.

“Holman Johnson captured Pike County’s rapidly changing and disappearing society,” she said. “His photographs chronicled much of the history of Troy and Pike County for nearly a half century.”

The Johnson Center for the Arts was named the Holman and Ethel Johnson Center for the Arts by the Manuel and Mary Johnson Foundation in 2008.