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August 2011

Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in Charleston, SC, Features Works by Bob Ray & Steve Johnson

The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston School of the Arts in Charleston, SC, is pleased to present two concurring solo exhibitions, White Days Unswallowed, by Bob Ray and From the Ground Up, by Steve Johnson. The exhibitions open with a reception on Friday, Aug. 26 from 5-7pm and run through Oct. 7, 2011. Prior to the public reception, the community is invited to a gallery walk-through with Bob Ray and Director/Senior Curator Mark Sloan at 4:30pm.

Steve Johnson was born and raised in Mesa, AZ, and moved to San Francisco in 1996. He graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA in printmaking and painting in 2003 and received an MFA in painting and drawing from Arizona State University in 2008. Johnson was invited as a Master Printmaker artist in residence at the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop in NYC in 2010 where he completed a suite of lithographs. The published prints have since been shown in art fairs and exhibitions both nationally and internationally: Editions/Artists’ Book Fair and New NY Print Publishers, NYC; Impressions Orlando Print Fair, FL; and Frans Masereel Centrum, Belgium.

This year, Johnson has had a solo exhibition at 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco, CA and at Blackburn 20/20 in New York City. Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Drawing at the College of Charleston.

Johnson states, “One of my objectives as an artist is to bridge conflicting views by revealing shared concerns and common ground. The basic desire to find and maintain security, whether in a home, job, or relationship, in a forever shifting landscape, can create more losers than winners. Using a cast of chickadees, rats, and hummingbirds, my current work navigates the gray areas and middle grounds inhabited by animals with competing interests.”

For the exhibition at the Halsey Institute, Johnson merges drawing with painting as he layers a variety of dry and wet mediums on wood panels. The warm tones and textures of the wood panels serve as a background for the small animals rendered with a cool palette of colored pencils and watercolors. In addition to showing a sampling of recent prints and drawings, Johnson will be creating a large, site-specific drawing installation as part of the exhibition.

Bob Ray, born just east of Kansas City, MO, works in a variety of media, from drawings, paintings, collage, and sculpture, to correspondence and performance works. His aesthetic borrows heavily from the Dada and Fluxus movements, with a strong combination of word, gesture, and image. Since 1990, he has been very active in international correspondence art activities and projects in Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Egypt, Japan, United States, Bolivia, Spain, Hungary, Switzerland and Latvia. He has had extended exchanges with some of the most significant correspondence artists in the world, including Ray Johnson, Richard C, Giorgio Cavalinni and Torma Cauli.

Ray’s works are as illusive as his artist statement: “it was not made of words so I ate what I could grasp”

What is made poorly, what is made well -- an Ozark hog pen, a thoroughbred stable in Kentucky-- what runs between these constructions? How does one arrive at these points? The poetic image, mysteries of a nocturnal fable, random juxtapositions of the man made and the natural which eventually leak into each other; this is the composition of my visual interest at the moment.

“it wasn’t what I thought it was, and isn’t what I think it is”

In addition to his complex and varied visual works, Ray is also an accomplished “honky tonk” singer and guitar player. Currently living twenty-three miles out in the Atlantic Ocean on the island of Ocracoke, NC, Ray’s work has been published and exhibited internationally.

The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art is administered by the School of the Arts at the College of Charleston and exists to advocate, exhibit and interpret visual art, with an emphasis on contemporary art.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Institute at 843/953-4422 or visiting (


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