Jubilant storytelling and vibrant, stylized figuration articulate cultural and emotional experiences that embrace absurdity, joy, and contradictions in Community Garden, an annual summer show at Johansson Projects.
This year features work by Maria Calandra, Andrew Catanese, Madeline Donahue, Howard Fonda, Cathy Lu, Humbert Ramirez and Sheena Rose. The panorama of styles and subject matter portray components of our cultural landscape, exploring motherhood and identity, our relationships to nature and our bodies, experiences of immigration, cultural hybridity, and assimilation. In essence, each of these artists use their artistic practices as havens, forging meaning about the concerns that are most relevant to them.
In his utopic paintings, Andrew Catanese explores identity and myth, melding aspects of the human with animals, foliage, and other organic forms. The body becomes an ever-changing site of transformation, a bridge between realms. Catanese blurs the great divides defined by Bruno Latour; human and animal, nature and culture, organic and technological; in favor of understanding these things as deeply intertwined. By subverting dualism, Catanese’s joyous work finds ways to talk about new and fluid constructions of the self.
‘Relaying the complex, joyful, and absurd world that is motherhood, Madeline Donahue’s vibrant autobiographical drawings are as pleasing to the eye as they are the soul. Madeline uses her personal experiences and gives us a glimpse inside, reminding us that once you are a mother, you will never be alone again. Her practice depends equally on drawing, painting, and ceramics.’ – Lauren Powell
Howard Fonda Philosophical and introspective, Fonda’s work expresses a romantic worldview and mystical inner journey. He fills his radiant canvases with colorful portraits, flowers, and a spattering of other figurative subjects, as well as ebullient abstract compositions derived from nature. He achieves a sense of immediacy through loose brushstrokes, which, as Michelle Grabner wrote, “serve as an abstract field, the artist privileging intuition over illustration and conveying transcendental philosophy without strictly picturing a divinely invested natural world.”
Cathy Lu’s work deconstructs the assumptions we have about Asian American identity and cultural authenticity. By creating ceramic sculptures and installations, she explores what it means to be both Asian and American, while not being entirely accepted as either. Unpacking how experiences of immigration, cultural hybridity and assimilation become part of the larger American identity is central to her work. Ceramics as a material is a contradiction in itself – of being both hard and fragile. She is interested in her work embodying the contradictions of being Asian American, of being both invisible and hypervisible, at times attractive and repulsive, foriegn and familiar.
Humberto Ramirez is a self-taught artist who explores the characteristics of human nature through his paintings. He narrates his ideas with densely layered and technical applications of paint. Ramirez believes there is something that connects us through how we move through the world – migration, travel, exploration. Visions of harmonic reciprocity flood his canvases: Bodily postures mimic trees blowing in the wind; the same brush stroke is carried from landscape to figure, creating a lively, uniform connection between the two. Influenced by the natural landscapes where he was born and raised in Northern California, Ramirez uses the language of paint as a central focus of his practice.
Walking in the wild plays a major role in Maria Calandra’s artistic life. She is mesmerized by the repeating lines and colors in reflected water, ancient rocks and twisted tree trunks or roots. Channeling a stream of consciousness, she pulls from both the real and imagined while using a form of automatic painting to guide her. Her paintings are dense with detail as she strives to make them as alive and wild as the lands that inspired them.
Barbados-based artist Sheena Rose uses symbols of affluence and place to address accessibility of wealth and personal power. Her painting style is characterized by flat coloring, bold patterns from the seventies and eighties, and vivid, comic-book-like palettes and vignettes. Proud figures take up literal and figurative space, donning clothes, hair and confidence that commands attention. Situated in a myriad of contexts, they are symbolic celebrations of the artist’s imagination. Using only paints that are locally accessible to her, she unlocks a certain freedom while querying real life strategies on how to get there.
Johansson Projects is open to the public Thurs – Sat 1-5pm. Community Garden runs from June 25 – August 20, 2022 with an Artist Opening on Saturday, June 25, 3-5pm.
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Andrew Catanese (b. 1993 Ann Arbor, MI) is a painter and sculptor from the American South. He earned a BFA in Studio Art at the Sam Fox School of Art at Washington University in St. Louis. After receiving his BFA, Catanese worked as an artist in Atlanta, Ga. He is currently working towards his MFA at Stanford University. Andrew has shown his work in galleries and museums throughout the United States and maintains a practice creating murals and public sculpture.
Madeline Donahue’s (b. 1983 Houston, TX) solo exhibitions include “Fun House” with Praise Shadows Gallery, Boston; “Warm Up” with Artshack Brooklyn, and “Attachments” with Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects in New York. She has participated in Untitled Art Fair and NADA Fair (Miami, FL) and exhibited extensively with galleries and museums across the US and UK including Johansson Projects (Oakland, CA), Lauren Powell Projects (Los Angeles, CA), Hesse Flatow (New York, NY), Deanna Evans Projects (Brooklyn, NY), and the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA). Residencies include The Wassaic Project, Byrdcliffe Artist Colony, Artshack Ceramic Residency and Interlude Artist’s Residency in Livingston, NY. Donahue’s work has been reviewed in the Guardian, Hyperallergic, and Elephant Magazine. Interviews include Sound + Vision Podcast, I Like Your Work Podcast, and Artist Mother Podcast. She recently participated in “A Conversation on Alice Neel, Art, and Motherhood” facilitated by Lauren Palmor, assistant curator of American art at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Donahue holds a BFA from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University (Boston, MA) and MFA from Brooklyn College (Brooklyn, NY).
Howard Fonda (b. 1974 ) is an artist, former educator, father and husband living in Portland, OR. Philosophical and introspective, Fonda’s work expresses a romantic worldview and mystical inner journey within a painterly dialogue. Previously an instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Fonda has lectured, served on jurying and critique panels and pursued curatorial projects at numerous universities and art centers. The artist’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States and abroad for nearly 20 years. This is his first presentation with Johansson Projects (Oakland, Ca).
Cathy Lu (b. 1984 in Miami, FL) received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, and her BA & BFA from Tufts University. She has participated in artist in residence programs at Root Division, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Recology SF, and the Archie Bray Foundation. Her work has been exhibited at Johansson Projects, Somarts, Aggregate Space, and Chinese Culture Center. She was a 2019 Asian Cultural Council/ Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation Fellow, and recipient of SFMOMA’s distinguished SECA Art Award in 2022. She currently teaches at California College of the Arts and Mills College.
Humberto Ramirez (b. 1987 in Redwood City, CA) is a self-taught artist living and working in Moss Beach, CA. His work has been featured in a group show at Delaplane (San Francisco, CA) and alongside Jeffrey Cheung at Jack Hanley Gallery (New York, NY). This is his first presentation with Johansson Projects (Oakland, Ca).
Maria Calandra (b. 1976, London, England) received an MFA in Painting from Cornell University in 2006 and a BFA in Painting from Ohio University in 1999. She has had solo exhibitions at Steve Turner Gallery (Los Angeles, CA), Heroes Gallery (New York, NY) and Sardine Gallery (Brooklyn, NY). Group exhibitions include Essex Flowers (NY), Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery (NY), G/ART/EN Gallery (Como, Italy), Andrew Edlin Gallery (NY), Shrine Gallery (NY), Geoffrey Young Gallery (MA), 1969 Gallery (NY), Shoot the Lobster/Martos Gallery (NY), and Johansson Projects (Oakland, CA). She has been reviewed and written about in Time Out New York, The Washington Post, The New York Sun and The New York Times and featured in Maake Magazine, FUKT Magazine based in Berlin, and ArtMaze Magazine. Maria will be in the Contemporary Art Now fair (CAN) this summer in Ibiza, Spain curated by Saša Bogojev.
Sheena Rose (b. 1985, Bridgetown, Barbados) has exhibited in the United States at the Weatherspoon Art Museum (Greensboro, NC); De Buck Gallery (Miami, FL); Connect Gallery (Chicago, IL), and Johansson Projects (Oakland, CA) and across the globe including the Havana Biennial (Cuba); ICF, Royal Academy of Arts (London, England); Berlin Biennale (Berlin, Germany); and the University of the West Indies (Barbados). Her work has been featured in publications including The New York Times, Travel & Leisure Magazine, Vogue, Hospitality Design, White Wall, Wetranfer, Black Futures, Fox Television Empire Season 6. Her art appeared on the cover of “The Star Side of Bird Hill” written by Naomi Jackson. Public works include a two-story mural at the Inter-American Development Bank Headquarters (Washington DC) and a mural for the exhibition “The Other Side of Now” at the Perez Art Museum (Miami). She was also commissioned by the DSM Public Art Foundation to design seven bus shelters in the 6th Avenue Corridor (Iowa). In 2020, Rose won the Greensboro School of Art Distinguished Alumni award. In 2014, she earned the distinguished Fulbright Scholarship. She holds an MFA in Studio Art from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.