“One of the things about getting older was knowing that so many moments weren’t just moments, they were gifts.” This sentence found in Elizabeth Stout’s novel Olive Kitteridge speaks to this exhibition. Curtis Johnson’s furniture starts with the gift of seeing beauty in certain figured woods. Figured wood inspires the furniture. Susan Johnson’s artworks for this exhibit affirms life’s joys in small pleasures that Johnson sees and experiences in her daily life – the glass of wine while sitting on the window seat looking out upon the special nature of the Northwest or watching the patterns of the rocks as seen in our mountain streams.
Susan Johnson says that the exhibition began to form in her mind when she watched a mom push a toddler and walk with a preschooler through a local Corvallis park. The expressionless mom was talking on her cell phone and the children were staring blankly ahead. They were followed a few minutes later by another mom who was actively engaging her preschooler as they searched for squirrels, birds and different kinds of leaves. This mom and her child were absorbed in their mutual discoveries – small pleasures. They were open to finding pleasure in common things.
Susan Johnson, who has exhibited at Waterstone Gallery for the last 18 years, invited her husband to join her in this exhibition as the gallery celebrates its 20th anniversary year. Curtis Johnson’s furniture features gracefully curved black legs and tabletops that emphasize the grain of the wood and at times the textured edges of wood found under bark. He has sold his work in Seattle, on the coast, and in Corvallis.
Susan Johnson has been working with Winsor Newton’s Oilbars and other oil paint sticks for the last 18 years after serving eight years as the Executive Director of the Corvallis Arts Center and many years before that teaching art in the public schools, at Linn-Benton Community College, and as an art instructor at Oregon State University.
Oilbars are a drawing medium made of linseed oil, pigment, and wax. Johnson particularly loves the strong bright colors found in this medium as well as the challenge of gaining control over the rough crayon-like lines of the oil stick. Her subject matter has always reflected her life in the hills west of Corvallis among the firs, oaks, deer, turkeys, and raccoons and her family’s camping trips in the mountains and on the coast. She says that these common things provide a beauty that sustains her well-being.