The Art of Stephen Robert Johns

July 20-August 22, 2007

Sophia Wanamaker Galeria
Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano
San Jose, Costa Rica


As an artist, inspiration spawns my imagination. The reductive artists such as Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella and Piet Mondrian have always inspired me, because I related to the similar style of art they created. Clean lines, brilliant colors, repeat patterns and sometimes a story. Just as these artists inspired me to paint, so do the quilt makers. I see quilt makers as I do these famous artists- reductive, simplifying their compositions, creating a repeat pattern, and having a central theme.

I was first introduced to quilt making by a family member- my great grandmother. Zigzag patterns of browns kept me warm many cold nights. I then discovered the Amish quilts, and was delighted to see the Spinning Star and other geometric compositions so common to their craft. A trip to the big Island of Hawaii opened my eyes to quilts as an art form I never imagined, and very similar to the art I was creating on canvas and as silkscreen prints. Hawaiian culture infused within a blanket! Turtles, mangoes, pineapples, the wind, the ocean, and countless other cultural and environmental themes embellished the Hawaiian quilts, two dimensional, simple and stylized.

Over the past eight years, I have had the wonderful opportunity to create my artwork in Costa Rica. From these opportunities came exhibitions of my paintings and drawings, both here in the United States, and in Costa Rica. While I was in Costa Rica in 2004, preparing for a solo exhibition of recent paintings, I was asked by the director of the CCCN, Manuel Arce, to attend an opening of a quilt maker show. I was amazed at the beauty of these quilts, as wall hangings and functional blankets. I couldn't help but remember the quilts of the big island of Hawaii. These quilts were so similar, yet so different and individual at the same time. I mentioned to him that it would be great if the CCCN could introduce a quilt show representing both Hawaiian and Costa Rica quilt makers. I explained to him the beauty of the Hawaiian quilts and how nicely they would look, paired up with the Costa Rican quilts. I also mentioned that it would be fantastic if the Hawaiian quilt makers could visit Costa Rica, interact with the Costa Rican artists, and create work shops together, learn about each other, their culture, and create somewhat of a bond. After many months of introducing images of one another's quilts to Hawaii and Costa Rica guilds, a show has been scheduled, for July 20-August 22, 2007.
As a result of introducing these two artistic groups, I have been invited to curate an exhibition of quilt makers from Costa Rica and Hawaii, by the director of the Costa Rica/US Culture Center, Manuel Arce, and the curator of exhibitions, Juan Diego Roldan. The exhibition is scheduled for July 20-August 22, 2007, CCCN Sophia Wannamaker Gallery, San Jose, Costa Rica.

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  The Art of Stephen Robert Johns