Cotuit Center for the Arts presents “We Carry the Fire: Kevin King and Frances Johnson” and “Evolution: An Open Juried Exhibition” September 8 through October 7. The opening reception and artist talk will be held from 5 to 7 PM on Saturday, September 8.
Painter Kevin King and ceramicist Frances Johnson, of Falmouth, have lived and created art together for 39 years.
The “We” in the title of this exhibition refers to “the builders of culture: the artists, musicians, writers, and painters of our time,” and the “fire” is “the passion and dedication that artists commit to their work and their lives,” said King.
The statement is taken from Cormac McCarthy’s novel, “The Road,” in which a father and son are walking through a post-apocalyptic land, trying to reach the coast and some form of civilization while eluding the dredges of mankind, who have taken to hunting and eating whatever and whomever they capture.
The father tells his son that they carry the fire. Although he does not explicitly explain what he means, “you know by the father’s sense of character, that they are carrying all that is good and what can be saved of the advancement of human endeavor,” said King. “As a culture we are a work in progress, ever evolving and redefining the human potential.”
King paints in oils, in styles ranging from nonrepresentational to realist. He is known for his adventurous use of unconventional materials, such as the use shark ash and sand, to create paintings of sharks and seascapes, respectively.
King was born in Pittsfield; his lifelong passion for painting began at an early age. He became more focused at 18, when his mother gave him an oil paint set for Christmas, a gift his parents, who had eight children, could barely afford. He has painted ever since.
King has worked as a licensed foreign car mechanic, a master research technician in oceanography, and a graphic artist. He has written a novel, “Bird of Passage,” a fictional memoir of his first expedition at sea to track pelagic sharks, created and produced an award winning documentary, “Troubled Water,” concerning contaminated drinking water on Cape Cod, and has traveled the world, spending over a year at sea on research vessels.
Frances Johnson has lived near the ocean most of her life. “Years ago, a scientist from the U.S. Geological Survey gave me some photographs of diatoms, radiolarians, and microzooplankton. I was captivated by the beauty and elegance of these microscopic forms,” said Johnson.
“These organisms with their curvaceous and undulating structures have been a source of inspiration that has endured,” she said. “Although I make vessels, function is not what intrigues me. My work reflects the unique human imprint of a creative idea with an ongoing connection to the natural world. Each piece holds a bit of memory, spirit, and inspiration of the maker."
Johnson grew up in an artistic home. “Making and looking at art was something we were all expected to do. Drawing on the walls at our house was encouraged.” Johnson’s mother took classes with Harry Holl at his Scargo Pottery Studio in the mid-1960s and set up a small clay studio in their home. “That was the beginning of my passion for ceramics,” Johnson said.
Johnson moved from Cape Cod to Boston in 1974 and began teaching at a preschool in Cambridge. She took classes at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, where her step-father was a teacher. “That meant I could take as many classes and spend as much time in the studio as I wanted,” she said.
She moved back to Cape Cod in 1979, where she met her husband, who inspired her to continue making art. “We eventually moved to Boston where I went back to the Museum school and then on to Mass. College of Art where I studied ceramics and art education, receiving a BFA in Education.” Johnson said.
Johnson taught ceramics at Barnstable High School beginning in 1991. “Teaching students with special needs has been a joy and a privilege,” she said. “Eventually I found my way to South Dartmouth and a tribe of ceramic artists where I have been wood-firing my work in an Anagama wood kiln for the past 15 years.”
She retired from teaching this year. “I’m excited to spend my time as a full-time studio artist,” she said.
Kevin King and Frances Johnson will serve as jurors for the open juried show, “Evolution.” The drop-off date of gallery-ready pieces is Tuesday, September 4, between 10 AM and 4 PM. The entry fee per piece is $10 for CCftA members and $25 for nonmembers.
Cotuit Center for the Arts is at 4404 Route 28 in Cotuit. For more information, visit artsonthecape.org or call 508-428-0669.
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“We Carry the Fire: Kevin King and Frances Johnson
"Evolution: An Open Juried Exhibit"
Cotuit Center for the Arts, 4404 Route 28, Cotuit
September 8 through October 7. The opening reception and artist talk will be held from 5 to 7 PM on Saturday, September 8.