Triple Flair

Roy Johnston, Roy Johnston, "Triad II", Acrylic On Canvas

Sculpture And Paintings At Cincinnati’s Weston Gallery

By Jud Yalkut

Roy Johnston, "Triad II", Acrylic On Canvas

The multilevel spaces of the Weston Gallery in Cincinnati provide more than average capability for exploring in depth the work of artists showing there. This 16th season includes eight solo exhibitions of new and recent work in extended runs such as the current triple billing running through Sunday, December 5. The exhibit features the large-scale sculpture of Jarrett Hawkins in the street-level gallery in addition to two extensive representations of paintings by Cedric Michael Cox and

Roy Johnston.

Jarrett Hawkins of Deer Park, Ohio concentrates on large-scale abstract sculpture that reference architectural constructions and ritual totemic forms in his “Limits and Boundaries” selection. The architectural relationships of his work are amplified with the photo-documentation of his 2010 Cor-ten steel “Limits of Spoken Languages” for the plaza of Kent State University. He states that his architectonic or totemic pieces not only “reference the manmade, our ability to make incredible physical structures” but also “reference nature such as the processes of wind and water carving stone or shaping
the land.”

Many of Hawkins’ large pieces are constructed of materials that appear heavier than they are such as EPS foam and cast aluminum. Three of four vertical pieces all titled “Form Study” (2010) and a fourth named “Hierarchical” (2010) all have a pseudo-rusty brown patina imparted by iron paint and the look of being somehow both molded and carved. Numbers “#1” and “#3”both have an organic dual branching that recalls towering cacti in a desert landscape, while “#2” evokes the form of a classical Caryatid abstracted from a Grecian temple.

These majestic pieces command the spaces they occupy with their “perceived weight, dimensions, and interaction with the site.” Some play with hidden syntaxes while not being illustrative as in the human-amphibious suggestiveness of the wall-mounted “Swimmingly” (2010) with its soft blue metallic paint playing against the blue horizontal tiling lines of the Weston wall, or the crowded stooping or reverential figural shapes ensconced in the confining wall-hanging vault of “Limits: Lost” (2010).

Cast aluminum pieces by Hawkins are available in limited editions as well as in cast bronze. These pieces are both freeform and organic as in the liquid blue depth of “Linear V, Section II” (2009), the polished golden hue of the looped cast bronze “Peripatetic” (2009), or the dendrological branching of the blue “Linear I” and the frosty-green “Linear II.”

In 2000, Cedric Michael Cox moved to a studio apartment on East 14th Street in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine District and immediately became attracted to his urban environment, the inner city with its graffiti and iconography. “The music and cityscape subconsciously arouses my senses,” he says, “and I am eager to create the visual rhythms that are in my stride.”

Cox is a musician as well as a visual artist and he deconstructs and reinvents “architectonic configurations, using elements of popular music genres” and street cred.

The entrance piece to his “Ascending Horizons” in the lower Weston gallery is Cox’s large “Morricone, No. 23” (2010) with its layers of dancing gestural swirls and notes against a montaged proscenium  of formal arches and Victorian abstractions, behind which rage the patches of raucous and overwritten graffiti. Cox finds a tenuous balance between the architectonic world and the combative energy that seeks to liberate itself as in the iconographic jungle of acrobatic jumbles separated from the high city towers seen behind the wall in “Underground, No.3” (2010).

Some of his compositions are reminiscent of Bradley Walker Tomlin who formed a visual alphabet codifying his personal notions of Abstract Expressionism. “White Oak on Elm, No. 2” (2010) and the unstretched acrylic canvas “The Unknown Knows” (2010) have interacting figures of light curving into one another, revealing inner windows to other realities. In “Night Rise” (2010), “Reflections, No. 3” (2010), and “Underground, No.2” (2010), the upper visual echelons are church-like in their arches and stained glass tones. There seems to be a constant confrontation of civilized order with a deep undercurrent of propulsive energy, sometimes bursting forth but most often seething beneath the surface.

The last Weston gallery space “Binding Connections” features drawings, prints and paintings by Roy Johnston of Oxford, Ohio. Johnston describes his work “as non-referential, or abstract” with forms deriving “from a long and continuous process of experimentation and discovery.” Most recently these forms relate to “the phenomenological world in which we live” and an association with diagrams and charts relating perhaps to an unknown past, emphasized by the contrast between “the gestural mark and the more precise line.”

Most expressive of Johnston’s encounters between gesture and form is his acrylic entrance piece “Triad II” (2007) with its subtle multiple levels of textural contour outlines on a rectangular color map of oranges and reds, over which gyrate blue or orange dimensional whorls. One wall has a matrix of nine Conté drawings with dark bold strokes over map-like configurations,  and another, the “Transformation series” of 10 lithographic tusche of Mylar prints with titles like “Stack,” “Reconfigured,” “C-Thru,” “Ephemeral,” and “Anomaly,” ranging from 2007-2010.

In addition, the East Wall has an original “Untitled” latex painting of negative drawing textures in blue on a red-orange ground. Johnston’s canvas works continue with effective band of color variations balanced against heavy black calligraphy on red in “Contretemps” (2007) as well as the abstracted ripples of cream and yellow bordered by blue diagonals and red ribbon forms in “Dialogue” (2007).

The Weston Art Gallery is located in the Aronoff Center for the Arts, 650 Walnut St. in downtown Cincinnati. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call (513) 977-4165 or visit

Reach DCP visual arts critic Jud Yalkut at

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