August 15 – October 1, 2017
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Fine Arts, Gallery III
For August-September, Layet Johnson exhibits recent works along with his first sculpture of graduate school, “Untitled (Cactus Chair)”, now remade and retitled “The Little Teacher,” named after a text exchange with a cactus farmer in Southern California who blessed the cactus, saying “Ralph cut the San Pedro before I got in. It’s a nice piece, and you will have the blessings of The Little Teacher for your art piece.” Upon further research, Johnson found that “The Little Teacher” was also a 1915 silent film starring Mabel Normand and Fatty Arbuckle about a country school teacher and her class clowns.
Other readymade sculptures include “Boy on High Dive,” a fabricated eight-foot diving board bench titled after Norman Rockwell’s painting of the same name, and “Day Dream,” a three legged pair of Adidas track pants, named for the alternative acronymic meaning “All Day I Dream About Soccer,” or “Sports,” or “Sex.” “Boy on High Dive” was fabricated by Bray Sheet Metal in Little Rock, and “Day Dream” was designed by Joseph Brajcki of North Little Rock.
Representing his drawing practice while expanding on pen and paper techniques, “A Head for Shore,” a 12 second loop of Slater Bongo scooping buckets of water out of a sinking canoe, playing on an 80’s era 13″ television, is Johnson’s first foray into exhibition animations. By combining the buddhist notion of the “word-head” (or the continuous pondering of the koan in meditation, in order to break through and receive initial insight into the Buddha nature,) with the concept of heading for shore when one’s boat is capsizing, Slater Bongo displays his signature stoicism, good humor, and resolve in a scenario standing metaphorically for America’s current state. This work is also the only work in the show made entirely by Johnson and not including a collaborative or fabricated component.
Also stemming from his drawing practice is “2′ 40″ Collaboration” a screen print collaboration with Ted Kuhn commemorating the August 21, 2017 Total Eclipse. In this image, Johnson draws a woman looking at the solar eclipse while Slater Bongo stares fondly at the viewer through shaded lenses. His collaborator, Ted Kuhn, provided the caption: “Fundamental Yes, super electric.” Ted Kuhn is an artist in San Francisco, California.
Lastly, “A Bitters End,” includes photo documentation and evidence surrounding a performance, inspired by Johnson’s Angostura Bitters bottle “cocktail-hour glass” (a sand hour glass made of two bitters bottles affixed end to end,) where the artist and friends Joseph Brajcki, Omaya Jones, and Tara Stickley, on August 17, 2017, had a small farewell party on the lawn of the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, where they discussed art and how to say farewell.