The MCA trumps logistics to present an intriguing group exhibit By Michael Paglia Wednesday, Aug 3 2011
As it did last summer, MCA Denver has given itself over to a single exhibit for the season rather than presenting multiple shows, and there are some obvious reasons why. First, it allows the powers-that-be at the museum to mount major exhibits, and second — and probably more important — it's cheaper to pull off. But there's one big shortcoming to this approach: the many weeks that the museum is closed while the show is being mounted and again when it's being taken down. In my mind, the building simply wasn't intended to be used this way. Nonetheless, it looks like this is the programmatic format we'll be seeing in the coming months.
That said, there is still a lot worth checking out — and thinking about — in the current feature, Another Victory Over the Sun, a thematic group exhibit that, at its core, takes up the topic of darkness. The show was co-curated by museum director Adam Lerner and assistant curator Nora Burnett Abrams, who brought together the work of eight artists, all of whom have something to do with art about — or in — the dark.
The topic presented a difficult challenge, however, because the David Adjaye-designed building is ordinarily filled with natural light filtering down from skylights on the roof and through numerous windows, including the second-floor window wall. To pull off Another Victory, every source of exterior light needed to be blocked out with panels or cloth. It was essentially a war between the curators and the building.
Lerner has said that he contacted Adjaye about the blackout process and that the African-born British architect was interested in coming to Denver to see the effect. Adjaye, whom I interviewed on several occasions while the MCA was being designed and built, is a super-charming guy, and I'm sure that no matter how he feels about the curators monkeying with his concepts, he will be gracious about it. But it would be strange if he sincerely embraced the idea of conceptually annihilating a key feature of his design, even temporarily. After all, if he'd wanted the MCA to be dark, he'd have made it that way.
That means that Lerner and Abrams's decision to confront the building becomes not just a predominating feature of the show, but the feature. In that way, it functions not only as the ideological umbrella under which everything in Another Victory has been gathered, but as a freestanding conceptual work of art in itself. This curator-as-artist approach is well established in the realm of contemporary exhibits.
The exhibit's title is taken from an avant-garde opera presented in Russia in 1913 that was titled Victory Over the Sun. It was written by Aleksei Kruchenykh in a nonlinear format, but is mostly remembered today because of the participation of vanguard suprematist painter Kasimir Malevich, who designed the sets, which are said to have included his first ever black-on-black painting. (A film about a 1981 re-creation of the opera is running on a continuous video loop on an LCD monitor in the MCA's elevator.)
Victory begins at the top of the entry ramp with the only piece that references the Russian origins of the title: "Monument to V. Tatlin," by the late Dan Flavin. Tatlin was a pioneer of Russian constructivism and an early supporter of the revolution. His most famous work was his proposed "Monument to the Third International," which took the form of a vertical spiral. Flavin has translated that shape into a stepped vertical pyramid, like the silhouette of a skyscraper carried out in the artist's signature fluorescent tubes. It looks great where it is, perfectly filling the small space. And it heaps on the ironies (that began with blocking the windows in the mightily fenestrated building), since Flavin's oeuvre is about light while the show is about the dark. Lerner makes the point that the Flavin sums up the sensibility he and Abrams were looking for: art that is not self-contained but envelops viewers — in this case, by bathing them in light.
In the Merage Gallery on the first floor is one of the real standouts in Another Victory: "Between the Moon and the Sea," by New York artist Spencer Finch. The room-sized installation concerns the Japanese practice of gazing at the moon via its reflection in water, and the piece has been carried out as a cross between the sensibilities of Hokusai and Home Depot. Most of the gallery's floor is covered with a shallow pool of water. The sides and bottom of the pool have been painted black, giving the water the look of oil. A footbridge crosses the pool, and above it is a plastic lantern standing in for the moon. The whole thing is magical.
In the video-only Law Gallery, Miguel Calderón from Mexico is showing "Los Pasos del Enemigo," a five-minute video of a black jaguar growling in the dark. It's very creepy and a little hair-raising.
Across the lobby (and viewable via the overlook to the lower level) is the second showstopper, which, like the Finch, is also a room-sized installation: "Streambed," by Colorado artist Scott Johnson. The piece has a floor made of poured clay that has been allowed to crack as it dried; it's surrounded by walls made of sheets of mirrored glass. The contrast between the naturalistically set clay and the crisp straight lines of the mirrors is fabulous. On the lower level, viewers can see the piece through the glass because the mirrors only work one way. Also downstairs is another Johnson, a beefy étagère set with enigmatic objects including sculptures; these are meant to give us a look at the artist's creative process, but they really don't.
The show continues on the second floor in Natasha's Gallery, where New York artist Erin Shirreff displays a group of her "Untitled (Shadow)" series of post-minimalist sculptures created in the home town of minimalism, Marfa, Texas. The sculptures — made of ash and Hydrocal over metal armatures — are simple shapes that sit on the floor and lean against the wall so that their actual shadows become essential elements. Also in this gallery is a wall projection by Shirreff titled "Ansel Adams, RCA Building, circa 1940," for which she took thousands of photos of the building, framed as Adams did them originally, under various atmospheric conditions that seem to make the famous art deco high-rise morph continuously before our eyes.
In addition to covering up the exterior light sources, Lerner and Abrams have altered the flow of the interior of the building on the second floor by blocking off one of the entrances to the Promenade Space in order to make it into a formal gallery. In this space, the film Xilitla: Incidents of Misalignment, by British-born Mexican artist Melanie Smith, is being projected. The film records in a lyrical and non-narrative way the remarkable architectural follies of another Brit who worked in Mexico: Edward James, a surrealist. The film runs for nearly half an hour, so the chairs arranged in front of it are essential, but I hated the forced informality of using an eclectic assortment of junk furniture to satisfy this need.
Up next, in the Joseph Crescenti Family Gallery, are several different high-tech pieces by Denver's David Zimmer, and the group represents something of a crescendo in Another Victory. All the Zimmers are marvelous, but "Chorus" is a tour de force. Zimmer has mounted thirteen apothecary jars on small brackets on the wall. The overall shape is amorphous, with the many electrical cords that connect the elements to one another — and to a power source — adding an unexpected expressionist element, like scribbled lines. Inside the apothecaries are screens on which birds appear and disappear as they alight on Zimmer's windowsill at home.
The final part of the show, in the Project Gallery, is an installation titled "Waiting for Jerry," by deceased Spanish artist Juan Muñoz. It's made up of an illuminated mouse hole at the base of one wall, with a soundtrack from the old Tom and Jerry cartoons.
The most interesting thing about Another Victory is not the darkened space, but the fact that two of the three most successful parts of the show are by the two Colorado artists, Johnson and Zimmer. These guys didn't just keep up with the better-known players; they blew nearly all of them completely away.

Inversion- Untitled art show podcast interview

Wednesday, July 06th, 2011 | Author: Webmaster

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Untitled Art Show (No. 125) July 6, 2011
Erik and Michael sit down with Artists, Scott Johnson to discuss his three installations, ‘Inversion’, ‘Stream Bed’ and ‘Meridian Sleeve’ which are part of the MCA Denver’s current show, ‘Another Victory Over the Sun’.
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Another Victory Over the Sun- June 2011- August 2011


Another Victory Over the Sun

Daily from Thu., June 9 until Wed., September 21
MCA Denver
Price: $5-$10 museum admission
Lights Out

Lights Out

Michael Paglia
For the second time, MCA Denver director Adam Lerner has decided to devote the entire museum to a single exhibit — in this case, Another Victory Over the Sun, a show about darkness and light. “We have great local and international artists,” says Lerner, “but the most dramatic experience for visitors will be the building as a whole, which is completely transformed for this exhibition. We are canceling all of the natural light in the building, allowing the art to create its own spectacular environment.”
Making the museum dark is no small feat with all those window-walls and skylights, but it’s essential for the pieces that Lerner and MCA curator Nora Burnett Abrams selected; the artist roster includes the late Dan Flavin, Spencer Finch, Scott Johnson, Melanie Smith and David Zimmer, among others. The title of the show, which is expressed by blocking out all exterior light sources, is taken from an avant-garde opera from 1913 that is best remembered today because it had sets designed by Russian constructivist Kasimir Malevich and featured his first all-black painting.
Victory will be unveiled at 10 a.m. today at the MCA, 1485 Delgany Street. For more information, call 303-298-7554 or go to

Another Victory Over the Sun

Another Victory Over the Sun offers an experience where art frames architecture. During this exhibition, all the natural light in the museum will be blacked-out, allowing many of the works of art to act as their own source of illumination. The title of the exhibition refers to the 1913 opera, “Victory Over the Sun,” a cornerstone for modern art, which celebrated the power of human creativity to invent new worlds. With art’s victory over its frame, the viewers can no longer detach themselves from the art experience, but instead are engulfed within it.

Immersing the visitor in an art environment, Another Victory Over the Sun explores the relationship between museum and theatre. Presented on the main floor of MCA Denver, American artist Spencer Finch designed a pond for recreating the Japanese activity of looking at the moon in the reflection of the water. Mexican artist Miguel Calderòn presents a video of a panther in a dark room, experienced only as a glimpse of gnashing teeth and the sound of threatening growls. Other artists in the exhibition include: Dan Flavin, Scott Johnson, Juan Muñoz, Erin Shirreff, Melanie Smith, and David Zimmer.

Image: Juan Muñoz. Waiting for Jerry, 1991. Wall, light and studio soundtrack, dimensions variable.
Courtesy the Estate of Juan Muñoz and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York. Photograph by Kristien Daem.

This exhibition is sponsored in part by MCA Denver’s Director’s Vision Society (DVS) Members and we would like to recognize Ellen Bruss & Mark Falcone and Scott Miller & Tim Gill for their leadership funding. Further support of this exhibition is provided by our 2011 Gala Sponsor: Bart Spaulding. MCA Denver is supported in part by funding from the Colorado Creative Industries Division, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Additionally, MCA Denver would like to thank the citizens of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District for their support.

Best Conceptual Show- 2009 The Look Of Nowhere

Best Conceptual Show - 2009

The Look of Nowhere

Colorado native and Colorado College art instructor Scott Johnson is an installation whiz, and for this impressive if enigmatic show, he completely took over the East Gallery at BMoCA. The Look of Nowhere, which included separate installations, a video and hemispherical mirrors, all of it sparely lit, was purportedly about Johnson's ruminations on Venice, but that was hard to tell. Easier to see was that Johnson really knows how to command a space and turn it into his own unique world.

Tuesday 01.04.11
First Thursday Picks January 2011

Scott Johnson, "Splinter #2," detail

Continuing the light in winter theme, Chambers@916 presents Incidentals, works in light by Scott Johnson. The body of work "plays with flatness, dimension, and atmosphere by using light as a substance, producing halos on reflective surfaces that evoke such phenomena as light on the horizon, glowing snowdrifts or the corona around the sun during an eclipse." (Full disclosure: This blogger works for Chambers@916.)

Opening reception • 6-8:30pm • January 6
Chambers@916 • 916 NW Flanders • 503.227.9398

The Oregonian

First Thursday critic's picks

Published: Wednesday, January 05, 2011, 5:00 PM
Unlike the weather, the local art world has had little trouble thawing out from the cold. That's because some local dealers spent part of December under the warmer skies of Miami at the high-powered art fairs that have become an annual rite for cognoscenti, collectors and various kinds of cultural aspirants.

But now they're back in Portland, to cooler climes and a cooler reality. The month's offerings again highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the local scene -- lots of talent but not enough serious collectors or galleries to showcase them properly.

But for the general public on First Thursday, none of this matters much. The free monthly art walk is an evening of casual enjoyment. Here are a few stops to keep in mind while touring the Pearl District and downtown galleries.

Chambers@916: Scott Johnson's new show could pair quite well with the light and space works of Hap Tivey and Anna Von Mertens across the street at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery. Johnson projects subtle, radiant, optical light effects -- illusions -- onto various surfaces.

Also, Ethan Jackson continues his similarly rigorous space-and-time-bending exploration of projected imagery using mirrors and different surfaces. (916 N.W. Flanders St.;

Chambers Gallery- Portland Oregon- Opening January 6th, 2011

Scott Johnson, Incidentals & Ethan Jackson, Strait
January 06 - 29, 2011
Opening reception January 6   6 - 8:30pm 
      Scott Johnson: The body of work in Incidentals skirts the ground between materiality and representation. It plays with flatness, dimension, and atmosphere by using light as a substance, producing halos on reflective surfaces that evoke such phenomena as light on the horizon, glowing snowdrifts or the corona around the sun during an eclipse. Informed by the tradition of trompe l’oeil painting and the history of virtual spaces, Incidentals explores our long-time enthrallment with illusion, offering simple alterations of the picture plane that are meant to be easily discernible without reducing the magic of the optical experience.

Ethan Jackson: Strait is an unconventional video work in which distorted imagers swirl together on a pedestal’s surface. Viewed in the accompanying cylindrical mirrors, the images resolve into paired elemental landscapes.

About Us, The Look of Nowhere and Jezebel Conceptual art sets the stage at BMoCA.

About Us, The Look of Nowhere and Jezebel
Conceptual art sets the stage at BMoCA.
A A AComments (0) By Michael Paglia Thursday, Jul 10 2008
...continued from page 1
There's no indication of which direction to go as you enter the East Gallery; the space to the right is fairly well lit, while the left is almost completely darkened, so it makes sense to follow the light. This initial part of the show is dominated by a set of glass-topped tables lined up along the south wall called the "Tables of Inadvertence." The tables are covered with all manner of debris, including bits of wood, enigmatic contraptions and what look like dead birds, or at least their feathers.

Beyond this are two hemispheric mirrors, such as those you'd see in a convenience store. As you move forward, the exhibit gets darker and darker. You go past "The Rake of Evening," a floor-bound box with mirrors at the bottom. The crescendo of The Look of Nowhere is a large glass box titled "The Infinity Room." Viewers look through its transparent walls, which catch the light and reflect the contents: a cracked mud floor.

"The Infinity Room," by Scott Johnson, clay, glass, mirrors and other materials.
Through September 6, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, 1750 13th Street, Boulder, 303-443-2122, a complete slide show of this exhibit, go to
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From my point of view, an installation rises or falls on whether the artist is able to completely command a given space. It goes without saying that Johnson has done that, transforming the East Gallery into something that's out of this world.

The last of the three exhibits at BMoCA is Jezebel, a Carla Gannis solo displayed upstairs in the funky and tiny Union Works Gallery. Gannis, who lives in New York, where she teaches at the Pratt Institute and the School of Visual Arts, has been interested in digital photography since the 1990s. In the Jezebel pieces — which, like the works in About Us..., are also examples of conceptual realism — Gannis has appropriated imagery from the popular imagination as expressed in movies. Her subject matter, as indicated by the show's title, is the immoral woman, or femme fatale. Gannis creates scenes where, according to her artist's statement, "sexuality, power and class issues reverberate."

Many of the photos show the various Jezebel characters sitting or even dancing, but in one, "The Alley," she's been murdered and is lying on the ground, surrounded by police. I also was really struck by the wind-up music box that requires viewers to look through a peephole to see it.

Oh, I know, as a friend said when I was telling her about Jezebel, all you'd need to do is drop a stone and you'll hit an artist doing simulations of reality in posed and doctored-up digital prints. But as common as Gannis's approach is, this group of works is really engaging.

As this trio of offerings makes clear, BMoCA is a reliable source for first-rate shows of contemporary art, conceptual-realist and otherwise, and the credit goes to director Joan Markowitz and curator Kirsten Gerdes. Working together, the two have made the place one of the top aesthetic attractions in the state.


Scott Johnson installation “The Look of Nowhere” investigates the way language can obscure what it tries to name, losing sight of what it means to convey. He states, “I believe words cast shadows and images are buckets, riddled with holes. This is to say there is a certain blindness inherent in the processes of naming and depicting, if not a certain distortion of what is named or depicted.

Johnson was born in 1969 and grew up in the Colorado Rockies. He obtained his BFA from The University of Colorado at Boulder and his MFA from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. His work as an artist has been informed by such as experiences as herding cows on the Navajo Reservation, traveling upon the Silk Road and living in Venice, Italy. He presently teaches at The Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

Light | Drift

Light | Drift
The RMCAD campus was originally a sanatorium and medical research site. Longtime friends and artists Scott Johnson and Ethan Jackson will revert the former sun-room for patients into an eerie gallery using projected hologram images that create a dreamlike atmosphere. Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

DATE: Oct 15, 2010 4:00 pm     - Dec 3, 2010 4:00 pm   
COST: Free
VENUE: Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design
In the Philip J. Steele Gallery is located in the Mary Harris Auditorium Building.

Light does the heavy lifting in duo's multimedia exhibition

Light does the heavy lifting in duo's multimedia exhibition
By Kyle MacMillan
The Denver Post
POSTED: 11/19/2010 01:00:00 AM MST

(Cyrus McCrimmon | The Denver Post)
In a multimedia exhibition titled "Light Drift," Ethan Jackson and Scott Johnson challenge perceptions via subtle explorations of such polarities as light and dark, calmness and movement, and two- and three-dimensionality.

The focal point of the show at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, 1600 Pierce St. in Lakewood, is a massive camera obscura, which uses a series of simple lenses to project ever-changing images of the sky and surrounding trees onto the ceiling of the school's Rotunda Pavilion.

The collaborative installation harks back to the room's use decades ago as a sunny sanitarium for tuberculosis patients, and the addition of antique beds and a rocking chair reinforces that connection.

On view concurrently in the Steele Gallery are video works and static sculptures by the two artists, who are both graduates of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Johnson is a member of the art faculty at Colorado College, and Jackson resides in Portland, Ore.

Rooted in 1960s and '70s conceptualism, these works build on past artistic experimentation and marry old and new technology in quietly intriguing if not necessarily broadly appealing ways. Kyle MacMillan

"Light Drift" runs through Dec. 3. Free. 303-225-8596 or

Read more: Light does the heavy lifting in duo's multimedia exhibition - The Denver Post
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Ethan Jackson & Scott Johnson

If you haven’t already, you all need to check out the new work up on all the gallery spaces. Julie Puma’s Early Onset is in the upstairs Rude Gallery, and Ethan Jackson & Scott Johnson’s Light Drift is in both the Philip J Steele Gallery and the Rotunda.

We will be having an interview with Julie Puma about her show.

The show I’ve personally become obsessed with is the Camera Obscura in the Rotunda. Maybe it’s a little biased that I, as a Photo Major, would love the camera related show but… have you seen it? It’s so beautiful. These guys did a great job in bringing in the atmosphere that the JCRS patients would’ve seen from the room. You get to experience what it was like in their shoes, for what was possibly their last few months of life.

On the night of the opening Ian Cooke filled the room with the sounds of cello and voice. The music aspect really helped bring the show together. If you do get a chance to see the show, have someone come that knows how to play the piano. You’ll see what we mean.

There was one chair in the middle of the room. When you sit in it you can allow yourself to experience what the patients experience. I had a hard time with this.

After the sun set, the eeriness I have felt on this campus before came through.  Knowing the background of the school and what has happened, what these people suffered through in this building and on this site in general. What happens for them when the sun disappeared? One can get lost in the beauty of our campus, what happened every night when it was no longer visible? I didn’t believe I could handle the true emotions that followed those thoughts so when I decided to finally leave the room. Those patients were strong human beings.

I don’t want to ruin the magic entirely… that said, you should all check out this show. Highly recommended.

and please check out Ian Cooke’s music.

- Alejandra Reyes


Friday, December 3, 2010
RMCAD welcomes artists Scott Johnson and Ethan Jackson for the third installment of our Public Lecture Series, brought to you by the VASD Program. They will give a public lecture at 6:00 pm in the Mary Harris Auditorium on Friday, December 3.

In their lecture, "Converging Parallels," Jackson and Johnson will address the work in their exhibition, Light | Drift and their history of shared interests. They will provide visual and historical context for key aspects of the works in the show and present important works from past years of parallel production. Their discussion will include ideas of vision and representation, art function and practice, and relationships to meaning and rationality. Jackson and Johnson will also address the collaborative process in present and previous works.

Ethan Jackson is a visual artist working in optical installation, lens-based imagery, and photographic media. His current projects are camera obscura based transformations of architectural space into illuminated, contemplative environments. Other works deal with aspects of landscape representation and the notion of place; illusions of space from painting to lens-based representation; themes of violence, mortality and morality in vernacular imagery. He attended the University of Colorado at Boulder and Williams College. He is based in Portland, Oregon. Visit his website at:

Scott Johnson was born in 1969 and grew up in the Colorado Rockies. He obtained his BFA from The University of Colorado at Boulder and his MFA from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. His work as an artist has been informed by such as experiences as herding cows on the Navajo Reservation, traveling upon the Silk Road and living in Venice, Italy. He presently teaches at The Colorado College in Colorado Springs. Visit his website at:

Hypothesis: Process in Science and Art is a multi-disciplinary exhibit and an experiment highlighting the connections between the scientific and artistic processes.

 Hypothesis: a suggested explanation for a group of facts or phenomena, either accepted as a basis for further verification (working hypothesis) or accepted as likely to be true.

Hypothesis: Process in Science and Art is a multi-disciplinary exhibit and an experiment highlighting the connections between the scientific and artistic processes.

The hypothesis is the heart of the exhibit - positing that processes followed by artists and scientists have much in common. Hypothesis explores these scientific and artistic processes and is itself an experiment.

UCCS Anthropology, Chemistry, and Geography faculty are partnering with artists who have responded to the faculty's research and data in sculptural and video installations. Process is examined through both the faculty's research and the artist's finished work, bringing about greater understanding of the inherent connections between the scientific and creative processes.

Curated by Daisy McConnell, co-director of GOCA, the opening of Hypothesis coincides with the Grand Reopening of the Science Building (newly renamed "Centennial Hall") at UCCS. The Gallery of Contemporary Art at UCCS is located in the newly renovated Centennial Hall. Highlighting the interconnectedness of the arts and the sciences is the basis for this experimental exhibit.

A series of lectures accompany the exhibit HYPOTHESIS:  Process in Science and Art. Each lecture will feature a faculty member and artist partnered in the exhibit speaking individually about their work, then coming together to discuss the interconnections between their respective processes.

Scott Johnson & Curt Holder

Scott Johnson was born in 1969 and grew up in the Colorado Rockies. He obtained his BFA from The University of Colorado at Boulder and his MFA from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. His work as an artist has been informed by such as experiences as herding cows on the Navajo Reservation, traveling upon the Silk Road and living in Venice, Italy. He presently teaches at The Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

Science and art meet in "Hypothesis" | art, hypothesis, science - Entertainment - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO

Science and art meet in "Hypothesis" | art, hypothesis, science - Entertainment - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO