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Blue Line's snapshot of photographic gems

Open exhibit features 56 pieces, including one by local artist John Johnson
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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John Johnson could be considered a blender. He finds his passion blending photographs into original, unique art. He’s mixed pictures of animals with antique photos he scans into his computer to form whimsical creatures found on the Island of Doctor Moreau. In college at Chico State University in the 1970s, Johnson blended his interests in photography and writing into his own photojournalism major. For his composite piece, “Windmills and Plowed Fields,” the 63-year-old Roseville resident combined an image of windmills taken in Altamont Pass with a picture of concrete columns — placed on their side — in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. This creation will be displayed as part of Blue Line Gallery’s 2011 Photography Open Exhibition, which opens Saturday, Jan. 15, with a public reception. Johnson joins 41 other photographic artists from across the United States whose artwork will appear in the upcoming exhibit. The show includes 56 photographs by such regional favorites as James Hirschinger, David Robertson and Jerry Berry, as well as photographs from artists throughout California and six other states. Lewis Kemper, an elite Canon USA “ Explorer of Light” photographer, selected the artwork to display. “Not only is the quality high, but also the diversity of the images is impressive — from portraiture, still life and landscape to abstractions — it is all here,” Kemper said, in a press release. Kemper has photographed the natural beauty of North America for nearly 30 years, specializing in nature and outdoor photography. He’s a member of the prestigious Viewpoint Photographic Art Center in Sacramento. Beth Rohlfes, curator of Blue Line Gallery, said the exhibit includes a portrait by well-known Sacramento artist Ronald Musser, a piece by Granite Bay resident Craig Johnson and several experimental photos by artists who play with color and clarity to create abstract images. “I’m thrilled to see the variety,” she said. “I like the cross section. Some are realistic in choice of subject matter but they are these wonderful abstract compositions.” About five years ago, the gallery decided to allow any medium into its open exhibits. “We used to debate if digital photography and manipulation should be allowed in our shows,” Rohlfes said. “Now, you can’t eliminate that. There is still a camp that believes in dark rooms, but more and more artists are using digital cameras.” As for Johnson, his enjoyment of photography began when he was growing up in Michigan and bought a camera. The interest developed after he joined the U.S. Navy in 1967 and worked in photo intelligence. The Navy took him to Japan where he bought another camera and captured images all around him. Johnson took advantage of the GI Bill to later enroll in college, graduating in 1977. He married soon after and because his wife, Marilyn, served in the Army Nurse Corps, the couple traveled around the country and spent time in Germany. By earlier this decade, Johnson’s love of photography had faded, until his sister-in-law suggested family members take photos of their pets for a Christmas calendar. He had only used film cameras, but for that project he bought a digital version. “Fixing up the photos sprang into a thing I can’t stop doing,” Johnson said. “It is just a passion. It’s the creative process. You sometimes get lost in the process and it just carries you along.” Since moving to Roseville about 10 years ago, Johnson has served on the Roseville Cultural Arts Commission, PlacerArts board of directors and as president of Auburn Old Town Gallery. His work has been featured in COLOR magazine, a national publication for collectors of fine photography, and he’s a member of the local Art Studio Trek, which occurs once a year. In 2003, Johnson founded Doublejay Visions Art Studio to develop his own style as a photo illustrator, specializing in enhanced digital photography with a pictorial look and feel. When’s he not behind the computer crafting art, he’s behind the counter at FedEx on Douglas Boulevard where he works — and keeps his coworkers laughing. He often incorporates humor into his photographs, as well. “I’m an entertainer,” Johnson said. “It’s my nature.” Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. ---------- Blue Line Gallery 2011 Photography Open Exhibition When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays from Jan. 15 to Feb. 12. Opening reception 6-7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15 for members only Where: 405 Vernon St., suite 100 in Roseville Cost: Free admission, artwork for sale Info: Call (916) 783-4117 or visit www.rosevillearts.org ---------- To learn more about the artwork of John Johnson, visit www.doublejayvisions.com.