Visiting art exhibitions is one of my favorite ways to recharge during dreary winter days. For those with an openness to be refreshed, Johnny McKee is preparing a place of rest, of wonder. McKee has been working on his upcoming show for months, and the aesthetic resolve in the work shows it. “A Silent Night” will in some ways be a progression from his previous body of work- notably due to an internal, what I would consider spiritual, maturation.
Ranging from small, intimate skyscapes to wall-size vistas, the pieces in the show are primarily a continuation of McKee’s meditative painting practice. Reminiscent of the soft atmospheric light in George Inness’ paintings, the paint application is not hard on the eyes. To encounter the exhibition is to partake in a narrative that is not spelled out in the imagery, but rather for the viewer to find within. McKee’s previous work quoted particular expanses of sky rooted in personal moments, luring the viewer into a nostalgic head space. Moving through and above a chapter of life stamped by loss and mourning, he concentrated on the act of painting for order and peace. To know McKee’s motivation is to conceptually focus on his process; refusing to find solace in temporal moments, McKee channels the silken gravity of the night sky into his daily practice.
While to intellectually know McKee’s work is to understand these concepts, to enter into the Harrison Gallery is to indulge in material and abstraction. Vintage wood and frames, glints of metal, and forgotten paints captivate the viewer in a kind of raw luxury. I would encourage collectors to come early on Friday if they are a fan of McKee’s work.
Stop by the Harrison Center for the Arts Friday February 3rd, from 6-9 pm for the opening. The work hangs till the 24th.