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Johnson takes reigns of ULV galleries
Posted Oct 17, 2008
Stephanie Arellanes
Dion Johnson, former art department manager, has assumed the duties of the new position of director of university art galleries. Johnson will oversee a consortium of three galleries, the Tall Wall Space in the Arts and Communications Building, the Harris Art Gallery in the Landis Academic Center, and the Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography in Miller Hall. Johnson received his bachelor of fine arts from Ohio State University, and his master of fine arts from Claremont Graduate University.



Dion Johnson has recently accepted the new position at the University of La Verne as director of galleries and is now in charge of the Harris Gallery, Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography and the Tall Wall Space.

“Dion is an excellent choice for this job,” Ruth Trotter, professor of art, said. “He is a highly regarded artist in the contemporary art community and brings top-notch professional skills to the program.”

The position idea was developed by Trotter, with an intention to create an integrated gallery consortium bringing together all three galleries.

“My goal is to continue to present exhibitions in diverse media, which expands the scope and vision of how art is experienced on the La Verne campus,” Johnson said.

According to Johnson, as galleries director he assumes the responsibilities of jurisdiction and management of the University’s permanent art collection, and developing programs to expand the collection.

This will also include future outdoor sculptures and public art installations that will be a part of the campus.

He is also responsible for all registration, conservation and maintenance of the permanent collection.

Johnson will be planning, implementing and promoting schedules of exhibitions in all three galleries and will work in collaboration with artists and faculty.

According to the director, the ULV Gallery Consortium mounts an average of 12 exhibitions a year.

“The work load became just crushing,” Gary Colby, professor of photography, said in regards to the faculty having to manage the galleries.

This means that Johnson’s workload will also include overseeing and implementing the transportation, storage, installation and de-installation of exhibitions; planning and arranging artists’ lectures and presentations; designing and distributing publicity materials and press releases; supervising work study students; working with the faculty of the art and art history and photography departments; and teaching one gallery management course as part of the curatorial studies major each semester.

Colby described Johnson as “a very sophisticated artist and an energetic guy.”

“His interest in gallery activities suited our vision,” said Colby.

Johnson, born in Bellaire, Ohio, currently lives and works in Los Angeles.

He received his master of fine arts from Claremont Graduate University in 2000, his bachelor of fine arts from Ohio State University in 1997 and also attended Yale Norfolk Summer School of Music and Art Fellowship in 1996.

His work, featuring images of flowers, comfortable interiors, snapshots and mechanical diagrams, which all present playful fictional scenarios, have been featured in the Stephen Stux Gallery in New York, the Rebecca Ibel Gallery in Ohio, the Richard Heller Gallery in Los Angeles, and the Bill Maynes Gallery in New York, just to name a few.

Johnson has been described by Ken Johnson of the New York Times as an artist who “combines thick paint-troweled, combed, smeared and dribbled-schematic diagrams of machinery, furniture and architecture and neatly painted images in a child’s picture book style to dreamy and sensuous effect.”

Johnson said of his new position, “It was a great honor.”

According to Colby, there are also plans for a contemporary gallery which will accumulate expensive art through donations of artists featured in campus galleries and will in turn add a giant resource for students, as well as a capital resource of value for the institution.

New exhibitions to come will be a presentation of work, opening Oct. 21, by Phillip K. Smith, III in the Harris Gallery which will include drawings and models of his public art projects.

Smith has also been selected to design a public art project at ULV which will surround the Campus Center, scheduled to open in 2009.

“Sheltered,” an exhibition of photographs by ULV alumna Karen Tapia, will be presented in the Carlson Gallery beginning Monday.

The Tall Wall exhibition will continuer featuring “Divots and Bumps” by Jill Daves through December.

Jaclyn Mittman can be reached at jaclyn.mittman@laverne.edu.

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