Noted artist Neil Johns exhibiting in Chester gallery

CHESTERTOWN - Neil Johns, one of the dozens of area artists now exhibiting their works in the new Art in Chestertown Gallery, brings a wealth of personal experiences and feelings to the prints he makes at his home in Stony Creek.

Johns' works are included in the gallery's Holiday Show which opened Wednesday and continues through Jan. 7.

An artists' reception is planned for Saturday Nov. 13 at the Gallery, located on Main St. in the building that once housed the Harness Shop. All are invited to attend the event.

Born in Seattle, Johns has studied at St. Martin's University, St. John's University, the School of Visual Arts, and the Art Student's League - the latter two in New York City. He worked in Creative Marketing at International Paper's corporate offices there before retiring to the Adirondacks.

Introduced to printmaking years ago while studying clay sculpture in Minnesota, Johns became entranced with the complex designs, colors and techniques involved in printmaking. Johns prints mostly in intaglio, a technique that involves rubbing ink into lines etched into a matrix of wood, stone or linoleum.

Johns' favorite subjects are goats, which he raises, landscapes and people. "I used to ride the subway from Manhattan to Brooklyn. To pass the time, he'd draw the other passengers, artworks that he has retained for decades.

Johns has been making prints for 40 years, and during that time has produced over 300. Also a sculptor in wood and plaster, Johns has mastered several art forms and has won many awards during his career.

Johns' sculpture "Lonesome Man" - on display in Chestertown this summer - was crafted from mahogany salvaged from discarded furniture. Johns likes to recycle wood for his sculptures and make art out of items others have thought useless.

Johns said recently he is constantly experimenting. When asked about future projects, Johns answered that he seeks to widen his subjects in his artwork and explore new creative processes. He said he wants to master another printmaking technique involving the application of solder on top of etching plates and then pressing the plate on top of the paper instead of rolling it on.

"This technique gives a very nice, embossed, three-dimensional look to the print," he said.

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