Life around the lake:
An artistic take on Canadiana
MediaLink Corporate Communications
Partner and Executive Director
Toronto artist brings his life experiences growing up around a lake
to his first solo showing, a one-day exhibit at the Provo Foodbar
Toronto, December 15, 2017 – How much more Canadian does it get than a lake? One of this country’s most prominent features is also at the heart of “Lake World”, a series of oil paintings by Willy Johnson exploring a lifetime around Jack Lake, in the Kawarthas Region of Ontario.
Produced over the past two years, the paintings “celebrate the power of life and its mysteries, with insights that explore lake scenes and situations” according to Johnson. There’s a mystical flavour as well, or what he describes as inspiration from the coming together of science and spirituality.
The source of the imagery, Jack Lake, was named after its former owner, a native Canadian known to locals as Handsome Jack. In the early 1900s, Jack Lake became larger when a dam was built to benefit the logging industry, long gone from the region. Johnson witnessed and then interpreted what he saw on the canvas, his own impressions of a more contemporary Jack Lake, now a reservoir for the Trent-Severn Waterway.
In all, 28 paintings will be on show throughout the Provo Foodbar on Dundas St. West, a location sprinkled with art shops and galleries, most prominently the Art Gallery of Ontario across the street. The Provo already bears Johnson’s distinctive style in three “linear flow style” murals, one of them a 52-foot rendition of six iconic Toronto buildings. There is a sequence behind the bar with the Bloor Viaduct as the centerpiece, and another mural outside the eatery, framing the main entrance.
An added attraction during the showing will be a totem pole carved by Johnson which took more than six years to complete. The pole draws on his experiences around Jack Lake and brings together many of his interpretations of lake life. Work on the totem pole was completed lakeside and at his workshop in Scarborough.
Johnson’s work as a conceptual artist and graphic designer has also been featured in The Globe and Mail and the ABC television show Shadow Hunters. And he has left his mark abroad, with an acrylic painting produced in 2014 in São Paulo, Brazil. The work is on permanent exhibit at the Jesus, Joseph and Mary Maternity in Guarulhos, a suburb of São Paulo.