I had the pleasure of meeting Jake Johnson on Saturday night during the Coconut Grove Gallery Walk. Jake's work is being exhibited at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival Gallery. Jake is new in the Miami area, he lives in South Miami. I asked Jake to stand next to his favorite painting, prefacing that by saying that I'm sure they are all like his children, and he probably cannot choose a favorite, but he did choose Batman, and when I saw him next to it, I realized why - that's Jake behind the mask. It was a self portrait.
The exhibit is called, "Painting Heroes" and it is just a small portion of his prolific work. Gallery curator Lilia Garcia told me that she chose the Painting Heroes to feature out of all of Jake's work, which can be seen at his website here: jakejohnsonart.com. I should have know that Batman was his favorite, as that's who greets you when you visit the website.
Jake had sad moments in his life (the death of his father and the disappearance of his brother), which threw him into his boyhood dreams of super heroes. His childhood was filled with comic books and science fiction. Jake is very mild mannered and very approachable, the perfect alter ego for a super hero - he's Clark Kent and Peter Parker, before they get behind the masks.
His paintings emphasize classical techniques, but the colors and subject are totally comic book style.
The paintings are all based on classic paintings with Jake's super hero twist added. For instance, the Batman painting called, "Batman after Valazquez" is based on "Mars" by Diego Velazquz's 16th century painting. And the Hulk painting, shown above is called, "The Whistling Hulk," which is based on "The Whistling Boy," by Frank Duveneck. I love his "The Drunken Superman," which is Jake as an older man, based on Peter Paul Rubens' "The Drunken Hercules," and Jake's "Massacre of the Innocents," a wild subway scene, based on Rubens' 16th century "Massacre of the Innocents."
The exhibit will be on display through April. The Coconut Grove Arts Festival Gallery is open Monday through Friday from 10 am to 5 pm. The are at the Mayfair Atrium at Mary and Grand. You may reach them at 305-447-0401. The work is drawing a lot of attention from the ad agency workers in the area, many of them have stopped in to check it out.