While September heralds autumn’s official appearance, the dog days of summer linger in Northeast Florida. Though humidity and soaring temperatures are not favored by most, there are upsides: gardeners appreciate an extended growing season while those without a green thumb enjoy a colorful floral bounty nearly year-round.
Jacksonville Beach’s J. Johnson Gallery begins its fifteenth season with a group exhibition reflecting the fecundity of the First Coast. Bloom, which opens on the eleventh of September with a public reception from 6 to 8 p.m., presents a variety of paintings, prints, and sculptures celebrating the splendor of nature.
“So many of our friends and clients are involved with organizations focusing on
conservancy and the environment,” says gallery director Bruce Dempsey. “As is Jennifer [Johnson Duke, owner of the gallery], of course … I thought it would be interesting to organize a show encompassing themes of nature and flowers.”
Dempsey worked with New York dealer Nancy Hoffman and her eponymous Chelsea gallery to bring works by her stable of artists to Florida.
Dempsey first became acquainted with Hoffman decades ago through artist Joseph Raffael, whose large-scale watercolors and smaller prints (including etchings, lithographs, and aquatints) are featured in Bloom. In the eighties, as director at the Jacksonville Art Museum (now
MOCA Jacksonville), Dempsey mounted a solo show of Raffael’s work; in preparation, he and Johnson traveled to California where they met the artist’s New York dealer, and they have maintained ties since.
Raffael grew up admiring his mother’s backyard victory garden and flower beds; now, he and his wife live in the south of France where the landscape is a constant inspiration. “Seeing blossoms come alive is the same as watching a painting come forth out of the white space of a page or a canvas,” explains the artist.
Article written by Wesley Gibbon