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December 21, 2014

Not so heavy...metal

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Posted: Sunday, June 1, 2014 1:22 am | Updated: 1:40 am, Sun Jun 1, 2014.

There’s a rhyme and a reason for it all, but really, this artist wants it to be a personal pursuit.

The metal sculptures of rabbits and rhinos and people and yes, even creatures of the deep, they’re for you to take in and make of what you will.

“It’s whatever you see,” says sculptor Eric Johnson, whose exhibit at Talladega’s Heritage Hall Museum is titled “I Once Dreamed…”

And dreaming is all a part of the figures that await in the display of about 10 of Johnson’s pieces, each with a story he tells and each made of 22-gauge carbon steel pieced together into the shapes they now are.

They suggest movement and pull viewers inside, and demand that they’re taken in from all angles, these sculptures deliver a smile and provoke thought and are visual statements of art.

The Adamsville native now lives and works just outside Birmingham, and this is where his work environ is, a studio workshop in his back yard, a place where he creates, often listening to his favorite and fitting genre of music, heavy metal.

Johnson laughs when the similarity of his favored work atmosphere is likened to his work, the idea of the music and his chosen medium coming together the way they do.

He tells he grew up “painting and sculpting anything and everything,” and though he pursued some in the way of formal art training in middle school through college, it seemed a tedious pursuit and not one that “took” until later.

He became a successful heavy equipment designer, another link in the metal world, if you like, and spent 20 years in the field.

His attention turned back to art in time, and began painting in the evenings and by 1993, Johnson was directing his attention to metal in yet another way, through sculpting.

The painting was put aside, and Johnson concentrated on his sculpting, eventually seeking out galleries for his work around 2001.

He has since become known for his work in galleries in five states, and travels with his art to fine art shows and festivals throughout the Southeast.

Johnson’s work has been shipped to destinations across the globe, to adorn locations in Japan and Scotland and in other locations, too.

He points out that he sees both a harsh and a softer side to his pieces, they have hard edges and are of a hard material, but exhibit a whimsical side and one that ignites thought.

The thoughts in his work, he says are what’s there at the time, and are “rarely anything more than that.”

He keeps plenty of collected metal around for creating and there are pieces he may have out aside for a time and will return to later. The pieces often begin with one design in in mind, and then under his hands, they morph into quite another.

There is a reception for Johnson at Heritage Hall Thursday, June 5, from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. and the public is encouraged to attend and meet the artist and view the exhibit.

The exhibit will remain in place through June 27.

Johnson’s awards and recognition include second place in sculpture for the Birmingham Art Association annual show in 2008; Best in Show at the Artscape Festival in Pell City, 2010; third place from the Birmingham Art Association Show, 2010; Honorable Mention, Tybee Island Arts Association Festival of the Arts, 2010; Birmingham Arts Journal, volume 8, issue 2, featured on the back cover of magazine, photo of his sculpture “Fly Ball To the Left,” 2011; Best in Show, Ross Bridge Arts and Music on the Green, 2011; Best in Show, Ross Bridge Arts and Music on the Green, 2012; Honorable Mention,  “High Voltage High Art,”  Alabama Power Company, 2012; Award of Distinction, Art in the Park, Pensacola Fla.,  May 2013; among many others.

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