“Abiding art + architecture” – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

“Abiding art + architecture”

What often lies behind art and architecture is an experience that transports a viewer into the creative mind of a particular artist. Through Dec. 5, art goers have the opportunity to take this artistic journey through Cletus Johnson’s mixed-media exhibit, “Abiding art + architecture” at the Davis Gallery at Houghton House.

“The portal aspect is a primary interest of mine in these designs and theaters,” Johnson states when asked about the subject of his works.  “They are an entrance-way, a portal between other worlds, a façade.”

Johnson made his entrance into the New York art scene in 1974 with a range of projects from shadow-box theaters, collage compositions and sculpture pieces. Intrinsically-layered, his work builds on a lifelong fascination with theater and both its architectural and dramatic impact. As a set-designer on Broadway and assistant for the late artist Louise Nevelson, Johnson’s craft, imagination and precision run parallel to his experiences within the art and design worlds. 

“Each theater, matte gray and skillfully lit, constructed of building remnants and found objects, presents a façade that intertwines exterior architectural detail with interior performance,” says Assistant Professor of Architectural Studies Gabriella D’Angelo. “Glancing at his work is akin to the moment of building anticipation one experiences before the thick velvet curtain pops open and ‘the show’ begins.”

Johnson’s mixed-media assemblages unfold an enduring relationship and development of a technique and body of work, meticulously crafted and underexposed.  Savvy, intricate, and alluring, these works contain a consistency rooted within his language and means of making and interpreting the world, organizers explain.

“Transformative in their ability to take viewers on a journey onto a stage vaguely remembered or hauntingly fresh, Johnson’s works are also a portal into the life and soul of the artist,” reflects d’Angelo.

A gift of Clarence A. (Dave) Davis, Jr. ’48, the Davis Gallery at Houghton House has six shows each year beginning with a faculty exhibition and ending the year with a student exhibition. In between, a variety of artists and architects are invited to show their work. Primarily, the Davis Gallery is a space to immerse Hobart and William Smith students in visual culture by providing an environment for studying the role of art and architecture in shaping, embodying and interpreting cultures as well as a community resource.

Further information on the exhibition space may be found at http://www.hws.edu/academics/davisgallery/.  The remaining schedule of exhibitions for the Davis Gallery is as follows:

Kate Gridley

Passing Through: Portraits of Emerging Adults

January 23 through February 27, 2015



6 Continents 38 Countries

March 6 through April 17, 2015


Student Art and Architecture

Studio Work from 2014-2015

May 1 through May 18, 2015

The photo above features artist Cletus Johnson at the opening reception of his work on Friday, Nov. 7 at the Davis Gallery at Houghton House.