Lucas Johnson: A Print Master at Moody Gallery for PrintHouston

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All summer long, the practice of printmaking is being marked through PrintHouston -- a celebration across nearly 30 galleries featuring hundreds of artists who make both traditional and contemporary prints. But none may be able to capture the range of the practice and history here better than one show by a single artist.

In an exhibition of original prints by Lucas Johnson at Moody Gallery, the pieces selected demonstrate the range of printing styles in which the artist was skilled, from aquatint, etching, and lithography to serigraphy, drypoint, and mezzotint, and span his 40-year prolific career. They also subtly show Johnson's involvement with the Houston art and printmaking community. Many of the 25 works featured in this exhibition were printed at either Little Egypt Enterprises, led by master David Folkman, during the 1970s or, later, Cerling Etching Studios, established by Penny Cerling in 1990. The gallery itself is even part of Johnson's legacy, as the artist has shown through Moody since it opened 1975. Moody has also continued to show Johnson's work since his death in 2002.

The only place Houston doesn't seem to register is in the subects of the works themselves. Johnson had a love of many things -- Mexico, music, politics and fishing, to name a few. From the band of Mexican musicians in the lithograph Los Musicos -- extremely colorful and lively even in black and white -- to the tension of the somber Springtime in Bolivia to his well-known Bottomfeeders series featuring ugly lantern fish, his prints are tokens of that love. They're works that are at times serious, dark and humanistic, others wonderfully strange and funny. And, above all, they're still highly technical, well-crafted prints. You'll be spoiled.

"Lucas Johnson: Original Prints" at Moody Gallery, 2815 Colquitt Street, now through July 7. For more information, call 713-526-9911 or visit the gallery's website.

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