A sculptor dedicated to form with a craftsman’s respect for material
Sculptor Bruce Johnson grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and studied art at the University of California, Davis in the sixties. For the last 40 years his prolific studio has been a large barn and a meadow in rural Sonoma County, overlooking the Pacific. Despite his rural location Johnson has found international recognition with large- scale sculpture in Italy, Spain and Taiwan as well as many private and public collections in the U.S.A.
Johnson often works with massive pieces of salvaged redwood, embellished with copper details. He describes his work as a cross between Shinto shrines and Stonehenge. From Stonehenge comes the primal sense of scale, mass and physical presence of his work, and from Shinto Shrines the elegant craft and exquisite detail of sacred architecture – including his elegant use of copper as scales to cap end grain and direct water, or to create copper boulders. Every copper or wood surface has a unique and deliberate texture.
Johnson is not only a sculptor, but a master builder as well. He has designed and built unique buildings, gardens, doors, gates, lanterns, playgrounds, fountains, grave markers, stage sets and furniture. Of special importance to him is his work on sacred buildings such as the Sea Ranch Chapel, the historic chapel at Fort Ross, a Moon Gate at the Asian Art Museum and especially the exquisitely beautiful “Poetry House.”
“I am an artist fully engaged in abstract contemporary sculpture.
I am a maker of objects with a craftsman’s touch.
I am a tool in the process.
I am moved by mass and scale.
I love the energy and vitality of these big chunks of salvaged redwood and work to honor their spirit.
These sculptures are the echo of a vanishing ecosystem.
May they also be seen as small acts of preservation.”
The studio's name 'Form and Energy' speaks to Uprooted, muscular and organic...a cohesive one-man show sharing common materials. Roots, logs and copper boulders and a common theme - the dynamic relationship of 'mass', 'form' and 'energy'. In this sculptor's taxonomy — boulders are mass, roots are form and logs are energy.
“If the vitality is there, the form will follow.” —David Smith
The quote above is appropriately etched in the apron of Bruce’s studio. He begins the process of engaging with the materials using intuition, unconcerned with ideas. Form and energy are omnipresent themes. “When my body is tired and I become fully engaged with the material, that is the moment when ideas emerge. Making sculpture is a process of joy and exuberance of solitude and uncertainty, and back to joy and exuberance. Being engaged and waiting for insight are essential. What I make is not me, it just comes through me.” — Bruce Johnson
In 1964, the Eel River in northern California had 100-year flood with flows greater than the Mississippi River. These forces deposited forty feet of gravel in some areas and sent mountains of redwood stumps, roots, and burls to rest along California’s north coast beaches. The South
jetty of Humbolt Bay in June of 1964 was Bruce’s introduction to the wonders of salvage old growth redwood.
Bruce continues to acquire tons of salvage materials in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. Most recently bruce acquired 80 tons of salvaged stumps a landowner on a tributary to the Eel who for twenty years had rescued stranded roots from low water gravel bars and placed them above flood water. Within the form of roots and swirl of grain you can see and touch the patterns of nature and feel the fractal expression of growth and energy. One cannot resist the desire to explore and feel this vitality. These materials can be as old as 1000 years.
View 'Available Sculpture'
and 'Selected Works'
by Bruce Johnson spanning early periods, mid-career and recent work.