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Dare County Arts Council is thrilled to present PINTA MANTA, an experiential, multi-media art opening debuting new paintings by Baltimore-based artists Elena Johnston and William Cashion (also known as the bassist and co-founder of Future Islands) and new works by OBX local artist Travis Fowler.

About the Work:

Elena Johnston and William Cashion created the paintings presented in Pinta Manta working in tandem, employing creative strategies that prioritize setting, sound, elements of chance, and a sense of play.

In a cozy north Baltimore shed that serves as both Johnston’s visual-art studio and Future Islands’ practice space—pleasantly cluttered with tools of art and sound—the collaborators position canvases horizontal to the ground at waist height, each overseeing an opposite half. Working with a pre-determined color palette and drawing inspiration from playlists heavily stacked with Latin American and West African electronic and popular music of decades past, each artist makes strokes alternating between the deliberate and the impetuous—some even made without visual contact with the canvas.

Handwritten notes are kept of each album played during the creation of each painting, the finished playlist becoming a key accessory and decoder of the work, honoring the aural space in which it was created. Some works are completed in one session, others revisited until both arrive at a place of completion. A few are later selected for a new form of permanence, fabricated as neon-tube light displays that allow the source work to be reconsidered, colors and lines vividly illuminated and liberated from flat dimensionality.

This body of work and the creative process that informs it both originated in 2014 with a smaller painting, A Dream of You and Me, that Johnston and Cashion created to be documented via time-lapse in the video for the Future Islands song of the same name. Accepting a subsequent commission to create a similar piece on a larger scale opened up new possibilities for this collaboration, and the artists have continued to refine a process that positions each finished work as a time-lapse construction of sorts. In doing so, they’ve discovered a new expression for both the elements of chance Johnston employs in her solo work, and the prioritization of setting and ambiance prioritized in the recording and performance of Cashion’s band Peals.

Travis Fowler has created a series of mixed media pieces for Pinta Manta. Through balancing control with spontaneity the work explores cause and effect, resulting in vibrating compositions of lines moving through space across imaginary contours. Each work is realized through a process of building upon a single line. The adaptive distortion of each line creates a new future for subsequent lines. The ultimate composition of each work is a product of the very first impulse applied to the panel. The wavelike compositions, accented with metal leaf, seem to morph as the piece is viewed from various vantage points and light sources, allowing the work to offer the viewer an unpredictable visual experience.

In this new body of work, Travis explores techniques and materials new to him, while pursuing familiar themes and tapping into his ongoing passion for process. This work pays homage to some of his earliest works in metals while still a student at ECU, with its spontaneous application of a controlled craft.

As displayed in Dare County Arts Council, the paintings form a dialogue with the neon glow of those rendered in tube lighting, with songs that inspired the artists filling the room. Pinta Manta offers a presentation space that in many ways echoes and mirrors the space in which the works were created, setting a mood that honors the often unexpected cycles and currents of creative inspiration while hoping to catalyze new sparks of imagination in the viewer.

Dare County Arts Council will host an opening reception for Pinta Manta on Friday, June 22 from 6-8pm. The opening reception is free and open to the public.

Pinta Manta is named after the 1983 António Sanches song of the same name, played in heavy rotation during the creation of this body of work.

Elena Johnston grew up in Havertown, PA, and holds a BFA in Illustration and a MA in Art Education from Maryland Institute College of Art. She has earned international recognition for her collaborations with musical artists including Beach House and Future Islands, as well as her 2008 volume Paper Kingdom: A Collection of Baltimore Music Posters! She has lived in Baltimore since 2002, where she works as an artist and arts educator.

William Cashion grew up in Wendell, NC, and holds a BFA in Painting & Drawing from East Carolina University. He is the bassist and co-founder of internationally acclaimed 4AD recording artists Future Islands, whose fifth album, The Far Field, was released in 2017, and also performs in Peals and The Snails. He has lived in Baltimore since 2007. Pinta Manta offers his first exhibit of new paintings since 2005.

Travis Fowler grew up in Garner, NC, and holds a BFA in Metal Design from East Carolina University. Perpetually exploring and experimenting with a wide variety of material, he is recognized locally as a skilled craftsman and artist. As a patron of the DIY spirit, he has organized and curated several pop-up exhibits and shows. He is currently showing work in Legend Nano Gallery in Santa Fe, NM. Travis has lived on the Outer Banks of North Carolina since 2010.

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