Mary Ellen Johnson

OK Harris presents the hyper-reality of Mary Ellen Johnson's glistening food portraits

For Release 11/30/12 – 12/7/12

Contact: Mary Ellen Johnson
Tel. (843) 639-7404


"The subject of food is charged with numerous connotations and meanings and embodies much more than sustenance" explains Mary Ellen Johnson of her particular artistic fixation. In this solo exhibition at New York City's OK Harris Works of Art, the South Carolina-based painter immortalizes those food stuffs found only in the slice of the edible pie chart labeled treats and sweets.

Presented with imagery both familiar and alien in its hyper-realistic and unattainable deliciousness, the public is welcome to experience this vision of food for all its iconic, comforting, desirable and nostalgic flavors. Triggered by our highly personal relationships with it and the powerful dominion it has over our thoughts, Johnson is striving to "push its instinctual command into visual space".

Not many artists include their local bakery as an influence but food in any form has always provided artists with the most loaded of visual metaphors. Johnson uses hers to excellent effect: The ephemerality of youth and beauty, the impossibility of perfection, decadence, excess, death. By deliberately re-appropriating the sorts of images popularized by social diseases and the contradictory comfort the subject matter offers in reality, Johnson serves us pop art by way of the food channel.

The attention to detail required in a single piece might see the artist take up to eight weeks to complete it. However this one painting, a portrait of our emotional attachment to food, will provoke both mental and physical reactions from its viewer. "There is a very deep spiritual dimension to food that is tied to a communion with family and friends" we are reminded. Meanwhile some people, after listening to their growling stomachs, might feel compelled to find a local confectioners and sate the solipsistic squeeze brought on by the sight of a perfect cream éclair.

OK Harris was founded by Ivan C. Karp in 1969 in the SoHo district of Manhattan. Karp was co-director of Leo Castelli Gallery from 1959-1969 when he eventually left and launched his own gallery. As the first establishment on SoHo's West Broadway, OK Harris helped inspire the development of the area’s fine arts character.
Specializing in exhibiting contemporary art, OK Harris is able to mount five, one-person shows simultaneously in its spacious facility. Along with Johnson's exhibition the gallery will also be displaying the solo exhibited endeavors of artists Jack Radetsky, Susan Ferrari Rowley, Ed Potters and Lucy Waring.
Mary Ellen Johnson's exhibition will be held from December 8 to January 19, 2013. The artist will be present for the opening reception on December 8, 3-5pm.
Visit for more information.
OK Harris Works of Art
383 W. Broadway NY, NY.
Tel.: (212) 431-3600
Gallery Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Tuesday - Saturday 
OK HARRIS is located in the Soho district of Manhattan on West Broadway between Spring and Broome Streets.
For more information about Mary Ellen and her artwork please visit

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