Freeport Arts Center showcases photography Aug. 15

FREEPORT, Ill.—The Freeport Arts Center opens its next exhibition on Sunday, Aug. 15, featuring the black and white photographs of Adam Frint and Michael Johnson. The exhibition will run through Oct. 3, and the public is invited to attend the opening reception from 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 15, to meet the artists.

During the last 30 years, Michael Johnson has had to explain to more than one curious landowner why he is standing by the side of the road with his old Deardorff camera; he’s waiting for the light to cover a distant hill and the shadows to dip behind the trees. Whether photographing the driftless area where he makes his home in Northwest Illinois or the mountains of New Mexico, Johnson frequently spends hours for the right play of light on the land. This method of working contributes to his familiarity with the nuances of the Midwestern landscape, the subject matter of most of his images.

Johnson was raised in a rural area outside Chicago, educated in New England, and is self-taught in photography. He learned large-format photography while working in a commercial studio in Chicago in the early 1970s. Since then, he has concentrated his efforts on justifying the aesthetic concerns of 17th century Dutch landscape painters with the technical qualities of lenses, cameras, and chemistry developed in the early 20th century. The resulting body of work includes photographs made throughout the United States, but primarily in the Midwest. Johnson’s work resides in the collections of private individuals, corporations, hospitals, and museums throughout the United States and Japan.

In addition to his photography, Johnson is an active member of the Illinois Tree Farm Committee and the owner of Johnson Creek Hardwoods, a one-man sawmill and lumber business deriving raw materials, on a sustainable basis, from his 70-acre Tree Farm. In 2003, Michael and his wife, Patricia, were named Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year for the state of Illinois.

Adam Frint’s interest in photography started when he attended Highland Community College (HCC). He spent two years at HCC working on his general education classes while exploring the possibilities in the fine arts department. During that time, Adam found a serious interest in photography and that led to an introduction to Michael Johnson, who instantly became Adam’s mentor.

From that point on, Adam became more passionate and goal-oriented toward photography. He transferred to Northern Illinois University, where he was accepted into the highly competitive Visual Communication program. While studying in that program, Adam learned the importance of composition and aesthetics that helped influence his photography. After three years, Adam earned his bachelor of fine arts in Visual Communication with an emphasis in photography. During this period of time, Adam worked part time as an assistant art manager at the nearby bookstore and as a part-time lab assistant at the photography darkroom. Adam recalls that if he was not working, he was either studying for his design homework, enjoying his late nights in the darkroom when no one was around, driving the countryside looking through the viewfinder, or traveling back and forth to the Johnson home to work on his large format photography projects.

Adam developed the title for his exhibition, “The Photographic Triangular Journey,” while driving to the Johnson’s home in Mt. Carroll, then to his parent’s home in Ridott, and back to his apartment in DeKalb. The drive is roughly three hours round trip, but it is full of beautiful Midwestern landscapes and amazing rural architecture that he finds very therapeutic and full of great images given the light or time of day. Within this triangle, he found his deepest inspiration.

Michael started teaching Adam how to use his 35 mm Minolta camera along with his instruction at school. Michael then helped him set goals to graduate from the 35 mm and start working with his large format Graphic four-by-five monorail view camera. Michael also rewarded Adam with his time, facilities and patience, until he recently was able to afford his own view camera. The camera Adam now uses is a four-by-five Linholf 3 Technika Press Camera from West Germany that was a present in memory of Janet Turner.

Adam is grateful for the many people who have supported his photography. He feels that without his family and friends, he would not have grown as a photographer as quickly as he did. His greatest appreciation reaches out to the Johnson family who accepted him and his passion for photography. Adam believes that without Michael’s help, knowledge and mentoring, he definitely would not have been able to develop his good technique and vision.

Established in 1975, the Freeport Arts Center shares the visual and performing arts with the people of northwest Illinois. FAC’s mission is to exhibit art from the collection and contemporary artists, present performing arts, develop arts education programming for all ages, and to fund cultural activities in northwestern Illinois. Currently, FAC’s collection contains more than 3,500 artifacts from all continents and all time periods including ethnographic objects from Egypt, Southeast Asia, and Papua New Guinea; Pre-Columbian and Native American baskets and pottery; excellent 15th to 19th century European painting, prints and sculpture; and a significant collection of contemporary American prints, paintings, and sculpture. The Freeport Arts Center is partially supported by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

The Freeport Arts Center is at 121 N. Harlem Ave., Freeport, and is open Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Tours may be scheduled by calling 815-235-9755.

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