New Mexico Museum of Art

Traces: Johnnie Winona Ross

June 15, 2010


(Santa Fe, NM April 22, 2010)—Place and process are integral to the works of Arroyo Seco artist Johnnie Winona Ross, who is known for his reductive and luminous paintings that are comprised of layers upon layers of paint brushed, dripped, scraped and burnished to an extraordinary finish. The horizon, the quality of light, the seepage of water or traces of ancient cultures on a canyon wall—these elements of the landscape all inform Ross’ grid-based paintings. This small but compelling exhibition, the artist’s first solo museum show since moving to New Mexico in 1999, will consist primarily of never-before-exhibited paintings.

 Previously working in Maine, he was pulled to New Mexico by “the light, the culture, the archeology, the desert, mountains. It was austere, real, exposed, but mysterious, it was not a casual place that you just were. It was… spiritual…” His paintings can consist of up to 150 layers of paint that upon close inspection reveal a “history” of the painting’s creation. He describes his process in this way: "Repeating the mark, or the drip, scraping, burnishing, builds a physical history within the painting…. [W]hen you see worn stone steps, whether at an Anasazi site, or the Met, it is interesting to consider the scores of people that have used or are using the steps in roughly the same way; or seeing the keys on an old piano, worn with use. You realize that you are just part of the stream of history, a large or small part, but you are only moving through.”

Johnnie Winona Ross was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1949. He received his B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis in 1971, and his M.F.A. from University of Illinois in 1973. From 1977 to 1999, he taught at Maine College of Art. He participated twice in the Roswell Artist-in-Residence program (1974-75 and 1994-95), which influenced his decision to move to New Mexico in 1999. Ross exhibits regularly in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, and throughout Northern New Mexico. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including a Gottlieb Foundation grant.

The exhibition opens at the New Mexico Museum of Art August 13, 2010 and runs through January 9, 2011.  An opening reception from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. will be hosted by the Women’s Board of the Museum of New Mexico.


Media Contacts

Laura Addison

Curator of Contemporary Art



Steve Cantrell, PR Manager


505-310-3539 – cell





The New Mexico Museum of Art was founded in 1917 as the Art Gallery of the Museum of New Mexico. Housed in a spectacular Pueblo Revival building designed by I. H. and William M. Rapp, it was based on their New Mexico building at the Panama-California Exposition (1915). The museum's architecture inaugurated what has come to be known as "Santa Fe Style." For nearly 100 years, the Museum has celebrated the diversity of the visual arts and the legacy of New Mexico as a cultural crossroads by collecting and exhibiting work by leading artists from New Mexico and elsewhere. This tradition continues today with a wide-array of exhibitions with work from the world’s leading artists. The New Mexico Museum of Art brings the art of New Mexico to the world and the art of the world to New Mexico.



The New Mexico Museum of Art is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

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