Cada Johnson, an Eugene artist who won Corvallis Autumn Festival Last year’s “Best of Show” award, she was chosen to have her work represented at this year’s event. Donele Pettit-Mieding, executive director of the festival, wrote of his excitement in presenting Johnson’s art: “His presentation is an absolutely wonderful piece and I can’t wait to introduce the poster to the community.”
Johnson describes herself as a 2D Mixed Media artist, working with pen, ink, pencil, acrylics, natural pigments, screen printing, block and fabric prints. In an email interview, he wrote “fabrics have always been there with me, so fabric is a crucial element in all of my work”.
Always an artist
Growing up, Johnson was surrounded by art. “I come from a family of designers. My father was a graphic designer who studied at the Pratt Institute in New York in the 1950s. My mother studied landscape design at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Our house was filled with art books, wall art, and my father’s artist friends and clients. My two sisters studied art and design and work in their fields; one as an exhibition planner and the other as a high school art teacher.
“As the youngest of the family, my path seemed so clear. I knew I wanted to be an artist at a young age. In high school, graphic design seemed like a great option for being creative and earning a living. I have a BA in Graphic Design from the University of Cincinnati.
The University had a program that required students to work professionally in their field of study. Upon graduation, Johnson had worked at four different design studios across the country in New York City, an exhibition house in Buffalo, for a large corporation and a Los Angeles agency. Upon graduation, she realized she had never been to the Pacific Northwest and decided to try Seattle.
“I’ve been on this journey of selling my art and crafts at festivals, markets and online since 1990. I started in Seattle at the Fremont Sunday Market,” said Johnson, “for most of my business life my income came from arts festivals between Seattle and San Francisco.
From about 1990 to 2015, Johnson sold clothing. “For about thirteen years, I rented a studio space in downtown Cottage Grove, where I did all the dyeing and batik work for the hand-dyed and hand-painted T-shirts I sold at the markets,” Johnson She said. H.She first performed at the Corvallis Fall Festival was in 1999 because of the recommendation of other artists.
Inspired by nature
Johnson moved away from clothing and now sells her hand-painted or printed patterns on fabric rolls, prayer flags, wall hangings, prints and patches. Nature is his inspiration for art.
“It felt like I gravitated towards drawing foliage and fauna, and I don’t draw human form very much,” she said. “The beauty of the epic landscapes of the West has had a huge impact on me since I moved here. The earth, the forest and the natural processes of the environment are what always calls me to celebrate them with art.
Another source of inspiration is his six acres of land in Eugene, where he keeps a farm and has 30 feet yurt as his studio. “The forest is my greatest inspirational muse, so living close to the earth is a profound satisfaction for me. I live on the border between private forests and BLM [Bureau of Land Management land] apart from this. I have woods coming out of my back door which is really gorgeous and lovely.“
Johnson’s artwork featuring trees, mushrooms, and local wildlife did well in Oregon.
Lessons learned from the pandemic
After decades of earning a living through festivals, the pandemic disrupted Johnson’s livelihood. So she took the time to tighten things up on the commercial side of things.
“The pandemic forced me to stay home and slow down. It made me appreciate my local community and how lucky I am to live where I live. When the local Saturday market in Eugene opened last June, I was a vendor every single weekend. It was the 30th anniversary of my business and it was the first time I was a vendor at the local market every single weekend.“
Returning to her local market made Johnson grateful and she felt like she reconnected with the people in her foster hometown.
“Outdoor markets are a very important place where people can meet and connect with each other in real time. Seeing our world in crisis made me understand even more deeply how important community is ”.
Where to see the art of Cada Johnson
Keep an eye out for upcoming Corvallis Fall Festival posters and promotions with a specially commissioned piece from Johnson. Will exhibit again at the event next September. Find her at Eugene Saturday Market or check out her designs on https://www.cadajohnson.com/.
Come to the Corvallis Fall Festival 2022 on September 24th and 25th, which will be held in Central Park.
By Stacey Newman Weldon