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The Artist: Jan Johnson welded discarded bits of metal and found objects into creations brimming with humour, rich with historical and current references, and laden with implied meaning, stories and irony. This book highlights pieces that focus on his exploration of myths and monsters, power and conflict, toil and trouble, and distortion and dystopia[LM2] [PW3] . Richly textured and often kinetic, his pieces invite you to interpret and reinterpret their meaning and to ponder the relationship between whimsy and tragedy. His work blends satire, play, distortion, and the profound observation of human frailty and human-caused suffering.

Born to a ranching family in Huwlett, Wyoming in 1943, Jan discovered the welding torch as a release from the brutalities he witnessed during the Vietnam war. Later, as a transportation consultant, he traveled[PW4]  and worked overseas at a time when foreign faces were rare in the developing world. He eventually settled on Vancouver Island, creating a magical playground of wit and whimsy, sculpture and found objects, surrounded by moss-covered cedars and dripping ferns. Jan died on a still night [PW5] with family after a brief and fierce battle with cancer in 2011.

The Photographer:  James R. Page, an established nature and wildlife photographer, is author of Wild Prairie (Greystone Books, 2005), principal photographer of Candace Savage’s Prairie: a natural history (Greystone Books, 2nd ed. 2011), and long-time friend of the artist. After shooting Jan’s work extensively in the days of film, Jim turned more recently to digital cameras in creating the images for this book. He currently lives on the edge of Grasslands National Park, in the village of Val Marie, Saskatchewan.