Andy Warhol said, “I always notice Flowers.” When you view the “Redemption” art series by John Flowers, you’ll know truer words were never spoken.
Flowers, or “Johnny,” as he prefers to be called, is an up and coming local artist who has always called Buffalo his home. “I am a true Buffalonian at heart and have lived here my entire life; minus three years in Rochester from my previous career.”
I suppose three years away from the Queen City can be forgiven since he did find his way home again and is making it that much richer with his art. His debut showing, titled “Redemption,” is a poignant and impressive display of revolutionary musicians who left an indelible mark on history. Not one to follow any simple standard of musical taste, Johnny chose his featured artists from a wide variety of genre and style. Eric Church, Rush and Freddie Mercury are all represented in uncomplicated yet powerful colors. Notorious B.I.G., Jim Morrison and, a classic Buffalo favorite, Old Blue Eyes himself, are all beautifully rendered by Johnny’s deft hands. And that is just to name a few.
With such a variety of musical styles, one wonders where inspiration comes from. “Influence in my work is around me 24/7,” Johnny states. “The environment, the public, the internet… everything around me. I can simply be sitting at a bar, enjoying a cocktail, and look at it in my hands and all of a sudden have an inspiration for a painting or a photograph. I can immediately picture a photograph in someone’s living room above a mini bar of a Manhattan cocktail that is amber-lit, resting on a coppertop bar. I enjoy being able to take any sighting through my eyes and imagine it as a piece of art or something I can render into art.”
“Redemption” is Johnny’s first art show, but not nearly his first artistic exploit. For more than a decade, he has turned his talent into works of art on the human body. “Art most certainly did lead me to the tattoo industry,” he says. “It began in high school when I spent two years designing my first tattoo and people began to notice a skill. Soon after I got that first tattoo I designed, I was hooked into the tattoo industry by a 50s-styled greaser-crooner named Mike Taylor. I knew right then and there I needed to be in the industry.”
His father also played a role in steering him down this creative path. “I remember as a little kid having drawing competitions with my dad. Of course, he always dominated the drawing game, but it helped me grow. Although he took his artistic passions to woodworking, he shows me the true vision of an artist; being able to visualize an idea in your mind and create it through your hands. I watch and study his process more than he sees.”
But what actually drives an artist to create? What is the motivation that turns visions into something tangible? Artists aren’t the melodramatic, tortured souls portrayed in movies, where after a few chance meetings and deep conversations their lives are magically transformed and flawless paintings flow from their fingertips before the credits roll. Johnny emphasizes his flaws more than his successes, and believes that is what drives him to constantly grow and improve – as an artist and as a person. “I have been wanting to host an exhibit for the past couple of years or so,” he begins. “I was supposed to have one about two years ago and had everything planned, but my series was destroyed through a bad breakup. So, after a string of bad relationships, some my fault, some not, I know I needed this to set my life straight. Focus on what truly makes me happy and not just find something that filled a void.”
After speaking from the heart and allowing his fragility to show for a brief moment, his eyes narrow with gritty determination. “This series, Redemption… I want people to know where my heart is at. As I said before, it has been a rough few years for me, mentally and emotionally. I put myself through hell and back and I take full responsibility for that. This series brought me back to where I needed to be. This will show where my heart is and that I am back on track.”
He went on to emphasize he doesn’t want to become one of those people who complain about their life. Smiling, he refers to a scene in Forrest Gump when he is sitting on a bench and commenting how he has worn lots of shoes, intimating the many roles he’s played in his life. Johnny agrees. “I have worn many shoes in my life, and despite being only 30 years old, I don’t regret any of them. I’m sure my shoes will change many more times in the future on the paths I take, but you will never once hear me complain about a single pair.”
And that’s all he has to say about that.
“Redemption” series by Johnny “Ink” Flowers is presented by 125 Art Collective Studio located at 125 Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. The show is one evening only, March 30, from 6-10 p.m.