The news that artist Rose Johnson had died suddenly in Bali on May 31 seemed like a bad dream. Johnson left indelible marks on Arizona in her final 10 years in Bisbee and, prior to that, during a long residence in Phoenix. The strongest impressions were not painted on her riotously serene murals and canvases (including illustrations for New Times), but left in the hearts of her community, as traces of her radiant personality, whimsical adventures, and sexy English accent.
Still numb with shock and grief, the Phoenix arts community is preparing a tribute in keeping with Johnsons spirit: life-affirming, richly sensual -- anything but solemn. At 10 p.m. Saturday, June 20, a retrospective of loaned work by Johnson opens at the Icehouse, 429 West Jackson Street, during the Rose Johnson Memorial Service and Art Show. The celebration will feature live music, an altar by Joe Willie Smith, streaming audio reminiscences, a Suzanne Falk-organized performance art routine that includes 25 mermaids, and live painting to benefit Wings of the West, an artists memorial garden that will bring birds back downtown, says Icehouse proprietor Helen Hestenes.
Admission to the evening is free; bring your own beer, wine, and food for the potluck. The exhibition continues through June 27 by appointment only.