The Mindfulness of Jim Johnston

Editor’s Note: this piece originally appeared in Issue Zero of Tenth to the Fraser’s print magazine, April 2016 in a condensed format. This is the complete interview. 


Sarah Joyce, co-Curator/Director of the New Westminster New Media Gallery at the Anvil Centre shares a tour of the gallery with a regular visitor.   

I am moved every time I come in here. I’m always a better person for coming here. ~Jim Johnston

The first time we met Jim Johnston was shortly after the gallery opened. He was already a regular; a quiet fellow in a well-worn cap, sweatshirt, baggy pants. He began visiting the gallery at least three times a week; visits ranged from 15 to 60 minutes. His questions revealed an insight that surprised us. We saw a skilled observer with an ability to make connections, and a strong emotional intelligence.

Early on he mentioned that he had never been to a gallery before. He told us that one of the works in the Musicircus exhibition nearly brought him to tears. Our interest was piqued. Indeed, Christian Marclay’s Video Quartet is a breathtaking, four-screen video work that makes even the most hardened critics a bit wobbly.

Here’s the thing; Jim’s exploration of art is courageous, gutsy. His approach is what you long for as a curator. Open-minded, enthusiastic and curious ; this is the Jim Johnston we’ve come to know. You always hope the exhibitions you pull together will touch people in some way. Perhaps the works of art will change the way people see the world. Each exhibition is so brief; eight weeks and after that just a memory. Jim says he is a better person after coming to the gallery. And we are better for knowing Jim Johnston. He gives us hope for the future. Continue reading “The Mindfulness of Jim Johnston”