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Works by John Behnke

     A fleet of squids drift heavenward, an empty town beneath. A candy-colored city lies half-submerged, barnacles accumulating over graffiti. In the worlds of John Behnke, the familiar and the fantastic collide, all depicted with vibrant hues and exquisite detail. “These places are like my playgrounds,” he says.

    Behnke’s take on the age-old tradition of landscape painting is personal and irreverent; his environments are wild mash-ups. They combine locations observed through Google Street View and places imperfectly remembered from his own childhood, along with pop-cultural artifacts. A map from a Nintendo 64 game and a set from “Twin Peaks” blend into the sites of the artist’s direct experience.


    Notably, these vivid places are devoid of people - the surfaces might glisten and buzz with life, but they’re “ghost towns.”The sole inhabitants are Behnke’s mythic creatures.“The Glass Carnival” presents scenes from two epics in the artist’s imaginative universe. There’s the tale of the squid exodus (in which a spreading plague forces a civilization of hyperintelligent cephalapods to flee their ocean floor home) - and then the ballad of the colossal peacock (in which the protagonist grows up among a family of robins, his out-of-stepness becoming an engine of resentment and explosive growth). Behnke presents these stories in vignettes, compelling fragments of complex dramas.


    The paintings incorporate an eclectic mix of media - acrylics, gouache, markers, gel pens, and others wash together into a

shimmering surface. The exhibition also features Behnke’s recent forays into ceramics, his fantastical characters stepping boldly into the third dimension. “I get annoyed by the limitations of one medium,” he says. And much like a squid ascending to the cosmos, John Behnke playfully resists limitations.

Shop this exhibition

Art from the show is available for purchase and ready for pick-up or shipping.

JB__BEAZZLEBUB__MM on Illustration Board_2023
JB_3squids (1)
JB__Before The Collapse__MM on Illustration Board_2023
JB__NEW PEACOCK__MM on Illustration Board_2023
JB__Piles of Plush__MM on Illustration Board_2023
JB__Resting Peacock__11x7.5x11_Ceramic_2023(1)
JB__Elephant Plush__ 10 x 7 x 5.5_MM Sculpture(2)
JB__Apple Tree__8x7x15_Ceramic Sculpture(1)
JB__Tree House__MM on Illustration Board_2023
JB (1)
JB__Stacked Box Buildings__MM on Illustration Board
JB__Roundabout__11x14_MM on Illustration Board
JB__Underbelly__MM on Illustration Board_2023
JB__Eastern Pearl__MM on Illustration Board
JB__Segregation__MM on Illustration Board_2023
JB__Hand__9x12221_MM on Ilustration Board_2023
JB__Lighthouse__8.5x11_MM on Illustration Board_2023
JB__Sea Dragon__MM on Illustration Board_2023

There's more to see

Project Onward believes we can inspire change by using art to promote empathy and reduce the stigma of mental illness and developmental disabilities. We seek to improve the self-image of artists by emphasizing the social and economic value of their work.


You can directly contribute to this belief and help improve the lives of each Project Onward artist by purchasing their work. Our online shop is open 24/7, and half of the sale for each original piece goes directly to the artist.

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