Best Visual Artist - 2008
Whenever we hear about a new show featuring the work of Long Beach sculptor/doodler Kiel Johnson, we drop whatever we're doing and scamper over, hooting excitedly. Johnson fills large canvases with drawings of bizarre contraptions of his own devising, incredibly complicated, crowded, cartoony cities where highways tangle together like the power cords beneath your desk. He also builds crazy stuff out of cardboard—little urban landscapes, intimidatingly large cameras, life-size submarines that poke their periscopes out of the gallery floor. His cartoons feel weirdly solid and real, while his physical objects are like cartoons come to life. Johnson has created his own wonderful world, distinct from ours, but always open to visitors.