JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — A renowned innovator in the art world is displaying multi-media works at Atelier 133 (Fischman Gallery) in downtown Johnson City beginning with Friday’s opening reception.

Ron Fondaw’s “Drawing Outside the Lines” show features abstract art that, like his work in general, revolves around the freedom and plasticity of drawing even though the media range from clay, iron and glass sculptures to paintings and fabric.

Abstract artist Ron Fondaw in front of one of his works on display through April 23 at Fischman Gallery in downtown Johnson City, Tenn. (WJHL photo)

“To me, drawing is an attitude,” Fondaw said several hours before the 6-9 p.m. opening reception Friday. “It’s one of spontaneity, intuition, quantum and holistic.

“So it’s not based on planning, it’s based on interpreting what’s happening in front of you at the moment. All of this work, whether it’s in ceramics or glass or cast iron even carries that attitude with it I think, imbibed in it. That’s how it came into being.”

Fondaw, who moved to Johnson City three years ago from western North Carolina, said he relies on abstraction in his art to help focus people’s attention inward.

“It casts us inward to find that connection, almost like an ink blot test, ‘what is this?’ a Rorschach test,” he said while standing in front of one of five “lenticular” frames that each contains three separate drawings in layers. The glass lenses allow a moving viewer to see the forms shift between one another.

“What I’m hoping is that people once they cast themselves inward will bump around in there and find something new.”

Fondaw said he began looking for a gallery to host what he expects will be his first of numerous shows in his recently adopted home. He found Atelier 133 the best spot and said he hopes to become part of Johnson City’s blossoming art community.

One of Fondaw’s works will grace a banner when the art on them gets swapped out in June.

“I’m trying to navigate those systems in the city and become an integral part of the community in whatever way.”

Fondaw said he tries to work with materials as they are, not shape them into a representative form he’s already conceived in his mind.

Fondaw said he ascribes to the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, which is that an artist reveals the essence of the materials.

“I’m not trying to disguise iron from being iron, I’m trying to bring out the iron, I’m trying to bring out the clay, I’m trying to bring out ‘what is glass.’ So it’s not for everybody you know. It’s got some rough edges maybe, but to me those rough edges are entry points into the artwork.”

Some of the works in the show are new, and all of them have been created within the last eight years or so of a career that spans decades.

Fondaw, who has received numerous grants and fellowships for his work including from the Guggenheim, the Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, will give an artist’s talk in the gallery at 10:30 a.m. April 15.

“The topic of it is touching the spiritual through abstract art, building on what Kandinsky wrote called The Spiritual in Art,” Fondaw said. “Then the Los Angeles County Museum … put on a 100-year survey of all abstract painters and that was the name of the exhibition, “The Spiritual and Abstract Painting.”

Fischman Gallery is free and open to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.