Malt Liquor is a Depression-era invention with sole intent to add more “kick” into post-prohibition brewing methods and World War II rationing. The brewing process applies more sugar than malt, producing a cheaper product, with an increased alcohol content. Early 1950’s saw the beverage marketed as the polite upscale gentleman’s productthe champagne dreams to the post-war middle class. Breweries produced names such as County Club, Olde English, University Club and XXX Crown. With the political change of the 1960’s civil rights movement and the 1970’s sexual revolution, malt liquor quickly transformed into the Colt 45 era with a lucky horseshoe and bucking bronco logo, then followed with cobras, stallions, bears, big cats and bulldogs—a marketing spectacle of erotic and masculine metaphor, giving way to cautionary tales with deadly signifiers and lurid ice-cold blooded seduction.

Todd Johnson lives and works in Portland, Oregon. He received his MFA in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute and is the founder and director of Black Box Gallery. Selected solo exhibitions include: The Misadventures of Ansel Adams: Garage Sales, Geotracking and General Tomfoolery at The Art Gym at Marylhurst and Dangerous Territory at Pacific Northwest Collage of Art. He has worked as an independent curator for the following selected exhibitions: Fashion and Fiction at Linfield College, Wild Wild West at Gallery Homeland and Domesticity: Deconstructing an American Pluralism at the Waiting Room. Johnson has served as portfolio reviewer for Photolucida and has juried The Drawers at Blue Sky Gallery.