Visual Art

The Paintings of Paul Goodnight

By Bridgit Brown   |   Friday, July 13, 2012
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July 14, 2012

Cousins by the Dozens, Paul Goodnight.

If you have a thing for original art and you live and work in the city of Boston, you’ll really want to add a visit to Color Circle to your list of summer art stops. It’s a fully stocked distributor of museum-quality paintings and prints by the artist Paul Goodnight and his circle of friends.

Goodnight might be there when you stop in to this nifty two-room operation located in the historic Piano Factory. If you get to meet the artist featured in the newly published 100 Boston Painters, you’ll understand why he is being recognized as one of the 100 painters making the city of Boston a major contributor to international art.

The Smithsonian Institution owns a Paul Goodnight painting. Hollywood knows him very well. His works have appeared on The Cosby Show, Seinfeld, Arli$$, ER, and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Samuel L. Jackson, Wesley Snipes, and even Bishop Desmond Tutu have his paintings in their homes.

Getting his work into the living rooms of rich and famous people was not difficult for Goodnight, though he is humble about it. “I just needed to agree to the print release of my paintings. I was a purist at first, and I wasn’t into making prints of my work,” he told me on my visit.

Goodnight didn’t think that people would see his paintings on television either. But a good representative convinced him to allow one of his paintings to appear on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. “After that, the orders started coming in by the gallons,” he explained.

Goodnight’s work spills out of every corner of Color Circle, in bursts of color fine-tuned to the human body and motion. Color Circle is a haven for art lovers seeking African Americana images.

Trained in classical art, Goodnight attributes his distinct style to his use of unusual techniques and tools like volcanic ash, which he learned from an artist in Brazil.

“I’ve also been using a very fine faucet, which is another technique that I picked up from someone. My work is a combination of many styles.”

His urban scenes are highlighted with the golden trim of a tropical sun. His figures dance and shake off the radiance of the spectrum. His people are every shade of brown, some with red and golden tones. “I like the pastels of the Caribbean, and I use those colors in a lot of my work,” Goodnight said.

There is a story behind every painting. Ham and Egg Sandwich, for example, was inspired by a conversation that he had with his mentor, the American artist John Thomas Biggers.

Ham and Egg Sandwich, Paul Goodnight.

“He had asked me if I was committed,” said Paul, standing in front of this dreamy portrait of a woman sitting in a chair with a chicken and an egg at her head and a pig at her feet.

“I couldn’t believe that he was asking me that. I told him that I believed that I was. Then he said to me, ‘the difference between involvement and commitment is like a ham and egg sandwich.’ I pretended to know what he was talking about, even though I had no idea what he was saying. He often spoke in statements like that. But think about a ham and egg sandwich,” Goodnight proposed.

All I could conjure up was an image of a few slices of ham and an egg fried hard in between two slices of wheat bread. Of course, I didn’t tell Goodnight this. “I see,” I said. (In reality, I was lost.)

“The chicken was involved; she laid the egg,” said Goodnight, “but the pig was committed; gave his life.”

Color Circle is owned and operated by Paul, his wife, Bernice Robinson, and their daughter, Aziza Robinson-Goodnight. Located at 791 Tremont Street in, Color Circle is open Monday through Fridays, from 9am to 5pm and by appointment.


Playing Ball And Riding Bikes at Atlantic Wharf

By Mary Tinti   |   Thursday, July 12, 2012
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July 12, 2012

Baseball ephemera by Laura Davidson.

Most passersby the Atlantic Wharf building may not know this, but there is a wonderful little atrium space next to the parking garage and the offices of the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) that often plays host to an array of small art exhibitions. Commuters and Greenway strollers alike should take note and plan to duck in this summer to reminisce about playing baseball and riding bikes – two beloved pastimes, particularly popular this time of year that also just happen to be the subjects of two adjacent shows.

Play Ball! is a quirky amalgam of baseball-themed prints, paintings, collage, photographs and drawings pulled together in a kind of homage to a century of baseball in Boston. While references to Fenway Park and Red Sox hometown heroes are plentiful, the vibe on display here is also tinged with a general love for the game (which is perfect for a Boston transplant like me who happens to live in a diehard Mets household). With baseballs, batters, diamonds, tickets and more rendered in a range of media by over ten different Fort Point artists, viewers can get their self-guided sports fix while simultaneously familiarizing themselves with some of the neighborhood’s artists.

And, once you’re done playing ball, you can join in the conversation about bicycles happening over at the BSA Space. As Let’s Talk About Bikes makes clear, the decision to trade in four wheels for two need not be relegated to weekends in June, July, and August; it may well be the key to better living in our communities year round. With the help of innovative urban planning; sleek, versatile, locally designed bikes; and some creative approaches to making our city as bike friendly as possible, Boston could be paving the way for a safer, more ubiquitous and enjoyable biking experience for all.

The artistry of this exhibition lies not only within the design of the cycling equipment on display, but also in the way that didactic factoids pop up in little thought bubbles on the walls and floor. The entire experience is cleverly curated by Chris Grimley, Michael Kubo, and Mark Pasnik of over,under, in whose hands the subjects of Let’s Talk About Bikes become striking minimalist sculptures that, when removed from their function, underscore the simple beauty of the bicycle in both concept and contour all the more.

Play Ball! – Fort Point Artists Honor 100 years of Boston Baseball
Featuring the work of Laura Davidson, Leslie A. Feagley, Joanne Kaliontzis, Ian Kennelly, Andrew Kirby, Elisa H. Hamilton, Jean Hangarter, Karen McFeaters, Danny O, Sylvia Stagg-Giuliano, Anne Welch
July 2-October 26, 2012
Opening Reception: July 26, 5:00pm-8:00pm
The Atlantic Wharf Gallery
280 Congress Street, Boston MA


Let’s Talk About Bikes
June 12-August 31, 2012
Boston Society of Architects
290 Congress Street, Suite 200
Boston, MA

Ephemera by Laura Davidson


WGBHArts Goes West to Explore... Canada at MASS MoCA

By Kris Wilton   |   Saturday, July 7, 2012
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July 7, 2012

Widow, 2012 (Janice Wright Cheney, b. 1961, Montreal, Canada)

With its immense scale, giant machinery and surprises at every turn, Mass MoCA feels like a huge, post-industrial grown-up’s playground.

The marquis exhibition at the moment is Oh, Canada, a survey of Canadian art which, according to the wall text, “does not pretend to define a country as expansive and intricately layered as Canada, though it provides insight through more than 100 artworks into some of the country’s most noteworthy art practices and ideas.”

The show makes good use of the former factory’s cavernous rooms, with many works as generously scaled as our northern neighbor. Installations the size of small rooms dominate, along with videos and large-scale photographs.

Certain Canadian themes are apparent — lonely, icy landscapes; environmental concerns; wry humor; DIYism; an obsession with forest creatures, especially human-forest-creature hybrids — but for those of us unversed in contemporary Canadian art, which I’ll assume is, oh, just about all of us (eh?), much of the significance is about as accessible as the Canadian tundra in February. I know this because I read in entirety curator Denise Markonish’s 38-page essay for the exhibition catalog, due out in July, and realized I’d missed about 98 percent of what was actually going on. Those 100 blobs hanging from the ceiling in Thanatos are actually Remembrance Day poppies entombed in dozens of layers of paint and left to die? Those disease cells illustrated in bright, sparkly glass-bead embroidery are the ones that have wiped out native populations? Fascinating! But how was I to know?

[Note to curators: Wall texts? Yes please! Give us at least a fighting chance…]

Of course some of the stuff is great in and of itself, but after the show’s overarching inscrutability, the ongoing Sol LeWitt wall drawing retrospective upstairs is especially satisfying, a fun immersion into color, line, and pattern that can be appreciated with or without its conceptual and historical significance.

Included in Invisible Cities: No Way Out, 2002 (Carlos Garaicoa)

Invisible Cities, ten reimaginations of “urban landscapes both familiar and fantastical” is also stunning (I especially loved Lee Bul’s contribution). And be sure to check out All Utopias Fell – an installation by Michael Oatman in the plant’s oh-so-industrial-chic Boiler Plant involving a 1970s Airstream trailer repurposed for what seems like time travel, or waiting out the apocalypse —especially if, like me, you’ve got a sci-fi buff in tow (or are one yourself). Then, before you leave, to have a go on the giant swings suspended under an overpass and let all the sensory and aesthetic overload sink in.

Oh, Canada through April 1, 2013

Invisible Cities through February 4, 2013

Michael Oatman: All Utopias Fell through November 4, 2012

Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective ongoing

Mass MoCA
1040 Mass MoCA Way
North Adams, MA  01247
(413) 662-2111

James Aponovich: A 52 Week Painting Marathon

By Mary Tinti   |   Thursday, July 5, 2012
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July 5, 2012

James Aponovich AP52 / Wk 7 “Bowl of Fruit with Flame Orange Tissue,” 2011.
Photo courtesy of the Clark Gallery website.

There is much more to the luscious legumes, beautiful botanicals, and teasing trompes l’oeil still life paintings of Aponovich 52 than meets the eye…

In a bold and admirable maneuver, New England painter James Aponovich gave himself an artistic endurance challenge: to complete a painting a week for 12 months straight–a creative marathon of sorts that concluded earlier this June. The results of this endeavor–all 52 of them–are currently on view at the Clark Gallery in Lincoln, MA, but the paintings themselves are only part of the story; the rest, perhaps even more intriguing than the artworks, can be found on the Aponovich 52 blog.

This online companion to the exhibition allowed curious fans to follow Aponovich’s race to the finish in real time, much like one might track the splits for an elite runner. Each blog post came to include preview images of his weekly creations and became a vehicle through which the artist could share thoughts about his techniques, influences, and overall painting philosophy.

In the words of Aponovich: “Artists, by the nature of their work, are solitary. Our most important hours are invisible to the public…We are judged not by our effort but by the end product...the art. But most art is not entirely successful; it only points the way for improving on the next attempt….True success is simply starting again, striving for something ineffable, unrealized and unimagined.”

With these musings in mind, Aponovich 52 can be understood as far more than an entertaining exhibition gimmick: it’s a self-imposed throw down to bring some closure to the stacks of unfinished paintings in his studio and create an online community to help cut through the loneliness so often felt by artists toiling away in isolation. Now that the painting marathon is complete, the blog serves as a tremendously valuable archive of the journey and an incomparable resource for understanding the process behind each of the works in the show.

I recommend experiencing Aponovich 52 as I did: take in the paintings in person at Clark Gallery and then follow that real-life encounter with an eye-opening visit to the Aponovich 52 blog so as to learn the behind the scenes stories from the best source possible: the artist, himself.

James Aponovich - Aponovich 52
June 12th – July 29th, 2012
Clark Gallery
145 Lincoln Road
Lincoln, MA 01773
Gallery Hours: Tuesday - Thursday 10:00 - 6:00, Friday & Saturday: 11 - 6:00, and anytime by appointment


Egypt and Roxbury Connect Through Visual Art

By Bridgit Brown   |   Saturday, June 30, 2012
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June 30, 2012

Egyptian Moments, Roxbury Connections (image courtesy of ArtROX!).

BOSTON, MA - The American Islamic Congress (AIC) promotes the exchange of ideas between Muslims and non-Muslims. One noteworthy and creative exchange that they are sponsoring is Egyptian Moments, Roxbury Connections. This is an exhibit of works by five ArtROX! artists who traveled to Egypt on separate occasions. Their discoveries of the place were discussed at length at a gallery talk held this week at the AIC's center on Newbury Street in Boston.

Snapshots of Ekua Holmes' visit adorn one of the side walls in the center's gallery. These photographs are framed with papyrus that Holmes marked up with silver hieroglyphs. They capture everyday scenes like the auto parts merchant with his refurbished mufflers that stem from a metal pole or a quiet moment at the river.

“From a tourist’s standpoint,” said Holmes, “Egypt is known for the little papyrus paper with drawings that are replicas of things that are inside the pyramids. I didn’t want to just put them in a frame, but to look at my preconceptions about Egypt, like the Sphinx, and the pyramids, and the papyrus, and all those symbols of Egypt juxtaposed with what I actually saw there. So these symbols on the frames come out of the hieroglyphic tradition, but the pictures are of what I actually saw.”

Lucilda Dassardo-Cooper used multiple media to document her experience, including video, prose, and oil on canvas. Of all the media that she used, the paintings speak most clearly about what she saw and how she experienced Egypt. One illustrates a street scene in a very modern Egypt where two women are standing at a busy city intersection. This could be any intersection in the world, but look closer and the Pharisee and winged Egyptian gods are standing with the women, too.

Hakim Raquib traveled from Cairo to the Red Sea and said he spent a lot of his time in the desert. One of his photos is a larger-than-life-sized image of a camel’s foot; and another is a highly digitized image of an Arab drummer in motion. “I was very interested in the Nubian culture, which was a little bit different from the Egyptian experience,” said Raquib.

Derek Lumpkins photos of mosques stemmed from his need for “an oasis.” He said that overpopulated Cairo drove him to these holy temples for their peace and solace. “I was completely caught off guard by the city,” Lumpkins exclaimed. “It’s 18 million people living, working, and breathing, and it was hard for me to process what was going on and take it all in until I was at the mosques because they were more quiet.”

In another part of the gallery, Basil El-Halwagy presented Electrostar, a six-foot-tall superhero in a blue spangled suit with a crown of many stars on his head. El-Halwagy said his inspiration came from being Egyptian American and living in Egypt as a child.

“Electrostar represents a perfect clockwork in harmony with the universe,” said El-Halwagy. “It’s called Electrostar because it’s both inspired by arabesque architecture and the stars and shapes that you see in these patterns, but it was also inspired by an experience of mine in my physics class.”

Egyptian Moments, Roxbury Connections is on display at the American Islamic Congress Center until July 14, 2012.

American Islamic Congress
38 Newbury Street
Suite 702
Boston, MA  02116
(617) 266-0080

An Art Lover's Destination: Monhegan Island, Maine

By Arthur Smith   |   Saturday, June 30, 2012
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June 30, 2012

Jamie Wyeth's home in Monhegan Island's Lobster Cove.

A few years back I told an acquaintance about my favorite New England summer destination, Monhegan Island, a tiny, artist-infested rock nine miles from the Maine coast.

“Ugh!” was the quick response. “Mosquitoes, no place to eat, the residents act like they wish you weren’t there, and enough already with staring at the sea." Her one trip had been, it seemed, an unmitigated bummer.

I start with that less-than-ringing endorsement to make it clear that this spot—one that has captured a permanent place in my partner’s heart and mine—is emphatically not for everybody. But for art lovers with a taste for nature, and who don’t mind an ocean-sized dose of Down East quirky aloofness, it’s a blue jewel of a destination.

The island, which you get to by taking a ferry from one of three mid-coast harbors, earned its nickname, "The Artists' Island," early. For a least a century and a half, artists and art teachers have been making summer excursions there, a hardy few becoming year-around residents. The roll call is impressive: the first generation included Robert Henri (1865-1929), credited with inspiring the Ashcan School of urban realism in American art, though he was also drawn to natural vistas. Henri's student George Bellows (1882-1925) painted here, as did his contemporaries Edward Hopper (1882-1967) and Rockwell Kent (1882-1971). Kent not only painted on the island but taught and built a number of the island homes, including the one now occupied by Jamie Wyeth (b. 1946) current representative of the painting dynasty that began with another Monhegan painter,
N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945), familiar for his vivid illustrations of classic novels.

Later generations of painters were enticed as well. Some came as students of Henri's circle, and often worked in similar realistic styles. Others found the island on their own, and brought a diversity of approaches. Reuben Tam (1916-1991) painted here, perhaps finding echoes of his native Hawaii on the island, creating glowing expressionist images of the cliffs. New York portraitist and landscape painter Fairfield Porter (1907-1975) worked here, as did Lawrence Goldsmith (1916-2004), notable for his watercolor landscapes. James Fitzgerald (1899-1971), an iconic New England artist born in Milton and educated at Mass Art, returned every summer for nearly 30 years. Lynne Drexler (1928-1999) had a vibrantly colorful take on Monhegan, tapping a palette shaped by New York abstraction of the 1960s, adapted to Monhegan subjects and sensibilities. She wintered for many years on the island.

The current crop of artists on the island includes Frances Kornbluth (b. 1920), a visionary abstractionist and student of Tam’s who has open studios twice a week. Her latest works, a series began in her 90s, are large black-and-white paintings and assemblages, both fearsome and delicate. Others whose works have intrigued me include painters Elena Jahn, Joan Rappaport, Joanne Scott, Arline Simon, and sculptor Mike Stiler. These and many others offer open studios and most of them show at the island's Lupine Gallery. Each summer a residency brings a new artist to the island.

The Monhegan Museum keeps tabs on this remarkable legacy of painting, and is also connected to the current arts community on the island. Each year curator Emily Grey mounts a special exhibition; this year’s is A Sense of Place: Representational Painting on Monhegan, 1950-2000, opening July 1.

I spoke with her about the exhibition, which focuses on how realist painting continued on the island even as abstraction as a style came to Monhegan in a big way in the 1960s. She explained that an exhibit like this is a community endeavor: “One of the wonderful aspects of this show, and really all shows at the museum, is that nearly all of the works are lent by people from the community. And the community is such that some of the research for the show can literally be done while walking through the village since you can count on running into somebody who was either friends with or related to one of the artists in the show.”

Monhegan Harbor by Aldro T. Hibbard.

You can also see the vistas, often unchanged, that these painters depicted. Emily sent me one such view - “Monhegan Harbor,” by Aldro T. Hibbard - as a preview of the show. Other artists include Jacqueline Hudson, Lee Winslow Court, and Fred Wiley, all of whom happen to have strong Cape Ann, MA, connections. Wiley is one of a number of painters who have never been shown before at the museum. These new discoveries will take their place beside the familiar names of Andrew Wyeth and Rockwell Kent. (Even more island art is up at Rockland's Farnsworth Art Museum, which has Jamie Wyeth, Rockwell Kent and Monhegan on display through December.)

The Monhegan Museum sits on the island's tallest point, next to the lighthouse. The view takes in the village, with artists, lobstermen, tourists, and other diverse species of endearingly cranky New Englanders moving about below. But beyond that is the reason that anybody–painter or no–is drawn to this place: the restorative rhythm of the sea, cycles of waves, the reassurance of sunrises, sunsets ("gin and tonic o'clock" in my book, and I bet in a few artists’ as well), and the dim beckoning of a coast you’ve left behind. So, book your ticket, grab a canvas, a camera, and a journal and head out. We will be doing so once again this year, and, with any luck, for many years to come.

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More information about Monhegan Island: http://www.monheganwelcome.com/

About the Authors
Bridgit Brown Bridgit Brown
Bridgit Brown is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Emerson College ('98). She was a Fulbright Lecturing and Research Scholar in Cote d'Ivoire, West Africa, and her writing has appeared in the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Bay State Banner, Color Magazine, BasicBlack.org: Black Perspectives Now, Colorlines of Architecture, Exhale Magazine, Ibbetson Street Magazine, and Somerville Review.
Mary Tinti Mary Tinti
Mary is a Koch Curatorial Fellow at the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. On her blog, Dress For Sports, she says, "I love innovative public art, creative design, and unique intersections of architecture, sculpture, and installation.  And I love stumbling upon cool collisions of art and everyday life." Mary has a Ph.D. in art history from Rutgers University.

Kris Wilton Kris Wilton
Kris is a freelance arts journalist who has contributed reported pieces and reviews to outlets including the Huffington Post, Slate.com, Artinfo.com, Modern Painters, Art+Auction, Art New England, New England Home, Entertainment Weekly, the Village Voice, Bostonist.com, ARTnews, Philadelphia Weekly, Emerging Photographer, Photo District News, and RL Magazine.
Arthur Smith Arthur Smith
Arthur Smith is the former editor of WGBHArts. Executive producer for digital education at WGBH, Arthur, an amateur pianist and singer, was previously a freelance classical music reviewer for the Washington Post for 9 years. He has also worked at an opera company, and ran the information service and publications programs for OPERA America, the national service organization for the art form.  Since 1991, he has been the program annotator for Vocal Arts DC, a classical song recital series based at Washington's Kennedy Center. 

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