Solo Exhibition Series: Neil Goodman in the Park
June 28, 2010 – October 31, 2011
(The essay below was written for the exhibition and has been modified to reflect the fact that the presentation is past)
If you thought you were familiar with
Neil Goodman’s large scale sculpture, then "Neil Goodman in the Park"
proved to be a revelation. Goodman’s work is often associated with the
gritty industrial surroundings that he views on his daily trip to work –
the iron and steel factories and refineries of northwest Indiana. It
has been seen in galleries with strong architectural settings where its
presence is signaled by a quiet assertiveness.
The installation at the Nathan
Manilow Sculpture Park provided the viewer with an opportunity to
re-assess the artist’s hand. Goodman placed the work in an open, grassy
glade interspersed with trees and flanked by shrubs near the
university’s east entrance. In this setting, contrasting with the
riotous backdrop of the hedgerow, the sculptures revealed the artist’s
attention to detail and his unerring sense of original, yet quirkily
But first you had to find them. Goodman
generally sculpts with a refined line, not mass. Beautifully controlled,
modulated, and articulated line. The artist’s energetic line, matte
black and cast in fiberglass, might recall sumi e brushstrokes, almost
calligraphic in their articulation of form against the lush green
surroundings. Four of the five pieces are bravura displays of what the
artist does best: creating sculptural presence from empty space. Never
an outline; these linear pieces are forms consumed with defining space,
and, more particularly, volume. And what volume!
As you approached the open side of
"Wind," the artwork beckoned you forward and fairly begged you to step
through its open “door.” But the visitor hesitated as they stood between
the sculpture’s “leaves.” Once you’d entered this area, the edges of
the sculpture disappeared from your peripheral vision. You were forced
to crane your neck to follow the line and in this process survey the
space – the volume – in which you stood. Of course, this piece, like
several others in the group, worked as a framing device as well,
providing a focus for our gaze as we surveyed the entire installation.
"Ray" and "Alcance" (translated from
Spanish, Alance means Reach) are the two most clearly related works.
"Ray" appears pyramidal (and, indeed, it might be instructive to compare
it to Richard Hunt’s "Outgrown Pyramid II," which was sited not more
that 30 yards away), but it is missing a third “foot” which would make
it so. Goodman casually referred to the piece as ‘jaws’ and the gaping
opening could be a stand-in for a toothless Great White’s grin. Unlike
"Wind," the scale of Ray discouraged entry; the space is uncomfortably
angular and the apex of the vertical section stands about head-high on
an adult. Again, the artist orchestrated our response to implied volume.
"Alcance is different altogether." It is
significantly larger and its legs, catching the light on their softly
curved flanks, seem to pulse. Modulated edges hint at interior movement
of water or, perhaps, the growth pattern of some sort of stalk. Where
"Ray" is all about open angles, "Alcance" is all about closing, as if
the piece were about to snap shut if we ventured too close or too far
inside. Its cantilevered, acute triangles seemed to push the limits of
self support – seem to reach – to the point of uncomfortableness.
In the context of the aforementioned
works, "Ballast" was almost the anti-Goodman work. Visually heavy,
massed, and repeating, the piece made formal reference to Constantin
Brancusi’s "Endless Column" without quoting it. With "Ballast," the
artist pushed himself, setting and reaching the goal of creating a work
which sucked the viewer’s attention into its solidity, into the black,
articulated mass of the work, refusing to trade on the ethereal openness
of his other pieces in the exhibition. "Ballast" provided an excellent
opportunity to examine Goodman’s surface treatment. We could see gentle
scoring and scumbling of the original, wax surface that had been cast in
fiberglass. This activates the matte black forms and reveals the hand
of the artist.
Often, guileless simplicity can provide
complex encounters. Take an ‘X’. Find a way to articulate it in
3-dimensional space. Knock it off balance. The open/closed form of "Four
Corners" built on a simple theme creating movement and surprise as you
examined the many interrelationships of form that occurred as planes and
lines overlapped, intersected, and rearranged themselves with
Walking among these works, the visitor
quickly recognized an inviting presence in the consistently original,
yet comfortable, forms Neil Goodman presented. In this setting, visitors
began or renewed their acquaintance with this artist’s sculpture and
enjoyed the counterpoint of natural form which surrounded it.
Experiencing "Neil Goodman in the Park" presented viewers with an
opportunity unavailable within the confines of a gallery: the time and
chance to search for and find these almost invisible artworks within the
landscape. With his art, Neil Goodman asks us to move inside the work,
to physically become part of his vision. We are happy to do so.
Checklist of the exhibition
127 x 79 x 198
36 x 175 x 36
89 x 110 x 74
19 x 149 x 84
94 x 205 x 109
All works cast fiberglass. All works were made in 2004.
Born: 1953, Hammond, IN
Tyler School of Art, Temple University, (1977-1979) M.F.A. Sculpture and Ceramics, Philadelphia, PA
Kansas City Art Institute, (1977) Post Graduate Studies in Sculpture, Kansas City, MO
Indiana University, (1971-76) B.A. Fine Arts, Religious Studies, Bloomington, IN
Neil Goodman has exhibited his work both
nationally and internationally, and has had numerous one-person
exhibitions throughout the country. His sculpture has been commissioned
and collected by museums, corporations, convention centers, parks,
synagogues, universities, and private collectors. Goodman’s sculpture
was included in the 1995 Museum of Contemporary Art’s opening exhibition
entitled the “History of Chicago Art 1945-1995.” His work has been
written about and reviewed in numerous catalogs and periodicals
including Art Forum, Art in America, Art News and Sculpture Magazine.
Neil Goodman lives in Chicago. He is currently represented by Perimeter Gallery.
Solo Exhibition Series:Sophie Ryder's Upside Down, Kneeling
May 1 - October 31, 2012
This is not Peter Rabbit.
While Sophie Ryder's menagerie of iconic and mythical beings may, at first glance, seem simply whimsical, while her work clearly reflects a traditional British interest in the animal world (see George Stubbs, or Francis Bacon, or Gooch, Garrard, or Ferneley, or yes, even Beatrix Potter), there is a post-Feminist edge present which elevates her artwork well past the invaders of Mr. McGregor's garden.
The hare is a nocturnal animal and widely associated with the phases of the moon as well as lust and fertility. Ryder's Lady-Hares are a personal invention - a bit of British wit, myth, and Surrealist sexuality. They are the artist's response to the Minotaur, which currently populates a host of video games but whose most important predecessor in art appeared as a recurrent symbol in Pablo Picasso's graphic work. While Picasso and numerous adolescent males fill their Minotaurs with masculine threat, Ryder's re-invented Minotaur exudes an attitude of protection, more partner than aggressor.
The wire-bound Lady-Hares seem available, but always on their terms. The scale has something to do with this . . . coming upon a Lady-Hare so large that we are dwarfed is, well, intimidating. With Upside Down, Kneeling Ryder presents us with her conundrum: Is this a woman wearing a full-head mask, or a mythic creature ready to mate?
Another astonishing aspect is the artist's command of an unruly material. Recognizing the expense and sheer difficulty of creating works this size in bronze (her early work is executed mostly in bronze), Ryder struck out on her own, developing and then mastering an approach in which she first establishes a solid stainless steel framework and then somehow coaxes and hammers skeins of wire into sculpture that looks rock solid from a distance but dissolves into a riot of gestural line as we approach.
Her mastery is evident in the "alive-ness" that she brings to her figure. The hands, feet, and head are rendered with remarkable subtlety. This becomes particularly evident in early morning or late afternoon sun. Then, we can observe Ryder's understanding of anatomy and gain a deeper appreciation of her achievement - that is, creating a personal, monumentally-scaled mythological universe and sharing it with us.
Checklist of the exhibition
Upside Down, Kneeling 2008
galvanized wire over stainless steel frame
Dimensions: 84 x 122 x 109
On loan from Karen and Robert Duncan
Born: 1963, London, England
Ryder studied at Kingston Polytechnic and the Royal Academy Schools in London, England.
Sophie Ryder's sculpture has been exhibited throughout Europe and North America. She is in the collections of numerous major museums and sculpture parks. The artist was the subject of Jonathan Benington's 2001 book Sophie Ryder, which includes interviews and extensive photography of both sculpture and the process by which Ryder creates.
Sophie Ryder lives with her daughters on Lampits Farm, in Cirencester, United Kingdom.
She is represented by Osborne Samuel Gallery in the U.K. and by Contessa Gallery in the United States.