Brenda Goodman at John Davis Gallery, Hudson

Because of the recent debacle wrapped in a fiasco enveloped in a brouhaha, my blogging schedule—to say nothing of my studio time—has been compromised. But art marches on. For this blog post it’s going it’s going to march backward a couple of weeks to my visit to Hudson, New York.

The John Davis Gallery on Warren Street in Hudson
Set alongside the river about two hours up the New York Thruway, Hudson is a small town that seems to have been revitalized by the galleries and antique shops that line Warren Street, its main drag.

Of the half dozen or so good galleries, the best by far is the John Davis Gallery, a small-town space with a New York sensibility. And I mean that as a compliment. The storefront gallery, with light pouring in around the exhibition walls which block the front windows, was showing Brenda Goodman’s powerful work, a selection of 20 years of paintings, mostly, and some work on paper. Davis himself was behind the desk, a slight figure radiating huge enthusiasm for the art that filled his space. .

In the front corner of the gallery, large and small. The large painting, right, is Crossing Over, 2009, oil on wood, 60 x 64 inches

I don’t know Brenda Goodman, but looking at her work with its robust, if slightly menacing forms, I see life crammed with energy and emotion. There’s pain there. Joy, too. And those passages of thick impasto—so beautiful, so messy—pull you close to the surface and then push you away, then pull you right in only to repel you once again. Viewing those paintings was a physical and emotional workout.
Formally Goodman is painting large areas against small passages, thick against thin, small figures against hulking abstract forms, raw emotion against the sheer material sensuality of the paint. Technically she’s a master. If I were to be flip, I would characterize her work as the lovechild of Philip Guston and Joan Mitchell on a bad day, no a good day, no a bad day, no a good day, but the fact is that Goodman is a singular painter doing brute and beautiful work. Her paintings in fact look like no one’s but her own.

Left, Hard Choice, 2010, oil on wood, 60 x 64 inches; right, Burial, 2010, oil on wood, 52 x 56 inches
Be sure to see the full view of Burial on the gallery's website. I find it immensely moving, suggestive of ancestral remains and recent loss. A scar carved into the surface seems new, raw, but perhaps it's an old wound reopened. The paint Goodman used to render the flat, map-like shape is probably iron oxide, the same mineral as earth and blood.
Two details of Burial, below


Above, Loss, 2009, oil on wood, 60 x 60 inches
Detail below

Goodman's show is over (it ran July 22-August 16), but you can see more of her work on the gallery blog, as well as Goodman’s own website and blog. There's a recent review by Eric Gelber at Art Critical. Keep her on your radar. Get to her next show.

Next post I’ll take you on a tour of the gallery’s Carriage House, an old building behind the storefront spce that’s filled with great art and all kinds of architectural fabulosity.


Nancy Natale said...

I love Brenda Goodman's work! I first became aware of it when David Brody at the Brooklyn Rail published a long interview with her in conjunction with her show at Rutgers. (This is an excellent interview with lots of images. I think Brenda has it on her website now Thanks so much for showing us the extreme closeups of that gutsy use of paint and mixed media in her work, Joanne. The emotion expressed in Brenda's work is overpowering. I have a hard time looking at it sometimes - and that's just online. I can't imagine what the feelings would be like in person. She is an under-recognized master and I hope she gets her due. It's pretty discouraging to see some of the crap that gets shown in Chelsea and then someone like Brenda ignored. Thank God for authentic and enthusiastic gallerists like John Davis who show work that deserves to be seen. (And for bloggers who post about it, I might add!)

Anonymous said...

If you had to be a "love child", that would be my choice of coupling. Love the work! Great Post! Thank you. Brenda Goodman's work is fantastic! We should all be so brave!

CMC said...

This work is just fabulous. Thank you for posting this, Joanne.I definitely will go check out the gallery site and her site to see more.

annell4 said...

Thank you for the post. I love to find a new artist to "love." It is as if cells are added to my body. New ideas and new thoughts, more to love. There can't be too many "good" artists, doing good work! It must have been wonderful, just what we dream about, to walk into John Davis' gallery and see this work!

Ian MacLeod said...

Thanks Joanne - her work is incredible - strong and full of emotion.

art_trudger said...

Nancy Natale said it ALL. Brenda Goodman is an under-recognized master painter. I truly believe she is the greatest living painter we have. Thank you for your review, and a huge thank you to John Davis for this remarkable exhibition.

Stephen Magsig said...

Brenda is a painters painter. I really liked your brute and beautiful work, comment. Right on. Thanks for posting.

Carla said...

I'm so thrilled to see this post about Brenda's wonderful work. I've yet to see it in person, but love seeing these gallery shots.

mirabelli said...

just discovered Brenda Goodman's work thanks to your blog. She is a great artist, thank you.

M.A.H. said...

I just recently discovered Brenda's work. Very powerful. Thanks for posting.

Lisa Pressman said...

So glad you saw the show. Great descriptions and images of an amazing inspiring painter.

Jackie Lipton said...

I love Brenda's work! Thanks for the great pictures, too!

Jackie Lipton said...

good blog too!