Saturday, June 09, 2012

Amy Goodwin: What She Saw

What She Saw, a show of paintings by Amy Goodwin at the Albright Gallery(Concord, Ma; Spring 2012) delivered a complete vision:  fresh, a black belt in invention, a retinal tiramisu, a thoughtful and thoroughly considered body of work that resonated with purpose, depth of meaning, and passion. Color, texture, composition and mark! Amy Goodwin carved and forged and nurtured these paintings. She Lewis and Clarked them! She planted her flag in them! And she nailed the dismount!

These are predominantly flower paintings. So you get the idea. And then they are not. Amy Goodwin takes flowers and considers them from every perspective, in every light: first and foremost as just flower, then as flower image, flower idea, flower sign, flower template, flower decal, flower power, flower self-portrait, flower familiar, flower spirit, flower dream, flower memory, flower after-image, etc. They scrape, they day-glow, they drip, they pastel, they articulate, inseminate, and mandate! They are flat, layered, painterly, collaged, post-painterly, Madison Avenue, and Emily Dickinson. They honor Warhol, late Derain, Marimekko, and Mary-Mary-quite-contrary.  And they do it all at once, seamlessly. They are both rat-tat-tat and ommmmmmmm! What we get as viewer reads on all of those levels, and Goodwin would have it no other way. You go around once, and you want it all. These are flower paintings as Icarus, and they are headed straight for the sun.

The show is titled "What She Saw," but it's more like a line from an old Talking Heads song than something literal. These aren't still-life paintings even when they look that way. They have an edge. They muse. And they have a sense of irony and humor. In many ways What She Saw is more about what Jesus Christ saw hanging on the cross in Scorcese's The Last Temptation of Christ: that rapid fire of La Dolce Vita, remembered and imagined, the blood, sweat and tears, flashing before your eyes in a staccato circle of fifths climbing up your DNA code into Dorothy's twister funnel above, coalescing into a painting, stilled into a painting, recorded into a painting, only to be a spring-board for more of the same ad infinitum. Her paintings are peopled with family, friends, gods and all god's creatures, even when you can't see them. Everything that matters to her gets stirred into their swirl, mixed into their perfume, floated into their vortex, pressed into their petals, coded into their message. Amy Goodwin is the Little Prince and her paintings are the story of her little planet. 

It is easy to forget about what is really at work in art, but what is at work, behind all of the ART, is play. Amy Goodwin finds what she finds through the act of play. Carl Jung gave art as play as the gateway to revelation his blessing and 20th century artists said thank you very much. Goodwin muses in her garden, Little Prince on her Little Planet, wandering in the garden, wondering in the garden, and her paintings are her gift. Look what I found, she says, holding her prize up to us in both hands cupped and outstretched. Les grandes personnes sont...bizarres.

Flowers are a gift. They hurt not. They bring us love. They are life for life's sake, beauty for beauty's sake, a smile for a smile's sake. Amy Goodwin brings us roses, or daisies, or dandelions. They're a little more complicated, but they deliver!

Addison Parks
Spring Hill