It’s All Goodyear (November/December 2010)

November / December 2010

By Chris Vitiello

And what is the predicament of the painter, a decade into the 21st century? After Modernists and Postmodernists have fought wars over abstraction and representation across canvasses now quietly hung in museums, what weapons, bandages, and tools remain for the contemporary studio painter to deploy?

Will Goodyear would answer, “All of them.”

Goodyear’s recent paintings can be read as an archive of the last 150 years of art, from the painterly gesture and the early days of photography, through improvisational elements of Abstract Expressionist non-objectivity, into a digital era in which images flutter through contexts like phantoms. On wooden panels layered with paint, beeswax, charcoal, oil pastel, and even tobacco juice, screen-printed buildings and historical scenes crouch beneath and jut into resonant skies. Upon eye contact, one is drawn into their atmospheric multiplicity, moving physically closer to them in order to see details open up.

Goodyear resolves these disparate aesthetics within uncomplicated compositions, the classical structure of which may be buried beneath literally ten or more layers. Balanced and simultaneous, these paintings stand as examples of why a trapeze artist is still called an artist.

Usually, at the beginning of an artist’s profile, their location is given with the word “based” after it, but even location is multiple right now for the 31-year-old Goodyear. He commutes several times a week between Greenville, where he is completing an MFA at East Carolina University and opening his thesis show November 5 at Emerge Gallery, and Raleigh, where he lives with his wife Debra and their young daughter Ainsley and shows work at Adam Cave Fine Art.

This commute leaves a visible, even filmic, impression on Goodyear’s paintings. The repetitive rushing-past of loblolly pines; the omnipresent sky, both exhilarating and ominous; the music blaring from the car’s stereo, ambivalent to the hurtling landscape—all of this informs a calm simultaneity in Goodyear’s work. If you’ve driven an eastern North Carolina interstate, you know this comfortable disorientation. It might not look like you’re getting anywhere regardless of your speedometer’s readout, but the landscape you’re speeding through is rich and varied, and eventually you arrive at your destination.

Goodyear himself is always both arriving and leaving. On the verge of finishing his studies, he’s living in both the present and the future, culminating his three years of school while seeking studio space and a new community of artists in the state capital. The key to his balancing it all is in those resonant skies.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s journal entry that “The sky is the daily bread of the eyes” rings true in Goodyear’s work. Color fields, whether hovering above overlapping skylines of contemporary Raleigh and Seattle or above turn-of-the-century rioters in Wilmington, occupy the majority of the paintings’ areas. They contrast the congested, urban areas constructed at the bottom of the picture. “It gives your eye a definite place to rest,” Goodyear explains. “You can look at all of this stuff down here and try to take it all in. And you can always retreat to this large area of a more peaceful aesthetic. I could describe that as my own little retreat.”

There’s nothing simple, however, about these skies. The intensely worked and layered surfaces change as one walks toward or away from them and the different materials at different layers of the mix emerge.

Gallery owner Adam Cave, who showed Goodyear’s work along with that of Annemarie Gugelmann in the “Metropolitans” show this past October, carries a painting from room to room to display its optical complexities: “I have never had an artist whose work changes color so dramatically from daylight to electric lights. Because he puts a lot of very strong color underneath, and covers it up, different kinds of lights pull it out.”

Cave points to Seattle Study, which appears to be a nightscape. “This painting goes from the very dark, somber, umber quality you see here in daylight to, when it’s all electric light, completely green. Its brightness is so strong that it doesn’t seem that much darker than this painting here.” Cave points to Large Building, Larger Sky, a diptych on hollow-core doors featuring Raleigh’s Wachovia building beneath an unmistakable Carolina noon.

“I work really quickly and really up close while the materials are wet, to build up layers without thinking too much about the composition or formal characteristics,” Goodyear says of his process. “Everything is done with a sense of immediacy.”

Although outlining and tracing finds its way into the work in small ways, Goodyear employs neither drawing nor collage in any way. His literal images come solely from screen printing, polymer lift, and Xerox transfer techniques.

“A lot of unpredictable things happen in the transfer process,” he explains. “You lose a lot of the image and then you can pull it back. Once I put that imagery down, drawing helps to fill in some of the gaps, and to bridge the two worlds: the photo imagery with the gestural paint and texture.”

The unpredictability and disrupted imagery is as much for the mind as for the eye. When Goodyear fragments or complicates a historical image, he is representing its social complexity as well, while avoiding painting from a soapbox.

This fall, he is hanging his thesis show, which explores the idea of the public monument, focusing specifically on how Charles Aycock—North Carolina’s governor from 1901 to 1905—has been memorialized and misremembered. In ten pieces, some inset within a large wall engraved with Aycock’s words, Goodyear deals with both Aycock’s legacy as an advocate of public education, and his uncelebrated white supremacist platform and involvement in the 1898 Wilmington race riots. “There’s very little out there in the form of public monument that tells anything else about his public legacy,” he points out.

In a work entitled A Champion of Public Education, Amongst Other Things, Goodyear’s layered sky around a bronze statue of Aycock can be read as being stained with either the blood of rioters or legislative ink, or simply as a weathered parchment in a public square.

Goodyear also gathers images that document or refer to the rest of the story. His research is not so much aimed at truth-telling as it is at complicating the idea of a one-to-one correspondence between memorial and man, and more generally, image and meaning. Multiple historical moments dwell in one painting, proximate and interpenetrated, because their politics are irresolvable. In the end, a monument really only stares back.

Occasionally, Goodyear’s research literally determines the materiality of the paintings—some of the Aycock-related work contains layers of tobacco stains, emphasizing the link between the political machinery of eastern North Carolina and the economic fuel that powers it. “Aesthetics are wonderful, but I hope to be able to add some depth and deal with some actual issues,” Goodyear says.

He has already placed a few paintings in corporate or work environments around the Triangle, and done commissions “dealing with the visuals of that particular place, dealing with what the people see who live there, work there.” Expressing his aspirations for a painting in an office building lobby, he says “It’s basically fancy wallpaper, but hopefully a handful of people are forming some kind of connections with it. Whatever I have to say is pretty much useless if I’m the only one looking at it.”

Cave sees big things in his future: “Will has demonstrated over and over again that he has the chops, the staying power, the focus, the professionalism—and he was doing it prior to going back to school.”

Goodyear’s paintings reward multiple viewings over time, and provoke considerations of one’s place and its history. Regardless of how his personal transitions affect the imagery and ideas on the panels, his work will exemplify Ezra Pound’s assertion that great art is “news that stays news.”

Artist’s Focus is Carolina Scenes (November 2010)

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

By Chelsea Kellner – Staff Writer

In Portugal, Joseph Cave painted bright light falling on red earth and tiled roofs, casting crisp shadows, unfiltered by the ever-present humidity of his boyhood home in the South. On the California coast, he captured grand vistas backed by mountains, with more of that pure, clear light. But when he moved back to the Carolinas 20 years ago, his work changed. “Here, the light is much softer,” Cave said. “Painting becomes much more intimate.”

A show of Cave’s work capturing the cafes and cotton fields of North and South Carolina will open this weekend at the Adam Cave Fine Art gallery on East Hargett Street as part of the First Friday event downtown. With the galleries and restaurants of downtown Raleigh open late at the once-a-month event, Cave is one of many artists whose work art lovers can peruse by strolling the streets and watching for the First Friday flags to identify participating venues.

At Cave’s show, locals may recognize the Berkeley Cafe, painted under a blue sky with the skyscrapers of downtown in the background, or Logan’s flower market from Seaboard Station, said Adam Cave, gallery owner and the artist’s son. He also specializes in coastal scenes and floral paintings.

“It’s subject matter that people love and understand and respond to,” Adam Cave said. “It doesn’t require a master’s degree in art history to understand it.”

Cave’s style has undergone a dramatic revolution since his days as an art student at the University of Georgia in 1954. Cave started out as an abstract expressionist, working in an isolated cubicle facing a blank wall with his inner life as the only material from which to draw inspiration.

“Doing something that had never been done before was the preoccupation, but it was almost like all the doors had been opened and closed by the time I came along,” Cave said. “You were always seen to be parroting somebody who was already established.”

After a stint in the Army, Cave enrolled in the San Francisco Art Institute to learn from a group called the Bay Area Figurative Painters who were gaining renown for their return to using subjects in their artwork.

“It had dawned on me that you could have more stimulation if you reverted to nature, because it’s always different and challenging,” Cave said.

Being able to paint from life was more fun, he said, especially because his abstract training had taught him how to work with only color and lines to design a compelling canvas.

Cave’s work in the Carolinas has been praised as “splendor without sentimentality” by Jim Fitch, director of the Rice Museum in Georgetown, S.C. The phrase appears in an essay Fitch penned for the first book of Cave’s paintings just published by his son’s gallery.

Cave’s work has been much collected locally in his two decades painting North Carolina. His work has hung in local restaurants and sports stadiums, as well as in private homes. Greensboro real estate developer Alex Gold owns six of Cave’s canvases. He can’t quite pinpoint what it is he loves about their depiction of scenes around Hillsborough and Apex, but in 20 years, he hasn’t tired of them.

“Picasso is out of my price range, but Joe Cave is the next best thing, as far as I’m concerned,” Gold said. “They have a depth to them I really enjoy.”

Supporting Art in Hard Times (January 2010)

Visual Art 
27 January 2010

Prints for the people
By Dave Delcambre

American Realism from the WPA Era
Adam Cave Fine Art
Through Feb. 16

More than 200,000 works of art were produced under the auspices of the famed Depression-era Works Progress Administration. The WPA’s Federal Art Project (FAP) was founded in 1935 as an important plank of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and remained in existence until 1943. Several works produced under this regime can be seen this month in a print show on view at Adam Cave Fine Art.

By government mandate, the WPA bore the challenge of establishing a conceptual framework for art that suited American culture. In other words, it needed to be democratic and accessible, rather than theoretical or elitist. Accordingly, the FAP program is especially known for the myriad public art projects it supported, such as murals and posters placed in post offices, schools, libraries, hospitals and other public settings .

Less well known, however, is the large number of printmakers who participated in the program. Printmaking in the 1930s was an established popular form, and many viewers were already accustomed to handcrafted visual artwork. With this built-in audience in mind, the FAP began providing access to materials, presses, print workshop support and even educational assistance when needed. Printmaking is demanding, process-oriented and often a team effort; its resemblance to traditional guilds only aided the artists’ identification with their working-class subjects.

The printmakers found a kinship with workers who were struggling through the Depression. In this show, you can find images of a construction worker signaling a crane operator, steel workers riding a beam high above a New York skyline, a potter turning a bowl in the studio and farmers tending the rolling hills of their farmland. Well-known artists like Grant Wood, John Marin, Rockwell Kent and Thomas Hart Benton are represented, as well as less familiar names, such as Herschel Levit, Lawrence Kupferman and Reynold Weidenaar—whose image of a locomotive factory is jaw-dropping in its intricacy and line work and is, in fact, worth a visit by itself.

The show is timely with its overtones of WPA optimism situated within perilous economic times that echo our own—although today’s audiences might wonder where the optimism is now. Still, Raleigh is working to broaden the presence of art in the community, notably through its belated half-percent for public art initiative, which is already facing criticism in its association with the proposed $205 million Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center. Now is a time to consider what a show of Depression-era art has to tell us about the relationship between artists and their communities.

Back in the day, the FAP got it right. Would that today’s crisis were met with a similar largeness of spirit and purpose. Artists working today deserve the same assistance and opportunities provided in the Great Depression. The fact that we still celebrate the work of the WPA era shows what a worthwhile investment it was.

Depression-Era Art Carries Timely message (January 2010)

Life, etc. 
Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

By Luciana Chavez, Staff Writer

RALEIGH – Shadows of the past will creep up on the present if an upcoming art exhibit, depicting America after the Great Depression, accomplishes its goal.

Adam Cave Fine Art will display and sell 25 prints depicting “American Realism from the WPA era” starting Jan. 22. The pieces capture America at a time of great economic turmoil, when the U.S. government created agencies such as the Works Progress Administration to put people back to work.

Gallery owner Adam Cave thinks the themes in the show will resonate with Americans wrestling with the current recession.

“In the fine art world, it’s not always easy to put on an exhibit that is timely from a social or political perspective,” Cave says. “We’re excited to be doing that, too.”

A third of the pieces, all owned by a single collector, were made under the auspices of the WPA. The others are similar in theme, content and time period to the WPA works.

The artistic legacy of the WPA era can be seen in murals created for government buildings, in the way the art was shared in schools and libraries, thus making it more democratic and accessible, and through the growth of the American Realism and Regionalism movements.

“The idea that metro areas or institutions like New York City, which had become the major art center of that time, and Wall Street were on the wrong track goes with the idea that an Iowa farmer or Missouri cattle raiser, who represent other parts of America, should be represented in art as well,” says Timothy Riggs, curator of collections at the Ackland Art Museum at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The exhibit features works by Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood, the man behind the iconic piece “American Gothic.” Both are considered experts of Regionalism.

“What regionalists benefitted from to some extent was a general disillusion in the 1930s with the way things were going,” Riggs says.

A worker’s plight

At a time when workers had been knocked back, the art showed their plight and the heroism behind their simple lives. Wood’s piece “In the Spring” shows a smiling farmer posing in front of his farm land.

One of the Benton pieces shows people harvesting wheat, clouds racing across the sky and grain stalks rustling in the breeze. Samuel Margolies’ piece “Builders of Babylon” shows two men atop steel beams high above the New York skyline.

Cave and his wife, Cindy, who own the gallery, are, for the first time, presenting a historical show. The Caves represent local artists and have a specific interest in contemporary North Carolina printmaking. They’ve been fans of printmaking – lithographs, woodcuts, aquatints – for years. The WPA-era prints were a good fit.

“I think as a medium printmaking has been misunderstood by the public,” Cave says, referring to reproduced posters people buy in museum or poster shops. “If you dig a little deeper, it’s a wonderful medium used for hundreds of years but it’s been overshadowed for the last 75 to 100 years. If we can provide a context for the work of contemporary printmakers, it would be great.”

Gallery Nomads (June 2009)

Triad Arts Up Close 
June 25, 2009

Hosted by David Ford

A round table discussion with three of the curators and gallery owners behind Gallery Nomads, a collaborative exhibit in Greensboro involving six Raleigh galleries.

Strong Shows (May 2009)

Visual Art 
13 MAY 2009

Story Time
By Dave Delcambre

Fables and Fantasy
Adam Cave Fine Art
Through May 26

The prints of John D. Gall on view at Adam Cave Fine Art through May 26 conversely are so visually cohesive as to seem inseparable. This is despite the fact that the artist has deployed a variety of media including intaglio, pen and ink, watercolor, and woodcut. In fact it is Gall’s aim to pursue a profound sense of storytelling in his work, and his overarching narrative qualities are inescapable.

Rendered in golden hues that evoke the feeling of aged prints and antique parchments, the works explore such left-brain concepts as mathematics, engineering and alphabetic letters. Gall’s prints are populated by a cast of characters (usually bald and mustachioed middle-aged men bearing more than a little family resemblance to one another) engaged in all sorts of construction and investigative busy-work activities. Simple machines like levers, pulleys and scales are put to use along with a variety of scaffolding and rigging devices. Notably, the words “seeker” and “knowledge” recur frequently, attached to all but a handful of works. Mythical places such as Babel are presented (although most of the settings are more ambiguous) along with anatomical and scientific diagrams that appear like pages seemingly torn out of Leonardo’s sketchbook.

The quirkiness of the bald characters and their metaphorical pursuits of information and understanding convey an animated feeling of challenging concepts. Much like the graphic symbols of mathematics and language he employs in his work, Gall’s prints tackle some heavy subjects while nimbly navigating a sense of timelessness within our humanity.

New and Old Photography (July 2008)

Visual Art 
July 30, 2008

The Image Endures 
By Dave Delcambre

The camera lens is often understood as a mechanism for capturing exacting, unforgiving and unemotional views of our surroundings. “The camera doesn’t lie,” the saying goes.

But the Four Photographers exhibit on view at Adam Cave Fine Art dispels this notion and demonstrates the tremendous varieties of emotive image-making that photography actually encompasses. Recent years have brought dramatic change to the medium: Digital cameras and printing techniques have fundamentally altered the way photography is done. With a foot in both the 19th and 21st centuries, this show succeeds by showing the contrast between digital techniques with more traditional methods and affording us a thumbnail glimpse of photography’s past and present. Examples of time-honored, laborious photographic processes such as platinum printing and cyanotypes co-exist alongside C-prints and the latest digital technologies

The four artists included in the show explore the time-honored subjects—landscape, still life and the human figure—but in often unconventional ways. DIANA BLOOMFIELD, for example, works with the lensless pinhole cameras, and she also utilizes antique methods of printing such as platinum prints and cyanotype. Her choice of subject matter echoes Romanticism, particularly the moody, emotive landscapes in works such as “Middle Island” and “Lake Ellis Simon at Dusk.”

ANDREW ROSS is also involved with landscape imagery, but he’s preoccupied by the individual’s place within it. His urban scenes typically depict one or very few figures moving about among streetscapes or along building facades. Isolation and solitude come to mind. Due to his shot selection, exquisite timing and the softly focused edges in his prints, his photographs have the distinct qualities of architectural models—they play tricks with scale and depth of field. One can’t help but feel empathy with his figures and implicated in their plight.

The work of STEPHEN AUBUCHON is ethereal in essence in the sense that he is studying the fleeting body in motion. His dancer photos, such as “Supplication” and “Etude,” have a whirling feel, while a pair of beach landscapes rounds out his works in the show: In their dusky twilight, there’s a chromatic unification of beach, sea and sky.

The 21st century comes most explicitly into view with the work of KIM ELLEN KAUFFMAN, who pushes the boundaries of photography by eliminating the camera itself. Rather, she uses a scanner as a type of camera and captures images of leaves, plant stems, seeds and other flora. A work like “Frabrication” exhibits how, once scanned, the image has then been imported into photo manipulation software such as Photoshop to create a richly textured and lush final digital printed image.

The exhibit at Adam Cave Gallery makes us consider where the fixing of images is heading. Will there always be room for the handcrafted work of art in the digital age? This show gives cause for optimism.