Brenda Goodman, “Watching and Waiting” (2017), oil on wood, 32 x 40 inches

First off, I have to say that until 16 months ago, when Donald Trump said he was running for the Presidency, I never was a political person — never really paid attention to what was going on. This all changed as soon as Trump opened his mouth.  I became obsessed with the campaign and thought, like many people, he didn’t have a chance of winning. But he did. Now that he’s actually in office, I’m even more glued to the news, and talk way too much about it.  I even got a Sirius radio for my studio so I could listen to CNN and MSNBC all day while I paint.  Until this happened, I listened to a Blues station everyday. So when I was asked to do a piece for the series, Drawing in a Time of Fear & Lies, I panicked. Political art has never been what I do.

My art has always come from where I am emotionally in my life.  Sometimes what I’m painting about is very clear, like when our 15-year-old dog died.  But mostly my work is a combination of abstraction and figuration, and the meaning develops as I’m painting. Sometimes that meaning is apparent as I’m working but often it doesn’t become clear until much later — a year, five years, or 20 years. Sometimes nothing about a painting becomes clear except I know it comes from deep inside, and is honest and real.

An example is this new piece I just completed called “Watching and Waiting.” The painting began with emptying my mind and following scratch marks that I made on a surface. I was very happy with the painting when it was finished but it had no specific meaning for me. However, the longer I looked at it, the more I could see and feel the effect of all that’s going on in the country on the piece. I could see, in the black shape, the anxiety and fear of not knowing what’s going to happen from day to day. I also could see how complex this painting is, with its many different parts all interacting together. I worked hard to create this sense of order in the painting. As a finished piece, it feels integrated and resolved, completely unlike Trump, who is creating chaos everywhere. It might seem like a contradiction to have fear and order existing in the same painting, but those kinds of tensions have always been present in most of my work.  This painting holds a particular kind of tension. But I know that next week order and fear might be replaced with anger and turbulent mark-making. These shifts are what make my paintings mine.

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Brenda Goodman

Brenda Goodman was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1943. She moved to New York City in 1976 and was included in the Whitney Biennial in 1979. Since 1973, she has had 39 one-person shows and has been included...

3 replies on “Watching and Waiting”

  1. Should I be expecting a response? Did the author expect anyone to read this? Did the author think that reader might have an opinion? Does the author feel any responsibility connected with putting something out there and the courtesy to respond to someone who has extended the courtesy to read her piece in the first place and make the effort to show her in return that someone has received that by making the effort to tap on a keyboard and show her she exists and has some worth?

  2. Doesn’t the work always lead the artist? Ie., I’ve read Bob Dylan say that he is still not sure of the meanings of his 60s songs. He is not alone. Just because an artist doesn’t see something in a work doesn’t mean it’s not there. As makers, we join the audience, no? The Rorschach analogy doesn’t really work. The patient doesn’t create the Rorschach sample. Do we really put “knowing confusion” in our work? Where would Cezanne be without doubt? I question the over-determined. By the way, maybe the author is in her studio, away from her computer?

  3. Or, perhaps the author hasn’t done you the courtesy, BE, because the page says “0 Comments”? Benefit of the doubt.

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