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Finals Week: Oosterbaan, Kerlin, Goodman, Big Jar

Robert Goodman
Robert Goodman, Untitled 2, at Gallery Siano

I ran into town last Saturday to see a couple shows closing this week. It’s so hard to see everything these days, especially when so much of it is worthy.

First stop, Gallery Siano to see Robert Goodman‘s new paintings. Goodman, who had a Fleisher Challenge exhibit last year, makes large, forceful abstract paintings that have no fear of color and are absolutely able to deal with the white of the primed but unpainted canvas. The work’s many staccato strokes play off nicely against the skittery, rope-like knots elsewhere. And as with all good abstract painting there are big moments and small and a rhythm that keeps you on a quest. The works read as a comment on chaotic times and heroic action by one or by many. There is a hint of greener pastures, calmer seas, and happier days in the works which, for all their implied chaos are rather ebullient.

Robert Goodman
Pile Storm, 72″x72″ oil on canvas

My favorite is Pile Storm a piece that puts you in the middle of the maelstrom with bright colored confetti-like chits flowing one way in the space while a pile of darker and larger grey pick-up-sticks becomes a tornado in the foreground. From the quality of the paint, to the colors (I just love his Manet-like use of grey and grey-black) and the energy, I think it’s a great piece. American Futurism without the fascism and with some optimism? Goodman’s full-speed-aheadness is like that of Caleb Weintraub, another young painter who’s works are charismatic and compel the eye. We’ve written about Weintraub. You’ll find links in the artblog index.

As with Weintraub’s show at Projects Gallery, which is up to Oct. 29, Goodman, a young painter, has works at amazingly reasonable prices ($1,000-$7,000). I was shocked that there were no red dots. Come on Philadelphia art buyers, where are you? Get out there and exercise some muscle.

Also on view at Siano, Shelly Inez Lependorf/Stan Shire’s surreal collages and Daniel Oliva‘s Nightscape paintings made from night time satellite photos. (There’s one of Asia that shows the same thing that was on the front pages of all the newspapers last week when Condoleeza Rice was over there, namely the black hole of no lights in North Korea at night. Gallerist Luella Tripp told me that this work was made a while ago. Truly, North Korea is a standout in any crowd.)

Gallery Joe

Michelle Oosterbaan
Michelle Oosterbaan, Ah-Ha, 2006, colored pencil and graphite on paper

Across the street from Siano, Michelle Oosterbaan, in her first solo exhibit with Joe, has some marvelous dream scapes that do in a quiet and unassuming way what Goodman seems to be doing more noisily at Siano — that is, suggest a universe of overlapping energy fields driven by the subconscious with occasional flashes of clarity and no structure, just the undertow of time pulling everything along towards some inevitability.

Oosterbaan’s works, which pull your eye every which way and refuse to coalesce into one moment or vision remind me of a child with a short attention span but for whom everything will ultimately find its way into the unconscious and leave an imprint.

Ah-Ha, detail

The works are quite unlike anything else. In spirit, they have a doggedness and “oner” quality to them that is outsider-y. And yet they are highly sophisticated in their making (the drawings of horses, a lion, a cat for example are beautifully done, old masterly even). I love best the passages in which the ghosts of animals and flowers come together in a freakish overall ur-wallpaper-like design that’s frightening and compelling. It’s there where I can free fall into the void of waking dreams and wonder about the amazingness of mind, memory and sentience. Several of the works are sold I am glad to report and there’s a hold on Ah-Ha which is very exciting.

Gil Kerlin, Real Smiles

In the Vault Gil Kerlin‘s installation Real Smiles continues the artist’s fascination with faces and people. Kerlin, who previously focused on white guys, here has found female faces his subject. Smiling faces to be precise. Through the wonder of Google images Kerlin plugged in a name, Susan, for example, and found many, many smiling Susans. The artist corraled 400 of the individual Marys, Judys, Susans, Ashleys and printed them out in black and white and pasted them to the wall like a frothy river of people to look at who might just be looking back at you. It’s a great simple idea beautifully executed and I look forward to Kerlin’s mining the internet for more discoveries about who we are and why that’s so. Both the Kerlin installation and Oosterbaan’s exhibition are up through Oct. 28.

Jim Houser
Jim Houser’s Ghost at Big Jar Books.

Oh, and be sure to stop by Big Jar Books to see the nice, small show curated by Damian Weinkrantz if you get a chance. It’s great, and it’s up through October. For more images go to my flickr set.