Art pulses with primal glow

Friday, Oct. 30
PITTSFIELD - The Ferrin Gallery is hosting a significant fine arts event for the Berkshires with "Joe Goodwin: A Recent Epoch."

Relocating to the area from New York City in 2003, Goodwin creates distinctive non-representational paintings, and his work widely appears in public and private collections. At the local level, he understandably has had a profound influence on artists.

A stroll through the exhibit posits Goodwin as one of the country's premiere colorists. Taking a less-is-more stance, he spurns those chromatic conflagrations others offer in lieu of originality. Goodwin works with embers - not flames - and his colors glow rather than roar.

Ignited by sparks of complementary hues, these fires burn in an agitated atmosphere of churning clouds, where solids and gases compete for space. Magically, the artist conjures penetrable, palpable depth on his ethereal stages. So experiential are these fantasy cloudscapes that they at times belie the label "non-representational."

Developing his own automatism, Goodwin works intuitively in a Jungian manner, and something primeval consistently haunts his canvasses. Moistureladen clouds, luminous flashes, faint horizons, and glimpses of landfall emerge, referencing the four archetypal elements. There is a distinct sense of The Beginning, a coming into being, or - in a word - Genesis.

It is easy to picture in these works the act of creation. Peering into a world of volcanic fumes, lava flows, and debris- choked atmosphere, we sense the pulmonary rhythm of formation and disintegration. Here, transformative energy is suspended in the act of creating something new.

The Middle Ages cast God as a creative artist, but the Renaissance forever reversed those roles, likening artists to divine creators. Goodwin's canvasses provide a spellbinding metaphor - but not a narrative - of the creative process in art. In the fires of artistic creation, we see the genesis of form, light, and color. But the process is arrested in midcourse, and therein lies its power.

Standing before these epic productions, you can almost hear the soundtrack. Visual music resonates within them, frequently stirring and always differing from piece to piece. This is what Kandinsky had in mind at the very beginning of abstract painting.

Goodwin's surfaces mesmerize, fluctuating from smooth to coarse with bouquets of featheriness in between. These transitions create the illusion of undulation, and it's tempting to touch the paintings to verify their flatness. All of this contributes to the distinct sensation of spatial depth in the works.

Also on hand are three portfolios of monoprints of varying sizes and prices. These unique impressions demonstrate Goodwin's mastery over the medium, and they have become very popular among his collectors. He is more experimental with these paper pieces, and they offer an amazing range of styles and moods.

"A Recent Epoch" presents works of endurance: these powerful, poetic images will always sustain their initial impression and never grow weak.


Through Nov. 14. Hours: Wed.-Sat. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Ferrin Gallery, 473 North St., Pittsfield. ( 413) 442- 1622;


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