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Solving the problem

Artist Sharon Goodman makes her mark

Artist Sharon Goodman makes her mark

August 08, 2002|by KEVIN CLAPP

kevinc@herald-mail.com

"Sun & Thorns" features no tangible representation of either sun or thorns. But that may just be the illustrative beauty of the work.

In the fluid line and shape of the works the appreciative eye may see sun, thorns, a ship's bow or the entrance to a cave.

Whatever is pictured is fine by artist Sharon Goodman; viewers can say they see a kitchen sink and she'll be happy.

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"I may have one interpretation but I love it when people have other interpretations. There is not one interpretation for me," she says. "Maybe because when I'm working on it I'm not necessarily conscious of one thing anyway. I'm working on a problem, I'm not working on a desert scene or this scene or that scene."

For the next month, visitors to Hagerstown's Washington County Arts Council Gallery can enter Goodman's looking glass for themselves as Sun & Thorns, the exhibit, assembles dozens of the Morgantown, W.Va., painter's work for public consumption ... and contemplation.

Born in Detroit, the 61-year-old grandmother relocated with her husband to West Virginia 36 years ago. A painter who plays piano and continues a life-long affair with dance, Goodman lives and breathes art.

"She captures influences and turns them into hers. When I see one of her pieces, I can tell it's a Sharon Goodman painting immediately," says Gallery Director Eli Pollard. "It's rich, full of color, movement, textures and energy, and she's captured all these movements with the motion of her hand. And I think they're captivating."

First introduced to Goodman's work while at The Art Attic gallery in Morgantown, Pollard began showing her work in Hagerstown shortly after joining the gallery last August.

From day one, her paintings seemed to strike a chord; before he was able to so much as hang her pieces in the gallery, four of them sold. The feat is not unprecedented, but it was pleasantly out of the ordinary.

Pollard's attraction to her work is its abstract nature, which leaves a lot to the imagination. While Goodman agrees landscapes and other strictly representational images don't turn her on, explaining why is difficult.

"I consider my work kind of problem solving, where once I've put a mark on a project I've created a problem," she says. "And then I try to solve the problem in a satisfying way so that the lines and shapes and forms work with it."

Take her Weed series, for example, three pieces of which rested on pedestals at the Arts Council Gallery last week. Featuring freely flowing lines, they are unpredictable, much like tall grass blowing in a swirling autumn breeze.

"They're not static, they're kind of flowing, just line and energy goes into them, gives you a feeling it's not a still-life," she says. "It's more something you're catching while it's moving."

The same can be said of her work schedule, a sporadic process influenced as much by outside interference as by inspiration.

Of course, she is quick to point out that like many artists, standing next to an easel with palette and brush in hand isn't the only way a painting springs to life.

Many times she has been walking her dog in the woods when she's struck by the notion that such-and-such painting really needs a splash of green to flesh it out.

"I started doing a lot of spirals after I went to Turkey, and certain colors will work their way in after I go to Spain," she says. "Sometimes I think things influence you when you don't realize it, like trips that you take or what's blooming in your garden."

Judging by the response to a small trickle of her work, Pollard is sure the more extensive exhibit will please patrons.

And having traveled to Morgantown to see some of the new pieces in the show, he reports that old fans may find something new to latch onto.

"She's experimenting with new media and new techniques," Pollard says. "You still know it's her work, but it's going to be a really exciting show."

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