Charles Goldman RE>CRETE>WORKS at 337 Project Space
by Steve Davison
Ever since it’s opening last year, 337 Project Space has assuredly taken on the role of a goodwill ambassador of the local arts scene by welcoming an array of high caliber and highly accomplished artists to exhibit at the Division Ave based gallery. This month, Brooklyn, NY based sculpture, Charles Goodman brings his thoughtful and thought-provoking work to 337.
Goldman’s impressive exhibition CV spans coast to coast, from Portland to Toronto and just about everywhere in New York City. In 2011, Goldman was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Fine Arts. He is the founder and director of GRIDSPACE in Brooklyn, NY, an artist-run project space.
Goldman brings the exhibition RE>CRETE>WORKS to 337 Project Space, consisting of six recent pieces from the RE>CRETE>WORKS series. Like fellow Brooklynite Niki Lederer who exhibited her sculptures constructed from recycled plastics at 337 in December, 2015, Goldman uses recycled materials to create his sculptures.
In his artist statement he explains; “As a maker, I am constantly confronted with the notion of ‘sculptural guilt’. Sculptural guilt is the implicit understanding that this world does not need more stuff: objects or images, yet as an artist one cannot help but contribute to this dire situation. My current work takes this dilemma into consideration.”
He elaborates further on the inspiration behind the project by stating “The inspiration behind RE>CRETE> is a desire to rebuild the world out of its own waste. The various materials that are recycled and used in the recipe to create RE>CRETE> are materials that store and transmit information, power our homes and businesses, transport goods around the world and supply us with the funds to persist. RE>CRETE> is a conceptual material – it contains infinities.”
I emailed Goldman to ask about the RE>CRETE> exhibition, how to nurture a local art scene and if he had any exciting stories about fellow UC Santa Cruz alumni, rock band Camper Van Beethoven and learned about the even more obscure band the Wrestling Worms.
Art-Hack: The pieces that you have on exhibit at 337 Project Space are called RE>CRETE>WORKS. I am wondering if there is a connection between these forms and the larger installation piece Tongue you had at the “Sidewalking” exhibition you had at Songs for Presidents gallery in New York earlier this summer?
Charles Goldman: The “sidewalk” tends to be the place where many of the materials for the RE>CRETE> WORKS are found. I have a particular interest in non-art materials and non-art locales. Other than my reverence for wandering and for collecting ideas and materials during those wanderings there is no real connection. I suppose there is a post-apocalyptic aspect to both projects. But if you look at the RE>CRETE>FACTORY>SHOWROOM installation from earlier in the year, there is definitely a connection as both the process and the recipe are the same.
AH: Could you elaborate a bit on your statement “I suppose there is a post-apocalyptic aspect to both projects.” Is it that the pieces are constructed using materials that are associated with documenting time and place such as newspapers, compact discs for playing recorded sounds, etc.?
CG: The piece “Tongue,” was made out of wood. It imagines a length of sidewalk being crushed, shortened to fit into a given space or, perhaps even being pulled out from underneath the wanderer — like a carpet. There was another piece in “Sidewalking” called Vibrating Sidewalk. It is a piece of plywood painted to look like a square of sidewalk, mounted onto an old automobile tire with a heavy duty vibrator mounted underneath it. When the switch was flipped, it vibrated in a big way. Both pieces imagined the tension involved in urban living (or, in some cases, the earthquakes.) Both pieces imagine disaster, of both physical and mental kinds. The RE>CRETE> works are made from a recipe that imagines that the world we live in as bereft of natural resources. And that we are forced to create our own natural resources out of the detritus of civilizations that came before.
AH: I read about some of your outdoor public installations and your use of solar panels to power the water pumps in the barrels at the fountain located in Tbilisi, Georgia. I’m interested in your use of “renewables”, was it simply more practical or was it a deliberate design and aesthetic choice? Was it part of your “notion of “sculptural guilt.”
CG: The idea of “sculptural guilt” has lead me directly to working with renewables and found materials. For me, making is about asking questions; thinking with our hands. Some of those questions might be aesthetic and others might be more profound. But I believe that art’s purpose is in asking them. Sometimes art provides the answers, sometimes it doesn’t. Making, for me, is never about the stuff that results.
AH: What sort of questions were you asking when you made the pieces exhibited at the 337 show?
CG: I suppose the overriding questions that has been running through my head for the past decade are, ‘What can we do with all this stuff that we have created? how can we create something out of this garbage, that is not garbage? How can we change a negative into a positive, how can we use the useless?’
AH: You and Tom Duimstra seem to share a similar aesthetic. Can you give a little background about how you came in contact with each other?
CG: We met on Facebook through Michael Voss and Lael Marshall, two artists based in New York who share a similar, scrappy, aesthetic. It seemed as if he would be up for it, so I invited him to do a show at GRIDSPACE. We hit it off.
AH: Can you talk about GRIDSPACE in Brooklyn a bit? Grand Rapids seems to be still emerging in defining itself as an artistic community. Collaboration is a word that gets thrown around a lot. You have founded an artist-run project space. Can you describe how GRIDSPACE has or has not broadened the connections in the artist community in Brooklyn and what can a smaller, less defined community like Grand Rapids learn from the lessons gained from GRIDSPACE?
CG: A number of years ago, I moved my studio to a storefront in Crown Heights. Crown Heights was definitely an up-and-coming neighborhood and I knew I wanted to open an artist-run gallery. I wanted to give to a community that has given to me. The June 2016 show, Who Will Be a Witness? by DuPree, was our 60th show. Many of the artists that I have shown are from San Francisco, where I am originally from. By all means, support your local community, your friends, neighbors and the people whose work you believe in.
AH: I see that you graduated from UC Santa Cruz in the mid 80’s, did you happen to know any of the Camper Van Beethoven guys? (I’m a huge fan, sorry, had to ask)
CG: They are a little older than me, but I’ve definitely been to plenty of parties with David, Victor and Jonathan. I was more of a Wrestling Worms kind of guy.
The public is invited to attend the opening reception of ‘RE>CRETE>WORKS’ on Friday, September 2nd from 6-9 PM.
‘RE>CRETE>WORKS’ can be seen through September at 337 Project Space, 337 Division Avenue, Grand Rapids, MI.