October 4, 2011

Carla has a show opening next week at Skylight Gallery. We had a long, interesting conversation about her work in mid-June.

According to her, Carla has been painting forever, even before studying formally.

Her bio shows that she’s very, very popular overseas with exhibits in Germany, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK. She’s been showing in the US too and is gaining traction with her American audience.

I’ve talked before about being fascinated by the creative process and development of style. As a graduate of a university art program, Carla was trained in the classical method, learning to use a variety of media: oil, ink, watercolor, acrylic, and so forth and learning to compose in figurative and abstract styles.

Carla is a deep, multi-faceted woman and so her influences are also complex. She’s a vibrant personality, with an engaging and ever present laugh, highly intelligent, and intensely creative.

As with so many women artists, having a family interfered with her time to paint – and so painting was put aside in favor of her children, her husband and an old house on the Hudson that needed restoration. Interesting that the house should be a source of inspiration. There was an old bathroom that needed a new floor, preferably tiled, but the economics were such that they put down plywood and painted it. Actually, she painted it time after time because the paint would get scratched from normal where and tear. One time Carla painted the floor in stripes and, liking the effect (after all, she is an artist), decided she needed t preserve it somehow. There was a can of clear resin around … and that was poured over the striped floor, very successfully preserving it with a shiny finish that looked somewhat different in different lighting. (The striped floor was also very slippery so it’s no longer with us). So there is one piece of the influence puzzle: the effect of light and shadow.

Besides being an influence, this discovery of resin inspired Carla to start working again, luckily for us art lovers.

Carla husband is very involved with reclamation of the Hudson River to an earlier, pristine waterway that won’t dissolve the kids if they go swimming. Have you ever known someone who lived by the water who isn’t fascinated by the way water moves? Another influence: the movement of water.

These two things led Carla to conclude that she should be using resin as the basis for her paintings since they would provide motion, depth, clarity and dimension. Initially, she would use a very thin removable base on which she would paint and pour resin. It went very well, the pieces were lovely and she was developing a real body of new work. Then it got hot, immensely, intensely hot – and the paintings melted. Oops, there was a downside to trying to have resin stand on it’s own, without a backing, in the heat.

It’s wasn’t fun for her to lose so much work, but it’s intriguing to see ideas develop. Nowadays, there’s a permanent acrylic sheet as the lowest layer of the paintings – and no issue with melting.

One of the things that has always irritated me about women artists (before you scream, most of the art I own is by women artists) is when they absorb themselves with “women’s” subjects: child-bearing, babies, households, and so on. For instance, there’s a painting at Montserrat Gallery that I abhor – a skeletal pelvis with a golden orb. You know exactly what that artist thinks is important – her reproductive organs, not her ideas, not her heart.

This is why I was disappointed in Carla’s earlier work – female torsos that somehow flowed under the water. I could see the quality, but I was disappointed in the vision. But last year Carla emerged from this female-focused cocoon and started doing work based on broader based ideas using color, clarity, depth, flow and shadow as manifestations of those ideas. You can see the spontaneity of the moment coupled with the eternity of the inspiration. Excellent work and, I hope, the mechanism to bring Carla Goldberg to the top tier of recognized artists.

Carla’s show opens on October 13 at Skylight Gallery on W. 29 Street between 10th and 11th Avenues.

One comment

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