December 1, 2013
Now through Jan. 12 at the Reading Public Museum, a series of large abstract paintings and small bronze sculptures by Carol Brown Goldberg can be viewed on the second floor adjacent to the Cohen Contemporary Gallery. The exhibit is titled "The Circle of Time" and examines the artist's contextual process of juxtaposing items and ideas into hybrid forms that are more than a sum of their parts.
The artist hails originally from Baltimore and currently lives in Washington, D.C. She graduated from the University of Maryland with studies at the Corcoran School of Art and is a recipient of the Maryland State Arts Award. Her teaching experiences include American University, the University of Maryland and a residency at the Chautauqua Institute near Jamestown. N.Y. Goldberg additionally produced and curated a lecture series in 1989 and 1990 called "Voices of Our Time." The 14-part series regards the integral relationship between art and science. A competent and deliberate painter, the artist incorporates various tropes of modernism and painting procedure into her special blend of abstract configuration. At some 8 to 10 feet apiece, her paintings possess a complicated, all-over surface that adapts these various techniques into gradations of smoothly transitioned and potent color.
Each painting contains a near-obsessive abundance of evenly placed circles combined with dripped paint, smoky backgrounds, iridescents and freeform brushwork. Every tiny mark or drop of paint is applied by the artist's hand, no devices. Color field painting, pattern and decoration, as well as abstract expressionism come to mind when looking. In concert, they pull together abstract-art movements that, prior to this, had been singular subjects in themselves. Compositionally, the pieces push and pull against the foreground and background by causing an absence of circles to suggest a rectangular gap in the direct center of the canvas. Lush color then radiates outward to merge the diverse elements. All of the paintings in the show function in this manner.
Her foot-tall bronze sculptures sit on platforms beneath glass cases and consist of common household items such as garden sprayers, dial-up phones, wicker baskets and such. They are serendipitously coupled and then cast into bronze. That she has united these objects to create quirky forms recalls the same conjoining methodology as the amalgamation, or assemblage, of abstract techniques on her canvases.
Not only are these works a pleasure to look at but equally as interesting. It has always been my contention that much of abstract art today is a melting pot of old styles and experiments created by other artists over the course of years. With the art world's consensus that painting in itself has exhausted all of its inventiveness, it would stand to reason that the vocabulary of paint has created a separate alphabet of visual consonants and vowels.
Goldberg exemplifies this process, and if one is to reassess the status of contemporary painting in this postmodern, post-abstract stage of today's art, one should probably pay attention to the methods and procedures that embody the latest theories about how to produce art. Process, they say nowadays, is everything.