Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review of 'Echo' in the Boston Globe

Vitality and Strength 
By: Cate McQuaid

John Goodman's grainy, black-and-white photographs at Howard Yezerski Gallery emphasize motion and form. They convey a masculine sensibility, and a melancholy one; they celebrate vitality and strength, and grieve its short stay. The show, organized by curator Bonnell Robinson, visits several bodies of work, including photos of a Times Square boxing gym, Boston Ballet dancers, people in the streets of Havana, and more.

"Carousel/Tulsa" depicts a rodeo horse rearing behind a gate, mane flying. Goodman shot it at an angle; the people in the distant stands slide past the horse on a diagonal, ramping up the animal's height and urgency. You can see that same athletic force in the boxer gleaming with sweat in "Anthony Greene," all muscle and grit as he tapes his hands. Lights stream in from the doorway behind him, like those on a passing freight train.

A similar, more delicate rush appears in "Dominos/Havana Cuba." Goodman shot it from above, focusing on the worn game board, the dominoes reflecting in the sun. As in "Carousel/Tulsa," he angles the frame to give the shot spin. The players' hands blur as the pass over the pieces. Even the crisper photos seem to propel forward. "Father's Day/Coney Island" depicts a canoodling couple on the beach; they roll off center, toward the edge of the frame: passion at its height, and on the way out.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

John Goodman: Echo

Howard Yezerski Gallery is pleased to present Echo, a solo exhibition of Boston-based photographer John Goodman, from February 10 - March 13, 2012. The exhibition is selected from photographs representing more than three decades of Goodman’s work and is curated by Bonnell Robinson.

Along with selections from his acclaimed book on boxing, The Times Square Gym, and his well known portfolios of Havana and the Boston Ballet, there are images never before exhibited from travels in Cuba, Italy and the USA.

A constant in all Goodman’s work is his connection to people and his ability to photograph them during the moments when they are most revealed. He captures the boxer lost in thought, the ballet dancer preparing for her moment onstage, a gospel singer in song, the couple who have playfully shed their clothes on a summer day to pose for his camera.

Goodman's world is one in which oppositions become dualities-one can’t exist without the other. We see it in his choice of subject matter:

“I am drawn to the body and its contradictions. I explore the contest between light and dark, male and female, grit and tenderness youth and age, power and grace.”

Goodman’s characteristic syntax and atmosphere draw us inside events we might ordinarily overlook. Blur, grain, softened edges are protagonists in Goodman’s work suggesting the very act of perception. Nothing can be captured with entire clarity because life itself escapes the confines of the frame.
Like the photographer, the subjects of Goodman’s world are in constant motion: people sing, dance, fight, gamble, and cut loose. And the moment passes. Even lovers on a beach, enjoying an intimate stillness, disappear by the final image.

The bittersweet qualities of Goodman’s work build towards his own kind of summation in this exhibition about life--and these photographs are Goodman’s tribute to living it fully.

John Goodman’s work is represented in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His work has appeared in New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Esquire, and Rolling Stone. Goodman studied with the photographer Minor White in the 1970's and is now on the faculty of the Art Institute of Boston.