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Courtesy Ivy Brown Gallery

Making Art Fun Again!

“Mystery and intrigue has long surrounded the Triangle Building, but the truly fantastical stories pre-date the building by thousands of years to the time of the ancient Aurora-Rhomans. Joshua Goode is currently excavating the ruins of a pre-historic zoo deep below the foundations of the Triangle Building that held creatures believed to live solely in the imagination. Majestic bronze sculptures of these mythical creatures and ornate altarpieces were left as prayer offerings which also included ritual human sacrifice.” — Artist Statement, “Rhoman Ruins”

While we may not be able to entirely believe this introduction to the theme of Goode’s current solo exhibition at Ivy Brown Gallery in the Meatpacking District, this “Princess Bride” of artist statements strikes at a deeper truth — we don’t have to be serious all the time to make some serious art. In fact, it may just be that the opposite is true. And his visuals are as playful as his words.

At first glance, the works on display appear to be artifacts, we see the shape if a sarcophagus, the patina on bronze, a carved “tusk” and we know what to expect. Or do we? Come closer, you see objects and imagery representing media and pop culture of the 20th and 21st Centuries, juxtaposed in a way that just dares you to laugh out loud. (I did!)

What’s not surprising is to find this inventiveness at Ivy Brown Gallery, the website even boasts the tagline, “Bringing unusual art to the people.” Ivy is a dynamic and dedicated dealer who established the Gallery in 1985, long before the neighborhood transformed into the chic destination it is today, and while surrounding have changed, that pioneer spirit still rules one you step inside, where the art often plays with our expectations.

One of Goode’s pieces certainly flipped mine, “The Coming of the Donut Narwhal” prominent features images on donuts that prompted me to ask the artist if he was referencing others, such as Claes Oldenburg, Wayne Thiebaud or Kenny Scharf.

“The Donut Narwhal is a mythical creature I collaborated with my daughter to create by combining 2 of her favorite things,” he explained. “My daughter has grown up in my studio surrounded by my absurd mythical creatures so it was fun that we created one together.”

Again from the statement:

“The Native Americans were familiar with these legends and shared them with the European settlers but as time went on the Europeans were eager to distance themselves from the curious creatures and sacrifices and pushed the mystique to the far south and Bermuda. But the stories still live on in our collective memory and reflections remain in today’s popular culture.”

Perhaps Joshua Goode has created the perfect way to communicate to space aliens what our history and culture are about…”Rhoman Ruins” (the name is a play on the contrast between Ancient Rome and a tiny Texas town near where the artist grew up) is on view by appointment through October 15. Visit http://ivybrowngallery.org/ for more information.

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