Just about everything the California artist has made over the last 40 years attests to his conviction that the best way to arrive at any knowledge worth knowing, especially when it has to do with oneself, is to figure things out for oneself—and that the quickest way to empty those discoveries of their power is to believe that they tell the whole story. Something happens when Dane makes stuff: The results of his labors become something bigger and different from the intentions present at their point of departure. There’s a sense of letting go in all of Dane’s works: not of giving up or giving in, but of giving over—from original vision to materials and process, from plan to happenstance, from willful assertiveness to the risk of trust. And that’s when the magic happens. The characters and creatures that appear in his works become vehicles not only for Dane to discover what he knows, despite what he thinks, but for viewers—of all shapes and stripes—to start to figure things out for ourselves.
The same goes for the objects and props that populate Dane’s installations, whether abstract or representational. The physicality of their surfaces and the weight of their forms, not to mention their textures and colors and compositions, endow them with the transformative power of all handmade things—evidence that things can be different if you just get to work on them, and pay attention to what happens when you lose yourself in the process. Perhaps even more than Dane’s imagistic works, his abstract ones begin in mystery—with the sense of surprise that greets us whenever we come across something we can’t identify, its unfamiliarity derailing the routine, often-mechanical process by which we comprehend things, day in and day out. All that Dane asks is that we refrain from rejecting or dismissing whatever might be unfamiliar to us and, instead, give our curiosity a few seconds, if not an entire minute, to do its thing: engage what’s right in front of us as if there may be more to it than immediately meets the eye.
snowman/kettle, 2002, charcoal/vellum, 24” x 19”
resting, 2011, charcoal/paper bag, 38.5” x 21” $2500
His earlier abstract three-dimensional works are often sculpted out of wood and finished with rich patinated stains of color that invite a caressing and manual investigation. These sculptures are grounded by an inscrutable connection to familiar forms, shapes, and feelings, index the physical and the spiritual, the celestial and the mundane.
Works on Paper
Many of the shapes and symbols that contour his sculptures also appear in the works on paper. In his drawings and prints, his superior treatment of texture and composition lures one's focus to the rich surface of the paper.
"from the physicals series," 1989, mixed media, 35" x 23"
"The characters that appear in his drawings and prints and sculptures—sentient snowmen, suffering pumpkins, crying tea kettles, and a Christmas tree trunk with a majestically coiffed head of impossibly tall hair—are certainly the vehicles Dane uses to work through his feelings and to arrive at some kind of understanding of his place in the world." David Pagel
Excerpts from the essay "Dane Goodman, Self-Brewed Knowledge" written by David Pagel, Art Critic, Los Angeles Times, Professor of Art Theory and History, Claremont Graduate University Art Department, Adjunct Curator, Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, NY.
Dane Goodman was born in Chicago and grew up in Lincoln, Illinois. Earning his BA from Western Illinois University, he then attended the Center for the Visuals Arts, Illinois State University, before moving to Sacramento to receive his MA from California State University. There he studied with Oliver Lee Jackson, Stephen Kaltenbach and Jim Nutt.
Photo by Paul Wellman