Alison Goodwin: Re-Entry

Greenhut Galleries • Portland, ME • • May 7–30, 2015

By: Carl Little

Goodwin 5

Alison Goodwin, Saint Bearing Pear, 2015, acrylic, oil bar and oil pastel on paper, 36 x 36″.

Alison Goodwin has always had a wonderful way of channeling the likes of Klimt, Hundertwasser and Giotto in translating her surroundings—places and the people in them—into art. The work in this show, around 20 paintings and several drawings from 2014–15, confirms Goodwin’s penchant for the decorative and the symbolic. Working in acrylic, oilbar and oil pastel, she produces stylized landscapes, still lifes and portraits.

Just Before Storm offers a fairly standard Maine coastal scene—ocean, islands and rocky coastline—in a manner that removes it from the ordinary. The water is rendered as a swarm of biomorphic shapes, the rocks as irregular red geometric blocks. The islands have a Hartley look, chunky and dark. One thinks of Brita Holmquist, Eric Hopkins and other painters who play expressive variations on the seascape.

The leafy floor of the forest and the bright tree tops in Late October Trail have a mosaic-like quality that recalls Klimt’s art nouveau period. Goodwin contrasts these patterned areas with a stand of stark limbless trunks and the simple outline of a mountain in the background.

The exhibition features several floral still lifes set against patterned backdrops. In Lupines and Pomegranate, the purple blossoms of that early summer flower emerge from a stately vintage vase. Nearby, a halved pomegranate reveals its seeds. The composition is slightly and appealingly off balance.

Goodwin has cited her Catholic upbringing for the haloes and other religious imagery that appear in her portraits. Saint Bearing Pear offers a wide-eyed, oval-faced woman presented in a classic icon manner, a broad halo encircling her head. The golden tones of her headpiece and flesh are set against a bright red backdrop that owes something to Matisse.

Born in Montreal, Goodwin has lived in various parts of New England since the age of nine (her family moved to Portland in 1968). The title of this, her eighth solo show at Greenhut (she started exhibiting with the gallery in 1989) refers to her return to Maine after living in Vermont for some years. This gem of an exhibition makes for an inspired homecoming.

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