Are We There Yet? Barry Goodman exhibition is both sweetly nostalgic and a road map for ‘being in the NOW’
If you have memories of riding in the way back seat of a station wagon, or recall at least seeing a wood paneled family car on a popular sitcom set in the 1970s you will find Are We There Yet? a solo exhibition opening July 11 at the Morean Arts Center the perfect antidote to news headlines and the hoarding of paper goods. In fact, you may recall some economic challenges and gas lines and other challenges shaped the nightly news hour in the 1970s and wonder if that is what your family was driving away from?
Towering in the center of Goodman’s homage to behemoth American cars is a papier-mâché totem of cars reproduced from his memories of traveling to Florida. Ford station wagons, a Winnebago, Lincoln Continental, Pontiacs, Buick Skylark and Roadmaster, a Ford Pinto, Chevy Suburban and AMC Pacer and Gremlin are stacked without regard to manufacturer or model year, but showcased through the eye of the artist for whimsy, or to celebrate the ugliness of a period of design, or memories blurred through the car window. Viewers can even pop the trunk to see an assemblage of the baggage we feel compelled to carry with us. Cascaded across the empty bench seats of the largest car forming the foundation of the tower are empty fast food containers, unraveled cassette tapes, and the trash of road trip stops to refuel. Pop your head in the car window and you can almost hear the discordant voices of children riding free-form without seat belts, car seats, or airbags belting out ‘99 bottles of beer on the wall.’
Growing up in England, Goodman enjoyed many family road trips. The cars were smaller than American ones and he was often squeezed in between luggage and supplies in the back seat. He recalls, “breathing in the noxious fumes of my Mum’s hairspray and my sister’s latest car sick vomit-fest,” as they traveled along exploring the countryside and historical monuments. “Sadly the UK doesn’t really have the wonderfully oddball roadside attractions that the US has In abundance. It’s usually something like an 11th century Castle or an Iron Age burial mound.”
When he moved to Florida, he became fascinated with the massive size of vintage cars, a structural aesthetic that appealed to his architectural training reflected in the designs. He was often shocked to see cars that did not seem road-worthy careening about neighborhoods and learned the strange state of Florida practice of ‘abstinence” from annual vehicle inspections. Repeatedly when he probed for the history of vehicles resting on concrete blocks in a side yard, he would learn that the vehicle belonged to a grandfather, uncle or relative who had made the road trip south to Florida and decided to stay.
Much of Goodman’s work is focused on the design of vehicles, the art of advertising and road signs. He has a personal fondness for the positive emotion and hopeful expression of vintage design. In this exhibition he reflects fondly on a recent past and hopes the energy of positivity will guide us into the future. “The road trip is really unique,” says Goodman. “It literally forces you to be together while you have these new experiences. It forms memories and that builds the relationships. You are living in the moment, the now. When else will you be delighted to find the diversion of the ‘World’s Largest Ball of String” or the ‘World’s largest chest of drawers’ to allow you to unbend legs and get out and explore?” he asks. “Not to sound trite, but it is about enjoying the journey as much as the destination.”
Goodman was the winner of the Morean Arts Center Margaret Murphy Steward Best of Show Award in the 2019 Annual Member’s Show. He originally intended to become an architect, but studied graphic design, before pursuing a successful career in design and illustration. Goodman later studied printmaking at The London College of Printing (University of The Arts London).His design background led him to larger graphic prints and paintings, which have been widely exhibited both across the UK and internationally, and are now adorning walls as far apart as Streatham, San Francisco, New York and Naples. His work has been widely published and featured in numerous international magazines, leading educational books and in the media including Societe Perrier – New York, Paperrunway – Australia, Coast Magazine – UK, Artist and Illustrator Magazine – UK, Tegneren – Denmark, Rise Art, Practical Printmaking and Hybrid Print. His work is held in public and private collections including The Library of Congress, Washington D.C. and The China Printmaking Museum, Shenzhen. Barry is a member of The California Society of Printmakers, San Francisco, USA, an artist instructor at the Morean Arts Center, and a resident of St. Petersburg, FL.
The galleries of the Morean Arts Center are open 10 am to 5 pm Monday thru Saturday, 12 noon to 5 pm on Sundays, and remain closed for 4th of July and Labor Day this summer. The Are We There Yet? exhibition opening on July 11 will be extended thru September 25.