Street Smarts: Charles Goldman @ Songs For Presidents

Guest Contributor Mary Addison Hackett / I went to graduate school in Chicago with Charles Goldman and still remember one of the first pieces he showed at a crit. It was a thin red line cut from paper, crossing the gallery floor. If I recall correctly, it represented the interstate highway he had driven from his home town of San Francisco to Chicago. It was simple, seemingly direct, yet full of potential meaning. His show “Sidewalking” at Songs for Presidents embodies the same open-ended signifiers of space and time.

[Image at top: Charles Goldman, Tongue, 2016, painted plywood with yellow tie-down straps.]

 Charles Goldman, Self Made Stone, 2016, mixed materials.

The elephantine piece, Tongue, nearly fills the subterranean gallery space, leaving just enough room to maneuver around the perimeter. What looks from a distance to be a suspended, buckled sidewalk made of cast concrete, turns out to be construction-grade plywood, painted, and strategically fixed in place by yellow straps to convey apparent tension. While easy puns like “holding one�s tongue” came to mind, I also entertained the possibility of a freak gallery accident, much as I had considered my untimely demise when walking around a Richard Serra sculpture. Goldman’s work, of course, is safer. A smaller kinetic piece, Vibrating Sidewalk, held the unexpected thrill associated with a coin-operated Magic Finger vibrating bed, or the sensation of standing on shaky ground, physically and metaphorically.

 Charles Goldman, Found Infinity.

For Self Made Stone, Goldman created a performance that further defined the on-again, off-again, relationship between the sidewalk stroller and the city. Sitting in a beanbag chair in the alcove directly in line with the tip of Tongue, Goldman methodically shredded pages from self-help books he had found on the streets of New York. Another piece, 100 Found Infinities, a limited edition book created for the exhibition, reveals more snippets of wisdom garnered from the streets.

After catching up with Charles on little bits of everything from the past two decades, I started thinking about the subtle moments between exhilaration and trepidation experienced in everyday life. I could easily have taken the subway back to my temporary digs in the city, but I walked instead.

“Charles Goldman: Sidewalking,” Songs for Presidents, Ridgewood, Queens, NY. Closing reception on Sunday, June 26 from 4-6 pm.

Author Bio: Mary Addison Hackett  is a visual artist, editor, and occasional writer whose practice spans painting, film/video, and other time-based projects. She has exhibited in solo and group shows with Torrance Art Museum, Daniel Weinberg Gallery at Acme., Weekend, (Los Angeles); SUGAR (Brooklyn, NY); Marcia Wood Gallery (Atlanta) and most recently, Seed Space, in Nashville, Tennessee. Her videos have screened at underground and micro-festivals, including, The New York Underground Film Festival, and others. She is a Hambidge fellow and a member of the curatorial collective COOP in Nashville, Tennessee.

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