John Goodyear, Up and Down Movement, 1966, 24 x 24 x 4 inches (Berry Campbell Gallery, New York).
The 1963-64 academic year was for me eventful, even memorable. Fresh out of graduate school with my PhD, I started my first teaching job, at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. I taught a seminar on Marcel Duchamp that fall, and later that year I was able to interview him in New York while we sat across from one another at a chessboard with pieces designed by Man Ray, who had been the subject of my doctoral dissertation. I also met and talked with celebrated vanguardist John Cage when he was invited to campus for a performance, an uncanny experience that felt, on the heels of Duchamp, as though it was destined by chance, like one of those encounters celebrated in the Dada and Surrealist handbooks I’d been studying in connection with my thesis. Then, too, I met Bob Dylan, backstage before the spring concert he delivered in the packed UMass field house where he sang Mr. Tambourine Man, which he hadn’t even recorded yet, but which we all recognized as a tour de force, totally magical, surrealist-type poem if ever there was one. And last yet at the same time foremost in this litany of personal encounters – foremost, because it bore abiding rather than ephemeral significance – I met John Goodyear, artist and art department colleague, who knew, as I would soon come to know, more than a little about Cage’s chance and Duchamp’s ambiguity and, as much as anything else, the poetics of everyday experience.
The art department at UMass comprised three art historians and six artists, a personnel roster that was totally new to me. At Princeton, where I’d earned both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, the Department of Art and Archaeology comprised only art historians. An artist-in-residence position had been created in the mid-1950s, presumably to acknowledge studio practice, but the appointment was mostly honorific, requiring the artist to teach only two pass/fail courses a year, neither of which was required in the departmental curriculum. Art making in Princeton’s ivory tower, in other words, had largely to be imagined, like a virtual reality. At UMass, by comparison, I was interacting with practicing artists on a regular basis, and I responded to them with natural interest and enthusiasm, I felt at home in their community. In particular, I responded to John Goodyear, whose work hovered somewhere between painting and sculpture, possessed moving parts that invited viewer participation, and yielded optical sensations that were refreshingly new to my pictorial experience, while in the process additionally radiating a rich spectrum of ideas. So John and I began interacting and talking about his art, I watched his progress in the studio, I tracked his thought, and I got inspired to write and have published an essay about what he was doing – my first essay about an artist making art in the here and now. Though trained in the scholarly methodologies of art history, I found via my John Goodyear experience an abiding passion for working directly with living artists in and of our time.
|John Goodyear, Blue and Brown Kinetic Construction, 1964, acrylic on wood and canvas, 24 x 24 x 5 inches (Berry Campbell Gallery, New York).|
|John Goodyear, Red, Yellow, Blue Construction, 1978, acrylic on wood and canvas, 28 3/4 x 29 1/4 x 6 inches.|
|John Goodyear, Food for Thought, 2011, acrylic on wood and canvas, 96 x 39 x 6 inches.|
|John Goodyear, The Indicative, 2013, acrylic on wood and canvas, 24 x 27 x 2 1/2 inches (Berry Campbell Gallery, New York).|
|John Goodyear, Women of Art, 2014, acrylic on wood and canvas, 72 x 36 x 3 inches (Berry Campbell Gallery, New York).|
|John Goodyear, Figurative Abstraction, 2015, acrylic on wood and canvas, 36 x 36 x 6 inches (Berry Campbell Gallery, New York).|