Monday, October 22, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 33

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on May 31st, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 13 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 13

Neil Goodman's bold sculptures featured at the Elverhøj in Solvang


A shadow becomes a line. A line becomes a curve. A curve stops and breaks into a sharp edge. Thus begin the many facets of the sculptural work of Neil Goodman.

A new exhibit titled Looking West at the Elverhøj Museum of History and Art in Solvang offers viewers a chance to visit with some of the artist’s bold new sculptures. Goodman, who moved to Los Alamos two years ago, is presenting his first solo exhibition in California at the Solvang museum through Aug. 20.

Sculptor Neil Goodman’s work shows at the Elverhøj Museum of History and Art through Aug. 20, occupying the open gallery space at the museum with towering works of careful and creative form.

“I like working with my hands,” Goodman said. “When I started working with these forms, one kind of led to the other. That’s how artists work; they tend to evolve. They don’t just start at the end, they adjust something and move into the next aspect.”

Goodman hails from Indiana originally, graduating from Indiana University and then earning a Master of Fine Arts degree at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. He was a young college student there when he first began casting bronze works.

Using bronze and fiberglass, Goodman works with tools such as clamps, hoists, a welder, and many other hand tools.

“The difference between sculpture and furniture is there has got to be something right and wrong simultaneously about the work,” he explained. “You look at what happens with your eye, how your eye moves through space. It’s got to create a kind of puzzle. There is a certainty. There is a rightness and a wrongness simultaneously.”

At the Elverhøj Museum of History and Art, Neil Goodman displays his sculptures made out of bronze and fiberglass. The two largest pieces in the exhibit, which are made out of fiberglass and can be assembled in sections, stand 11 feet tall and represent hours of work.

Goodman has experienced success and acclaim as a sculptor. According to a press release from Elverhøj, Goodman’s work Passage, a 1997 bronze casting, is currently featured at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago. He has also been reviewed by several major art magazines, including Art in America.

Goodman cites sculptors Alberto Giacometti and Constantin Brâncusi, as well as painters Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin and Giorgio Morandi, among his influences. He said he appreciates the questions art asks of a viewer.

Goodman’s pieces challenge how a viewer’s eye is trained to think it knows what to expect.

“Most of my work deals with somewhat perceptual questions of how you look at something,” he said. “Like what happens with the holes through the pieces, how they line up as you move around through the space.”

Sculptor Neil Goodman uses bronze for many of the works seen on display at the Elverhøj Museum of History and Art in Solvang. The process typically starts by making a small wood or paper model to flesh out his ideas before settling on a form.

To understand Goodman’s compositions is to understand that he is not only creating the shapes of the physical materials he works with, but also of the negative space around it.

The uniqueness of Goodman’s sculpture comes from how it changes based on the movements of the viewer. From each angle, a new composition develops. New relationships between positive and negative space are revealed, depending on how the viewer chooses to see it. Step to the left, and the dynamic between shadow and space creates another shape; tilt your head, and yet another distinct spatial relationship occurs. The effect creates a refreshing necessity to spend more time actually exploring each piece.

In an age that favors the vertiginous speed of imagery in interactive online media, it’s easy to take for granted how much time we actually spend viewing art. A photograph, viewed from one continuous perspective, is easy to breeze by or click by once you’ve gotten its intended message or impact.

Looking west
The Elverhøj Museum of History and Art presents artist Neil Goodman, whose contemporary sculpture is on display in “Looking West,” through Aug. 20. The museum is located at 1624 Elverhoy Way, Solvang. More info: 686-1211.

But in work such as Goodman’s, the pieces encourage a longer, and eventually more interactive, relationship with art.

“If you look back at the beginning of what you are trying and the end of what you’ve achieved, you can’t imagine where you would end up,” Goodman said. “That’s the curious thing about being an artist, is that trajectory. It’s a mystery how your images become part of you. You learn from them and they learn from you.”

Arts and Lifestyle Writer Rebecca Rose lost her purse once at the McCormick Center. Contact her at

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