What are you working on now?
I am working on my Idolatry series. In the series I draw a line between youthful experiences of places half-remembered — and now disappeared due to the natural deconstruction of things — and our use of idols through which we give our memories weight and meaning. The symbols I use in my work: water towers, billboards, lamp posts, abandoned drive-in movie screens, are craven idols that draw the viewer into my past through which they become aware of their own idols of memory. In my piece, Paradise, the central water tower surrounded by a turbulent sky and bleak landscape recalls my childhood on an East Texas ranch. Frozen in winter, I would ride over fields dotted with symbols of past success, and future failures. Even then, many years ago, few of the idols rusting in the fields were operable and had become no different than ancient half-forgotten ruins found in molding history books. My piece, Drive-in, recalls a teenage memory of a drive-in theater as I imagine it looks today. Desolate, unused, but packed with memories that are most assuredly not accurate. The movie screen serves as a vehicle to remember, however imperfect but necessary because we cannot have a memory of a void. Ascension Day veers from the solidified use of the idols I use in the Idolatry series to an abstract reach for a goal. The metal flowers in the piece call to be picked up, but in moving the flowers, the entire composition would be lost and with it the ability to see what is alive under the skin of the piece. So we do not touch, and the goal remains beyond us — the yearning for the city just beyond the horizon: a nirvanic wonder sensed, but unreachable.
There is a texture I use that forces a vision of riding on horseback or wearing worn tennis shoes with no socks, guardedly picking a way around the hills and crevasses of the disrupted landscape of an abandon drive-in or cattle ranch. Caution is imperative as there are dangers just below the surface and hidden in the grass. The texture in the work is constructed using incongruous materials such as discarded paper, charcoal, dirt, metal and oil sticks melted and burned into one — like a bonfire smelling of gasoline and chemicals, churning dark smoke seen at a great distance. I create these pieces over a long period of time. Living with them, warily watching them, until I see, usually in a flash, what should be added or taken away. After the required adjustment, the process begins again until finally there is nothing left to change and the piece is finished and delivered to an audience of believers.
What draws you to your medium?
I love working with texture and found objects. I am intrigued by a medium that cannot be effectively translated into a digital image seen through a flat screen. I think people are losing a connection with the physicality of art because they more often view and interact with art (and life) through a digital wall. It causes a homogenization of art that I reject.
How long have you been an artist and how has your practice changed over time?
I have practiced art for most of my life. Over time I have moved away from art that has a whimsical, surreal, and almost comical feel, to art that is internal and emotional. I have been exploring memories of my youth. Memories I know that have been distorted by time, but I feel the need to translate into the tangible.
In your opinion, what does the Austin arts community need as the city continues to grow?
I would like to see more ways for artists to connect with people in the community who want to buy original art but don’t really know where to find it.
ABOUT LARRY GOODE
I was born in Ft. Benning, Georgia and as a child moved to Chicago. Some of my earliest memories were of my mother taking me to visit the Art Institute of Chicago Museum. We then moved to San Antonio, then Austin, where I received my BFA from The University of Texas. After working in the graphic design and illustration business for many years, I went back to school for my MFA at Texas State University. The last fifteen years I have been art making and teaching at Austin Community College. In addition to being in numerous juried shows and publications, my work has been included in the HBO series, The Leftovers, displayed at the Austin–Bergstrom International Airport, the Austin Public Library, and has been acquired by the Art Institute of Chicago’s special collections library and Seton Hospital’s permanent collection. I live and work in Austin, Texas.