Gary Goldberg’s artwork evokes a world beyond the apparent: Mythological creatures and magical, surreal landscapes appear to him in the layered walls of Oaxaca City, Mexico. In the last eight years he has been translating these photographs into large felted textiles, but, he says, it’s taken him until recently to see it in a way that’s truly his own.  It happened one day in Oaxaca. “It was one of those ‘Oh my god’ moments,” says Goldberg, who is Professor Emeritus of Art at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, and recently retired from teaching after 37 years. “I turned and looked at this wall and I saw it as a human or mythical figure. Some appeared as a landscape—and then I could not stop seeing them.” So began his quest to document a world beyond quotidian perception. Goldberg begins his works by photographing large expanses of textured walls in and around Oaxaca city. He then translates them into large-scale felted textiles in collaboration with a team of expert artisans at the Centro de las Artes de San Agustín (CASA), with whom he’s been working for eight years to create more than 100 dry wool needle felted textiles using mostly natural pigments such as Cochineal and Indigo.

This process evolved out of Goldberg’s desire to make his artwork an immersive experience that fills the viewer’s field of vision, and to honor Oaxaca’s rich textile culture. He was inspired to explore textiles after attending an exhibition of the work of Mexican artist Francisco Toledo, who spearheaded the conversion of an old textile mill into CaSa. He was struck by the scale and tonal range that Toledo was able to achieve in his textile pieces. “I was impressed,” Goldberg says of the exhibition. “His imagery was not my imagery, but I wanted to see how this process could translate to my artwork.” Goldberg, who now lives and works in his home state of California, earned an MFA from the University of Nebraska in 1979, has had his photographs included in more than one hundred exhibitions and publications throughout his career. His artworks have invited viewers to consider questions of scale: depending on the frame of reference, they could be seen as abstract shapes such as continents or mythical creatures. His work points to the relationships and tensions created by such issues as human migration and climate change. They demand that viewers look beyond their learned impressions to a world that lurks beneath the surface.


For this show, Goldberg’s work revolves around a theme of Magical Realism, a quality that has evolved in his practice over the past two years. He made all of the photographs that the textiles are based on, in and around Oaxaca City. The resulting body of textile work is imbued with references to landscape, twentieth century art history, meditative states and Mexican mythologies.  His interpretations of Oaxaca are inspired by color field painters “while remaining true to my vision…by highlighting the city’s ancient patina and depth,” Goldberg says, adding that his work is contemplative, “exploring quiet moments that have a transformative quality. His work asks viewers to decipher them, adding their own interpretations and narratives. 





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