Spontaneous and Unexpected

An Interview with Clark Goolsby

Born in 1980, Santa Rosa, California and current resident of New York, Clark Goolsby’s imagination has long escaped the velocity to take refugee into the rainbow of the sky that his own hand painted with so much love and care. However, his flights of fancy do not make him apathetic about the concerns of his fellow humankind, the plight of which often intermingle with the intricacy of the design or the bright hues in presentations.

You were born and brought up in California and now you are staying in New York, two places miles apart yet throbbing with life. How the growth of an artist and a human being has been affected by this?

Well, actually where I grew up in California was a pretty small town. By the time I was in high school, I was really looking to be somewhere that had a little more going on. I think being in a small town without much to do made me very hungry for culture. I really thrive on being in places, like NYC, that have so much inspiring stuff going on. It’s impossible to live in a city like this and not be inspired.

What are the inspirations that you look forward to for developing a theme for your art work? Do you plan extensively before execution of each of the pieces? What role does spontaneity play?

Right now I am very fascinated by gradients, and I have been exploring ways to create them, and am working on some new pieces that will feature them in a more prominent way. I usually have a vision for new work, but rarely do any extensive planning (i.e. sketches etc.) Every piece I make goes through a lot of spontaneous and unexpected changes as I make it. For me, art making wouldn’t be much fun if I was just executing something pre–planned. I like to go into the studio and not know what’s going to happen that day.

Trophy, Arwork by Clark Goolsby

Are the vibrant colours used for your work are a conscious choice for depicting the story of an artist? Do you have any particular project that you are very fond of?

I love color. I think I would get very bored if my work didn’t use color the way it does. The use of color is definitely a conscious decision and is important to a lot of the themes in my work. I just finished a new piece (see attached) for a show at Mirus Gallery in San Francisco that used a lot of rainbow gradients that I airbrushed. I was pretty stoked on how it turned out. As I said earlier I’m thinking a lot about gradients, and this piece really got my mind going.

You have started exploring the sculptural forms more. How is the experience overall? Has there been any challenge that you have faced and proud to have overcome specifically?

I love sculpture, and it is a newer exploration in my studio practice. Overall it takes much longer for me than painting, but I guess that makes sense. A painting is only two-dimensional. Much like all of my work sculpture is always about learning and trying new things. I feel like every sculpture I do is series of problems that I have to figure out solutions for. I think, for me, the biggest accomplishment for sculpture has to be Dead Man. I’ve never worked so long (1 year) on a piece. It felt great to see it finished and installed.

Dead Hand, Sculpture by Clark Goolsby
Dead Hand
Dead Man, Sculpture by Clark Goolsby
Dead Man

Many of your sculptures and sculptural installations like ‘Dead Man’, ‘At Rest’ show the forms to be suspended. Why is this fascination with balance?

I think you hit upon the exact word: balance. Much of my work is about balancing ideas that are very opposite of each other. There is an impermanence to suspended objects. It’s like they are between two states, or defying gravity. I feel like a suspended object cannot permanently remain that way, and there is an inherent tension in that.

Describe your sensations at the most intimate moment when the artist in you is one with art?

I think there are two moments in my art making that are really the most rewarding. The first is in the process. I’m just naturally a very inquisitive person, and I love exploring new ways of creating art. Much of my work may feel visually similar, but I am constantly learning new ways to create it. The second moment is the completion of a new piece. I was reading something once where Jeff Tweedy said there is no greater moment than to sit back and look at something that literally didn’t exist five minutes ago. I think that’s a pretty accurate description.

Portrait of Clark Goolsby
Clark Goolsby

My wife’s family has a lake house in New Hampshire, and that is always a great break. Whenever we go there it is just so relaxing. Good food, amazing nature, super quite. My favorite book at the moment is probably Forty Stories by Donald Barthelme. I discovered him fairly recently, and his writing has just completely blown me away. He is a true original. I could never pick a favorite for music (there are too many), but I’ve been listening a lot to the Max Richter remix of the Four Seasons by Vivaldi. It’s really fascinating because the record sounds so modern, but it is still all classical instruments. I am a total food nut… one of my main obsessions is a little sandwich place in Williamsburg called Saltie. I probably eat there once a week. They just came out with a cookbook that I highly recommend.

Find more of his work at http://www.clarkgoolsby.com/

Image Courtesy: Clark Goolsby