Whistling in the Dark
Before doodling in the dark, I spent a lot of time whistling in the dark, and still do, to a degree. When I was 18, my family decided I was to become a lawyer instead of a veterinarian in Africa. Ever since, I never knew quite what to do with myself, and still don’t. I suck at things like persistence, discipline and willpower, hallmarks of the serious lawyer. I only go on doing something when that something is fun … or when, whether fun or not, it grabs me.
I’ve always enjoyed drawing and painting and generally creating things. I like discovering that I’m good at something, or at least decent, or at least that my family thinks so. It did not take me too long to get over that sinking feeling when someone criticizes a drawing or painting I was working on –I found I could self-criticize, and self-correct. Then I came to the conclusion that the worst, most painful and biting criticism is one’s own.
Lots of lawyers become artists. I think this is, apart from law being exhausting, because law practice and art practice are sort of incompatible. As a lawyer, at best you can produce a few landscapes while on vacation, or still lifes on weekends. Not saying lawyers aren’t creative – they are very creative – but not in that messy, unpredictable, artsy kind of way that loses track of time, loses track of the surrounding world. Lawyers and artists both can create a new and better world, but I think I’d feel more at home in one made by artists. I want to see the loose ends.
During the years I was active in the legal profession I had the good fortune of working for a law professor at the University of Rotterdam, Pieter Sanders, who was also a world-renowned collector of modern art and of African art. His office was a museum. There was, among many, many others, a George Ricky in the garden, a Giacometti in the garage, a Pomodoro in the kitchen, a Kapoor in the stairwell, and a Mondrian in the living room. I got to visit a lot of museums and galleries with Piet and met a lot of artists, like Karel Appel, André Volten in Amsterdam, Jonathan Borofski and his gallerist Paula Cooper in New York, and Karel Nel in Johannesburg.
In another stroke of good luck I worked for a cousin, Hans Max Cramer, who had a gallery of classical art: Rembrandt, Cranach, Ruysdael, Vermeer. The work I did there was hardly earth shattering – I typed letters and dusted paintings, and obviously never sold one. I wasn’t even allowed to do that by myself – it would have involved millions and needed careful preparation. But to be surrounded 5 days a week by all this beauty is a rare privilege. No surprise it was in that period I began my art education.
I learned art in a random, hopscotch kind of way, by looking at it and copying it, by taking lessons from artists and by just doing it. Much of my later work came out of my “academic years” at the Corcoran College in Washington, DC. It was there that my work began to take shape.
Somebody once asked me to describe my path into art and I answered that it was lined with people. The first two were a Swiss friend, Laurence Courvoisier, who took me to her watercolor lessons, and the Dutch retired math teacher who gave these lessons, Fred Adam. That was in 1988. Then there was a long time that art had to be put on hold – I moved to France, got a child, became a somewhat serious lawyer and moved to South Africa.
I also had the good fortune to have lived in many places: Europe (the Netherlands, where I was born – 34 years, Belgium – 1 year, France – 7 years), America (New York City – 2 years, Washington, DC – 21 years), and Africa (Johannesburg – 6 years). I think living in Africa has influenced me the most. Its colors, its warmth, its endless joy and equally endless misery, the sheer intensity of life permeate everything. Europe is endless layers of civilization, history and beauty and art, and a good bit of decadence; America is trailblazing innovation, challenge and tough-as-nails ambition and energy, but Africa, despite European and American influences, has remained totally itself: random, organic, earth and manure and fire, raw life, wild animals, risk and crazy creativity. I don’t quite know how and why, but none of the continents seem to make sense without Africa.
The next people to line my path into art appeared 10 years later, in South Africa. Again, a friend, Cecile Pool, took me to an art course. Pottery. I don’t really have much affinity for pottery, but the artist who taught the course, Isolde Krams, was larger than life with astounding courage and artistic energy and became a friend for life. She was a major presence on the Johannesburg art scene. She is now in Berlin, and a major presence on that art scene too. I made a friend in that course, Sandi Behrman, who took me to another art course, painting. The teacher was Thea Soggott, who painted with clay, which she applied with her bare hands onto heavy watercolor paper. For that clay she’d drive several hours to go digging in the Magaliesberg, northeast of Johannesburg, near the oldest (3.6 billion years) mountains in the world. I learned a lot from Thea, not in the least that everything takes its own merry time. The best one could hear from Thea, after weeks of sweating on nothing was, “Ah … and now the magic begins!”
In 2001 I moved to the USA. We settled in Washington, DC, just in time for 9/11. During my, at first aimless, dog walks through the neighborhood I met an artist, Joan Danziger, who became a friend for life. She never taught me art, but inspired me endlessly, shared her many art friends with me, and curated several of my shows. She encouraged me to enroll at the Corcoran College of Art + Design.
At the Corcoran I was taught basics by Annette Polan, color theory by Mary DelPopolo, oil painting by Bill Newman, composition and creativity by Steve Cushner and Bill Christenberry, and screen-printing by Manuel Navarrete and Hedieh Ilchi. And finally more creativity counseling by Judy Southerland, who to this day is my guru.
Through Annette Polan I became involved in Faces of the Fallen, a project of some 1,500 small portraits of soldiers fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan, all 8”x6”, made by well over 200 artists from all over the USA, which found a temporary home at the Women’s Memorial at Arlington Cemetery.
Through Joan Danziger I became involved with a fundraising project of the National Symphony Orchestra and painted a violin with images of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, which was displayed for a while at the Kennedy Center and then auctioned off by Marvin Hamlisch.
I joined Studio Gallery in Washington, DC, where I had my first shows, and then joined the Middle Street Gallery in Washington, VA – I had developed a parallel existence in the Virginia Piedmont. Every November I participate in the Rappahannock Art Tour Weekend. Since 2020, I am represented by Andrew Haley of Haley Fine Art, a commercial gallery in Sperryville, VA.
In March 2022 I will have a solo show in the Arts Club of Washington. My first solo show was there, too, in 2011.
Until 2002 Born, raised and educated (law) in the Netherlands. Law practice and law-related professional activities in Brussels, The Hague and Rotterdam, New York, and Johannesburg
2002-2006 Corcoran College of Art + Design, Washington, DC
1997-2001 Johannesburg Art Foundation, South Africa, and later privately with South African artists Thea Soggott and Isolde Krams (now in Berlin)
1986 Started art practice with Fred Adam, watercolorist in The Hague
2008 Corcoran College of Art + Design: Linda and Douglas Rosenbaum Scholarship for Excellence in Drawing and Painting; proposed by Judy Southerland
2017-2018 Middle Street Gallery, “Doodling in the Dark”
2015-2016 COVE, 1817 M St NW, Washington, DC 20036, 6 months
2015 Elementree Stories, Middle Street Gallery, Sperryville, VA
2014 Elementrees, Studio Gallery, Washington, DC, curator Judy Southerland
2013 Thoughts and Dreams, Studio Gallery, Washington, DC, curator Bill Carroll
2012 (Un)seen, (Un)known, Studio Gallery, Washington, DC, curator Joan Danziger
2011 Recent Work, Arts Club of Washington, DC, curator Christopher Wirth
Select Group Exhibitions
2017 Art Watch – One House Project, with Ellyn Weiss, Touchstone Gallery, Washington DC
2016 United in Passion and Pride – for the victims of the Orlando night club shooting,
Gateway Arts Center, Brentwood, MD, with John Thomas Paradiso
2015 Best of Piedmont, Arts and Culture Center and State Theater Culpeper, VA
2015 The Shape of Water, River District Art Confluent Gallery, Sperryville, VA
2015 Common Ground, Korean Cultural Center, Washington, DC, curator Judy Southerland
2014 & 2015 Members and Friends, Middle Street Gallery, Sperryville, VA
2014 All-Member Show, Middle Street Gallery, Sperryville, VA
2014 New Space, New Directions, Studio Gallery, Washington, DC
2014 Monochrome, Middle Street Gallery, Sperryville, VA
2013 Heat, Studio Gallery, Washington, DC
2012 Max16, Studio Gallery, Washington, DC
2012-2018 Open Studio, Rappahannock Ass’n for Art and the Community, Annual Art Tour
2009 CentroNia Art Gala, Katzen Center, American University, Washington, DC
2009 Courage Unmasked, Katzen Center, American University, Washington, DC
2009 Fresh – Urban Contemporary Art, Target Gallery, Alexandria, VA; Juror Clark V. Fox
2007 Alumni Exhibition, Gallery 31, Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC, Juror George Hemphill
2014 Sow’s Ear Poetry Review (Fall 2014), cover image featuring painting Under the Greenwood Tree
2013 Special Issue Netherlands Arbitration Journal, Rose Window for Pieter Sanders’ 100th Birthday, digital photography/collage
2008 Pink Attitude, Editions Liz, Paris, France, photo from Soweto Sunrise series 2000)
1988 Iran-US Claims Tribunal, commissioned drawing printed and framed as official Tribunal gifts; later used (2003-12) as the Tribunal’s website emblem.
2006 Art of Note, Kennedy Center (invit.), Women’s Comm., Nat’l Symphony Orch., painted violin auctioned by Marvin Hamlisch
2005 Faces of the Fallen, Women’s Memorial Arlington Cemetery, Arlington, VA (Organizer and Curator Annette Polan), 17 portraits and Member of the Board
2017 Rappahannock News, 11/22, 11/25, 12/14 Solo Show “Doodling In The Dark”
2016 Piedmont Virginian 11/1, Preview Rappahannock Art Tour
2015 Rappahannock News, 3/26, review of Middle Street Solo Show, Middle Street Banishes Winter
2014 Washington Post 9/20, review Mark Jenkins, Solo Exhibition Elementrees, Studio Gallery
2013 Washington Post 8/2, review Mark Jenkins of painting My Nails Can Reach Unto Thine Eyes in Group Show Heat, Studio Gallery
2012 Rappahannock News, 11/1, interview by Megan Smith, focus on work/studio
Current Gallery Affiliations
Haley Fine Art, 42 Main Street, Sperryville, VA
Past Gallery Affiliations
Studio Gallery, Washington DC (until 1/2016)
Middle Street Gallery, Washington, VA (until 11/2020)
FaceBook Page: Rosabel Goodman Art