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Brenda Goodman, Self-Portraits 2003-2007
Exhibition opening reception Monday April 23rd

Self-Portrait 61," 2007, 52 x 48 inches; oil on wood.

The work of New York painter Brenda Goodman is featured in "Brenda Goodman: Self-Portraits 2003 – 2007," opening Monday, April 23, 2007, at the Mabel Smith Douglass Library Galleries and continuing through August 3, 2007. Goodman will give a talk in the exhibition galleries on Monday, April 23 at 4 p.m., followed by a public reception in her honor. This event is free of charge and the public is invited. Exhibition hours for the show are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and weekends by appointment. Douglass Library is located on Rutgers Douglass Campus, 8 Chapel Drive, New Brunswick, NJ 08901.

Brenda Goodman grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where she studied art at the College for Creative Studies, a traditional art school where, as Goodman says, "you drew a still life for six months before you could actually start painting." From art magazines, Goodman began to learn about the burgeoning contemporary art world, and in the early 1970s, she joined Cass Corridor, a group of progressive artists who had studios in a large building in inner-city Detroit. In 1974, Gertrude Kasle, the leading gallery in Detroit, took on Goodman as one of its artists. Through Kasle, Goodman met Marcia Tucker, founding director of New York's New Museum of Contemporary Art.

After moving to Manhattan in 1976, Goodman quickly became well known and was included in the Whitney Biennial of 1979. She has shown her painting in many cities over the years including Edward Thorp and Cavin-Morris in New York, Revolution in Detroit and the Nielsen Gallery in Boston. Goodman's paintings and drawings are in the permanent collections of Agnes Gund; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Detroit Institute of Arts; and the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts, among others.

In 1993, Goodman became dissatisfied with the abstract expressionist mode in which she had painted until then. She says that she "had a desire to paint myself much more naturalistically; I felt it was important not to have a veil between me and my feelings, between me and the viewer. I wanted the work to be open. So much contemporary painting is not open. . . you can't penetrate it. You have no clue who the artist is, or why they're even doing what they're doing. Which is fine – I mean you can paint for different reasons and come from different places. But for me, it's always been crucial that I reveal myself, share my journey."

In the resulting paintings and drawing, the surfaces – whether paint, graphite, or colored pencil – become skin, revealing the wear and tear of a lifetime. The body is simultaneously vulnerable and commanding. As such, Goodman's self-portraits visually embody the contemporary discussion on the naked female figure as the intersection of the physicality of the body and social/political interpretation.

On June 14, 2007, a second exhibition featuring Goodman's work will open at the Mason Gross School of the Arts Galleries at 33 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick. "Eccentric Bodies" was inspired by seeing Goodman's work. The exhibition includes six additional artists whose subject matter is the female form: Harriet Casdin-Silver, Bailey Doogan, Orlan, Ernestine Ruben, Berni Searle, and Linda Stein. "Eccentric Bodies" will remain on view through Friday, August 3.

Both exhibitions are under the auspices of the Mary H. Dana Women Artists Series, a joint program of the Rutgers University Libraries and the Rutgers Institute for Women and Art. Co-sponsor is the Brodsky Center at the Mason Gross School of the Arts. The Mary H. Dana Women Artists Series, now in its 36th year, is the oldest continuing venue for showing both established and emerging women artists. The shows' curators are Judith K. Brodsky, professor emerita, Department of Visual Arts and Founding Director, the Brodsky Center (formerly the Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and Paper), and Dr. Ferris Olin, head, the Margery Somers Foster Center, Rutgers University Libraries. Brodsky and Olin are co-directors of the Rutgers Institute for Women and Art. The exhibitions are also part of The Feminist Art Project, a national program, headquartered at Rutgers' Institute for Women and Art, celebrating the aesthetic, intellectual and political impact of women on the visual arts, art history, and art practice, past, present, and future.

Posted April 18, 2007; April 23, 2007