December 1, 2015

Danny Goodwin and Terry Conrad make art so different, you might not think their work belongs together.

But independent curator Liz Blum saw a parallel: Goodwin is a trickster photographer; Conrad is a shaman printmaker. Each goes through an elaborate process to create mystifying art. Blum has paired them in the wry, thoughtful “Decoys and Devices” at the New Art Center.

With works he calls decoys, Goodwin foils assumptions about everyday objects and space. He photographs a log or a roll of duct tape from several directions, slices and pastes together the photos to mimic a log or duct tape, and photographs that. You’ll mistake “Duct Tape Decoy” for the real thing, until you look closely.

The blue tool in “3D Screwdriver (Invisible Layer)” looks more like a 3-D-printed faux-screwdriver, but that one is real. Goodwin coated it in blue. It appears to magically float before its background, thanks to more trickery. The artist mounts his screwdriver on a rod we cannot see to make it float.

Goodwin uses photography and 3-D printing to question our expectations of reality, and like a good magician, fools us over and over again.

Conrad, on the other hand, is as down to earth as they come, and transparent about process. He makes inks out of nuts and minerals. He builds his presses from whatever comes to hand, and the presses themselves grow, higgledy-piggledy, into totemic works of art. “Home Press (2)” has ink running through tubes to corrugated cans at the bottom, on which are stacked a rusty metal grid, rocks, layers of plaster and wood, a painted log, and more.

The arrangement of cans determines the print’s formal makeup: “Home Press (2)” produces an apparent cluster of single-cell critters wobbling in earthy tones. The print “Untitled (From Eschmann Press),” a gorgeous, diamond-shaped grid, has a stained-glass window quality that’s perfect in this gallery, housed in a former church.

Goodwin’s more calculated art addresses illusion. Conrad’s embraces the uncertainties of making — what materials, curiosity, and invention yield in the hands of a playful master. Pairing them, Blum finds delicious tension among small unknowns, great mysteries, and, most importantly, the viewer’s hunger to know.

Publication Source: 
The Boston Globe