This month's artist is Goons (Konrad Fitzgerald) based in Manchester Center, Vermont. It's a region which has more than its share of plein air painters.
When I was there last month, I was surprised by plethora of canvases depicting the Green Mountains and cows chewing their cud. These paintings (largely impressionistic in terms of style) might be admired in terms of technique, of course, but I felt like I had seen them all before. When walking into the Southern Vermont Art Center, I wondered if the Hoosier Salon had staged an invasion. Perhaps making such art might be just the ticket to escaping the momentous changes in the world.
But the work of Goons is as far from plein air as you can get. You can say that his large-scale acrylic on paper paintings — good media for wheat-pasting on walls he says — are crudely drawn and silly. But these put-downs might have some truth to them. There seems to be genuine deliberation lurking behind all of this and genuine artistic ability (that he seems, at times, desperately trying to repress). And there's a playful quality to his depictions of humanoid-like creatures with huge mouths and thick lips that I find appealing.
In Goons' most engaging paintings, subjects and landscapes are as densely-packed together as shoppers in a Goodwill on a 50-percent-off Saturday. The colors are as vivid as those of a digital landscape photographer going apeshit with over-saturation in Photoshop.
One such boldly colored standout has text reading "New York 20/20." Last time I was in New York, about two decades ago, it seemed predominantly gray and I do have 20/20 vision.
But, hey, his work is a particular way of looking at the world — humorous, without irony or bitterness — with all sorts of derivations of street art and comics while adding something new to add to this relentless flow. Through his work as an artist, I was getting to see this world for the first time.