Solo Exhibition: November 1-25, 2018

Upstream Gallery, 8 Main Street, Hastings-On-Hudson, NY 10706

Reception: Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018 2-5 pm. Gallery hours: Thur – Sun, 12:30-5:30 pm

tel: 914 674 8548, web: http://www.upstreamgallery.com

 Interview: ©Nancy Egol Nikkal


Mitchell Goldberg titled this solo exhibition VICARIOUS and is showing his newest works in collage, image transfer and printmaking. The works focus on imagined or constructed memories of male companionship. Goldberg says: “I’m interested in male camaraderie, desire, and emotions related to body image.” His collages explore gay male sexuality through the lens of pop culture imagery, distorted memory and vicarious nostalgia.

“Vicarious” is an intriguing word. It’s an adjective used to modify another word. For example: “a vicarious thrill” – where the thrill is felt or enjoyed through imagined participation in the experience of others. As viewers, we can share in the pleasure of Goldberg’s love of his media. And – the media is the message.

Goldberg creates collage with cut and pasted papers, his own figure drawings, and image transfers of men from vintage magazines and photos. All the images are classic gay beefcake, soft gay porn, and automobiles, along with flashes of color and recycled imagery from his own work. Goldberg adds transparent layers of color in acrylic and encaustic to create depth and complexity to enhance the sense of memory altered, distorted and rewritten through the passage of time.

The artist adds: “while the works delve into the universal experience of loneliness, they also offer hope in the form of potential intimacy and companionship.”


Mitchell Goldberg, Remembering Them

The image above is titled “Remembering Them” and was the first work done for this exhibition. It’s a double panel collage (diptych) with acrylic and photo image transfer, 36 x 24 inches. The photos are almost all in B&W. The layered colors are blue and red. Goldberg says his assembly process for this work follows the same assembly process for media used in his previous solo exhibition.


Mitchell Goldberg, Summer Solstice

The image above is titled “Summer Solstice” and was done next. Goldberg says it’s from a series that feature his figure studies. This work is 16”x20” and the media is entirely acrylic and image transfer. The overlapping figures are in B&W. The transparent, layered colors are red, orange and purple.


I asked Goldberg about his art background and how he learned to work with all the different media he uses in collage. He made his first collages during a break before his senior year at Sarah Lawrence College, and only took studio arts classes that final year. The first collages also included pop culture pictures of men and cars that express sexual identity. His instructors at Sarah Lawrence said the backgrounds in the collages were too flat.  Goldberg said, although the criticism hurt, he managed to learn from it and his work improved.

He put together his own version of art school and took adult classes at Westchester Community College and the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in NY.” He was in his 40s and consciously decided to never take criticism personally and always try to listen and learn. He studied sculpture, drawing, life drawing and painting, learned to make stained glass, then learned to make fused glass and explore transparent color layering (with Dorothy Hafner), He studied watercolor and printmaking, life drawing and etching, working with multiple print plates.

He said a fellow student introduced him to transparent image transfer – which ultimately changed how he makes collage. He loves building layers with color and multiple images and often adds mono printing above solvent based image transfer, or transparent acrylic paint as a final layer.


Mitchell Goldberg, Midnight Dream

The image above is titled “Midnight Dream” and is the last he finished among the three images. This work is 12” x 24”. The media is collage with acrylic and image transfer. The collage includes a torn monoprint. The background color behind the figures images is saffron yellow. The figures overlap in a design that moves horizontally. The artist added small areas of transparent green and red.


The Art of Image Transfer

Goldberg says he used more image transfer and less cut and pasted papers in the collages for this exhibition. He also varied the media in each work based on size. All the 12” x 24” panels feature a torn mono print with a solvent image transfer on it.   Every work that is 12” x 12” has an image transfer of a simple 3-piece or 4-piece collage layered with an old photograph and a layer of acrylic paint. The 20” x 16” pieces all feature image transfers of a figure drawing by the artist with added layers of image transfers and acrylic paint.

Goldberg likes working with image transfers because he can re-use the original image. He likes the depth that image transfers give by revealing what’s behind the top image and thinks color layering with image transfer is so beautiful because it  enhances the dreaminess of the vision while adding an abstract dimension to the work.

The artist also says he misses having the texture and aged quality of original papers, and will return to paper collage at some point in the future.


I asked Goldberg if there were artists who influenced or inspired him as a collage artist. He likes James Rosenquist and Robert Rauschenberg, the photographers Robert Frank, Gary Wingrand and Diane Arbus – because they knew how to observe the world. He loves works by the artist Kandinsky and early works by Miro. He said Pop Art, Dada and Surrealism are primary inspiration. Goldberg likes Gay artists such as Paul Cadmus and George Tooker because they brought emotion and real depiction of the human experience into their work.

Goldberg says he tries to bring a sense of irony and wit to his work. He is critical of some gay art today because the works are basically figure studies of perfect looking men and very idealized relationships. He adds: “I have been lifting weights since my early twenties, because I also want to look good.”

Meet the artist on Sunday, November 4th (2-5 pm) at the gallery reception. See the exhibition (Nov 1-25, 2018) during regular gallery hours: Thursday – Sunday, 12:30-5:30 pm. For information and gallery directions, call 914.674.8548. Visit Goldberg’s webpage at Upstream Gallery. Visit the artist’s website to see more works.


Collage Extraordinaire

June 29, 2011

Would you believe me if I tell you my life is about glue?

I like to take things apart and put the pieces back together. I love paper. I want the pieces to stick.

I make collage.

I like to juxtapose elements, mix and match media, and embellish with layers of paper, paint and ink.

My thinking process is also like collage.

I like to play with ideas and explore theme and variation and I like multiple choices.

I teach collage workshops and classes (collage is so contemporary and so user friendly).

I plan a theme for each workshop to jump-start the process.

Surprise! In many cases, people arrive with their own plan of what they are going to do (or not do).

It’s important to me that each person feels they do it their way. I never want to control input or outcome. I won’t touch their work with my own hand. We do dialog. I show images in the books I bring along to augment their ideas.

I typically do not know in advance who is registered for a workshop. I have to find out who they are when they arrive – so I ask people to tell me about themselves, if they’ve worked with collage or another media, what they like, and what they want to learn.

I want to share an interesting story.

Last summer I led a 6-hour workshop at the Newark Museum (Newark, NJ) titled Narrative Collage attended by adults, including identical twin sisters about age 50.

It was almost a disaster. One twin was keenly interested in the workshop and the theme narrative collage. One twin was keenly disinterested and verbally antagonistic to her twin about being there.  It was bizarre.

It was hard to persuade the resisting twin to participate.

But I am persistent and have my ways.

I showed her a book highlighting the life and work of the artist Ray Johnson (American 1927-1995). I had a hunch she would like to know about his work.

I am a great fan of Johnson’s work.


Johnson is known as a collage artist extraordinaire and has been called New York’s most famous unknown artist.

Ray Johnson was the original “bridge” between so many of the people and sensibilities of the international art scene and its fringes.  He was heralded as an innovator by the heroes-to-be of Pop and Fluxus (Mark Bloch (© 1995). Read MORE

Black Mountain College Dossiers #4 (Ray Johnson) is the title of the book I brought to the Newark Museum workshop. It includes collage images and an essay “With Ray: The Art of Friendship” by William S. Wilson (It’s an old book, and for some reason it’s very expensive online).

From 1946-48 Ray Johnson studied alongside Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly at the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Faculty members included Joseph Albers, Robert Motherwell, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller, Willem and Elaine DeKooning, and others.


After Black Mountain, Johnson moved to Manhattan (NY) and showed annually with the American Abstract Artists. He is connected to the history of Neo-Dada, Fluxus, and early Pop Art.

In his own way, he invented performance art and Happenings (he called them “nothings.”) He is credited with founding the MAIL ART movement – he called it the New York Correspondence School, and it still exists today.

Johnson’s mail art directed people to “send to” or “add to and return” or “do not send to.”

Ray Johnson

The above image is titled Four Eyed Bunny Postcard – November 26, 1977. See more images of MAIL ART sent from Ray Johnson to Mick Boyle.

The New York Correspondence School participants circulated and re-circulated lists, group portraits, reports, announcements, insider commentary and snippets of media that was an open-ended collage of gossip about members and the NY Art World.

Johnson said: I had this stockpile of materials, so I put them into envelopes and mailed them off to everybody everywhere. I’m very fond of the idea of the message in the bottle…and the chance of it being found or never being…That’s pure romance.

(quoted in Black Mountain College Dossiers)


Ray Johnson

Ray Johnson would take a word that turned up in conversation and reverse it to see if it yielded another word…

When he made an error in typing, he often took off from the error, not from the word he had intended to type.

The collage seen above is titled Taoist/Toast! (1957) 5×4 inches, is in the collection of William S. Wilson (reproduced in Black Mountain College Dossiers #4).

Johnson made an anagram from the word “Taoist,” turned it into the word “toast,” and with the letter “i” left over, turned the “I” upside down as an exclamation mark and wrote “Toast!”


Chapter VIII in the Black Mountain Collage Dossiers book is titled “Twins.”

William S. Wilson wrote: The meaning…of Ray’s images often is complemented by…a twoness, a doubling, as in mirroring, tracing, carbon copies, repeating or other duplication…

It’s possible the twin found this chapter in the book. It brought her back into the group. I think – maybe – she is now a great fan of Ray Johnson’s work.

She began to work in earnest and made a collage inspired by one of the images in the book.

In research on Ray Johnson, I learned about a documentary video about his life titled HOW TO DRAW A BUNNY (2002) directed by John W. Walter.

Johnson loved to recycle old works into multi-layered new works. He loved collaboration. His MAIL art included bunny head portraits, puns and rhymes.

The image above is a portrait of Ray Johnson, his logo bunny and the title of the documentary How To Draw A Bunny (image: the Internet).

You may know Ray Johnson committed suicide in 1995. He jumped off a bridge, paddled backstroke and disappeared in the waters near his home in Long Island, NY.

The documentary HOW TO DRAW A BUNNY includes interviews with Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Chuck Close, Roy Lichtenstein, Judith Malina, James Rosenquist and others.  Read MORE

Thank you for visiting…let me know if you’ve seen the documentary HOW TO DRAW A BUNNY.

PS:  Please add your comments on the art of Ray Johnson and the NY Correspondence School…and I hope you’ll join me on Facebook and LinkedIn