The Goggleworks is a great community resource that really promotes local artists
The Goggleworks is an arts center and exhibit space located in downtown Reading in what used to be a goggle factory. The center opened in 2005 with space for artists to have their own studios, art classes for all ages, a small independent movie theater and even a café to have a snack. The Goggleworks is a great community resource that really promotes local artists.
When we arrived to the Goggleworks, the first thing we saw was the exhibit on the ground floor. This month it was Jerry Dersh: A Retrospective- Forty Years of Sculpture. Having just been to Storm King in upstate New York, it was ironic that again in Reading we would visit a sculpture exhibit (although this time on a much smaller scale.) Dersh works with ceramics and initially used bonded bronze as well. His works were largely geometric using lots of lines and spherical shapes. One of my favorite pieces was Tree, 1968. It had a sticklike trunk and the branches radiated out from the top of the tree like a large pom-pom. I always think that the best sculptures invite you to reach out and touch them to feel their texture and know the art better…with Dersh´s work this was the case.
Also on the ground floor we found the 504 Annex, part of the Outsider Folk Art Gallery (appropriately located on the 5th floor of the Goggleworks in room 504.) The Annex is a small area of the ground level which allows the gallery to exhibit works and draws more visitors to their upstairs space. This month the artist featured was Renee Leshner, a woman who is over 80 years old. She exhibits her pen and ink drawings with their bold, wavy lines that at once capture the artist´s creativity and emotions shown through the subject matter. Ms. Leshner lives alone in her North Philadelphia apartment. According to the information about the artist provided by the gallery, as a young woman, she had visions of an “evil eye” following her and her artwork became a way to express her supernatural visions. Here is a video visit of the exhibit (thanks to Youtube and the Outsider Folk Art Gallery for posting!)
In the main Outsider Folk Art Gallery, we had the opportunity to chat with the director about the current exhibit: “Animals in Art: TNT!” In the gallery´s own words this exhibit, “ will celebrate the human fascination with animals as expressed in artwork from different times, places and traditions (or non-traditions)!” We truly enjoyed chatting about the art work, and what the term “Outsider Art” really means. The gallery, and Rusko, prefer the term “self-taught” artist because really, outsider art just means that the artist did not have formal training. There are so many artists trying to return to that pure, organic state of creating art, and yet, these artists make their works without thinking about the formal. The art that is inside of them just has to come out. The actual term “outsider art” was coined by Roger Cardinal in 1975, but as the director noted, “Great artists produce great art, whether they are trained or simply have a natural gift.”
Another amazing aspect of the Goggleworks is the fact that it is home to artists workshops, dance studios, even a summer camp for children! Rusko was very excited as he was able to participate in one of the projects currently underway. On September 18th, the Goggleworks will begin showing an exhibit called Collision Cross Section, curated by Emily Christensen (one of Abi´s high school classmates). The idea is to gather emerging artists from various places around the world and touches on the theme of the Goggleworks as a space for the dynamic exchange of art. Some of the artists featured in the show will be Maya Kramer (New York/Shanghai), Myriam Mechita (Berlin/New York), Brent Collins (Reading, PA), Michael Berube (New York, NY), KT (Pittsburgh, PA), Bill Abdale (New York, NY), Kristen Egan, and Petros Pappalas (New York, NY). You can learn more about these artists here.
What Rusko was excited about was a piece called “There is no Logic to the Days” by Maya Kramer. This installation piece was never shown publically and was originally created in her studio in Brooklyn in 2008. Now the artist resides in China and works in Shanghai. Starting in May a group of local artists (including Abi´s mother, Pam Roule, Anna Beaver and Michael Dennis) have been working to recreate the installation to be shown in September. So far this has required hours of volunteer work to make leaves, use paper mache, and much more. The result remains to be seen as it is very much a piece meal sort of project, but the images of the installation are great.
Rusko wound up his visit to the Goggleworks with a visit to the gift shop where you can find any number of artsy gifts, Reading, PA souvineers and even artisan jewelry. So, if it is a quick snack at the café, an independent movie, a gallery exhibit, or a chance to make some art- The Goggleworks is a must see in Reading, Pennsylvania! Ruskomended with 5 boquerones!