An Interview With Artist And NYC Bodega Enthusiast Josh Goldstein Part 2

josh-goldstein
“Vectorized” Josh Goldstein by Madam Toussaint

Here’s part 2 of my interview with Josh Goldstein. If you missed the first part you can click on An Interview With Artist And NYC Bodega Enthusiast Josh Goldstein Part 1. In this last half of Josh’s interview we learn how the dynamic artist feels about the graffiti scene, Chinese food take out menus and his own “Happy Family”. We also discuss the color purple (not the movie) and how he feels about the color green (the color and the environment).

MT: What kind of gear do you use to take your photos?

JG: Trade secret…ok fine, a Canon Power Shot.

supermarket1Supermarket Chain (2003), photo on russian baltic birch multi-ply plywood, 48″x8″, private collection, Brooklyn, New York

MT: When I see your work I can see Hip Hop has clearly been an influence on you. Were you ever on the graffiti scene? Who are your favorite graffiti artists? If want to see dope graffiti in NYC where should I visit?

JG: Damn, I wish I could say I was, but the truth is I was too busy collecting baseball cards in Indiana. Favorite graf/street artists- Doze Green, Banksy of course, Swoon, Lee Quinones, Taki 183, and the guy who wrote “gang mafia” on the wall of the bodega on my corner.

Best place to see dope graffiti? 5 Pointz in Long Island City for sure- best seen out of the left side of a Flushing-bound 7 train. Also check out the piece on the Manhattan-bound Q train just before the train gets to the Manhattan bridge, from the right side of the train. That’s all I’ll say about it but check it out.

MT: If you had to move to another state or city where would it be and why?

JG: New Orleans I would have to say. I like how it smells.

MT: I like to ask artists how they arrive at their medium of choice but since your media is everything from Chinese take-out menus, graffiti, bus maps, Russian movie posters, street art, Pakistani kebob carts, subway timetables, “No Parking” signs to Goya packaging, manhole covers, street grates and Mr. Softee trucks (and the list goes on!) I guess I’d have to ask when is Goya packaging just Goya packaging? In other words what’s the difference the Chinese food chopsticks wrapper the average person might throw away and something you would use for a piece? What are you seeing?

JG: No difference. It’s all usable, as long as there’s no purple in it. Don’t love purple. I don’t use a lot of green either, but I’d like to go on the record that I have no problem with the color green. I just can’t figure out how to fit it into my art. Purple is a different story though. I hate you purple!

happyfamily1aHappy Family #1 (2007), mixed media photo collage on Russian baltic birch multi-ply plywood, 24″x48″, private collection, New York, NY

MT: Your work so accurately reflects some of the environments I grew up in, though when people think about environmentalism they don’t tend to think about this side of urban living. With the apocalyptic images of New York City shown when climate change is discussed it’s clear the predictions of the future leave NYC underwater with the statue of liberty’s hand sticking out the water. Your work shows a love for this city and the people in it so what are your concerns about the environment and what’s your opinion of “going green”?

JG: It does sort of depress me to think about New York underwater, in particular Katz’s and Russ & Daughters. But I’ve seen some maps showing future water levels, and only like a third of the city gets submerged. I happen to think that high density is what makes New York great, so maybe we’ll just get smaller and denser, and better. And with no Canarsie.

MT: The phrase “Happy Family” on Chinese food menus always stood out to me so I was “happy” to see Happy Family # 1 and Happy Family # 3. It’s just such a slice of life work and title to me, which reminds me that you are a proud parent. Do you think your children have made you a better artist?

JG: They’ve made me an artist who thinks twice about where I’m putting down my x-acto blade. I have actually been working with my daughter and other kids lately and as cliche as it might sound, their work can be really inspiring. The more I work with kids the freer I want my work to be. It starts to seem like all the decisions I agonize over don’t really matter- just keep moving.

happyfamily3aHappy Family #3 (2007), mixed media photo collage on Russian baltic birch multi-ply plywood, 24″x48″, Jan Larsen Art, Brooklyn, NY

MT: You recently participated in a fundraiser event for PS 261 at Galapagos Art Space in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn, NY as a member of the Brooklyn Artsmith Collective. Artsmith worked with the kids to make original art to be auctioned with proceeds going to the school. How did you become a member of Artsmith and did having your own children make it easier to work with the children of PS 261?

JG: It was the brainchild of my friend Alex Bershaw, who is an amazing photographer of urban grit. Somehow he had this vision and made it all happen, and he doesn’t even have kids, so he definitely gets mensch of the year award. He brought me together with Gigi Bio and Adam Suerte to collaborate with students at 261 to make art for a giant fundraiser. I know I couldn’t have managed it, but then again I didn’t spend 10 years in the Navy either.

MT: Thanks for your time, Josh. Good to hear you don’t have a problem with the color green…

A wide selection of Josh’s work is available at janlarsenart.com

Check out what Josh is up to now at bodeganyc.com or follow him on Twitter twitter.com/bodegaNYC

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2 comments

  1. Gigi Bio

    This was great to read about the human side of Josh & his artwork. It is always inspiring to know the process & inspirations of art.

    Josh, Thank you… It was truly inspiring to collaborate with you, Adam & Alex. Keep on going!

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