There is something as charming about Lori Goldberg, the person, as there is charm in her paintings.
It could be the pace at which she speaks, fluttering from one topic to another and weaving disparate themes together. She takes me on a mental trip though Paris, still-life painting for upper class housewives, being a single mom, and getting by as a career artist as I arrive at her East Van studio.
I like it in here. There's something about the studio in the backyard of her character house just off Victoria Drive that's otherworldly. It could be the unruly gardens that run across three adjacent properties—“we don’t believe in fences,” says Goldberg—or it could be the details that come into view once I’ve been there awhile: the hand-placed stone mandala in the garden or the little coloured jars that sing the spectrum in the windowsill.
Then, there are the many little treasures that Goldberg starts to pull out from the nooks and crannies—tiny little plastic figurines, no larger than the nail on my pinkie finger, and the spindles and other toys that she uses to create the orbs in her “Urban Forest” series (it’s this series of her half dozen different collections that speaks to me the most).
Why is the urban forest, I ask? It looks enchanted to me.
“It’s about combining two different worlds,” says Goldberg. “It’s a different psychological state—being in a forest. When I’m in a forest, I start to shed parts of the urban perspective… our concrete jungle that we’re so used to. My spirit starts to wake up, but then at the same time there’s the fear of the untamed—of wild animals and getting lost. Being in a forest becomes a combination of fear and excitement.”
All of Goldberg’s paintings are grounded in a strong structural element. Sometimes this is the trunks of trees, but nowhere is this structure so bold as in her collection of long red canoes: “Pierre Berton once said that a true Canadian is somebody who knows how to make love in a canoe and not tip it over!"
A life-long artist, Goldberg’s dynamic breadth of artistic talent is as broad as she is eclectic.
“I’m versatile,” says the woman who teaches continuing studies courses at Emily Carr University of Art & Design and has painted in just about every style and technique to be named.
My jaw drops as I learn that at one point early in her career, she spent two full seasons painting the same painting over and over and over again in slightly different colour schemes for Intrawest resorts—all with a baby strapped to her side.
“As an artist, I don’t believe one should close the door to any opportunities,” she says. “My success is that I’m living the life I always imagined I would.”
If you are interested in learning more about painting from Goldberg, she is teaching several summer intensives around B.C.
Find out more about the dates and how to register at LoriGoldberg.ca, where you can also discover more of her art.