Thursday, January 8, 2009

Kind images

A new kind of online gallery

Published in the Weekly Volcano, Jan. 8, 2009
Pictured: "Layers with Black Line" oil on canvas, 6 3/4" x 6 3/4", by CJ Swanson

David N. Goldberg and CJ Swanson made quite a little splash in Tacoma when they opened Art on Center gallery in the spring of 2006. Ripples from that splash still reverberate in T-town at Grand Impromptu Gallery, an offshoot of Art on Center, which went through various incarnations before they left in the hands of a local artists co-op. Swanson and Goldberg are no longer associated with the gallery, but they are still making art, and their art can still be seen in various venues including, a new kind of online gallery.

There are many virtual galleries on the Internet. Some are terribly cheesy, most are rather difficult to navigate, and purchasing art off the Internet is risky at best because it is so hard to see what the work is going to look like. Imagekind is one of the better online galleries. There you can browse art by subject matter, genre, medium or style, or you can search for work by name; and you get to see as good a representation of what the actual paintings or prints look like as possible on a computer screen. Prices range from a few dollars for prints on paper to hundreds of dollars for prints on canvas. But no, you can’t buy original paintings in oil or acrylic. Nor can you purchase three-dimensional art. There are limitations, and they are sensible limitations. Artists upload high-resolution photographs of their paintings and prints, and the company prints them at various sizes and prices. The prices are set by the artists, but sizes are limited by imagekind to assure quality, meaning that depending on the size and resolution of the original images they will not print anything larger than the maximum size that can be printed without losing quality. Before you purchase a work of art you can see samples with a selection of papers, mats and frames.

There are, however, some strange glitches on the imagekind search engine. If you search for Catherine Swanson or CJ Swanson, you will not find her. But if you search for David N. Goldberg you will find links to his gallery as well as links to “Catherine Goldberg, screen name CJ Swanson.” From her gallery you can choose from six prints with prices starting as low as $9.34. If you visit the David N. Goldberg gallery you’ll find a selection of portraits of artists and musicians (from Frida Kahlo to John Coltrain) starting at $25.47. These are awfully cheap prices for art, and the good thing is that they are what they claim to be and nothing more. So many places sell reproductions of paintings that pretend to be originals and aren’t — and usually are not worth the paper or (fake) canvas they’re printed on. These are reproductions, but you know exactly what you’re getting when you order them.

To see original works in acrylic on paper and canvas — meaning actual paintings, not reproductions, you can go to Goldberg and Swanson’s Web sites at and

Both of these artists have branched out since their Art on Center days. Goldberg continues to make abstract paintings of the type he’s previously shown in Tacoma, but he’s added the portraits to his repertoire. The portraits are paintings in acrylic on paper and black and white woodcuts on paper. They are gritty portraits that remind me a lot of the work of Alice Neel. Swanson’s most recent work consists of small, decorative, iconic abstracts in acrylic on wood panels, and although I have so far seen them only on my computer screen, I believe they may be the best work she’s done to date. To see them click on “smaller works” on her Web site.

[David N. Golberg and CJ Swanson,,,]

Note #1: A shorter version of this article was printed in the Weekly Volcano

Note #2: I was probably way too generous in my comments about imagekind. Like any other online gallery, you have to wade through a lot of junk to find the good stuff.

Note #3: I also have work available on imagekind available here.

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