Jeanie Gooden admits she didn’t make a mark on Nashville the first time around, but she never got the city — or the experience of being a young singer here — out of her system. So once she became established as a painter, she sought out a Nashville gallery for her work. She chose Tinney Contemporary and is now having her second show there.
“With Wings,” eight of Gooden’s latest abstract paintings, remains on view through Nov. 30.
A native Texan, Gooden divides her time between Tulsa, Okla., where she maintains a studio in her home, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The works in “With Wings” were created in both places over the past 12 months.
“We just love how dynamic her work is,” said Sarah Wilson, gallery manager at Tinney. “Her paintings have a quality to them that I think is just really, really unique for abstract work and something that definitely provokes a visceral response.”
“When the Heart Speaks,” a pale painting in chalky tones with an area of turquoise peeking through has a series of hash marks running down the left side of the canvas (counting the days until someone’s return, Gooden explains). On the right side, a square patch is stitched into the canvas with broom twine.
Stitches are a recurring element in Gooden’s paintings, as is text. The words are often difficult to decipher, but are easier to make out on some paintings, particularly on “Say My Name” in this show.
“When someone loves you/the way they say your name is different/and you know that your name is safe in their mouth,” Gooden read the works like a poem from her home in Tulsa.
Language became even more important to Gooden after she moved to Mexico and felt, to her surprise, a loss of identity she ascribed to lacking social connections and the ability to communicate effectively. This led her to develop a “non-language language” of large scribbles that she began incorporating into her work.
The scribbles appear in a few of the works in this show, mostly notably in “Tangled,” a horizontal painting hanging over the gallery’s large front desk.
Rendered boldly in charcoal, the sinuous scribble wiggles across the painting’s rich turquoise background; a small patch of orange-red in the lower right corner completes the piece.
Gooden adds the “movement” as the last step, sometimes weeks after she stops painting, when she feels the moment is right. “If you don’t get it right in one movement, it’s over,” she said.
“Tangled” represents much of what defines Gooden’s work, including that small area of red, particularly in work that may otherwise lean toward monochromatic.
“I’ll say, ‘It needs the earring, the one thing that grabs you, it needs the one jewel piece, something that’s gonna take you to the heart of the whole piece,’ ” she said.
In this show, red appears in several works, from a poured strip of red among teals in “Oh the Flow” to small splotches of brick red in “Knock Knock Secret, Is That You?”
The latter is a huge study of movement and texture with a series of vertical stitches, sheets of metal, a large scribble down one side and layers of brushwork.
“It’s becoming a little more sculptural,” she said of her work, “and that’s kind of exciting to me.” This is the first show where she’s exhibited paintings that involve metal and nails. She also works on looser techniques, including pouring paint on part of the canvases.
Gooden said most of her paintings weigh about 50 pounds, but “Knock Knock Secret” just about exceeds the limit of what she can move. “I’m a nut for scale,” she said, adding that she’d love to work on a canvas so big she’d need a camera track to move around it. “A little bitty canvas scares me to death; I just freeze because my movements are big.”
“She has such a good grasp of materials and she’s fairy experimental, always trying new things,” Wilson said, adding that Gooden manages to tie her various components together in a cohesive painting in the end.
“If you’re in the arts, there’s something that sparks you, that gets that little desire going in your heart, and Nashville was part of that for me,” Gooden said.
“I have a real sincere desire to do well in Nashville because it’s part of my history; it’s part of what really got me going artistically.”