Tagged: Fleisher Art Memorial

Matt McGoff was an artist of real power and a devoted friend of mine. He left an assertive body of work that has been witnessed by too meager an audience. Wednesday, June 8th, would have been his 50th birthday. This post is dedicated to Matt, his art, and our friendship. A wisecrackin’ Irish kid from the working class Philadelphia suburb of Folcroft, Matt was, save a couple months in New Orleans, a life long resident of the City of Brotherly Love and an alumnus of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

He wasn’t at the Hussian School of Art long before a teacher there told him he was a natural painter and chased him off to PAFA. Oil painting was just in the boy’s bones. Bright, if not somewhat naive regarding the “fine arts,” motivated, a voracious reader, and a talented athlete whose principle craft heretofore had been baseball, The Academy suited Matt. The young artist flourished under the discipline and let’s just say the social environment suited the good looking young jock’s philandering ways.

This picture of youth is, I believe, from circa 1980. The pompadour would be gone in a bit over a decade.

Next to the image of our young friend is a painting of a dancer who was a principle model during the late 90’s and in whose father’s house I was a boarder for my last 18 months in Philly. To the right of her is a watercolor of the occasional male nude.

It wasn’t his style to dawdle over details. He attacked the basic structure with a brush or palette knife as evident in the unfinished female nude on the left, the slightly more developed painting of Kathy in the center, or a completed sketch from a 10-15 minute pose. Matt worked from life, at great expense over the years. Just ask any artist who plies their trade dependent on a hired subject. The landscapes are there, and the still lives, as harshly lit as the nudes, but it was the body of work with a model that he pursued when finances allowed.

As someone who still goes to life drawing on a regular basis, it’s an impetus to focus. Not that he was one to brood quietly working himself into a Sturm Und Drang sweat. He was a pretty lively guy and couldn’t harness his humor and need to interact for long. I drew alongside Matt on several occasions when I made one of many return trips to Philly. We ‘d head off to The Sketch Club or The Plastic Club on Camac Street or pop over to The Fleisher Art Memorial for open life sessions. He was pretty loose and jocular, knew a lot of the models and many of the artists present. He definitely worked fast, in ink, ballpoints and later gels, in old ledger books. A material preference he copped from me. There might be a period of time when he just sat there doodlin’ away; the noise coming from a pen that was being worked furiously by a heavy hand. He might crack a joke or bust your chops about something. And I most surely heard him humming some Celtic diddy when had his Blarney Stone on. But even when we were dorkin’ around and trading barbs he was focused. The ball field was long in his past, but a vibrant sense of competitiveness thrived in Matt’s marrow. We had mutual respect for each others’ abilities and gobs of self confidence so that when we went off to the drawing clubs, game was on. I’ve had some of my loosest moments, especially with the short poses, sittin’ next to ol’ Irish Eyes.

Below are drawings I did at some of those sessions. It is my hope that as friends of Matt’s send me scans of his that I can add them to this post. Including some drawn from the same poses I drew from.

I did this drawing of Matt in his studio one winter night in 2006, before we headed off to the Sketch Club. He was living in his studio at that time. Just a work space, no kitchen, no shower, virtually no heat. His much adored Boxer, Wilma, had passed away after 13 years, and Matt, no longer needing a home for his dog, cut his expenses and lived exclusively out of the studio.

Sorry, but I’ve had no end to technical problems posting these images and must now retire before I throw this fuckin’ computer thru the window. I’ll try and clean it up this week as I add more about Matt and more images. Thanks.

The top 2 on the left are from different books by the same company. I know they’re gonna burn themselves up one day, but I love how they “bronze” like a meerschaum pipe. That’s Claudia at the top right, draped like death, or a pair of coveralls, on the model stand. I’m hit or miss when it comes to facial likenesses, but the drawings across the 2nd row of 3 different women are all in the neighborhood. Horseshoes, hand grenades, and the occassional portrait.
I occassionally return for a visit to Philadelphia, and when I do, I go to life drawing sessions at a few venues with Matt McGoff, a friend of mine who’s a very good painter and vigorous draftsman. The 2 models in the opposite corners of the bottom row, were drawn at The Fleisher Art Memorial. The figure on the couch, smack in the middle, was drawn at The Woodmere Art Museum. I’ve posted drawings previously from The Sketch Club, also a venue we like in Philadelphia.
I’m often running off the page with the figure, but I managed to get all the figures in black and grey tones completely within the perimeter of that particular book. That ledger book was a gift from Tony Fitzpatrick, as was the one in the middle of the top row, and at 10 1/2 ” wide and 17″ long, was too big for my scanner.

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Tags

  • blog links