Just before I went to Lane Community College’s Roger Hall Gallery to see Pete Goldlust’s exhibit Crowd Scenes and Questionable Hybrids, I was at the dentist’s office, where two children entered the reception area and a moment later spied a colorful toy in the corner. With parental permission they were on it, giggling and moving the toy’s varied parts, opening drawers, turning knobs, sliding pieces around — in general, seeing what it could do.
Goldlust’s artwork has a similar effect on adults. While at the gallery at LCC, a faculty member and one of her students were drawn to the art. They didn’t touch it — that’s mostly forbidden in galleries — but they passed by several times on their way to the printer, and each time they couldn’t help but laugh. Finally they had to come in and see the art up close.
They found a colorful installation of recycled plastic objects hanging in the center of the gallery. The “Polyjellies,” as these items are called, look a lot like jellyfish. But Goldlust sees more than one thing when describing them.
“I like the way these cheap thrift-store finds can be combined to suggest stained glass jellyfish, microorganisms and spacecraft,” he says.
And that’s part of the fun of his works — trying to figure them out. You may find yourself wondering, what type of creatures are these?
The creatures first appeared in Goldlust’s sketchbook as doodles but became a large work when he traced them onto a piece of acetate 2-by-30-feet long. He titled it “Road.” It was his first major artwork, doodles tied together by a broken yellow line traveling the length of the scroll. It took him four years to complete, and it was on display in February at The Arts Center in Corvallis.
The work at Lane was done within the last year, also the first year Goldlust and his wife Melanie Germond, a graphic artist, have been able to survive solely on their art.
Goldlust’s main source of income is as a public artist. He has made art for a children’s museum, storefronts, a library and a train station. He is an illustrator, painter, sculptor and digital artist, but he will be the first to tell you he’s not good at working with materials like pouring cement or cutting metal. That’s why he values collaboration. “It allows you to work beyond your limitations.”
Goldlust collaborates with his 10-year-old son, Ezra, too. “These cost me $20 for the titles,” he says, pointing to a collection of giclée prints on the wall at Lane. “$2 a title.” Ezra is learning by doing as well, and his titles are quite good. The print and title that caught my eye was “Lifeguardmobile Standoff,” a fanciful image that reminded me of one of my favorite modernist doodlers, Paul Klee, and his 1922 work called “Twittering Machine.”
The characters in Goldlust’s work, whatever they may be — plants, animals, spacecraft or some hybrid — are sometimes designed as if they are interacting, and seem like they should move. Has Goldlust ever thought of animating them? Yes, he has! And if there’s a filmmaker out there, a Claymation artist who’s looking to collaborate, Pete Goldlust would like to talk to you.
Crowd Scenes and Questionable Hybrids runs through March 11 at LCC.