Remember what it was like making art as a child? Regardless of what the project was, you made it with total abandon, choosing colors and materials only because they made you feel happy. And while most of us have lost that sense of wonderment at a certain age, local artist Yis Goodwin, better known by his street alias “NoseGo,” has managed to translate it into a full-time career.
“I paint what the kid in me would approve of,” the 26 year-old says. “They’re just meant to be fun.”
Currently on display at Paradigm Gallery in South Philly, Next Week’s Adventure II features a mix of Goodwin’s older and newer work, all marked by a central cluster of animals and characters interacting in unusual ways—like a quirky little cartoon blob perched in the mouth of an alligator, or Kermit the Frog’s head protruding from the top of a blue whale.
Not surprising, Goodwin says his paintings “flow sort of like a stream of consciousness,” with individual portions often inspired by completely different things; a conversation with a friend, something he saw on TV, maybe even a dream.
One minute the audience is transported to a rainbow-filled Land of Make Believe where sharks wear leather jacks and spit fire, and the next, the audience is back on the gritty streets of Philly with graffiti-covered food trucks and skateboarders—hence the sense of “adventure.”
“He sets a great example for us as young artists,” says friend, fellow artist and co-owner of Paradigm, Jason Chen. “His work is always surprising in a good way— techniques, subject matters, presentation—they make you happy when you look at them.”
With his personable, relentlessly bubbly demeanor, it’s clear within a few minutes of meeting Goodwin that the childlike exuberance in his paintings is 100 percent authentic. Although, he does joke that the show was largely fueled by a combination of “techno and bad rap.”
The South Philly native started honing his talent as child, taking classes at Fleisher Art Memorial and attending the High School of Creative and Performing Arts. His fine-art training is detectable in almost all of his paintings—whether it be captured in a stunning waterfall or a dead-on replica of the Venus de Milo sculpture.
It was while studying film at the University of the Arts that Goodwin really began experimenting with contemporary styles and discovered his passion for street art. “I was just trying to find my style,” he says. “At the same time, street art kinda made me feel like a real person because I didn’t really have many friends back then.”
Now 26, Goodwin has exhibited in galleries across the country in addition to having done work for companies like Vitaminwater and Dreamland Toyworks. Here in Philly, his art can be found in almost every neighborhood either sprawling several feet high on various walls and buildings or wheatpasted on the sides of trashcans. In total, Goodwin has done eight commissioned murals, two of which he completed with Mural Arts.
Contrasted against the urban backdrop, his vibrant, whimsical murals such as the one consuming a storefront near Fifth and South Streets certainly command attention. In fact, they’ve likely stopped you in your tracks at some point. Having his work showcased in such a monumental fashion, is just as thrilling for Goodwin. “Anytime I can make something larger than a human being it’s awesome.”
Goodwin is currently designing the graphics for “Rusty The Rainbow Whale,” a smartphone game in which users have to eat color-coded hamburgers floating by on sailboats, which explains the abundance of whales featured in his latest collection. The app is the follow up to the game “Catball Eats It All,” which he launched in December.
In response to a recent comment from a friend that he should “up the ante and become an adult,” Goodwin jokes that his next show is going to be much more serious. “I’m just going to paint dead cats,” he laughs.
Yet, with more than half of his paintings sold on the first night at Paradigm’s former space, it seems others would disagree.
“I’m lucky,” Goodwin says. “Somehow people like my weird paintings.”
Through June 16. Paradigm Gallery, 803 S. Fourth St. 267.266.0073. paradigm-gallery.com