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Meet Michael Goodman of MRG Fine Art in Sherman Oaks

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Goodman.

Michael, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My story begins not quite 25 years ago at UCLA Medical Center where I was born, August 27, 1992 — and it was a whopper of a debut show according to my dad who was right there at the time of my delivery — it was very busy night involving lots of complicated C-Section deliveries and they were under staffed so there was this resident doctor who not only had never delivered a baby but apparently got a case of the heebee-jeebees about it all — so my dad kicked him out of the room with my mom screaming like a banshee because she wasn’t given epidural — and left to the devices of a senior midwife I came into this world — full head of hair — and eager to discover!

But seriously speaking, I took to art pretty much as soon as I was able to hold a crayon and it was a source of constant consternation to my parents who just couldn’t figure out what was going with me because I started talking rather late and then when I did (start talking) they couldn’t get me to stop and I was using baffling multi-syllabic words they had no idea where from — Then when I was 6 my dad moved us all to Israel — and there was lots of us — I’m number 3 in the pecking order among 6 — and it was there, over in Israel that things became rather complicated — in part on account of my schooling — I ended up attending school at the American International School which is like very expensive and not quite what my parents and family had budgeted for — which ultimately led to us all returning to the States in 2005 –when I was 13 going on 14.

A curious thing happened however 1 year before we came to Los Angeles — I was here in the summer of 2004 on visit and my dad saw this sign on the window of Kids Art here in Sherman Oaks that they were offering 1 free lesson as a try-it-see-if-your-kid-is-gonna-like-it thing and decides to leave me there for 45 minutes. When he comes back to pick me up the instructor was well let’s just say pretty much impressed with my work that he asks my dad regardless if he enrolls me in Kids Art if it would be okay if the artwork that I did that day if they could have his permission to submit for a contest that Van Eaton Galleries just down the street from here was sponsoring in commemoration of Theodor Seuss Geisel’s 100th birthday — well my dad had no problem signing the release and I ended up taking 1st prize in that contest and I think at least as far as my dad was concerned — he’d pretty much made up his mind that if anything was a near perfect match for his son Michael it was anything and all things ART from that moment on and I was just 11 at the time.

A rediscovery of sorts of my artistic capabilities came about shortly after we landed back in Los Angeles and was enrolled at Millikan Middle School — It was during art class and my teacher was curious why I wasn’t placed in her advanced art class and then she asked me if I was going to apply to go to LACHSA that’s Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and all this was like 1 week before LACHSA’s deadline for submitting this very rigorous and comprehensive art portfolio so my mom and dad who had no idea about LACHSA were scrambling on my behalf and G-d bless them they turned in my portfolio which I rushed to complete and got me to my drawing audition and interview and it really was a big deal and again a reaffirmation of sorts that this is where I belong and that my calling in life is all things visual mixed in and connected to the artistry of things visual.

The actual transformation and conception if you will of MRG (initials for my full name Michael Richard Goodman) as a commercial entity came about in my junior year as visual artist at LACHSA — there was this available office space for rent in the building where my dad at the time was leasing office space for his insurance brokerage practice and he thought it would be a great opportunity for me to kind of have some space of my own — a kind of artist’s loft only the ceiling wasn’t so high LOL — and what happened there I was really miraculous — I was painting crazy stuff and having my artist friends over to also paint and create and probably most importantly during period before we moved to our current retail location on the ground floor of very same building was that I with the help of family and friends and in particular my best buddy fellow LACHSA visual artist alumnus Chris Rivas — we started doing our very own art shows! We did a shows at the building, we did shows in Westwood at the Westwood Horizons Retirement Hotel and then later when MRG was further evolving started sponsoring and doing shows at a host of other venues ranging from notable to less notable retail outlets in the Valley to places like Santa Monica College.

After graduating LACHSA in June of 2011 concurrent with 2 full years of creating art and showcasing my work with that of fellow artist Chris Rivas and doing shows together I headed up to San Francisco to advance my formal education in art at SFAI (San Francisco Art Institute) but the lure of obtaining a BFA in hopes of thinking this was going to somehow make me a better artist or better art curator or dealer in the arts dissipated when my dad abruptly informed me that he didn’t have the what was it like $75,000 it was going to cost to get me through 4 years at SFAI — I was broken and devastated at first but rather quickly bounced back and started attending school at SMC — and then there was this really odd change of events that occurred at the building where my dad had his office and this retail space that had been occupied for the last 10 years became available and my mom thought it was like some sort of sign from G-d that this was all meant to be — the formal gallery opportunity of a lifetime that should not be passed over! I had sort of the experience, and the vision was well established with a website and what with so many shows LOL the only thing missing being having a delineated business plan!

Wow — the first year and half was a honeymoon dream come true — I was doing shows, painting, you-name-it-everything-except for paying the bills — And then my mom and dad came to me one fine day and said sorry son it’s over we simply don’t have the funds to continue this and we hate to break your heart a second time over in such a short time span since SFAI but we have no choice here and we gotta close down the gallery things aren’t working out. And that’s like when my real moment of truth in growing up occurred and I realized — excuse my expletive — the real word is a dog eat dog world full of shit but mostly it’s filled with my own Bullshit!

I could do this though — the inside of me told me so and I could see a way! And the way was rather simple — don’t make it about MRG Michael R Goodman and his art whatever — MAKE MRG ABOUT THE ARTISTRY OF OTHER ARTISTS YET TO BE!

From that moment on the rest is history as they say — I (MRG) started to do shows and represent others and we did something no other gallery was or is doing to this very day that I know of is we started to offer curatorial art installations to businesses like restaurants and hotels gaining extra exposure, contacts, centers of influence through the business owners which ultimately led to sales to increased revenues. What became paramount was the elevation of the experience in its totality — if it was an art show then it was is to create a unique positive wow one-of-a-kind experience for the artist the art viewer/s the collector/s and all things phenomenal surely MRG will benefit too — And from this elevation of experience we’ve climbed and expanded — most notably partaking this past year in major art fairs throughout the country — from Miami to NY to Boston to Palm Springs to LA — it’s been and continues to be an amazing ride!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No smooth ride! Ever! The struggles strangely or not so strangely as it sounds is never allowing yourself to get too conformable —

Resting on your laurels in the business of fine arts is for sure a sheer (my tongue is getting twisted on that alliteration) recipe for obliteration and extinction.

The Obstacles /Challenges in the business of art invariably centers round the issue of its (art) futility or non-functionality, if you will. When it comes to consumption, art is the exception to every other imaginable business.

Put it this way — we all need to consume food and beverage on a daily basis hence businesses like restaurants, supermarkets, food and beverage manufactures, farmers, transportation related businesses — all these are safe because there’s always going to be a need on account of human need for consumption. This is also true when it comes to our basic need for having shelter, hence housing, construction related or our needs inside and outside the home from security to plumbing, city sewage etc.; or businesses related to our basic need for not walking around naked or barefoot — you get the idea.

Not so when it comes to ART — who in their right mind wakes up thirsty or hungry for a bowl of acrylic paints? The curious thing about this challenge is that collectively — despite its futility and non-functionality — art is key to our understanding of human history like nothing else — look back to the cave wall etchings done by our Neanderthal ancestors to Michelangelo’s frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel to Picasso’s Geurnica — I mean in this regard art takes the cake — there’s no other form quite like art for capturing the narrative, history of human kind and the human condition

Guess I’m getting a bit off topic here but the point is art as a form of consumption for sustaining a business is not the purview of the masses — never has been never will be — in fact it falls under the purview of the very few and far between the 1% of the 1% of the 1% wealthy when you think about it — this is the challenge — understanding that this business is not just that it’s not for everyone it is for the less than 1% of the 1% — I don’t want to come off sounding snobbish about this because that’s not who I am and not what art is about but when it comes to the actual business aspect of purchasing — this is just the way it goes — not too many can afford the luxury of collecting and far too few among those who can are appreciative enough to take the leap of faith and translate futility into action understanding that the raison deter for collecting art is not on account of its futility but rather its collective historical value which goes far beyond measure and scope of any one individual human as human being.

Please tell us about MRG Fine Art.
MRG Fine Arts is a company that represents a new generation of up-and-coming, groundbreaking contemporary artists who work in a host of visual mediums — from the traditional oils on canvas to the avant-garde through cutting edge interactive creations such as live body painting/sculpting.

Our mission is to create a one-of-a-kind supportive community for our artists to showcase their unique visions as manifest through their creations.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
It reminds me of the very last question that the National Transportation Safety Board asked Captain Sully’s co-pilot played by Aaron Eckert in the movie “Sully” based upon the real-life miracle on the Hudson crash landing that happened back in January of 2009 in which the lives of all 155 passengers aboard that flight were saved and he’s asked by NTSB board member “what if anything would you have done differently?” to which he replies — I’d have had it happen in July —

There is however one small sequencing thing I’d have done sooner rather than later and that is although from day 1 we’ve had video alarm surveillance it was only after our second graffiti vandalism incident (we caught the first culprit and he paid for the damages) that we decided to place a sticker on the window alerting that these premises are being monitored — as a deterrent, I think in retrospect would have been better to have that sticker up on day 1.

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Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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