Meet the artist: Rosabel Goodman-Everard

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This is the fourth in a series of visits with new artists on the Rappahannock Association for the Arts and the Community’s (RAAC) eighth annual Artists of Rappahannock Studio & Gallery Tour this Nov. 3-4.

To say that Rosabel Goodman-Everard’s art is thought-provoking and emotionally stirring would be a vast understatement. Asked to describe her complex works, she ponders a while then replies, “Edgy?”

And perhaps that’s the perfect description – but with many edges. The surrealism Goodman-Everard taps into “reflects that I lived in too many different countries for my work to be bound to one specific place.”

Sperryville artist Rosabel Goodman-Everard poses with several of her many-edged works in her studio at home. Photo by Megan S. Smith.
Sperryville artist Rosabel Goodman-Everard poses with several of her many-edged works in her studio at home. Photo by Megan S. Smith.

Indeed, born in the Netherlands, she became a lawyer in 1979 and worked for the next 25 years in The Hague, Brussels, New York, Paris, Johannesburg and now Washington, D.C. She began studying art seriously in 1986 with Dutch artist Fred Adam, then moved to South Africa in 1995, studying at the Johannesburg Art Foundation.

Throughout her travels, she studied in many of these cities, including at D.C.’s Corcoran College of Art and Design, where she was awarded a Rosenbaum scholarship for excellence in drawing and painting.

Mostly painting in acrylic and mixed media, her work also includes drawing, sculptures, screen prints and photographs. “My work is mostly figurative, with surrealistic and symbolic tendencies, and contemplates the unpredictable,” she says. “The unseen undertow of our lives.”

Goodman-Everard says she struggles somewhat with titling her works in that she feels “titling should not be too revealing.” She often takes inspiration from Shakespeare quotes in her attempt to sum up her multifaceted work.

How does she begin a piece of work, many of which contain multiple themes merging into one storyline? “I rarely have a plan” when approaching a canvas, she says. Instead, she draws inspiration from a word she’s heard or a single line she puts down with her brush or pencil. Most often, though, she says she starts with a “mood-producing color.”

In her painting “Under the Greenwood Tree,” which she painted near Pisa, Italy, Goodman-Everard began by painting a lovely stone wall she saw, then incorporated other items as they drifted into the scene: a snake, a butterfly and a scorpion. She noticed a belly-up dead bird nearby and it soon made the cut as well. 

While the “greenwood tree” is fantasized, the body that has seemingly fallen backwards over the wall is actually “a [posed] colleague draped over a chair!” she laughs.

Sometimes she’s perplexed by her work, her creativity largely coming straight down from the heavens. For instance, she doesn’t always know if the figures she paints are alive or dead, but all things come through to her as creativity. Of her repeating themes, she says, “There’s something about eggs and circles with me,” before her mind wanders off to ponder the significance. 

“The narrative, the myth, the tale, the legend,” Goodman-Everard says, “the timeless stories about the human experience that are instinctively understood everywhere by everybody have always fascinated me.” This is clearly depicted in one work she painted while in South Africa of a dark-skinned African woman bearing a white fetus. “Unintentional,” she says, adding it was perhaps subconsciously a statement on apartheid.

Another commentary piece is a sculpture of a ladder with three women, each on a separate step. The higher on the ladder, the thinner they appear. She says the work depicts body image: “The better you look, the higher up the [social] ladder you are.”

But while much of her work is “edgy,” as she declares, some has humor. For instance, following a gut-wrenching bathroom upgrade, she felt compelled to build a small sculpture of tile – with a contractor’s would-be dollar bill sticking out of a piece of copper pipe.

Some of her achievements include a 1988 commission from the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal to produce a drawing of the Tribunal building in The Hague, which has been adapted into limited edition prints still used as courtesy gifts.

For the “Faces of the Fallen” exhibit at the Women in Military Service memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, she painted portraits of fallen military, some of which have been placed in the Pentagon’s permanent collection.

One of her works was chosen in 2006 for the National Symphony Orchestra’s fundraising project “Art of Note” and raffled off by composer Marvin Hamlisch during a NSO Pops Concert at the Kennedy Center.

She and husband Ron bought land near Sperryville in 2009 and built their lovely goldenrod-colored home in 2011. “I love the beauty of nature,” she says. “And not surprisingly, my relatively recent presence in Rappahannock is leading to a fascination with plants and especially trees.”

Goodman-Everard’s house – essentially seconding as a small museum of art she’s collected through the years – will be open to the public on the tour as well as her studio on the ground floor.

Meet the other artists

There are four other new tour artists this year joining Goodman-Everard, each of whom who have previously been featured in this series of articles: Rene Ruffner (painter), Jerry Smith (furniture maker), Ruth Anna Stolk (watercolorist/pen and ink) and Mike Wolniewicz (sculptor/fine furniture). In addition, there are 12 returning artists: Washington artists Kevin Adams (painter), Peter Kramer (furniture maker), Nedra Smith (painter) and Linda Tarry (mosaic artist); Sperryville/Castleton/Woodville-area artists Susan Dienelt (potter), Jeanne Drevas (potter/multimedia), Libet Henze (potter), Rick Myers (painter), Margot S. Neuhaus (painter/sculptor) and Margaret Rogers (print maker/drawings); and Flint Hill artists Benita Rauda Gowen (painter/watercolorist) and Nol Putnam (iron work/forge).

Tickets for the tour are $10 (good for both days) and are available for purchase at tour headquarters at the Washington fire hall. For more information on the tour, visit raac.org.