For Rob Goebel soccer, swimming and tennis were the sports that filled his young life. Maybe it had something to do with living in Toms River, New Jersey. The beach was nearby and surfing with friends a fun pastime. By the time Rob was a senior in high school his swim team ranked in the top 10 in the state. While some TV specials, like HBO's Boardwalk Empire, were filmed here, the town of fewer than 100,00 friendly folks was rated one of the safest small cities in the nation in 2006 and 2007. Add to the beach life an annual Halloween parade touted to be the second-largest in the world, and you have a genial place in which to grow up.
Art interested Rob too. He drew in his spare time, often copying logos by hand, trying to get the proportions just right. Summers were spent in Florida with his artist grandmother--a painter. At age 11, Rob asked her if he could try painting too. She answered “yes,” and proceeded to teach him the basics of color mixing and how to make things look “real.” By the time Rob was in high school, however, music had replaced painting--after he fell in love with alto and baritone saxophones and the guitar. He played in several jazz bands with friends, and even traveled with his high school orchestra to play at Disneyland not once, but twice. His music awards kept company with swimming medals and youthful paintings.
Becoming a student at Duquesne University was a different ballgame altogether. Studies were intense, but Rob thrived, double-majoring in psychology and art history. He completed that feat in four short years. After graduation he married and moved to the DC area where he worked several jobs before continuing his art studies at the Art League School in Alexandria and then at the Art Institute of Washington DC where he earned a degree in Graphics and Web Design.
Eventually he found his creative stride in Deanna Schwartzberg’s Art League painting class. “I liked it so much that I was able to discover my own way of painting,” he mused. “Critiques provided great feedback and insights in a friendly atmosphere.” Coupled with this encouraging environment, Rob developed in himself the candor and openness he admired in the works of Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, and Jackson Pollock. Like Mitchell, who was also an athlete, Rob’s experience with discipline, practice, balance, and physical activity carry over into the painting process. Impasto acrylic paint, pure colors that sing, and gestural brush strokes are now attributes of his paintings.
Being a versatile person, Rob works for Lou Lou Boutique designing store graphics, window displays, and web designs, the same kinds of work that de Kooning did in his day, sans web designs. By putting up with the rules and frustrations inherent in creating computer-generated graphics, Rob has become an accomplished webmaster--recently designing Touchstone Gallery’s website and online store.
In describing his April solo Between Two Worlds at Touchstone Gallery, he states, “When taking abstraction from reality, you come to another place where emotion can be described in color or gesture. My acrylic paintings are symbolic of my reality--a dreamlike place, a Utopian state of mind.”
To be transported to other worlds via these paintings, visit Touchstone Gallery at the opening reception April 8, 2016 from 6-8:30 pm, regular hours Wed-Fri 11-6 and Sat-Sun 12-5. Meet the artist at the opening and at the encore event Saturday April 23 from 5-7 pm. Rosemary Luckett