Capital Improvements/Books & Proof Print Portfolio

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Randy Lewis

The End Of Austin

 January 2014 

"If you want to learn something profound about how Austin has transformed itself in the last few decades, one of the best places to look is through the eyes of photographer Mark Goodman. He has been making extraordinary pictures of his surroundings since arriving in the capital in 1980, when Austin was a long way from becoming an expensive hipster oasis with traffic problems.

Goodman is an artist who looks with remarkable perception at what might seem like banal subjects, inviting viewers to see something deeper in ordinary streets, sidewalks, alleys, and walls. “When you pay attention and get to see what [a subject] looks like as a picture, it changes what’s in front of you,” Goodman told The Daily Texan. “It’s a way of coming to terms with, and making sense of, what’s in front of you.” In a city whose celebration of music culture has sometimes overshadowed the work of local visual artists, Goodman has become a photographer’s photographer, a relentless purist, and an understated visual poet of the violet crown. Simply put, he sees deeper into this thing called Austin than most of us have learned to do. It’s the hard-won product of a lifetime of making extraordinarily careful and subtle images."

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Annette DiMeo Carlozzi

New Works By Austin Photographers

1983

“Mark Goodman’s photographs…document change but in a cooler, more analytical and sensual manner…. A photographer best known for his unsettling portraits of children, Goodman created a different kind of documentary project for himself last September. Exploring a fourteen block area of downtown Austin that stretches from the Colorado River to 14th Street and from IH35 to West Avenue, he is photographing the exterior cityscape devoid of people, concentrating on the physical consequences of change—what is preserved, what is eliminated, what is created by choice and by chance—and the ravishing visual effects of Austin’s strong, white sunlight. The images present a carefully composed balance of formal structure and content through the juxtaposition of old and new, man-made and natural phenomena, the original blond and the increasingly dark tonality of the city’s architecture. These are photographs of the places people pass by and work in daily, but their unnatural stillness allows us a studied view in which we notice the small details that collectively create the character of the urban landscape.”

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Barbara McCandless

“Capital Improvements. Recent Photographs by Mark Goodman”

PHOTO*LETTER, spring 1984

["Mark Goodman] insists on a total picture, a more objective, unbiased view of growth and change as an issue that should not be forced into being only good or bad. There is much that is not apparent to the eye, however; Goodman provides a bridge to this information, in the accompanying captions. These captions contain such data as the original date of construction of the building, its present use, and future plans for construction. He also identifies buildings no longer there, allowing him to refer in a single photograph to the city’s past, present, and future.”

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Capital Improvements. Austin, Texas. Original Square Mile. 1982-1984

2013

Photographs, essays, & editing: Mark Goodman

Pigment printing: Peter Williams, AgavePrint, Austin, Texas

Binding & box: Jace Graf, Cloverleaf Studio, Austin, Texas

The 36 black & white photographs in the book were scanned and printed from 2.25 x 3.5 inch negatives taken between 1982–1984. There are also reproductions of 37 vintage color postcards, 8 historical photographs, an 1839 Austin map depicting the siting of the town in the wilderness, and a watercolor view of the original settlement.

The book includes three essays by Mark Goodman. (1) Move to the Beat of the Street: The evolution of the Capital Improvements photographic project and an outline of Austin’s growth between 1982 and the present. (2) The Past is but a Picture: The history of Austin’s origins to the opening of the 1888 Capitol building. (3) The Ball of Progress: This section has four mini-essays. The first concerns the saving of the 1876 Lundburg Bakery building from destruction in 1971, and the start of historic preservation in Austin; the construction of Austin's first steel skyscrapers (Scarbrough and Littlefield buildings), built between 1910-1912; the renovation of Congress Avenue during the first years of the 1980s, and the razing of the Alamo Hotel, in 1984. Interspersed between these texts are extended captions for the 36 photographs from 1982-1984.

There are also quotations from early Austin newspapers and historical publications, including comments by Frederick Law Olmstead, Temple Houston, O. Henry, and others. A thumbnail page of plates and another of photograph titles are included.

112 pages

Size of book: 11 1/2 x 11 1/2 x 3/4 inches 

Size of box: 12  x 12 1/16 x 1 7/8 inches

Quantity: Five

The book is hand sewn with blue linen thread over linen tapes; the quarter cloth case binding has two direct die stamps (cover—"CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS" and spine—"MARK GOODMAN"); recessed in the front board is a pigment printed label of a circa 1910 postcard, "Greetings from Austin, Texas"; and letterpress endpapers in a custom designed pattern of the Texas Star. The volume is presented in a full cloth box covered with vintage fabrics—"City Construction" and "Bricks." 

Signed and numbered by the photographer/author on the colophon page

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Capital Improvements: 162 Proof Prints

(Boxed collection of pigment proof prints from the making of the book)

2014

All extant proof prints (including a signed final proof print for each image) made between 2010-2013 of the 36 Mark Goodman black & white photographs in Capital Improvements, plus thumbnail & title page sheets, and reproductions of an 1839 historical painting and a map of Austin.

Pigment printing: Peter Williams, AgavePrint, Austin, Texas

Box: Jace Graf, Cloverleaf Studio, Austin, Texas

The loose prints are presented in a full cloth box, direct foil stamped in blue on the spine (“MARK GOODMAN”) and on the front board in yellow (“CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS”); the vintage fabrics for this box (“City Construction” and “Bricks”) are the same as those of the book, but in reversed order.

Size of box: 11 7/8 x 9 6/8  x 3 5/8 inches

Signed by the photographer on the title page

Quantity: One

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