Ralph Goings (American, born 1928)
Sacramento Airport, 1970
Oil on canvas 58 5/8 in. x 82 5/8 in. (148.91 cm x 209.87 cm)
Crocker Art Museum Purchase1982.18
Unlike Photorealist Robert Bechtle, who painted the people, places, and things he knew intimately, Ralph Goings preferred the pop pleasures of midcentury America. Counted among the most important of the Photorealists, Goings adapted the snapshot aesthetic to an array of personal slides he took himself of buildings, signs, pickup trucks, and other bits of the American vernacular, which he then projected and traced onto his canvas. In the suburban subjects he favored in his earliest paintings, completed in Sacramento before he moved to New York in 1974, Goings captured the flavor of the era and made it nostalgic even before its passing. While in Sacramento, Goings was influenced by the manner in which Wayne Thiebaud and Mel Ramos treated the figure, as evidenced by a handful of full-size portraits he made in the 1960s. Like Thiebaud and Ramos, he associated with and exhibited at Sacramento’s Artists Cooperative Gallery. However, a wider sampling of Goings’s production reveals a preoccupation with the city’s unique quirks. Goings chronicled the newness of fast-food joints, vast and empty strip malls, and all manner and variety of utility trucks he came across in the Sacramento Valley. As Peter Plagens said of other artists of the era, “There was nothing too vulgar or banal about Los Angeles to prevent it from becoming a Pop subject.”1 Substitute Sacramento for Los Angeles and with this postcard-perfect depiction of Sacramento’s then up-to-date airport, Goings neatly pans an overt display of the smaller metropolitan area’s civic pride.