Dancing And Kicking Ass: The Photography Of John Goodman

In his first solo exhibition in New York, photographer John Goodman combines images he's taken of boxers and ballerinas Most of his work was made backstage at the Boston Ballet and out of the legendary, now defunct Times Square Gym. He has shared some of the stories behind some his work with us. If you're in the New York Area head over to the Rick Wester Fine Art Gallery to see it in person, or you can check out the work online on the exhibition's website.

I saw the Times Square Gym from across the street one afternoon in 1993. I was drawn to the lights in the window and the typography. So I crossed the street and went up the stairs, and when I got up the stairs to the second floor, there was a door that was closed on the bottom and open on the top, so you could stand there and look in. So I went over, and I was looking in the gym, and the manager, Willie Dunn came over to me and said "What the fuck do you want?" I said to him, "I'm a photographer, I saw this place from across the street. It's really interesting to me. I just thought I'd come in and take a few pictures [...] I came back two weeks later with the work. I showed it to [Dunn] and he said, "This place is yours man, do what you want."

I shot on a black and white slide film made by Polaroid, it was called Polapan Film. It was a very fragile emulsion. It was wonderful the way it rendered the blacks and it was a favorite film of mine.


Dancing And Kicking Ass: The Photography Of John Goodman

Solitaire / The Times Square Gym, 1993

When you train to be a boxer, [...] it's you only, you're trying to get better all the time. It's very solitary. I like how in a sense he's walking on this old taped ring. It's very much like an abstract expressionist painting.


Dancing And Kicking Ass: The Photography Of John Goodman

Karl Leshore, 1993

The [Times Square Gym] cover image. This is a boxer named Karl Leshore. Again, I love the solitude and the determination and the beauty and the ambiguity and the movement. I'm very interested in extended time in a still photograph.


Dancing And Kicking Ass: The Photography Of John Goodman

Muhammad Ali, 1976

And this picture I took of Muhammad Ali in 1976. He had trained at the Time Square Gym and was a friend of Jimmy Glenn, the owner's. I included that in the show and in the book.


Dancing And Kicking Ass: The Photography Of John Goodman

Anthony Greene, 1996

I felt like a little child taking this picture, he was so big and powerful. I felt like I was in the fourth grade looking up at this guy.


Dancing And Kicking Ass: The Photography Of John Goodman

Goodbye / The Times Square Gym, 1998

They're going to knock down the gym. I contacted the architect, and I made this last picture. I call it "Times Square Gym Goodbye." The building was precisely where the Conde Nast world headquarters is now. So this was all part of the Times Square renewal. This was kind of like the last picture, the goodbye picture.


The artistic director of the Boston Ballet saw my Times Square Gym work and I got a phone call one day at my studio, and he came over and he said to me, "Why don't you do something on the ballet, I'll get you access." [...] I did this backstage at the Boston Ballet in 2004 and 2005.


Dancing And Kicking Ass: The Photography Of John Goodman

Ballerina, 2004

I love how this woman is so strong and yet feminine. And I thought this was a very wonderful counterpart to [the Times Square cover image].


Dancing And Kicking Ass: The Photography Of John Goodman

Elysia Fridkin / Swan Lake, 2004

I rarely take pictures that are beautiful, but this one was amazing. For me, what draws me to it is that this young woman is in the wings and she's still working. You can clearly see that she's thinking about what she's going to do next, and she's totally focused on that.

Goodman's Times Square Gym work was later made into a book.