Have you heard of the American dream? The search and pursuit of happiness? A concept that in today’s climate seems a far of fantasy of a by gone era. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and adventure is no different Travel broadens the mind, but adventure feeds the soul.
Join us in an adventure into the heart of America with two brothers to meet the soul of America!
But this is not your typical journey. Our hero is not these brothers but instead their chosen form of transport, The Mighty Rufus a 20-year-old Cadillac Eldorado forged in Detroit in 1982.Perhaps by 2002 it was already too late to find what they were looking for, by gone dreams and faded memories. Is the destination always where the story leads or is the journey the most important to the creation of a narrative?
Follow The Mighty Rufus across America in this art series presented by the Blockchain Art Exchange. The artist Mark Goddard and brother Jeremy will also be creating a unique soundtrack to accompany the story as it unfolds. But all of this is to accompany and complete the stunning photography captured of Rufus and America on the brother’s journey. The Photos are captured and archived in the highest quality and will be sold as the story progresses. If you want to get a head start on the buyers and make some offers you can here https://opensea.io/assets/blockchainartexchange-v2?query=mark%20t%20go
Ahead of the launch of this artistic extravaganza we catch up with Mark to ask a few questions about him as an artist;
Sascha Nishikawa - Bailey of the Block Chain Art Exchange interviews photographer and artists Mark T Goddard about his artistic influences.
SNB: Who are your artistic influences?
MTG: I always loved art and had a talent for drawing. In my first week of Art GCSE level we were told to read EH Gombrich Story of Art, I loved the overview the book presented and was a fabulous introduction to art history (most people in my class didn’t bother to read it, although it’s mainly pictures!). I became fascinated by Renaissance art, the Baroque, and was deeply moved by the art of the Romantic period. As an avowed Americophile I loved the work of Edward Hopper and the 1960s pop artists and photo-realists. To me all these artists painted a fascinating fantasy of mid-century modern America pre-1973 oil crisis.
In regard to my American road trip in 2002 I read the beat classic On The Road by Jack Kerouac before I left and watched movies about the 60’s counter culture, such as Midnight Cowboy, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Easy Rider but luckily not Deliverance… Deliverance was constantly referenced by the Americans we met on the trip, if we had seen it I think we would have been far more worried about going into the Appalachian Mountains without any camping gear or provisions other than a Randy McNally road Atlas of America and a couple of chocolate bars…deeply stupid as we found out!
Our biggest musical influence for going to the US in 2002 was The Blues Brothers. A brand that has become somewhat cliché but the film introduced my brother and I as children to the music of Chicago, Memphis and the Mississippi Delta. We watched the film hundreds of times and it was where we first saw and listened to James Brown, Aretha Franklin, John Lee Hooker Steve Cropper, Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy, Cab Calloway and more. In terms of my early musical influences, I grew up in a household where Ray Charles, Fats Waller and Duke Ellington were gods. Our father was a jazz pianist who has run a trad jazz band for over 30 years. He brought my brother and I up to play the Blues, Jazz, Boogie Woogie, Soul and Country & Western.
In addition, by the mid-Nineties, my brother and I were regular readers of Mojo music magazine and were discovering and collecting 70’s Funk, Soul and Rock vinyl. I loved Rock and Funk album artwork of the 1970s, from artists such as: Pink Floyd, The Who, Jimmy Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, Parliament Funkadelic and Earth Wind and Fire. Reading Mojo opened my eyes to Rock and Roll photographers such as Mick Rock and others who shot the NYC scene in the late 70s.
I recently discovered the photographs of Wayne Sorce who shot Americana in all its glory at the time when it was still present.
Photo by Wayne Sorce
SNB: Where were you born?
MTG: Bristol, England in South West of England – I grew up in the 1990s when the city was leading the way with trip hop artists such as Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky which came to be known as the ‘Bristol sound’. There was also a really strong Drum & Bass / Jungle scene led by acts such as Roni Size and DJ Die, and my brother and I were regularly attending nightclubs in the city from the middle of the decade onwards. Interestingly though there was a miniscule live Rock scene, but there was a more active (but ageing) Trad Jazz scene. Stars such as Acker Bilk and Chris Barber regularly played gigs in Bristol and at events where my Dad was also performing. My brother and I grew up attending my parent’s Trad Jazz gigs and we started playing in the band from an early age.
SNB: What made you want to start photography?
MTG: I was always good at drawing and loved art. However, I didn’t pick up a proper camera until I was about 16. I was on a school Art trip to Florence and Venice and asked my Mum if I could borrow her 35mm SLR. When I got back I took my films to be processed at the local Snappy Snaps and the manager was so blown away by one of my shots (of a red tulip) he blew it up large to A3 for free, he said that I had a real talent and should think about being a photographer and come and work for him…I didn’t follow his advice though! I went off and studied Art and Architecture in London and then drifted into music.
Photo By Mark - For What it's worth
SNB: How does your music play into your work?
MTG: Music is at the heart of my stylistic expression and has been integral to the work I do in my day to day life for the last ten years. However, the trip to America in 2002 was 100% informed by music. My brother Jeremy encouraged me to take my SLR camera and document our whole trip. We had no actual itinerary other than a return ticket from Boston separated by two months and a vague desire to get to New Orleans via some of the major cities that played pivotal roles in the history of Jazz and Rock’n’Roll, ideally by car...
SNB: How important is Americana?
MTG: Growing up in suburban England in the 80s and 90s America seemed like the promised land. My parents had travelled extensively around the entire US in 1983 with my older brother when he was three years old. As a result our house was littered with artefacts from their journey and my parents frequently recounted stories about the trip. As a child this gave me a yearning to see this land of skyscrapers, giant redwoods and big cars! In addition my father was (and still is) a great student of pre rock ‘n’ roll American music (Jazz, Ragtime, Blues and Country & Western). Through these songs I grew up around all the vivid descriptions and fables of the deep south and the American west.
We finally went to Chicago and LA when I was nine and I fell in love with the vastness of the cities and the brash and dynamic architecture. What fascinated me even more was the simple stuff and how the hotels felt so different and departments stores smelt different to the UK. What struck me was a deep sense of nostalgia within America, it was a peculiar blend of the place being both technologically advanced but with a real out-dated infrastructure of another era and funny looking vehicles. I loved the vintage vending machines, weird chocolates and vintage arcade games run by quarters. It was almost like being in a parallel universe, everything was in English but most of the brands and road signs were unfamiliar. For me the whole feeling is best described by colours: off white beige with 70s browns and reds, very cool but not flashy.
For me American industrial design reached a zenith in the late 60s / early 70s. The fuel crisis of 1973, the rise of built in obsolescence, cheap electrical goods from Japan and the mid 70s regulation on chrome bumpers changed America and made American products feel far more plastic and disposable after this. Growing up loving the Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll I loved the stylings of the 1940’s and 1950s, all the great record label logos were created at this time as were the great guitar models; Gibson Les Paul and SG, Fender Strat and Telecaster – all products of the ‘Space Age’ and mid-century modern American design.
In 2002 the internet revolution was in full swing, musically the superstar DJs trend had just burnt out and Napster had changed the music industry overnight. The zeitgeist in the UK was future orientated products such as; Nokia 3210’s, first generation iMacs with their translucent blues and oranges and sans serif font, plus digital cameras were taking over.
Although we both embraced these technological revolutions and loved some of this music my brother and I felt we had to visit America before the vintage Americana had disappeared. We had to discover the states on our own terms, experience firsthand the music we loved, and to visit and play in the venues before they were closed or modernized. See the music artists we worshipped before they died and see the places that had inspired them.
Photo by Mark - Rocket 88
SNB: What is the biggest journey in your life?
MTG: Good question and quite a complex one to answer. The trip around the USA in 2002 was no doubt the greatest change in a short space of time. When I left Bristol on 4th July 2002 I was a young, barely virgin, eighteen year old kid who’d hardly spent more than a week away from home, but by the time I arrived back in September 2002 I was a very independent young man, not scared of the big city, who’d seen some quite revealing things and had some deep experiences.
However as important a rite of passage that this journey was I’m not sure it’s been my biggest journey in life. I feel my change from being an architecture graduate to becoming a music impresario and musician was more profound and in many ways far more reckless. I changed my career at twenty five after a lengthy period of travelling in the far east, as I felt my early twenties had gone by in the blink of an eye, working like a dog to become an architect. I could see I still had another four plus years to go before I was fully qualified and another 10-15 years to become established on my own (if I was lucky) or I might be stuck in a restrictive office job for a large commercial firm. It was a time frame I couldn’t deal with and I decided I had to concentrate on my first love music and meld the creative skills I’d learnt at art and architecture school into something useful for creating music related content. My brother and I started an electro pop band Legion of Many and then I ended up running events, promoting parties, working for labels and running a music publishing company.
It’s been a long journey that is still not over. However, over the last couple of years I realised I’d stopped painting, drawing and focusing on photography and that for my sanity it was essential I embraced these passions once again. My brother and I started a more Americana influenced act: The Brothers Goddard in 2018 and this led me to re-examine the trip I made in 2002 and to start to properly document the trip. Looking at the pictures now it’s 17 years since we made the trip and many of the locations we visited don’t exist anymore. With all the political, environmental and cultural developments of the last few years it feels the photos I took and the journey we embarked upon is even more relevant than ever.
You can own images from the Mark HERE: https://opensea.io/assets/blockchainartexchange-v2?query=mark%20t%20go