by Jeff Spry, Cascade A&E Feature Writer
Just ask anyone swept up in his mesmerizing western nightscapes. The Bend artist’s striking astrophotography evokes a potent primal response upon first viewing, something usually reserved for framed masterpieces gracing the hallowed halls of great museums.
Goldpaint’s work is magically alive. It breathes and lives within the still, frigid air from whence it was created, atop a lonely ridge or deep wilderness, conjuring up breathtaking nocturnal visions of distant galaxies and constellations lifted straight from the pulp pages of vintage sci-fi novellas.
“I fell in love with the night sky once I gave it a chance,” he said. “People today are so disconnected with the stars and that is sad. Because of light pollution from most cities there is no night sky.”
For the enthusiastic Goldpaint, anyone can go outside and take a quick picture of the Milky Way or the moon, but to combine it artistically with familiar landmarks like Delicate Arch or Smith Rock is another dimension entirely.
“I really try to piece this together with the landscape and bring some heightened level of awareness to people.”
Each tamed moment in time is infused with a rare nostalgia and romance, whirled in intense saturated color and aglow in the accelerated mysteries of the cosmos.
From the shimmering Aurora Borealis dancing over Sparks Lake, to a spiral of white stars waltzing above Crater Lake, his art is a sublime marriage of the majesties of Heaven and Earth, perhaps a soothing reflection of our own bright hopes and unfulfilled dreams.
“I went to architecture school at SCI-Arc in Los Angeles and I think that first developed my creative juices,” he recalled. “It was very experimental with lots of different design theories taught by some of the greatest instructors. We were also building stages for plays and doing wild designs that aren’t even possible yet.”
But it was the unexpected death of his mother in 2009 that shocked him to the core and spun his fractured life into a new orbit.
“I surfed every day and worked with stuff I loved about modern architecture and when mom passed away it was a huge life-altering incident. We were very close.”
Searching for a sign, Goldpaint was affected by the power and presence of nature while watching the movie, Into the Wild.
“There’s a shot where Emile Hirsch comes out into this gorgeous forest with spectacular light through the trees and the screen title read Pacific Crest Trail and I knew I had to go and do it.”
So he moved to Las Vegas to briefly help out his dad and prepare to hike the storied 2600-mile “PCT.” Goldpaint needed an escape and his father needed out of the house, away from the memories.
“I invited him to share in this adventure,” he said. “I knew he wasn’t going to do the whole distance but thought he’d be fine in the RV. So I quit my job and dove into it. Here’s an L.A. guy with no hiking experience going on this massive trek. I left everything – the surf, friends, family, my apartment. Kinda crazy.
“Being out there on the highest mountain peaks under the stars I began to feel closer to my mother and that enabled the healing process. There’s a phrase that nature cures the soul. I believe it.”
Goldpaint eventually completed 1,300 miles of the journey, meeting his current girlfriend and backbone of his art, Marci, somewhere on mile number 50. After many of the trip’s shorter legs, his dad was meeting up with him in the RV and they’d hang out enjoying some quality father-son time under the constellations.
His final landing spot in Bend was due to an instant attraction to the Sisters region during the Oregon traverse of the PCT.
“I felt immediately at home and remembered it in the back of my mind. Especially following the Three Sisters Peaks and the views along the backside snowfields. I didn’t want to go back to L.A. After being in the wilderness six months it’s hard to return to the urban jungle.”
So he and his sweetheart hiking partner moved to Bend last year without jobs, a big gamble in a slow economy.
“For a while I taught photo workshops during the summer and was thankfully brought on at Pinnacle Architecture four months ago.”
His art portfolio is growing swiftly, one stunning jewel at a time.
“A lot of the panoramic pieces are from the Cascade Range, including the Mount Shasta area and Central Oregon,” he added. “After we got off the PCT we moved in with friends in Mount Shasta to reacclimate back to society. Imagine six months on the trail with nothing but nature and night skies, you grow accustomed to that silence and peace. There’s an amazing energy about Mount Shasta. You walk out of your house and stare right up at the Milky Way. It was there I began formulating how I could meld images of the stars and the mountains, illustrating them as one.”
One of Goldpaint’s more stirring photos is of Smith Rock State Park during the planetary conjunction of Jupiter and Venus, aptly titled, Shared Alignment.
“This was taken in the middle of winter and includes a dramatic arch of the Milky Way bending over Smith Rock,” he said. “You get a hint of zodiacal light jetting up from the horizon toward the two planets’ alignment. Redmond also holds some pretty dark skies, especially the state park but sadly, the more Redmond grows, the more light pollution occurs.”
Many of these once-in-a-lifetime compositions take careful preparation and forethought, a fact not lost on him.
“It takes an incredible amount of planning to get these types of shots, months of scouting, up to a year,” he explained. “That’s if Mother Nature is cooperating and conditions stay just right.”
All of Goldpaint’s photos are shot using Nikon digital cameras and then printed on metallic paper which gives them an immeasurable depth and clarity, replicating what you see on the computer screen.
For our haunting Beyond the Rim cover image snapped at Crater Lake National Park in April 2012, he endured a four-mile snowshoe odyssey, trudging through deep snow to reach the remote location.
“It was a great opportunity to not only capture the Milky Way but also the Lyrid meteor shower,” he said. “This was a brutal learning experience. Your pack weighs a ton, you have your camera, food, clothes, and I started out when the snow was soft. I did two perspectives; the rest can be seen on my site in the time-lapse video, Within Two Worlds, three years in the making and featured on NBC News, Discovery News and Huffington Post.”
With his previous work primarily based in fine art photography, shooting star trails, meteor showers or moonlit dreamscapes, Goldpaint’s next mission will be in the video realm, working with motion-control systems and new camera equipment.
“My aim is to make lasting impressions with my art, and if the images inspire people to get out and explore the heavens themselves, then I’ve done what I set out to achieve.”
At this time, Goldpaint is not associated with any gallery and is soliciting serious inquiries for representation in Central Oregon.
His landscape astrophotography workshops, shooting all night at a variety of locations, begin again this year. For sales and prices on his full image collection, gallery questions and 2013 workshop schedule, visit Goldpaint online at goldpaintphotography.com.