Ralph GOINGS (1928 - 2016)

Obituary
  • "Love your work. Rest in Peace."
  • "Ralph was a truly great artist and an even greater man. All..."
    - Louuis Zona
  • "I met Ralph through my former husband who had built..."
    - Dona Syman
  • "Shanna and family, I was fortunate enough to teach with..."
    - Mike McChesney
  • "Rest in peace my friend."
    - Roger A Bultot

Celebrated Photo Realist painter and former Sacramento resident, Ralph Goings was influential as an artist and teacher. Ralph Goings, an artist of international stature and a former high school art teacher in the Sacramento area, died September 4th at age 88 of natural causes. The son of Ralph and Lucille Goings, Ralph Jr. was born in Corning, California in 1928. He grew up in Northern California, moving around between Corning, Willows, and Roseville, while his father struggled to make a living in the aftermath of the Great Depression. After high school, Ralph joined the army and was stationed at Fort Ord near Monterey, just after the conclusion of World War II. After the army, he enrolled at Hartnell, a small community college in nearby Salinas. This is where he met two people that would change his life forever. The first was the head of the Art department, a fairly well-known watercolorist named Leon Amyx. Leon became somewhat of a mentor to Ralph and helped him to begin thinking of himself as an artist. The second person was Shanna Powell, who would later become his wife and the love of his life. Ralph went on to attend the California College of Arts and Crafts and then Sacramento State University, where he received his MFA in 1965. Ralph held a teaching position in Crescent City, California and another position as the head of the Art department at La Sierra High School in the Sacramento area. Students remember him fondly as the kind of teacher that could make a difference in a young person's life. In the mid 1970's, the lure of a career as an artist prompted Ralph to relocate his family from Sacramento to upstate New York. Ralph wanted to be close to the art scene in New York City, but had no desire to live in the big city. Upstate New York, with it's beautiful rolling hills and tranquil farmlands seemed like the logical choice. He and Shanna purchased a property with a farm house that was built in the 1800's and had previously been a functioning dairy farm. Ralph transformed one of the barns into his art studio, which is where the majority of his large catalog of work was created over the course of his career. Since the mid 1980's, Ralph and Shanna maintained a secondary residence in Santa Cruz, California. In 2006 they sold their farm house in New York state after more than 30 years and made their permanent residence in Santa Cruz. As an artist, Ralph will be remembered as a passionate, highly skilled and highly disciplined painter. An important figure in the Photorealist Movement starting in the late 1960's, he was best known for his paintings of pickup trucks, diner interiors, ketchup bottles, and salt & pepper shakers. His paintings portrayed mundane objects with deliberate objectivity and brilliant realism. The extreme detail and realism of his paintings sometimes leaves people amazed to discover that they are paintings and not photographs. Ralph had a long and successful affiliation with O.K. Harris Gallery in New York City, where his work was shown and sold to collectors from around the world. His career as a painter spanned 40 years. As a person, Ralph was funny, kind, gentle, and humble, despite his success as an artist. He was a dedicated and loving husband and father. He loved good food, good wine, and jazz music. Late in his life he developed an affinity for the San Francisco Giants and became an avid follower, watching every televised game that he could. He is survived by his beloved wife Shanna, his children, and grandchildren. No public services will be held for Ralph, in accordance with his wishes. His family will hold a private remembrance and celebration of his life.
Published in The Sacramento Bee on Sept. 25, 2016
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