John Cleaveland, Thread of Light, Okenfenokee Swamp, GA, 2020, oil on panel
Gallery Walk and Reception
Sunday, December 11 | 2 – 4 p.m.
Included with admission and free for members
The latest exhibition in this long-standing showcase for outstanding regional contemporary art focuses on recent works by this critically-acclaimed realist artist who lives and works in rural Georgia. Known for his breathtakingly expansive oil paintings, John Cleaveland offers viewers a timeless glimpse into iconic Southern scenes as well as vast pastoral expanses of the United States and Europe. The artist enjoys conveying perspective and qualities of light in remarkable detail — allowing for total immersion in his works. Standing in front of one of Cleaveland’s large-scale oil paintings, you may feel as if you could walk right into the landscape before you. Organized by HMA.
Born in 1963, Cleaveland received his BFA from the University of Georgia and held a graduate assistantship in the study aboard program in Cortona, Italy. “Before Italy, I was an abstract painter,” he observes. “It was in Italy that I realized landscapes were the best way to convey emotions.” And Cleaveland’s paintings are all about emotion — the passage of time, the harsh yet beautiful reality of nature, the cycle of life and death. It’s not unusual to see an old house falling down from neglect, a steam engine from another era, or even a deer lying dead by the side of the road in one of his canvases. “Nature dies, but it also rekindles itself,” he says. “What I sometimes see is like Mozart’s Requiem, in part really sad, but also very beautiful.”
Cleaveland has exhibited his work at the Albany Museum of Art, the University of Georgia, the Missouri State Botanical Gardens, and in several Red Clay Survey exhibitions at the Huntsville Museum of Art. His paintings are in the permanent collections of the Asheville Art Museum, the UGA State Botanical Garden of Georgia, the Combat Art Collection at the U.S. Marine Corps Museum, and the Morris Museum of Art, among others.