John Cleaveland, Jr., Thread of Light, Okenfenokee Swamp, GA, 2020, oil on panel, 34 x 80 in.

The Huntsville Museum of Art is excited to announce the winner of the People’s Choice Award for The Red Clay Survey: 2020 Exhibition of Contemporary Southern Art. Unlike the other awards for the exhibition, the People’s Choice Award is determined by the visitors. The Museum thanks each guest who submitted a vote for their favorite piece during their visit. The winner is John Cleaveland, Jr. for his work entitled, Thread of Light, Okefenokee Swamp, GA.

John Cleaveland, Jr. is a contemporary artist born in 1963 in Framingham, Massachusetts. He currently lives and works in Farmington, Georgia. Cleaveland received his BFA from the University of Georgia and held a Graduate Assistantship in the UGA Studies Abroad Program in Cortona, Italy. Before Italy, he was an abstract painter. While in Italy, he realized landscapes were the best way to convey emotion and has been painting them ever since. “My paintings are specific expressions of places I’ve been to that I love, that I’m connected to, or that I’m pushed to some expression by,” Cleaveland said of his works. “I’m not necessarily looking for a thing so much as I’m looking for a feeling — something that might tell a greater truth but in a very simple way.”

The winning piece of the People’s Choice Award is an oil on panel that spans 34 x 80 inches. This impressive work caught the eye of Museum guests and became the clear winner. It will remain on display as part of the Red Clay exhibition at the Museum through October 11.

Cleaveland Jr. recently gave an informal talk at the Museum about his work and what it means to be included in the exhibit. “I’ve always liked the premise of the show,” he said. “I giggled when I walked in the door and saw it. I want to convey a lot more than just a beautiful image. I want people to walk away from it and feel like they are connected to what’s around them more than they were before they saw it.”

The People’s Choice Award is sponsored by Alice Chang. Additional sponsors include the Huntsville Museum of Art Docents, Huntsville Museum Association, Susan and Robert Kuehlthau, Rosemary and Joe Lee, Kelly and Randy Schrimsher, Sasha and Charlie Sealy, Anne and Ed Uher, and Wendy Yang and Rick Myers. Major support for the exhibition was provided by The Kuehlthau Family Foundation. Additional support was provided by The Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Huntsville Museum of Art Guild.