Miles Cleveland Goodwin is an American painter, currently living and working in the South. He is best known for paintings that metaphorically speak to the fundamental nature of life, in all of its heartbreak, mystery, and everyday beauty. Through his work, we experience the inherent ambiguities and provocations felt when confronting life as it is. His current exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue with essay by Andrew J. Walker PhD., excerpts of which follow along with quotes from the artist.
"In Miles’ work, the tangible reality of the places and the people of his world are heightened to a fantastical finish that touches the spiritual." —Andrew J. Walker, PhD
In his essay for the catalogue published to accompany the exhibition "Miles Cleveland Goodwin: The Closing Door" at Valley House Gallery, Andrew J. Walker, PhD, writes: "I first encountered the work of Miles Cleveland Goodwin in an exhibition held at Valley House Gallery in 2018. His work proved not only to be technically proficient, but also deeply engaged with art history. Given my training as an art historian, and with nearly three decades in the museum business, I tend to see historical precedent in the work of contemporary artists. In his layering of paint and his hyperrealism, Miles’ work evokes James Ensor, Andrew Wyeth, Pieter Brueghel, and a host of Northern Renaissance painters. These historical precedents, however, were but touchstones for my encounter with a unique artist’s vision. In Miles’ work, the tangible reality of the places and the people of his world are heightened to a fantastical finish that touches the spiritual. That first encounter with Miles’ work led me to a deeper investigation of his process, his history, and his creative impact. This essay draws from a series of conversations with Miles that began pre-pandemic and continued through the cultural and political upheaval of 2020 and beyond. Only within that context did I realize that Miles’ work opens a door into the world of the rural poor. When I asked Miles about his approach to making a work his answer was lucid and direct: “It’s a bit like looking into a crystal ball to let what’s there come out. The unconscious has a lot of power to draw out what is current in our lives.” The process is one of discovery, not unlike Michelangelo seeing the physical form in the block of marble. Inevitably that discovery comes from the world around him." Following are quotes from Miles Cleveland Goodwin about paintings in his solo exhibition "The Closing Door" as well as additional excerpts from Andrew Walker's essay for the catalogue.
The Closing Door
"This painting is a portrait of my Uncle Tom, and his dog Duke. Tom is an outpost in rural Mississippi, his family around him all gone, except Duke. An important part of the painting is my reflection in the closing door signifying the chapters in life that inevitably end. " —Miles Cleveland Goodwin
Miles Cleveland Goodwin, "The Closing Door," 2020, oil on canvas, 57 5/8 x 35 1/2 inches
"I’ve spent most of my life painting in the American South. My work is usually a reflection of life around me. I see people and places that are passed by, disregarded by contemporary society. Yet, they fully exist in our time, and are a part of what makes life rich and meaningful. My instinct is to salvage the forgotten and unappreciated, and elevate the discarded." —Miles Cleveland Goodwin
Miles Cleveland Goodwin, "The Sculptor," 2021, oil on canvas, 40 x 30 inches
“Wolves are the trials we go through. Our trials do not see; therefore, they are not biased. They are natural and beautiful consequences of life. Sometimes for something to be seen in a pure light it needs to lose what humanness it has. This pandemic is a wolf, death of loved ones are wolves, our trials and tribulations are wolves.” —Miles Cleveland Goodwin
Miles Cleveland Goodwin, "The Wolf," 2021, oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches
"I want to paint things that have a spiritual integrity—paintings that show the truths of life. My painting is all I have to let the world know how I feel. I’m not very good with other forms of communication. I feel a responsibility to be a public servant, to show you things with love, colored by a melancholy soul." —Miles Cleveland Goodwin
Miles Cleveland Goodwin, "Buttercups," 2021, oil on linen, 36 x 48 inches
"Miles’ work is expressionistic, emerging from deep within his own temperament. “In my belief things can be prophesized,” he observes. But what exactly is this prophecy? What is the important message? Ultimately Miles sees this as spiritual messaging. “I feel sometimes like I am being guided. There are very particular stories that emerge from the process. There are messages in the simplest of subjects that are only revealed afterwards.” —Andrew J. Walker, PhD
Miles Cleveland Goodwin, "Apple Orchard with Crows," 2021, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches
"In part [his] narratives are about individuals and the land on which they live. But they are also about spirituality and the presence of mortality. Miles’ work exists on a temporal plane that skirts about the universal and confronts powerful social issues that haunt the rural communities that he depicts. As Miles says, “I keep coming back to the realization that a part of each painting is a service to the living and the dead.” —Andrew J. Walker, PhD
Miles Cleveland Goodwin, "Dreamer," 2021, oil on linen, 24 x 36 inches
Miles Cleveland Goodwin
Miles Cleveland Goodwin was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, in 1980, and spent his youth in the South. He earned his BFA at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. Valley House Gallery has represented his work since 2014.