By Natasha Anderson
Blue Spiral 1 (BS1) presents John L Cleaveland Jr: A History in Landscapes on display in the BS1 Showcase Gallery through January 4. The exhibit features pastoral landscapes that are also former WWI battlefields.
“I’m trying to suck viewers in with something beautiful so they learn about a subject they might otherwise turn away from,” says Cleaveland. “Every one of these paintings is an epitaph to a group of men.”
Cleaveland’s work reflects his incredible attention to detail and his knowledge and respect for the history of the sites he depicts. The abstraction of light and shadow, the harsh beauty of nature and the cycle of life and death are all evident in his work. Though his current pieces are focused exclusively on European locations related to WWI, their historical and aesthetic development is connected to his earlier paintings of locations in the southern United States.
“I think I’ve worked up to this project for 32 years,” he says. “And I’ll never be done. We owe these men a great legacy. We owe it to them to pay attention.”
Cleaveland is currently researching and painting former battlefields in France. When he is not traveling, he works out of his studio in Athens, Georgia.
Blue Spiral 1 Gallery is located at 38 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit BlueSpiral1.com or call 828.251.0202.