Taking the Long Way: Miles Cleveland Goodwin’s Paintings of Montebella Road
Miles Cleveland Goodwin paints images of a rustic, evasive place few might guess to be his home. Flocks of crows, a floating black ray, wiry snakeskins, lonely doves and other unsentimental creatures inhabit the dusty roads and muddy skies seen earlier this year in his series A Long Road Home, at Froelick Gallery, in Portland, OR and now continue in Montebella Road, at Greg Kucera Gallery, in Seattle, WA. Eschewing the signs of routine we expect to find in the place someone resides, Goodwin’s desolate scenes, referencing a road that he lives on in Mississippi, have the air of true remoteness—the kind that inspires countless questions among onlookers and outsiders, despite the underlying sense that they never will get any real answers.
Miles Cleveland Goodwin | Fear, 2013, Acrylic, mixed media, and found objects on canvas, 82.5 x 140.5 inches. Image courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery.
Most of the paintings of Montebella Road sprawl across unstretched canvases that hang loosely from the gallery like tarps that shelter useful things from the elements without the warmth that a blanket would offer. While Montebella Road is in the deep South, among the swamplands normally signified by willow trees, still canals and balmy layers of atmosphere, the cold dryness inherent in these scenes gives the sense that the tarps would let a stiff wind pass through. The few paintings that that include a person literalize a frozen side of this place—as one frozen in time, death, and fear. In all cases, there is no denying that these people are profoundly alone, with little reason to suspect things will change.
Despite their ominous associations, the gaggles of crows that pervade Bayou Dreams elicit a lightness that escapes the paintings that do not have the benefit of the gentler brushstrokes comprising their translucent bodies. Where most other scenes in Montebella Road could easily pass for Hitchcockian, the birds project emotional weight without darkness; perched above the onlookers, Goodwin’s imagery once again reverses expectations, affirming that if you lived here, you would be at home in this place; for those of us that do not, we should be content to see, and to wonder, from afar. - Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor
Montebella Road is on view at Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle, WA through December 21. Miles Cleveland Goodwin received his BFA from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, OR. His paintings have recently been exhibited at Froelick Gallery (Portland, OR) and the Hallie Ford Museum of Art (Salem, OR). His work is also included in the collections of the Oregon Health and Sciences University and the Hallie Ford Museum of Art.
Erin Langner is a writer and museum professional based in Seattle, WA.