November 25, 2011
The Oregonian reviews Chasing Deer, Miles Cleveland Goodwin's first solo exhibit at Froelick Gallery
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Winter is far more evident and literal in a show of paintings by another younger Portland artist, Miles Cleveland Goodwin, at Froelick Gallery through Dec. 10. Goodwin's scenes are very painterly, made up of layer after layer of glaze until they sometimes seem overburdened with texture -- almost profligate, like the kind of North Dakota snowstorm that envelops everything around it. And snow is in most of his paintings. These are scenes set smack in the dead of winter, in the fields and woods where civilization is hardly a whisper in the wind. Yet curiously -- and despite the depictions of death and implied violence (the exhibition is titled "Chasing Deer") -- Goodwin's paintings seem warmer than Hardy's. They're suffused with a romantic glow. Goodwin loves stories, or the implication of them, and though his wintry world is punctuated with deer carcasses and dead birds and the lurking of the hunt, his pictures also suggest the hidden presence of a campfire in the field and a storyteller spinning yarns. At times mood overwhelms specificity in his pictorial storytelling, which could benefit from the clarity of more precise detail. But the paintings pack an undeniable narrative wallop.

Goodwin has expressed an admiration for the great Northern European artists such as Bruegel and Durer, and you can see their influence. Looking at reproductions of his paintings, I also thought of the American realist James Wyeth, in particular his Maine paintings. Seeing the works in person, I think of another Wyeth -- James' father, N.C., the influential illustrator of popular adventure novels such as "Treasure Island" and "Robinson Crusoe." Not a bad place to be.

Still, I wonder: What might happen to Goodwin's paintings if he let the campfire go out and the chill really settle in?

-- Bob Hicks, 11/23/2011

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