Cleveland Morris

"Guitar Soliloquies"

March 15 -August 30,2012

Artist Statement


Growing up in the '60s, I learned that guitars occupy a unique place in the lives of many men. Private moments—with only a guitar for company—were among the most cherished times of the day. Whether one's preference was folk, rock, country, or classical, a guitar was frequently one's best—and sometimes only—friend. The level of skill hardly mattered. That wasn't the point. What counted was being able to take a moment out of the hectic, aggressive day to open the tap to the inner soul that had been stifled in every other setting.  

I've met plenty of people who hated poetry, didn't read fiction, loathed ballet, were baffled by modern dance, and never looked at paintings. Total philistines? Not quite. I've never known anyone who didn't love some kind of music. Why is that?  

In this series, I've depicted private moments, not performance. It's the meditative mood not the artifice of display I wanted to explore. Honesty and unguardedness were what I was seeking to capture and hoping to convey. 

The solo guitarist, lost in time, space, and thought, is not that different from the painter in his studio. The aloneness of the experience lets us discover who we are. But out of that solitary state sometimes comes a need to connect and communicate. When we find that we have something to say and have figured out how to say it, our next hope is to find someone who will stop, look, and listen. 

It is a great pleasure and privilege to show these new works in the McCarthy Gallery of Holekamp Hall. This is undoubtedly the most beautiful space in which I've ever exhibited my art, and Dr. Larry and Fran Peppers are the most gracious and generous of hosts. 

And, oh, I almost forgot... the donut paintings. These are small scherzi that I produce when I feel tense or irritable... or maybe hungry, as a change of pace from more demanding endeavors. 

Cleveland Morris
Staunton, VA
March, 2012