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Carova 2013 and 2017, The Grass is always Greener 2000

Michael Greenwald (1969-)

About the art and artist: 

Greenwald was born in Oxford, England and grew up in Cleveland. He earned a B.A. in anthropology and sculpture from Skidmore College and then studied painting and glass at the Cleveland Institute of Art. He maintains a studio on Superior Avenue in Cleveland.

Where you can see more of this artist’s work:

A full array of Greenwald’s recent work may be seen on the artist’s website. He has had several solo exhibitions at the Guren Gallery in the Cleveland Botanical Gardens and has joined group exhibitions in the greater Cleveland area, across northern Ohio, and in San Francisco and New York.

You can find his work in collections of the Cleveland Clinic, Southpoint General Hospital, and University Hospitals in Cleveland. Greenwald has earned awards in several exhibitions, including the 2017 Director’s Choice award in the Cain Park Arts Festival as well as a fellowship from the Jewish Arts and Culture Lab of the Mandel Jewish Community Center.


Carova, 2013 and 2017

Carova, 2013 and 2017

Materials: Oil on canvas, 72” x 72”

Location at Summa Health:  Dr. Gary B. and Pamela S. Williams Tower on the Akron Campus (141 N. Forge St.), ground floor, blue neighborhood, outside gift shop.

This work was acquired for the Summa Health System – Akron Campus Wayfinding Project.

About the art:

Carova, artist Michael Greenwald tells us, is a small community at the northernmost end of the Outer Banks, where North Carolina and Virginia meet (hence “Caro” + “Va”). One has to drive about 11 miles along the beach (no paved roads) to reach it, and that isolation makes it attractive to many, including to the native wild horses. Greenwald spends much time in the family house there, where the inspiration of the long sweep of sky and sea makes itself felt directly, as in this painting, the very size of which emphasizes that sweep. 

In his practice, the artist alternates between painting in a fully abstract style and making highly abstracted but still recognizable landscapes, such as this one. The purple/violet end of the blue spectrum dominates here, shaded to ultramarine appropriately, in the sea below, then reflected in paler tints in the sky with its long stretches of stratocumulus clouds reflected in and then meeting the water at the horizon. We can see that Greenwald suggests just the barest penetration of sunlight with a pale gold glaze in the middle clouds, but overall, the palette is somber, cool and subdued. This reinforces the artist’s preference to offer the beholder a pared-down (“abstracted”) version of landscape, without specific human or narrative references, in order to let nature’s forms, speak for themselves and to provide room for the beholder’s eyes to wander through them at will.

We might also notice that this composition, dominated by horizontals in the sky and water, is nonetheless very subtly enlivened by a low roller that approaches the beach at a slight diagonal. Its subdued white crest brings the eye to fasten on this slight angular deviation, while the restful connotations of horizontal lines overall contribute to the contemplative aura that the artist seeks. These are all enhanced by the blending and layering of colors, shades, and tints so much a hallmark of the medium of oil paint.

The Grass is Always Greener

Where the Grass is always Greener, 2000

Materials and dimensions: oil on canvas,  36” x 48

Location at Summa: Juve Family Behavioral Health Pavilion

About the art and the artist:

A rolling landscape under a massive pile-up of stratocumulus clouds - this could be Ohio, or it could be Britain, or Ireland.  The undulant topography suggests idyllic fields or pasturelands for which the word "pastoral", is often used, describing the topography but also with nuances of a lost golden age, a simpler, better time. Yet those layered clouds weigh heavily and dominate the composition, echoing the sinuous curves of the hills below, or perhaps the hills echo the clouds? They don't quite seem ominous or threatening, as the artist has softened all the forms (on land as well as in the sky) and colors, suggesting a gentle sympathy between earth and air that evokes another element, the one greening all that grass: water. 

No humans, nor any human artifacts, intrude into this view.  Michael Greenwald uses few hard lines, except at the horizon, and even those rolls peacefully, contributing to an almost magical mood.  This is a landscape-in-waiting, waiting patiently, for rain, enacting its role in the terrestrial cycle of water, which does make the grass greener.

The artist speaks of creating landscapes based loosely on photos taken while traveling but stripped down so that they evoke a strong mood and invite beholders to journey in their minds into the depicted space, perhaps to meditate there. He chooses to "paint undeveloped and unpopulated places, presenting a stripped version of the world with no evidence of mans influence and too few details to warrant a narrative. The paintings are meditative, quiet and still and I like to think that they have an implied message of conservation."  Certainly, someone who observes and listens to the landscape, as this painting reveals it, would ache at the plight of our Earth. Is this a representation of an alternative? This painting could stand as a subtle plea, all the more powerful for its nuance and restraint and, again, tinged with magic.


Where you can find more work like this:

Landscapes are a favored genre for healing arts contexts.  Certainly, one can always find satisfying views on on-line poster sites or in home furnishings or big-box stores.  Somewhat differently, the landscapes acquired for the Summa Collection represent, foremost, the viewpoints and interpretations of individual artists working in many different media and expressed in landscapes, who enjoin you to look carefully and think about what they are (re-)presenting.

So, we invite you to check out the landscapes by Ian Adams, Susan Danko, Marc Moon, Rob Blair, Mary Deutschman, Walter Grossman, Christine Ries, Julie Friedman, Lori Kella,Gloria Plevin, Caroline Rowntree, James Rehmus, and other works by Michael Greenwald, all in the Summa Collection and listed on the welcome page of this website.


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