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“Drawings by Carroll Cloar” opens at Bradbury Gallery, Aug. 29


JONESBORO -- One of Arkansas’ most renowned artists, Carroll Cloar (1913-1993), has earned national acclaim for his beautifully composed, haunting images of the Delta. His work has a strong appeal to many Americans and especially those in the mid-south as it depicts rural scenes inspired by his childhood memories of life on a farm just north of the small town of Earle in Crittenden County.

The Bradbury Gallery in Fowler Center at Arkansas State University will host an exhibition, “Drawings of Carroll Cloar,” marking the 100th anniversary of his birth. The exhibition will open on Thursday, Aug. 29, at 5 p.m. The featured drawings portray a variety of scenes from life in northeast Arkansas during the first part of the last century. All of the drawings were selected from the Arkansas State University Permanent Collection of Art.

Cloar lost both his parents when he was only 15, allowing him to make adult decisions for himself at an early age. Just two years later he moved to Memphis to attend Southwestern College (now Rhodes College) where he received his BA in English. After graduation he enjoyed an extended trip to Europe, but returned again to Memphis where he enrolled in the Memphis Academy of Art.

A few years later Cloar moved to New York City to study drawing at The Art Students League. Eventually he added painting and printmaking to his studies. That, coupled with imagery drawn from family photographs, resulted in an award-winning body of work that earned him a McDowell Travelling Fellowship in 1940. With this prize he journeyed westward to Denver, Salt Lake City and finally on to Mexico where he painted and wrote.

During World War II Cloar joined the Army Air Corps and served in the South Pacific as a radio operator. He continued his artistic endeavors by painting a mural for the men’s club and pin-up girls on the noses of bombers.

In 1946, after the war, he returned to Mexico on a Guggenheim Fellowship. He was featured in Life magazine in 1948 and 1952, gaining him national attention.

After extensive travels to New York, Mexico, Central and South America and Europe, Cloar ultimately realized that he needed to move back to his roots and his source of inspiration. In an introduction to a catalog for an exhibition at The Alan Gallery in New York City, Cloar wrote, “There is a joy and, a sadness, in coming back. There is a joy in the sense of belonging, of possessing and being possessed, by the land where you were born. There is the mixed emotion of remembering; places altered, people long passed: your father, whom you promised yourself you would measure against the oak tree to see which was biggest, but never did; your mother, whose stories were full of panthers.”

So in 1954 he once again moved to Memphis, the place he would call home for the remainder of his life. He continued to work, receiving local, regional and national acclaim. He went on to exhibit his paintings, prints and drawings in numerous locations. His work belongs to several prestigious collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Museum at the Smithsonian, the Arkansas Arts Center, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the Library of Congress and the Whitney Museum.

Cloar continued painting and creating works of art until he died in April of 1993 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, ending his suffering and long fight with cancer. He left behind his wife Patricia, many adoring fans, and a significant body of work.

Guy Northrup states in his introduction to “Hostile Butterflies,” a book from the Memphis State Press, “Carroll Cloar never painted a picture that was not solely for himself. He went searching for his soul and found it in many places, many points in time, and many images. It is a long trip that always seems to turn back to its beginning.”

The Bradbury Gallery 2013-14 season begins with two exhibitions held concurrently, “Drawings by Carroll Cloar” and “Odyssey of Dreams: A Decade of Paintings by Basil Alkazzi.” Both exhibitions open to the public on Thursday, August 29 at 5 p.m. and continue through Sept. 29.

Bradbury Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday and by appointment. The gallery is closed on Mondays. The exhibitions and the reception are admission-free and open to the public. For more details contact the Bradbury Gallery, 201 Olympic Dr., at 870-972-3471, by email at bradburygallery@astate.edu, or visit the website, www.bradburygallery.com.

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Carroll Cloar
Me and Tommytoe and Kaiser Bill,
graphite on tracing paper and Conté pencil tracing on verso
Arkansas State University
Permanent Collection of Art
Gift of Hasselle and Judy McCain


Carroll Cloar
October Picnic,
graphite and felt tip pen on tracing paper and Conté pencil tracing on verso
Arkansas State University
Permanent Collection of Art

Gift of Hasselle and Judy McCain