Self-portrait, Acrylic on board
Self-portrait, Acrylic on board

I grew up in Fairport, N.Y.  and I’ve been making art since my early 20’s.  Having grown up heavily involved in sports, I never really created much artwork through my younger academic years.

It was in my undergraduate program at Binghamton University that I decided to be an artist. It’s funny because I had never painted before, but I was sure that’s what I wanted to do in life.

“Passing Through”, painting included in the “de/composition” exhibition at Main Street Arts
“Passing Through”, painting included in the “de/composition” exhibition at Main Street Arts

After diving into the art program  head  first I quickly realized that I was a terrible painter. My drawings were strong but I had a hard time converting my ideas into the world of paint. However, I was advised and encouraged by my instructor, mentor, artist, and friend Dave Shapiro. He was an extremely gifted artist who worked under the tutelage  of Philip Guston  at one point in his career.  He insisted that I was indeed on the right path, and with hard enough work  I could get to where I wanted to be.

It was because of his encouragement and support that I attended the Rochester Institute of Technology for my MFA in painting and drawing, and eventually an MST in Art Education.

"Bill", work in progress
“Bill”, work in progress

I was fortunate enough to be exposed to many different gifted artists and professors at RIT. This lead me to experiment with a variety of different media and techniques, and exposed me to ideas that were very foreign, yet extremely exciting. This was when I met another extremely important artist, guide and mentor in my life by the name of Bill Stephens. He has been paramount in the development of myself as an artist and human being.

"The Crow", work in progress
“The Crow”, work in progress

My current body of work consists of variations and experimentation with the human portrait.  Throughout my career I have ventured back-and-forth between the world of abstraction/non-objective art and representational/figurative art forms.  So it is now that I find myself  at the marriage of these two worlds.  I find that each piece leads to the next, and serves as a jumping off point for the next idea.

For more of my work, follow me on Instagram @chad_cleveland.art


Chad Cleveland is one of 31 artists featured in the national juried exhibition de/composition at Main Street Arts. de/composition runs through June 28, 2019.

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Closed 7/28 through 8/3:

We will be closed to the public Friday, July 28 through Thursday, August 4 as we install our next exhibition, Inspired By Nature. Please join us for the opening reception on Friday, August 4 from 5 to 8pm!