Press release from Grovewood Gallery:
Falling, a solo exhibition of contemporary paintings by Michael Francis Reagan, opens at Grovewood Gallery in Asheville on Saturday, June 9, with an artist’s reception from 2-5pm (free and open to the public). This show will feature acrylic paintings on canvas from Reagan’s popular Falling Series, inspired by a haunting memory of a childhood encounter with a mourning dove that had fallen from the sky. This exhibition will remain on view through Sunday, July 15, 2018.
When Reagan was a boy of 5 or 6, exploring the woods behind his home, he saw a mourning dove fall suddenly from the sky and crash into the ground. Upon close observation, he could see its heart pounding and examine the pale rose color of its breast and the gray and cream colors of its wings. As he stood still and watched and waited, the light faded and the woods went silent. The bird did not move. Finally, he reached down to pick it up, and the dove exploded in a thunder of wings and vanished into the night sky.
“That memory, the moment that bird left me standing alone in those dark woods, has stayed with me all my life – more than stayed with me – it has haunted me and has many times over the years entered my dreams,” says Reagan. “I think of these paintings as markers of memory and mourning for each individual bird, split second moments of time, stopped forever on canvas as these wondrous beings fall one by one to earth and sea. Most show a trinity of bird, sky, and earth or sea, but in some the bird is falling through a vast emptiness of sky and you can only sense the presence of earth or sea somewhere far below.”
Reagan received a degree in art and American literature and an MFA in painting from the University of Arkansas. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and later joined the Peace Corps where he met his wife, Christine, a fellow Peace Corps volunteer.
Aside from his paintings, Reagan has established himself as one of America’s leading mapmakers. He draws inspiration from his large collection of old maps, sea charts, and atlases, which he has spent countless hours poring over. For the past 40 years he has created over 3,000 original maps and illustrations for magazines and books. As a freelance illustrator, he has been employed by major publications such as National Geographic, The New Yorker, Smithsonian magazine, Travel and Leisure, and The New York Times.
Reagan’s bird paintings and environmental maps continue to be commissioned by Audubon, The Nature Conservancy, The National Parks of America, and other conservation organizations.
For more information on Michael Francis Reagan, visit mreaganart.net.