MIKE CLOUD: SYSTEMS Daniel A. Siedell, Curator/ Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, 2006.

"With all our technologies that seem to assure our existence, we think we can banish belief. But in the practice of painting, belief inevitably returns. It is required of the painter who must convince himself that making marks of paint on a canvas is worth doing. It is also required of the viewer who must convince herself that taking paintings seriously is worth the trouble.

Mike Cloud's paintings are critical, even skeptical, investigations into what makes a painting a painting. Grids, algorithms, art supply catalogues, and other frameworks serve to isolate the parts of a painting so he can scrutinize them separately before he puts them back together. He hides nothing in his paintings; everything is exposed: the canvas is stapled on the front of the frames; unpainted and unprimed canvas remains at the edges; and stretcher bars and tears in the canvas remain starkly, even disconcertingly, visible.

The images he paints (in this exhibition, mazes in the form of signs and symbols that include children's game components) force us to acknowledge the plethora of conventions that make a painting believable as a painting. All painting requires this belief. What but belief can transform canvas stretched over and stapled onto wood frames, smeared with oil paint, and a toy slapped onto it something of significance, into something worth our attention, our reflection?

These "toy" paintings defy you to disbelieve them, to turn away. But you cannot. Perhaps Cloud is right: his paintings don't mean anything. But that doesn't mean we don't believe in them."

-Daniel A. Siedell