Artist Spotlight Series: Jerry Cantwell

While in the mountains this summer I was stopped in my tracks at a restaurant in our area, near Linville, North Carolina. Reid’s Cafe is a chic little spot with an amazing local menu and charmingly designed interior.

I was mesmerized by the work of this artist hung through out the restaurant. I am thrilled to now know more and to share the talented artist

Enjoy getting to know

Jerry Cantwell

Boone, North Carolina

What is your training?

My formal training began at New York University in Art Therapy and the Studio Art program.

I finished my training at the National Academy of Fine in New York City where I studied painting and drawing under Serge Hollerbach who I consider the master teacher who greatly influenced my development as a painter and artist. Through his instruction I explored both the classical and modern masters such as Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Cezanne, Rouault, Rothko, Modigliani, Hartley, Matisse, and Avery.

What inspires you and your designs?

“I strip the design to essentials: The facts do not interest me as much as the essence of nature”.  Milton Avery


My artistic philosophy is to strip down the image to it’s psychological essence through perspective, form and color. Something that connects us all. Through my art I attempt to guide the viewer into a space where the ego relaxes, the breathe is even and a graceful truth is revealed. The copy of a master drawing; the face of a shocked child clutching a mother’s hand; a man mopping a subway platform with noble intent; three cows in a field, a majestic cardinal in winter and an old chevy truck are all silent images for me of captured grace.


I try to take perspective and show it where both light and form make sense. Each form is a meditative state. I want the viewer to have a sense of going into the painting and being silent with the figure. I simply like to describe my drawings and paintings as “Silent Spaces”.

How has the your area influenced your work?

The mountains of North Carolina have inspired a more peaceful approach to both my landscapes and approach towards the psychological narrative of the figure.

What is your favorite restaurant?
Reid’s Cafe in Banner Elk, NC is my favorite restaurant to eat and to socialize with friends. The best atmosphere in the high country.
What is your favorite cocktail?
I like a nice glass of a French Pinot Noir.  
How do you balance personal life and work?
My philosophy is that I live to work. I don’t work to live. 
Dream Trip?
My wife and I are leaving for Italy tomorrow for ten days. Florence and the Amalfi coast . Take in the art and food. Living the dream. 
Dream commission?
I would love to be able to do a wall painting anywhere that is 10ft x12ft.  I have the composition in mind just need the space. 
Favorite gift to give?
A good bottle of Pinot Noir.
Style Icon?
For me the color field paintings of Mark Rothko had the most influence on my style of painting.
Your favorite up and coming artist?
I love the innocence of children’s art. I find my daughters art to be most inspiring. I love going to see exhibitions of art done by young elementary school students. 
What is your most treasured possession?
My 6 acre mountain home and my health.
What are you reading?
I am rereading “Agony and the Ecstasy” by Irving Stone in my preparation for visiting Michelangelo’s work. 
What are you listening to?
I am an avid jazz buff. Anything Miles Davis and John Coltrane. “Kinda Blue” my favorite recording. 
What are your favorite publications?
I keep it simple. I read the NY times and Washington Post for my information.

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