John Beerman’s landscapes are luminous, tranquil, and at times a bit mysterious. A keen observer of nature, he once explained his motivation: “I find solace in looking at the landscape. I think it’s a human thing. We all do.” His locations are wide-ranging and include the mountains of North Carolina, the beaches of South Carolina, the Hudson River, Texas ranchland, and Tuscan hillsides.

A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Beerman dates his early interest in landscape painting to summers spent as a child on Lake Toxaway in the western part of the state, called by some “The Beautiful Sapphire Country.” A distant uncle who was a Sunday painter was there as well, and it was because of him—and the lack of television—that Beerman became interested in painting. Disappointed by what the high school in Greensboro had to offer, Beerman went to a small, co-educational boarding school in Vermont where he took art and photography classes. He proceeded to the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence and obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1982. Two years before, he had attended the summer program of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture located on 350 acres in central Maine. An idyllic setting, the school brought together aspiring students and established artists. David Driskell, a seasonal resident of Maine, was an alumnus and served on the faculty at various times as well as on the Board of Governors and the Advisory Committee. 

By 1983 Beerman had settled in Nyack, New York, along the Hudson River twenty-five miles north of Manhattan. He became a studio assistant of Jasper Johns who spent most of the year in Stony Point, further up river. Johns is masterful with a variety of media, including encaustic, oil, and numerous forms of printmaking; likewise, Beerman is proficient, indicating that he likes the process and the “craft” of painting. The following year he was a studio assistant for Alfonso Ossorio, a Filipino-American abstract expressionist who owned property near the beach on eastern Long Island. In addition to these positions, Beerman was awarded the Yaddo Artist Colony Fellowship, a multi-disciplinary artist retreat in Saratoga Springs, New York, and  two grants, in 1998 and 2014 from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation.

In 1990 Beerman attended the Tamarind Institute, located in Albuquerque, which was founded in 1960 to foster fine art lithography. Established artists such as Josef Albers and Ruth Asawa had taken advantage of highly trained master printers who work side by side with visiting artists to work out some of the technical details of lithography. While there, Beerman created an impressive and complicated twenty-four color lithograph of a southwestern landscape.

Beerman spent the better part of three decades living near the Hudson River—the home of America’s first “school” of landscape artists, although technically not a school as there were neither students nor teachers. Many Southern-related artists, including Charleston native Louis Rémy Mignot and William Frerichs (who taught in Greensboro) had also embraced the aesthetic which emphasized bodies of water, rolling countrysides, and billowing cloudscapes. Upon discovering the later Hudson River painters known as the Luminists, Beerman found great kinship in their handling of light and their sense of timelessness.

Eventually, Beerman’s roots beckoned and he returned to North Carolina around 2013, settling in Hillsborough, an historic town northwest of Durham. He is a methodical and studious artist, completing series of drawings en plein air—often revisiting the same site at the same time of day much in the manner of Claude Monet. Of late, Beerman has included structures, often shown only partially, in his landscapes. In a recent interview he indicated he was proud to be called a North Carolina artist, and recalled a marketing campaign from the 1930s that claimed the state as “variety vacationland.”