SAN FRANCISCO – Boarding will begin at 6pm on January 8th at ArtHaus, marking Meyer’s 10th solo exhibition at the gallery. Prepare to be taken.
Throughout this recent series of paintings, Bay Area Artist Carolyn Meyer not only captures the essence of San Francisco and New York with her impressionist strategies and capabilities to push oil impasto beyond all limits, she appears to hold these great metropolises for ransom. There is paint; sometimes less paint than usual, then more paint, and even more paint.
When speaking about her latest work, Meyer appears to enjoy her process as much as the act of painting. “These new Cityscapes have given me a chance to try new color combinations and explore processes of creating texture, both visual and physical.
At one point the paint is thin and rough with a new limited grey and green palette as seen in the paintings NYC 1 and NYC 2.
Feelings and memories build from the initial composition into a deeper search for more expression not previously or fully realized. Besides an obvious obsession is the ability to try new painting procedures and this can be seen in NYC in Three Parts 1, 2 and 3. It comes down to this: at first, drawn to the physical beauty, then, why. At first I can say I don’t know. And second: here lies the real deal, I am trying to get closer to understanding. For these three, the real deal is the light quality that stirs memories of driving from JFK through New York City to the Upper East Side.”
Meyer’s latest work shows new combinations of places she continues to fall in love with such as anything to do with Bergdorf’s in New York City. “Repeating memories that then become personal tradition makes it an iconic point of view. To continue to return to specific places gives me a chance to explore why I often repeat myself.”
As always. Meyer remains true to her locations. The San Francisco paintings promise bright sunny views and perspectives from around the corner to high above and beyond. A large scale work, titled Boz Skaggs, Sunglasses And Other Frostings, seems to effortlessly abduct the viewer, the city and all of its belongings.
As gutsy and soulful a painter Meyer can be, one must wonder which, or if both, of these cities has dibs on her heart. All bets are on.
“Nocturne of Long Walks and Old Songs is a type of self – portrait of my night walks in New York City. I feel like I am walking in a Jazz tune with city as back-up singers. I recall being warned constantly about walking at night, in the dark. Understanding how to not stand out is a natural part of the fact that I don’t let the fear of others prevent me from impulses that are part of what I have to do to answer my call to see and create. I want to be in the dark and work though the feelings that rise like a memory forgotten and then remembered.”
Just when you thought…..Meyer jets a fearless return to San Francisco creating a work titled Pink. Pow!
“Pink was a chance to paint with a color socially pre-loaded with stereotypes and prejudices. The totem-like, twin apartment buildings stand tall at the Polk Street side of Russian Hill in San Francisco and I stare at them driving home from work. Here, visual texture is simply not enough and I load on the paint and end up making a mess. I guess an emotional mess expressed in marks left as attitude of a defiant child.”
Art Writer Mary Anne Kluth notes, “The tension between Meyer’s luxurious treatment of the surfaces and the bare treatment of her subject matter suggests a sense of alienation and remorse brought on by anachronism, akin to a Beat poet grappling with Facebook or a jazz musician wading through You Tube.”
Meyer elaborates on SAN FRANCISCO – NEW YORK (Non Stop). “Journeys, and traveling occur both physically and with memories. Layers of my memories are like layers of paint and shift in scale and point of view, repeatedly. I am not the only one trying to convey this idea – those collecting my work seem to know this somehow more clearly than I do myself. It’s a vulnerable narrative captured with visual clues that exist within a vocabulary of painting.”
EVENT: Carolyn Meyer – SAN FRANCISCO –NEW YORK (Non-Stop)
ArtHaus – 411 Brannan Street – San Francisco
Opening Reception: January 8, 2015 6-8pm
Exhibition continues through March 28, 2015
Converts are the most fervent believers. It is true for religion, but it also true for transplants. Carolyn Meyergrew up in Yuma, Arizona. However, the desert was not her place. Her place was metropolitan and it was surrounded by water. Her paintings are about her love of adopted places: San Francisco and New York City. I recently visited Carolyn in her Sausalito studio overlooking San Francisco and the Bay. We talked at length about what she paints, how she paints and why she paints.
I asked Carolyn which was more important: subject or process. She thought for a moment and answered “both”. She paints what she loves. However, the process of laying down thick impasto is not simply playing with color relationships nor is it simply studies in light and shadow. It is those things, but more importantly it is classically expressionistic. Within the framework of constrained subject matter, she uses the paint as a way of directly and subconsciously exploring her feelings about the subject.
You can see in Meyer’s work a broad range of influences. The influence of the Abstract Expressionists is clear in her physical use of paint to convey emotion non-verbally through color, texture and form. She also mentioned how important the Bay Area Figurative artists were as early influences. I see, in many of her paintings, the footprint of Wayne Thiebaud. There is in some of the San Francisco works, particularly, a similar use of complex perspective. The streets look almost flattened, but they are really a combination of multiple perspectives in a single painting. This combination of perspectives is seen in many of her works.
The Abstract Expressionists felt that emotion could be conveyed directly without the crutch of subject matter. Painters in the Bay Area like David Park, Elmer Bischoff, Richard Diebenkorn, Wayne Thiebaud and Manuel Neri, among others, pulled back from that purism. They incorporated the emotional power of the medium itself into their paintings; but, they also used specific subjects as a scaffolding within which to explore those emotions. The subject matter was not a crutch. Both medium and subject shared equal billing. This is the legacy that Carolyn Meyer continues to explore. And, like those artists, what makes her work powerful is the very personal nature of that exploration.
Carolyn keeps certain paintings as touch points in her journey. She said that she feels, at times, that she almost has almost been able to articulate what she wants to say in her paintings. Close but no cigar. She likes having the physical references to these “almost successes”in her studio, almost like documentation of the different paths. There is a voice that wants to heard. And, it is the search for perfect pitch that keeps her painting.
Her current exhibition at ArtHaus, “San Francisco – New York (Non Stop)”, is a perfect opportunity to see her continuing exploration of the importance of place.
411 Brannon St.
San Francisco CA
Exhibition: January 8 – March 28, 2015
Opening Reception: January 8th, 6-8 pm