Contra Costa Times, 9/5/14
PAINTING AND FLY FISHING: IN BOTH, BEAUTY
Meredith’s Time to Shine
By Lou Fancher
POSTED: 09/04/2014 01:17:16 PM PDT
LAFAYETTE, CA -- There's nothing artificial about Geoffrey Meredith.
This, even though he fly fishes with fabricated lures, worked for decades in the faux galaxy of advertising, deftly fakes out chess opponents and paints most frequently in the abstract sphere of shape, form, color and texture.
An exhibit of his paintings opened Sept. 3 at the Orinda Library Auditorium, and a free reception is set for Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Inviting a visitor into the Lafayette home he and his wife, Val, have occupied for nearly 40 years, the pitter-pattering entrance of their 2½-year-old grandson, Thompson Meredith, introduces the visage of a typical grandpa -- the son of artist Helen Campe Meredith, who was a well-known painter in Meredith's hometown of Pittsburg, Pa.
He has art and business degrees from Princeton University and Stanford, a resume including executive-level positions with Ogilvy and Mather, Ketchum Advertising and Hal Riney and Partners; two published books on management practices; and 22 years as president/founder of Lifestage Matrix Marketing.
I paint with underlying motivation, with intimations of mortality, to do something lasting, through a compulsion related to my son," the 71-year-old says. The Merediths' son succumbed to a mysterious brain disease while in his 20s, and the mention of him prompts Meredith to say, "I wonder if we've gone to a too-deep place."
Perhaps that's why he finds the contemplative, intellectual acts of painting and fly fishing remarkably compelling. "Trout don't live in ugly places," he says. "Painting, fishing and chess: time can pass and I don't realize it."
Trolling through stacks upon stacks of canvases in the garage he turned into a studio after his career progressed to the point where he controlled it, instead of vice versa, is like visual feasting. Red pigment roars and fierce black lines blaze in the abstract "Figure/Ground 4." Gaze for a moment at the serenely soothing "Woman on the Beach" and one's pulse slows. "Salt Ponds I," created from an elevated vantage point outside of Fremont, falls into a category he calls "Norcal Representational Abstractions," but bursts spontaneously into being and bears none of the label's heavy-handedness.
"Mason from the Mark" reveals the view from the eighth-floor window of San Francisco's Mark Hopkins Hotel -- morning's stunning light and his command of dramatic, elevated verticals and shadowy diagonals. The Solana Beach Series paintings' flattened perspectives and thicker application of oil paint echo with influences of favorite artists -- "Bay Area Figurative" artists Richard Diebenkorn and Henry Villierme, French painter Nicolaus de Staël and San Francisco-based Raimonds Staprans.
"Geoff's work appeals to someone with a tangible reference to the past, to someone with an eye for art," said Christopher Hill, whose Christopher Hill Galleries in Healdsburg and St. Helena have displayed Meredith's work for three years. "I value the gentle retro feel of his work, the simplicity of line, the interpretive element that allows a viewer to create his or her own final setting," Hill said.
Having recently sold Meredith's painting of a scene at Tilden Park, Hill says epic abstract art pieces larger than 48-by-48-inches are increasingly the greatest percentage of his sales. A younger population of art collectors and interior designers adept at pairing furnishings with abstract art are driving the trend, Hill suggests.
Mostly, Meredith is driven not by trends but by the sheer joy of working "en plein air" -- painting outside. And he's intrigued by searching for elemental truths and puzzling over them in a painting's pattern, light, shadows, color fields and structural elements. "You're hunting a fish; you execute a concept," he says. It's unclear whether he refers to actual fishing or painting until his completing the thought makes it clear the two activities mingle as one in his mind's eye. "I see the right place; I know it. There's no yearning ahead of time."
The approximately 20 paintings Meredith is selecting for the Orinda Library exhibit are likely to include scenes familiar to Bay Area residents. In addition to Tilden Park and Fremont salt ponds, a Lafayette Reservoir piece he's toyed with for five years and a cityscape looking up California Street in San Francisco may make the cut.
Lafayette painter Geoffrey Meredith : Fewer details, more 'distilling the essence'
By Janice De Jesus
CorrespondentPosted: 05/29/2013 11:53:13 AM PDT
Updated: 05/29/2013 11:53:14 AM PDT
Even though Geoffrey Meredith grew up with a paint brush in his hand and was influenced by a mother who was a well-known painter in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pa., his 25-year career in advertising left him little time to be creative. Now, he's seizing the brush like never before. He only recently took up painting full time and shares his interpretations of local natural landscapes using his somewhat Impressionistic-style.
Fellow artist and friend Sandy Ostrau, saw first-hand how Meredith interprets nature through his oil-on-canvas paintings. She and Meredith visited the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, where they painted the salt ponds as they perched their canvases and easels on a hill overlooking the view. "He does a great job of capturing those salt ponds and abstracting and simplifying the landscape," Ostrau said. She said she appreciates Meredith's work because they share similar painting styles. "We encourage each other to further explore new techniques as well as new approaches to abstracting landscapes."
Meredith's salt pond paintings will be among the work featured at "Much Ado about Color," a show that runs through June 8 at the Lafayette Gallery, where he's the director of marketing and publicity. The work of local painters Judy Feins and Jill Landau, and sculptor/painter Judy Miller, are also featured at the exhibit. Visitors are invited to an artists' reception from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, May 31.
Ostrau said that as artists, she and Meredith are less interested in what's actually there and more interested in distilling the essence of what they're seeing. "He tries to figure out what to say with each painting," she said. "What I try to do in my paintings is to capture the essence of what is depicted," said Meredith, a longtime Lafayette resident.
Aside from his early art training from his mother Helen Campe Meredith, he got his education from Princeton University, where he majored in art, then did postgraduate studies in classical art and architecture of Greece at the Hellenic Institute in Athens. Meredith said he's influenced by the planes, abstract patterns and visual rhythms of artists Richard Diebenkorn, Nicklaus de Stael and Raimonds Staprans.
These days, painting to his heart's content isn't the only way he's getting people interested in art and nature. Recently appointed to serve a four-year term as a commissioner of the Contra Costa County Arts and Culture Commission (known as the AC5), Meredith said he aims to help the commission with outreach programs. He also wants to promote local artists' work and help make the arts more accessible to the general public.
"My role is to help promote art in all its forms," said Meredith, who served as chair of the marketing committee at the Asian Art Museum during the capital campaign to fund the move to Civic Center in the mid-1980s. "Art has the power to inform and uplift people's lives," he said. "Through AC5, we're hoping to enrich people's lives by their contact with various forms of art."
- WHEN & WHERE: Through June 8; Lafayette Gallery, 50 Lafayette Circle. LAFAYETTE 94549
- INFORMATION: 925-283-4806, or www.hawkoakstudios.com
........................................................................................................................................................... Artist: Geoff Meredith
California Fly fisher, March, 2013
The Art of Angling
Interpretations of the Fly-Fishing Experience
About the Artist
I came early to both art and fishing. First, the fishing part: I spent every summer, from the time I was born until after college, at my grandparents’ cottage on Lake We- sauking, a cool, clear, spring-fed lake in the Endless Mountains of northeastern Pennsyl- vania, pursuing sunfish, perch, pickerel, and bass with plugs and a bait-casting rod and reel. There was an old — steel — fly rod in a back cor-
ner of the garage, and at about age eight, I decided to
give it a try. Armed with a Royal Wulff from Western Auto, I attached my regular reel and line and my only
fly. I’d heard that fly casing was “tricky,” but after afrustrating day of 10-foot “casts,” I decided it was far
too tricky for me.
Twenty years later, I found myself in graduate school at Stanford, and shortly thereafter, I married a fourth-generation San Franciscan whom I’d met studying art in Greece six years earlier. Northern Cali- fornia was obviously the only place to settle, and while there were no lakes to which I had any access, there were lots of trout streams. A colleague in the ad busi- ness let me try his fly rod — with an actual fly line, this time — and I was hooked.
The art part came from my mother, who had an MFA from Pratt Institute and was a noted painter in our hometown of Pittsburgh. I’ve been drawing and painting as long as I can remember and got an art his- tory degree from Princeton. Although I was more a marketer and copywriter in my advertising career than an art director, I am now painting full time and try to combine painting and fly fishing whenever possible. I
take a sketch pad and pens or pencils whenever I fish, and this helps on those days when there’s a lot of fishing and not much catching. Fortunately, trout don’t live in ugly places. My favorite relatively close fishing destinations are in the Redding-Burney area: the Fall River, Hat Creek, the McCloud, and the upper Sacramento.
What I try to do in my paintings is to capture the essence of what is depicted, a distillation that I also strive to make pleasing to the eye in terms of form and color and texture. As distillations, the paintings are ab- stractions, but are nonetheless representational — al- most always, they start with something I see. Some- times an individual painting will stay pretty representa- tional, sometimes it will end up more and more ab- stract. At some point in the process, the painting takes over, and it goes where it wants to go. I’m just there to do the mechanics.
I typically work by doing a plein-air study, then a larger or more finished version in my studio. I am par- ticularly attracted to the planes and abstract patterns and visual rhythms of Edward Hopper, Richard Diebenkorn, Nicklaus de Stael, and Raimonds Staprans.
For more information, go to my Web site, http://www.Hawkoakstudios.com. My art is also avail- able at four Northern California galleries: The Christopher Hill Galleries in St. Helena and in Healdsburg, the Lafayette Gallery in Lafayette, and the Valley Art Gallery in Walnut Creek.