East Bay Artist Geoffrey Meredith to be Featured at the 2016 Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts.
Six recent paintings by Geoffrey Meredith, an artist working from Lafayette, have been purchased by Robert Frank Designs of San Marino for their installation at the 2016 Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts.
Now in its 52nd year, the Pasadena Showcase House is one of the oldest, largest, and most successful house and garden tours in the United States. Cumulative donations of over $20 million have been made in support of outstanding music and arts programs throughout the community. In 2015 nearly 40,000 visitors toured the Showcase House.
This year’s house, known as Dryborough Hall when it was built in 1918, is about 16,000 square feet, has 6 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms in addition to spacious living and dining areas. The 2-acre property includes a horse corral, an outdoor barbecue area, pool and spa. The Showcase will open April 17 and run through May 15, with parking and complimentary shuttle service at the Pasadena Rose Bowl.
Interview by Elise Morris, artist and interviewer
I have painted all my life. My mother was a well-known artist in Pittsburgh where I grew up, and I majored in Art at Princeton University. I did post-graduate work at The Hellenic Institute in Athens, Greece and while there met a California girl. Five years later I had a choice of getting a Masters in Cambridge, MA or in Palo Alto. Since that girl lived in Redwood City, it was an easy choice. We were married a year later (and still are!). I then embarked on a career in advertising., although I was more in the marketing and copywriting side than art direction. Today, while I’m a principal in two start-ups, painting takes precedence.
How does a painting start for you? Where do you draw inspiration from?
I look for scenes that seem to encapsulate the essence of a particular location – sort of the one vista that communicates and implies a lot more than just what you see. Then I look for the elements that in form and color are pleasing to the eye. Often I have to manipulate those elements (adjust a field or mountain, add a tree, etc.) to achieve this, but it's best if I don’t have to.
Your abstractions of landscapes and urban scenes distill the chaos into something much more serene – does this speak to how you experience the world?
I suppose I yearn for order in the visual world, although I’m also striving for a sort of tension. The San Francisco cityscapes stem from the wonderful light there, and the tension and interplay of the neutral-colored rectilinear buildings and shadows, and the softer, more chromatic forms of the trees and water. Light and shadow are also the foundation of most of the landscapes.
We talked about some of your recent travels, especially an ambitious trip to Africa. How are you able to bring
those experiences into the studio?
It’s hard for me to say how the Africa experience has (or hasn’t) influenced my art. The paintings I’ve started that try represent the landscapes and animals have not been very successful. The only one that’s worked for me is a large, abstract-expressionist piece, which represents a feeling or gestalt about the whole experience, not a particular scene. Maybe when
I put a little more distance between me and the trip I’ll be able to distill it better.
You have two distinct ways of working, although both abstract, one is working from observation and the other is
not. Tell us more about the different experience of working on these bodies of work.Ã¢â¬Â¨
As you note, I currently work in two distinctly different styles. They are both somewhat derivative, and both styles harken back to the days when I was “coming of age.” One style, which has been variously called “Mid-Century Modern” or “Representational Abstraction” is a 21st Century reinterpretation of the “Bay Area Figurative Movement” of the 1950s and ‘60s in San Francisco and Berkeley. Mostly landscapes and cityscapes, these works are grounded in representation, then abstracted to distill form and color.
Sometimes a painting will stay pretty representational; other times it will end up much more abstract. At some point in the process the painting takes over, and it goes where it wants to go.
The other style uses as a touchstone Abstract Expression paintings, also of the 1950’s and ‘60s and mainly done in New York. I worked almost exclusively in this style when I first came to the Bay Area in the 1970’s, and exhibited at that time
in two galleries (both now long gone) in downtown San Francisco. These are larger non-objective abstract gestural works
that strive to be graphic archetypes that can communicate across time and culture. Aside from the graphic power and
appeal of this style of painting, I have an intellectual interest in this format. This stems from his Princeton thesis on the
nature of the creative process, and his correspondence I had with Joan Miro and meetings and correspondence with Salvador Dali that were input to that thesis.
Where can we see your work in the Bay area and beyond?
I am currently represented by the Christopher Hill Galleries in St. Helena, and in Healdsburg; by the Slate Contemporary Gallery in Oakland; by the Lafayette Art Gallery in Lafayette; and by the Valley Art Gallery in Walnut Creek.
I am also the Director of Marketing and Publicity for the Lafayette Art Gallery, on the Board of Directors of the Valley Art Gallery, and am a Commissioner of the Contra Costa County Arts and Culture Commission.
Contra Costa Times, 9/5/14
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.