Dispatches from the Front Lines
CB1 Gallery is pleased to present our third solo exhibition of the work of Los Angeles based artist Merion Estes, Dispatches from the Front Lines. As in previous work, beauty remains a constant in these paintings. The exhibition is the artist’s response to the continuing degradation of our natural world and the corporate greed damaging our waters, air and land, without regard for the safety and well-being of the people who inhabit it. The exhibition will be on view from October 28 through December 22, 2017. An opening reception for the artist will be held on Saturday, October 28, 2017, 4 – 7 p.m.
The ideas within Estes’ paintings in Dispatches from the Front Lines come out of the feminist art movement of the early seventies and the subsequent flowering of the pluralism and inclusiveness of that time. An exploration into other cultures, their crafts, architecture and decorated surfaces suggested a way to break out of the confines of formalist, abstract, “pure” modernism and to embrace a more” impure”, humanist, and experimental art expression. Some categorized this work as “Pattern and Decoration” and claim this as the beginning of postmodernism. Estes has constantly been re-interpreting and deconstructing conventional landscape forms, heavily inspired by Chinese and Japanese art as well as twentieth century painting, common crafts and decorative arts. This investigation has led to the current large fabric and paint collages on un-stretched canvas, many hung like tapestries.
The artist’s new work continues her use of found fabrics adding to it fabrics from Africa and elsewhere, coupled with mixed paint applications and photo transfers. The use of African prints has added to her vocabulary of forms and patterns. Often prints use symbolic depictions of natural forms and are recognized as similar to her abstracted natural shapes. The manufactured prints add an exotic and surprising aspect to the work. This allows for greater variety and originality in the paintings and an added layer of content that is more specific and somewhat representational.
“I like the feeling of “craft” that results,” says Estes. “The content and meaning of my work has become clearer to the viewer. I am interested in the many varied combinations of found imagery and depictions of subject that this method has afforded me. From the inspiration of ancient Asian prints, to the contemporary printed motifs inspired by African fabrics, it is quite a journey. Ironically, the hand painting has mostly disappeared. Collaged materials and photo imagery has opened a whole new world for me.”
Raised in San Diego, Merion Estes attended Grossmont College in El Cajon and then moved to the University of New Mexico to continue her undergraduate education. There she found two inspiring visiting teachers from London as well as the Los Angeles painter Frederick Hammersley. After four years, she accepted an offer of a scholarship to the University of Colorado in Boulder where she received her MFA. Following a summer’s teaching job and her first group show in a non-profit space in Denver, she and her family moved to Los Angeles in late 1972, where she has remained, working as an artist, ever since. Her work continues to be seen in LA galleries and museums. In addition to this major exhibition, in January 2018 her work will be included in an exhibition, The Feminine Sublime, at the Pasadena Museum of California Art and a solo exhibition follows in September 2018 at the Craft and Folk Art Museum, curated by Howard Fox, which will feature a core sample of her work over the past 10 years.