Posts Tagged ‘ Eric Merrell ’

Still Life: Eric Merrell Looks at the Orange and Agave

In the hierarchy of genres taught in art history class, desert landscapes would be low on the list. But they positively rule compared to the lowly still life. Fortunately, the lowest-rated form has a new champion in Eric Merrell. The Pasadena artist has a style and intensity that attracts followers for whatever he’s doing, whether it’s painting Joshua Trees at midnight or a potted Euphorbia in his own backyard. Merrell grew up in Gilroy, California, where his parents still live. After earning an BFA from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, he went on to paint California landscapes…

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Eric Merrell: On Seeing Color in the Desert

Note: Eric Merrell teaches a class–Seeing Beautiful Color in the Landscape–May 14-16, 2014, in Pasadena. Deserts pose a “wonderful problem” when it comes to observing color, he says. Here are ideas on how to tackle the problem, from one of the most poetic painters of the California deserts. I really began to develop some of the color ideas during my Joshua Tree residency in 2009. In the desert in summer, especially in JT, there are strong shadows early in the morning and late in the afternoon, but for 5-6 hours when the sun is overhead there is hardly a shadow…

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The New Naturalists: Borrego Landscape Painters

The New Naturalists: Borrego Landscape Painters

Ed. Note: This article first appeared in the Fall, 2012, issue of The Sand Paper, the newsletter of the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association. If you meet a woman in Surprise Canyon who can name 40 different wildflowers, or a man in rapture over the strata of the Wind Canyon cliffs, you might mistake them for scientists. But in fact these are contemporary landscape artists Kirsten Anderson and Victor Schiro. Any wash or slot around Borrego these days is likely to harbor an artist. They’re part of the statewide revival of landscape painting, spurred in part by the renewed vigor…

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Smoketree Trio: New Books on Desert Artists

Scholarship on The Smoketree School made big strides in the spring of 2011  with the release of three new books covering unexplored corners of desert art. California Art Club California Light: A Century of Landscapes is the long-anticipated history of the California Art Club, the venerable group that has fostered so many artists over the years. The release coincides with the hundred-year anniversary of the club. The text is by Molly Siple and Jean Stern, executive director of the Irvine Museum, with a chronology provided by club historian Eric Merrell, a dedicated painter of deserts—among other subjects—and known for his…

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Eric Merrell: Bringing the California Desert to NYC

Most Manhattan gallery-goers don’t know the names Jimmy Swinnerton or John Hilton; they can’t tell a smoketree from a cholla. While desert art is expanding its geographic appeal, it hasn’t reached the east coast yet. That transcontinental link may finally be forged, though, with Eric Merrell’s show “No Man is an Island”, opening July 14th at the Forbes Gallery in the lobby of Forbes Magazine headquarters in New York City. The exhibit is a collection of Merrell’s paintings made during an artist’s residency at Joshua Tree National Park in 2009. Will east coast viewers take to the yuccas and boulders?…

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Swinnerton Stash, Eric Merrell, Hwy 62 Art Tours, Mary Weatherford on Agnes Pelton and More

Swinnerton Stash, Eric Merrell, Hwy 62 Art Tours, Mary Weatherford on Agnes Pelton and More

When Alan and Lois Stoneman built a home at Thunderbird Country Club in 1960, they asked Jimmy Swinnerton to paint them a smoke tree (a favorite of Alan’s.) Swinny borrowed the throw pillows from the couple’s sofa to make the painting match the decor. Over the years the Stonemans acquired more work by their friend, Swinnerton. Now their son, Alan Stoneman, is looking for a home for all seven of his parents’ sketches and paintings, including a prized scene of Monument Valley. This is a rare opportunity to purchase an entire Swinnerton collection that comes with a direct personal link to the…

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So Long Ol’ Fren’ Bill Bender, Moonlight Merrell, Jennie Kelly Memorial…More

Bill Bender was the last of the desert painters–the original desert painters, that is.  Of the 13 artists profiled in Ed Ainsworth’s 1960 classic Painters of the Desert, Bender long outlived his compadres. He was a caring friend and a tireless resource for my incessant questions about the painters and places he knew. He’s been so energetic into his 90s–fixing pipes and feeding the wild birds at his Victorville ranch–that it seemed he’d live forever. But I regret to report that Bill died on his 97th birthday, January 5, 2016, at the old Route 66 homestead that had been in…

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Tribute to Fran Elliott, Natural Desert Pigments, Salton Sea Sabbatical and More

Tribute to Fran Elliott, Natural Desert Pigments, Salton Sea Sabbatical and More

Forgotten desert artists lost a champion when Fran Elliott, of Sedona, Arizona, died on April 22, 2014. Fran and her husband Ed unearthed the stories of dozens of neglected Arizona women artists. Their collection sparked the 2012 exhibit Arizona’s Pioneering Women Artists at the Museum of Northern Arizona, along with an accompanying catalogue. I made Fran’s acquaintance thanks to Gary Fillmore, of the Blue Coyote Gallery, who saw similarities in Fran’s mission and my own. In our correspondence Fran said she longed to visit Palm Springs during the Modernism show “since I live in a 60’s-era ‘solar hemicycle’ house originally…

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Visit Agnes Pelton Home, Become a Desert Painter, Appraisal Day in Palm Desert

Visit Agnes Pelton Home, Become a Desert Painter, Appraisal Day in Palm Desert

Get a look at Agnes Pelton’s former home this Sunday, February 10, 2013, on the Cathedral City Historical Society’s Home Tour of Working Artists. The tour spotlights the homes and studios of artists working in the Cathedral City Cove, including photographer Peter Palladino and choreographer and dancer Simeon Den, owners of the Pelton house. The couple is maintaining Pelton’s home—where she painted her most transcendent works–as a shrine to the desert painter. You can see the exterior, at least, on Sunday and see the rest of the home during a major Agnes Pelton celebration April 6th and 7th. Sunday’s home…

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Desertscapes, Armentrout-Welch Collection, Swinnerton and more

March and April 2012 are packed with desert art events crowned by Desertscapes, the third annual Valleywide celebration of desert art. Participants include the City of Palm Desert, the Walter N. Marks Center for the Arts at College of the Desert, the Coachella Valley Watercolor Society, the Desert Art Center, the Palm Springs Art Museum, California Desert Art and others. Scroll to the end for more non-Desertscapes March and April events. For additional Desertcapes scheduling: http://desertscapes.net/ Desertscapes events: Opens April 2nd-28th, April 14th reception and Appraisal Day: the Historical Society of Palm Desert presents an exhibit of Jimmy Swinnerton and…

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