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Cynthia Meyer: Local Color
September 7, 2018 - October 31, 2018
Designer and artist Cynthia Meyer began painting in 2000, the year—to quote Virginia Woolf’s essay on woman writers—she got “A Room of One’s Own.” She turned down a 900-square-foot studio as too grand (with not enough light). Her modest home studio with exposed rafters has the feel of an improvised space inside a house artfully designed to suggest improvisations (including a thirty-five-foot prominence built to look like a repurposed water tower).
“It’s all about the color. Color makes me stop. Intrigue is made by light.”
There is nothing improvisational about her work. Meyer eschewed formal lessons and eased into art with oil paint sticks normally used as livestock markers. She went on to create a method of working from photographs, meticulously refining the color and light in the studio.
The effect transposes a Hopperesque light, simplicity, and cleanness to the radiance of the Central Coast. As if the Scottish Colorists had sunny rather than cloudy days to work with; as if the Photorealists were released from their hard-edged urbanism.
“It feels like Sunday or before everyone’s up.” Yet within these sunny scenes—empty of humans but improvised with lambent objects (from bicycles to bungalows) of human design—there always lies intrigue.
“The average American moves 11.7 times in their lifetime. Whether we’re changing jobs, or just trying out a new neighborhood, Americans are constantly on the move.
“I myself have lived in 22 different houses. When I moved back to SLO this most recent time, I found myself painting the downtown neighborhoods. Not because they’re pretty, but because I was yearning for roots and history.
“When I paint, I use light and color to make old bicycles and buildings shine. I want to stop time for a moment; to recognize all of the life and love and stories that these things represent.
“We all need this rest stop in the sun, before we move on again.”
Cynthia Meyer is a native Californian. Born in Santa Barbara, she was raised in San Luis Obispo. She received design degrees from Cuesta College and Cal Poly and spent her early art career creating illustration and packaging. Since 2000, she has been working in oils, focusing on the local scenery: landscapes, architecture and sunlit moments.