Interview with City Painter Gwen Meyerson
by Miriam Schulman, @schulmanArt
SchulmanArt: How long have you been an artist?
I’ve been an artist for as long as I remember. I actually can’t think of a starting point. I majored in art in college but way back in grade school I loved dressing up all my social studies reports with my craypas illustrations.
Where did you study art?
I studied art at Queens College. I spent part of my senior year in London where I painted at a school in the East End. My postgraduate studies included a year at the New York Studio School after which I earned an MFA in painting at Florida State University.
How does your New York roots influence you as an artist?
When I attended FSU my professors were mainly abstract painters and I felt compelled to go large and abstract. I yearned for my roots and created some massive “graffiti wall” canvases that incorporated city imagery. In the years since I have returned to my perceptual roots. Out of necessity I work smaller now and base my work from what inspires me in my little universe. That would include lots of city images with a focus on everyday people in the street. My daughter lived in Fort Greene whiling attending Pratt. I have enjoyed returning to Brooklyn where I was born and painting the neighborhoods of that borough. A week ago a California woman bought one of my Park Slope prints and asked me if it was 4th Street I painted. I knew it was because my brother lives on that street and it turned out I had painted the front of this lady’s brownstone! The next week I got an order for the same print from her old neighbor!
In addition to painting scenes of New York, I enjoy café scenes, both interiors and outdoors. Next to New York, my favorite city to paint is San Francisco.
What has been your most exciting moment as an artist?
I remember when I attended the Studio School that I saw an ad in the NY Post for an art competition held by the Queens Museum. I was about age 21, mailed my slides and was soon alerted that I was a finalist. The curator and museum director came together to visit my “studio” which was my parents’ basement! They clearly expected a more seasoned artist and looked rather surprised when they came down the stairs. But they interviewed me and were most encouraging as they talked to me about my work. I was not in the final cut but it was the first time I felt elated at being recognized for my talent. I actually have those paintings on my walls today.
|Artist Gwen Meyerson
SchulmanArt: What is your studio space like?
I have a very small apartment. My studio is a tiny room –in fact it’s my daughter’s bedroom who is in college! Therefore a very important ritual for me is making the commitment to paint and covering the walls, floor and bed with drop cloths. The easel comes in from the terrace and the paints, cans and palette emerge from the closet. When I am set up I have no excuses not to paint. I either turn on daytime tv or listen to radio (WFUV which turned me on to some of my favorite artists like Ray LaMontagne.) This room has one big window facing the north. To my left I see the Throg’s Neck Bridge which is kind of nice.
What are you working on now?
I actually do not have any shows coming up. I have been concentrating on building my etsy business. I recently started offering prints which has had a good reception. Until my daughter goes back to school in a week I am using a small tabletop easel in the kitchen working on some quick studies. But I have some great city shots that I intend to start working on very shortly.
mentioned in this article @GwenMeyerson