DAILY ART FIX: Beer With a Painter: Mernet Larsen

Art world links which caught my eye…

Mernet Larsen “Resurrection” acrylic and tracing paper on canvas, 66 1/2″ x 39″ (2006)

The online magazine Hyperallergic suffers from the same Postmodern bad attitudes and distortions that inflict most of the establishment art world. However, I sometimes enjoy their ongoing “Beer with a Painter” series, interviews with creatives working in this most versatile of mediums. In April 2021 they spoke with Mernet Larsen, an artist I was unfamiliar with. She made some interesting observations.

ML: I went to college at the University of Florida, so I was still living at home in Gainesville. I wasn’t sure if I was going to major in art. By then, everyone was under the aegis of Abstract Expressionism, especially Willem de Kooning. Or you could go toward Josef Albers and be more intellectual. But it was taboo to make representational paintings.

Fortunately, I had a fantastic teacher, the painter Hiram Williams. I went to him and said, “I think I’m not going to major in art because what I want to do with my life is give form to the concrete experiences that I have. But it doesn’t seem like this is what art is about.”

Williams said in response, “You don’t have to make abstract paintings. You can do whatever you want. Take your sketchbook and go out in the world.” I followed his advice and took my sketchbook down to Rattlesnake Creek, where I had played as a kid. But it didn’t resonate with me, and I thought, “I’m really not meant to be an artist.” I started walking across the campus back to the art department.

The university had a teaching farm. I walked across a hill and saw a group of cows. Something clicked. I took out my sketchbook and started drawing them. They became shapes against a background. I ran back to my studio and started painting yellow fields with bright red cows. Everybody was relieved that I had found something, since I had seemed so frustrated. It took weeks to develop these paintings, but it was a turning point. I realized that I would identify things in my life, and let each subject determine how it wants to be painted. I was not going to predetermine the style.

Mernet Larsen “Bunt” acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 64″ x 50 1/4″ (2016)

Read the full article here: HYPERALLERGIC – Beer With a Painter: Mernet Larsen

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Visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

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