Merion Estes, Radioactive Sea, 2017, fabric collage and spray paint on canvas, 48″ x 76″
The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) announced the 2017 recipients of the Murray Reich Distinguished Artist Award, which was established in 2015 to recognize artistic excellence and provide resources to visual artists with a long history of creative practice. Merion Estes will receive an unrestricted cash award and will create a catalogue to accompany an exhibition of her work to be held at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles in September 2018, which coincides with her 80th birthday.
With the support of an anonymous donor, NYFA created this annual award to enable artists with a long history of creative practice to pursue deeper investigations or new explorations that can inform and enrich their work. It has been developed in memory of the artist Murray Reich, a New York-based painter who also had a highly regarded career as a professor of art at Bard College.
On receiving the award, Estes said: “This is only the second grant I have received in my long career, and I am most grateful. It will allow me some leeway in preparing for my three upcoming shows and in particular for the 10-year survey at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles.”
Estes is known for her use of varied depictions of natural “scenes” using found fabrics coupled with mixed paint applications and photo transfers. Her works address the beauty and fragility of life and the tragedy of man’s intervention in nature. She has shown regularly in Los Angeles since arriving there in 1972. An active participant in the Women’s Movement since its inception, Estes was part of the only women’s co-op in the first “Woman’s Building” in Los Angeles. Her work was exhibited in two shows there, and she continued as a member of a Feminist service group called “XX” for several years after the gallery closed. The group’s mission was to expose other artist’s work and their work through mounting shows in alternative spaces and sponsored lectures. In 1979, she was given a five-year survey at the Municipal Gallery at Barnsdall Art Park. Her work continued to evolve and be seen throughout the 80’s and 90’s, and in 2006 she was given a 35-year retrospective at the Pomona College Art Museum, curated by Rebecca McGrew. Her artistic evolution continues today as she works towards a third show at CB1 Gallery, The Feminine Sublime at Pasadena Museum of California Art, and the Craft and Folk Art Museum show.