Merion Estes

Lost Horizons
Cooling Trend

January 7 – February 19, 2017
Artist Reception: Saturday, January 7, 2017, 4 – 7 p.m.


CB1 Gallery is pleased to present our second solo exhibition of the work of Los Angeles based artist Merion Estes, Lost Horizons. The exhibition features works on paper from a series that she began creating in 2007 and continued through 2011. Estes Lost Horizons series gives pictorial form to vanishing natural domains and references Frank Capra’s 1937 film of the same name. In addition, a 2016 painting, Cooling Trend, will be on view in our project space. The exhibition will be on view from January 7 through February 19, 2017. An opening reception for the artist will be held on Saturday, January 7, 2017, 4 – 7 p.m.

In Frank Capra’s romantic and nostalgic film “Lost Horizons,” a group of travelers find Shangri-La, a utopian society in the Himalayas. Merion Estes’ fiercely beautiful and difficult works on paper, Lost Horizon, combine images of nature suffering destruction with fabrications of the world as we ache to see it.

Most of the Lost Horizons images involve reproduction of ancient Chinese landscape paintings that the artist cuts and rearranges on expanses of heavy paper, as if splaying the surface of the earth for scientific intrusion. A 1999 trip to China peaked Estes interest in Chinese landscapes, which had enraptured her long before that. The contrast between the natural beauty of “places” and their destruction by mans interventions link much of the artist’s work of the past 20 years. Estes work draws the viewer in with the visual beauty and then surprises them with a closer view that details a nastier reality. She interweaves nostalgic pictorial fragments with decorative papers, fabric, and various paint applications. Drips and splatters and smudges join with foliage and flower patterns.

CB1 Gallery will also exhibit a new painting, Cooing Trend, in our project room. After experiencing yet another “hottest summer on record,” Estes wanted to somehow depict that. Starting with the most extreme orange-yellow color, “hot spots” and sunrays, she added blooming flowers and visual symbols of after-effects experienced by viewing the sun while outdoors. The cool passage in the center offers a respite to the eye and psyche, while also referring to a giant brush stroke. The dragonheads reference the myth of Icarus, flying too close to the sun (in flames) and representing fear, danger and desperation.

Raised in San Diego, Merion Estes attended Grossmont College in El Cajon and then moved to the University of New Mexico to continue her undergraduate education. There she found two inspiring visiting teachers from London as well as the Los Angeles painter Frederick Hammersley. After four years, she accepted an offer of a scholarship to the University of Colorado in Boulder where she received her MFA. Following a summer’s teaching job and her first group show in a non-profit space in Denver, she and her family moved to Los Angeles in late 1972, where she has remained, working as an artist, ever since. For the last fourteen years, she has concentrated on teaching art in the California public colleges, mostly at Long Beach City College, Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Fullerton. Her work continues to be seen in LA galleries and museums. In 2006 Pomona College organized a 35-year retrospective, A Sea Of Possibilities.

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