Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Neil Meitzler’s Spectra, Stream, Strata in Sheehan Gallery

The Sheehan Gallery exhibit "Spectra, Stream, and Strata" showcases the work of Pacific Northwest artist Neil Meitzler, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2009. The gallery will run from Sept 1 - Oct 1, 2010. Photo Credit: Brandon Fennell

Pacific Northwest artist Neil Meitzler was helping Sheehan Gallery Director Dawn Forbes prepare the first exhibition of the year, “Spectra, Stream, Strata,” which showcased his work, when he died of pancreatic cancer. Shortly before his death in 2009, Forbes acquired many of his journals depicting his travels and schooling at the Northwest School in Seattle, Wash. during the late 1950s. From his struggles with Seventh Day Adventism to the inspiration he took from Asian art and poetry, his journals allowed Forbes a glimpse into his mind.

“His journal was filled with words of all kinds of different artists and philosophers,”said Forbes, director of the Sheehan Gallery.

A private person, Meitzler often did not explain his work or title his pieces, even to those to whom he felt closest. Only after receiving his personal documents was Forbes was able to deeply understand his work and their significance.

“[Meitzler wanted people] to form their own relationship with the work and come away with their own story,” said Forbes.

Meitzler’s works often evoke the recurring theme of rebirth that he experienced in his life. Through his usage of blues and other natural colors, his worked has been closely linked to the discovery of the mythic and poetic within nature. Later on in his life, experiences of loss are noted through his dramatic red color palette and the depictions of destroyed landscapes.

“[He utilized art] to pull himself out of a very deep place of darkness,” said Forbes.

Meitzler also struggled with his relationship to his Seventh Day Adventist background.  He felt moved by Christian iconography, but struggled with his sexuality and its perceptions in relation to his family and the world around him. This struggle also impacts much of his artwork.

Senior politics major Mara Chang-Northway interpreted Meitzler’s work through her particular adademic leanings.

“It’s not afraid to address political issues and the politics of human interaction with nature,” said Chang-Northway.

The inclusion of Meitzler further reflects Sheehan Gallery’s belief in the power of the evolving artist as conveyed in his or her work.

“What I love about the variety that was chosen for the show [is that] it shows that artists go through so many movements and different styles to get to their own identity and each one of those reflects him in a different way,” said Exhibitions and Collections Manager Kynde Kiefel.

Through such collections, the Sheehan Gallery  works to deconstruct the myth of the exclusivity of art.

The  last  days to see Meitzler’s “Spectra, Stream, Strata” exhibit are Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

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    Marcia E. DawsonFeb 10, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    It was wonderful to see the variety of entries in this retrospective. He truly was a wonderful artist.