Spotlight on Intersections@5: Linn Meyers

The Phillips celebrates the fifth anniversary of its Intersections contemporary art series with Intersections@5, an exhibition comprising work by 20 of the participating artists. In this blog series, each artist writes about his or her work on view.


Linn Meyers, Untitled, 2014. Gift of Lucinda and Carlos Garcia

The unmediated directness of making a drawing is the result of a line being an extension of the hand and the body. The line is universal.

At the Time Being was a site-specific wall drawing made in response to Van Gogh’s The Road Menders. I chose Van Gogh’s work as a starting point because the method that the artist used to apply paint to his canvases shares some of the same qualities of a drawing.

Twenty-five years ago, I began my career as a painter. Over time I became enamored with the distilled qualities of drawing, and eventually drawing became my primary focus.

While working on the Intersections project in 2010, however, I found that I was not only drawing on the wall, but also using a paintbrush to enhance the image. That return to painting as a mode of expression during the project at the Phillips has stuck with me, and Untitled, 2014 is evidence of that. The piece blends drawing and painting; it puts the two modes of expression on equal footing. The lines in Untitled, 2014 have a calligraphic quality that was achieved with a paintbrush; however, the act of making a line is, in and of itself, an act of drawing.

Linn Meyers

Strictly Painting Is Anything But

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Guests enjoy the opening of Strictly Painting. Photo by Catherine Day

This year I was invited to jury the Strictly Painting 10 biannual that McLean Project for the Arts initiated 10 years ago, showcasing selected works by artists from a broader Washington Metropolitan area. The exhibition, on view through August 1, is anyhting but “strictly painting,” diverse in media, subject matters, and aesthetic approaches.

There is a lot going on in the DC-area art scene and this especially lively opening only confirmed it.

Vesela Sretenovic, Phillips Senior Curator

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Phillips Contemporaries members Todd Galaida, Laura Deming, and Carl Bedell attend the opening with Phillips Curator and Strictly Painting 10 exhibition juror Vesela Sretenovic.

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Winning artists Shante Bullock (left) and Lilianne Milgrom (right) with exhibition juror Vesela Sretenovic. Photos by Catherine Day

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Guests enjoy the opening of Strictly Painting. Photo by Catherine Day


Size Matters


Arthur G. Dove, Waterfall, 1925. Oil on hardboard, 10 x 8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1926

Would Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party have the same effect on its viewers if it didn’t take up nearly an entire wall at 51 x 69 inches? Conversely, would Jacob Lawrence’s panels from The Migration Series be so poignant if each were triple the size, Panel no. 1 measuring only 12 x 18 inches? In art, size matters. It can make a large piece overcome you. It can force you to inspect a smaller piece more intently than you might if it were just little bit bigger.

One of the smaller paintings and one of my favorites in The Phillips Collection is Arthur Dove’s Waterfall, measuring only 10 x 8 inches. This oil painting done on hardboard could escape you if you were walking through the galleries quickly, but it is a work worth a closer look. In a typical Dovian way, a style shared by other members of the Alfred Stieglitz circle including John Marin and Georgia O’Keeffe, a natural subject is abstracted in a way that does not immediately depict its title. But as the title indicates, it is a waterfall, a subject found in the nature around us that, when you think about it, does not really have a typical look to it. Not all waterfalls look the same, and Dove is aware of this phenomenon. Dark grey blues swirl into beige washes with highlights of white put carefully on top. The surface is loaded with painterly texture and monochromatic gradients. What the painting captures is a moment in time, the moment you forget what you’re looking at and see only the colors and shapes that make up the nature in front of you.

If we could only ask Dove, why so small? Why is it that the artist chose to depict such a grandiose subject in such a small window? Perhaps it is precisely for this irony. It is at once artful and emotional to represent a subject that takes up so much space in the world around us and impose it onto a surface that only takes up a fraction of a gallery wall. The unique smallness of Waterfall is what drew me to the piece in the first place, intrigued by its placement amongst larger O’Keeffe and Marin works that I could spot from the gallery next door. When I took the time to really look at the painting, it instantly became one of my favorites, and that was because of its size. So size in art really does matter, and sometimes, smaller is better.

Annie Dolan, Marketing and Communications Intern