Today the Venice Paparazzi shines a light on artist Meryl Lebowitz.
Meryl Lebowitz has been creating unique visual art for more than 40 years. A self-taught oil painter, Lebowitz has experimented with painting not only on canvas and paper, but also on a variety of unlikely surfaces, from violins to scrap metal. She moves with ease from landscapes to portraits, from realism to abstraction, always searching for new ways to express herself in paint. Her subjects are familiar: local faces and landscapes, the interior of her studio or favorite restaurants, friends and family…but their appeal is universal.
Meryl Lebowitz was also honored with the Legendary Women Artists of Venice Award in 2018. The award recognizes the contribution of Women to the Arts and their profound impact on society.
Let’s get to know Meryl Lebowitz
How many years in Venice?
On and off for 11 years.
Give us a brief bio of yourself:
I was born and raised in Glens Falls New York and studied art and education at SUNY Oswego in the 70’s. I moved to Vermont shortly after graduating, where I lived and painted until 2011. In 2011 my husband, David Tanych, and I began spending part of each year in Venice, California. Initially we were drawn to the west coast because 2 of our children lived in California, and we no longer could tolerate the long, cold Vermont winters in the Northeast Kingdom. We came to Venice with a trailer full of David’s huge sculptures, hoping to find a gallery in California that would show and sell his work (which we eventually did.) Personally, I was excited by all the new painting possibilities that the West Coast offered. We now spend the majority of the year in Venice and return to Vermont for summers.
Tell us about your art. Describe your style, and what influences it?
I have been painting since I was in elementary school, initially drawn to people and objects that were part of my life. I spent years painting portraits and eventually moved to the landscapes behind people. As a gardener, I was drawn to flowers and still life. I have never been afraid of painting something new and have always enjoyed mixing mediums with my paintings. I love experimenting. I’ve painted on paper, canvas, scrap metals and any object I’ve found interesting. I’ve painted photorealism and abstraction and I don’t feel bound to a style.
How many years, and how did you get into it?
As a child, all I wanted was art supplies and I’m still the same!
Biggest accomplishment or favorite show?
I think my biggest accomplishment is being able to spend my life doing what I love.
Tell us about some of your favorite pieces.
Over the years I have sold many pieces, but I’ve also hung on to work that holds a special place in my heart. Some are portraits of my family and friends and landscapes of places that were important to me.
What projects are you currently working on?
During early covid lockdown, I painted a 6″x6″ oil painting each day for 90 days in a row. I auctioned these off on Facebook. It was project that I enjoyed, keeping me producing and connecting with other people. I took a short painting break after that, and enjoyed biking and exploring local streets. One day I came upon La Mesa Drive in Santa Monica and was blown away by the Moreton Bay fig trees lining the street. I took a series of photographs and spent several months working on a 60″ x 72″ painting which celebrates those incredible trees. Recently I’ve been working on small still-lifes and abstracts and I’m planning to start a large floral painting later today, if I can pull myself away from the garden.
Anything else that you want to share with our readers? Announcements, upcoming events, etc.
Hopefully David and I will host a garden art exhibit at our Venice home before we head back to Vermont in the summer. If you’re interested in seeing our work you can sign up to our mailing list at meryllebowitz.com, and we will let you know about upcoming events.
A few personal questions:
When you are happy about what you produce, that is success.
What is the best advice you have received.
Don’t be too precious about your work. Be willing to experiment.
How are you surviving Covid-19 and the lockdowns? What moves or pivots have you made?
I feel very fortunate that lockdowns aren’t difficult for me. I enjoy being alone and am self motivated. That being said, I feel great sadness and compassion for those who have suffered and continue to suffer through this pandemic.
Finish off the statement “Art is…
Art is everywhere.
Favorite affirmation, mantra, or quote:
When one door closes, another door opens.
Favorite band or artist?
I’ve always loved Joni Mitchell.
List 1-2 things on your bucket list?
My bucket list is empty. As my friends say, “She’d be happy in a paper bag”.
Anything else you want to share about yourself to the world? Fun facts or accomplishments.
- Music, theater and art were my first 3 loves. I knew I could not pursue all 3, so I chose ART.
- My first real job was being a magician’s assistant in Lake George, NY
- I was a high school exchange student in Japan for a year.
- I had a successful business with a friend, making jewelry out of scrap metal.
- I was in an Indie band with my 26 year old son called MOMSTER. We played at the Pop Montreal Music Festival
- After the 2008 recession, my husband and I lost our home and businesses
- With the help of family and friends we have since bought our home back, and have been successful in our work.
We have lived in 6 different neighborhoods in Venice. The first year that we were here I was overwhelmed by stimulation…this place could not have been more different than rural Vermont.There was just so much color, so much variety, so many people. It was hard for me to paint here at first. I didn’t know where to start. I walked every street, photographing and taking it all in. Venice is incredibly beautiful and devastating at the same time, with its huge gap between those who have and those who have not.
What do you do for fun in Venice during Covid times?
I ride my bike, play piano, garden, walk and play with our little terrier, Stormy Daniels.
What is your craziest or fondest Venice experience?
When David and I first came to Venice 11 years ago, we went on a house tour. One of the homes that we looked at was a beautiful, contemporary structure, just what we had imagined a California house to be. At one point, he turned to me and said “Can you imagine living in a house like this?”
And now we live in that house…..which is a long story.
Who should Venice Paparazzi cast the spotlight on next?