Breathing life into the discarded
Award-winning Lehigh Valley pastel artist Jacqueline Meyerson has added yet another honor to her impressive list of prizes and recognition by being selected to exhibit her painting, “Locked Up,” this September at the National Arts Club’s 45th annual “Enduring Brilliance” competition in Manhattan. To compete, Meyerson’s painting had to be juried from among 1,300 entries, with only 180 being selected.
“This is the crown jewel of pastel exhibitions, and to go to this event is very exciting,” Meyerson says.
Another of her paintings also was accepted this summer at the twelfth biennial conference of the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) in Albuquerque, N.M.
She was one of only 160 pastelists chosen for the juried exhibition out of 5,000 entries worldwide.
Meyerson, who teaches a pastel workshop at the Baum School in Allentown, said this was the first time she entered a painting in the IAPS competition. A self-taught artist who lives with her husband in Macungie, she has been voted one of the top 100 pastel artists in the world not once, but several times by the Pastel Journal, America’s leading magazine devoted to pastel artists.
Her painting, “Locked Up,” features a tray of discarded locks, one of which is more than 100 years old.
“I thought, how awesome to know what they locked up, and what secrets they held,” she says. “When I paint, I try to get the viewer to hear the stories the objects are telling. Objects speak to me, and I want them to speak to the viewers as well.”
The 16-inch by 12-inch work Meyerson entered in the IAPS competition is titled “Allan Street,” and is a realistic depiction of old rusty street signs from days gone by. She says it is part of an ongoing series of works called “Organized Chaos.” All the works in the series depict groups – sometimes piles or heaps – of similar objects.
Meyerson tends to ask questions of the objects in her paintings. She says “Allan Street” asks “what sights the signs could have witnessed, what weather they have endured, what person or persons were guided by their message?” Meyerson found the signs abandoned in a tub in an antique store, and she felt they deserved a new life, so she says she “put them on stage.”
Other works in the series include rusty file cabinet doors, gears, corks, eggs and a ball of rubber bands.
“They are ordinary things we take for granted. That’s what I like – ordinary things,” Meyerson says. “I take things that are discarded or dismissed, and I breathe life into them.” When viewing her paintings of locks and street signs, it is clear that the way she groups and lights them allows the viewer to see past the age and surface rust or decay to see them as objects of beauty.
Meyerson is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America and an elected member of both the American Artists Professional League and the Allied Artists of America, which awarded her gold medals in 2015 and 2016. She is also a member of the Lehigh Art Alliance and the Bethlehem Palette Club.