Bridgette Meinhold’s head is in the trees
Exhibit and mural opens Friday
November 22, 2016
"There is trouble in the forest/There is trouble with the trees/The maples want more sunlight and the oaks ignore their pleas" — Rush, 1977
Encaustic artist Bridgette Meinhold, like many people, always thought trees competed to reach the sun, but her favorite podcast, RadioLab, changed her mind.
"They did [an episode] about forests and brought up the conventional wisdom that says trees try and grow tall so they can get sunlight, and as they do, they block out other trees in a survival-of-the-fittest thing," the Park City-based encaustic painter told The Park Record. "Well, researchers are finding out that trees are actually cooperating together. While some may grow big and tall, they are all working together through the soil and passing information or nutrients, to each other."
That's the inspiration for her new exhibit "Under the Same Sky," which will open at Gallery MAR during the Park City Gallery Association's monthly gallery stroll on Friday.
"It was really fascinating to me to learn that trees have a social network and work together to make a stronger forest," said Meinhold, who is known for her forest paintings. "I thought since they are working together, maybe we should work together, too."
So, the artist got busy and began preparing 18 new works for the Gallery MAR show.
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"It's about how we all live on and share this planet," she said. "By working together, instead of as a separate people, we can make things a lot better."
Meinhold, whose paintings have been featured in Mountain Living Magazine, felt the pervasive message needed to be put on a national and global level.
"I don't necessarily want to make the exhibit into a political thing, but I can't deny that what has been happening in the world didn't have some kind of influence on me," she said. "And it really isn’t just me and my art. It's all about instead of going for each others' throats, we would get more done."
All the paintings are landscapes of Park City and the surrounding areas.
"There are also a few that were inspired by Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons," Meinhold said. "We have tree scenes, mountain scenes and combinations."
This exhibit is also one of Meinhold's more colorful shows.
"Before, my colors would be more pale and simple," she said. "This last year, I embraced the color and went for it."
The painter can't pinpoint a reason why she started introducing more color to her works.
"I just gradually started saturating the paintings more last spring and into the early part of the summer," she said. "When I got to working on the show, I amped it up and it was just fun."
The paintings are highlighted by handmade frames made by Meinhold's husband Matt.
"We purchase the wood, which is reclaimed barn wood, from a wood dealer in Salt Lake City," Meinhold said. "We also get some of the materials from Recycle Utah's Good Wood program."
A majority of the paintings are large.
"My biggest painting in the show is 38 inches by 60 inches, and that's the biggest encaustic painting I've ever done," Meinhold said.
It's also the biggest painting she can make in her studio.
"My table will not fit anything bigger," she said with a laugh. "I'm also limited by as far as my arms reach. I'm only 5 feet 4 inches tall, so there is only so far I can reach."
However, the size of that painting doesn't compare to the size of a mural Meinhold is working on at the Riverhorse on Main restaurant, located at 540 Main St.
"I'm painting the mural on a 20-foot wall of the restaurant's lounge area on the top of the stairs," she said. "It's nearly 10 feet tall at parts."
The mural is separate from the Gallery MAR show, but still focuses on trees.
"I spent a lot of time working in my sketchbook and did a black and white piece of pines that were heavy laden with snow," Meinhold said.
Her Instagram followers loved the piece.
"I thought it would be so neat on a giant scale, so in anticipation of the show, I worked with [Gallery MAR owner] Maren Mullen, who helped me find a venue, a wall, that I could paint it on," Meinhold said.
Once Executive Chef Seth Adams and his wife Casey, owners of the Riverhorse on Main, heard about the idea, they jumped on board.
"They were awesome enough to say, 'Sure. We would love a mural,'" Meinhold said. "Seth and Casey are so neat and the food is so good here."
The mural isn't created by using Meinhold's trademark encaustic work.
"It's actually black interior house paint," she said.
Meinhold said the Gallery MAR show and the mural is all part of her mission: to create beautiful art.
"If I wasn't painting, I would still be making something," said the painter, who published "Urgent Architecture: 40 Sustainable Housing Solutions for a Changing World," a book about emergency architecture in 2014.
"That's my favorite part of this whole thing. I just want to make stuff, " she said, "and I like trying to get the things that I see in my head get out into the world."
Bridgette Meinhold's "Under the Same Sky" will open at 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 25, at Gallery MAR, 436 Main St. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://www.gallerymar.com.