Artist finds some friends in local gallery
A number of years ago, between 10 and 14, depending on whom you ask, a teenager walked into the Meyer Gallery with some paintings and asked the gallery to represent him.
"He came into the gallery many years ago and he showed us his paintings and we respectfully said no," said Nancy Samson, the former director and currently a fine art consultant with the gallery.
"He came in," she added, "once a month, for a year."
Gradually, though, Samson and the gallery’s owner, Susan Meyer, could see the young painter’s work progressing. After a while, Meyer took him under her wing, and with some art education and a bit of mentoring, Seth Winegar eventually got his paintings into the Meyer Gallery.
"The first month we had his work in the gallery, I think we sold eight or 10 paintings," said Samson.
Winegar went on to become a mainstay at the gallery.
"He is, without a doubt, our most popular artist, our best-selling artist," said Maren Bargreen, the current director at the Meyer Gallery.
His pieces feature loose, colorful and almost pastoral landscapes punctuated by points of detail: a tree trunk, some cows, or a building. The colors around them blend into one and other, graduating from ephemeral hues to bright intensity, easy to appreciate, yet complex at the same time.
But while Winegar, who hails from Bountiful, has built a successful career with his painting, he also lives with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes a thickening of the body’s mucus and has a variety of significant health implications. For Winegar, the disease has meant increasingly serious problems with his lungs and liver.
"I’ve had cystic fibrosis my whole life, and as I got older," he said, "it turned into that."
"We found out in the fall that he’s going to need a double lung and liver transplant," said Bargreen.
Winegar is scheduled to undergo the rare procedure in March, in a Los Angeles hospital, but, he said his insurance will only a portion of the surgery. So the Meyer Gallery decided to help.
"All the paintings that are by Seth, we’re giving the money straight to him," said Bargreen.
Additionally, this Wednesday, Feb. 8, the gallery will hold a benefit for Winegar.
"We’ve asked artists to donate works, which will be sold at (silent) auction," said Bargreen.
The event will feature a variety of Meyer Gallery artists and a series of limited edition giclees by Winegar, which will be sold for $350 each. The benefit will last from 6-9 p.m., and refreshments will be available. All of the proceeds from the giclees and the auction will go to Winegar.
"We’re not making any money off of this," said Bargreen. "It’s all going to Seth."
According to Samson, the gallery does its best to look after its artists.
"There’s a history [here], of not only mentoring artists, but helping them out when they’re under duress," she said.
Winegar said that, on average, a new liver will give a person an additional 25 years of life, and new lungs will give an additional five to 10 years, but he also noted that such numbers depend greatly upon the organ recipient, advances in medical technology and a number of other factors.
"I hope I get more, but you get what you can get," he said. "You get the right guy and everything lines up in sync, miracles can happen."
"Your trials are here to make you stronger," he noted. "I hope I’m learning what I’m supposed to."
Winegar has already proven a survivor, living longer than many cystic fibrosis sufferers. He said he was thankful for the help from the gallery and those who have encouraged him.
"I’m very grateful to all, and I know there’s a lot of good people out there, and even if they can’t help me, they can help others," he said. "There’s a lot of people and this world and a lot of other people that need help."
The soft-spoken artist seemed reluctant to champion his own cause. But Bargreen and Samson made his case for him.
"Everyone at the gallery, we all have every fond feelings for Seth, and anything we can to help him is great" said Samson.
"Operation Fine Art: Seth Winegar Art Benefit" will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 8 from 6-9 p.m. and will include refreshments and a silent auction. For more information about the event, or to learn how you can help out, call 649-8160 or visit http://www.meyergallery.com.
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