Over the past year, curator, writer and gallery director Stephanie Buhmann has been conducting a series of conversations with artists, which she has generously made available on her website. The following excerpts from a recent studio visit with Melissa Meyer speak to newness, abstraction and the notion that our surroundings seep into our work in countless, often unintentional, ways. [Sidebar: I sometimes wonder what contemporary art would look like if artists lived in environments like, for instance, the South of France instead of the post-industrial neighborhoods around the country. And when will the next generation begin converting abandoned strip malls and big box stores into studio space?]
Stephanie Buhmann: The concept of time is very important and becomes even more so in this day and age when an artist�s audience is increasingly prone to zap through visuals, information, installations, and art fairs. To be able to slow down the visual experience is crucial – especially in regard to abstraction. Sometimes I think that we had reached this sophisticated place of how to engage with abstraction but that many are now brushing it off again as easy to take in or make. I think that many contemporary abstract artists have to fight again against a quick overall assessment of their work and a decorative viewing in general.
Melissa Meyer: Abstract viewing and analyzing is not taught � at least that�s what I believe – because of what happened in the Greenbergian age in regard to formalism. It�s also because you can�t put it through a political sieve even though it was considered radical and aligned with radical political thought. I identify with young Jazz musicians. Working in a form that was once considered avant-garde but which now is considered traditional. And what do you do with it? You don�t abandon it because�
SB: �it�s not the newest thing anymore.
MM: Right. After all, it is still relatively new….
SB: I love that there are stacks of newspapers in your studio.
MM: Sometimes I wonder if I should stop getting the New York Times.
SB: There is an interesting relationship between these towers of newspapers and your work�s gestures and overall abstraction. Both provide a column of information, but stacked or re-ordered it�s not legible in a traditional sense. I think it captures what I feel when I look at your work: there is some information, but its abstraction encourages me to search for a new way of reading it.
MM: Looking at different things, such as these windows, always influences me. Like that one you see the reflections of on the other building. I love all of that….
Image above: Melissa Meyer, Smokey, 2013, oil on canvas, 60 x 84 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Lennon, Weinberg, Inc.