The exhibit is full circle for Meredith, who got his start at age 16 designing tombstones and monuments for the McNeel Monument Company. His work still stands at the Georgia Memorial Gardens, on the corner of Windy Hill Road and Cobb Parkway in the granite shapes of Georgia on the low wall.
Of the exhibit, Meredith said, “To be recognized in my own hometown is wonderful. (MCMA has) done a tremendous amount of work. It’s a wonderful place to show, and it’s also wonderful for me to be able to review 40 years of workmanship.”
He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Georgia in 1963. His work can be found locally in places such as Kennesaw State University and Southern Polytechnic State University. Actor and comedian Steve Martin is a connoisseur of Meredith’s works, as is Marietta Daily Journal publisher Otis A. Brumby, Jr.
His pieces can also be seen across the country and world. During a trip to southern France, Meredith said he walked into a friend’s home and saw three of his paintings hanging.
Traveling to where great artists, such as Renoir, have painted is something that inspires Meredith. “I’m a student of art history,” he said. “It’s always interesting to me to know where artists have painted. It’s fun to go back to some of these places and paint the same subjects that these great artists have painted on the same spot and then look at it through my eyes.”
Although he is well versed in various art forms, Meredith is best known for “trompe l’oeil,” (pronounced trump loy). Translated it means “deceive the eye.” Meredith said the traditional method involves a solid, flat plain. The artist paints an object with a very shallow depth of feel to make it look realistic.
Meredith adds to the traditional technique and makes it his own by adding a 3D element. For example, he will paint a canvas and incorporate a bigger frame, which serves as an extension of the image.
He said his career in this art form evolved naturally. So what is it about this medium that Meredith enjoys? “Every artist wants to find his own way of speaking,” he said. “I found an area that I really love. I believe I have taken trompe l’oeil painting further than it was by incorporating the frame into the painting and actually going outside the painting with other things, and that hadn’t been done before. That’s what an artist wants to do. I have no desire to repeat something some other painter has done. And it’s fun.”
His “Antique Toy World” incorporates different types of items, including cast iron taxicabs, teddy bears, jack-in-the-box and a windup toy. Many of Meredith’s paintings incorporate windows. He said he enjoys painting them and works to make the piece of art look as real as possible. Painting cracks in the glass and strips of worn tape are some of the elements he uses to do.
“I look at something, and I figure it out and I make it look that way,” he said. “That’s why I like being a painter.”
Meredith and his wife, Brenda, have four children and seven grandchildren. A piece titled “The Little Clown” features his son, Robby, when he was a young boy.
Times vary on his creations vary, but one painting depicting the crucifixion of Christ, took him two years to complete. Meredith said other subjects in the painting are family, friends, neighbors and other personal acquaintances. His painting, “Song of the Chattahoochee,” is a tribute to his mother and Sidney Lanier, the late Georgia writer and namesake of Lake Lanier.
Decades of art have inspired Meredith to write “The Art of Oil Painting.” He said the book would provide “tricks of the trade” for young artists. He said, “It’s just telling artists basically how to paint, be a professional artist, how to frame your work (and) how to sell your work.”
Throughout the years, one thing has never changed. Meredith’s first show was in the early 1960s at a gallery in downtown Atlanta. He said the anticipatory feeling he had back then is still present today.
“You work for months and months on these paintings. I work in solitude,” he said. “Then you get to show people what you’ve done. It is a wonderful feeling for me to have people respond to my work. I really look forward to doing it.”
The exhibit will be at the museum, located at 30 Atlanta St., now through March 25 in Galleries 1, 2 and 3. For more information, visit www.
mariettacobbartmuseum.org or call (770) 528-1444.