Dog Art Today
April 23, 2009
Kimberly Merrill: Unleashed at Lora Schlesinger



Kimberly Merrill's Unleashed show opens this Saturday, April 25 at Lora Schlesinger Gallery in Santa Monica.  It looks like a beauty.  The artist, a divorced empty-nester who decided to go to art school ten years ago and went on to get her BFA and MFA and now teach at Laguna College of Art and Design, became interested in the history of dog portraits and began her own series a year ago.  This is her first solo show.
What I like about her work is not just her mastery of oils, the high-wire act of painting, in my opinion, but also her return to the primal aspect of dog portraiture.  As she writes in her artist's statement:
I realized that even with the surge in representational painting today, animal painting as a genre, largely follows a Modernist aesthetic, and is rarely seen in fine art or academic art circles. I want to bridge the divide, both as an academic painter and as a dog lover and present dogs, not as one-dimensional stereotypes, but as living breathing spirits. In each painting, it is the domesticated individual, along with their wild heritage that I hope to capture and memorialize, and in doing so, bring the same dignity to them that they bring to our lives everyday.
Merrill's dogs have personalities, but they have animality too.  It is a delicate balance she manages with a stunning expertise, inspired, she says, by 18th century painter, Jean-Baptise Oudry, renowned for the soulfulness of his exotic animals in captivity.  I also see shades of one of my favorite 19th century dog artists, Monica Gray, one of the many painters Merrill must have seen in another of her inspirations, William Secord's book, Dog Painting 1840 - 1940
Above all, I am inspired by Kimberly Merrill as an artist who found her passion by starting a new chapter in her life, and who is not afraid to look back several centuries in order to capture dogs anew. 


Kimberly Merrill Unleashed at Lora Schlesinger runs April 25, 2009 - June 6, 2009. 
Visit Merrill's blog, Contemporary Canine, for more information.  She also paints pet portrait commissions and can be reached at 949-422-8508.  Having a Merrill original of your dog would be simply brilliant.  If you get one, I would love to see it.