By land and sea
This story was featured in the June 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art June 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
Long before she even understood the idea of a career in fine art, Meridee Mandio had a pencil, pastel, or crayon in her tiny hand. As a child, Mandio says, she drew and painted out of sheer delight. And while growing up in Pennsylvania, she was fortunate enough to have an endless supply of paper: Her grand-father worked in a nearby paper mill and regularly brought her rolls of butcher-block paper. “When it came time to pick a career, it was always art,” Mandio says.
Mandio went on to earn a fine-arts degree at the Philadelphia College of Art (now called University of the Arts). Over the years the artist has lived in cities across the country, but today she is fond of saying that she has two spiritual homes, Santa Fe and Los Angeles. Peruse her body of impressionistic paintings, and it’s easy to see the visual evidence of this. In California she often captures the blues and greens of the 240-mile ribbon of seacoast that stretches from Santa Barbara northward to Monterey. From her home in landlocked Santa Fe, by contrast, she depicts the earthy colors of dry terrain or dramatic skies. “New Mexico is just so paintable,” Mandio says. “I’ve never seen skies and clouds like New Mexico’s. In the summer they begin peeking over the hills in the morning, and by afternoon there are great armies marching across the sky, sometimes growing into enormous thunderheads. Then by first light they have all disappeared.”
Although she paints still lifes and figures as well, she finds painting landscapes to be a magical experience. Like the many plein-air painters who have gone before her, Mandio relishes immersing herself in the natural world, experiencing the smells, sounds, heat, wind, and rain on location. At times she may turn to the early California plein-air painters for inspiration, as well as to one of the great visual interpreters of the Southwest, Maynard Dixon. “I’m trying to capture the beauty and wonder of the world we live in, and if I can convey some of that in paint to others, that would feel like a successful painting,” she says. —Bonnie Gangelhoff
The Squash Blossom, Colorado Springs, CO.
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