Dave Meeker: Evolution L.E.D.
By Max Eternity
Vincent Van Goth’s “The Starry Night” by Dave Meeker
“Stop Focusing—see the big picture” says Dave Meeker. These are thoughts from an artist whose life experience has revealed to him the importance of “beauty” in our everyday lives. “Intense beauty” he says, is something that surrounds us all, but somehow, Meeker says, we often become “numb to it.”
Speaking to his present exhibition, Meeker says “Light plays an important role in the landscape.” And aptly titled, Meeker’s current show is called Landscapes. Where in it, he uses sculpted light to convey and translate “visual and mental” landscapes into “a few thin slices” of color saturated L.E.D. illumination.
Meeker is a native to San Jose, California. And in a recent interview, he spoke further about the Landscapes exhibition:
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Max Eternity (ME): For this current exhibition, you recently gave an artist talk in which the subject of beauty was core. Might you recall some of your thoughts on that?
Dave Meeker (DM): I feel like we’re surrounded by intense beauty, but we’ve become numb to it. So, I felt that what I wanted to do with the show is to isolate these incredible bits of beauty, and hopefully open the eyes of others to what’s out there.
ME: That’s an arousing starting point, but sort this out for me. How do you decide what gets made and how?
DM: I decided that there are different types of historic [imagery], the real and imaginary. I went with historic, because I had to see what other artists have done. I wanted to see how others had captured in landscape. Ver Meer’s “View of Delft” and “Starry Night” by Van Goth, and “Landscape #1” by [work] Diebenkorn, were choices.
“Delft” became imaginary, it got converted.
These light rectangles I create are the exact size of the rectangle of the original pieces. I tried to capture the essence and the precise place in that exact painting—the color in each piece, its placement. Then I went out to look at real landscapes within walking distance of the gallery.
ME: Local places that exist today, like the series of light sculptures we’re sitting next to?
DM: Yes, this large piece has several components, but is a single piece called “Oaksterdam.” It’s based on the mural that’s on the side of the Oaksterdam building. And the piece in the
front window is of “Fairyland”, at Lake Merritt. I’ve replicated the colors of the very colorful sign at Fairyland.
ME: What’s the starting point in all this—where’s the inspiration drawn?
DM: So, I created a cube from a previous show called Beacons. That show was about way finders and navigational aids…
ME: When you say navigational aids, is that literal?
DM: These are things that help me chart the unknown. So for me, the beacons in my life are architects, directors, musicians, other artists—people who I feel are astounding,
I’m riveted by their presence. On my websites you can see these beacons that have inspired me.
ME: Yes, I see. Now, if we might to turn to the technological aspect of the work. What are these sculptures made of?
DM: Each one of the pieces has light and they all used L.E.D.’s. There have been incredible breakthroughs in L.E.D technology in the last few years.
Sol le Wit is one of the artists that inspired me—his grids and towers
ME: Ah yes, that does come through—the power of minimalism proves true again. Le Wit created a public art piece in Atlanta, where I’m from. It’s a grouping of towers on a grid in concrete. It’s not a radical idea, but interesting.
DM: Right. I believe that you’re constantly building on past and previous activities.
The one thing that I’ve been thinking about is that art isn’t revolutionary. It’s evolutionary. I’m not doing some sort of giant jump. I’m just kinda evolving with it.
ME: Perhaps other artists think this too, but I’ve never heard it stated so simply and clearly.
DM: I feel like a lot of what I do is acknowledging what is around us. And knowing some of my history helps explain that.
I graduated with a degree in art in 1984, but I didn’t make any art for 20 years. Then in 2004 my mom got really sick, and I realized life is short. Up to that point I made excuses—telling myself that I didn’t have the right studio, or that I didn’t have the right materials…etc.
ME: The awareness of your mom’s illness seems to have tuned you in to your own finite existence. How did this compel you to act in your art?
DM: I grabbed what was around me. So for instance, if I had a Carrera quarry in my back yard this room would be filled with marble sculpture. But instead, I have Home Depo and other contemporary places. Realizing that you can discover what your talent is, and never have an opportunity and employ it.
Those are the foundational core issues, finding talent and using what is available to you. And look around, because it is astounding out there.
With this show I wanted to make something beautiful, because contemporary art can sometimes be too edgy and ugly. With this I wanted to make a sort of eye candy—something beautiful to look at.
ME: Your work certainly has a curb appeal. It’s visually seductive, but definitely not dumbed down. In addition to light, you’ve used other media too?
DM: I [once] used to use drinking straws to make artwork. I was at Cosco, and I was buying like 25 or 30 thousands drinking straws, and the woman at the cashier said “What are you doing with all these drinking straws.” And I looked at her name tag and said, ‘Tina, I’m making art.’ Her jaw dropped and she said “I wished I can make art.” And I said ‘you can.’
‘You can do something for your soul’ I said, and as I’m pushing my cart away, she said, “I thought you were having a really big party. And I said ‘I am,’ and everyone is invited.
I guess that’s my big statement, there’s more to life than your job. Enrich yourself, and if you’re very lucky, you can find your talent and hopefully make some money.
Dave Meeker’s Landscapes runs December 1-31 at Mercury 20 Gallery.