Meredith Dytch

I paint the city, choosing scenes based on my belief that there is beauty to be found in many places that aren’t normally thought of as having aesthetic value. Abandoned buildings, rusting viaducts, overgrown vacant lots and trash-filled alleys present their own authentic face to the world – we just don’t usually see them as places worth paying much attention to. Our eye skips over them as we flash by in our cars or trains.

My work has been influenced by the philosophy and writings of the artist Rackstraw Downes. In his ability to find aesthetic value in the most mundane scenes, his sensitivity to the precise placement of line and form, and his willingness to de-glamourize the art of landscape painting, I feel a kindred spirit.

However, I feel that the major influence on my work is the Japanese aesthetic of “sabi,” which is about the beauty inherent in the old, the decaying, and the weathered: a wooden barn door from which most of the paint has peeled, or, in my case, a trash-filled alley, or a crumbling concrete viaduct. More than the strict reality of the scene, I am interested in capturing the truth of what it says about the city. I am not interested in idealizing or glorifying what I see; I believe that the world around us does not need to be idealized – that there is beauty in the unadorned honesty of crumbling concrete, rusting metal, peeling paint and scaling brick. This philosophy encourages me to strip my art of sentimentality, “prettiness,” or the “grandeur” of the traditional landscape, while still conveying the unique mood of every scene.

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