Intuitive color harmonies and rich juxtapositions of wet ink and thirsty paper are at work in Illumination and Illusion, our latest exhibition of Seattle artist Betty Merken’s new monotypes and mixed media prints. Informed by the artist’s observations of the manner in which light affects color with its passing movement and changes, the oil on paper monotypes in this exhibition range in size from roughly two feet square to five feet tall. Each focuses on a singular color such as deep blue, yellow, or celadon, with the results drawing the eye to the nuances of Merken's creative process. In an addition, Merken presents an innovative series of mixed media prints and assemblage. Inspired by ancient stairways the artist photographed while on residencies in Italy, these pieces juxtapose translucent and opaque surfaces, utilizing processes of photo silkscreen, assemblage, and painted papers.
Betty Merken lives and works in Seattle, Washington. She is a painter and printmaker whose abstract geometric monotypes and paintings recall the early Modernist works of Piet Mondrian and the work of American artists such as Barnett Newman, Ad Reinhardt, and Mark Rothko, often echoing freedoms of painterly gesture pioneered by the Abstract Expressionists. Her work can be found in several galleries and in numerous private and public collections in the United States, Asia, and Europe, and in the permanent collections of several major museums, including the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the UCLA Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and the Portland Art Museum in Portland, Oregon. Merken has been honored with fellowships from the BAU Institute and the Northwest Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in Italy. She is the co-author, with Stefan Merken, of Wall Art, Megamurals and Supergraphics (Philadelphia: Running Press, 1987).