Friday, March 18, 2011

In Memoriam : Meredith Allen (1964 - 2011)

My heart is terribly broken today, as I've learned that New York artist Meredith Allen lost her battle with cancer yesterday morning. Meredith had been nothing short of heroic in how she fought the disease over the past three years; brave, human, honest, and always, through it all, kinder than anyone dealing with such pain and fear could be expected to be. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her deepest love, Carol Saft, and their families.

Bambino and I saw Meredith just a few weeks ago. She had come into the gallery with Iggy (her dog), and we both commented on how radiant she was looking. It was indeed a shock to hear the news. We were so encouraged by how good she looked.

I first met Meredith back in the late 1990s when the Williamsburg scene was just beginning to come into its own. Meredith would show up at openings and photograph people for the now defunct "Waterfront Weekly"' column "Art Seen":

It was W-burg's version of the society page, and one of the only consistent pictorial archives of the scene at that time.

At the same time, Meredith was gaining attention for her haunting photographs of children's storefront "Kiddie Rides":

Meredith Allen, "Kiddie Ride #26," 1996, archival iris giclee print, 12 x 12. Image Copyrighted.

The series that really took off and helped Meredith gain wider attention, though, was her dripping cartoon pops ("Melting Ice Pops"):

Meredith Allen, "Moriches Island Road (supersonic)," 2000, c-print, 20 x 24 inches. Image copyrighted.

Reprinted everywhere, in dozens of group shows (including one at our space in Williamsburg in 2002) and articles and eventually solo exhibitions, including one of the last exhibitions at Gracie Mansion's gallery, these addictively sensuous images became Meredith's break-out series and are included in many collections around the world.

By the time she had her solo exhibition at Edward Thorp Gallery in 2008, she had taken the painting-meets-photography exploration to a whole new level with her smart and gorgeous "Trash" series:

Meredith Allen, "untitled_0365," 2008, digital C-Print, 18.25 x 18.25 inches

Meredith had also by that time started chemotherapy. I recall how impressed I was at her spirit at the Thorp opening, where the cancer and treatment were obviously (from how thin she had gotten) a hellish lot to deal with, but where she spent so much time talking with me about the "Trash" series. Her energy level was taxed, but her interest in what photography could do was boundless.

Even as I respected and admired her commitment to art, I also was in awe of Meredith's commitment to Carol, their family and friends, and the arts community. Whether it was Film Club at Four Walls (which Meredith documented in a book), her donations to any (all?) of the benefits for non-profit spaces that count on artists to support them, or simply the social scene at which she, Carol, and the adorable Iggy (who inspired the photographic series "People I Meet When I Walk My Dog") were just "part of the family," Meredith was always out there, always so generous, and always so much fun to catch up with. It's impossible to accept she won't be at our next opening.

May you rest in peace, dear Meredith...we miss you terribly already.

  • Sarah Schmerler adds a lovely tribute over at Williamsburg Greenpoint News + Art.
  • And Stephanie Cash offers more details about Meredith's life and role in the New York scene over at Art in America.

Labels: in memoriam


Anonymous Mery Lynn said...

I had the opportunity to look at several of the books she had compiled of images of Williamsburg, the scene, her life. While they can be considered historical documentation, they also included stunning photographs. Meredith had a good eye and a kind heart.

3/18/2011 08:34:00 AM  
Blogger Gary Petersen said...

Thank you Ed, for writing this. I knew it was eminent but am still heartbroken. Will miss her dearly.

3/18/2011 08:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Colin Keefe said...

Thank you for posting this and for your eloquence, Ed. Meredith will be missed.

3/18/2011 08:46:00 AM  
OpenID giovannigf said...

While it's customary of people to say nice things about someone when they pass away, in Meredith's case they really are true - I met her years ago and every single time I saw her she was cheerful and friendly. It's terrible to find out she's gone.

3/18/2011 09:49:00 AM  
Anonymous jcaswell said...

Thanks so much for this, Ed.

I've been having trouble finding words to express what she meant to me, and am glad that you found them for all of us. She was a wonderful person, friend and artist, and I miss her already.

3/18/2011 10:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Wendy Small said...

Thank you Ed for being so true to such a true and kind person.

3/18/2011 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger Stacy said...

Meredith and I used to see each other at Print Space, a darkroom rental facility and it was always instructive and very enjoyable being around Meredith while making photographs.

3/18/2011 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger twhid said...

Oh no. So very saddened to hear this news. She will be missed. So talented and so friendly and so humble. She was a great asset to the Williamsburg art community back in the day. She will be missed and remembered fondly by many, many people.

3/18/2011 11:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Max Carlos Martinez said...

Lovely tribute.

3/18/2011 12:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Got to include her as my selection for recent Sinister Play show. A great loss and a very brave lady. She showed up for the opening even through worst of pain. Very sad to hear, but glad I got the chance to meet her. Oly

3/18/2011 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger Sara Jo said...

We, too, were lucky to have her in one of our group shows and were truly lucky to have known Meredith. Thank you, Ed, for such a wonderful tribute. Meredith's family and friends are in our thoughts.
-Sara Jo Romero

3/18/2011 02:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Terry Ward said...


3/22/2011 12:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Bernard Yenelouis said...

Meredith & I both made extensive slide shows at Four Walls Film Club. Besides her general wonderfully upbeat nature, I valued her very direct impulses to record her life - people, places, activities. Likewise it was something she shared with everyone too, which showed her tenderness and generosity. The archival or historical aspects of her chronicling of 90s pre-gentrification Williamsburg were not absent from the work, but it came from such an intimate, direct place that it simply gave a sense of being there. This is both humble & far-sighted; & I consider myself fortunate to have crossed paths with Meredith in such a manner.

3/25/2011 09:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Sue Cowles said...

Meredith was a dear friend and I had lost contact with her over the years. I just learned of the news of her passing and am deeply shocked. She was a gifted artist and a wonderful person. She will always remain a vibrant light through her art and memories of her great passions.
Sue Cowles

8/03/2011 06:54:00 PM  

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