Daniel Merriam: A World Apart
"Daniel Merriam: A World Apart." Off the Easel Magazine. Fall 2013: 6-7.
Once upon a time in a small coastal town in Maine, there lived a very artistic child in a family of nine. Growing up, Daniel Merriam was surrounded by his large loving family and a creative environment. Creating art became a form of escape and entertainment for him. “It was there at my little oak desk at my studio that I began to pass blissful hours drawing and painting. With a pencil and a fresh stock of locally milled paper given to me by a friend, I had soon drawn enough fanciful images to wallpaper my entire room,” said Merriam. Idyllic imagery of Gingerbread, Colonial, and Victorian houses filled his childhood with inspiration and influenced the setting of many of his paintings. His father’s hard work ethic as an entrepreneur and structural engineer contributed to Merriam’s meticulous detail and technical design style. His paintings are a continuous narrative of a surreal world all his own.
While his elaborate scenery often becomes the subject of the painting, such as in his new limited edition Lake House his imaginative characters remain the true stars. They can be seen making multiple appearances throughout his paintings, playing both primary and supporting roles. These exceptional creatures dreamed and compiled through Merriam’s creative genius share qualities of known stories, fables and myths, such as his re-imagining of the Humpty Dumpty tale in The Grand Delusion. Having been compared to storytellers like Lewis Carroll and Tim Burton, Merriam transports his audience to another world, where the unfamiliar begins to seem familiar, and the strange balance between human and creature characteristics merge in a new and compelling entity. Whether it is figures with butterfly wings, tails, and scales or buildings with eyes, mouths and noses, Merriam’s work is unlike any other.
Merriam’s merging of fantasy with reality is derived from a long tradition of theater and pantomime, something explicitly expressed in the repeated imagery of staged settings, elaborate costumes, and familiar characters.
Merriam’s fine art limited editions, Dress Rehearsal, Center Sage, and The Grand Finale all celebrate the art of performance. Merriam’s precision in his work mixes with intuitive spontaneity. Each painting is a stage, each subject an actor, and the stories intertwine in an intricate fiction. Faces merge with inanimate objects, layers create dimensional illusions, and characters peer through the curtains beyond the frame of their existence. The story unfolds with each new painting that Merriam adds to the collection, and just as in a theatrical performance, the artist invites viewers to participate, transporting them to another time and place.
Merriam’s paintings present a unique dreamlike world where anything is possible. He encourages viewers to let their minds take a journey their bodies cannot. Merriam discovered the serenity of entering “another world” as a young child, saying, “My favorite escape was climbing trees. [...] I ventured higher and higher, testing my faith as the branches grew progressively thinner. Once near the top, I perched precariously on a limb, braced against the trunk as it swayed in the wind. This was my own world, and from here I could see forever.”
Continuously developing his talent, Merriam has indeed created a world for others to enter and enjoy, a place to journey again and again. Exclusive Collections invites you to take your own journey through Daniel Merriam’s latest exhibition “A World Apart” which will be hosted this October at Exclusive Collections Galleries in San Diego, Laguna Beach, and Las Vegas. Please contact your art consultant for the chance to meet this remarkable artist in person.
Daniel Merriam: Eye of a Dreamer
"Daniel Merriam: Eye of a Dreamer." Off the Easel Magazine. Fall 2012: 8-9.
“Although they often make it look easy, the discipline and dedication required to bring us their magic remains unspoken. As a painter, I sometimes feel like I am walking the same line in my work.”
Daniel Merriam takes us on a journey where old and new worlds collide and timeless stories and ideas intertwine. His works are as familiar as they are bizarre, like nursery rhymes and dreams that take on a life of their own. Infused with a creative spirit his entire life, it is no surprise that Merriam began his artistic career at an early age. At 15 he won first place in the student category of the Bridgton Art Show, but from there continued his artistic training in his own way. He studied mechanical and architectural design then went to work for his father’s construction business. Several years of architectural drawing followed and it was only then Merriam decided to pursue his art full time.
Inspired by artists such as Hieronymus Bosch, Maxfield Parrish and nostalgic illustrators including Norman Rockwell, Merriam’s work blends fantasy with technical precision. The influence of illustrators is keenly felt in the clean lines of his work, while his delicate touch is most evident in the whimsical buildings that populate his canvases. His beautifully constructed homes, such as the one in Like Honey to a Bee, are a nod to his early work in draftsmanship. Although these structures exist as fanciful creations of the mind, Merriam uses precision and accuracy to anchor the pieces in reality. Poetic scrawling, vaguely discernible from the intricate backgrounds, mirror annotations on a blueprint. It is the refinement of these attributes that create the complex layers of Merriam’s work.
Merriam’s medium allows him to fully encompass the design theory of Gestalt. His use of acrylic and watercolor create a transparency that is essential to blending the detailed components into a unified whole. His paintings take on an ephemeral quality that adds to their dreamlike feeling. Merriam’s paintings are tangible and tactile in execution, but at the same time appear as if they might melt away in the blink of an eye.
Merriam’s latest limited edition release, The Grand Finale, incorporates all these elements. “This painting is from a body of work dedicated to the mysteries of the circus performer,” explains Merriam. “Although they often make it look easy, the discipline and dedication required to bring us their magic remains unspoken. As a painter, I sometimes feel like I am walking the same line in my work. There is constant correction to keep balance. Still, the will to entertain and enlighten takes precedence over the mistakes woven into the process.”
It would be unfitting to label Merriam as merely neo-surrealist because his work defies simple classification. Playfully satirical, his work has a Victorian feel to its coloring and texture, while the detailed craftsmanship and muted tones hark back to the Art Nouveau style of creating complex forms with an architectural influence. With their varied subject matter, the truth is Merriam’s creations embody a vision and style all his own.
Artist Feature: Daniel Merriam
"Artist Feature: Daniel Merriam." Off the Easel Magazine. Spring 2012: 20-21.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m a monkey climbing through life’s obstacles with my strange sense of purpose and agility, but even the monkey gets stranded at times. After a good howl I manage to use the same skills that got me into the spot to climb my way out.”
Daniel Merriam is one of the most renowned artists at work in America to- day, and we are thrilled to share two new masterworks commissioned exclusively for our collectors. Those who admire and collect Merriam’s work find magic in his wistful fantasies and symbolic daydreams, and limited to an edition of only 50 each, these rare prints are sure to disappear like magic as well.
“Whether the monkey is me or I the monkey, he has lived forever and travels the world and beyond, keeping an eye on the magically vague reality of time. As I see myself in his eyes, I see the passing of time and the reflection of a world we know far less about than we think we do.”
Daniel Merriam: Flight of Fantasy
"Daniel Merriam: Flight of Fantasy." Off the Easel Magazine. Fall 2011: 6-7.
As the weather cools and we begin to celebrate the whimsical, mysterious and fantastical elements of the fall season, Exclusive Collections Galleries is excited to host Daniel Merriam at our Historic Gaslamp Gallery. Merriam’s paintings delve deep into the imagination, calling forth in detail what only exists in fantasy – his art exposes the thoughts and emotions of an introvert and shares them with those who are seeking to express their own narrative.
Merriam’s background in architecture, design, and illustration, plays a vital role in his ongoing progression of work. His paintings are “like a fingerprint” – unique and also an intrinsic part of his identity. Both collectors and artists hold Merriam’s paint- ings in high regard for their exquisite de- tail and precision, as some of the greatest painters are those who can call forth an image and create a physical manifestation of the ideal constructed in their mind. His choice of pencil, watercolor and acrylic is delicate and unforgiving, and every new examination of his paintings reveals something previously undiscovered.
In respect and interest in the performing arts, Merriam has contemplated this discipline in his most recent limited editions, Setting the Stage and Dress Rehearsal. Throughout the ages, performers have played an important role in society as athletes, entertainers, and most impor-tantly as storytellers. Their physical feats challenge the limits of the human body and enlighten the audience with a desire to impress and entertain. Against all odds, performers often make enormous sacrifices to do what they love and Merriam’s paintings proclaim that in the midst of spectacle, truth is often stranger than fiction. Of Setting the Stage, Merriam writes, “An abundance of passion and mystery is hidden beneath the amusing costumes and the flamboyant presentation. It is this sensitive spot that marks a pivotal point in the artist’s character, which makes the performance not only possible but amazing.” Merriam senses a growing interest in the performing arts today, noting a renaissance in the world of theater and dance. He feels that the circus “echoes life itself, in a more whimsical sense,” and as people turn to the arts as a way to connect and respond to the world around them, Merriam is there to affirm that decision and to continue to open up the mind to what we feel.
These theatrical visions – playful, colorful, and mesmerizing – leave the viewer in awe and childlike fascination. Indeed, in all his works, he feels a tremendous respect for the minds of children, noting that, “Your feelings, thoughts, impressions then, have as much integrity as we do now as adults. They take on a vividness and importance in a child’s mind. I haven’t abandoned those qualities, but fostered them.”
It is never too late to appeal to the imagination. In honor of that ideal, Daniel Merriam explores themes that remain relevant and enchanting. His technical ability as an artist celebrates both the odd and bizarre, the beautiful and the human. It conveys strength with vulnerability, and captures our collective response, which the artist describes as a “synergy of human emotion.” We look forward to hosting Daniel Merriam October 21-23, 2011 for an exhibition of his most recent masterpieces. We invite you to join us for this unique opportunity to meet a living master and to learn more about his amazing works of art.
Daniel Merriam Returns
"Daniel Merriam Returns." Off the Easel Magazine. Spring 2010: 5.
This April, we invite you to take an exquisite journey as EC Gallery presents a collection of the enchanting, dreamlike original works of Daniel Merriam. Show dates are April 16 and 17 from 6-9pm and April 18 from 12-5pm at our gallery in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter. In case you are less familiar with Merriam’s history and works, allow us to introduce you to this exceptional artist. Born in York Harbor, Maine, Daniel and his six siblings grew up surrounded by creative stimulation. They played piano, drew pictures on any piece of paper they could get their hands on, and played endlessly in the breathtaking outdoors of Maine.
Daniel’s inquisitive and creative mind led to an early appreciation of his father’s skills as a craftsman. He soon had his own set of tools and not only began sculpting amazing creations in his dad’s shop, but also helped him build log cabins! It wasn’t long before Daniel’s artistic ability became so pronounced that, with his father’s support, he began to pursue his dreams of becoming a professional artist.
At the young age of fifteen, Daniel won first place in the Bridgton Art Show in the student category. It was there that he met Allan Magee, whom he credits as one of the most powerful influences early in his career. Although Daniel never actually attended any sort of formal art training, at 23, he moved to Portland, Maine to fully dedicate himself to developing his passion and skill as an artist.
Today, Daniel Merriam hails as one of the world’s most celebrated and gifted watercolorists. His paintings take our hearts and minds away from reality and into the depths of imagination and beauty. In 2007, Daniel’s work was displayed in a group exhibition that toured museums in Denmark, Netherlands and France. When asked about his key influences in the art world, he attributes Hieronymus Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights” as a critical piece, as well as American Illustrator, Maxfield Parrish, for his iconographic art and enduring career.
Merriam has never been one to shy away from a challenge, which is why he is currently focused on shifting his work beyond the whimsical and lighthearted realm he is known for, toward a less-expected, edgier side. He explains that his new work includes some smaller drawing pieces and illustrations that will allow him more flexibility to take chances that he has in the past. Though “creating harmony in the world” is one of Merriam’s goals in all of his work, he is exploring new topics such as Man vs. Nature, and the disparity between what we are inside and how we present ourselves on the outside. Ultimately, Merriam hopes that when people view his work, they will ponder new questions by reading between the lines rather than seeking the obvious.
Merriam’s admirers will also be excited to know that he is hard at work producing his third and largest book yet! Due out this spring, the 256-page coffee table book includes a selection of critical essays addressing issues of illustration in art.
Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to meet this uniquely-gifted artist in person and view his new works!