a few finished and unfinished works by Armand Merizon, as well as some thoughts and insights.

European Village, by Armand Merizon, 1963
This was painted by my dad when he was in his prime. He was 43 years old, and enjoying quite a bit  of recognition from the art community of Grand Rapids. He had recently spent time in Europe, especially Spain and France. This painting was one of many that was inspired by his trip abroad.

Farmland, by Armand Merizon. Year unknown.
 This painting belonged to me for several years. My dad gave it to me after I discovered it in his studio one day. Although it is technically unfinished,  (you can see pencil lines, and it was neither signed nor varnished) it has great feeling of space and depth. I love this painting.

Newton Carter

This is a favorite of mine, even though I have only known of it's existence for a short while. When I saw it, I immediately knew who it was. It is Mr. Carter, my dad's friend and barber when he was a young man, still living with his parents on Bates Street in Grand Rapids.
Mr. Carter had a small shop on Eastern Avenue near Wealthy, just a few short blocks from Bates. My dad respected Mr. Carter and learned a lot about the world from this quiet, wise, African American gentleman.  Every time I drove my dad past that particular stretch of Eastern, he would launch into a story about Newton Carter.
 I grew up with a totally different drawing my dad did of this man. It was a head on view and he was smiling with kind eyes. We all loved that drawing, which my dad rendered in his studio in his parents home.  Mr. Carter agreed to come over. He was all dressed up, and my dad drew his portrait in heavy charcoal on brown paper. It hung in our living room for years.
 In this drawing he is wearing his "hair cutting" jacket with his scissors and comb displayed, bottles of hair tonic and powder in the background. From the looks of the signature, this was done when my dad was about 16 years old. See how the M in Armand and the M in Merizon is the same. A young artist finding his way.

Landscape in acrylic on fabric.
 This colorful painting was an experiment of my dad's, created around 1998 or 1999. It was done on pure linen that had been dry mounted onto regular foamcore by myself when I managed the Frames Unlimited store on Kalamazoo Ave.  My dad was looking for a certain effect, and was quite pleased except for the fact that the fabric bubbled up in a consistent pattern over the entire piece. You can see an example of it in the upper right quad. I love the colors and the linear effects of the background.

Experiment, by Armand Merizon. Year unknown.
I have had this for years after my dad said "here, take it". Words I've heard many times from that man. He often gave me things that were "experiments or happy mistakes".  I have many of these!
This one is unique in that he wrote on the back his technique and what he was searching for. My dad kept copious notes regarding his thoughts about his work and technical style. Usually these notes are found in his sketch pads, but sometimes he would scribble on the backs of panels or loose paper.


preliminary drawing for painting of Hank sitting on steps of abandoned house.
When my dad would begin a serious painting, he would often make one or more preliminary sketches, the first usually being on sight, or plein air. He would often use tracing paper to transfer his image onto a stretched canvas or board. This is his very best "ambling" friend, Henry Becker, a railroad man, who knew all the small towns of Michigan and all the best depots and tracks. My dad loved Hank and they would travel the back roads for whole days with their cameras.

Hank, by Armand Merizon circa 1965
 This was the way my dad could paint in those days. The detail still startles and amazes me!

The Happy Hikers, by Armand Merizon, 2009
This is one of the last paintings my dad finished and one of the last that he asked me to frame for him, so as to put on the wall at MercuryHead Gallery in Grand Rapids. This was after my mother died, when my dad was living with my sister, René and her family. These were very hard times for him. If he actually completed a painting in those days, it was rare. He and I delivered it to Ben at MercuryHead, as was the habit. That would be the thing that kept him going. Making paintings. Having them framed, and delivering them to his gallery!

1 comment:

  1. Chantal, I'm so moved by your blog, this one in particular. Thank you for all these amazing, interesting works and the informative commentary. So fascinating, the inside scoop. Much love. xoxo