When artist Ted Meyer first felt some relief from Gaucher’s Disease, his stance on scars and the meanings of bodies changed. “I came to view my own body as something I could almost depend on, not something always fighting with me.” In Scarred for Life, the Brewery artist’s exhibition of mono-prints, Meyer explores this transcendence with gouache, color pencil, and graphite. The exhibition is on display at Art Share Los Angeles in downtown LA until Feb. 21, with an artist’s reception on Friday, Feb. 12, at 6 p.m.
Scarred for Life was first inspired by a former dancer who’d fallen from a tree, subsequently wheelchair-bound but no less compelling. Her reparative surgery left a long, curving scar down her back – now reproduced in shades of blue alongside her portrait. Her back is turned to the camera, with a long blue stretch of paint crossing the scar, and she looks over her shoulder from the wheelchair. Meyer’s exhibit features not only colorful, lively impressions of scars, but the unique stories and portraits (also Meyer’s) behind each diversion from the Platonic body ideal. Some of the surgical scars come from chronic needs, others from the most private of emergencies: scoliosis or a lung transplant, self-mutilation or near-death experiences. Meyer’s work accomplishes his considerable goal of turning “these lasting monuments, often thought of as unsightly, into things of beauty.” Martha de Perez, the tireless curator at the Art Share Los Angeles gallery, felt that this message of positive body image and personal narrative would create a powerful gallery show for the venue.
Art Share is a nonprofit arts outreach and support center in the Downtown Arts District, with gallery, performance, classroom, and residential spaces in the converted warehouse at Fourth Place and Hewitt. The juxtaposition of threat and recovery, scars and success, in Meyer’s work can be viewed as a reflection of the organization itself, which redirects young local energy away from violence and destruction, and instead toward expression and creation. The high success rate (gauged in part by high school graduations) stems from free art, music, and dance classes, mentoring, and special programs according to students’ needs. All of this, though, relies in part on the underpinning of a strong arts community in Los Angeles, including artists like Meyer, events like the Downtown Art Walk, and the Art Share-centered Open Studio Tour series in the Arts District. In addition to showing his works in the gallery space at Art Share, Meyer will be helping teach one of the free art classes offered to students there.
The exhibition has also been to the National Museum of Health and Medicine, New York University’s Medical School Gallery, and the Brevard Museum of Art in Florida. But most of the subjects in Scarred For Life are local – and several will be in attendance at the reception Friday night, along with students like Assistant Curator Enrique Lopez and Art Share’s Executive Director, Tracy Kelly. Art Share’s gallery events tend to draw a lively crowd of artists, buyers, students, Arts District residents, and visitors from around the city and California.