Tweed Meyer approaches her art as she approaches her life—a full-tilt experience. The new mural in the KC Corral, which she just completed, is a case in point.
Typically, Meyer explained, a mural might be painted in panels and then installed and unveiled. But, she said, “I like people to see the process, to see the work involved in art. It is work!” Her progress was open for all to see and was posted on Facebook.
After the Corral was renovated and repainted, Two Waters Arts Alliance approached the owners, dentist John Olsson and chiropractor David Krympec, about commissioning a mural for the west wall of the building. Meyer submitted a proposal and received the commission.
Meyer began design work last December, thinking about what to include in the composition.
“I started to do something that would represent our history, with lots of details. But how I really work is to paint something real. I do landscapes, beautiful pictures, the nature of what we are,” she said. “Dr. Olsson told me, ‘Don’t talk to anybody. Just do a pretty picture.’ And so I painted Mount Rainier as seen from Filucy Bay. It’s how we feel about our community, not a specific time, and the beauty of what is and what has been.”
Meyer, now 65, grew up on Wollochet Bay, the third child in a family of three girls and one boy. Her parents ran the family drugstore in Tacoma. They spent time at their property on the Hoh River and that experience cemented her love of the Northwest.
She went to Aquinas Academy, a Catholic high school in Tacoma, for one year but then returned to Peninsula High. There, she met Donald Allyn, who taught art. Allyn would go on to become both a friend and a mentor.
“He was that teacher who expanded our world,” she said.
By 21, she was diving into life, committed to live life fully and experientially. She, her partner and two daughters lived what she described as a hippie life on the Hoh River, in a school bus, self-sufficient and off the grid. She ultimately left what had become an abusive relationship and moved to the Key Peninsula, describing herself at the time as a welfare mom.
Encouraged by her mother, Norma Meyer, she attended pastry school. Her final project was a confection model of the state ferry Nisqually, and after graduation, Meyer went to work at Affairs Chocolate and Desserts in Tacoma.
Over the following decade, Meyer spent a lot of time with her mother making art, concentrating on weaving, dyeing, spinning and basketry. As a young adult with three children (her son was born during this time), she developed connections to two critical mentors – her former art teacher, Allyn; and Ruth Bartlett, who was an innovator in organic gardening.
“My society did not say I was worth much in those days, but my mentors showed me I had worth,” Meyer said.
Allyn’s home was a central gathering place for the Northwest arts community and Meyer would come to those gatherings, listen and “absorb the knowledge.” It was there that she was exposed to the work of Morris Graves, a member of the Pacific Northwest School of Visionary Art. She said that her art evolved in part as a reaction to his.
“My art is more narrative, positive and story-telling. I think in part because I am a woman. Van Gogh and the Impressionists were my major influences,” she said.
Meyer has always loved gardening and landscaping. Bartlett, who died about 10 years ago, owned and managed Spring Hill Farms and taught Meyer much of what she knows. “Ruth was the Gig Harbor Farmers Market in those days,” she said.
Although she still loved food, her work in the chocolate shop didn’t fill her creative needs. At 35, Mayer enrolled in the Northwest College of Art & Design in Poulsbo.
“I just went full bore,” she said.
Her art school thesis featured Bartlett’s gardens.
Meyer paints en plein air – outdoors, as practiced by the Impressionists. She has loved painting musicians and audiences in action, going regularly to the Port Townsend Jazz Festival, and more locally to Words and Music and Friends of the Holidays.
She said of her art, “I am moved to paint, document and preserve in a beautiful way what I think is important. It takes me on an adventure then brings the adventure back.”
If you want to know more about Meyer and her art, visit her website at www.tweedmeyer.org or look her up on Facebook.