Today we’d like to introduce you to Meredith Pardue.
Meredith, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) with a B.F.A. in 1998 and from Parsons School of Design in New York City with an M.F.A. in painting in 2003.
I had an incredible mentor, Pam Baker, from my hometown of Monroe, LA who owned a small space called Levee Gallery. She taught me a great deal about art and literature, and she began selling my work my senior year of college. I had my first solo exhibition in May 1998 at a wonderful cafe in Savannah called Café Metropole. That exhibition led to gallery representation at Allyn Gallup Contemporary in Sarasota, FL and Galerié Lumiére in Savannah, GA. I maintained a close relationship with SCAD throughout this time, and eventually, the institution became my biggest collector. Between 1998-2001 I moved around a lot, working and showing in the cities where I lived–New York City (1998-99), Portland, OR (1999-2000), and Austin, TX (2000-01), and in August 2001 I returned to New York to begin my graduate studies a few weeks before September 11. During my studies at Parsons, I continued to sell my work at Jean-Marc Fray in Austin and participated in numerous group exhibitions in New York, Savannah, Austin, New Orleans, and Hartford.
In 2003 I accepted a teaching position in the art department at the University of Louisiana in Monroe. I also signed on with Ann Connelly Fine Art in Baton Rouge in October 2003. It took at least six months for Ann to sell one of my paintings, but once the first piece sold, she sold the remaining eight paintings within the following month. From that point on Ann Connelly Fine Art as regular selling my work.
I had my first child, Julian, in March 2005. My mother helped me care for my infant son during my first semester back at the university, which was wonderful. However, I realized after teaching for two and a half years at ULM and after the success that I had experienced selling my work, that I wanted to leave the university to pursue a full-time career as an artist. I wanted to work from home to be with my son, so I converted my one car garage into a painting studio, resigned from ULM in January 2006, and once again began painting as furiously as I had during my college years.
I met Laura Rathe in 2006, and she began selling my work in Houston. I was still showing at Jean-Marc Fray and Ann Connelly Fine Art, and around that time added various art consultancies, Chicago Art Source, and Bryant Street Gallery to my gallery representation. My second child, Jackson, was born in 2007, and I continued working in Monroe, LA until 2010 when I returned to Austin where we put down roots and my children began school. Kathryn Markel Fine Art in (NYC), Pryor Fine Art (Atlanta), and Jules Place (Boston) soon picked up my work as well, and Laura Rathe opened a second gallery in Dallas, then a third gallery in Houston. I was extremely busy, selling a great deal of work, but found myself unable to keep up with the demand–I had stretched myself way too thin and decided to pull out of the galleries farthest away from me geographically.
It was around 2011 that my career really began to soar—my work was being published regularly, collected by prestigious corporations, private collections, and the online presence of my work blossomed. I continue to have relationships with almost all of the galleries I have ever worked with and believe it is imperative to maintain positive professional relationships. I still actively work with Ann Connelly and Laura Rathe, but am also represented by Chloe Gallery (San Francisco), Gruen Galleries (Chicago), Jules’ Place (Boston), and Kelsey Michaels Fine Art (Laguna Beach). SCAD also represents my work in both Savannah and Atlanta through SCAD Art Sales.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No! It has not been a smooth road at all–it has been a struggle, a wonderful, worthwhile struggle. One of my favorite stories from what I call my “gypsy years” was driving from Oregon to Louisiana with about six paintings on panel strapped to the roof of my Nissan Pathfinder with my little cocker spaniel, Libby, in the front seat with me. This was not an unusual scenario. The back seat was folded down to hold my luggage and boxes of art supplies. I was twenty-four years old and determined to make it as an artist. I was somewhere around Amarillo, TX and the guy on the radio said there was a large tornado somewhere, and I just started speeding to try to outrun the tornado. I was pulled over by a state trooper, who eyed me with a great deal of skepticism, this young woman flying through a deserted Texas highway with paintings strapped to my car explaining that I was trying to get away from a tornado. He was not amused one bit and wrote me a Texas-sized speeding ticket.
We’d love to hear more about your art.
The legal name for my company is Meredith Pardue Studios, LLC. I am an abstract painter. I run every aspect of my business except for taxes and payroll, which my husband does for me. I use an inventory program called Gallery Manager that is integrated into my website, which I update daily or weekly as needed. I photograph and Photoshop all of my digital images as well. I learned all of this over the years, not all at once.
The aesthetic of my work is rooted in the color and forms found in nature. The compositions of my paintings tend to undulate or rotate around the perimeter of the canvas, and the surface of a single canvas varies from smooth to highly textured. While the forms are reminiscent of those found in nature, they are not representations of such. The natural world is more a point of departure for my aesthetic, as my process is very much an unplanned dialog between myself and the canvas. When I paint, I go into a flow state, which is vital to letting the painting emerge into existence.
I am most proud and grateful that I am not only able to practice my passion on a daily basis, but that I am able to make a good living doing so. No one goes into fine arts for the money—it is truly a labor of love. Artists by nature are dreamers–it is the very essence of being an artist. I am fortunate that I also have the ability to plan, organize, execute, and work with a fantastic team of gallerists, designers, and repeat collectors. No one in this business is an island. We work together in tandem and trust each other to do our parts. I absolutely love what I do, as do all of my art dealers.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success is being at peace, feeling free, having joy for life, knowing that the most valuable thing in life is the relationships we have with those we love. Success is feeling fulfilled by the work we do and being motivated by passion to create it. In my experience the money follows the passion and the HARD WORK.