On Sunday, March 12, 2017 Upper West Restaurant will exhibit and host a reception for the art of Thomas Mercer Hartman. Every few months the popular Santa Monica restaurant presents a new exhibition featuring a local Los Angeles artist. “Explorations,” will feature fourteen recent works created by the artist at his Santa Monica studio.
Hartman attended a recent opening at Upper West. “I appreciate the attention that the restaurant provides artists. The concept to showcase contemporary art in a fine dining venue is interesting.” He added, “It’s a grand living room with a personal collection.”
We talked over lunch–he loves the short rib sandwich–about his design profession and artwork. “I have degrees in art and design. “Early in my career I designed numerous exhibits for LACMA–Renee Lalique, Louis Cartier, and other art exhibits.” His design studio grew with clients that included nature centers, state parks, zoos, and entertainment venues. However, museum planning and exhibition design were his niche client base.
As a visual artist, Hartman approaches each new work differently. I asked about Blue Falls, a large work with a deep sense of space. “I finished work on a series of sculptural assemblages and decided to turn back to painting. I wanted the work to be monumental so I bought this 5’ x 10’ canvas,” said Hartman. “This canvas sat for a year before I started painting. The scale haunted me. For the next six months I tested a number of abstract ideas. Building the surface took a couple of months work along with adding layers of paint. Surface became a character for me in this painting. Slowly the concept of painting a waterfall emerged. The desire was to paint the feeling of the water.”
Hartman explained another work Ferus, a large panel painting. “After completing Blue Falls, I decided to work directly on a panel, as canvas can be too flexible. The way I worked on this piece was horizontal.
The panel was painted with subsequent pours added, of pigment infused concrete slurries.” In some areas he worked wet acrylic or house paints into colored wet concrete. I asked him if the process is fast after you have mastered the technique. “Never!” he said quickly, “The challenge is to know when to stop. Excitement pushes you but the layers need time to set. This piece hung in the studio for months until I saw it needed several more layers. Often the work evolves in that manner. It’s ‘finished’ until you know it isn’t.”
To find out more about the artist, Thomas Hartman, or his design business, check out his websites http://www.mercerprojects.com http://www.IQMAGIC.net
On Sunday March 12th, Upper West Restaurant will host an artist reception for “Explorations” from 4-7pm. Upper West is located at 3321 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA, 310 586-1111; http://www.theupperwest.com/