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From the Urban to the Sublime, Recent Paintings by Melissa Chandon    May 19 - Jun 15, 2012


Filled with images of modern suburban homes, swimming pools, lifeguard stations, and iconic vintage cars, Melissa Chandon’s recent paintings continue her exploration of the spaces, structures, and ideals that have defined the American landscape of the past half-century. Set against pared-down backgrounds of sand, grass, and sky, these simple yet compelling forms, their designs dating back to the postwar period, speak to the American dream of a suburban utopia. Her paintings are at once lively and contemplative, with quiet moments rendered in her signature palette of vivid, expressive color.

Chandon’s compositions are marked by strong shadows, a unifying graphic component that also serves to anchor her forms to the landscape and position the images in time. As an artist interested in the fate of the communities and environments depicted in her paintings, it seems meaningful that her works transform ephemeral shadows into bold, fixed elements—an act of capturing and sustaining fleeting moments in time through art. “I paint not to be nostalgic,” she has written, “but to raise basic questions about social, cultural, economic, and political change. Remembering what the past feels like through conjured memories is a way of encountering, and countering, the here and now.”

Chandon spent her early career in the Sacramento Valley, whose fields, cars, and architecture shaped her formative years as an artist; the influences for her recent paintings include Grant Wood, Edward Hopper, and Robert Bechtel, masters of depicting the American vernacular. Renowned painter Wayne Thiebaud, Chandon’s mentor, who shares her passion for a delectable palette and arresting compositions, has noted that her “effective synthesis of abstract and representational elements” give her works “an intensity and raw graphic power to behold.”

In addition to numerous international art fairs, Chandon has exhibited her work at the Center for Contemporary Art, Sacramento and the Richard L. Nelson Gallery at the University of California, Davis, among many others. Her artwork is included in the Morgan Flagg Collection at the de Young Museum, San Francisco and the University of California, Davis’ Shields Library, as well as in corporate and notable private collections. She earned her MFA from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University and resides in Northern California.

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