The cool thing about Eagle Rock is that it’s a neighborhood that has hidden gems in every nook and corner. We've uncovered two local treasures in the Artist Sisters, a.k.a. Miss Mindy (who we featured here on November 4) and CJ Metzger. The sisters will exhibit their new work at their 2nd Annual Artist Sisters Show this coming weekend at .
Titled "Head in the Clouds," the show opens November 12, from 6 p.m.-10 p.m., and runs through December 30. The opening night event is scheduled for November 19, from 6-10 p.m., and is sponsored by Auntie's Fry Bread, Lake Street Creamery, and Lovely Jubilee.
In the first part of our Artist Sisters feature, we introduced you to the “cartoon folk art” of Miss Mindy. Today, we introduce you to the “pop surrealism” of CJ Metzger.
Patch: Tell us about how you got into art.
CJ Metzger: I grew up in a family of artists, teachers, and creative folks. There wasn’t ever a time when I wasn’t doing something art-related—painting, collaging, building, drawing, writing. In my house no one was ever allowed to be 'bored.' You could always go make something with your hands! Having family very supportive about the pursuit of creativity made it a very normal activity. I think they would have been more surprised if I had shown interest in law or in becoming an accountant. They wouldn’t have known what to do with me!
Describe your art.
My paintings are a narrative often revealing sweet and sometimes somber stories of humans and their relationships with animals and the natural environment. To illustrate these stories, I use acrylics, collage, mixed media, and digital methods, blending surreal and whimsical imagery. My work is heavily influenced by folk art, and the artwork of my grandparents. I work in their old studio in Glendale, surrounded by folk art, old books, vintage ephemera, and their paintings. Most recently, I have been obsessed with creating portraits of women flanked by animals and insects.
Are you really sisters or artist sisters?
Mindy and I get asked this a lot. We are honest to goodness biological sisters, four years apart. But I won’t tell you who’s older! We began showing art together about 11 years ago, hosted a joint booth at Comic-Con for six years and have been showing together periodically—ever since. I guess we are a bit of a rarity, like a circus sideshow. How often do two artists come out of a family so close in age, with work that really complements one another’s so well? It just is a natural fit.
Who and what inspire you and your work?
I’m able to pull inspiration from just about anywhere. Give me a desert, and I’ll find delight in a little struggling cactus. A cold rainy day—and I’ll find a family of tiny birds seeking shelter under the eaves of the roof. I’m inspired by all the stories that exist in the world—all you have to do is uncover them. Those are the stories that emerge in my paintings.
As I’m inspired by life, I’m inspired by art too. I love that Frida Kahlo’s portraits make me cry and that the art of my grandparents, Ralf and Jeanette Johnstone, still lives in my studio, though they have both passed. I love reading my sister’s Mindy’s blog—even though I’m just a five-minute drive from her house—to see how she spent her afternoon painting nesting dolls. And I’m amazed at the powerful imagination of my eight-year-old daughter Sophie. She fuels me with a good deal of continual inspiration.
What is your new show, "Head in the Clouds," all about?
I love this title. I’ve often found myself to be the idealist—everywhere I go. As the world gets more complicated and full of poverty, anger, and sadness, I seek to tell stories that are more about seeing the 'light at the end of the tunnel' or that reflect a sense of stoicism. I’ve been doing lots of portraits and characters that tell their stories of how they are managing to see that 'light.' They still have an edge and reveal a deeper knowing, but they reflect it with a sense of wonderment that elevates and transcends all that bad stuff.
What is your favorite piece in the new show? Tell us about it.
I love Ganesh—the Remover of Obstacles—and loved exploring the Hindu-inspired imagery. It’s a departure from my usual subject matter, but I needed to paint this icon to help transcend some of my own obstacles. It was fun and different painting on the tin, and adding the lights/electrical elements to it make it a true multi-media piece.
What do you love about living in Eagle Rock and what some of your favorite places here?
I’ve grown up in Eagle Rock, graduated from , and have witnessed its grand transformation over the past few decades. I think my body is made up of 50 percent pizza and the rest is a combination of red velvet cupcakes and guacamole. I’m so happy to see little amazing shops, restaurants, and boutiques (i.e., Leanna Lin’s Wonderland) pop up here and there.
Eagle Rock is an amazingly authentic place filled with some great, creative people, businesses and families. It’s an incredibly down-to-earth spot. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
Missed Part 1 of The Artist Sisters with Miss Mindy? Click here to check out the story.