MARTINEZ, Calif. – The Main Street Arts Gallery needs a “No Touching Allowed” sign to go with award winning artist Mimi Wirth’s upcoming exhibit. The artist has mastered the “Old Masters,” makes her own paint and depicts textures so realistically, they almost become a tactile experience. “Realism to Abstraction” opens March 11 with a reception at Main Street Arts, 613 Main St., Martinez.
After more than 30 years of success working in and teaching art in Los Angeles and Arizona, the San Francisco Institute of Art graduate Mimi Wirth has settled in Martinez.
“The Institute was more focused on abstract or impressionist, and didn’t emphasize realism,” Wirth remarks. “I found a Norwegian teacher who taught the old masters and over the years, I pursued other respected teachers.”
Anne Manry Kenyon, Gregg Kreutz, Milt Kobaysahi, Fredrick Grue, Howard, Terpning, David Leffel and others have influenced Wirth’s development as an artist.
Simultaneously she began teaching art at San Francisco’s DeAnza High School. Wirth blended an award-winning teaching career with employment in clothing design, commercial illustration and design for Pink Panther, Popeye and Elvis Presley products, and “anything in the arts.”
“I do the whole gamut,” Wirth said with a smile.
The winner of numerous teaching awards, she was invited to Japan to teach etching as a California Good Will Ambassador and has taught adult and teacher classes in etching, stained glass, and watercolor techniques.
Wirth gravitates to realism in portraiture. Her dignified, respectful paintings of American Indians grace the walls of collectors and corporations throughout the U.S., Canada and Japan. In contrast, her landscapes tend to be more impressionistic.
Wirth is recognized for her versatility, imagination, and ability to create images that evoke a meaning beyond their innate nature. “I like to tell a story,” she remarks.
“‘But I Just got Here,’ is an example,” she says. It is the vivid image of an antique chair with a Letterman jacket casually draped over it. “I used to make short visits to my grandmother. When I was about to leave, she would say, ‘But you just got here,’” Wirth commented. “She was born in 1877. What she witnessed was amazing…. I didn’t take the time time to listen.”
Another incredibly realistic simple painting of a slightly used paper lunch bag on a muted deep blue and green background was inspired by Wirth’s experience in a park near the Institute. “Every day I saw this older man sitting on a bench alone, eating a sack lunch from a used bag. It was the loneliness,” Wirth recalls.
One of them may or not be in the exhibit, but look for Wirth’s remarkable paintings containing a wine glass or other glass object to find light reflected through reflected light.
Mimi Wirth is a featured artist at Main Street Arts Gallery, 613 Main St., Martinez, during March and April, with an artist’s reception from 5-8 p.m. Saturday, March 11.
For more information, visit www.mimiwirth.com.