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March 15, 2006

S. Meek '06
As an Artist in transition,
Sorcha Meek goes solo

Photo by Christen Knight

Meek works primarily in paint and printmaking, a medium that includes etching and monotypes. At top are images from a recent exhibit of Meek’s titled “Transitions.”

By JANET COOK
News staff writer
March 15, 2006

Sorcha Meek’s career as an Artist is on a comfortably upward trajectory. The opening this winter of her studio-gallery, Solo, on Cascade Avenue is a sure indication of that.

Yet Meek, ever humble, ever gracious, stresses that her latest venture is just the next stop on her journey through … Art, parenthood, family, life — a journey for which there can never be a true itinerary, and which continues to unfold for the native of Ireland in interesting, wonderful ways.

“This was never something I planned on,” says Meek, a devoted mother of two girls, about the gallery. “Funny things happen and one thing leads to another.” Indeed, that mantra has been applicable to many of the significant events in Meek’s life.

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Meek was born in London and adopted by her American mother and Irish father when she was a week old. She was reared in Ireland until the age of 13 when her parents split up and she moved with her mother to California.

After earning her undergraduate degree in visual communication from Chico State University in California, Meek went on to study painting and drawing at The Art Institute of Florence, in Italy.

(Another of those “funny things” happened on her way to Italy, when she stopped in Ireland to visit family and met her future husband, Barry Paul.)

After receiving her diploma in painting and drawing from the Art Institute, she returned to Ireland where she officially launched her career as an Artist, exhibiting her work in a number of Dublin galleries.

She and Paul moved to Seattle in 1993 and Meek continued to pursue her favorite mediums: painting and printmaking. She also taught art at the Kirkland Art Center and ran a children’s art program in Issaquah.

Art took a back seat when Meek became a mother. In fact, Hood River’s family-oriented character was one thing that drew Meek and her husband here in 1998.

By 2000, Meek had two young daughters, Lilly and Leia, and worked on her art when she could.

“When Leia (the youngest) was a baby, I did charcoal drawings just as a way to keep it going,” Meek says. But she always needed her work. “Art is not just a hobby for me. I’m very serious about it.”

Somewhere along the line, Meek met fellow Hood River printmaker Jane Pagliarulo at a gallery showing and the two went on to found the Alpinee Art Studio at the Alpinee Hut on Tucker Road in 2001.

By then, Meek’s older daughter Lilly was in school and she had a little more time to devote to her art. The studio at the Alpinee Hut provided a private place where she could slip away and work.

An exhibit at Hood River’s Yum Gallery in 2004 led to a solo show at Washington State University in Vancouver last year. The show coincided with the sudden death of her father-in-law, and Meek created a series of paintings she called “Transitions.”

“Once you experience something like that (the death of a close loved one), you grow from it and you’re different,” Meek says. “You go through a transition and you reach a place of peace and unity.” Then you go on to the next transition.

“Life is all about transitions,” she says. At the same time she was working on “Transitions,” Meek was chosen as one of 12 artists to participate in a unique exhibit at the Maryhill Museum of Art called “Sustaining Change on the American Farm: An Artist-Farmer Exchange.” She began work on that project last spring.

“All of this was happening at a time when I knew I needed to move on from the Alpinee Hut,” Meek says. When Leia started first grade last fall, Meek knew she would have more time on her hands. The space at 512 Cascade became available and Meek jumped on it.

“Suddenly, I had this opportunity to take my work one step further,” she says. The show at WSU and the Maryhill exhibit “gave me what I needed to know I could do this,” she adds.

Meek sees her new digs as, first and foremost, her studio. Amid the large and small prints and paintings hung on walls in the windowed space are tables with half-used paint tubes and works-in-progress scattered about.

But she’s hoping the studio-gallery makes her work more visible. In the short time Solo has been open, Meek has already received several big commissions — something she is grateful for and didn’t expect so soon. But she is ready for that.

“For me, having children changed everything,” Meek says. It grounded her, gave her roots. And, along with the joys and challenges of being a mother came the opportunity to take her own time with her work.

“It also took some of the seriousness out of it — like when I’d go to an opening and find a diaper in my purse,” she says.

Diaper changes are a thing of the past for Meek now. Solo, her studio-gallery, is the present. And who knows what the future holds? Funny things happen and one thing leads to another.

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