|We’re in celebration mode at Meyer Vogl Gallery, kicking our heels up over Laurie Meyer’s solo exhibition, Second Course — a colorful tribute to the restaurant kitchen. In honor of the “Month of Meyer,” we chatted with Laurie about her sunny studio, painting restaurant kitchens, and the best burger she’s had all year.
Meyer Vogl Gallery: Why restaurant kitchens?
Laurie Meyer: I like what happens in them. Energy, clatter, clutter, delicious smells. I feel especially lucky if I find one with warm lights and colorful tiles.
MVG: Paint the scene for us with one of your paintings from Second Course.
LM: The Pastry Chef got its start during a painting workshop trip to Positano a few years ago. I was mesmerized by the chef’s careful drizzle of cream on the puffs he baked, as well as the beautiful interior. The restaurant is called Bacco, and it is near the beach level. After I took a photograph, the chef winked at me and smiled.
Other paintings in the show were inspired by restaurant kitchens in Big Sur, Cabo, Manhattan, Pebble Beach, Ischia (Italy), and of course Charleston. I have recently traveled to all of these places and enjoyed the food as well as the scenery!
MVG: Any favorite real-life chefs?
LM: Ken Vendrinski has been a favorite since the opening of Lucca and now Code de Pesce on the Isle of Palms. His grandmother is from Lucca, Italy, and he brings that authentic vibe to his restaurants. A few years ago, Shannon Smith Hughes and I visited Lucca, Italy, and we ate at a restaurant on Ken’s recommendation. I also learned, years after knowing him, that we went to the same Junior High School.
MVG: The best recent meal you had in Charleston …
LM: It had to be a pizza from Indaco. Or the kale salad from The Daily. Or the cheeseburger from Husk, or anything from Ken.
MVG: Tell us about your studio.
LM: My studio is a very sunny space, which was designed for my love of teaching. I have a half circle of 10 easels set up for my fabulous students. I take up a small corner of the room with my large easel, taboret, and table of junk. I also have an old architect’s blueprint cabinet in the opposite corner. The funny story is that the studio was built around the cabinet during our framing phase. It never would have fit through the doors, so I think it is a permanent fixture. Paint is everywhere — the light switches, the floor, the window sashes. I have music and a tv and a bookshelf full of art books.
MVG: Any studio rituals before you get started for the day?
LM: I try to workout before I go to the studio and then drink plenty of coffee. The smell of the studio is all I need to set the tone for a good painting day.
MVG: Summer plans?
LM: This is the first summer in 12 years that I won’t be participating the Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Festival. After a fabulous run there, I decided to take a break. We just returned from a trip to Amsterdam, Brussels, and Portugal, so I am looking forward to staying home — except that I’m going to Florida on Sunday for a painting retreat with Marissa and Shannon (Smith Hughes) and Jennifer (Smith Rogers). We have a family reunion in July, and I hope to get to Maine in September to meet and hike with one of my best friends who will be completing the Appalachian Trail. I guess I have the wrong idea of a summer at home!
Photos by Charlotte Elizabeth