Mel Ziegler

Mel Ziegler

Mel Ziegler




Mel Ziegler took up painting at the age of 50 and has been working for nearly three decades to produce abstract works that mine the impact of lines and forms ignited by color to populate and balance emptiness. His paintings reveal inner space materializing its existence in shapes and colors.


Ziegler’s paintings celebrate the spaciousness that exists between every molecule of every living thing in a way that, focused as we are on the things themselves, can be invisible to us.  He opens up a view like a deep breath opens up a moment. The simple geometric shapes are playfully mobile.  They glide through the space freely, allowing the viewers eyes to rest and enter into a sometimes winking and always benign vastness.


Because he came to painting after gratifying careers as a journalist, author and entrepreneur, he approached painting not as a profession but entirely and deliberately as a passion. Having built several successful businesses, and eager to immerse himself in art for art’s sake, he took the liberty to paint without becoming “a painter,” consuming himself with the materials and a long process of discovery. Ultimately the acrylic paints applying themselves to linen canvases rendered a meditative vision Ziegler recognized as “flying spirit writing,” an ancient Taoist term for energy materializing form without a maker. His meditation was to receive, not to make, to follow the materials and the inspiration, relaxed and present. Also a philosopher and a poet, he had for many years been a searcher in various esoteric nature-based eastern philosophies, in which he found practices to shed the self, free to see and experience the magic of existence before it is shrunken into the personal.  


The practice became:  Meet an empty canvas in a state of meditation, free of thought, make a mark. From the first mark, a path opened for colors, lines, forms to coalesce and balance until a final resolution achieved itself with the last mark. The abstract works that resulted were a record of process. The final images almost always surprised him and at the same time he recognized them as familiar in the abstract, bringing to life what was already waiting to be seen at the nexus of inner and outer vision. The paintings reflect a viewer dissolving into “view”. While words will do their best to chase abstraction, ultimately abstraction can’t be caught. Words can point, but can’t enter Ziegler’s abstract paintings. Entering is the privilege of a viewer willing to let go of thought and surrender to the alchemy waiting in spaciousness.


Only recently has Mel Ziegler begun to exhibit his works. In 2019 he had a solo exhibition, At Play in the Ineffable, at Throckmorton Theater Gallery in his hometown, Mill Valley, California. He is a from a family of artists—his son and wife are painters and his daughter is a fashion designer. He is also the author of several books, including Wild Company, a former journalist with the San Francisco Chronicle, New York Magazine and the Miami Herald. Banana Republic, Republic of Tea and ZoZa were companies co-founded and sold by Ziegler and his wife, Patricia. Presently he is showing his works through Chloe Gallery in San Francisco.




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