Best Painter (Tie) - 2006
America Meredith and Mitsy Avila Ovalles
There's no shortage of good painters in San Francisco, but two stand out this year: America Meredith and Mitsy Avila Ovalles. Meredith's unusually upbeat take on interactions between Native Americans and those descended from Europeans combines with her interest in 1960s TV cartoon characters (especially the Pink Panther) in pieces made of egg tempera and acrylic. Her "Medicinal Formulae" series uses traditional Cherokee recipes; in Adolvhisodiyi (To Remake Oneself), a human appears delighted, surprised, and a little frightened by a hummingbird. This and other of her works use the Cherokee syllabary, a writing system still, barely, in use and the effect is not only beautiful to look at but also unexpectedly funny. Ovalles' canvases drip with thin irony and thick varnish; they burst with love for slightly dorky Latino heroes and wonderment at the power of owls. They're gooey, sometimes alarming, and absurdist without being glib. Ovalles also makes videos, murals (as part of the Snake Eyes collective), and snow globes. Prolific, intelligent, and serious at least some of the time, these two women use their mastery of form and technique to make art that's both snarky and reverent. How San Francisco.