Neil Meitzler


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Neil Meitzler (1930–2009) was an American painter, well known in the Pacific Northwest for his landscapes and scenes of nature, rendered in a distinctive, modern style. He is often associated with the 'Northwest School' art movement.

Meitzler was born Herbert Neil Claussen in Pueblo, Colorado, on September 14, 1930. Seeking work in the midst of the Great Depression, his family moved to Oregon, where Neil began using his stepfather's last name, after his father died and his mother remarried. When he was twelve his family moved again, to Orting, Washington, and started a successful greenhouse flower-growing business. His mother and stepfather were devout Seventh-day Adventists.

Meitzler had been interested in art from early youth, and wanted to be either a professional artist or a minister. After leaving high school he moved to Seattle, and eventually began working as a draftsman at Boeing.

While at Boeing Meitzler won first prize in an employee art show, which led to exhibitions at small galleries, some sales, and critical notice. While working as a set painter he met Kenneth Callahan, who became his mentor and teacher; he also befriended Morris Graves, Mark Tobey, and other artists of the 'Northwest School'. Meitzler's early work was firmly rooted in traditional landscape painting, eventually showing the influence of mid-century Modern art, but it wasn't until his introduction to the "Northwest mystics" and Asian art that his work reached full flower. His landscapes, often featuring rocks and waterfalls, took on a soft, otherworldly glow, while blurring the line between representational and abstract art.

Beginning in 1957, Meitzler worked as an exhibition designer at the Seattle Art Museum. His work was at its most popular in the Northwest from the late 1950s through the mid-70s, in which period he received several awards, appeared in two solo shows at the Zoë Dusanne Gallery and one at SAM, was included in several regional and national group exhibitions, and generally enjoyed strong sales at galleries in the Northwest.