Back Issue__ Mary Meyer

September 09, 2009 | By
Photos by Rory Gunderson
Mary Meyer may originally hail from California, but she's what we like to call a New York triple threat. In Hollywood a triple threat can sing, dance and act. But Hollywood is the land of Heidi Fleiss, lunchtime-Botox and DUIs--a far cry from Mary's new home of Brooklyn. In New York, the thrice-threatening are designers, activists and patrons of the arts, like Come Up Mary Meyer.
Mary graduated from the California College of Arts in Oakland with a degree in painting, although she also polished skills such as printmaking, weaving, dying and even welding. Used to working with textiles in her artistic training, Mary found making her own clothes came naturally. Things started small; she sold her pieces to friends, then branching out to a few stores in Oakland. After planting herself in Brooklyn and working diligently on her craft, Mary Meyer Clothing is now worldwide and can be found everywhere from New York taste-maker Oak to Clever Alice in Philadelphia, as well as a slew of Barneys. Mary never let go of her formal artistic training, she just found a new way to channel it. "[Designing clothing] turned into something super organic and logical. I mean, art is a struggle. When you're twenty-two, it's a lot harder to find people in your peer group who will buy your art, but they will buy your clothes."
Mary laughs as she tells me that it took her a while to actually consider herself a true designer. "I didn't feel as though I was giving my whole self with clothes because in my head, I was still 'an artist'. But then, there was also something really appealing with the directness of clothing. Everyone collects clothes, not everyone collects art. I liked the universality of it."
Mary is not only an artist at heart, but an artist with a very big heart, hence threat #2: Activist. Aside from Mary Meyer Clothing, she is the co-founder of nonprofit, after-school project Step Right Up, which gives Lower East Side 5th graders extensive lessons in design, theatre, art and writing. The project was hatched a few years ago through collaboration between Mary and her close friend Bonnie Pipkin, the nonprofit's co-founder. Step Right Up is now in its third year running, for several weeks, children produce a complete theatre production: They write their own scripts, create costumes and sets, then rehearse and perform the final product. In the beginning, the program was funded by parties that Mary threw in her live-in studio home. Local bands would play in the dinning room, while the living room became a gallery space.
According to Mary, the goal of these parties is to expose local bands and artists (threat #3: patron of the arts). During our chat she raves about Brooklyn youngsters, Your Nature and The Wild Yaks. She insists that fund-raising "is not sterile," and anyone who has wandered into a party at the Mary Meyer Art House can certainly verify.
"I love online press," Mary cooes. "I'm glad we're doing this. I mean, I'm talking about some band on a website and all the reader has to do is click. It's an amazing promotional tool." Triple-threat guys. A veritable New York breed of triple threat. Suck it, Fleiss. Mary Meyer may originally hail from California, but she's what we like to call a New York triple threat. In Hollywood a triple threat can sing, dance and act. But Hollywood is the land of Heidi Fleiss, lunchtime-Botox and DUIs--a far cry from Mary's new home of Brooklyn. In New York, the thrice-threatening are designers, activists and patrons of the arts, like Come Up Mary Meyer.

Mary Meyer may originally hail from California, but she's what we like to call a New York triple threat. In Hollywood a triple threat can sing, dance and act. But Hollywood is the land of Heidi Fleiss, lunchtime-Botox and DUIs--a far cry from Mary's new home of Brooklyn. In New York, the thrice-threatening are designers, activists and patrons of the arts, like Come Up Mary Meyer.

Mary graduated from the California College of Arts in Oakland with a degree in painting, although she also polished skills such as printmaking, weaving, dying and even welding. Used to working with textiles in her artistic training, Mary found making her own clothes came naturally. Things started small; she sold her pieces to friends, then branching out to a few stores in Oakland. After planting herself in Brooklyn and working diligently on her craft, Mary Meyer Clothing is now worldwide and can be found everywhere from New York taste-maker Oak to Clever Alice in Philadelphia, as well as a slew of Barneys. Mary never let go of her formal artistic training, she just found a new way to channel it. "[Designing clothing] turned into something super organic and logical. I mean, art is a struggle. When you're twenty-two, it's a lot harder to find people in your peer group who will buy your art, but they will buy your clothes."

Mary laughs as she reveals that it took her a while to actually consider herself a true designer. "I didn't feel as though I was giving my whole self with clothes because in my head, I was still 'an artist'. But then, there was also something really appealing with the directness of clothing. Everyone collects clothes, not everyone collects art. I liked the universality of it."

Mary is not only an artist at heart, but an artist with a very big heart, hence threat #2: Activist. Aside from Mary Meyer Clothing, she is the co-founder of nonprofit, after-school project Step Right Up, which gives Lower East Side 5th graders extensive lessons in design, theatre, art and writing. The project was hatched a few years ago through collaboration between Mary and her close friend Bonnie Pipkin, the nonprofit's co-founder. Step Right Up is now in its third year running, for several weeks, children produce a complete theatre production: They write their own scripts, create costumes and sets, then rehearse and perform the final product. In the beginning, the program was funded by parties that Mary threw in her live-in studio home. Local bands would play in the dinning room, while the living room became a gallery space.

According to Mary, the goal of these parties is to expose local bands and artists (threat #3: patron of the arts). During our chat she raves about Brooklyn youngsters, Your Nature and Wild Yaks. She insists that fund-raising "is not sterile," and anyone who has wandered into a party at the Mary Meyer Art House can certainly verify.

"I love online press," Mary cooes. "I'm glad we're doing this. I mean, I'm talking about some band on a website and all the reader has to do is click. It's an amazing promotional tool." There you have it, triple-threat. A veritable New York breed of triple threat. Suck it Hollywood.

Mary is throwing a Auction/Rock Show Fundraiser to expand to another school for Step Right Up at The Mary Meyer Art House on October 3rd, 2009. Bands featured are Necking, The Nasties, Brass Cups (members of AIDS Wolf & Islands) and Rocko Lives It (members of Wild Yaks). Also, featuring artists such as Round Designs, Christian Beaujean, Jeremy Davies and many more. Click here for more details on this event.

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