It would be easy to think of CJ Metzger as just another normal wife and mom living in Glendale. But that otherwise unremarkable image changes the moment one sees Metzger’s artworks.
An artist, illustrator, designer and writer who specializes in creating paintings of surreal characters on wood, paper and sometimes canvas, in addition to creating highly unusual picture books, Metzger will launch a new exhibition of her work Saturday at Leanna Lin’s Wonderland gallery in Eagle Rock.
The show, titled “Through the Looking Glass: CJ Metzger & Miss Mindy and Friends,” will also feature ornaments made by 18 artists in addition to one made by Metzger and her sister, an artist known publicly as Miss Mindy.
In keeping with the Christmas theme, the show will run through Christmas Eve, while the imagery on the ornaments will be inspired by the writings of “Alice in Wonderland” author Lewis Carroll.
“The inspiration for my work comes from a lifetime of exposure to arts, intertwined in our childhood and our parents and grandparents,” says Metzger. “I’ve been influenced by animation, the styles in children’s books, and very influenced by surrealism, pop art and folk art. My sister is very influenced by Dr. Seuss and Betty Boop. You can see that with my sister’s work, her characters are very curvaceous, while mine are more melancholy.”
Indeed, in Metzger’s work, girls are often fused with a creature or animals to create hybrid creatures. She also creates narratives in her paintings, telling stories through her imagery. For instance, one painting features a girl being chased by a creature, while another features a girl reacting to her house being on fire.
Since their parents and grandparents were also artists, Metzger and Miss Mindy received their arts education at home while growing up. Metzger later took night classes in art at Cal State LA and USC, while Miss Mindy developed her skills through hands-on career work in animation.
“I had a more traditional path to being an artist, but we came to a similar end through different means,” says Metzger. “This is our third annual show at Leanna Lin’s, and once we get the dates, we come up with a theme for the new art and a reception. We have a following in the Northeast LA area, so it’s good to have a following in that area around the holidays, and people really like our stuff.”
“Through the Looking Glass: CJ Metzger & Miss Mindy and Friends” opens with a reception from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Leanna Lin’s Wonderland, 5024 Eagle Rock Blvd., Los Angeles. Call (323) 550-3032 or visit cjmetzger.com.