Statement On War Painting Wins Cary Fine Arts League Prize

Embrace Freedom by Don Mertz

Don Mertz’ “Embrace Freedom” places second in the 2012 juried show.

“Embrace Freedom,” a 36”x36” mixed media on canvas painting by Cary-based fine artist Don Mertz, received second prize in the Fine Arts League of Cary’s 2012 Members Show, a juried exhibition.

Don Mertz moved to Cary from New York City 12 years ago and, subsequently, joined the Fine Arts League of Cary (FALC). Since then, his abstract paintings have been included in many solo- and group exhibitions throughout the Triangle region and sold to numerous art collectors. He has also donated to, and sold paintings in, the Works of Heart charitable fundraising auction for the Triangle AIDS Alliance.

A former U.S. Marine, Mertz explains that “Embrace Freedom” is a “semi-statement on the chaos, loss, and excitement of war.” Subtly embedded in the roughly textured, scraped, marked, and chaotic surface of the painting are: a simple military gravesite cross; the Marine’s motto “Semper Fi;” “HooRah” the military version of “hooray;” a two-bar chevron, the rank insignia of a corporal; the outline of four blue stars; four veiled red stripes; and the words “Embrace Freedom.”

Mertz said he included the corporal’s chevron as a reminder that “our wars are fought and won by the ‘grunt’ — the enlisted man — and the non-commissioned officer. So many of the dead and wounded, our loss of national treasure, come from their ranks.”

Although it was not Mertz’s original intent, he admits that the more prominent four blue stars may be seen as a statement concerning the “higher visibility of military generals, especially in light of recent events,” he said. “The fact that they are scattered around the painting might also reflect the not-so-positive point of view of the wartime contributions of some our senior commanders in Thomas Ricks’ just released book, The Generals.”

Jennifer Dasal, associate curator of contemporary art at the North Carolina Museum of Art since November 2008, served as the judge for show.

The 2012 FALC Members Show will be on exhibit at the Page-Walker Arts and History Center at 119 Ambassador Loop, Cary, NC, until January 2, 2013.

The 200-member, non-profit FALC provides continuing education for its members through regularly scheduled programs. It also offers members opportunities to exhibit their visual art while contributing to the cultural environment of the community and increasing public awareness of visual art. For more information, go to

For more information on Don Mertz, visit his website at

About Don Mertz:
Don Mertz is an abstract artist who has lived in Cary for 12 years. A former truck driver, Marine, and IBM branch manager, he attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and The Art Students League in New York City where he lived for 25 years. He is a member of the Visual Arts Exchange of Raleigh, the Fine Arts League of Cary and the Durham Art Guild. He is represented by ArtSource Fine Art Gallery in North Hills, Raleigh, NC, and by Joe Rowand Art Fine Art Services in Chapel Hill, NC. For more information visit or find him on Facebook.

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