Art auction to feature works of Richard Merrick

The Coral Gables Museum, which celebrates, investigates and explores the civic arts, will host a cocktail reception and auction of artwork created by the late Richard Lionel Merrick, the youngest brother of Coral Gables founder and developer George Merrick.

The reception will take place on Saturday, May 30, 6 p.m., followed by live and silent auctions at 7 p.m., at the Coral Gables Museum, 285 Aragon Ave. Proceeds will benefit the Coral Gables Museum.

Tickets for the auction are $25 per person and can be purchased online at cocktail-tickets-16619174398 or by calling 305-603-8067.

Mark Trowbridge, president and CEO of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, will preside over the live auction.

“Richard Merrick captured the changing landscape of South Florida from the founding of Coral Gables through World War II and later taught art to hundreds of students at the University of Miami,” said Christine Rupp, director of the Coral Gables Museum. “We hope the auction will remind people of Richard’s excellence as an artist and his many contributions to our community.”

Born in 1903, Richard Merrick spent his childhood exploring the natural environment and started drawing at a young age, under the instruction of his mother. In the 1920s, he studied at the Art Students League in New York City under artists such as John Sloan, Robert Henri, Joseph Pennell and George Luks, who called him “Kid Rembrandt with the nut-brown eyes.”

In the 1930s, George Merrick hired Richard to promote Caribee Colony, a new development on Matecumbe Key, with a four-color brochure. He later became a parttime art instructor at the University of Miami and director of art education for the WPAArt Project in Miami.

During World War II, he worked with the U.S. Navy as an engine instructor on Dinner Key. His work at the time depicted what he absorbed “behind his eyes” from several locations. After the war, he returned to the University of Miami, where he taught art until his retirement in 1969.

Richard Merrick also built a private studio on Lennox Avenue in Coconut Grove, where he lived and worked until shortly before his death in 1986. His widow, Mildred, lived there until her death in 2014.

A modest man who loved seclusion, Merrick was known best for his etchings but he worked in all media including paintings and drawings. He and fellow student Bernard Sheridan worked for George Merrick and created many of the beautiful line drawings featured in Coral Gables advertisements. He also drew the first 17 covers for The Carrell, a UM library publication that became collectibles. His prize-winning work could be found in exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art, the Corcoran and the Seattle Museum, although his modesty prevented him from telling others about it.

His work is also part of the permanent collections of The Library of Congress, The New York Public Library, and The University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum, among others.

After decades of avoiding the spotlight and at the urging of a student, Fred Albert, Merrick permitted his art to be viewed at a one-man show at the Coral Gables Museum in 1983.

For more information about educational programs or volunteering at the Coral Gables Museum, visit online at www.coralgablesmuseum. org.

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