“A mythical quality imbues a moody (canvas)… a flat, Matisse-like design bare of detail, …a hint of geometry.”
Holly Johnson, The Sacramento Union
Mimi Chen Ting (b. 1946) is a painter, print-maker, and performance artist who lives and works in Taos, New Mexico and Sausalito California. She is best known for her elegant, hard-edged abstractions for the sense of dynamic lyricism and wonder that they evoke.
Born in Shanghai, China, Mimi spent her childhood and teenage years in Hong Kong. In 1965 Mimi moved to San Francisco, California to pursue dual degrees in Sociology and English Literature at the San Francisco College of Women (now part of the University of San Francisco). After her third year at college—and a year of social field work—Mimi changed her major to art and transferred to California State University in San Jose where she earned her BA in Art in 1969.
One San Jose faculty member in particular—watercolorist Eric Oback— made a powerful impression on Mimi by urging her to listen to her colors and find her own way of painting, and most important of all, to “let the how follow the what”.
He also introduced me to the Lucien Labaudt Gallery where I had my first show in 1970 of paintings mainly done in his class and some working in the corner of my bedroom lined with newspaper, while my infant daughter slept and played among pillows in our bed.
This debut exhibition earned her a positive review from by the art critic Thomas Albright in the San Francisco Chronicle. In the years since, Mimi continued painting and also became involved printmaking—she made etchings, serigraphs and monotypes—while also trained in dance. When her children were of an age where their needs made time for focused studio work more difficult to manage, Mimi explored performance work integrating both static and kinetic elements. She completed her MA in painting in 1976. In 1981 Mimi became one of four founding members of a modern dance company as well as began teaching drawing and design at the college level.
In 1988, with her children becoming young adults, Mimi began her second migratory arc when she impulsively purchased a one-room house on the mesa in Taos, New Mexico, initially as a private retreat from studio work, but which evolved into a major work space as she expanded her stays there. Mimi has found continuous inspiration from the ever-changing vistas, uncompromising grandeur and spectacular weather patterns of the high desert. These forces and images infuse her work in the forms of her choice of palette, heightened contrasts and sinuous contours.
Since 2000, Mimi and her husband have divided their time between Taos and Sausalito, where they often stay for long periods in the fall and spring. The Bay Area provides a connection to family—including her children and grandchildren in Oakland—and a travel base from which she could fly to Hong Kong to visit her mother while she lived. A self-described “opera, NPR and chamber music addict,” Mimi loves gardening and science fiction, practices yoga and taichi, and thinks hard about the world’s most pressing geopolitical and environmental concerns.
“I work everyday in either of my studios with my dog for company,” Mimi comments, “and am generally quite happy and grateful.”
Mimi’s work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in museums, galleries, and educational institutions throughout the United States and abroad, and can be found in numerous public, corporate, and private collections.