With the kind of parents she had growing up—pedigreed artists, she calls them—it was inevitable Danielle Mailer would become an artist, she says.
Abstract painter Adele Morales and writer Norman Mailer lived for their art, their daughter recalls, and art was central to her childhood in New York City. After her parents divorced when she was 5, Danielle’s father would take her and her sister to the Museum of Modern Art on Saturdays. Their house was filled with the Mexican and South American art that her mother collected. And Morales was passionate about patterns, wearing leopard prints long before they were in style. Given a childhood of what she calls “creative chaos” and her larger-than-life parents, it’s easy to see how Mailer became the artist she is today.
Danielle Mailer’s work is mostly large and growing larger. Her latest piece, called “FishTales,” a mural 187 feet long depicting fish and a lone crow, required upward of 100 people to make and assemble. Whether she’s painting on canvas or freestanding aluminum cutouts, her brightly colored palette creates richly detailed fantastical worlds with dreamlike narratives, reminiscent of the best-known South American artists: the painter Frida Kahlo, the writer Gabriel García Márquez, or the playwright Federico García Lorca.
“I love the absurdity of tattooing a dachshund with a painting,” Mailer says. “I like mixing and matching and making people think about what they’re seeing, and specifically enlarging things to push them into the realm of being surreal or unexpected.”
While Mailer’s work is forceful, demanding attention, it’s not domineering. It is positive and joyous, and it asks only that the viewer celebrate life. A resident of Western Connecticut, where she teaches, Mailer returns to the tip of the Cape every year. “Provincetown is still part of my identity,” she says. “Almost every summer of my childhood was spent in Provincetown; Father insisted we all be there together. I never feel whole until I go back for the yearly trip to P-town.”
Cape Cod is still a source of inspiration, where she can visit her father’s grave and pull from her own life and history. “Night Sight,” a 3- by 4-foot acrylic that depicts a serpent rising up through an extraordinarily colorful and detailed landscape made of flowers and birds, culminates with a quote on the snake’s nose; not surprisingly, it is one by her father.
Danielle Mailer is represented by Berta Walker Gallery, 208 Bradford Street, Provincetown, and 40 Main Street, Wellfleet. More information on the artist can be found at daniellemailer.com.