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Florence Miller Pierce, 89; created resin artworks

By Mary Rourke, L.A. Times Staff Writer

Florence Miller Pierce, an artist who was part of the Transcendental Painting Group of Taos, NM. in her 20s, but gained broader attention decades later with her Post-Minimalist works of tinted resin, died Oct. 25 at Presbyterian Hospital, near her home in Albuquerque. She was 89.

The cause was complications from lung disease, according to Charlotte Jackson, Pierce's art dealer in Santa Fe.

Born Florence Melva Miller in Washington. D.C., on July 27,1918, she moved to Taos at 18 to study with the locally prominent painter Emil Bisttram.

She became a member of the Taos Transcendentalists, an art movement Bisttram helped found that emphasized abstract art and spiritual overtones.

She married fellow student Horace Towner Pierce in the late 1930s and relocated with him several times, including briefly to Los Angeles, where he worked as a commercial artist. They settled in Albuquerque in the late 1940s.

Pierce explored various media as an artist. During one phase she made totem-like sculptures of balsa wood.
Her work took a new direction in 1969, when she happened to drip liquid resin onto a piece of aluminum foil and became fascinated by the effect of shimmering light that it created. From then on resin was her main material.
In one combination she mixed layers of resin and pigment on mirrored Plexiglass to create ,lustrous, surfaces that appeared to emanate ethereal light," according to a 2006 article about Pierce in Art in America magazine.

"I guess you'd say its contemplative Pierce said of her resin and pigment works in a 2001 interview with the Albuquerque Tribune.

The subtleties of her mature style were apparent in 2006 when Pierce had her first exhibit in New York City at the Howard Scott Gallery.

"It took a lifetime of activity to arrive at an art about contemplation, and then she did so only by chance,' according to a New York Times review of Pierce's show.
She was part of an older generation of artists whose work "has developed over time and maintained its presence for a number of years," the review continued. "In a fast-food culture ... that's the vote of confidence that counts."

Pierce is survived by her son, Christopher, and two grandchildren. Her husband died in 1958.