Two Santa Monica Artists Create a Legacy Through Potlucks


SANTA MONICA — When artists Jon Swihart and Kimberly Merrill move from Santa Monica to Minneapolis later this summer they will be leaving behind both a cherished home and a remarkable artistic and social legacy. Inspired by their friends Mark Ryden and Marion Peck’s recent move out of state, the couple decided it was time for a change. For Kim, the move will be a return home: she was born and raised in Minnesota and has been away for 34 years. Jon, who grew up in their two-bedroom, one-bath Mediterranean-style house and bought out his brother’s shares when his father passed away, is a lifelong Californian. Paying the home’s mortgage for decades solely by working as an artist is something Jon considers one of his greatest accomplishments. Another is the role he played — along with Kim — in hosting 162 potlucks in their verdant backyard, each one featuring artists or other creative producers who spoke about their life and work.

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