Everyday I see a piece of art on Facebook spread by an American painter and photographer, John Robert Myers, born in the Rockies and nowadays living in Macon Georgia. ( Does his last name refer to Dutch roots?) Curious, I searched for his own website and what I found was a site full of art and photographs of art, that he makes. Definitely my cup of tea. His art is just colorful and gay. I invited John Robert to participate in “gesprekken en gerechten” (Talk and Table) Let’s see if we can make a dish for John from the answers he gives to my questions. A bright, rocky dish. Of course with a glass of wine from the Màconnais (France)
Who is John Robert Myers? Tell me some more
I am a painter and fine art photographer. I was born in Amarillo, Texas, and lived in Colorado from age two to six years old. I have lived in Georgia since that time. I grew up in a big family of three brothers and three sisters. My spouse, Jack Mayes and I were married last July on our 30th anniversary of living/being together. He and I lived out in the country for twenty-five years before moving into the city of Macon. I miss my peafowl (I had over 25 at one time), my pigeons and the quietude of the country. I love animals, and have had many different kinds in my lifetime. Jack and I restored a ‘High’ Victorian house in Macon (while we were living in the country), re-graining, re-marbling and stenciling the interiors. We received an award from The Georgia Trust for Historical Preservation for that restoration. Today Jack and I own a wonderful historic Greek Revival house. We have three dogs that we think of as our children. I am exhibit chair for Middle Georgia Art Association, and write a blog for them. I help my friend Betsy with her pet nanny service, and I have recently started working as the weekend manager at a local historic house.
How did your attraction for art and photography start?
Because I was born with an eye condition which makes focusing while reading difficult, I struggled in school. For some reason art always came naturally to me. I remember when I was a young child taking my workbook up to my first grade teacher to ask her a question. She took my booklet, got up in front of the class and showed them a drawing I had made of a kitten on the side of the page because she thought it was so well executed. In my mind I can still see the breathtaking beauty of the mountains of Colorado, and the architectural beauty of The Air Force Academy in the mid-Sixties. I will never forget asking my dad to take me inside of The Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel. I was in awe. My family moved off the base to a large mid-century modern house in Black Forest, Colorado where the woods seemed to breathe. My sister, Patricia and I would watch for the first star at night. We would go out onto the sun deck, or if it was too cold we would stand at the sliding glass doors of my parents bedroom, holding hands while we wished upon that first little star. I remember my lovely mother putting on her makeup and Chanel No 5 perfume, brushing out her beautiful red hair, and getting dressed. I wanted to somehow harness these experiences. Drawing and painting was my way to do it. When I was around 10 years old I found my dad’s old Agfa camera in a closet. He bought me some film, and I loved the whole photography process.
What is the biggest theme in your work?
Without a doubt it would be spirituality. I am a closet mystic. What is art if it doesn’t have soul in it?
What is your favorite type of art?
I love non-objective art. Anselm Kiefer and Gerhard Richter (The Cage Paintings) are my favorite modern day artists. Picasso is God. Seeing van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ at age 13 truly changed my life. Bernini, John Singer Sargent, Lichtenstein, Klimt, de Kooning, Rothko and Pollock are favorites. Jack and I own several large portraits from the late Alabama artist Barbara Gallagher, and I love them as much today (or more so) than I did when they were purchased over 25 years ago. I would love to own a hanging glass sculpture from Dale Chilly. It would be perfect in our front hall.
Which kind of art do you like to photograph the most and which absolutely not? I am very curious about that.
My photography is seldom raw. I usually use several different filters and combos in my work. I often tweak the hue/colors as well. I am drawn to photographing architecture (interiors and exteriors). I am fascinated with the energy of houses and buildings. I am also drawn to photographing flowers and trees. I do NOT like to photograph weddings! I did so for my best friends because I love them, but on the whole I don’t enjoy it.
Do you travel a lot and what are your experiences?
I love to travel, but we haven’t done so as much as I would like because Jack and I worry about our puppies when we’re gone. My first trip (I was 5 years old), I remember riding over and sailing under the Golden Gate bridge. My uncle took us to the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco… this was 1967 at the height of the hippie movement. Nobody answered my question when I asked, “Why is that man walking another man on a dog leash?”! Being a child at that time living at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, it was quite a shock!
I love Spain, the Prado. I love Montreal… it was interesting to me that the food in Montreal is the best ‘American’ food I’ve ever eaten. Chicago has always been a favorite city. Jack’s favorite place is the beach, and I would say mine is the mountains. A few years ago Jack and I drove out to the Midwest and I think it is some of the most beautiful farmland (the land and what beautiful barns!) I’ve ever seen. I want to see Italy and England (to see the gardens of/and the great houses).
I read you are always driven by exploration of art and beauty, how does this interfere with your own art?
It can be maddening! I am constantly fascinated by art and beauty. It can make me conscious of different aspects of my work that I’ve never noticed. All in all it makes me a better artist.
I noticed your happiness when equal marriage finally got legalized in the US. Did it affect your work?
I’m sure that it has had an effect whether it’s perceptible to my eye or not. I do believe my art is lighter and feels different. Jack and I stood on the courthouse steps in Macon the day we got our marriage license and it felt surreal to us that this equality had become a reality in our lifetime. I am changed.
And for whom you would like to paint and why?
Those who understand and appreciate art. My art is a reflection of me. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that they are like my children as some painters do. I want to find homes for them. But my hope is for them to be loved and enjoyed.
On food, which food do you like and which you would never eat?
When I was 7 years old we moved to a little farming community in Georgia. My dear mother is a wonderful Southern cook. I grew up picking peaches and figs. We picked blackberries on the side of clay roads in the country. We had pecan trees on our property. We children picked up the pecans for Mother’s baking, as well as to sell for our Christmas money. We raised chickens. My mother always had a large garden. During the summer we were picking beans, peas, tomatoes, eggplant, corn, okra, squash, cucumbers, cantaloupes and watermelons, as well as digging potatoes. My mother canned and pickled enough to last all winter.
Jack is a great cook, who comes from a family of excellent and celebrated cooks. I have always felt thankful to be a part of a family of great cooks, especially around the holidays. Southern food is better than ever. I love Italian food, and although I don’t consider myself a cook, I do make a delicious manicotti. As far as food that I won’t eat, I am pretty much willing to try most foods, but no bugs or worms.
What wine do you like?
My favorites are dry reds. Jack’s cousin Frances and her husband Ed have a marvelous line of wines that are truly delicious.
Can you tell me something about your “foodprint” We waste a lot of food in the western world?
Jack and I respect food and rarely waste it. My father wouldn’t eat leftovers, but I usually look forward to them. We stay away from junk food, and fast food. We do sit down and eat a dinner that Jack prepares every night (I do the dishes!). One thing that I would like to do is go to the farmers market in the summertime. There just doesn’t seem to ever be enough time, and I do hope that our Farmers Market will eventually be moved back downtown where it was originally in Macon.
What else do you want to tell?
Gereon, Thank you so much for inviting me to participate in gesprekken en gerechten. I am looking forward to your recipe!
The recipe and wine.
Thanks for answering my questions and participating!
On this Easter Sunday I thought of a Corsican veal stew for John and his man. A touch of Spring. I hope that he likes it,The wine to pair is a red one from Tuscany, Torbolone, a product made bij fattoria la Vialla, an organic farm near Arezzo.
2 lbs veal (shoulder meat) in cubes
2 big carrots
2 stems of thyme, 2 bay leaves an 1 stem of roemary, tied together as a bouquet garni.
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbs flower
3 oz stock (beef or veal)
1 glass of white wine
2 oz black and 2 oz green olives
finely chopped parsley and chives
2 tbs oil
pepper and salt
Cut the carrots in cubes, the onions in fine rings. Peel the garlic and cut in tiny pieces. Heat up some oil and stir fry the carrots, onion and garlic. Cut the meat in cubes, season with some salt and black pepper. Pass the meat through some flower. Heat up some oil in a Dutch oven and fry the meat until brownish. Add the earlier fried carrots, onions and garlic and pour the wine and stock in the pan. Add the bouquet garni and let the dish simmer for an hour or so, until the veal meat is tender. When it’s done, remove the bouqet garni and add the black and green olives. Let the olives just warm for a short while. Season the dish to taste with some black pepper and salt. Garnish with some finely chopped chives and parsley. Serve this dish with focaccia bread and a Spring salad.