Heart of Louisiana: Chief Artist
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - If you step in the office of the Louisiana Supreme Court’s Chief Justice, you will see a collection of artwork featuring south Louisiana landscapes. The artist is the man who sits behind the desk.
When he is not busy penning his name to important legal documents, John Weimer says he likes to doodle.
“I was always a kid that was called upon to either draw something or paint something at school,” says Weimer.
At age 18, Weimer says his younger brother gave him some paints.
“I’ve been painting a little bit ever since then, mostly self taught,” Weimer says.
Now Weimer has to balance his love of painting with the demands of his day job. As Chief Justice of the Louisiana supreme court for decades, he’s painted familiar landscapes from his native Lafourche parish.
He says he donates a few hundred prints a year to local charities to sell at auctions.
You seem to be drawn to Louisiana landscapes, and to some of the iconic images that you probably grew up with in Lafourche parish, in the Thibodaux area. What stories are are you trying to tell by bringing these to life in your painting?
Weimer responded, “What I’m fond to is it’s scenes that I have seen and have touched me because of the longevity, because they represent our area.”
One of his favorite subjects is this old wooden church in the small community of Chackbay, the building collapsed in a recent storm.
“People come up to me and say, you know, my grandmother attended that church. I bought that print because I think she would want me to have it, and that’s touching. Laurel Valley, the same thing, we had ancestors that lived at Laurel Valley, this creates memories,” says Weimer.
Weimer’s paintings also focus on the natural landscapes of south Louisiana, the marsh, the cypress trees, and even oak trees that have died in the disappearing wetlands.
“A theme of what we have lost. We lost these magnificent century old oak trees and all we have left now is the skeletal remains,” Weimer says.
When he has time, Weimer will grab a brush and paints to add color to something he’s sketched on a slip of paper. It’s always been a mental escape.
“Sometimes it allows you to have thoughts or a solution to a problem you’re trying to address,” Weimer says.
When asked if he likes to be called an artist, Weimer said. “If I wasn’t a justice, I would probably be graded more harshly.”
Those paintings of scenes that he has seen create lasting images of buildings and landscapes that are part of the history, and that also face an uncertain future.
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