This Artist Uses Technology to Create Unique Works of Art
By Jessica Laskey
Because Jeff Myers believes that artists need to keep learning or get stale, the painter and photographer has made it his mission to come up with ever more inventive and innovative techniques.
The son of legendary local stock photographers Sally Myers and the late Tom Myers created a sculpture for the McKinley Village development in East Sacramento that is a genre unto itself. Myers purchased a 1950s Ford tractor and covered the outside with a fresh “skin” of aluminum plating to which he applied his art.
“The project for McKinley Village is a direct extension of what I’ve been doing on a two-dimensional surface in my studio,” says Myers, who lives in Midtown and works out of a studio in Land Park. For the tractor sculpture, he painted
a series of detailed paintings based on aerial photographs looking down on human patterns, such as agricultural fields and freeway networks. Then he sent the paintings to Los Angeles to be photographed and heat-imbedded into aluminum, a process called dye sublimation. “Aluminum is a beautiful screen to print or project onto,” he says. “It gives a piece an almost stained-glass feeling.” Myers then welded and riveted the thin sheets of aluminum onto the tractor—“almost like re-creating flesh,” he explains.
The project—called “Tractor Levitation” because it’s suspended above its base on three steel beams—stands sentinel at one of the entrances to the home development in the very area where Myers grew up. (In fact, he remembers when the land was covered with peach trees instead of new homes.) In a way, the artwork acts as a merging of all of Myers’ passions: photography, painting, technology and history.
“I’ve become more and more interested in the historical wave of technology versus the wave of human consciousness,” Myers says. “I love exploring consciousness. What are the boundaries of it? How does it relate to the curve of technology? I like to bring an ambiguity to my forms: Are those brushstrokes something alive and organic or something digital? I like that in-between ground.”
Myers grew up traveling all over the country with his dad to photography gigs. In school, he struggled with dyslexia, which made visual art a more natural mode of expression than reading or writing. He doodled constantly—still does—and studied art at Sacramento City College, UC Davis and Sacramento State with the likes of Wayne Thiebaud, Roland Petersen, Fred Dalkey, Laureen Landau and Oliver Jackson. He moved to New York in 1995 and stayed for five years, making friends and connections that he still maintains.
“I wanted to view the major exhibitions and collections located in New York in person as part of my education,” says Myers, who still goes back east to visit at least once a year and periodically places pieces with a private art dealer there. “I moved to New York to establish a network of friends and collectors so that now a big chunk of my work comes from commission. As a freelance artist, you have to balance commission with exhibition.”
Another focus has been a collection of photos he took while in Paris to create a temporary art installation with a friend. (Myers ripped up photos he’d taken of giant redwoods and tacked them to edifices throughout the city.) He manipulates the photos with different types of printing processes. For example, he’ll print out a photo and transfer it to a canvas through a painstaking sponging process, then he’ll paint over the ghost image just enough that you can see both the new strokes and the original image.
“I love playing with the time trajectory of past, present and future,” he explains. “I think one of the roles of visual art as the world changes faster and faster is to provide that anchor point, that stillness. And when traditional materials and technology interrelate, they create a visual tapestry unlike anything else.”
For more information, go to jeffmyersart.com.
Jessica Laskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.