The paintings of the chief justice
Louisiana art covers the walls in the office of the Louisiana Supreme Court’s Chief Justice. The paintings of marshes, moss-draped trees, century-old buildings and egrets are the creations of Chief Justice John L. Weimer.
Weimer explains that as a child, he “was always called on to draw something or paint something at school”. He has continued to draw and paint. Most of his paintings feature Louisiana landscapes that are common in Lafourche Parish, which stretches from his hometown of Thibodaux southward to the Gulf of Mexico. “What I’m fond of saying,” Weimer tells me, “is it’s scenes that I have seen.” And those scenes represent the area where he grew up, including some structures that have stood for more than a century.
Art from an old louisiana church
One of the Justice’s favorite subjects to paint is an old wooden church in the small community of Chackbay. “I have probably 30 paintings of it and countless photographs of it starting about 1980,” Weimer says. The paintings show a church that has fallen into disrepair with some of its wood siding missing. You can see a graveyard behind the building. Weimer has donated hundreds of prints of his Louisiana art to various charities, fairs and festivals. The church paintings are more meaningful now since the building collapsed in a recent storm. “People come up to me and say my grandmother attended that church. I bought the print because I think she would want me to have it, and that’s touching,” Weimer says.
creating art from the louisiana landscape
As an avid fisherman, Weimer has spent a great deal of time in coastal Louisiana. His art depicts the marsh, a mixture of tall grass and water. He paints tall cypress trees and oak trees with moss hanging from their branches. And one of his most dramatic paintings shows the bare branches of a large oak tree. As salt water from the Gulf of Mexico encroaches on the vanishing coastal lands, the once stately oak trees become victims. “The painting is a theme of what we have lost,” explains Weimer. “We lost these magnificent century-old oak trees. And what we have left now is the skeletal remains.”
Weimer is reluctant to call himself an artist. He prefers the title of painter. Weimer laughs as he tells me, “If I wasn’t a Justice I would probably be graded more harshly.”
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