Gil Mayers is a local multi-media artist and photographer.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AN ARTIST?
“I’ve been a working artist since 1991. I started doing a jazz series and received compliments on my work. Because jazz was so hot for a while, it gave me an income. And because it’s so improvisational, it fit in with the kind of things I like to do.”
WHY CREATE JAZZ-RELATED ART?
“Because jazz is so impulsive, melodic and interesting. It is truly American music; it crosses all cultural divides. Jazz is sometimes hot, sometimes cool and sometimes grating. It’s an American art form. Coming up in the 1950s and 1960s, it was the happening music at the time so I got queued into it. I’m trying to capture the visually spontaneous nature of jazz; I’m trying to make it visually stimulating and aurally interesting. I like people to look at my work and hear music. It’s a testament to my creativity and my interest in the medium.”
DO YOU PLAY MUSIC YOURSELF?
“I picked up a clarinet and did a rendition of ‘When the Saints Come Marching In’ in junior high school and that was the peak. Since then, I let the instrument go.”
THERE’S MONEY IN HIS METHOD
“I was lucky enough to get a grant from the Community Foundation, so I hope to put out some monotypes and woodcuts. I call them mutilated monotypes because I start with processed oil. I make a base using a press, then I come back and use acrylics and pastels, charcoal, whatever I can get my hands on. I try to extend the medium.”
YOU SHOULD BE IN PICTURES
“I’ve been doing photography for quite some time. I did the West Indian American parade in New York for a number of years. Now, I’m branching out to do other things that are more socially significant.”
WHY CHOOSE ART AS A PROFESSION?
“Art and architecture have always been interests of mine. I started doing art back when John Gnagy was on TV. While I was having some difficulty reading and speaking, I didn’t have trouble following circles or lines. Since the second grade, I’ve been drawing. In the 1990s, after my children were grown, I took up the gauntlet and started following my first love.”
WHAT’S MOST REWARDING ABOUT ART?
“Art is communicating something. If you said what you wanted to say, you have a successful piece. If I can do something that’s innovative and inspiring, something that gets people to think rather than just accept, that’s important.”
WHAT’S MOST CHALLENGING FOR YOU?
“Conceptualizing, trying to refine what it is you want to say. Actually doing art is fun.”
HOW DID YOUR ROOTS AFFECT YOUR CAREER CHOICE?
“New York is a cultural mecca. What I liked about it was the museum mile. They have the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan, the Museum of Photography and the Jewish Museum. Having that kind of influence was really inspiring for me.”
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO FLORIDA?
“I came down here to do real estate. I wanted to see the South. I thought coming down here would be a good change of pace. Jacksonville is a good hub. I got down here, found it to be very comfortable and I stayed.”
WHERE DOes he LIVE?
San Marco, with his long-time companion and art consultant, Patricia. Mayers has two grown children, Gerard and Vanessa.
HAVE YOU WORKED IN OTHER FIELDS?
For 15 years, Mayers worked in construction as an inspector. He was also employed by American Express and has dabbled in real estate.
TURNING 180 DEGREES
“When I was a kid, I thought people that could draw realistically were the most inspired artists. Trying to get things on paper to look like real life is tremendously challenging. Now, I am more interested in putting on paper things people would find interesting rather than just representational. I would like to make some small contribution in terms of art. In New York, there are so many people from different walks of life and they all have different things to contribute.”
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO CONTRIBUTE?
“Art that enriches people’s lives. Some of the pieces that I’m working on will be more socially relevant. There’s a lot of ways to accomplish enrichment; it may be color, line, concept. There are certain things I’d like to say and I think it’s important that I say it through my art. I’m moving in a specific direction. I think my art will take two different paths: one will be more intellectual and social, the other path will be more on a design level, something more inventive.”
Mayers has shown his work at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and at a number of regional venues. Locally, he has had shows at Pedestrian Gallery, Karpeles Manuscript Library, Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Florida Theatre and FCCJ’s Kent Campus. Currently, he has pieces on display at the Gallery Eclectic Bistro and House of Stereo. He is a member of the Jacksonville Coalition of Visual Arts.
Vestcor and Superstock are two companies which have purchased his work. Individuals who have collected his work include attorney Chuck Barnes, Arbus editor Cinda Sherman and Patricia Vail of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?
“My current favorite is ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ I like to think of myself as a fairly sophisticated, urbane and relatively articulate person but, that movie just floored me.”
Reading Dorothy Sayers’ mysteries, history or books about art and strolling through the Cummer gardens.
WHO’S YOUR HERO?
“Denmark Besey. He was a freed slave that died in 1822. He spoke a number of languages and had a tremendous impact on pre-Civil War America. He fought the tyranny of slavery. Besey had a personal vision and a tremendous amount of character. They built the Citadel because of his foiled insurrection. The vestiges of slavery are still with us.”
— by Monica Chamness