Inspired by Robert Williams: Jonathan Mayers

As the godfather of the lowbrow and pop surrealist art movements and founder of Juxtapoz Art & Culture Magazine, Robert Williams and his work have made a significant mark on contemporary art. We asked a few Baton Rouge-based artists to share the impact Williams has had on the work they produce today. 

 Robert Williams (American, born 1943),  Death by Exasperation , 2010, oil on canvas

Robert Williams (American, born 1943), Death by Exasperation, 2010, oil on canvas

Below, painter Jonathan Mayers shares his Robert Williams story in both French and English.

 Jonathan Mayers,  La Louve blanche protégeant Rayne  (The White Wolf Protecting Rayne); acrylic, sediment and blue crawfish claws from the L'Eau est La Vie camp in Rayne, Louisiana on panel, repurposed frame; 12 x 14.5 inches; 2018; Courtesy of the artist and Arthur Roger Gallery

Jonathan Mayers, La Louve blanche protégeant Rayne (The White Wolf Protecting Rayne); acrylic, sediment and blue crawfish claws from the L'Eau est La Vie camp in Rayne, Louisiana on panel, repurposed frame; 12 x 14.5 inches; 2018; Courtesy of the artist and Arthur Roger Gallery

La première fois que j’ai vu les œuvres de Robert Williams était avant mes études dans les beaux-arts à LSU. Un entretien et des images de ses œuvres étaient présentés dans un vieux magazine Thrasher que j’avais, qui ont tous changé ma perspective concernant les choix possibles du contexte et du sujet dans mes tableaux. Ce qui m’a étonné était sa vision inébranlable de créer ces images riches présentant la culture Underground dont il faisait partie incluant des bandes dessinées et des hot rods. Bien que je n’aie pas tous les mêmes intérêts, je respecte toujours le fait qu’il a suivi son propre chemin. En 2012 j’ai eu l’honneur de faire partie d’une table ronde avec lui à LSU grâce à Darius Spieth. Peu après, j’ai envoyé une carte de remerciement à Robert et sa femme, Suzanne, puis le mois suivant j’ai reçu un appel de lui. Il m’a remercié pour la carte et mon hospitalité, puis j’ai eu de la pouvoir de lui demander pour l’avis concernant ma carrière d’art. Je l’ai demandé comment progresser dans ma carrière et il m’a dit « trouvez votre audience ». Cette année (2018), avant le vernissage pour Slang Aesthetics au musée d’art de LSU, j’ai eu de la chance de lui dire « merci » en personne pour ses bons conseils.


 Jonathan Mayers,  Le Grand Cochon boisé contre Le Gardien palmiste  (The Great Wooded Boar vs. The Palm Guardian); acrylic and Jean Lafitte sediment on panel, repurposed frame; 33 x 41 inches; 2016; Courtesy of the artist and Arthur Roger Gallery (image by Michael Smith

Jonathan Mayers, Le Grand Cochon boisé contre Le Gardien palmiste (The Great Wooded Boar vs. The Palm Guardian); acrylic and Jean Lafitte sediment on panel, repurposed frame; 33 x 41 inches; 2016; Courtesy of the artist and Arthur Roger Gallery (image by Michael Smith

I first saw Robert Williams’ works before I began studying fine art at LSU. An interview and images of his work were in an old Thrasher magazine I had, all of which changed my perspective regarding possible choices for context and subject matter in my paintings. What struck me was his steadfast vision of creating these rich images presenting the underground culture he was a part of including comics and hot rods. Although I don’t share all the same interests, I respect that fact that he followed his own chemin. In 2012 I had the honor of being on a panel discussion with him at LSU thanks to Darius Spieth. I sent Robert and his wife, Suzanne, a thank you card soon after and the next month I received a call from him. He thanked me for the card and hospitality, then gave me a chance to ask him for advice. I asked him how to progress in my art career and he told me to “find my audience.” This year (2018), before the reception for Slang Aesthetics at the LSU Museum of Art, I was able to tell him “thank you” in person for his great advice.


Learn more about Mayers' work at www.jonathanmayers.com and on Instagram at @feral_opossum.