Artist of the Month: Layne Meacham
Layne Meacham’s abstract paintings can be found in galleries across the state. (Layne Meacham/Artist)
Abstract painter Layne Meacham started painting when he was 13 years old and not interested in school. An art teacher, David Chaplin, offered him art classes, as well as private lessons. There, Meacham learned how to stretch canvas and the basics of art such as color, shape and form. He also took classes at the Salt Lake Art Barn, now known as the Finch Lane Gallery. Chaplin also taught Meacham about abstract art, which ignited a passion in him and he’s been painting ever since.
In 1967, Meacham went into the marine corps and was sent to Vietnam. After receiving the Bronze Star, he returned to Utah to pursue a degree. He earned his undergraduate at Westminster College and went to Columbia University in New York City to pursue a graduate degree in social work. There he also took art classes at the Arts Student League.
“That’s where (Jackson) Pollock and (Lee) Krasner and all the New York School guys in the 1950s, all the abstract artists went there,” Meacham said. “It had a big reputation as a school. It’s not in a university. All the abstract expressionists went there.”
After his wife at the time became terminally ill, Meacham transferred to the University of Utah to continue his pursuit of a masters in social work. He continued to take art classes during that time. Meacham is now a semi-retired psychotherapist.
Meacham’s art used to be described as abstract expressionism. That term now refers to the specific period in art history between the 1940s and 1960s.
“I do abstract and even have started doing less abstract and more landscapes, but they’re still kind of abstract,” Meacham said. “I’m a colorist. I like color. I like a lot of color. I like to break the rules. When they say, ‘Never put that color with that color,’ when you break them, you find out they’re kind of interesting so you take it as far as you can.”
Meacham said he feels drawn to art because he believes everyone has a build-up in their unconscious that they need to express and get out of themselves.
“With art, you really can sense an individual. You can really say a lot about yourself and explain yourself through your art,” Meacham said. “If you want to know someone and really know them, look at their art instead of what they say and what they do. Their art will tell you what’s inside of them.”
Even though Meacham is a Vietnam marine, a lot of people see his work and think a woman painted it.
“It’s not that it’s effeminate but it’s the color,” Meacham said. “Being free to put yourself up on the wall and put yourself in paintings and let people see who you are and how you tick. When you get to know the artist and their art, you learn a lot about the individual.”
When creating his art, Meacham isn’t afraid to try new things or get messy.
“I’ll start a painting and then I’ll rotate it upside down then I’ll turn it sideways and then I’ll turn it again. Then I may think I’m finished but then I’ll think, ‘No, this isn’t right,’” Meacham said. “So I’ll get a whole new color and paint over it. Every painting will usually have two or three paintings underneath it because it’s got to be right.”
Meacham’s work can be found in several permanent collections around the state including the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum at Utah State University, the Springville Museum of Art, the Salt Lake County Collection and the Marcia and John Price Museum of fine Art at the University of Utah. He was also elected by the 2002 Cultural Olympiad Committee as one of the One Hundred Most Honored Artists of Utah during the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics.
More information about Meacham and his art can be found at meachamart.com.