Artist Jerome Weber captures the beauty of the South Louisiana landscape
To New Iberia artist Jerome Weber, the land in south Louisiana’s Acadian parishes, filtered through warm, humid sunlight, is the most beautiful landscape in the United States.
“Even before I became an artist, I loved the Louisiana landscape,” says Weber, who was born in New Iberia in 1954 and was inspired by the landscape paintings of the late Louisiana artist George Rodrigue. “The bayous and swamps are like nothing else in the U.S. I have painted around the country and I still think Louisiana is so unique that I can’t wait to paint the scenes. When I’m painting, I think of nothing else.”
To Weber, a senior vice president at Community First Bank in New Iberia, possibilities are everywhere. He finds his art in everyday life along the bayous, towns and in the vast sugar cane fields that blanket the local landscape. He and his artist wife Michael (pronounced Michelle) travel up and down Bayou Teche painting and taking photographs of familiar scenes that are rooted deep in the shadowed memories of his younger days growing up in New Iberia.
“That is what I try to capture in my painting,” he says. “Things I grew up with — going down Bayou Teche with my dad; going into a cane field, cutting down a piece of cane and tasting the sugar; sitting next to a giant live oak with the trunk as big as a car; painting the Superior Bridge (crossing Bayou Teche) in my boat, called the ‘Cajun Monte & Company,’ with my wife. All these things remind me of home.”
Going home is exactly what Weber had in mind when he began painting over a decade ago during the Great Recession of 2008. A friend suggested Weber try painting as therapy and refuge to deal with the economic crisis. Since then, creating art has become something more to him. His impressionistic images are transcendent journeys into a world of beauty and peace. One can see it in his images of fall colors in Breaux Bridge, a pecan grove in Cade, a small wood-frame houseboat on Bayou Teche, or in shrimp boats lined up in port at Delcambre. The atmosphere, the mood, everything is idyllic. No mortgage rates, interest rates, recessions or foreclosures here, just the beauty of Acadiana and one artist’s imagination committed to canvas.
To capture those moments, Weber, who now teaches art in New Iberia, paints mostly with oils. They dry slowly, which enables him to rework a painting as he progresses. And like many landscape artists, he enjoys painting outdoors on location, or “en plein air.” But because sunlight and atmospheric conditions are ever changing, he takes photographs as field notes to complete the painting back in his studio. Almost a decade ago, Weber’s interest in plein air painting led him to create New Iberia’s annual Shadows-on-the-Teche Plein Air Painting Competition that has drawn artists from across the nation.
Those moments when Weber retreats into the Acadian landscape and his memories have, as he says, changed his life.
“I made a decision to do like the Hudson River painters,” he says. “They painted as much in that area as they could because it was so beautiful. I started to paint as much as I could in south Louisiana to leave something for people to see how beautiful it is.”
That’s quite a legacy.
Weber’s paintings can be seen at Barnel’s Art & Framing Gallery in Lafayette and A Spot for Tea Art Gallery in New Iberia.