John Meehan III Exhibits Beach Art at the m.t. burton gallery

By Pat Johnson | Jun 26, 2019
Artwork by: John Meehan III ‘Initiation to the Sea,’ large panel above ‘Adventuring Out Into the Ocean,’ both by John T. Meehan III, are at the m.t.burton gallery through July.

Surf City — Crowds of people enjoying the sand and sea of Surf City – most are smiling, some are just absorbed in sitting face towards the sun. This is the art of John T. Meehan III.

Meehan has been vacationing on Long Beach Island since 1985 from his home in Pennsylvania. Being close to Philadelphia, he attended the Tyler School of Art at Temple University for a bachelor of fine arts degree, then went on to get a master’s in fine arts in painting from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

“I bought my first French easel in 1985 and decided I wanted to paint on the beach as well as do landscapes,” he said. “My reasoning for painting on the beach – in my financially challenged state – was there would be free models.

“Now of course, when I started painting on the beach, I was back by the dunes away from the people, but I made it a goal to move closer to my subjects each time I painted. By the end of the summer I was painting in amongst them.”

Meehan picked Surf City beaches to paint from as they were close to the Causeway and had lots of families at play. “I started painting in Surf City in the summer of 1995. The Ninth Street beach was and has been my usual place because it was close to the municipal building’s public bathrooms.”

Meehan met Surf City’s first art gallery owner, artist Jane Law, after his friend and artist Alice McEnerney Cook had started to show and sell her work at Jane Law’s Art Studio and Gallery. “Jane liked my work and put some of my work in her gallery that summer. She graciously showed my work until she retired in 2008. Her son, Jonathan, took over the building for his framing business and, luckily for me, continued the gallery and showing my work.

“In 2017 circumstances changed, and in the spring I moved down the Boulevard to the m.t. burton gallery.”

Matt Burton then offered Meehan a solo show in the front gallery with the fine art ceramics. The show continues through July 8. Meehan is represented by Burton, so examples of his work will always be available at the gallery.

Of his oil paintings, Meehan said, “I like painting people interacting on the beach because subconsciously it must relate to my childhood. I’m the oldest of six kids – me, four sisters, then my brother. My mother was close with her sister who had four boys and we did a lot of things together, so I eventually grew up in a group of 10 kids.”

Meehan also sometimes uses images of his own family in his paintings. “Initiation to the Sea,” for example, includes images taken from family photos. “They show up in other invented paintings elsewhere,” he added.

The paintings in “Beach: On Site and Imagined” are all on the sunny side. Meehan captures the blazing sun’s effects perfectly where shadows and colors become flat shapes. Without focusing on the details of the faces, they become the generic happy people we all recognize as bathers at the ocean, families on vacation.

The m.t. burton gallery is located at 1819 North Long Beach Boulevard in Surf City and will be participating in the LBI Artists Studio Tour, an Island-wide tour of 23 venues on Saturday, June 29, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

— Pat Johnson

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

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