For the past year, artist Doug Meyer has created fifty portraits of creative people who died of AIDS and AIDS-related causes in the 1980s and ’90s. For his Heroes Tour: A Tribute, Meyer explained that “I wanted to create something to introduce a younger audience to an entire generation of true innovators that laid the groundwork for what they do now.”
Meyer became fascinated by his research in choosing whom to profile. The research itself became an event – from ordering books, watching videos and movies, and locating old articles. He felt it was necessary to channel each individual in a distinctive way. This is how each portrait evolved: by the artist immersing himself in their life and career, listening to ’80s music, and just being in the zone; each one developed organically. He also felt it was important that each one look as different as possible, as if they were all done by different artists. It’s all about representing them in a unique way.
Another layer of the Heroes Tour is the audio component. Meyer teamed up with an old friend and D.J., Wayne Consiglio. Since the disco songs of the ’80s helped him in the creation of this work, he realized that it really sets the period and the moment. And since many of the “heroes” were from the music industry (Peter Allen, Paul Jabara, Klaus Nomi, Sylvester, Freddie Mercury, Liberace, Arthur Russell, and Patrick Cowley), Meyer wanted the viewer to experience this on many levels. Included is Madonna’s prayer (in audio) for Keith Haring from her movie Truth or Dare.
The portraits (some displayed here) are influenced and driven by the stylized forms of medallions, cameos, intaglios, and sculpted and carved busts – embellished with drawing, painting, collage, and sculptural elements.
The Heroes Tour is on display at the Liz O’Brien Gallery in New York City now through April 29. The exhibition then moves to NIBA Home in Miami starting on May 12, and later in the year to Dragonette in Los Angeles, and then on to Chicago.