What would Freud think?

I have to believe Dr. Freud would be amused by the idea of turning women’s sexual energy into electricity.

If he could only see what I saw last week:  My Great-Grandfather’s Attempts to Turn Sexual Energy Into Electricity to Power Small Machinery Based on the Principles of Sigmund Freud. It’s an installation made from dynamite crates, clever props and a very creative mind.  The fictional concept is featured in a New York art gallery exhibit  that the Village Voice calls an imaginative, and very funny, tour de force.

You don’t need to be an analyst to appreciate– or analyze it—although the artist does happen to be a psychoanalyst —and (full disclosure)—a friend.

I’ve known Jerry Meyer for decades.  Only in recent years did I discover he had so much hidden artistic talent—-and in some ways it remained hidden to himself.

Though he loved art as a child, an artistic career wasn’t in the cards.   As Jerry told me,  “I didn’t have the guts to pursue art as a career when I was younger.  Being the first-born Jewish son and grandson, it was ordained that I would be a doctor.”

So he became one, attending Yale Medical school, where he met and married my  college friend Roz.  On the side, he dabbled in art until the birth of their first child, when he dropped it completely to focus on his family and medical practice.

Years later came the experiences that were the catalyst for his art.

“About 20 years ago I was running on a dismal, grey November day and saw a piece of broken green glass in the road.  It made me happy—the color itself.  I impulsively bought some colored plexiglas and learned how to work it. It’s been a progression from there. Making plexiglas sculptures (that you could only see well in bright light, incorporating electric light into the work, transforming old appliances, and now original “boxes.”

His “boxes” are brilliant—visually and verbally.   Quoting the expert art critic here—they are “an arcade of wit and quirky nostalgia. Wall-mounted light boxes—bright with Pop colors and filled with images, objects, and joking text— a modified subway map renames all the stations as neuroses and afflictions—the No. 5 line in Brooklyn includes stops in Anhedonia, Anencephalic, and Ann Coulter.”

From my own experience, I completely get Jerry’s description of his transition and transformation from a doctor to an artist:

“I knew colleagues who loved medicine, couldn’t get enough of it.   Although I treasured working with my patients, I never felt that passion.  I used to count the days until vacations.  Now I wake up at 6 a.m. and can’t wait to get to my studio.   I don’t want to go away or stop working at all. Ever!  I stopped taking new patients around 1992 and let all of my patients know that I was changing my career to become a full-time artist.  I wasn’t tired of being a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, but I knew that if I was going to be an artist, I needed all of my energy and time to pursue my new career.

And the psychiatrist in Jerry explains it on a deeper level:

When a friend was killed at age 40 in a car accident, it really hit me that this is not a dress rehearsal. That we only go around once. Then my close friend died of pancreatic cancer and it firmed up my resolve to be a full time artist. Really, art deals with the same issues as being a psychoanalyst or sentient human being. The impossibilities and contradictions of life. The universal struggle to understand and express one’s own experiences.  The constant challenge to communicate with another person in a genuine way (whatever that means). The necessary approximations inherent in all expression. The artificer transforming personal and often tragic sentiments into art. Sad is funny and funny is sad. Like psychoanalysis, art attempts to turn the deeply personal experience of the uncertainties and impossibilities of life, the inevitability of mortality, the necessity of human frailty and then discovering the compelling inspiration to somehow express this to the other.

I’m sure Dr. Freud would agree—and approve.

You can visit Denise Bibro Fine Arts in Manhattan or click here to see Jerry Meyer’s work—I highly recommend you look closely enough to read the text.

Photos courtesy of the artist.

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