Painter serious about infusing humor into his work


David Wiemers came to painting later in life, after a successful career as a producer and writer of TV shows in Hollywood. But when he began to interact with the art world, he found things a bit stuffy and highbrow, such as the label of “fine art” tossed around liberally by galleries and websites.

As he was designing his own website, Wiemers said, “Fine art didn’t seem like it was me at all. I thought, we’ve all got to lighten up a little bit. I crossed out ‘fine’ and put ‘pretty good.’ And I was comfortable with that.”

His approach, said Wiemers, is to bring humor to his art and to the way he promotes his work. “Everybody with their fine art, they take themselves too seriously. I’m gonna be the guy who cuts up a little bit,” he said.

Last month, the 61-year-old La Jolla resident opened a one-man show at the Encinitas Community Center, called, “I Dare You Not To Smile.” The exhibit runs through March 19.

The press release bills the show as “art that celebrates pop culture and life’s funny moments.” On his website,, Wiemers displays a range of subjects, from celebrities — Jean Harlow, Fred Astaire, Elvis and the Beatles — to a scene in a dentist’s office and a heavily tattooed graffiti artist.

Wiemers spent 25 years in Hollywood, where he helped create, write and produce the popular animated series “Duck Tales” for Walt Disney Studios, and also worked on such sitcoms as “Coach,” “Major Dad” and “Harry and the Hendersons.”

When he and his partner, physician Paul Turner, moved to San Diego, Wiemers was ready for a career change. He made a New Year’s resolution to take an oil painting class.

“Bells and whistles went off and I said, ‘Oh my God, I can do this,” he recalled.

Wiemers made his first oil painting in 2010, and has since participated in a number of art shows around the country, as well as a one-man exhibition at a Laguna Beach gallery. He also won two first-place awards for paintings in the art competition at the San Diego County Fair.

One of his paintings, a close-up of former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, generated a lot of buzz at the fair, including indignation by some fairgoers who felt the painting should have been removed. The painting, titled “Haunting Filner,” shows the former mayor with the ghostly images of women around his face. One image is the open-mouthed horror from “The Scream,” by Edvard Munch.

“I was thrilled” by the reaction, said Wiemers. “If art isn’t controversial and doesn’t stir emotions, what good is it? It got their attention. It made them think.”

Wiemer’s paintings and reproductions are available on his website, and he also sells his work at art shows, such as the Encinitas exhibit. All the works on display are priced at $500 or less, he said. His next show will be the San Diego Art Walk, set for April 25-26 in Little Italy.

Wiemers has taken art classes at local community colleges, and also at the Watts Atelier of the Arts, an art school based in Encinitas, which he rated as one of his best learning experiences. “I went and got my butt kicked. I wasn’t even sharpening my pencils correctly,” he said.

While he does get requests from people he knows who want to be in his paintings, Wiemers said he cautions them because he doesn’t go in for straightforward renderings. Rather, he seems to find certain characteristics in his subjects and exaggerate them, sometimes wildly.

“Do you really want that? Because I’m at my best when you’re at your worst,” Wiemers said he tells his friends. “I’m not the painter to go to if you are looking for a lovely, flattering portrait of yourself.”

The approach he takes to painting, he said, is very much like the way he worked as a TV writer and producer: Come up with an idea, develop it and try to sell it.

“I was successful because of my sense of humor. That was my ticket,” he said. “Knowing who you are as a person — that shows up in your work.”

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