Artist Interviews 2024

Megan Galiber  
By Julia Siedenburg

Dear reader, let me introduce you to my very dear friend Megan Galiber. When I tell you she is a true multi-talent, a powerhouse of an artist, I am not lying! Paintings, singing, comedy acts- she can do it all.

Megan’s art catapults you straight to the hustle and bustle of the electric New Orleans nights. If you look at her work long enough, you feel as if you can see the vibrant imagery come to life. I can hear the people laughing, chatting, and cheering, while local street musicians play those famous jazz band tunes. Besides those street and bar scenes, she also likes to focus on the more tranquil piece that showcases one of those beautiful French Quarter buildings. And then there is the occasional funny gravestone or a heartwarming pet portrait of someone’s favorite pooch or cat. Did I mention, she can do it all?!

I am so beyond happy that this local Nola gal let me ask her a lot of questions about herself and her inspirations and I know you will enjoy her work just as much as I do. Enjoy the interview:

Why do you believe that art plays such an important role in peoples’ lives and possesses so much power in our society?

Doesn’t art separate us from the rest of the animals? Art is there all the time. If you’re using your eyeballs every day – you’ll see art. Ads, logos, graphics, commercials, or you’re on your phone. Visual art gives us our own ability to know more about ourselves. What’s your style? Does that “fancy” painting just look raunchy to you? I guess without the ability to create things that evoke emotion or an escape, life would feel pretty empty and meaningless.

Some people feel art to be meditative, others say it can be an emotional release and even somewhat therapeutic; some think it is an educational and motivating tool. What do you personally feel when painting one of your pieces?

I absolutely believe art is essential for learning and motivation. Especially as a kid in school, you know - trying to fit in, I was terrible at math… I still am. I wasn’t particularly good at or even interested in subjects that only had one right answer. Art was something that didn’t have a “correct” answer. Knowing that - art helped build my self-esteem. I didn’t have to hold back my creativity or worry what people would think. I truly believe art even helped me learn problem-solving, but in a way – critical thinking skills to figure out something that I had no idea even had a right answer at all. Art helps get the “weird” out.

You are a truly gifted artist. Your talent lies in transporting your audience to an exact place or subject you showcase as if you are right there in that moment in time. Who are some of the artists that inspire you the most and make you want to pursue painting?

Thank you! I love love LOVE color, so a lot of times I first think of Andy Warhol and then Frida Kahlo. David Hockney, and Georges Seurat– I still have so much to learn but when I’m creating my landscapes, I actually think a lot about David Hockney. He uses color and light so realistically, but enough that he keeps his own style. I don’t feel like I’ve found my style yet. I think as I get older I become more critical of my work. When I was younger, it was easier to kind of tap into my weirdness and not care so much.

The main subjects of your work are the many aspects that make your hometown magical. Your work is a love letter to the vibrant and lively streets of New Orleans. 
How do you choose the exact places that you paint?

I love New Orleans. It’s got a lot going on. It’s weird, it’s classy, it’s trashy – it’s home. I usually take photos when I’m out and about and that’s what I’ll do my paintings from. I have a lot of memories from when I was a kid. And I’ve heard about places my grandparents or parents used to go to. So many buildings there are the same but they’ve been so many owners. My grandpa was a trumpet player and he played at some great places- which I’ve created pieces from. Or I’ll take a picture when I’m walking down a street in the French Quarter and imagine how many other people have been down this same street over the hundreds of years it’s been here. Or it’s my favorite bar or one of my favorite food joints.

What is your overall process like, from picking the subject you want to paint to viewing the finished product on the canvas?

It depends. I usually try to take pics of the scenes that I want to paint. Sometimes I make them more like the picture and other times I’ll just do whatever feels right at the time. Sometimes it works – sometimes it doesn’t. lol

Many of your artworks showcase the city at night. What is it about New Orleans at nightfall that calls to you?

I love the light. The lights at night are so warm, with all the slate sidewalks and plants and the old-school gas lanterns. Kind of timeless and sometimes creepy. I LOVE IT.

Your work varies from amazing, hyper-detailed pen drawings to beautiful, slightly expressionistic acrylic pieces; you also occasionally throw in animal portraits. What dictates the style you choose for a particular piece?

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve found my “style” yet. It’s kind of just what comes out at that point in time. Or a happy accident. I personally wish my work was messier or weirder. I’m still gauging that one. I do love me some animal portraits and the brighter the colors the better.

You grew up in various states in the South, as the daughter of a ballerina and historian and besides painting, you have a history in stand-up comedy, acting, and singing. Please tell us a bit about your childhood and upbringing. What aspects of your childhood do you think led you to pursue the arts?

My parents recognized my drawing skills when I was young. Music as well. I love my parents, but they always said no to “show business”. My grandfather was a musician. He passed away when I was still a baby, but he left my mom a piano – it was his wish that his grandchildren learn music. When I was young, I could hear a song on the radio and learn how to play it. I was never great at reading music and I thought if I had to practice that meant I was trash. My parents were always supportive of my learning music and honing my art skills. They used to tell me the ‘ol- practice makes perfect. And my dad told me something that I know NOW meant to be encouraging, but I took it the wrong way – when I would stress out when I thought I wasn’t good enough he used to tell me “There will always be someone better than you. And someone will be even better than THAT someone.” I understand now that he meant - “Do your best. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing – live your own life”. I still stopped playing the piano. I wish I hadn’t. I can still pick up a song here or there though.

I think I always thought everyone else around me knew what they were doing except for me. I wish someone had looked me in the eye and told me no one else knows what the hell they’re doing either. I did get to a point where my parents wanted me to pursue a more “realistic” career path, but I got so fed up in college I realized life is too short – and against my parent’s wishes I just started doing theater, dance, art – anything. I REALLY love acting. Performing – maybe that’s the better word. I’m still working on that self-esteem, but being able to dabble in multiple creative facets definitely keeps me going.

Your work has been showcased at the famous New Orleans Night Market as well as the NOLA Art Fest, to only name a few. What was your experience like at those events? Is there a specific Art show you are dying to be a part of one day?

I have! Sometimes showing your art is awesome and sometimes it’s soul-crushing. Whenever you hear that someone enjoys your work there’s usually someone right there to tell you it’s crap. Doing the art markets definitely helps build a thick skin. I would love to eventually have enough pieces to have an art show – or have my art displayed in an art gallery. Maybe on Royal Street in the French Quarter. Seeing all the galleries down there when I was a kid- THAT would be amazing.

What are your overall plans, dreams, or wishes for your future? Any upcoming shows you are planning on joining?

I wish I had a solid answer to that question. At this point – unless you’re a billionaire the future seems pretty uncertain lol. I would love to pursue acting again, I definitely will start doing more standup comedy in the near future. I’ll continue my karaoke ( I LOVE karaoke)! I’ll continue to paint for myself I think and try that art show. I also see myself being that old art teacher who wears crazy jewelry and marches to the beat of her own drum. Who knows!

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