Art Show to Honor Beloved Roanoke Physician

Julien H. Meyer Jr. (Photo given to VTCSOM by Lynn Meyer, Julien’s wife)

The spring 2018 art show at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine will pay tribute to the late Julien H. Meyer Jr., a Roanoke physician who passed away last year.

The show, titled, “Laughter is the Best Medicine,” will feature works by nearly 60 local artists and is inspired by two of Meyer’s many interests: art and humor.

A Roanoke native, Meyer was an obstetrician and gynecologist for 43 years at Physicians to Women, Inc. a practice his father founded. Throughout his career, he was well-known for his appreciation of humor and skillful ability to incorporate it into his work.

In 2016, while accepting the Robert L.A. Keeley Healing Arts Award for his service to the medical community of the Roanoke Valley, Meyer said, “There is a contagion in laughter. It is a social glue, and it helps patients feel more at ease. Humor and a sunny presence make for good bedside manner.”

Meyer went on to note that patients had told him they never thought a gynecologic visit could be such fun.

“Joking was only a small part of Julien’s upbeat and humorous personality,” said Lynn Meyer, his wife of 28 years. “He truly loved being a physician and looked forward to going to work each day. He often said he had a captive audience akin to show business.”

Meyer was a faculty member at the school and embodied many of its core values, especially patient-centered care and community involvement. He took special interest in supporting and mentoring students at the school.

“Every interaction with Dr. Meyer was special,” said Jeffrey Henry, a member of the school’s class of 2020 and with whom Meyer developed a mentoring relationship early in Henry’s first year of medical school. “Dr. Meyer will live on in the students and patients he touched with his humor and compassion. I will become a better physician because of his influence.”

We the Women, a series of images of women expressing joy, is one of the pieces of artwork on display in “Laughter is the Best Medicine,” art show at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, which begins April 25.

Artwork on display will depict laughter and humor, including comic humor, caricatures, and topics as happiness, joyfulness, and poignant moments from everyday life. Several participating artists had personal connections to Meyer, who was their physician, colleague, or friend.

Meyer’s youngest son, Jeff Vespa, will have eight photographs from his coffee table book, “Art of Discovery,” on display at the show that include humorous portraits featuring Seth Rogen, Jason Alexander, Laura Dern, Jessica Biel, and other celebrities. Vespa is a photographer and film director who regularly works with celebrities and has been featured in numerous publications including Vanity Fair, New York Times, and People Magazine. He recently directed his first feature film, “Paris Song,” starring Abbie Cornish.

“My father was always joking with his patients. He would wear a red foam clown nose or put a large plastic cockroach on the exam table to make people laugh,” Vespa said. “The photos I am showing have that same joy in them. I hope that when people see them they remind them of his humor and kind manner. I miss him every day and know the community does too.”

The art show will hold an opening reception on April 25 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, 2 Riverside Circle in Roanoke. In addition to art displays, Kyle Edgell, a local artist, will be on hand creating free caricatures.

Parking is available in the garage below the school or the nearby parking deck. Due to construction, visitors should access parking from Reserve Avenue.

The show runs April 24 through July 13.

Proceeds from any art sold at the exhibition will go toward the Lynn and Julien Meyer Scholarship Fund, established by the couple in 2014.

This exhibit is produced by the school’s Creativity in Health Education program, which seeks to expand the social, cultural, and humanistic awareness of the school’s students, faculty, and staff by integrating the arts into their daily routines.

To learn more about giving to the Lynn and Julien Meyer Scholarship Fund, or any of the school’s named scholarship, contact Mark Morrison, director of development, at [email protected] or 540-526-2249.

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