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Berwyn’s JP Weber Leverages Art to Heal Himself and Help Others

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Dissatisfied with his career and struggling with mental health issues, JP Weber turned to painting as a means of expressing himself.

A Berwyn local, Weber utilizes bright colors and abstract patterns to make emotional chaos visible in his artwork, with the aim of unearthing new forms of self-reflection in himself and viewers alike.

JP Weber in his paint studio

Tessa Marie Images

For years, JP Weber was a successful loan officer in Philadelphia. Then he realized he wasn’t really successful in his own eyes—nor did he want to be a banker. Overweight, miserable and addicted to pain killers for back pain, Weber went on medical leave from PNC Bank in 2016. “The addiction wasn’t the point,” says the Berwyn native. “Resolving that was the easy part—once I realized I was pretending to be someone I’m not.”

Simply put, life as a banker came with too many sacrifices—early mornings and late nights, business trips, and little time for his wife and three girls. Therapy helped for his mental health issues, but painting seemed to help even more. Weber has since cranked out thousands of stunning paintings in acrylic, sorting out his emotions as he goes along. “I didn’t have words to communicate [what was happening to me], so I made it visible,” he says.

Weber’s abstracts are an explosion of color and pattern that echoes the tessellations of Escher. Inspiration often begins in segments of emotional chaos. Convergence comes in sweeping waves that document his emotional evolution. Weber points to one of his pieces, describing the “immediate, muted calm” that came with finishing it. He also references a painting he created two decades ago as a business major at Penn State University—all but forgotten until he rediscovered it at his childhood home. The painting is now his logo. “It’s like it was always there—I was always under there,” he says.

Malvern-based art therapist Cyndie Westrich can relate. “Art can be a window or door to our feelings,” she says. “Art therapy is a form of self-expression that gives you a way to access feelings and emotions you may not be able to do with words alone.”

Ultimately, Weber’s art therapy session has lasted six years, and he’s launched a new career in the process. And while he never did define success in terms of income, he notes that “obviously my girls need to eat.”

In 2019, Weber’s disability ran out, and he was let go at PNC. A friend suggested he sell his art. Since then, his work has been on display at La Cabra Brewing and StudioFlora in Berwyn, Christopher’s in Wayne, and Aneu in Rosemont. He’s sold more than 100 pieces to collectors throughout the country. Weber’s work has been featured at the Chester County Art Center, the Academy of Notre Dame Fine Art Show, and Bryn Mawr Rehab’s Art Ability Exhibition and Sale. April 23–May 15, he’ll be showing at the Yellow Springs Art Show.

Recently, Weber’s wife, Lindsey—his sweetheart since their days at Conestoga High School—came up with the idea of transferring his art to fabric for textiles, tote bags, hoodies and even phone cases. And when COVID-19 hit, the couple got creative with LuvYaBuns, auctioning off 100 paintings on Instagram and donating all proceeds to local families in need. They continue to use LuvYaBuns as a platform for raising awareness about mental health. “I want people to look at my art and think differently about themselves,” Weber says, “to see themselves and their lives in a new way.”

Related: Meet Wynnewood Blogger and Author Rebecca Fox Starr