|(New York City, 1955- )
Lives and works in New York
In December of 1990, Sam Messer
met and became friends with Jon Serl, who at the time was already
ninety-six years old. Serl was an iconoclastic self-taught painter,
but had also been a farmer, a chef and was a veteran (and gender-questionable) vaudevillian.
For three years, Messer would make regular trips into the California
desert where Serl lived. He painted approximately 50 portraits of
the aged artist, with the last one done on the day Serl died. 100 Years of Looking references Serl's life of
observation, of actively looking and engaging the world. Near the
end of Serl's life, it has been said that Serl and Messer would work
together on the portraits, with the painter Serl looking intensely
back at Messer as hard as the painter Messer was looking at his subject.