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His love for music and art got him through the pandemic. Then it made him famous.

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Posted at 12:56 PM, Apr 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-09 09:42:53-04

POWHATAN, Va. — The rhythm and sound of life swirl around Robert Meganck.

“So I’m a big music fan,” explained Robert.

The man from Powhatan needs music like humans need oxygen. Thumbing through his collection of CD’s and vinyl you will find a wide range of artists.

“Etta James so she is in there. Led Zeppelin is in here,” said Robert.

Music defines this Detroit native so much, his nickname growing up was Motown. He has seen the legends in concert. From Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, to The Who.

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The married father of three’s other love is illustration.

He is professor emeritus at Virginia Commonwealth University — a place where he taught art for 40 years. Both passions would intersect and prove to be his savior in the spring of 2020.

When his favorite singer John Prine passed two years ago, Robert was crushed.

“I guess it hits you as hard as it can when somebody who you admire dies,” said Robert.

At the same time, COVID isolation was suffocating and wearing on Robert. He started sketching in his home art studio.

“Then it is like I know how to keep busy.”

He wasn’t sketching just anything. But music that resonates. Robert hasn’t stopped.

“I’m not going to complain about it. I’m going to do something that makes me feel happy,” said Robert.

Robert calls it the “See What I Hear” project. The project is his interpretation of classic tunes.

“It’s about being able to express yourself,” he said.

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Each piece takes about a day or two complete. From “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and “Turtle Blues” to “Acid Queen.”

Since starting two years ago, the artist has created 112 pieces. Every Wednesday Robert releases a new illustration on social media.

“You know my two sons keep asking me for a hint. ‘What are you going to do next week. Give me a hint,” said Robert.

He is gaining a healthy following of admirers.

“A lot of people when I started doing these things would say, ‘I think I’m going to pull out my old album. Because I forgot how good they were and stuff like that,’” described Robert.

His artwork is also capturing the attention of critics nationwide.

“I do this because it makes me happy. It’s fun,” said Robert.

His interpretation of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” earned him a spot in Communication Art Magazine’s 63rd Annual Illustration Competition.

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“When somebody like Communication Arts or American Illustration recognizes what you’ve done its like, “Woah! Someone else likes this!’” said Robert.

Out of nearly 3,700 entries, only 147 were chosen.

“Can it really get any better than this. I can’t imagine how it could. I can’t imagine how it could get any better,” he said.

Robert said his project helped him endure two years of COVID misery.

“Is this the way to get through it? Absolutely this is a way to get through it,” said Robert.

Now that we’re emerging from the pandemic, Robert has no intentions of ending his project. Why pull the plug if the music never ends and the beat goes on?

“I got a stack of songs that I want to do,” said Robert. “No, I don’t plan on stopping. No. Why would I? It’s a great life.”

One of Robert Meganck’s goals is to display each piece in a gallery so more people can enjoy.

If you’re interested in owning one the artist is selling his prints, check out Saatchi Art at saatchiart.com.

If you know of someone with an interesting story email me at gmcquade@wtvr.com

Like powerful stories? Watch CBS 6 News at 11 p.m. Fridays for Greg McQuade’s “I Have A Story” reports. If you know of someone Greg should feature, email him at gmcquade@wtvr.com



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