GC Myers- Signet of Eternity-smallI was driving yesterday morning on the highway that cuts across the lower part of western New York State, just above the Pennsylvania line.  It’s always a quiet ride with little if any traffic on the long stretches of the very rural and sparsely populated country.

It allows for the mind to wander a bit.  Sometimes, in those moments, I will take some time and look around, wondering: What is here that might stick with me if somewhere down the road today my life were to end?  I found myself taking in the beauty of the very human lines of the the  hilltops set against the blue sky  as the sun make the frost on the trees shimmer in silver.

Something very perfect in that simple but ethereal moment.  This morning this reminded me of a post from several years ago that dealt with just such moments, one that I am running again today:

This is a new piece [note: this was 2010] that I am calling Signet of Eternity, taken from a poem by Rabindranath Tagore, the great Indian writer/poet.  There’s a great sense of the eternal in this smallish ( a 4″ by 14′ image) painting on paper.  I find it very calming, very soothing, with its clear, cool colors and crisp line work.  There’s a simplicity and delicacy in this that hints at how fleeting and fragile are the the glimpses of eternal forces we are fortunate to witness in our lifetimes.

I know that sounds pretty metaphysical but I’m just talking about those moments when all the forces of the world present themself before you in an almost perfect harmony and there is a moment of stillness.  Clarity.  As though the world has chosen to reveal its purpose to you for those few precious seconds and in doing so has taken away all the weight of everyday life.

I thought about that yesterday as I trudged, head down, through the woods between my home and my studio.  I stopped on the path suddenly and looked around.  The trees were so graceful and  I caught sight of  the trunk of a tall shagbark hickory.  I let my eyes follow it upward to the powerful arms of branches that seemd to plead to the blue patch of sky above.  It was a grand moment and I thought about how often I traveled that path with eyes fixed on the ground before me.  How many times had I let the thoughts and worries in my head carry me without seeing past these things of beauty?  These signets of eternity.

Here is Tagore’s poem:

The day was when I did not keep myself in readiness for thee;
and entering my heart unbidden even as one of the common crowd,
unknown to me, my king, thou didst press the signet of eternity upon
many a fleeting moment of my life.

And today when by chance I light upon them and see thy signature,
I find they have lain scattered in the dust mixed with the memory of
joys and sorrows of my trivial days forgotten.

Thou didst not turn in contempt from my childish play among dust,
and the steps that I heard in my playroom
are the same that are echoing from star to star.


Casting Spells

GC Myers- Spellbound

“Be hole, be dust, be dream, be wind/Be night, be dark, be wish, be mind,/Now slip, now slide, now move unseen,/Above, beneath, betwixt, between”

Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book


This new painting has a feeling of magic for me, the feeling of an incantation being cast out into the dark of night.  There’s a sense of wishing in the way the Red Tree postures beneath the moon, asking whatever force that moves the moon and brings the light to cast a spell and bring about some sort of change.

Perhaps a spell is nothing more than wishes spoken aloud and defining that gnawing desire inside ourselves.  After all, once we know what we truly want we begin to shape the world subtly, and often unwittingly, so that these wishes might be fulfilled.  And sometimes, if the belief behind them is strong,  these spells become reality.  But many other times the spell is lost in the ether of time and space and they  never come to be.

Such is the nature of spells.

I am calling this piece Casting Spells.

For this Sunday Morning Music, I thought this song  would be the right accompaniment to this painting.  It’s a version of I Put a Spell On You, originally written and performed by the inimitable Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.  This version is from  another true original, the late great  Nina Simone.  Great version.

Have a great Sunday and watch out for spells–they’re floating all over the place out there.

Imperfection/ Redux

GC Myers-2001  Seeking ImperfectionI’ve been taking a stained glass class for a few weeks now, trying to shake up my routine and thought process a bit.  In going over my work there with the instructor who is teaching me on a one-to-one basis, I try to explain that while I am seeking to learn proper technique I am not shooting for perfection.  I am looking for expression and things like rhythm and harmony.  It made me think of the painting above , Seeking Imperfection, which was the title piece for my second show at the Principle Gallery back in 2001.  I am re-running a post from a few years back that better explains my search for the not-perfect aspects of our world.


Imperfection clings to a person, and if they wait till they are brushed off entirely, they would spin for ever on their axis, advancing nowhere.

–Thomas Carlyle


I was thinking early this morning about a comment made yesterday by Linda Leinen about how we go through life, starting fresh and clean, and progress as we absorb all that life deals out to us, leaving us somewhat scarred. It reminded me of  the title of  both a painting and a show that I did many years ago called Seeking Imperfection.  It remains one of my favorite titles, probably because it best describes my own relationship with perfection.

I’ve always been somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of perfection or the search for it.  Perfection is the antithesis of our humanity, at least in how I view it, and to seek it is to deny our imperfect natures.  We are flawed and scarred characters in a world that is definitely not perfect except in those rare moments when all of these flaws coalesce into instances of harmony and beauty.

That’s kind of what I hope for and sometimes see in  my paintings– harmony and beauty despite the inherent imperfections.  I can find flaws in any of my paintings but I don’t cringe at the sight of them.  Instead, they make me glad because in seeing them I recognize my connection to them, can see the struggle in trying to create these moments of harmony.  A pit here, a dot of stray paint  or a rough edge there, a bristle from a brush trapped in the paint– it all speaks to me, saying that it can be whole and harmonious-  beautiful- despite the flaws.  Perhaps not a bad way to view one’s life.


GC Myers- Unafraid 2015There’s nothing I’m afraid of like scared people.

–Robert Frost,  A Hundred Collars


I think those eight words above from the Robert Frost poem, A Hundred Collars, says it all for me at the moment.  I don’t find myself filled with the fear of ISIS or terrorists in general.  I certainly don’t fear  that someone, a small child or a widow,  who has entered themselves into a long and grueling process to come here will one day attack me.

No, I am more afraid of the panic of scared people who throw calm thought and rationality out the window.  People who allow the fear raised by others to dictate their response.  People who react in a knee-jerk manner that does nothing to alleviate their fears and sometimes does harm to themselves and others around them.  People who fear the darkness and shoot blindly into it.

Don’t get me wrong– it’s a scary moment in time.  It deserves our full attention, cautious observation and appropriate response.  But to react in a reactionary manner that alters our identity, the makeup of who we are as a people, is to fall prey to the will of the terrorists.

So, while you may have fears, be careful and be calm.  Breath.  Think.  Know the world around you and try to let those fears go for a time.

I think that last short paragraph applies to the piece at the top, a new painting, 3.5″ by 5.5″ on paper, that I am calling Unafraid.

Nazi Summer Camp

POWs Marching to camp in Aliceville AlabamaFear sometimes produces acts of courage and honor.   Unfortunately, more often than not it brings out the worst in people, producing acts of shameful stupidity that stand out in history.  Watching the many US state governors over the last couple of days, all spouting about how they will not allow Syrian refugees into their states ( even though they don’t have the power to do so)  brought this thought to mind.  NJ guv Chris Christie even went so far as saying he wouldn’t accept a 3 year old Syrian orphan.  Classy move for a classy guy.

But I shouldn’t be surprised.  This behavior is not new to us here in the States.  In the beginning years of WW II in Europe, public opinion here was heavily against accepting any Jewish refugees fleeing the war there.   We even went so far , in 1939 when the Holocaust was underway, as barring the MS St. Louis, a German freighter carrying Jewish refugees,  from entering our country when they came to our ports.  Our ships even went so far as firing warning shots to keep them from docking.  The same went for Cuba and Canada.  The refugees from this voyage of the damned were returned to Europe where a number died in concentration camps.

Again, another classy move that we try to keep swept  under the rug of history.

I wonder what these governors would do if they were faced with the situation that took place here in WW II with the Prisoners of War (POWs) who were brought to this country?  A lot of you probably aren’t even aware that there were POWs on our shores during that war.

But they were.  And not just a handful.

I first became aware of it years ago when I was working as the finance manager at a Honda dealership.  An older lady that I was working with said I reminded her of her late husband who was an Italian who came from the area of the Italian Alps.  I asked how she had met him and she told me that she first saw him when he was marching down the street of her hometown in Alabama.  He was a POW heading to the camp outside of town where she later met him at a event there.

Imagine that happening today.

But imagine the outrage today if we were faced with bringing over 425,000 POWs here.  That’s right over 425,000 foreign fighters were here during WW II. Most were German but here were also Japanese and Italian troops.  The same troops who were responsible for many of the millions upon millions of troop and civilian deaths that took place during the war were just down the street in Anytown, USA.

POWs in UtahAnd not just down the street.  There were about 700 camps located in every state but a few and most allowed the POWs to be hired as workers in all fields except those that dealt directly with the war effort. They were out and about in many communities.  It is reported that great deal of the slack caused by a shortage of manpower lost to the war was taken up by POWs, especially in the field of agriculture.

And it wasn’t slave labor.  They were paid the same wage  (paid in scrip that could be redeemed at stores within the camps) as our own troops would have been paid.  In fact, they were treated just like our own troops.  In fact, their accommodations and food were often superior to the those being experienced by our troops still in the heat of battle.  And better than our own citizens of Japanese heritage were experiencing at the internment camps where they were held during the war.  Another shameful, fear-based move.

POW Theatre Production at Aliceville Alabama Camp WW II

POW Theater Production at Aliceville Alabama Camp WW II

There were classes, art studios, gymnasiums, camp newspapers and musical and theatrical performances put on by the POWs.  Throw in an activity director and you’ve got yourself a kind of Aryan Catskill Resort.  In one bizarre incident, Adolph Hitler even sent payment to sponsor an art exhibit at one camp.

Think about that.  During the worst war in the history of mankind, the greatest enemy ever known to mankind sent a check to the US for an art show for his troops.  If there had been a Fox News ( or television, for that matter) at the time, I can only imagine all of the talking heads that would be exploding all over the screen.

Some of those POWs stayed here and integrated into our country and some went home to try to rebuild their own countries.  There is a lot more that could be told and it’s a great story.  I urge you to learn more.  Below is a great story from the wonderful RadioLab from earlier this year called Nazi Summer Camp.  It’s about a half hour long but if you have time you will find it informative and entertaining.  It’s a half hour that will not remind you of the shameful behavior of some of our leaders.


Lafayette, We Are Here

Lafayette Life Mask- Johnson Museum Cornell University

Lafayette Life Mask- Johnson Museum Cornell University

When the Paris attacks occurred I was just finishing up the latest book, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, from the always entertaining and informative Sarah Vowell.  It tells the story of the love affair between the French boy general and the then forming United States.

I was interested in Lafayette because I have a great-grandfather down in my line who had served as an aide-de-camp to Lafayette and had also hosted the general in his home.  He was given a signet ring that Lafayette placed on his hand and he never removed it, eventually being buried with it.  It is also known that he also gave my ancestor a court vest that was eventually cut into pieces and made into pincushions so that all the members of the family would have a bit of the icon.

And Lafayette was an icon.

Lafayette loved the American people and the idea of America that was formed at that time, defying his family and his government to steal across the Atlantic to engage himself in our Revolutionary War.  Without his ardor and efforts, we would have never gained the backing of the French government in the form of money, troops, ships and arms that were absolutely responsible for our eventual victory and independence.

And I mean absolutely.  At the Battle of Yorktown which brought the surrender of the British and General Cornwallis, there were more French than American troops.  And in the Brits loss in the preceding sea battle at the Chesapeake Capes which allowed us to surround Cornwallis’ troops and make that ultimate battle possible, there was not a single American present.  All French ships and sailors provided by the government that was the first to recognize us as a free and independent country and the first to join us as an ally.

The Americans of that era and in the years after recognized the importance of Lafayette’s love for this country and returned the love.  His return to America in 1824 was like the tour of a gigantic rock star or the Pope.  When his ship came into NY harbor it was met by a throng of 80,000 people at a time when the population of NYC was only about 125,000.  Wherever he traveled massive crowds turned out to see Lafayette.  There were commemorative items of all sorts produced that were sold for a number of years after the tour.

And time didn’t entirely dim the affection.  When General Pershing marched into Paris in WW I, he went to the grave of Lafayette, where he was buried under dirt from Bunker Hill, and placed an American flag.  His aide, Charles E. Stanton, said the following words, although they are often mistakenly attributed to Pershing:

America has joined forces with the Allied Powers, and what we have of blood and treasure are yours. Therefore it is that with loving pride we drape the colors in tribute of respect to this citizen of your great republic. And here and now, in the presence of the illustrious dead, we pledge our hearts and our honor in carrying this war to a successful issue. Lafayette, we are here.

And the American flag has flown ever since over the grave, reportedly even during the Nazi occupation.  Every year on the Fourth of July there is a ceremony to change the flag.

There have been many terrible things happening lately along with the Paris attacks– the downing of the Russian airliner and the suicide bombers in Beirut, for example.  But I think it is the depth of our historic bonds to France that makes these attacks hit us even harder.  While there has been some Franco-bashing in recent years, we recognize their freedom in the same way we view our own, drawn from the same well.  An attack on their way of life might as well be attack on ours.

I Love Paris

Paris - Pont des Arts 1953 Henri Cartier BressonI just don’t know.

I am still trying to make sense of the attacks in Paris, trying to understand the logic of terrorism and how people are convinced to follow any quasi-religious group that advances its beliefs through such violence.  It all defies logic and that is a terrifying thing because how can you fight against, let alone negotiate with, such an illogical entity?

What is lacking that would drive people to such acts?  What is missing that drives young people to join these groups in order to give their lives to hurt and kill others? Is it real religious conviction or is it just a matter of them feeling a sense of purpose that they either can’t find or refuse to feel in the world in which they were raised?

I just don’t know.  But I  do fear that this marks a tipping point, that we are in for a long and even uglier struggle, if you can imagine that,  going forward.  It may be that we are already in the beginning days of a type of World War III as the Pope has said recently.  I hope not but when you are dealing with the illogical there’s no telling where this goes.

But my heart bleeds for the people of France.  Part of me wants to jump on a plane to Paris just as a sort of ‘screw you’ to those who wish that country harm, just to let them know that their terror based on a warped and hateful religious vision will not stand up to people who try to live by the motto, Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.

Liberty. Equality. Fraternity.  These are the uniting qualities of humanity, not just of France, and will not be taken away through a campaign based on fear and hatred.  These are words that we need now more than in any time in the recent past.

Okay, let’s take deep breath.  Today’s Sunday music is a fitting tribute written by the great American songwriter, Cole Porter.  Although there are many, many great versions out there, I chose this one from jazz great Etta Jones–  not to be confused with Etta James of “At Last” fame.  Have a great day and keep the people of France in your thoughts. Here’s  I Love Paris.










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