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GC Myers- Living In All Dimensions smInward is not a direction.  Inward is a dimension.

-Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

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This quote from the contemporary Indian Yogi Jaggi Vasudev rang very true for me when I first came across it and it seems to fit this painting, Living in All Dimensions, which is another piece from the Home+Land show  hanging at the West End Gallery.

It is a painting that appears to be outward in all aspects.  It is no shrinking violet.  In fact, the violet color of the sky and  the other deep colors seem to want to lift off of the deeply textured surface and reach out of the picture to the viewer.    There is outward distance in the moon appearing on the horizon and the Red Tree itself seems to be radiating outward.

But for me, this is completely inward in nature.  It is about finding a center of calmness and timelessness.  It’s about transcending the here and now and discovering that inward dimension that binds us to all other dimensions.  A spiritual Oneness.

Well, that’s my take anyway, for what it’s worth.  It’s the kind of piece that will no doubt come across differently to many different people, both in a positive and  a negative way.

And that is as it should be.

GC Myers- Release the Past smEvery man’s memory is his private literature.
Aldous Huxley
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The painting shown above, Release the Past, is a 20″ by 24″ canvas that is part of my current show at the West End Gallery.  I was recently thinking about it, trying to discern exactly what it was that I was seeing in this piece, when I pulled up an earlier blogpost that featured the Huxley quote above.  It very much was in line with how I aligned this painting, with the figure in the mid-ground seemingly lost in thoughts of the past,  with my own experience.

Here’s what I wrote:

I like this quote from Huxley.  I have often felt that all of our personal lives fit into some sort of mythic template on which all literature is based and that we often fail to see the connections between the tales of our own lives and those stories which have come down through history in the form of myth and legend.  We all live lives that are often filled with tragedy , comedy and drama.  Heroic, even.  But we seldom perceive them as such, instead thinking of our personal memories as being merely mundane. 
 
And that’s probably as it should be.  Life is spent, for the most part, moving forward in small, day-to-day steps with little time left to see the larger pattern of our lives.  Who has the time to reflect backwards, to see how our lives fit into the templates of eternity?  Very few of us, to be sure.  But what if we could take that time to look back fully and see the patterns set in history and to see that our lives own patterns mesh into that pattern, that we are all indeed connected to and part of the same fabric?
 
Would it make a bit of difference?  Would it make us appreciate the fragility and rareness of  each individual’s place in this world. make us understand that our own history is the history of all and that our memory binds us to the fabric of history?
 
I don’t know.  But it’s something to think about.

GC Myers  Destiny Bound framedThis coming Saturday, August 1, I will be giving a Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery in support of my current show, Home+Land, that is hanging there.  It starts at 1 PM and, as many of you who regularly read this blog will know, ends with a drawing where one person in attendance will take home a painting of mine.

It’s something I’ve done for several years now at my Gallery Talks  and is something that really gives me great pleasure.  I’ve always felt so fortunate to have found my current life as a painter that this allows me to express my gratitude in a tangible way.  As a result, I try to carefully choose the works that I give away, not wanting to just go the far corner of the closet where I hide those early experiments that make me grimace to look at them now.

No, I want to give away paintings where I feel a pang of loss in giving them away, want them to have some sort of meaning for me so that this is not just an empty gesture. So, for this Saturday’s drawing, I have chosen the painting shown above.  It’s called Destiny Bound and is a 16″ by 20″ canvas so it has the size to give it a real presence.  It’s a painting that was only shown publicly once for a very short time before I brought it back to the studio.  It is sort of an anomaly in my body of work in the way it is framed, using a gold-leafed plein air frame rather than my signature frame.  I tried this frame style for a handful of pieces several years ago and decided that I wanted to stay solely with the continuity of my normal frames.  This is the one painting that remains in a gold frame and I chose to keep it as I’ve just become used to seeing it that way.

So, even though it has a unique overall appearance for my work, the painting itself is what I consider a great example of what has been called my Dark Work, work that first appeared in the months after 9/11 but has evolved over the years.  I am really attracted to overall presence of this painting and the deep colors and line work as well. And the expressiveness of the tree on the right.  That tree  has always felt like it pays tribute in some way to Thomas Hart Benton with its curves and lines.  While it reminds me of some his figures or trees, off the top of my head I can’t cite a particular painting of his that might feature such a tree or figure.

But that connection and the way the tree seems animated jumps out at me whenever I look at this piece. I just plain like this painting.  And I am giving it away on Saturday.  So, stop in at the West End Gallery on Saturday for what I hope will be an entertaining talk and maybe you can take  Destiny Bound home with you.  The talk starts at 1 PM and generally lasts about an hour.  Hope to see you there.

GC Myers- Center Stage smI think I’ve written here in the past about how the aftermath of  a show is for me in the studio.  In the week or so after a show opens there is generally a little letdown, the result of a sudden loss of the energy that accumulates from the adrenaline and anxiety in the build up to the opening.  I usually mope in a way, floundering around for several days trying to refocus and regain my bearings, to find some point in which to direct my energy.

It’s often a frustrating time even while the show still hangs and does well.  I sometimes get a little lost in those moments where the very act of painting becomes absolutely abstract and foreign in nature to me.  The purpose that just a week ago seemed so apparent now has dissolved and I find myself questioning everything– my abilities, the purpose and direction of my work and so on.  Those particular moments weigh heavily on me.

As I said, it’s a frustrating time.  Fortunately, I know from times before that this was coming and will pass.  It’s part of the process, part of who I am, If, as Shakespeare says, all the world’s a stage and we’re all merely players, then this is simply part of the makeup of the character I portray in this play.  It’s maybe the only role for which I am truly suited by nature and ability.

And maybe that’s the thing I need to remember in these frustrating days; that this is the role that I best play, that this is the role that was written specifically for me.

That kind of ties in with the painting at the top, Center Stage, which is part of the Home+Land show at the West End Gallery.  We are all the main characters in our own plays and we need to be be willing to play the part with conviction, to embrace the role that is written for us.  When you are on that stage, let your light shine.

And that brings us, in a sneaky manner, to this week’s Sunday morning music.  I’m going with one of my favorites, Neko Case, and her rousing version of the children’s gospel classic, This Little Light of Mine.  Gets the day started with a kick and blows away those frustrations.  So, enjoy, have a great day and let that light shine.

Bicycle Race

PrintI’ve written here in the past about the Tour de France, the epic bicycle race that that criss-crosses France for three weeks each July.  About 2100 miles in 21 days that climbs through the heights of the Pyrenees and Alps.  It is an incredible test of strength, endurance and nerve putting perhaps the greatest endurance athletes on the planet on the edge of their physical capacities.

For me, this event is like a yearly Olympics or a 21 game World Series, each day bringing something new to marvel at– incredible scenery, awe-inspiring performances and sometimes horrifying crashes.

And this morning, as the race winds down to tomorrow’s finish on the Champs de Elysee in Paris, is one of the most fabled routes in the Tour– the climb up Alpe d’Huez.  Over 68 miles filled with ridiculous grades, hairpin turns and fierce competition.  Just great sport.

Below is a profile of today’s route and below that a little riding music from Queen.  Got to run– the race is on!

Alpe d'Huez Route 2015

 

David Hockney- Mulholland Drive 1980

David Hockney- Mulholland Drive 1980

It is very good advice to believe only what an artist does, rather than what he says about his work.

 –David Hockney
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     When I first read this quote from artist David Hockney, a painter whose work I admire and find very interesting, I wanted to be offended.  After all, I am an artist who has said plenty about his work through the years– this blog and gallery talks being evidence of that– and have tried to be always transparent and forthcoming when talking about my work.  But even so, I nodded in agreement when I read his words.
     Part of my own desire to be honest and open about my work came from the frustration I felt in reading other artist’s writings that were filled with ArtSpeak, that way of seeming to say something important and meaningful without really saying anything at all.  The words danced around all form of meaning and never fully jibed with the images that accompanied the words, leaving me with a single word resonating in my mind.
     Bullshit.
     And I know bullshit.  I was a longtime bullshit artist.   I sold swimming pools and automobiles– yes, I was even a used car salesman!- to the public for quite some time.  I knew that you could sell by focusing on the strengths of the product and by dancing around questions about its drawbacks.  Fill any voids with words that sounded like they were filled with meaning but really made no commitment to anything.
     For me, there came a time when I was determined to not deal anymore in that manner of speaking and when I finally came to painting, I knew I didn’t want my work to fall into that pool of bullshit.  I wanted to tightly control how I represented my work and to be completely open about it.  It’s whole purpose for me was my own honest expression and I wanted people to be able to witness that without a filter of crap between them and the work.
     For the most part, I feel that I have been able to maintain that through these last several years.  Oh, occasionally I feel myself straying off the path but I simply remind myself that the product I am representing is the core of my self and once I cross that line I would be betraying everything art has provided for me.
    But these are just words and maybe you should take them with Hockney’s advice in mind.  If you want to judge for yourself, come to the Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery next Saturday, August 1, which begins at 1 PM.  Ask me anything and I promise you a straight answer.

 

I  was scanning the archives for the blog and came across this entry from four years ago, written in the immediate aftermath of that year’s West End Gallery opening.  It had the story of a young boy with a rare disease and a message that really touched me then and now.  Thought it deserved another run today:

josiah-vieraWell, the opening is over and the show continues to hang at the West End Gallery.  Good opening.  Talked to a lot of really nice people, many new to me.  Many thanks to everyone who came out.   You made the evening complete and  I could not be more grateful.

That said, I was sure glad when the night was over.  There comes a point near the end of an opening, especially in the aftermath of constantly promoting it by writing about it here,  where I am really tired of talking about me and can’t wait for that moment until I don’t have to say anything to anyone.

So later that night, we came home and decided to quietly watch that night’s Jeopardy,  a show I have watched intently since I was a child when Art Fleming was the host in the 60’s. Before it came on, I caught the end of the ABC Evening News and there was a story about their Person of the Week.  It was a young boy, Josiah Viera, from central Pennyslvania who suffers from Progeria, an exremely rare (something like only 54 cases in the world) disorder where the child begins prematurely aging, most having a life expectancy of between 8 and 13 years.  Josiah, now 7 years old, has the tiny body of a 90 year old, taking cholesterol and arthritis medications. He is 27 inches tall and weighs 15 pounds.

But Josiah doesn’t dwell on the hardships of his condition.  Instead he concentrates on his passion, that thing that brings him sheer joy: baseball.  He lives for the game, wanting to play it from the minute he wakes until the end of each day.  He approached a coach at the local t-ball league in Hegins, PA and told him that he wanted to play in the games.  They feared he might not survive more than a single game and indeed, after his first game, Josiah suffered a series of mini strokes and was hospitalized.

But he recovered quickly and his desire for the game was so strong that he was back after three weeks.  The news of this little boy and the joy with which he played the game captured the hearts of the local folks and by the last game there were several hundred fans ( not your usual t-ball crowd!) all cheering him on and chanting his name.  And as he stands on the bag at first base, which seems like a table under his small body, Josiah smile glows with the sheer and absolute joy of being safe.

Absolute joy.  How many of us allow ourselves to feel that?  Josiah’s time here is limited, as it is for all of us.  Yet his life is not sadder for that knowledge.  Instead he has somehow chosen to find joy in those few days, rejoicing in the moment instead of fearing the future or focusing on the  life that might have been under different circumstances, things which too many of us allow to take over our lives.

Life is now.  His pure joy is a lesson for us all.  Life’s too short to not revel in those things that make us happy.

What is your joy and if it’s not the biggest part of your life, why is that so?

Below is the longer version of the story from ESPN on which the ABC story is based.  It’s a beautifully done report.  Have a great Sunday and again, thank you for everyone who came out Friday night– you brought me a little of that joy that I speak of.

2015 Update:  Josiah is now 11 years old and still as much in love with baseball as ever.  He is the an honorary bench coach for the State College Spikes, the St. Louis Cardinal’s Class A minor league team located in central Pennsylvania.  He plays cards with the players before the game, gives the manager bits of advice on game moves and provides the team with much more than they could ever give him in return. He also went to spring training with the  major league St. Louis Cardinal, getting to hobnob and even play a pickup game with their star players.  Throughout it all, that joy sparkles and inspires.  As one player said after going through a particularly tough game, “When I see that little guy across the clubhouse, I know I’ll be fine.”

There’s a great article from MLB.com that gives all the updates on Josiah.  Click here to see it.

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