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Kada Show Review

Kada Show 2014 aIn today’s edition of the Erie Times-News, there is a review of Into the Common Ground, my show currently on view at the Kada Gallery.  Written by Karen Rene Merkle, it gives an insightful and positive overview of the show.

It’s always a treat to see how others view your work, especially when they make the effort and spend the time getting to know the work.  It is my understanding that Ms. Merkle does just this, giving each piece her undivided attention as she takes in the show at the gallery. This makes it easy for me to fully appreciate her observations and insights about the work.

In the review, she mentioned that over the course of my time with the Kada, going on 19 years now, that the Erie community had adopted me as one of their own.  That really struck a chord with me, being a person who has often felt out of place.

I have come to really appreciate the vibrancy of the Erie community, how it has maintained its dignity and identity through its transformation into the 21st century.   There is a lack of an inferiority complex  and a real strength in their self-belief which dispels any traces of  deference to larger cities.  As Joe DeAngelo at the Kada Gallery would say: It is what it is.

Most other  industrial-based Rust Belt cities have not been able to move forward with the spirit and pride that I have experienced in this city.

So to be adopted by a community that is proud of its people and history and looks forward with optimism makes me happy  to call Erie a second home.

Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.

–Daniel Gilbert

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GC Myers-  Sovereign Solitude smThe statement at the top from Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert is one that I have found very true for myself and many of those I know, although sometimes we tend to see folks captured at certain steps in their changing lives through our memories of single moments.  His words also has a certain truth for some of my work, as well.

  One of the paintings that went to my current Kada Gallery show was the painting shown above, Sovereign Solitude.  It’s a painting that has been with me for a couple of years now, one that somehow hasn’t yet found a home.  It was a piece that really resonated for me and I found myself surprised when it came back from showing in a couple of galleries.  It was in my studio for some time and I began to try to look at it with the imagined eyes of someone else.   For me, it was complete but looking longer at it, I discovered that I was only seeing it as complete.  I was filling in its blank areas with the knowledge of what needed to be done.  Without actually doing those things.

So I went back into it.  The clouds had been dark masses of red  and they changed to have more lightness in them.  The white side of the structure became much whiter and the tree, which had been barren, gained some light foliage along with a few falling leaves.  The mass of color that was the sky was darkened at the upper and outer edges.  Finishing, it still held that same satisfying sensation for me but now seemed to be complete, to not hold the blanks spaces that I saw as being filled in my mind.

I guess you can’t be afraid to change.

Here’s what I wrote about this piece a few years back.  I think it still applies after the change.  Maybe more so.

The word sovereignty often comes to mind often when I scan through the body of my work. The idea of the individual standing apart, self-reliant and strong, is an appealing notion to me, as it is to many others. This sovereign individual is still part of this world yet self-contained, it alone being responsible for its actions and reactions. It has made its choice and it has chosen solitude.

This is a scary concept for some, a life where we must take responsibility for our actions and decisions, where we relish our time alone in solitude. It is a freedom which we profess to desire but are often hesitant in pursuing. It may not be a freedom which suits everybody but for those who seek this sovereignty of self, there is no greater reward than living by your own decisions and beliefs. We may not seem significant in the greater world but we have the power to rule our own lives.

And that should always be remembered.

This painting is a good example of this thought.  It has a warmth and calmness in it that I myself find appealing. It is like taking a deep breath then slowly releasing it, allowing the effects of this action to be felt fully. The pulse slows and breathing levels off.

Solitude found.

Christmas Dance

Snoopy and Schroeder DanceAt the Kada Gallery opening last week,  a very pleasant man asked if my work was influenced by the Peanuts cartoons.  He said the work had that same feeling for him.  I laughed and said that, of course, these cartoons had been a large influence on my work and probably the way I see things in general.  After all, Snoopy was the first thing I ever learned to draw, the result of an older boy on my school bus ( thank you, Tom Hillman, wherever you might be) showing me how to do so in several easy steps.  Throughout grade school Snoopy was drawn all over every piece of paper I came across, his Joe Cool and World War I Flying Ace characters being personal favorites.

I explained that many of those early cartoons — the great Chuck Jones’ Looney Tunes , the very early Popeyes , the Disney cartoons with their gorgeous color, and so many more–informed and influenced the way I looked at things and set a pattern for the way I would later interpret the landscape.  They created a visual shorthand in the work that simplified the  forms in the surrounding landscape yet still gave a sense of place and time and emotion.

And that’s precisely what I try to do in my work today.

For me, A Charlie Brown Christmas is as close to perfect as any cartoon can be.  It’s a wonderful blending  of mood, movement and music with a smartness and charm that never seems to diminish. For this week’s dose of Sunday morning music, what could be more fitting than the Vince Guaraldi’s Christmas Dance from it?

Have a great Sunday and, if you feel like it, dance along with the Peanuts gang.  It’ll do ya’ good…

our-solar-system-in-perspectiveI cam across this wonderful graphic from San Francisco based artist/illustrator Roberto Ziche that does a wonderful job of contrasting the sizes of the planets in our solar system with our sun.  We earthlings are represented at the bottom by that tiny third marble from the left.  If you are tired of all of the dogma, ego and hubris you’re bombarded with on a daily basis, just take a glimpse at this and you’ll be reminded of how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of all things.

To give this even more impact, the graphic above doesn’t even deal with the vastness of the emptiness between the planets and the sun.  However, the graphic at the bottom gives us a little more perspective on this front.  You could take all of the other planets in our universe and they would fit in the space between our Earth and Moon.  With almost 5000 miles of room to spare.  We are tiny and far from most anything.

For some, the realization brought on from seeing this might be one of terror, of feeling powerless and miniscule.  That’s understandable but I don’t necessarily see it that way.

We are what we are and we exert influence in our own personal universe.  We may be but a single letter in a word in a sentence in a book in a  library in one city in one country in this entire universe but on that page in that book, our presence can be be vital, affecting everything surrounding us.

Regardless of the scale, we can be vehicles for positive action in our own small universes.

But if we begin to think that we are of more significance than any other letter or word on that page in that book in that library, we need only look at this image for a reminder of where we truly fit in.

You can get a high resolution 27.1 PNG version of the poster above at this site.

 

 

The distance between the Earth and the Moon filled with all of the other planets

Big Eyes

Big Eyes Poster Tim BurtonI saw an ad last night for Big Eyes, the new film from director Tim Burton that stars Christopher Waltz and Amy Adams.  It is the story of Walter Keane, the man who built an empire from painting and marketing images of big-eyed waifs in the 1950′ and 60’s.  If you lived in that era, seeing some of Keane’s work was inevitable as it seemed to be everywhere.

I know that for me it is one of the first memories I have from that time of something close to art.  I wasn’t a fan– they made me uneasy, actually– but I couldn’t help notice their presence wherever I would look.

But the true story behind these paintings was the fact that Walter Keane only claimed to have painted the work.  It was actually the work of his second wife, Margaret.  Walter absorbed the accolades and celebrity as the work became more and more popular as it was mass produced and spread worldwide.  But Walter merely added his signature after Margaret had finished each painting in the basement of their home and claimed it as his own.

Eventually, this led to the breakup of their marriage.  Margaret then went public with the truth and for years, the couple had a public dispute over the authenticity and ownership of the work.  After Walter had published an article in the USA Today, this brought about a slander suit against him and the USA Today from Margaret.  The whole thing actually culminated in a proposed paint-off in the courtroom.  Walter declined, saying that his shoulder was injured.  Margaret painted for nearly an hour and won the verdict from the jury and a  4 million  dollar award.

Of course, she never saw a penny as Walter had sq1uandered much of the wealth generated from those sad big eyes.

I think this might be an interesting film.

 

Two Lands

Photo by Joe Capra- Scientifantastic   Greenland Ice

Photo by Joe Capra- Scientifantastic Greenland Ice

I was browsing through a few websites that I haven’t been able to keep up with lately and came across this video shot in Iceland and Greenland by photographer Joe Capra aka Scientifantastic.  Capra specializes in ultra  high definition time-lapse photography, cinematography and still photography and has traveled the world for his assignments for clients such as the National Geographic, the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet.  It’s beautifully shot and lushly colored work that has earned Capra a reputation as one of the finest in his field.

This particular film was shot in Iceland and Greenland over the course of ten days as Capra sought to film the Aurora Borealis.  I found it very striking and found much in it that reminded me of some of my own work, particularly the shots that highlighted the starkness of the landscape and those where the color of the scene was transformed by the Northern Lights into odd shades and combinations.  Just a lovely short film with beautiful imagery, one in which I can find lots of inspiration.

For more info on Joe Capra and his work, click here.

Two Lands – Greenland | Iceland from SCIENTIFANTASTIC on Vimeo.

GC Myers- Family Lines smDuring the openings for most of my shows, such as this past week’s opening at the Kada Gallery,   I inevitably get a number of questions about the meaning of the Red Chair especially when it’s suspended in a tree such as in the painting shown here from the show, Family Lines.  The empty chair itself is a simple and powerful symbol in many cultures of past ancestors or someone who is absent.  I have personally attached the concept of one’s own inner memory to it as well, seeing the chair as a distinct memory or myself in the narrative of that memory.  It is not always the same thing in each different circumstance.

But how it came to be aloft in the tree is a story that began when I was a kid.  I’ve told it innumerable times over the years but here it is:

Wilawana Road BarnGrowing up, we lived in the country in an isolated old farmhouse with an old barn across the road.  I happened to drive by the old place yesterday and snapped this photo of the old barn, now in a much more advanced stage of decay than when I was running around there.  It was pretty solid and complete at that earlier time.   In front of the barn, to the left of it here and out of the shot, is a large and old stone chimney, all that remains from the home of an early settler to the area, a stage coach driver who was killed there in an Indian raid in the late 18th century.  A small cemetery with old slate stones was nestled in the edge of the forest nearby. For a kid, it was a place filled with memory, a great place to play and let your imagination run wild.

One summer when I was 8 or 9 years old,  I came across a dead woodchuck laying next to the barn.  I don’t know how he died– he was just there.  Dead.  As the summer progressed and he dried out, a vine passed through his body and by summer’s end was suspended a couple of feet in the air.  To the eyes of a child this was something magical.  I was struck by the power of the earth to reclaim its creatures.  Everything seemed very ephemeral after that…

The idea of a tree growing through an object such as a chair, which is very representative of human existence, is a continuation of that early fascination.  It wasn’t until I had painted several pieces with the hanging chair that I began to also see the symbolism of the empty chair, which in some cultures represents the recently deceased.  That is what I see now– the family members who have passed on.  Again, this is my interpretation of this work.  I enjoy hearing what other people see in the work because many times it’s completely different from what I see but just as valid.  I often look at some pieces in a whole new light after hearing a new view.

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