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Concordia

GC Myers-Concordia smThe title of this new painting, 36″ by 36″ on canvas. is Concordia, which is a Latin word for harmony as well as the name of the Roman goddess of harmony.  It translates literally as with one heart which I felt was really appropriate for this piece based on the role that the Red Tree has played in my career.

The beginning of the Red Tree is often asked about at the gallery talks I give and I usually just describe the chronology of its emergence in my work, how it was little more than a compositional element in the beginning, something that brought a central focus to the painting.  But describing what the Red Tree has evolved into for myself over the years in terms of its meaning is sometimes difficult to explain in the moment at these talks.

Yes, it is still a mere element that brings the eye to the center around which everything else in the painting more or less revolves.  In that respect, it is the sun in its own solar system.  But over time I have come to recognize that the Red Tree is the exposed heart of my work, the emotional center that speaks out to the world in a way I never could as myself.

It is a heart that seeks harmony in its existence, to be at one with the world.

With one heart.

Concordia.

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This painting will be part of my solo show Native Voice which opens two weeks from today, June 5,  at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. VA.

He knows all about art, but he doesn’t know what he likes.

–James Thurber

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James Thurber Cartoon Art CriticThis may not technically qualify as a quote but who cares?  The message in this cartoon from the great James Thurber is so simply put and true and that’s what I am looking for in a good quote.

 And art.

That’s what I like.

In the past I’ve talked about how many people are intimidated by the idea of art, feeling that they don’t know anything about art.  This leaves them not trusting their own eyes and their own reactions to any given piece of art.

And that is a pity because art is mainly about the reaction to it.  Art is a reactive agent, reaching out and stirring something in the viewer.  All of the knowledge in the world about a piece of art cannot make you like that piece of work if it doesn’t first strike that chord that raises some sort of emotional response within you.

And I think most of us know within a few moments whether a work of art speaks to us or leaves us cold.  The trick comes in recognizing this realization and feeling okay with it.

I’ll admit that there are many celebrated works of art out there that do absolutely nothing for me.  They may have historical importance or elements of beauty or great craftsmanship in them but they simply don’t raise any emotional response within me.

I might be able to appreciate them but the bottom line is that I don’t like them, plain and simple.  That doesn’t mean I’m right or wrong.  It just means I know what I like.

And I accept that criteria from anybody, even with my own work.  While it would be nice to think that it speaks to everyone, I know this is an impossibility.  I’ve had people tell me that they didn’t like my work– in polite and respectful terms, thankfully– and I’m okay with that.

They know what they like.  And that’s good enough for me.

Odyssey

GC Myers- Odysssey smI am in the last stages of preparation for my solo show at the Principle Gallery that I will be delivering at the end of next week.  As I’ve documented here many times in the past, it’s a very hectic time as I put the finishing touches on the last few paintings as I simultaneously begin the process of making the work show-ready.  That entails photographing and varnishing paintings, staining frames, cutting mats and glass then putting it all together so that each piece shows itself at its best.

It is a sometimes daunting task, one that has a much different tempo and thought process than the actual act of painting.  With painting there is an almost meandering journey taking place as the mind drifts during the act, sometimes sharply focusing and sometimes going blank as intuition takes over.  There are pauses and rests along the way as the painting takes shape.

But preparing the work to leave the studio is straightforward and far less cerebral.  Just put your head down and power through the task in front of you then on to the next and the next.  Drone work.

But one of the gifts in doing this is being able to handle and spend time with each painting once more, to stop for a few moments and really look deeply at each for what might be a last time.  There’s something very fulfilling in this part of process as each piece takes on a sense of completeness and acquires its own voice, becomes an entity beyond me.

That’s definitely the sense I got when I was photographing the painting above yesterday.  It’s a 16″ by 40″ canvas that didn’t have a name but looking at it closely yesterday it reminded me of a long and arduous journey, one that winds through mountains and across seas in search of home.  And there on a prominent peak was the Red Tree, looking patiently out to sea like Penelope scanning the horizon for the return of Odysseus. In an instant that was the voice of that painting for me.

I call this piece Odyssey.

And now, like Homer’s travelers, I must return to my own odyssey.  There is must to do before I rest…

American Art Collector GCM Article May 2015 sIn the new June issue of American Art Collector, there’s a nice preview of my upcoming solo show, Native Voice, which is opening June 5 at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.

It’s a brief overview of the show and my career as well as the significance of the show’s title to me.  Most pleasing to me is the fact that the three paintings they chose to display in the article show themselves very well , giving what I think is a good indicator of the look and feel of this show.

Another pleasing aspect is a short paragraph, written by a couple from the Bay Area of California who collect my paintings, which describes their views on the work. As an artist, it’s always interesting to get a view of how people honestly react to what you’re doing.  And for myself, it’s great to  get  affirmation that the belief I have in the reality of the internal world I am trying to express in my work has translated successfully and is coming across as a similar reality to others.  That’s very heartening and inspiring to me in the studio.

That being said, it’s time I get back to work.  There’s still much work to be done before the show is complete.

 

Breakthrough

GC Myers Breakthrough smWho in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.

-Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

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I think the lines above spoken by Lewis Carroll’s Alice fit this new painting very well.  In the book, she has has just grown to a very great size and frightened away the White Rabbit which has her suddenly realizing that Wonderland is a very puzzling place.  But even more puzzling is how the changing perspectives of herself she encounters in Wonderland have left her questioning her own identity, her own sense of self.  The solution to navigating her way through Wonderland is in finding out her own identity.

And that is a truth for almost anybody, anywhere.

And that’s what I see is this painting, a 30″ by 30″ canvas that I call Breakthrough.

The foreground with the cryptic forms of its fields sets the tone for piece with darker tones and tempting colors.  The path runs through these labyrinth-like segments toward a sky that has a burst of light from the sun pushing forward, symbolizing the breakthrough alluded to in the title.  And at the furthest inward point is the Red Tree.  Like Alice, it is attempting to shed the many differing perspectives of itself it has run across to get to this moment, a moment in which it feels it has reached a solution to the puzzle of who or what in the world it truly is.

The path forward is much easier to travel once you have solved that great puzzle, as Alice called it.

This painting is part of my annual solo show, this year titled Native Voice, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria VA which opens on June 5, 2015.

bb_king_lucille-4Times continually passes on and takes some of our friends along with it as it goes.  Thursday,  that friend was the great BB King.  He was the ambassador and face of the blues for the last half century, a genial presence who crossed over into the mainstream yet maintained the same intensity and integrity as when he was carving out his legend in the 1950’s playing clubs across the country as he toured almost non-stop.

By the time I was in my teens, he had transcended the blues and was part of popular culture.  The Thrill Is Gone was a mainstream hit, winning him a Grammy in 1970, and he maintained a visibility on the television, always accompanied by Lucille, his black Gibson guitar which has become probably the only guitar that most people can recognize by name.   And if they didn’t know her name they most likely knew the sound of her voice. Everybody knew who BB King was.

But my real introduction to BB King came when I was going through the used bin at a local record shop and found a  beat up copy  of  his Live at the Regal Theater from a show in Chicago in late 1964.  It was well worn as though whoever had owned it before had played the hell out of it.  From the second the needle on my turntable snapped into the groove, I understood why  that was so.

Pure electric, a perfect storm of time, place and people made every moment of that record crackle.  One listen and you knew it was about as good as it gets.  I still get shivers when I hear it.

So to honor the passing of our friend, this Sunday’s music is a song that was a favorite of that Regal Theater crowd (and mine as well), How Blue Can You Get?  But the performance I am showing is from a different venue.  It’s from a Thanksgiving show in 1972 from NY’s Sing Sing Prison with BB King, The Voices of East Harlem and Joan Baez.  I think this is a great version of the song and seeing the inmates respond really adds something to it.

So, give a listen to our friend and have yourself a great Sunday.

 Myers- Solitude and ReverenceSilence and solitude seem to be the theme this week on the blog.  Well, most weeks, I guess. Today, I am featuring a new painting that will be part of my Native Voice exhibit opening three weeks from today on June 5  at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria.  It is a 24″ by 36″ canvas and is titled Solitude and Reverence.

It’s a painting that has really hung with me here in the studio, my gaze often going to it through the day as I work on other things.  There’s a sense of fullness and completeness, a quality I can’t fully describe here,  in it that pleases me, that makes me want to study it and absorb it a bit longer.

Perhaps it is because I feel that this painting is even more personal and self-referential, seeing myself as the Red Tree, isolated in the solitude of my work which is symbolized by the field rows between me and the  houses and road in the foreground.  It is a pleasant isolation, a voluntary withdrawal from the rest of the world.

I suppose I should say the world of man because there is no withdrawal from the world.  In fact, there is a more intimate relationship with the natural world which brings about the reverence referred to in the title.  I see it in this painting in the landscape spreading out in the distance and the radiating light and color of the sky which seems symbolic of the greater power and mystery of the natural world.

I sit here now and there is so much more I could write about this piece but it all seems so futile when I can just look at it, knowing everything in a glance that I could struggle for hours to say so poorly with words.

And maybe that is the message here– that we should simply shut up and take in the world in a reverent quietude.

I will do that now…

 

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