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Inner Perceptions

GC Myers-  Inner Perception smallThis is a painting from a few years back that has toured around a bit and found its way back to me. Called Inner Perception, it has been one of my favorites right from the moment it came off my painting table.  Maybe the inclusion of the the paint brush (even though it is a house painter’s brush) with red paint in the bristles makes it feel more biographical, more directly connected to my own self.   Or maybe it was the self-referential Red Tree painting on the wall behind the Red Chair.

I don’t know for sure.  But whatever the case, it is a piece that immediately makes me reflective, as though it is a shortcut to some sort of inner thought.  Looking at it this morning, the question I was asked at the Principle Gallery talk a week or so ago re-emerged, the one that asked what advice I might give my fifth-grade self if I had the opportunity.  I had answered that I would tell myself to believe in my own unique voice, to believe in the validity of what I had to say to the world.

I do believe that but I think I might add a bit to that answer, saying that I would tell my younger self to be patient and not worry about how the world perceives you.  That if you believed that your work was reflecting something genuine from within, others would come to see it eventually.

I would also add to never put your work above the work of anyone else and, conversely, never put your work beneath that of anyone else.  I would tell myself to always ask , “Why not me?”

This realization came to me a couple of years ago at my exhibit at the Fenimore Art Museum.  When it first went up it was in a gallery next to one that held the work of the great American Impressionists along with a Monet.  I was initially intimidated, worrying that my work would not stand the muster of being in such close proximity to those painters who I had so revered over the years.

But over the course of the exhibit, I began to ask myself that question: Why not me?

If my work was genuine, if it was true expression of my inner self and inner perceptions, was it any less valid than the work of these other painters?  Did they have some greater insight of which I was not aware, something that made their work deeper and more connected to some common human theme?  If, as I believe, everyone has something unique to share with the world, why would my expression of self not be able to stand along their own?

The answer to my question was in my own belief in the work and by the exhibit’s end I was no longer doubting my right to be there.  So to my fifth-grade self and to anyone who faces self-doubt about the path they have chosen, I say that if you know you have given it your all, shown your own unique self,  then you must ask that question: Why not me?

 

Goodbye Pork Pie Hat

Jeff Beck Wired LP cover 1976I’m feeling quiet this morning with little to say.  But it is Sunday morning and time for a bit of music so I thought I’d fill with something quiet, in its own way.  Something I haven’t heard for some time.  I dug around a bit and came across such a track from guitarist Jeff Beck and his 1976 LP Wired.  I always loved this album cover.This was a pretty big album at the time,  letting Beck take his massive rock-based guitar on a journey into the electronic jazz world of the 1970’s.  It’s an album that I listened to quite often but one that eventually dropped off my playlist for some reason. Not really sure why but I am always happy to hear something from it again.

Here’s his treatment of the Charles Mingus classic Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.  Quiet enough for this Sunday morning.

Have a great Sunday..

 

Repetition and Rhythm

GC Myers-FourShadowing ing Grouping

I recently painted the four  12″ by 12″ paintings, shown above, which is grouped as a set titled FourShadowing.  I wanted to have only the most subtle of differences between the pieces as far as subject and form so that there was a repetitive quality as your took them in, almost like the recurring chorus of a song.  The variations of colors acts as a sort of verse.

I try to not think to0 much about this, not wanting to contrive the outcome in a way that saps all of the energy from the work.  Just let the elements do their thing, let their voices be heard over the repeating imagery of the four pieces.

I saw the video below, a simple explanation of how we are affected by musical repetition based on the work and book, On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind , of cognitive scientist Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis, and it instantly made me wonder if repetition played the same part in visual art.  I believe that the  personal style of an artist is a form of repetition, that the more familiar a viewer is with the work of an artist, the easier they find themselves able to engage with it.  The repeating nature of their style and the body of work reinforces and reassures.

Of course, I am talking off the top of my head right now and I might read this later and ask myself what the hell I was talking about.  It’s a grain of a thought at the moment.

Anyway, take a few minutes to watch the video and think about it on your own:

Reinvention/ Redux

GC Myers- Larger Than Life

GC Myers- Larger Than Life

I’ve often write about change, lately in the form of fighting against my own selfishness through acts of generosity, somehow hoping that this reinvention of the self makes me a better person and affects change in others.  I spent a few hours yesterday with John and Ron, a couple currently from Iowa and Illinois, each side of the Mississippi, who ad come to the West End Gallery specifically to see my work.   I had a great time getting to know them a little better and learning more about their lives.  Listening to them over lunch,  I found that their own lives were stories of reinvention, of finding new identities.

It really struck a chord with me, making me appreciate how creative and adaptive we are as people.  Sometimes it’s a practical matter, out of the need to meet the demands of our basic needs, and sometimes it is a matter of changing behaviors that we realize are negatively affecting our lives.  Either way, the result is a new self of some sort, hopefully one that brings us more happiness and satisfaction with ourselves.

It reminded me of a post from several years ago, in 2009, where I wrote a short bit about reinvention, using Loretta Lynn as my subject.

Thanks to John and Ron for the inspiration for this morning.  It was great meeting you and I hope the rest  your trip goes smoothly.

Here’s what I wrote back in 2009:

Reinvention.

What I was is not what I am and what I am is not necessarily what I will be.

We’re fortunate to have such an opportunity, to be able to change and evolve over our lives.  To be able to show the world other and new facets in our prisms.  The only question is why do some people take this opportunity to reinvent themselves and other do not?

I thought about this the other day when I was in the studio, prepping work for my next show. I was listening to Van Lear Rose, an album from a couple of years back from Loretta Lynn, the Queen of Country Music.   It’s a great album with Jack White of  White Stripes fame  producing and playing.  The songs have Loretta’s unmistakeable signature voice and songwriting but have a new feel.  A little more edge and a little less twang.  A new side to Loretta.  She took the opportunity, when it presented itself,  to step forward and change.

But what about those who don’t?  Why don’t they continue to evolve?   Are they simply satisfied with where they are?  In music this is pretty common, guys playing the Oldies circuit, performing the same songs that they made popular when they were 18 years old.  Perhaps the opportunity to change never showed up.  Maybe they felt safe in staying in their tried and true routine of rehashing the past.   No risk there.

Who know?  I surely don’t but I do know that this chance to change our skin, chameleon-like, is an opportunity  that the truly creative should not simply push aside because for them to remain static is death.  Take the risk.

Here’s  a little Loretta from Van Lear Rose:

Red Chair 2002

GC Myers- A Journey Begins

GC Myers- A Journey Begins

One of the interesting things about doing Gallery Talks, especially when there are a number of people who have followed your work for a while, is the feedback I get about the direction of my work or what has come or gone in it in recent times.  I hadn’t even noticed until someone asked that my Red Chair was lacking from the walls of the Principle Gallery and upon thinking about it I realized  that it had not appeared often in recent times.  I wasn’t surprised.  After doing this for a while, I’ve come to understand that themes and imagery cycle in and out of my work, attaching for a while to my psyche then falling to the back, only to resurface at a later time.

GC Myers- Night Watch

GC Myers- Night Watch

But having someone raise that point prodded me a bit and that Red Chair is in my mind again.  I have a few images swirling that will soon be out, I am sure.  But it also made me go back through my files looking for that Red Chair.  2002 was the high water mark for its appearance, especially in interior scenes painted in that style I refer to as my Dark Work– dark blues and greens over a black base.  Several of them remain with me and are among that work with which I will not part.

But I thought it would be interesting to show how a series of specific imagery, in this case the Red Chair,  goes through a specific time period, how certain elements are added or highlighted or fall away.  The one constant is the weight that the Red Chair brings to each image.  There is a tangible sense of  presence in each, as though the Red Chair alive and contemplating in the moment.  I think that is the appeal for me in these pieces– they don’t feel like still lifes but more like portraits.

Anyway, here is how the Red Chair moved through 2002:

GC Myers- Galvanic Memory

GC Myers- Galvanic Memory

GC Myers- Little Red Riding Chair

GC Myers- Little Red Riding Chair

GC Myers- Inner Sanctum

GC Myers- Inner Sanctum

GC Myers- An Inward Look

GC Myers- An Inward Look

GC Myers- Small Piece pf the World

GC Myers- Small Piece pf the World

GC Myers- Reason to Believe

GC Myers- Reason to Believe

GC Myers- Introspection

GC Myers- Introspection

Dorothea Lange - Migrant Mother

Dorothea Lange – Migrant Mother

In a couple of days, on September 18th, there is a new exhibit of the photos of Dorothea Lange opening at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown.  If you don’t know the name, you still probably are familiar with her images which include the iconic photo shown here on the right, taken in 1936 while she was working for the Farm Security Administration.  Migrant Mother is one of those images that seem to capture with a glimpse all of the sorrow and hardship of those affected in the Depression-era Dust Bowl,  in this case a mother forced to leave her home and wander in search of work that will provide for her children.

Her worry is etched on her face.  While John Steinbeck‘s book The Grapes of Wrath brought the plight of these displaced farmers of that time to the light, it was  Lange’s imagery that  gave them  a sense of humanity  and dignity that reached out and created an empathy with the viewer.  It was powerful, plain and simple.

Dorothea Lange- Grandfather with grandson  at Manzanar CA Camp

Dorothea Lange- Grandfather with grandson at Manzanar CA Camp

Some of her most powerful work came from an assignment she took with the War Relocation Authority during  WW II, when she was hired to document the interment of Japanese-American citizens.  Lange captured the humanity of these prisoners of race at a time when even the liberal and progressive elements in this country maintained silence over the shameful treatment of these citizens.  The photos were censored by the army during the war and were never seen until they were quietly moved to the National Archives, almost 50 years later.

Lange lived from 1895 until 1965, surviving the polio as a child which left her with a distinct limp for the rest of her life.  But neither the limp nor the chronic ulcers that plagued her for the last decades of her life could slow her down.   She sought to affect social change with her images, to give voice to the disenfranchised and down-trodden.

So, if you’re in the Cooperstown area, I highly recommend stopping in at the Fenimore Art Museum to see this work by this giant of American photography.  I know that I am looking forward to seeing it.

Dorothea Lange-  Flag  at Interment Camp at Manzanar CA

Dorothea Lange- Flag at Interment Camp at Manzanar CA

Dorothea Lange Dust Bowl Farm Dalhart Texas

Dorothea Lange- Dust Bowl Farm, Dalhart, Texas

 

Afterwords

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Braun

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Braun

It was a really nice time in Alexandria yesterday, doing my annual Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery, an event we started doing in conjunction with the King Street Arts Festival twelve years ago.   Got to spend some time with Jessica, Pam and Clint at the gallery which is always a treat.  The actual talk, despite my normal pre-talk trepidations, went really well.  At least that’s what people tell me– I never trust my own judgement on those things.  But it was a full house with many familiar faces mixed with many new, a great group that made my job fairly easy, allowing me to be myself and be open and forthcoming.  Of course, in the aftermath, I  realized that I had missed several points and questions of my own  that I had wanted to address but that’s okay as the voids were filled with their questions.

Sometimes, these questions from the audience are the best part for me and probably for them, as well.  It is often the moist revealing part of the talk.  After talking about how my fifth-grade art teacher had been a big influence on my work, especially the Archaeology series,  a question came forward asking what advice I would now give to my fifth-grade self.  My response was that I would tell myself to believe that I had a voice that was unique, that I had something to say to the world.  I went on to talk about what finding this voice in art has meant to me, about how it empowered me and made me feel as though I had a role, a purpose in this world.

There’s more I could have added but that will have to wait until the next time.

The talk ended with the drawing for the painting and for several other gifts.  That is always a lot of fun for me and for the audience.  Well, at least the ones who win.  I tried to tell them how much this giving meant to me, how I was actually the one who was walking away with more than I came with.  That is absolutely true and for that I thank every one of those folks who chose to spend part of their Saturday with me at the Principle.  The inspiration you provide is worth more than I can ever give in return.

And, of course, to Michele and the crew at the Principle, so many thanks for everything they have given me through the years– friendship, encouragement and a place to let my voice speak freely.  It is more than appreciated.  So, for some  music, as is the norm on a Sunday morning here, I am sending out La Vie En Rose from Madeleine Peyroux.

Have a great Sunday…

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