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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…

New Dimension

The task is…not so much to see what no one has yet seen; but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees.

― Erwin Schrödinger

********************

GC Myers-  New Dimension smI was looking for something to say about this new painting, New Dimension,  when I came across this quote from  physicist Erwin Schrodinger that deals with dimensional perception.

I have to admit to not knowing much about the  quantum physics to which he refers with these words but the sentiment behind it could be describing the driving force behind this painting and much of what I attempt to do as an artist.  I have maintained for some time that art is not about clever ideas or extraordinary subjects but in changing our perceptions of the ordinary, in trying to illuminate those dimensions of the world that remain unseen to us.

The example I often cite is of Van Gogh‘s painting of a vase of irises.  It is an painting of an extremely ordinary subject, a vase filled with flowers,  A common floral painting that has been the subject of perhaps a million or two painters over the ages.  Yet seeing it, one feels that unseen animating energy of nature and the force of Van Gogh’s perceptions of it.  It vibrates with energy.  It is no longer a simple vase of irises but has become a conduit to a new and deeper dimension, one that delivers us closer to the essence our being.  It is now the sacred ordinary.

This piece attempts to go there and does so for me.  But I am too close to it to  judge whether it hits it mark for others.  It is as ordinary as it gets- a horizon, a sky, a sun, a field and a tree.  Yet I am hoping that there is something in it that takes you beyond the mundane, something that sparks and allows your inner self to detect the essential forces at work in this simple scene.  To find the extraordinary in the ordinary, to feel more connected to our essence.  To find a new dimension in our selves.

This painting, New Dimension, is a 12″ by 36″ canvas and will be going with me to the Principle Gallery for my Gallery Talk there on Saturday, September 13th.

Re-Presenting

GC Myers- Blue Night Discovery

GC Myers- Blue Night Discovery

I have a small group of new work accompanying me to the Principle Gallery this Saturday for my 1 PM Gallery Talk there.  There are also two older paintings, one a piece that I wrote about here a couple of weeks ago, The Elusive Path.  It is from 1990 and is one of the first Red Tree paintings but was trapped in a bad frame that sapped away much of its potency.  A new and more fitting frame has allowed its true self to shine through.

Another older painting that will be coming with me is shown above, Blue Night Discovery.  Unlike The Elusive Path which had a horrible dull green-blue frame, this painting had a decent looking frame.  The problem was that the mat surrounding this painting on paper was extra wide and the frame was massive.  It was huge and cumbersome, much too weighty for this work.  The framed piece felt like a slab of rock when I would pick it up and I seldom looked at it because it was such a chore to drag it out.

It was buried in the very thing that was supposed to set it forward and present it in its best light.

GC Myers- The Elusive Path

GC Myers- The Elusive Path

I had went through a period of these large, heavy frames and extra wide mats and over the years I have changed most of these paintings back to smaller, more reasonable frames that don’t overwhelm the painting.  So many so that I have a huge stack of these massive frames in a basement room.  There’s enough wood there to build an addition on my studio. Looking at these frames,  I can now safely say that the idea of these wide mats and heavy frames was a misjudgement on my part.

But there is a bright side to this realization.  For all of these frames, the  paintings that had been held captive have almost all found new homes soon after being re-presented in a manner that allows them to show what they really are, to let them exhibit their own qualities.  Seeing Blue Night Discovery out of that huge frame let me see it with cleared eyes not distracted by a setting that had little to do with the piece itself.  I had discounted this painting in my mind for years because of this distraction but now saw the strong forms and saturated colors, the contrasts of the dark of the  blues against the light light of the moon.  It made me remember the time when I had painted it and those positive feelings to which it had given rise.

It seemed new again in my eyes.  All because it was in a new position, a gem in its proper setting.

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