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Valentine’s Day

GC Myers Time Comes Together 2006Valentine’s Day.

It would be easy to go on and on about the day and the meaning of love but sometimes words just do not do the subject justice.

So I will keep it short today and share a poem from the Nobel Peace Prize winning Turkish poet, Nazim Hikmet, along with this Sunday’s musical selection, a cover of Bruce Springsteen‘s Drive All Night from Glenn Hansard (best known for his songs from the film and stage production Once) with backing vocals from Eddie Vedder.  A very good cover of one of my favorite songs from The River album of 1980.

Have a good Valentine’s Day…

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I love you
like dipping bread into salt and eating
Like waking up at night with high fever
and drinking water, with the tap in my mouth
Like unwrapping the heavy box from the postman
with no clue what it is
fluttering, happy, doubtful
I love you
like flying over the sea in a plane for the first time
Like something moves inside me
when it gets dark softly in Istanbul
I love you
Like thanking God that we live.

Nazim Hikmet
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Van Gogh’s Selfies

van-gogh-self-portraitI showed this short video here about six years back.  It’s a compilation of morphing self portraits from Vincent Van Gogh put together by Phillip Scott Johnson that I found intriguing then and now.

It’s a short piece, less than a minute in length, and it’s interesting to see how the familiar views of Van Gogh relate to one another and how his appearance or, at least,  his perception of it, changed through the years.   His state of mind is evident in each piece, with some showing a vibrant, seemingly healthy man and others showing the more tortured Van Gogh that we tend to think of as the man.

I found it interesting now because I have been spending some time recently looking at my own older work in a different way.  I am not looking at the pictures as whole images.  Instead, I have been looking at the individual marks I am using in each and seeing how it has changed through the years.  Or how it has stayed the same in some cases.

I’ve always said that my painting for me was a continuum that, while changing all the time, always seemed the same to me– always in the present.  But looking at it in this manner I am finding that my mark-making does change periodically which fundamentally changes the way a picture is painted and how it emerges in the end.

It’s not something I often think about– I just paint in whichever way the moment strikes me.  Sometimes it is dependent on the condition of the brush or the weight and quality of the paint I am using.  As a brush ages and wears, especially with the rough treatment given to them by me, it makes a more and more distinct mark that I find appealing.  Looking back, I can often tell when I am using fresh or old brushes.

So, I watched this film in the same way and it is fascinating to just look at Van Gogh’s mark-making throughout without focusing on the faces.  It is varied and each differing style serves the image in different ways.  Some marks are wildly expressive and others small and quietly acting in service to the greater whole.

As I said, it’s less than minute and interesting even if you don’t give a damn about the mark-making part of it.

 

 

Hoodoo Voodoo

GC Myers-The Incantation 1994I was going through some old images the other day and for some reason I always settle on this image shown here, an old piece from my earliest painting efforts over twenty years back.  I call it The Incantation.  At that moment a news station was on the TV, with its incessant and seemingly never-ending  coverage of the presidential primaries.

So much is said yet there seems to be so little substance in it that it turns into just words uttered.

Nonsense or an incantation, of sorts.

In my mind, the connection was made between this image and the song below, Hoodoo Voodoo from Billy Bragg and Wilco, based on unpublished lyrics from Woody Guthrie.  Guthrie had  several songs with nonsensical lyrics, often written for his children. I like this version– it spans that gap nicely between nonsense and incantation.

Actually, I think Sarah Palin quoted many parts of this song verbatim during some of her speeches, most notably her recent ones while stumping for Donald Trump. As I said: nonsense and incantation.

Give a listen and read along.  Hopefully the next time you’re held under a spell cast by the talking heads on one of the news networks, this song will start playing in your mind.  Nonsense is the only defense against their incantations.

Hoodoo voodoo, seven twenty one two
Haystacka hostacka, ABC
High poker, low joker, ninety-nine-a-zero
Sidewalk, streetcar, dance a goofy dance

Blackbirdy, bluejay, one, two, three, four
Trash sack, jump back, EFG
Biggy hat, little hat, fatty man, skinny man
Grasshopper greensnake, hold my hand

Hoodoo voodoo, chooka-chooky-choo-choo
True blue, how true, kissle me now

Momma cat, Tommy cat, diapers on my clothes line
Two, four, six, eight, I run and hide
Pretty girl, pretty boy, pony on a tin can
I’ll be yours, you’ll be mine

Hoodoo voodoo, chooka-chooky-choo-choo
True blue, how true, kissle me now

Jinga jangler, tinga lingle, picture on a bricky wall
Hot and scamper, foamy lather, huggle me close
Hot breeze, old cheese, slicky slacky fishy tails
Brush my hair, kissle me some more

Hoodoo voodoo, chooka chooky choo choo
True blue, how true, kissle me now

Hoodoo voodoo, chooka chooky choo choo
True blue, how true, kissle me now
Kissle me now

Brush my hair
And kissle me some more

Kissle me some more
Kissle me some more

Automata

AutomataI came across this film  early this morning and was immediately intrigued.  It’s a film of an automata, a hand-crafted machine made by Swedish artist/craftsman Per Helldorff (his site can be seen here) that has a figure playing the old shell game, the classic con game using three shells or cups and a ball or pea.  The operator puts a ball under one of the cups and shifts them around while the sucker–oops, I mean bettor– tries to follow the motion and pick the final location of the ball.  It’s a ruse that has literally  been around since the times of ancient Greece.

We love to be tricked, don’t we?

I sat and watched this several times, trying to figure out the mechanics behind the trick and can’t quite get it.  I think there must be two  balls and a magnet or  a catch of some sort.  Take a look at see what you think.  I’ve also included a few more of Mr. Helldorff’s other automata.  Just lots of fun.



Icon: Joe H.

GC Myers- Icon: Joe H.Here’s my latest entry into the Icon series, a 12″ by 12″ canvas piece that is titled Icon: Joe H.  He is my 3rd great-grandfather and his name was Joseph Harris and he was born in the Lindley (the town named after our common ancestor, Eleazer Lindsley,who was among the first Icons) area south of Corning in 1833.

He led a fairly typical life for the time and place, serving in the Civil War and raising a family.  He worked primarily as a blacksmith and a sawyer ( I have a lot of lumbermen in my family– maybe that’s where my affinity for trees comes from) in his early years, working for a number of years in the then booming timber business that was taking place in northern Pennsylvania and western NY.   It was there that his wife, Emeline Whitney, died just a year or so after the end of the Civil War.  Later in his life, he returned to the area of his birth, settling in as a farmer  just over the border in Pennsylvania where he died in 1922.

That was about the extent of his life for me, at least what I could find of it in records.  I did discover that he married his step-sister, Jennie, who was twenty years younger, as his second wife.  But it was my research into local newspapers that gave me a better sense of him.

Looking at records gave no indication of anything but the basics but in his 1922 death notice printed in the Wellsboro Agitator ( I love the name of that paper!) the headline lists him as a “Skilled and Noted Musician.”  It goes on to say that he had been the one-time Banjo Champion of the United States.  He very well may have picked up the banjo from his Civil War experience as it’s popularity in the time after the war is often attributed to many people being exposed to it for the first time during their service.  I could never find anything to document a championship which was no big surprise as it most likely occurred somewhere in the 1870’s or 1880’s and whatever group sanctioned the competition is more than likely no longer in existence.

But I was pleased to know that music played a big part in his life and I later found an item that confirmed this.  It stated that his son, William Harris, was working as a musician in one of the  oilfield boom towns in northern PA in the 1890’s when he tragically took his own life by shooting himself at the hotel where he was living.  As is often the case, you find a lot of tragedy when you look backwards so it’s some consolation to know that there was a bit of music and joy mixed in there somewhere.

I did visit Joe’s gravesite a while back.  It is a bare-boned and flat plot of land that sits next to a harsh little trailer park visible from the new interstate.  Standing at his grave you looked into the backyard of several trailers, the kind of yards scattered with kids toys, spare tires and oil drums.

It made me a little sad but then, I guess a guy who lived through the Civil War, endured the death of his first wife and several of his children before him and lived to see the first World War, this wasn’t all that bad.

In Delight

GC Myers= In DelightThere is delight in singing, though none hear beside the singer.

Walter Savage Landor

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The British poet, Walter Savage Landor, who wrote those words above knew what he was talking about: Sometimes you do something that is filled with pleasure for yourself yet it might not stir the soul of a single other person.  The delight comes in simply doing it.

Not that Landor, who lived from 1775 to 1864,  was without accolades.  He had an incredibly long career–almost 70 years— and was held in the highest esteem by his peers. But he never gained widespread public popularity or love for his work in his life or after.

His poetry was his singing and sometimes only he and perhaps a few others could appreciate that voice.

I chose these words from Landor for this painting not only because I felt that he was writing about his own work in a way.  I used it because of the great pleasure I took in painting the painting above, an 18″ by 18″ canvas that I am fittingly calling In Delight.  It was one of those paintings that gave me a lot of joy at every step of its growth, each stroke making it come more and more to life for me.

It’s that fulfillment of joy that makes me not worry about how it is received.  If not a single person sees a thing in it, I do not care.  It pleased me to simply make it and even now it makes me smile when I look at it from my chair in the studio.

For me, I felt like I was singing with a rich and full voice.  But again, that’s just my ear.  You might hear fingernails on a chalkboard when you look at it.  And that’s okay– the delight was in the singing.

Birds and Ships

hundertwasser_land-of-men-birds-shipsThe painting above is titled Paradise-The Land of Men, Birds and Ships.  It’s actually a mural that was painted on a building outside of Paris in 1950 by artists Friedensreich Hundertwasser and  René Brõ.  It was saved from demolition in 1964 although I have no idea where or in what condition it now stands.  I’ve featured Hundertwasser’s work, with it’s rich colors and organic shapes, here on the blog a few times in the past.  I like his work,  I like this and thought it fit well with the song I’ve chosen for today’s Sunday Morning Music.

That song is Ships and Birds from one of my favorite albums, Wilco and Billy Bragg‘s 1998 Mermaid Avenue.  It’s a collection of old unheard Woody Guthrie lyrics set to new music composed by Wilco and others.  This track features Natalie Merchant singing the lead and is just a lovely, simple  song.  A nice way to kick off any Sunday morning.

Have a great Sunday…

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