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Saturday-Evening-Post-J.C.-Leyendecker-Statue-of-Liberty-1934-Yesterday, on her wonderful blog, The Task at Hand, my friend Linda (aka Shoreacres) had the image above from a Saturday Evening Post cover in 1934.  It was from artist JC Leyendecker who did many, many covers for the popular magazine and was one of the finest artist/illustrators of the era.  This cover really stuck out for me because it didn’t really look much like his other more iconic covers that often depicted comical scenes.

This was more design-based, almost with a Pop Art feel.  Just a great image, plain and simple.  I thought I would share it and some of Leyendecker’s other 4th of July covers with you today and wish you all a very Happy 4th of July– a slice of Americana on this most American holiday.

Saturday-Evening-Post-J.C.-Leyendecker-1928 Saturday-Evening-Post-J.C.-Leyendecker-Town-Crier-1925- Leyendecker 4th of July SEP cover 1930 joseph-christian-leyendecker-fourth-of-july-1776-saturday-evening-post-cover-june-30-1923 saturday-evening-post-j-c-leyendecker-sleeping-uncle-sam-1924

 

Madam Marie Asbury ParkI am coming into the last week of preparing my solo show, Heart+Land, which opens July 17 at the West End Gallery.  It’s at this point every year, after the second show in a matter of a couple of months, that I begin to feel a bit worn down.  I really see it in trying to write the blog.  A lot of mornings I find myself sitting here just staring at the screen and feel that my mind is blank as well, as though the wheels in my mind feel like they will never turn again.  I am preoccupied with with those pieces that still need work and other tasks that are waiting for me just out of my sight.  Out of sight but not out of mind.

So, I thought I would start the holiday a day early with a little music and one of my favorite Springsteen songs.  Some know it as Sandy from the name of the girl to which Bruce’s character is singing but it’s actually titled 4th of July, Asbury Park from his 1973 (yes, it was that long ago) album The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle.  It’s a song that immortalized the Jersey boardwalk culture of that time, like the fortune teller Madam Marie whose real life shop is shown above, with its bittersweet lamentation about lost love and outgrowing the lures of youth’s easy pleasures.

So, I am giving it a listen then heading back to those tasks that are beginning to tap their toes with impatience.  Have a great 4th of July.

Deadvlei

Deadvlei Namibia Photo By Christopher R. Gray- Natl Geo Traveler Photo Contest 2015I came across this wonderfully stark image this morning, an entry in the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest from photographer Christopher R. Gray.  It is a night scene from an area of the Namib Desert in the African nation of Namibia called Deadvlei.

Located in a region of salt marshes periodically fed by the Tsauchab River, Deadvlei ( which translates as “dead marsh“) was cut off from the river’s feed nearly 1000 years ago from flooding then climate change.  This left  it a huge  dry and hard salt plain nestled among some of the highest sand dunes on the planet, some towering over 1300 feet in height.  The trees, mainly camel thorns,  that were there all those centuries ago remain, darkly scorched tree bones that do not decompose in the arid conditions.

This area’s remoteness also gives it some of the darkest skies on the planet, making visible all the many stars and galaxies that have become invisible to us in the more populated parts of the world.  That night sky makes for a pretty striking image with the single tree set against the silhouette of the sand dunes.

It’s kind of a natural Ozymandias, a reminder of our own mortality set against the eternal nature of the Earth.  Great photo.

Jackson Pollock -Convergence 1952Painting is a state of being…Painting is self discovery.  Every good painter paints what he is.

–Jackson Pollock

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In yesterday’s The Guardian, here was a review of a current exhibit at the Tate Liverpool of Jackson Pollock paintings.  Writer Jonathan Jones describes Pollock’s work around 1950, in the period when he was briefly liberated from his chronic alcoholism,  as being the pinnacle of his career. As he put it : Pollock was painting at this moment like his contemporary Charlie Parker played sax, in curling arabesques of liberating improvisation that magically end up making beautiful sense.

GC Myers-Under TextureThat sentence really lit me up, as did the words of Pollock at the top of the page.   In Pollock’s work I see that beautiful sense of which Jones writes. I see order and rhythm, a logic forming from the seemingly incomprehensible. The textures that make up the surfaces of my own paintings are often formed with Pollock’s paintings in mind, curling arabesques in many layers.  In fact, one of the themes of my work is that same sense of finding order from chaos.

 To some observers, however, Pollock’s work represented the very chaos that plagued the world then and now.  But true to his words, Pollock’s work was indeed a reflection of what he was– a man seeking grace and sense in a chaotic world.

Painting is, as Pollock says, self discovery and indeed every painter ultimately paints what they are.  I know that in the work of painters I personally know I clearly see characteristics of their personality, sometimes of their totality.

I believe that my work also reveals me in this way.  It shows everything– strengths and weaknesses, hopes and fears.  You might think that a painter would be clever enough to show only those positive attributes of his character, like the answers people give when asked to describe their own personality.  There are some that try but it comes off as contrivance. Real painting, real art, is in total revelation, showing the chaos and complexity of our true self and attempting to find order and beauty within it.

GC Myers- In the Moment of GraceThis is a new piece, an 18″ by 24″ painting on panel, that  is part of my upcoming show at the West End Gallery.  It is titled In the Moment of Grace.  Fittingly, it was finished in the time that I listened to President Obama‘s stirring eulogy for the victims of the Charleston tragedy on Friday in which he pulled its theme from the classic hymn Amazing Grace.  Although I was already fully invested in  this painting, that fact added so much more meaning to it for me.

That eulogy was the culmination of a remarkable and historic week, one that found the Supreme Court issuing decisions that upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and made Gay Marriage a right throughout the nation.  And if that wasn’t enough, the Confederate flag finally came down in South Carolina, though it took the act one young black woman willing to be imprisoned for her civil disobedience rather than the act of an intransigent State House and Senate.  The President’s words over the fallen in South Carolina framed the end of this week perfectly.

Amazing Grace.

Despite the wonder of it all, I know there is much more to be done and more conflicts to be faced in the struggle for equality and fairness for all.  That is the nature of change and change is the nature of America.  And I think that is the point that is missed by so many of those who hold so tightly onto the past,  those people who say that they want “their country” back: America is not a monolith, not owned by one group or region and cannot be defined by one thing, person, place or time.

That is its strength.  Like a great work of art, it lives always in the present.  And the present is an inclusive and shifting prism, a kaleidoscope or, yes, a rainbow of diverse people who make up this nation.  It has eventually always made room for all who sought to live in that light and it is that spirit of inclusion that separates us from the rest of the world.  Tolerance unifies a disparate people and brings us closer to grace.

As I said, there are many more hurdles to be overcome, more work to be done.  I could continue preaching here for a while but I wish to just sit back for a moment and relish the present.  So, for this Sunday morning music I thought a little Amazing Grace would be appropriate.  Her is a truly beautiful version from Judy Collins and the Boys Choir of Harlem, sung on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Have a good Sunday and reflect for a moment on this remarkable week.

 

AERMETRY

AERMETRY  - Photographer Nicolaus WegnerThere was an interesting video recently online called Art of the Storm from photographer Nicolaus Wegner that featured a fantastic time lapse of a super cell forming over the Black Hills of South Dakota earlier this month.  While it was beautiful and awe inspirng, it was a link at the end of the video to some of his other time lapse films that caught my eye.  One in particular stood out.

Called AERMETRY,  it features storm and cloud formations and movements that are mirrored as they move across the screen, creating kaleidoscopic images that are fascinating.  Definitely hard to look away, especially if, like me, you are one of those people who try to identify things in random patterns.  There is however a photosensitive seizure warning attached so if you are susceptible to such things please take note.

You can see more of the work of Nicolaus Wegner, including more sensational time lapses, at  his website, Light Alive Photography.

AERMETRY from Nicolaus Wegner on Vimeo.

The_Torment_of_Saint_Anthony_(Michelangelo)A man paints with his brains and not his hands.

-Michaelangelo Buonarroti

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I am a little intimidated in quoting the words of a man who is believed to have painted the piece shown above, The Torment of Saint Anthony, at the tender age of 12 or 13.  Pretty amazing.  It’s obvious from this and almost everything of his that came after that Michaelangelo had both brains and hands–craftsmanship of the highest degree and thought and feeling that brought his work to life.

But his words ring true for any painter.  Painting should not be mere craft, not formulaic process nor exact replication of the reality before them.  No, it is beyond  that.  It is how the artist imbues the work with their own thought and emotion, their own spirit, their own essence– an investment of the self— that elevates the work above craft.

Doing that is the trick.  At first glance, it seems both a tall task and a simple one.  But it comes down to simply feeling emotion in what you are doing and being willing to openly display it without reserve.

Now, maybe I am misinterpreting Michaelangelo’s words to fit my own subjective view of painting.  Perhaps in these ten words he was speaking about taking a more scientific or mathematical approach to painting and composition. That I don’t know.  But when I read it, it made sense to me because the differentiating quality I see in painting, from self-taught outsiders to the highest level of traditional representational painters, is how much of themselves a painter is willing to invest in their creations.

It is the thought process of the artist that makes the painting, not the mechanical process.

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