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Faces of Picasso

Pablo Picasso- Self Portrait 1907

Pablo Picasso- Self Portrait 1907

I am really busy this morning with the last details of preparation for the upcoming Kada Gallery show.  I am a little hectic but felt compelled to put something up on the blog out of a sense of obligation to the regimen that has been formed over the six years that I have been writing this blog.  I always feel somewhat guilty if I miss more than a day.   Five years ago, I shared a video of  female portraits throughout the art of last 500 years that was put together by video enthusiast Philip Scott Johnson.  It was a well done assemblage with portraits morphing from one to another and was immensely popular  with over 14 million views on YouTube.

I came across another of his morph films, this time featuring the portraits of Pablo Picasso.  I thought I would share this short but interesting film today.

I sometimes think that Picasso’s immense worldwide fame, especially around the 60′s and 70′s, kept me from fully appreciating his work.  I never thought of him as an artistic inspiration for my own work but over time I have found that his work almost always captures my attention when I come across it.   There is usually something in it that has that sense of rightness I often struggle to explain here.   I have become, more and more,  a fan of his work over the years.

Take a look at the film and see for yourself in this great little film that features the laying of Yo-Yo Ma.

 

Memento Vivere

GC myers- Memento MoriAccording to its Wikipedia entry, Memento mori (Latin ‘remember (that you have) to die’ ), or also memento mortis, “remember death”, is the Latin medieval designation of the theory and practice of the reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits.

I was originally going to use the term for the title of this new painting, a 16″ by 20″ canvas.  It has that sort of feel, from the Red Tree’s skull-like shaped crown  ( the skull is the classic symbol of a memento mori) to the darkly clad figure in the field looking downward.  It surely could be a reflection on our own mortality and the transient nature of earthly pursuits.

But I instead opted to use the flipside of this term, memento vivere which means remember to live.  I see the Red Tree here acting as a vibrant symbol of life, of glorying in the moment despite the constant specter of our inevitable mortality.

Actually, it just occurred to me that there is a yin/yang thing working here with the Red Tree and the figure acting as opposing forces.  I hadn’t noticed this before but it appears even in their physical relationship in the composition.  The Red Tree is the light, the imperative to celebrate life and the lone figure is the dark, the admonition to remember the ephemeral nature of our existence.

And with most things, treading the middle path between two opposing forces is the healthy way to go.  And maybe that is the message here– that we must remember our own mortality in order to live each day as fully as we can.

This painting, Memento Vivere,is part of Into the Common Ground, my solo show at the Kada Gallery which opens December 5, 2014.

Out of Line

I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.
― Ray Bradbury

Zen and the Art of Writing

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GC Myers- Out of Line smI am in the final stages of preparing work for my show, Into the Common Ground, that opens December 5th at the Kada Gallery in Erie.  Final touches on the last few paintings. Framing. Packing.  Details, details, details.

  It is  both my favorite time and least favorite time in the studio.  Favorite because if things go as normal, the work peaks right about this time and the show’s personality and feel really shows through.  I can now see the work as a group hanging in my mind and witnessing it as it comes together is a wonderful feeling that repels the ever present self-doubts that creep in from time to time– still.

It is my least favorite because of the all important detail work that takes place.  This week will be filled with last brush strokes, the smell of varnish and stain in the air and the dust from freshly sanded frames coating my clothing.  It’s not that I mind doing this work–it’s exhilarating to see a piece sometimes transform when it is framed.  It’s just that mind is moving ahead of my body.  I am already seeing in my mind new work inspired by the flurry of the last work from this show but can’t act on it as my body is busy on the details of the show.  There’s a weird tension between the relief of being done with a group of work and wanting to keep going that puts me a bit on edge during this time.

The piece above is one of the later pieces from this group.  It’s a 12″ by 36″ painting on canvas that I call Out of Line.  It is obviously, or so I think, that this is a piece that deals with our singularity as individuals.

For many of us, stepping out of line or expressing our individuality is an uncomfortable thing.  We don’t have the comfort and protection of the crowd to hide our flaws, our quirks.  But for some, it is just a matter of being.  They accept and even celebrate their own flaws and quirks because they make them who they are.  And that is as it should be.

Or so I think.

I don’t think I need to go any further on this painting– it speaks very well for itself, thank you.

Take the “A” Train

Subway TrainI heard a version of  Duke Ellington‘s signature tune, Take the “A” Train, the other day that caught me off guard.  The music was playing in the background and I caught the notes of a tune that made me stop and listen.  It was so familiar but it was so different.  Then I recognized it and realized it was someone other than the Duke and his orchestra.  It didn’t have the urbane and upbeat swing, that joyful feeling of breezing carefree along that marked the original.

No, it was a slow jaunt, a meandering and elegantly peaceful ride.  No horns.  Just a thumping upright bass and gorgeous piano work over some light drum work.  It was still the same tune but it was oh so different in feel.  It was from jazz great Ray Brown and his trio– Gene Harris on the piano.  Beautiful stuff.

GC Myers  Call To Waking smallIt reminded me of the times when I had taken the color from my work and work in tones of gray or sepia just to change things up a bit, to cleanse the palette so to speak.  The piece shown here on the left is an example.

I described it as being like hearing a song that you’ve heard a thousand times before then hearing a completely different take on it.  It’s the same tune, same notes and chords, but it just feels different, opens up something new inside.  This version by the Ray Brown Trio is exactly what I was describing.

It is the same but different.  Plus soaking in that bass thump is just a great way to kick off a quiet Sunday morning.  Have a great day…

Chaos and Order

GC Myers- Chaos and Order smIn its simplest terms, this painting is about all that we don’t know, individually and collectively.

I call this 20″ by 24″ canvas Chaos and Order.  In it, the Red Tree dwells in a land that is apparently in order, a clean landscape of neat rows in the fields and a clear path that takes one through it.  It is seemingly the master of its domain, possessing knowledge of all things within its reach.

Yet, by merely looking into the night sky and seeing the great patterns of chaos written upon it, the Red Tree realizes the limits and boundaries of its knowledge.  It tries to make it fit into some sort of orderliness, something that it can understand on its limited terms but the patterns are too great and come at it like the cacophony of a thousand different languages being spoken at once.

What is the message here?  That we are small and weak before the power of the universe?

Yes and No.  Yes, without knowledge, with only a fear of what lays in that chaos, we are weak and small.  But I don’t think that is the message I see here.   It is that we are merely searchers, still learning the secrets and languages hidden right before our eyes.   The great chaos we see before us might be daunting but we will always try to make order from it in order to find our place within it.  That is simply who we are.

This is another painting that will be at my show, Into the Common Ground, at the Kada Gallery in Erie, PA,  opening December 5.

 

Van Gogh The Starry Night 1889 MOMAThe Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most beloved paintings of all time, stirring all sorts of emotions from a wide spectrum of the population as it presents a paradox of serenity and turbulence in the night sky of Provence.  It has been analyzed to death by art critics, psychologists, theologians and every art history student since it was painted in 1889, each striving to explain the meaning that they pull from it.

And maybe they’re all right.

But recently there has been a different analysis of this work.  It has to do with fluid dynamics and the problem of finding a mathematical equation for turbulence– the sort of turbulence you might see in an eddy in a stream or that which is depicted in the swirling light and color of Van Gogh’s painting.  Russian mathematician Andrei Kolmogorov (1903-1987) came closest to solving this problem in the early 1950′s yet it remains one of the great unsolved problems of physics.

Back in 2004, the Hubble telescope picked up images of eddies of gas and dust around a distant star and scientists were reminded of Van Gogh’s painting.  Scientists from a number of countries collaborated on an analysis of the luminance in his painting and discovered that the structure of his painting was very much patterned like Kolmogorov’s equations for turbulence.

I am not going to say much more.  There is a wonderful short film below from TED-Ed and Natalya St. Clair that much better explains this. But before you watch, I wanted to add one more thing which is the supposed inspiration for Van Gogh’s sky.

Drawing of M51 Whirlpool Galaxy Lord Rosse 19th CenturyThere was a drawing that was well known in Europe in the latter part of the 19th century that was done by William Parsons, also known as Lord Rosse, who had built a large telescope on his Irish castle in the 1840′s.  Called Leviathan, it was the largest telescope in the world until 1918.  With it, Lord Rosse was able to observe the great swirls of the near universe, turning them into drawings which circulated throughout Europe.  This one shown on the left is of  the Whirlpool Galaxy, M51, and is believed to have been the spark for Van Gogh’s sky.

Anyway, watch this great short on the analysis of Van Gogh’s great painting.  Or perhaps you would rather just be content with our own interpretation of the work and what it does for you personally.  Either way is good.

Cradle of Light

The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.

–Vladimir Nabokov

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GC Myers- Cradle of LightThis another painting that is headed to the Kada Gallery as part of my solo show, Into the Common Ground, opening there on December 5th.  I call this 12″ by 16″ canvas Cradle of Light, very much based on the idea expressed in the quote above from Vladimir Nabokov.  Similarly, I tend to believe that our lives are bursts of ephemeral light in the darkness of the universe, so preciously short that each moment in the light is a gift.

Maybe that explains my rising at the first vague hint of light in the early morning sky.  Our time here seems so short , so tenuous, that to waste the light seems foolhardy.  Of course, this realization doesn’t keep me  from squandering this rare commodity on an epic scale nearly every day.  But at first light I am always reminded of the fact of our mortality, of that short time we have to fulfill our purpose here.

Whatever that purpose might be…

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