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WoodSwimmer

Came across this interesting little short film this morning called WoodSwimmer. It is a stop motion film made by Brett Foxwell who describes his process as  “a straightforward technique but one which is brutally tedious to complete.” It involves taking continuous photographic cross-sectional scans of hardwood logs, burls and branches and sequencing them so that reveal the universe that exists within the wood, one that Foxwell sees in a sci-fi scenario as holding alien lifeforms in a world that is always near us, hidden in plain sight.

It’s a mesmerizing piece of film. To watch the movement of the material through the cross sections is like watching time itself  flowing, a fascinating rhythm unfolding before your eyes. In its simplest form, it is pleasing in a sheer aesthetic way with the beauty of its movement, colors and textures. Beyond that it, it raises questions on the nature of time and existence.

Take a look– it’s less than 2 minutes. And also take a look at Brett Foxwell’s website, bfophoto.com . It shows some of his other projects including a trailer for his stop-motion film, Fabricated, which was ten years in the making and has garnered many awards.

 

WoodSwimmer from bfophoto on Vimeo.

Real busy this morning but wanted to share some paintings and a short video/slideshow of the work of the great American Modernist painter John Marin, who was born in 1870 and died in 1953. He was a pioneer in the medium of watercolor as well as the merging of abstraction and realism in his paintings.

His transparent and translucent colors and the freedom with which he painted, along with the ever freshness of his work,  really inspired me early on. Each painting seemed to be an improvised performance, like a visual jazz riff. Though my style has diverged greatly from his, I still find myself wanting the looseness and immediacy of expression that his work so often displayed.

Take a look and a listen. The music behind this slideshow is Fats Waller’s Honeysuckle Rose played by James P. Johnson who was a great pianist and composer, a pioneer in the stride style of jazz playing. Good stuff.

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“it was the kind of moon
that I would want to
send back to my ancestors
and gift to my descendants

so they know that I too,
have been bruised…by beauty.” 

Sanober Khan, Turquoise Silence

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I call this new painting, a 16″ by 8″ canvas, The Bruise of the Moon. I take the title from  the snippet above was taken from a poem, Tonight’s Moon, from the book Turquoise Silence from contemporary Indian poet, Sanober Khan.

I like this idea that beauty makes a deep impression, bruises us in a way. And that effect by the moon seems the perfect example as its beauty has been our companion since we first came to be here, however that may be.

Very often we pay little attention to the moon as it rises and falls through all our nights. We fail to notice its light and the path it traces across the sky as we focus on our earthly matters.

Yet, every so often, it refuses to be taken for granted and demands that we stop and take it in, to admire its cool and distant majesty. To make us consider that it has looked down on all that man has done in our relatively short time here, at least when compared the time that the Moon has looked down on our planet. To think that it has witnessed the conquests of Alexander the Great, the birth of Jesus, the explorations and sailors that circled the globe and so much more, including welcoming us as we came to visit it in the distant space it occupies.

It has watched us at our best and at our worst, forever a true companion to the most and least among us, almost leaving a mark, a bruise behind. It makes me wonder if that person who does not see the beauty in the moon even has the ability to see beauty in anything. It’s a thought that makes me sad because I can’t imagine what kind of person I would have to be to not feel the emotion that comes with witnessing the eternal and ageless beauty that the Moon brings us without fail.

This painting will be be included in my coming solo show, Self Preservation, at the West End Gallery which opens July 14.

 

I came across this blogpost from four years back and it made me go over and closely examine the painting about which I was writing. It’s one of those things where you walk by it every day and after a bit, you fail to really see it. But looking at it reminded me of how much it bolstered me at the time it took its little prize.

I haven’t entered a painting in a competition for many years now. I never liked the idea of judging one painting against another as though there was some objective scale on which to judge them. Plus the idea of a group of judges trying to get a grasp of your work with 10 seconds exposure to it seemed kind of unfair in some way. Not that I didn’t have successes in the competitions I did enter. I took third place in a national competition and had a couple of Best in Shows along with a couple of other awards in regional events. But it never felt good to me and when I felt like it no longer served my needs I stopped entering them. 

But those competitions did wonders for me early on in my development and I may not be writing this today if not for them. Here’s what I wrote a few years back:

GC Myers-The Sky Doesn't Pity 1995smI was looking around my studio, taking in some of the work hanging on the walls throughout the house.  There are pieces from other artists, including some talented friends and young fans along with some notables such as David Levine and Ogden Pleissner.  But most of it is older work of my own.  There are a few orphans, paintings that showed extensively but never found a home.  In some I see flaws that probably kept someone from taking it home but most just didn’t find that right person with which to connect.  Most of the other hanging work is work that I won’t part with, work that somehow has deeper meaning for me.  Work that just stays close.

One of these paintings is the one shown here, The Sky Doesn’t Pity, a smallish watercolor that’s a little over 4″ square.  It was painted in 1995 after I had started publicly showing my work for the first time at the West End Gallery in Corning, NY, not too far from my home.  The gallery has been what I consider my home gallery for 18 years [22 years now], hosting an annual solo show of my work for the last eleven years.  This year’s show, Islander, ends next Friday.

But when this piece was done I was still new there, still trying to find a voice and a style that I could call my own.  I had sold a few paintings and had received a lot of encouragement from showing the work at the gallery but was still not sure that this would lead anywhere.  I entered this painting in a regional competition at the Gmeiner Art Center in Wellsboro , a lovely rural village in northern Pennsylvania with beautiful Victorian homes and gas lamps running down Main Street.

It was the first competition I had ever entered and, having no expectations, was amazed when I was notified that this piece had taken one of the top prizes.  I believe it was a third but that didn’t matter to me.  Just the fact that the judges had seen something in it, had recognized the life in it, meant so much to me.  It gave me a tremendous sense of validation and confidence in moving ahead.  Just a fantastic boost that opened new avenues of possibility in my mind.

I still get that same sense even when I look at this little piece today, a feeling that would never let me get rid of this little guy.  I can’t tell you how many times I have glimpsed over at this painting and smiled a bit, knowing what it had given me all those years ago.

It encourages me even now.

I was going to write about my dad and his current life with dementia but I just didn’t want to do it this morning. One of my own struggles in dealing with his condition is rectifying his current condition with the image that I had of him from my childhood. I thought I’d run a post from back in 2010 that deals with that earlier image.

After the post is this week’s Sunday morning music, Mama Papa Twist from the Crazy Rockers. a Dutch Indorock group from the early 60’s. Indorock was a fusion of western and Indonesian music performed by Indonesian emigres in northern Europe in the 50’s and 60’s. It was pretty hot in its time and some of the bigger groups, like the Tielman Brothers, still perform. This doesn’t have a lot to do with Father’s Day but I get a kick out of it and I think my dad, especially in that earlier incarnation would as well.

Take a look and have yourself a good day.

This is a photo from back in 1963 or 64. We were living in an old farmhouse on Wilawanna Road, outside Elmira, just on the NY side of the border with Pennsylvania. You could walk over the hill behind our house and be in Pennsylvania. It’s a place that played a large part in my formative years.

We had a large chunk of yard to one side of the house that became a ballfield, a place where many of the kids on our road came to play baseball regularly and where Dad would often pitch to us or hit soaring fungoes that we would run under, pretending to be Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle.  Dad is standing near home plate in this photo. That’s my brother, Charlie ( Chuckie back then), in the background.

I love this photo. When I think of images of my father this one is always first in line in my head.  It was a Sunday morning, Easter if I am not mistaken but time has fuzzed that detail a bit.

It show my father at about 30 or so years of age, as strong and powerful as I would ever know him.  I was four or five years old and he was larger than life to me then, could do no wrong.  My protector and my boon companion.  This view of him sums that all up.

The pose has a bit of the pride and arrogance of youth in it, still brimming with the what-if’s and what-can-be’s of potential.  It’s not something you’re used to seeing in your parents and witnessing it is like seeing a secret glimpse of them, a side you know must have been there but remains hidden from you in your day to day life with your parents.  Maybe that’s why I like this picture so much.  It seems like a marking point between his youth and ours, his kids.

I don’t know.  Like many personal things, it’s hard to explain.  All I know is that when I see my Dad today or think about him, the image of this photo is never far from my mind.

happy father’s day…

Destination Seen

If we are always arriving and departing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored. One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.

Henry Miller
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We often search and search, moving from place to place, trying to find that certain something that we can’t quite name. We have it in our minds that it is a physical place, a tangible object, that will satisfy our need to wander.

New people to meet.

New streets to explore.

New landscapes to surround us. New hills to climb.

But maybe what we seek is just a new way of seeing ourselves, of a new opportunity to unleash the person we desire ourselves to be. Or, more likely, a chance to see ourselves as we really are, something that becomes obscured in the familiar. Being anchored, as Miller infers above, in the repetition of  day to day life has us showing ourselves always in the same light. We lose touch with aspects of who we are that are never allowed to come to light.

The search allows us that new perspective. While we remain the same we see ourselves from new angles, new vantage points, allowing us to feel new. Different.

Sometimes it is good and sometimes it is not, exposing perspectives on ourselves we would rather not see and may have hidden for a long time. But hopefully unveiling the truth of all that we are will somehow  make us feel comfortable in our wholeness.  Knowing our shortcomings as well as our strengths make us more real, more human.

What we seek is always with us.

You might not view it the same way but that’s what I am seeing in this new painting, an 8″ by 16″ canvas, that I call Destination Seen. It is headed to the West End Gallery for my upcoming show, Self Determination, which opens July 14.

 

 

Sorrowing Old Man

Vincent Van Gogh- Sorrowing Old Man

I wanted to say something about yesterday’s shooting that took place in Alexandria, not too far from the hotel where we regularly stay when we visit the area. I sat here this morning and ran over all kinds of points that ran the spectrum of viewpoints on the event in political and societal terms. But in the end it came down to one point:

I was not shocked nor surprised by what happened in Alexandria.

Nor was I shocked by the overlooked story of the murders yesterday of three UPS workers in San Francisco by a disgruntled employee who was also killed.

Saying that doesn’t please me in any way.

The fact that I feel numb to this and have come to expect violence is dismaying in so many ways. This numbness only deepens the feelings of helplessness that set such events in action in the first place, driving people toward extremism.

It weakens our moral compass, allowing us to accept and normalize things that should horrify us.

It diminishes our humanity to the point that we see such events as only distant events with numbers of casualties.

It increases the distance between us, further fracturing whatever commonality we once held. It makes us try to place blame on those who differ from ourselves– in political persuasion, in ethnicity, race, etc.

We are lessened as a people by every single one of these events.

Yet, forgive me for saying this, I don’t see these tragedies ending anytime soon.

We are an open wound of a nation at the moment. I don’t know that we have anyone currently with the ability to heal this wound, to bring together the people of this country in common cause. Certainly not the person in the White House who has displayed little compassion in his life and shows no signs of embracing all the people of this nation.  His abject greed, selfishness, spitefulness and habitual dishonesty are not traits that will ever serve the greater good.

And it will most likely not be healed in the House or the Senate where party tribalism has won over. Statesmanship is dead and simply doing what is right for the people is no longer the directing principle. It has been replaced by constant short term thinking– the next election, the next campaign event, the next fundraiser. The next large donor. Blind eyes are turned to whatever serves these short term goals, however harmful they may be to the long range health of the nation.

But I don’t want to politicize this. I don’t think there is a political solution to this problem.

Nor a simple answer.

Or even one at all.

Maybe this is like a horrible rollercoaster ride where are strapped in with the tracks leading to a place we really don’t want to go but we can’t get off  because it’s moving way too fast now. So , there is nothing to do but ride it out with hearts bursting and screams in our throats.

As I said, it’s dismaying. The thought and the certainty that there is more violence, more bloodshed ahead is always disheartening.

Maybe this is just venting and serves no purpose. Most likely that’s true. But we can’t just say “oh, well” and move on time after time when these things happen. At some point, it will reach a critical mass and we all have to answer for our willingness to accept the unacceptable for so long.

I dread that day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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