Rest Stop


Perhaps I am doomed to retrace my steps under the illusion that I am exploring, doomed to try and learn what I should simply recognize, learning a mere fraction of what I have forgotten.

Andre Breton


I was looking at this painting, Rest Stop, here in the studio this morning just before I came across the quote above from the French writer and founder of Surrealism Andre Breton. The two things, the image and his words, merged for a moment in my mind.

I saw the Red Chair, as I often do, as a form of memory, a place to stop in order look back in time and retrace my steps just as Breton wrote. The idea that I might be searching for lessons and meaning from the past that somehow escaped my recognition in those past moments sounds right as well.

Maybe more than the future or the present, the past and our perceptions of it are great fodder for an artist who is searching for meaning in this life and in their work. They see the present and the future as ultimately products of the past. Some lessons have been learned and some mistakes repeated, but the past seems to always echo forward in time for that artist.

And that’s what I see in this painting. The Red Chair is at a small clearing where it can stop to consider the path it has already traveled as well as the path that is ahead. The trunks of the trees surrounding it obstruct its view so that it has no idea of where it may be headed. The Red Chair uses the present as a rest stop to try to envision a future scouring its memory of the past for clues that might help it imagine and structure that future.

This painting, for me, is very much about that part of the artistic process which means, at its core, it is part of the human process. We all formulate our futures with our memories of the past. Most of us do it without much conscious thought, assuming that the lessons of the past have already been incorporated into our present. Hopefully, some of us will take the approach of the Red Chair and sit for a short rest in the present to consider the past and the future as one.

Perhaps there are lessons still to be learned and messages still unrecognized. That is certainly what I am seeking as an artist.



I have been thinking a lot about why I am an artist. On some days the idea of being an artist seems so abstract and ridiculous while on others it feels concrete and purposeful. Both have me asking why. I wish I had a simple answer as to the why of what I do but it never seems to show itself fully. Here’s a post from several years back that offers one possibility. It was written before the current state of affairs here in this country and the uncertainty I refer to is not the same as the chaos our current government is offering. Their chaos is based on their certainty and, as Voltaire says, that is an absurd condition.


GC Myers- Twilight Wanderer


Doubt is not a pleasant condition but certainty is an absurd one.



Much of my work has a journey or a quest as its central theme and the odd thing is that I don’t have a solid idea of what the object is that I am seeking in this work. I have thought it was many things over the years, things like wisdom and knowledge and inner peace and so on. But it comes down to a more fundamental level or at least I think so this morning. It may change by this afternoon. I think the search is for an end to doubt or at least coming to an acceptance of my own lack of answers for the questions that have often hung over us all.

I would say the search is for certainty but as Voltaire points out above, certainty is an absurd condition. That has been my view for some time as well. Whenever I feel certainty coming on in me in anything I am filled with an overriding  anxiety. I do not trust certainty. I look at it as fool’s gold and when I see someone speak of anything with absolute certainty–particularly politicians and televangelists– I react with a certain degree of mistrust, probably because I see this absolutism leading to an extremism that has been the basis for many of the worst misdeeds throughout history. Wars and holocausts, slavery and genocide, they all arose from some the beliefs held by one party in absolute certainty.

So maybe the real quest is for a time and place where uncertainty is the order of the day, where certainty is vanquished. A place where no person can say with any authority that they are above anyone else, that anyone else can be subjugated to their certainty.

To say that we might be better off in a time with no certainty sounds absurd but perhaps to live in a time of certainty is even more so.

Ansel Adams- The Tetons and the Snake River



Millions of men have lived to fight, build palaces and boundaries, shape destinies and societies; but the compelling force of all times has been the force of originality and creation profoundly affecting the roots of human spirit.

-Ansel Adams


Gray and Gold


Good painting offers a mysterious pleasure that one cannot quite put his finger on because the painter, through honesty and hard work, has actually painted his own personality in a familiar subject; and any person’s personality or character or soul, or whatever your word is for it, is something of an enigma.


— John Rogers Cox, 1951
I came across the quote above early this morning and was intrigued. I understood and felt a kinship with the meaning of his words but didn’t recognize the name of the painter so I looked him up. The image at the top was the first image I found. This painting and a number of others made me wonder why I didn’t know anything about this guy.
John Rogers Cox was born in Indiana in 1915 and spent a bit of his life in Chicago teaching at the Art Institute there. He later lived in New Orleans and the states of Washington and Kentucky, where he died in 1990. He painted very slowly and, as a result, didn’t paint many pieces during his career. The number of pieces by Cox that are known to exist is somewhere in the range of 20 paintings, although I am not sure that is a truly accurate number. This limited production probably explains his lack of widespread recognition.
The painting at the top is his most famous work. It is titled Gray and Gold and has been at the Cleveland Museum of Art since 1943. It was painted in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor and the entry of the US into World War II. I think the symbolism in it is pretty evident so I won’t go into it here. But even without the knowledge of that symbolism, it’s a pretty potent piece.
That can be said of most of his other paintings, as well. At least those you can find with decent available images. I love the relationship he creates in his work between the vast sky and the landscape. There is an elegant simplicity that really captivates me.
Coming across this painter made my morning. John Rogers Cox is another one of those expressive voices from the past that are still there if you only take the time to look.

All Around You

It’s Father’s Day and, quite honestly, it’s a bittersweet thing for me. My dad is still alive and spends his days and nights in a local nursing facility, as he has for the last couple of years. He has Alzheimer’s dementia but still recognizes me and remembers quite a lot most of the time so long as he isn’t under stress. He has little idea of time and place right now. When I visit him today he won’t remember if I was there yesterday and an hour after I am gone will forget I was there today.

Our conversations are short and feel almost scripted.

How long did it take you to get here?

How old are you?

How old am I?

You still driving the same car?

Where do you live?

What’s the weather like?

Is there snow out there?

That last one always makes me laugh as he has a large window in his room with a great view of the local hills and the city along with the river that winds through it and all of its bridges. He asked me that question yesterday after I told him it was going to be 80 degrees. He seldom gets up and looks out the window. He has little interest in anything outside his room.

I wish I could go off on a long description of all the things I got from my dad, pieces of advice and gems of wisdom, but there wasn’t much passed along directly. Sure, there is the swearing and a few other things that I would prefer to keep to myself. I am sure there are things I do that are direct reflections of him and his influence, some good and some bad. But it was never consciously passed along. Much of what I got from him came in the form of genetics and in object lessons where my observations often led me to avoid emulating much of his behavior.

But, even though he was flawed as a father and remains a faded shadow of the man he once was, he remains my dad.

For this Sunday, here’s song, All Around You, from Sturgill Simpson, accompanied by the Dap-Kings, the horn section that had previously backed soul singer Sharon Jones before her death in late 2016. I am not a fan of a lot of modern country music– so much of it sounds like formulaic 1980’s pop/rock to me– but I do like Sturgill Simpson. There’s a certain authenticity in his work that feels like it is in a natural progression from early traditional country music, even when he’s covering a Nirvana song such as In Bloom.

When things aren’t going well I sometimes find myself singing the chorus from his You Can Have the Crown. I won’t repeat the chorus here but it and the rest of the song always make me laugh. I think it’s a song my dad would like.

The song All Around You is about advice being passed on from a father to his young son, that there is a universal heart that contains a love with the ability to transcend the hatred, meanness and stupidity that currently surrounds us. The video is quite well done and makes quite a political statement for the times.

Take a look and have a good Father’s Day.





Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.


Georgia O’Keeffe
I am going to make it short and sweet today. The painting at the top is Music in Pink and Blue II from Georgia O’Keeffe. I had a calendar page with this image tacked to the wall of my old studio up in the woods for about ten years. The color and rhythm of it made it a favorite of mine. More importantly, O’Keeffe’s ability to make her unknown known resonated with me. It also made evident that revelation, the willingness to expose one’s totality including weaknesses and unknowns, was indeed the important thing in making one’s art.
It’s a nice reminder for this and every morning.

Wake Up



When good people in any country cease their vigilance and struggle, then evil men prevail.

–Pearl S. Buck


I am tired this morning. Really tired.

It’s a feeling of exhaustion that feels physical at the moment, most likely from having a few nights in a row of not enough sleep along with days with not enough physical activity due to circumstances beyond my control. But I know that part of this fatigue is emotional and anxiety based.

It’s an exhaustion I am sure many of us here in the US are suffering from at this point in time. We see an unraveling of what we believe is our national identity. We once saw our nation as being a welcoming and generous land that was strengthened by the diversity and energy of those who aspired to become citizens of this country. Our history is filled with the great accomplishments of those who were forced to flee their homelands and come to this land.

This was a country that stood against tyranny and oppression. We fought and died in wars against these evils. We united with other like minded nations to stand as a monolith against the dark actions of  the evils perpetrated by despots.

The inalienable rights of all humans were part of who we were.

Right was our might. The beacon that Lady Liberty holds high in NY Harbor held real meaning to the rest of the world. Our ideal was the world’s ideal and this country was a light of hope in an often dark world.

It is easy to argue that we didn’t always live up to the ideal image that we held. We often fell short. But so long as we maintained that ideal as a beacon to guide us, to move us somehow forward, we felt assured that goodness would somehow prevail.

But it seems to me, as I believe it does to many others, that this ideal is crumbling before our eyes.

Our might is no longer right.

We have replaced our generosity with a meanness of spirit that turns a blind eye to the suffering of the most vulnerable among us. Instead of fighting tyrants and despots, we now attack our most loyal allies while embracing our longtime adversaries, praising them, defending them and ever more employing their tactics to control our own people.

The use of misinformation, outright lies, fear and intimidation is on the rise. There is evidence of corruption that is on an epic scale. Regulations and rules meant to protect the majority of us have been stripped away to benefit the wealthiest, who have seemingly purchased outright control of our government.

The ideal that we once held seems like a distant memory. And that is exactly what is will be if we do not exercise the only power remaining with us, the power to vote. And even that is under assault.

Like I said, all of this makes me tired, makes me want to tune out and not pay attention. I hear this all the time from a lot of different people. And if you’re okay with a world without us maintaining that ideal image we once held, I guess that’s okay. But be warned that this a slippery slope and we are already losing our balance. What seems like a small thing today quickly becomes something consequential when you knock down the barriers that once hold them in check.

And when these now small things become bigger and more terrible in their scope, what will you say you did to stop it when there was still a chance? Will you say you were so tired of it all and opted to look the other way? That’s been done before. Take a look at the films of people who lived in Nazi-ruled countries, folks who lived near Death Camps and claimed they had no idea what was going on. It’s an ugly thing to behold.

Inaction and willful ignorance are enablers of all things evil.

So, I’m tired. You’re tired. We’re all tired.

Well, that’s too bad because unless we stay awake, stay involved and do all that we can do, that ideal we once held is doomed. Lady Liberty might as well be replaced by a statue of the current president holding both arms high above his head. Instead of holding a beacon of freedom, he will be giving us all the finger- one hand outward towards the rest of the world and the other inward towards us, the American people.

Believe me when I say I don’t want to write this. I’m an artist. I would rather write about art or movies or music or literature. Anything else. But I feel compelled to do what little I can to keep folks awake and involved.

Myself, included. So, please, wake up. Don’t tune out now. Don’t give in to fatigue.

There is still hope.


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