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Baseball Boogie

Little League Stadium Williamsport PA

Little League Stadium, Williamsport PA

It’s been an emotionally draining period these last few weeks as we brought my father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s back to this area from Florida.  It’s been hard watching him in his diminished physical and mental state and placing him in a local nursing facility where he could get the care he truly needs didn’t bring a lot of relief.  There’s a constant mild anxiety, a sense of worry mixed with sorrow and just a little guilt.

I know that it will get better by degrees but that is small comfort in the moment.

Yesterday, I finally picked up a brush for the first time in a few weeks.  I knew I had to get back into it because of obligations I have but more so because painting has been my escape route through the years, that place of retreat for me from the problems of the world.  I have found that I can translate my problems, my concerns into paint and off my shoulders.  It felt good yesterday but I still wasn’t able to fully get a foothold in that world.  I was still straddling that calmer place and the new world of my father.

I am sure it was partly because his situation represents a change in my normal routine.  I am an extreme creature of habit and have worked for years to build a healthy and productive routine.  So this change was an upheaval that will take some time to work around and rebuild a new routine that works for me.

I am hoping that today finds me closer to that other world in the paint.  I feel that it will. But if it doesn’t do it today at least I have another constant, another part of my routine to which I can turn with the assurance that it will almost always have something to offer.

Baseball.

The baseball gods can me merciless.  Ask a Chicago Cubs fan.  But sometimes they show a little tenderness and mercy, giving you a wonderful gift (or an escape route) when you really need it.

Over the past few weeks it has been a real boost and diversion to watch the emergence of rookie catcher Gary Sanchez for the Yankees who has been putting on a historic power display as the heir apparent to the legacy of Ruth, Gehrig Dimaggio, Mantle and Jeter.  There’s a buzz every time he steps to the plate that is a thrill to behold.  I know that it can’t last at this pace but when the baseball gods smile you have to just enjoy the moment.

Plus these same baseball gods even decided to give a local Little League team from just down the road in Maine-Endwell a bit of magic as they made their way to the final game of the Little League World Series where they play the kids from South Korea today for the championship down in Williamsport.

So today I will visit Dad, try to find a world in the paint and root for those kids from Maine-Endwell.  For this Sunday’s music, here’s a great song from Mabel Scott that pays homage to those baseball gods.  It’s Baseball Boogie  and the video feature some great footage of Mickey Mantle, Duke Snider, Willie Mays and Ted Williams.  Take a look, let your toes tap and have a great day.  Go, Maine-Endwell!

Hugette Caland

Hugette Caland-- Boat Race on the Potomac

Hugette Caland– Boat Race on the Potomac

I am not going to be able to write much here today but I did want to at least share a few images from artist Hugette Caland.  Born in Lebanon in 1931 to a father, Bechara El Khoury, who was to become the first President of that country in 1943, Hugette Caland, now 85, lives and works in .  Over the past five decades she has created a wonderful and diverse body of work that has become very celebrated in recent years.

I am showing the pieces that struck me but be advised that this is only a tiny glimpse of the range of her work.  I was immediately struck by the piece at the top, Boat Race on the Potomac, a very large piece measuring something in the area of 5′ high by 11′ wide.  Many of the pieces shown here, such as this piece, are very large textile wall hangings that are done with markers.  It set off all kinds of fires in my brain when I saw it and during the past few trying weeks has been an image that I often return to when I get a chance to move my mind away from the situation at hand.

As I said, I don’t have time today to spend much time giving all the background info that Hugette Caland and her work deserves but I just wanted to share these images as I feel they have something to say to me at this moment, something that I will use moving forward.  Please take a look and I urge you to seek out her story and some of the other images and videos available online.  Great stuff.

Hugette Caland-Rossinante Under Cover III diptych 51x84  mixed media on canvas 2011

Hugette Caland-Rossinante Under Cover III diptych 51×84 mixed media on canvas 2011

Hugette Caland-Rossinante Under Cover IV

Hugette Caland-Rossinante Under Cover IV

Hugette Caland-Out of Venice 58.5x76

Hugette Caland- Out of Venice 58.5″x76″

Hugette Caland-The Purple One 65x165

Hugette Caland- The Purple One 65″ x 165″

  Golden Daisies

Hugette Caland- Golden Daisies

 

As I noted the other day, we are dealing with a personal issue in our family that has kept me from my work for the past couple of weeks.  It’s just a part of life, something that most families have to deal with at some point, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier.  For me, the hard part has been being away from my work, that one thing that calms and settles me.  This has also kept me from writing much here.  In the interest of continuity, I thought that I’d at least share a blogpost from a few years back that is a personal favorite.

**********************

GC Myers -Abundant Life-smAll day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
And I intend to end up there.

— Rumi, thirteenth-century Persian poet

***************

The other day, while going over some very early posts from this blog, I came across this short poem from Rumi.  It had been passed on to me by my friend Scott Allen from the Cleveland area after my 2008 show at the Kada Gallery.  It was what he himself had felt in my work.  The poem had, I’m sorry to confess, slipped my mind over the years and coming across it again immediately rekindled my  original reaction to it. Then and now,  I felt as though this little wisp of a poem captured the secret behind what I was doing.

Like Rumi’s voice in this poem, I have spent most of my life in an existential quandary, filled with doubts about who I am and what I should be doing.  I often felt like a stranger in a strange land, ill at ease in my surroundings and feeling, like Rumi, that my soul is from elsewhere.   Initially, I felt as though my uncertainties and doubts could be allayed externally.  I was simply not in the right physical location.  But it was soon apparent that it was not an external problem.  Regardless of the location, I would not be at ease on the outside until I sought and found where I needed to be internally.

That’s where the painting came in and filled the void in my life.  If life were an ocean, painting gave me a hope, an endpoint for which to navigate. Without it, I would still be rudderless in an ocean of doubt.  With it and through it, I feel that my soul is headed in the right direction.

I don’t know exactly why I feel the need to share this intimacy with you this morning.  Perhaps that openness is part of the journey or even the destination.  But for me, seeing this poem again reconnected me to the journey at a point when it felt as though I was going slightly off course.  Sometimes in the process of seeking one forgets why they set out on the journey in the beginning.  And that why, that motivation, sometimes needs to be revisited during the journey.  It gives the destination definition and immediately puts you back on course.

This morning, I feel like I am sailing on smooth seas again, knowing why I am going forward.

*****************

I hope to feel that way again soon…

My Foolish Heart

Bill Evans aTime for some Sunday morning music and the gray skies here today along with everything else that is going on call for something a bit slower and quiet in tone.  I thought I would feature the piano of the great Bill Evans (1929-1980) and the song My Foolish Heart.

I chose this song because it’s a fairly good live recording and I like watching the hands of musicians, especially guitarists and pianists, when they play.  I don’t know much about music in technical terms but the differences in the way  musicians play is striking to me, adding a whole new dimension to the work.  For example, when I watch legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson play I am struck by the fluidity and nimbleness of his hands.  They have an extremely delicate and graceful bounce.

But watching Evans perform this song is, to me,  more about those unplayed parts of the music– the pauses and silences that fill the air of the piece.  Couple this with his body movements and positions and it makes for a mesmerizing performance.  Really nice stuff for a gray Sunday morning.

So take a look and give listen.  Hope you have a great day…

 

GC Myers-The Writing's on the Wall smI chose the image above from the Exiles series for this post because it just seemed to fit so well.  They were painted in pure emotion so whenever I am dealing with hard emotional things, I tend to go to this group of paintings for some reflection.

There has been a lapse in the blog this past week, as regular readers may have noticed.  It’s been a very, very tough week.

Now I’ve had a number of really bad days in my life.  A few bad weeks.  One or two very bad months and I even think there was one entire year that was fairly rotten from start to finish.  All were basically the result of my own bad decisions or perceptions.  Self-inflicted, you could say.

This was not self-inflicted.  I wish it were.  It would be easier to find blame for it within myself.  That I can do.

No, there is nobody to blame as we’ve been dealing with our father’s declining condition due to his Alzheimer’s. It culminated this past week with my siblings and I heading to Florida to retrieve my father after his longtime partner and caregiver broke her hip, making it unlikely that she will ever be able to provide care for him again. Caring for him was already too much for an 82 year old with health problems of her own living in an area where neither of them had family to fall back on.

It had been a couple of years since I had seen him.  The weekly few minutes on the phone had been reduced to a simple script that he followed that was all about the weather, his physical health (which was always “okay”) and  asking if I had spoke with my sister or my aunt.  Most other subjects were avoided or made short work of when they were brought up.  It always ended abruptly with a “If you get any real news give me a call.”  Three, four minutes, at the very most.

So our first day with him there was a shock seeing him in a very reduced state and we struggled with just what direction this could go.  It was painfully evident he needed real care that we could not provide and that we needed to bring him home to a location near us.  The trick was convincing him that this was the best thing for him.  I say convinced but it amounted to tricking him, playing with his memory deficits to get him to agree to go with us, trying to avoid getting him upset and even more confused or angry.

That sounds awful, I know, but I think those who have dealt with this disease will understand.  Myself, I didn’t have any experience dealing with this and for a day or two it was terrible doing this deception, even though it was benevolent in nature. But it had to be done and this was the only way that would accomplish it.   Even so, I found myself crying every night as I tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to sleep on his couch while he slept fitfully in the room next to me.

Every day posed a new mountain to climb and each new mountain seemed taller than the one before it.  When the time came to move him, it looked like there was a series of ever increasing peaks ahead of us.  It came down to a three day road trip with my brother and I escorting him north.  It felt like three months, every moment spent trying to remind him where we going and that, no, we weren’t taking him to his Florida home.  Everything was difficult and the constant emotional strain began to take a toll in the form of a bone-tiredness and mental fatigue.

Even as we turned into the parking lot of my sister’s apartment, where he will be staying for a short time, I had to calm his agitation.  The same thing happened when I left to come home a bit later.  I’m glad that I have a calming effect on him but it takes a toll every time I have to make him look at me and listen as I tell him that I am looking out for him and that everything will be okay.  Internally, I feel like a shit and a liar because I know that it won’t be okay, that he won’t ever see his Florida home again and most likely won’t see his longtime girlfriend again.

We have even bigger peaks to scale in the days ahead and I am filled with dread.  But they must be climbed.  That’s all there is to it.  There is no choice to be made here.  Regardless of the flaws and shortcomings of this man–and there are many– we know we have a responsibility to him that we can’t discard,  There is only path through those mountains.

I probably shouldn’t be sharing this on this blog that is primarily about my work. But I have come to view my life as my work and my work as my life. They seem interconnected and inseparable.  The emotions in my life feed the emotional part in my work so this will no doubt seep into my future work. That is the one thing in this whole thing of which I am sure.

So, I’ve got to put on my gear for the day and get climbing.  There’s a mountain out there waiting…

 

A Prayer For Light

I haven’t shown this piece here in quite a number of years.  It is from back in 1995, part of my Exiles series from that time.

This piece is perhaps the painting from that series that means the most to me in so manys ways.  It is titled A Prayer For Light and in the same way it filled an emotional need then, it does so for me now.

It may not be something that speaks to you or has any meaning at all.  That’s okay because for me it symbolizes things that I couldn’t possibly express here at this point.

And that’s enough for now…

Hello, Goodbye

Beatles Magical Mystery Tour GIFI have been busy with some personal matters but definitely wanted to get in my Sunday morning music.  Whatever else is going on, it seems there is always room for a little music.

For this week’s selection I went deep in the archives, almost 50 years back to 1967.  In the aftermath of their classic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Beatles released this song, Hello, Goodbye,  as a single.  It was also included in their film, Magical Mystery Tour.

It was penned completely by Paul McCartney and plays on the duality of the universe– hello/goodbye, yes/no, black/white, man woman and on and on.  To me it’s just another good song that I hope will start your Sunday off on a good note.  So give a listen and have a great Sunday.

 

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