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I fell down a rabbit hole this morning, spending much  too much valuable time going from video to video until I ended up with a song with a goofiness that made me laugh. It’s called I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman from 1967. It’s from a singer called Whistling Jack Smith whose real name was John O’Neill, who was a British tenor noted for his talent as a whistler.

The song’s original title was Too Much Birdseed.

I don’t know which I like better.

You just don’t hear many whistling songs these days so give it a listen– maybe it will make you smile.

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The Pebble/ Redux

A great flame follows a little spark.

Dante

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

Below is a posting from several years back that is about one of my earliest attempts at painting, about 25 years back. While I am not particularly proud of the piece itself, it still has great meaning for me. I find that by revisiting it periodically gives me a glimpse of the motivations, excitement and energies that propelled me in those early days. Unfortunately, those things that get pushed aside by habit and acquired skill over time. Trying to remember what my younger self was seeing and experiencing brings those things back, if only for a short time.

 

GC Myers-1993 PieceI was looking through some old work, pieces that came from my earliest forays into painting about twenty years ago when I was just beginning to experiment. I came across this particular piece and stopped as I always do when I am meandering through the old work and this painting appears before me. It is one of my earliest efforts, done in late 1993. It is rough and doesn’t exactly represent where my work has went in the meantime. I was hesitant in  showing it here but felt that there was something important in it for me.

This painting, copied in part from another artist’s watercolor, was done with old air brush paints on very cheap watercolor paper.  As I said, it’s rough and not a piece for which I hold a lot of pride. Nor is it a piece that shows any level of mastery. Certainly not a piece that I want many people to see if they are not already familiar with my work from the decades beyond this. You seldom want to show something that displays a weakness but sometimes there is something of value that goes beyond the surface.

But for me there is something about this piece that propelled me forward, something that gave me some sort of insight into where I might want to go with this whole thing.  I equate it to walking along and suddenly stumbling for what seems no reason. You stop and look down to see what made you trip and there is nothing but a tiny pebble. Insignificant in every way. Certainly nothing that would make you stop at any other time. But this time it has somehow caused you to loose your balance.  So you stop and stand there, looking down at this pebble. In the moment, you  begin to see other things that you had never taken notice of before and the path you had been walking before the pebble waylaid you is forgotten.

And that’s what this painting was and is for me– a pebble. On it’s own it is very little and completely innocuous. But for me it that thing that tripped me and made me stop to take  notice of a new path. There were small inklings– the curves of the landscape and the blocking of the colors, for example– in this this piece that sparked thoughts and further explorations that, in turn, pushed me even more as I went forward.

In a very long chain of mostly fortunate reactions, this was the catalyst. So while I may not hold this painting in high esteem (nor would I expect anyone  to do so) this old work has real meaning for me.

 

In the Revealing

The painting shown here is from about eight years back, a 30″ by 40″ canvas that is titled In the Revealing. It’s a favorite of mine and hangs in the studio where I can see it from my desk. It has never hung in a gallery and most likely never will.

It’s in its home.

For me, it very much relates to the thought in the words of Rumi shown above. When all is said and done, our true nature is a constant.  It endures the worst of this world and keeps us grounded when things look bad because it tells us that those things which were once important, remain so even when the chaos of this world seems have wholly obscured them.

In times like this, this painting reminds me that true nature endures. And that is an important thing to remember.

When I Was Young

Every generation has positive and negatives aspects during the growing up process that are unique to that time. As you age, we tend to glorify what we believe to be these better aspects to, for some unknown reason, show a generational superiority.

Oddly enough, we do the same with the bad aspects of our time growing, as though it gives us both an excuse for our shortcomings and a way to say that we are battle-hardened and tougher than the current generation as a result of having gone through that time. You now the routine: I had to fight off a grizzly bear every morning in order to walk two miles uphill through waist-deep snow just get on the school bus– all without breakfast. Or shoes.

But thinking about the our plague of school shootings makes me think I how fortunate I was to have gone to school every day without worrying that someone was going to walk in and start shooting. There was already enough stress in going to school without that threat of mortal danger hanging over your head.

I can’t even imagine how I would have felt if that had been happening when I went to school.

Fortunately, we didn’t have those kind of events at that time but we did have terrible things happen. And even though they didn’t reach the level of these tragedies, they still left a mark.

I went to a small rural grade school. I can’t remember if I was in fourth or fifth grade but one weekday afternoon a girl one grade below me came up missing. A search began and they found her body in a dump site on a creek not far from the school. Soon after they charged a disturbed high school boy with her murder.

I remember that weekend when that happened so clearly. The world changed drastically for me and, I am sure, for many other kids in my school. It that short time school and the rest of world suddenly seemed like a much more dangerous and dark place. There was now a gray sadness I had never known.

We lived in an isolated old farmhouse and at that time I was sleeping upstairs by myself. At night, I would often turn on my little portable radio to drown out some of the creaks and groans that the old place made, noises that would make the younger me think that Dracula or the Wolf Man were just outside the door–Frankenstein or the Mummy never bothered me because I figured I could outrun those guys.

But on Sunday nights the only broadcasts I could get at that time of night were religious programs. They always had a feeling of hellfire and damnation which always bummed me out a bit even at the end of a good weekend. I remember how awful I felt that particular Sunday night in my bed in the dark when Billy Graham’s Hour of Decision came on.

His voice and words gave no comfort at all.

In fact, it made me feel even more fearful, alone and sad. I still can hear the train whistle that came across the fields from the tracks that ran along the river which was about a half mile away. It added a cold and mournful tone to that moment that still lingers with me.

As I said, I can’t imagine how I would feel if I were a kid today. But based on that moment almost fifty years ago, it would not be good. Kids should not have to worry about such things.

Here’s my choice for this week’s Sunday morning music. It is fittingly titled When I Was Young from one of my favorite bands from the 60’s, Eric Burdon and The Animals. Try to have a good Sunday.

Truth Exists…

Truth exists. Only lies are invented.

Georges Braque

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

I am in the studio, looking at a new larger painting on my easel that is nearing completion. The words above Braque clang around in my mind as I look at it.

The painting is strictly an invention, a representation of a nonexistent place.

I ask myself, “Is it therefore a lie?”

No, of course not.

The painting is a true expression of my emotion and existence. That place represented on the canvas exists within me.  And maybe within others who see its symbolic truth.

But I think I know what Braque means with his words. I have some paintings in the studio that I know are lies, not done with honest emotion. They aren’t necessarily bad. In fact, a few have a shiny appeal and have an appearance of truth in them. But there is something just a bit off in the way they come across to me, like hearing the words of a well constructed lie that you know in fact to be untrue.

And if that feeling comes across to me, it no doubt does the same for some others, as well. Not everyone. Some people don’t want to look beyond the surface and are willing to accept the lie before them because it somehow fits their own needs. For them, it is an acceptable truth.

It is a useful lie that serves a purpose to fill their personal need.

And that is okay.

Well, at least it’s okay in the realm of art which is based on personal and subjective preferences.

In other aspects of this life, I think we are finding that this casual acceptance of invented lies can have dire consequences.

Hopefully, truth prevails…

 

Every 60 Hours

Every 60 hours.

There is a school shooting every 2 1/2 days in the USA.

Overall, there is a mass shooting every 36 hours. Every day and a half.

To be fair, not every school shooting is a mass event. Some are just guns being discharged in a school, sometimes without injury. But sometimes there are events like the 17 students murdered yesterday in Florida. And all mass shootings involve four or more people being shot or killed.

Apparently, the thoughts and prayers route isn’t doing too well for this particular subject. There doesn’t seem to be much thought going into stemming this tide of death and all those prayers fail to move a god whose silence seems to be replying, “You figure it out for yourselves.

You figure it out for yourselves— that is ultimately the answer.

When you hear a politician offering thoughts and prayers on an every other day basis, what you are really hearing is, “I have no thoughts on how to change this without upsetting the special interests who pay me. And by saying I am praying means that it is not my responsibility and is in the hands of God.

Ultimately, everyone says there is little to be done. It’s too big an issue and obviously too difficult to solve without sacrificing some divine right to own an assault rifle. Instead, we shrug our shoulders again and again and opt to instead sacrifice our children, ourselves and the society in which we live.

Some of us will go out and buy guns in response to these type of things, thinking that if we are armed to the teeth and feel a tiny bit of security for ourselves, it is now  okay.

But do we want to live in the type of world that this sort of thinking creates?

Apparently, the answer is yes because we continually choose to take no action whatsoever, thinking that all the multitudes of thoughts and prayers will magically kick in at last.

Thoughts and prayers? Stick that phrase where the sun don’t shine, pal.

Thoughts and prayers are empty words when real action is required.

We have to figure it out for ourselves and until we make that decision to do so, to take personal responsibility and sacrifice in the name of change for a greater good, we will go through this again and again and again and again.

Until it hits every school, every community, every family. Maybe then we will see what we have become and will decide that a change is needed.

Until that day comes, we have our  thoughts and prayers.

Sigh…

These Arms of Mine

Another Valentine’s Day. We often think of it as a day to express your fondness for the one you love. But at its heart, there is an element of yearning and loneliness in the day.

To give someone a Valentine as a kid– or maybe even when you’re a little older–is to make a plea for their attention and affection. It is an admission of need and vulnerability that is very human, as is the need to know that you are indeed loved by another.

This song, These Arms of Mine , is from Otis Redding. For me, Otis can do no wrong and nobody better expresses the yearning that I am talking about here than Otis.

Have a good day. And if you love someone, let them know every day, not just on this day.

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