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Here’s an update for upcoming events on my schedule for the next couple of months:

First, on August 5, I will be giving a Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery in conjunction with my show, Self Determination, that is currently hanging there. The talk begins at 1 PM and generally runs about an hour, give or take. As is now tradition, one of my paintings will be given away to one of those in attendance, along with several other surprises that are currently in the works. This is normally a brisk hour of questions and answers with some laughs along with some serious moments. If you have questions about the whats, whys and hows of my work, this is a great way to have them answered. Plus, you might cart off a piece for yourself!

Then the following month, on Saturday, September 16th, I take the Gallery Talk on the road down to the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. This is the 15th year for this annual talk and, like the West End talks, features a drawing for one of my paintings along with some other surprises. There is generally some fun and a few revelations. I am always surprised at how much I learn from these talks myself from the input and insight provided by the audience. This talk starts at 1 PM and goes to around to 2 with the drawing at the end of the talk.

Sunny Point on Keuka Lake

And in late September, I will again be leading a painting workshop at Red Barn at the lovely Sunny Point location on beautiful and tranquil Keuka Lake in NY’s beautiful Finger Lakes region for the Yates County Arts Council. The past two years doing this have been an unexpected pleasure for me and I think this year’s edition will be a couple of days of fun, good conversation and, hopefully, some useful instruction. The dates should be finalized this week and details will be forthcoming. Most likely, this two day workshop will take place in the last week of September. Enrollment is limited to 8 or 9 attendees so, if you are interested, don’t hesitate in getting in touch with Kris at YCAC  to get your name on the list.

Hope you make it to one of the talks or to the workshop. I think it could be a lot of fun.

I am in a real hurry this morning but wanted to at least share my Sunday morning song and I thought that my choice this week fit this particular painting very well. This painting, The Way of the Master, has spent a couple of years in Kuwait being displayed at the American Embassy there. When Ambassador Silliman’s appointment changed to being Ambassador to Iraq, the painting returned to me. It was a favorite of mine from the time I painted it and I was thrilled to have it back. It’s showing at the West End Gallery as part of my Self Determination show.

I am sharing what I wrote about this painting a few years back. The accompanying song is Tomorrow Never Knows from the Beatles, off their classic 1966 Revolver album. Give a listen and have a great Sunday.

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GC Myers- The Way of the Master

“There is one single thread binding my way together…the way of the Master consists in doing one’s best…that is all.”

– Confucius 

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I originally had a different title in mind for this new painting,which is 24″ by 36″ on canvas. I saw it as being about the end of a journey, about coming to a point that marked the highest level of emotional  and spiritual development. But then I remembered this quote from Confucius and it had immediate resonance.

It all comes down to effort in the end. Everything that comes to us, everything we desire and value,  ultimately depends on the amount of effort we choose to put forth.  Things done half-heartedly and with little attention never prosper or develop. Those things you take for granted never grow into something more.  They only diminish with less attention. You can witness  this in every aspect of your life. I know I can see it in my own. Everything I value– my marriage, my work and my peace of mind– requires hard work and maintenance, my very best effort.

This full effort ultimately leads to a deeper sense of connection with those things we value, emotionally and spiritually, and I suppose that’s what this piece signifies for me. I believe that any thinking person wants to reach their highest point of development, wants mastery over their own physical and spiritual life. This painting reminds me that it is obtainable if I am willing to give my very best.

As Confucius says: and that is all.

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A Lindner Replay

Busy this morning but feeling like a pop of color. Maybe in the form of of one of the artists who were in the vanguard of the Pop Art movement, Richard Lindner. Here’s post from several years back along with a video slideshow of his work. It’s oddly set to the music of Brahms. I would have thought some 60’s pop would have been better suited but, hey, I didn’t make the video. Take a look for yourself and have a good day.

Richard lindner Double PortraitI’ve been going through some books on my shelves that I haven’t looked at for some time and came across a smallish book on the work of Richard Lindner, who was  a German born  (1901)  painter who moved to New York during World War II.  He taught at the Pratt Institute then later at Yale before his death in 1978.

His work was obviously a big influence on the Pop Art movement of the 60’s.  If you remember the artwork for the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine film,  you can easily see how Lindner’s work Richard Lindner The Coupleguided the hand of the film’s  artist who most people think was Peter Max.  However, the artist was Heinz Edelman .  This misconception probably shows Lindner’s influence on Max as well.   I also can see Lindner in some of Terry Gilliam‘s animations for Monty Python.  The Beatles  paid tribute to Lindner  by inserting his image  in the group of figures on the cover of their classic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.  He’s  between Laurel and Hardy in the second row.

I am really attracted to Lindner’s colors and use of forms.  His colors have gradations and complexities that give his work added dimension.  His shapes and lines are strong and sure.  It’ demands an immediate response, even if it’s negative, and I really respect that.

Richard Lindner  FBI On East 69th StreetOne of my favorites is shown to the left here,  FBI On East 69th Street.  I have no idea whether he was influenced by Lindner’s work (although I wouldn’t be surprised), but when I look at this painting I can only think of  David Bowie, especially in the early 70’s in the Glam era.  Again, the strength of the color and shape,s as well as how his figures fill the picture frame, excite me.  How I might take this excitement and make it work within my own work is something that remains to be seen.  It may not be discernible but seeing work that makes your own internal wheels spin will show up in some manner.  We’ll have to see if this comes through in the near future.

Richard Lindner The Meeting

Richard Lindner Rock-RockRichard Lindner Telephone

So runs my dream: but what am I? 
         An infant crying in the night: 
         An infant crying for the light: 
And with no language but a cry.
                                                                                                          .
Alfred Tennyson, Canto 54, In Memoriam A.H.H.
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I came across an online article a few weeks back that captured my interest. Written by British designer Benjamin Earl Evans, it is titled 11 Brutal Truths About Creativity That No One Wants to Talk About. It’s a pretty short read.
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Many of the points Evans makes seem pretty evident to me– your ideas are not original, everybody is creative, creativity is hard, success depends on the assistance of others and so on. Art, like any business or real endeavor, is filled with difficulties and harsh realities and if someone has spent anytime trying to be a working artist, they recognize many of these as absolute truths.
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Perhaps the greatest difficulty for the visual artist is that you are faced with the prospect of competing with other artists, many with greater skills and training than yourself, for dwindling opportunities to show your work in the traditional gallery spaces that best gets your work in front of prospective collectors. Add to this that the artist then has to have their work somehow create an emotional bridge to the viewer, something that connects with them on the most visceral level.
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I find myself often wondering what might be the differentiating factor in why the work of some artists succeed at these difficult tasks while the work of other greatly skilled artists does not? It is surely something beyond technical prowess and a solid resume. Something almost indefinable.
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Evans provides one possible answer in this article, one that stopped me in my tracks with its simple obviousness– allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
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It made me think the many times I have seen artists with incredible technical and observational skills create work that just doesn’t seem to reveal itself emotionally. Perhaps their ability has overshadowed their need for expression? I don’t know that answer.
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But reading that, I immediately recognized the place of vulnerability and my willingness to share it in my work. I realize that my fears and shortcomings come through in my work.  My weaknesses, my uncertainties and my tears are readily on display as are my affections, hopes and aspirations. Even my lack of certain skills is a vulnerability that I am willing to expose and share, mainly because I cannot hide behind them.
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Maybe that kind of vulnerability is one of those differentiating factors. I don’t know for sure though I tend to lean that way in my belief. How does an artist gain vulnerability? Again, I don’t know. Not even sure they can outside of trying to work on those things that allow them to really feel deep emotion.
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No easy answers, unfortunately. But for me, I will continue with my transparency, my own vulnerability. It’s all I know.

I ran the post below a number of years back and thought I’d revisit it and add a video slideshow that shows a bit more of Wolfli’s works accompanied by music that he composed.

Fascinating stuff…

I’ve written here before about some of my favorite Outsider artists, those untrained artists who follow their obsessive need for expression even as they suffer hardships such as illness, extreme poverty and mental disabilities.  People like Martin Ramirez, the Mexican-born artist who was committed to an asylum in his thirties and spent the rest of his life, 30+ years, locked away as he created an amazing intricately designed world in his art.

There was another artist years before Ramirez whose road was very similar and who work was as deeply designed and engaging.  It was the Swiss artist Adolf Wolfli who was born in 1864 and died in 1930, about the time Ramirez was committed.  Wolfli was considered one of the first acknowledged Art Brut artists, as Outsiders are called in Europe and, like Ramirez, he had a difficult life that ended with him living the greater part of his life locked away.

Wolfli, an orphan at the age of 10, was physically and sexually abused throughout his childhood.  He suffered from severe mental illness which manifested itself in violent outbursts and hallucinations.  It was this and a series of child molestation charges that led to his committal in 1895.  He was about 31 years old.  He never left.

He began to draw at some point during his life in custody, it soon becoming a true obsession as his inticate drawings covered every scrap of paper he could lay his hands on.  Walter Morgenthaler, a doctor at the psychiatric hospital who documented Wolfli case in a book, wrote this about the extent of Wolfli’s obsession:  Every Monday morning Wölfli is given a new pencil and two large sheets of unprinted newsprint. The pencil is used up in two days; then he has to make do with the stubs he has saved or with whatever he can beg off someone else. He often writes with pieces only five to seven millimetres long and even with the broken-off points of lead, which he handles deftly, holding them between his fingernails. He carefully collects packing paper and any other paper he can get from the guards and patients in his area; otherwise he would run out of paper before the next Sunday night. At Christmas the house gives him a box of coloured pencils, which lasts him two or three weeks at the most.

Wolfli’s work incorporated musical notations that were woven into the designs, an odd looking notation that seemed purely ornamental but was later proven to be an actual  idiosyncratic notation sysytem that could indeed be played.  Wolfli would sometimes play the music on a paper trumpet he had crafted.

Wolfli produced a prodigious body of work in his years in the asylum, including a semi-autobiographical epic that was a massive 45 volumes in size.  It consisted of over 25000 pages and 1600 illustrations.  His work has been largely kept together as a collection which is in the Museum of Fine Arts in Bern, Switzerland.  There is also the Adolf Wolfli Foundation which was formed in 1975 to bring his work to the attention of the public through education on and exhibitions of his works.

Like many of these artists about which I write, Wolfli’s work is new to me.  But it is so immediately grabbing in its design and its harmony of color and form that I am enthralled by it.  When I clicked on the Google images page for his work, there was such a gorgeous continuity that ran through every image on the page that I found it hard to choose which image to explore first.  Such beauty revealed in the dark recesses of a life spent locked away.

De-compress

I don’t really want to write anything today, just want to decompress a little bit. Or decompose. Or deconstruct.

Decontaminate? Depose? Defect?

Some de-word so long as it isn’t debilitate or defibrillate.

But it is Sunday and, as it remains a pleasant monkey on my back, I habitually play a piece of music every Sunday morning. This week is We Belong Together from Rickie Lee Jones. It’s from her great 1981 album, Pirates. I can’t believe this has been around that long but we can never fool time no matter how hard we try. It’s been a favorite of mine for that long and makes a nice accompaniment to the little piece shown here, In Amethyst Light,  that is part of my current West End Gallery show.

Give a listen and have a good day. Maybe even a de-lightful one…

Thanks!

Just want to take a quick moment to extend a hearty Thank You to everyone who took time from a busy summer (with its rainstorms and heat) Friday evening to come out to the West End Gallery for the opening of my Self Determination show. It was great seeing old friends as well as meeting some new ones and some who I have been acquainted with but had never had a chance to meet.

And special thanks to Jesse and Linda Gardner for so graciously hosting the event. They always do a great job and their attention to details make every show feel special. Their efforts are most appreciated.

The show hangs in the West End Gallery in Corning until August 31 so please stop in and take a look. Also, consider coming to the Gallery Talk there on Saturday, August 5, starting at 1 PM. More details on that event are coming…

Have a great day!

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