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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.

 

Into New Territory

GC Myers- Into New Territory smIf your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.

Shunryu Suzuki

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

I was looking for some words to go with this new painting, Into New Territory, that is part of my show now hanging at the West End Gallery.  I came across this quote from the late Zen monk and teacher Shunryu Suzuki that expressed very much what I was seeing in this painting.

I see this painting as being about moving out from that which you know, examining the possibilities that open up to you when you dare to move beyond your comfort zone.

When I read Suzuki’s words, I began thinking about my own experience as a painter.  In the beginning when everything was new and my knowledge consisted of much less than it does today, every day was filled with new discoveries that opened up wider and wider vistas of possibility.  There seemed to be no boundary, no limit to where it might take me.

But as one gains more knowledge and becomes more “expert,” one begins to set limits on their possibility.  They learn hard lessons from failures and often even stop looking in that direction as a future avenue of creativity.  Their focus becomes narrower and narrower.  The possibilities that seemed endless as a beginner seem much more limited and defined.  The “what is” is greater but the “what might be” seems to be fading into the mist.

The trick is in retaining some of that  beginner’s exuberance and its naive openness to all possibility, and to find a way to incorporate the gained knowledge that came to you along the way.  In the context of this painting, it means straying out into the open and daring to look in all directions.  It means setting aside all fear of failure and the encumbrances of the “what is” to move toward an endless horizon.

It’s so simple a thought and so difficult to realize.  But one must try and try and try.

ChoirChoir Choir Hallelujah 2016 with Rufus WainwrightJust came across a really nice video that was filmed in late June.  It was part of the Luminato Festival in Toronto, which has become one of the largest arts festivals in North America since beginning 10 years ago.

The film shows an event organized by Choir!Choir!Choir! which is a Toronto based open choir.  It requires no commitment and meets twice a week in the back of a local pub.  Over the years it has performed publicly in many venues with an expanded choirs made up of folks who just want to get out and sing in a communal kind of way.

The song shown here is Hallelujah from Leonard Cohen, a magnificent song that has been interpreted by many artists–I think that the late Tim Buckley’s version is extraordinary.  This particular version is filmed in a decommisoned power plant with an assembled choir of 1500 people with Rufus Wainwright singing the lead.

Just a lovely version of the song and not a bad way to kick off a Tuesday morning.

GC Myers- A New Mantra 2001

One of the galleries representing my work contacted me this weekend asking for some info about some paintings that had been sold there many years ago.  In doing the research for the info, I had to scan through some old slides and early digital images of work from that time.  The painting above just stopped me in my tracks, as it has several times in the past.  All I could think is that I would love to see where this painting is now.   It’s a very large piece and it would be interesting to see how it feels in its environment.  

I had forgot that I had written about this painting five years ago and found that the post spoke about a question that oddly didn’t arise at Saturday’s Gallery Talk.  I thought it would be interesting to share that earlier post:

I came across this painting from 2001 just this morning, one that had slipped off my radar some time ago.  It wasn’t in the studio for long and sold very quickly so I didn’t get to ponder over it for an extended period.  It is titled A New Mantra and  is 31″ high by 51″ oil painting wide on mounted paper.

I do remember painting this piece and how it hit every goal I had for it from the first moment I started on it.  It came so  easily that it felt as though it truly fell out of me, with not  a bit of struggle at any point.  I also remember just being extremely pleased with how this showed in its final state.  It was large and airy yet it had a real up close presence.  To me, it was how it must feel to have the secrets of the universe whispered mysteriously in your ear.

It just felt powerful, whiich is probably why I was so surprised at seeing it again this morning.  How had it slipped out of my mind when it immediately rekindled such strong feelings upon seeing it again?

I don’t know that there is any real explanation.  I know there are other pieces out there that will do the same for me, including many paintings from the earlier years when my photo-documentation wasn’t as thorough.

I can think of one painting that I have often used in Gallery Talks as an example in an account of how some work flows easily while others are a struggle from the first brushstroke.  This particular painting was done after a month of working on a series of paintings that resulted in a commissioned piece.  After delivering that commission,  I went into the studio one morning about 5 AM and a pretty large painting just fell out of me.  I mean that in an almost literal sense.

It was about 40″ square and it was painted without any contemplation or hesitation and with incredible speed. I remember how the paintings of the past month had served as practices or rehearsals for that very moment in time.  Every movement was really from muscle memory, moving without prompting.  The conscious thought process was hushed and in the background.

Two hours later and it was practically done.

I  tell people who asked how long it took to paint a piece that this painting didn’t take 2 hours to paint.  It took over a month and those prior paintings were dress rehearsals of a sort.  It couldn’t have happened without those other pieces building up to it.

To my dismay, that is a piece for which I can’t find an image.  But I will keep looking and hopefully, if I find one, I will feel as I did about once again finding A New Mantra.

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