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Tranquilium



Fanny spoke her feelings. “Here’s harmony!” said she; “here’s repose! Here’s what may leave all painting and all music behind, and what may tranquillise every care, and lift the heart to rapture! When I look out on such a night as this, I feel as if there could be neither wickedness nor sorrow in the world; and there certainly would be less of both if the sublimity of Nature were more attended to, and people were carried more out of themselves by contemplating such a scene.

― Jane Austen, Mansfield Park



GC Myers- Tranquilium smThis is a new painting that is included in my new solo show, Between Here and There, which opens June 4 at the Principle Gallery. It is titled Tranquilium and is 10″ by 20″ painted on an aluminum panel.

I have recently started painting on aluminum composite panels which are two layers of aluminum sandwiched over a polyethylene core. They are rigid, acid-free and extremely durable which means that a painting done on one of these panels should be long-lasting.

The durability and  stability of my work is something I have thought about since my earliest days as an artist. While I have no control over how my work moves into the future after it leaves my hands, I can at least give it a chance to survive while maintaining the look and integrity of the original painting.

I don’t know if my work will live on but if so, I want it to look as good as possible. I believe work painted on these panels have the best chance at doing just that.

Plus, I like painting on them, Every surface– canvas, wood panel, or paper– has its own feel under the brush. A stretched canvas has an appeal for me in that there is often a drum-like feel and cadence as the brush bounces off the taut surface. It adds to the meditative quality of the process. Paper has a softness that comes through even when it is covered with multiple layers of gesso.

Much like wood or masonite panels but far more stable and unaffected by moisture, the aluminum panels have a unmoving solidity that lets me know how my brush will react as it meets the surface. That helps for my process. I know what is going to happen at that moment. And that’s a good thing.

This piece, Tranquilium, has satisfied something within me. It has a stillness and placidity that feels timeless so it’s natural that I would like to think that it will live a longer life than my own. Hopefully, it has something in it, perhaps that which Jane Austen’s Fanny described above, that will speak to someone in the future as it does to me in the present moment. Lifting the panel with this painting, feeling its weight and solidity and the way the image comes off the surface, it certainly seems like it might.

I will never know but at least I am giving it a chance.

Paul_Gauguin_-_D'ou_venons-nous



What still concerns me the most is: am I on the right track, am I making progress, am I making mistakes in art?

–Paul Gauguin



I run this post every few years, usually when I am at a low ebb, when self-doubt is really nagging at me. Right now, as I prep for my upcoming Principle Gallery show, I am bouncing from highs to lows each day which is normal for me in my process. It’s during these times that I ask myself questions like those above that Gauguin posed for himself. However, this morning I feel pretty good. Fairly confident, feeling that my work is very much progressing and evolving in a positive way. But time has taught that by this afternoon I may be racked with doubt about my abilities or my own judgement of them. 

So, I try not to dwell on it and attempt to simply work through it. That. usually provides the answer to my questions and doubts. That’s what I am going to do right now, thank you.



At one of my gallery talks a year or two ago, I was asked about confidence in my work. I can’t remember the exact wording but the questioner seemed to imply that at a certain point in an artist’s evolution doubts fade away and one is absolutely certain and confident in their work.

I think I laughed a bit then tried to let them know that even though I stood up there and seemed confident in that moment, it was mere illusion, that I was often filled with raging doubts about my voice or direction or my ability. I wanted them to know that there were often periods when I lost all confidence in what I was doing, that there were days that turned into weeks where I bounced around in my studio, paralyzed with a giant knot in my gut because it seemed like everything I had done before was suddenly worthless and without content in my mind.

I don’t know that I explained myself well that day or if I can right now. There are moments (and days and weeks) of clarity where the doubts do ease up and I no longer pelt myself with questions that I can’t answer. Kind of like the painting at the top, Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?, the masterpiece from Paul Gauguin. Those are tough questions to answer, especially for a person who has little religious belief.

And maybe that’s the answer. Maybe my work has always served as a type of surrogate belief system, expressing instinctual reactions to these great questions. I don’t really know and I doubt that I ever will. I only hope that the doubts take a break once in a while.

There was another quote I was considering using for this subject from famed art critic Robert Hughes:

The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is given to the less talented as a consolation prize.

I liked the sentiment but it felt kind of self-serving, like saying that being aware aware of your own stupidity is actually a sign of your intelligence. While I would really like to believe that all those times when I realized I was dumb as a stump were actually evidence of my brilliance, I have real doubts about the logic. If it is true, there are a lot of geniuses out there operating under the guise of stupidity and overwhelming self-doubt.

However, if Hughes is correct then I may be one of the the greatest artists of all time and a genius to boot.

But, at the moment, I have grave doubts about that.



GC Myers- Show's Over, Folks



Everything is going to be fine in the end.
If it’s not fine it’s not the end.

― Oscar Wilde



My solo show, Between Here and There, which opens June 4th at the Principle Gallery, has a group of smaller paintings featuring Red Chairs in interior scenes are mostly scenes of the aftermath of prior proceedings. I’ve shown a few here already and thought I would share another today. The one above is titled Show’s Over, Folks.

Kind of like a cop at a crime scene saying, “Shows, Over, folks, Nothing more to see here. Move on.

I enjoy these pieces in many ways. I like composing and painting them. I enjoy looking at them because while they often make me smile, they often make me think as well. There’s usually a fair amount of atmosphere in them to take in and interpret. Sometimes my take on a piece like this will change from view to view. Perhaps it’s dependent on my own mood at the time that I am looking.

Right now, this one makes me smile. The show might be over for the night and that might be sad but it ain’t the end. Like Wilde’s words at the top– if it’s not fine it’s not the end.

Here’s song that kind of goes with this piece. It’s an old Kinks favorite, Till the End of the Day. With lyrics like: Yeah, I get up/And I see the sun up/And I feel good, yeah/’Cause my life has begun how can things not be fine?

Now, off to work.



Bodhissattva

GC Myers- The Animating Presence sm

“The Animating Presence”- At the West End Gallery, Corning



Running a little behind this morning but feel an obligation to at least share a song this morning. It’s Bodhissattva from an old favorite, Steely Dan.

Bodhissattva is a Buddhist term for a person who believes that their own enlightenment is not important as guiding and assisting others to reach enlightenment. They have put off reaching becoming arhats, which is the term given to those who reached enlightenment or nirvana, meaning that they have rid themselves completely of the Three Poisons of greed, hatred, and ignorance. Since an arhat is considered a “perfected person” they become free of the cycle of samsara or reincarnation.

On the other hand, a bodhissattva, which the Dalai Lama is considered, forgoes samsara in order to continually be reborn so that they can help many others free themselves from suffering and reach nirvana before ultimately reaching enlightenment themselves at some point in the distant future. To be a bodhissattva one must practice the Six Perfections which are:

  1. Be generous and give to others.
  2. Live a life in which you do the right thing.
  3. Have patience with all people.
  4. Sustain your energy so that you keep going through difficult times.
  5. Work on concentration by meditating.
  6. Gain wisdom

So, there’s a little knowledge this morning. I don’t know if you needed it. But I guess freeing ourselves from the Three Poisons of greed, hatred, and ignorance or practicing most or all of the Six Perfections can’t hurt any of us.

Here’s Bodhissattva from Steely Dan. Good tune to start off the morning.



GC Myers- In Retreat (Shelter)



When I flew over the Atlas Mountains in a plane, I realized that their formation-through erosion, geological dramas, the action of winds-was completely independent of our moral anxieties; man is in a kind of cyclone; he builds solid houses to protect and shelter his heart. Outside, nature is nothing but indifference, even terror.

― Le Corbusier, When the Cathedrals Were White



As I have written recently, I am neck deep in the  work right now as I prepare for my upcoming solo show, Between Here and There, at the Principle Gallery. It opens on June 4 at the Alexandria, VA gallery that has graciously hosted my solo outings there for the past 22 years.

I am generally excited about each show as it nears but the anticipation to get this work out in the public, out in open air, feels even greater this year. Maybe it’s the events of this past year– a pandemic, an insurrection, the death of my father, a hobbled ankle that has constantly nagged at me, etc– but I felt somewhat distracted in my work over the past year or so. I feel that the work from this time was where I wanted it to be but it came with great effort and a focus that wasn’t always there.

The work from the past several months has been quite unlike that. I am in the midst of a great groove where I feel focused and locked in. It’s one of those rare and wonderful times where the work is coming easily, one piece throwing me instantly into the next, to the point where I will set aside a painting that is 3/4 complete so I can begin the next while the focus and rhythm is still resonating in my brain. I have several such paintings still awaiting completion around the studio as I sit here this morning.

It’s a wonderful feeling, one that I can’t fully explain to you. With this focus, the outside world is diminished, almost blocked out. The work becomes a sort of shelter, a retreat from the darkness and outrage of the world beyond my studio walls. Of the many benefits that being an artist offers, that might be the most valuable for me, the thing that keeps me afloat through thick and thin. The shelter of this work is a life saver.

So good to have it back. I only hope that the show lives up to the feeling. It’s at this point each year that I begin to worry that I am delusional, that my proximity to the work and the process makes me incapable of actually seeing it for what it is.

Contact intoxication, maybe?

But the benefit of being in such a groove is that the work engrosses me so much that it keeps me from fully fixating on this uncertainty. How it is received seems insignificant when it’s like this.

Now that’s the shelter I need.

This leads me to the small piece shown at the top, a 12″ by 12″ canvas that is part of the show, one of the first pieces completed. It set things in motion. It is titled In Retreat (Shelter) which only seems appropriate this morning. I could easily see that Red Roofed structure as my studio or myself as one of those Red Trees that seem to be seeking shelter behind it.

I am going to link this image and post to a song whose chorus has periodically entered my mind over the past 30 or so years. It’s fittingly titled Shelter and is from Lone Justice from back in the mid 1980’s. Led by vocalist Maria McKee, they were very hot for a few years but they couldn’t hold together long enough to reach the potential that so many saw in them. They disbanded in 1987 and Maria McKee went on to a solo career. I thought their two albums were very good and they were regulars on my turntable back in the day. But honestly, I haven’t heard any of their music for probably twenty five years though, as I said, the chorus from this songs pops into my head every now and then. It was produced and cowritten with McKee by Steve Van Zandt, who is known as Miami Steve with Springsteen’s E Street Band, Little Steven with his Disciples of Soul or with his Underground Garage Sirius show, or as Tony’s consigliere Silvio Dante on The Sopranos. You can hear his influence in this song.

Give a listen. Maybe it will help you find some shelter of your own or at least have its chorus pop into your head someday in the future.



 


 

GC Myers- Hiding in Plain Sight

“Hiding in Plain Sight”- Bid for it on the SPCA Fundraiser



What makes a hero? Courage, strength, morality, withstanding adversity? Are these the traits that truly show and create a hero? Is the light truly the source of darkness or vice versa? Is the soul a source of hope or despair? Who are these so called heroes and where do they come from? Are their origins in obscurity or in plain sight?

– Fyodor Dostoevsky



I want to let everyone out there know that the painting above, Hiding in Plain Sight, is currently part of the online auction to benefit our local Chemung County SPCA. This painting is 10″ by 14″ on paper which is matted in a 16″ by 20″ frame. It is valued at $1500 and the current high bid is $1050. It is Auction Item #14.

This virtual fundraising event which takes place tomorrow, Saturday, May 1, runs from 4-7 PM on Facebook Live with the auction for all items ending at 7 PM. It also has a variety of entertaining musical performances though out the event. You can check out or bid on this painting or any of the many donated items by  clicking on this link for its Facebook page, SPCA Virtual Facebook Fundraiser and scrolling down through the items. As I said, this painting is Auction Item #14.

I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to help out a worthy organization, our SPCA, and perhaps take home an original painting.

For me, this painting has message that aligns well with what Dostoevsky questions above. What makes a hero? What is beauty? What are we seeking? Is it beyond us or is it in plain sight?

My guess is that all that we seek and all that we are or need is always right before us, in plain sight.

So, come out of the shadows and stake your claim to heroism by helping the SPCA continue to help out the animals here in Chemung County. Like so many other things, those in need are often in plain sight, waiting for a helping hand.

gc-myers-memory-of-night-sm



The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.

-Elie Wiesel



I am super busy working on my upcoming Principle Gallery show this morning but thought that I’d share a post that I like to replay every few years. It meshes well with yesterday’s post about how each of us deserve to have our voice heard and our existence acknowledged.



I’ve been sitting here for quite some time now, staring at the quote above from Elie Wiesel, the late Nobel Laureate and peace activist. I had planned on writing about how my work evolved as a response to the indifference of others but now, looking at those words and putting them into the context of Wiesel’s experience, I feel a bit foolish. Wiesel, who had survived the Holocaust and crusaded so that it might never happen again, was eyewitness to indifference on a grand scale, from those who were complicit or those who did not raise their voices in protest even though they knew what was happening to the personal indifference shown by his Nazi guards, as they turned a blind eye to the suffering and inhumanity directly before them on a daily basis, treating their innocent captives as though they were subhuman, nothing at all in their eyes.

The indifference of which he speaks is that which looks past you without any regard for your humanity. Or your mere existence, for that matter. It is this failure to engage, this failure to allow our empathy to take hold and guide us, that grants permission for the great suffering that takes place throughout our world.

So you can see where writing about showing a picture as a symbolic battle against indifference might seem a bit trivial. It certainly does to me. But I do see in it a microcosm of the wider implications. We all want our humanity, our existence, recognized and for me this was a small way of raising my voice to be heard.

When I first started showing my work I was coming off of a period where I was at my lowest point for quite some time. I felt absolutely voiceless and barely visible in the world, dispossessed in many ways. In art I found a way to finally express an inner voice, my real humanity, that others could see and feel a reaction. So when my first opportunity to display my work came, at the West End Gallery in 1995, I went to the show with great trepidation.

For some, it was just a show of some nice paintings by some nice folks. For me, it was a test of my existence.

It was interesting as I stood off to the side, watching as people walked about the space. It was elating when someone stopped and looked at my small pieces. But that feeling of momentary glee was overwhelmed by the indifference shown by those who walked by with barely a glance, if that. It was as though my work wasn’t even there.

Those moments crushed me. I would have rather they had stopped and spit at my work on the wall than merely walk by dismissively. That, at least, would have made me feel heard.

Don’t get me wrong here. Some people walking by a painting that doesn’t move them with barely a glance are not Nazis nor are they bad folks in any way. I held no ill will toward them, even at that moment. I knew that I was the one who had placed so much importance on this moment, not them. They had no idea that they were playing part to an existential crisis. Now, I am even a bit grateful for their indifference that night because it made me vow that I would paint bolder, that I would make my voice be heard. Without that indifference I might have settled and not continued forward on my path.

But in this case, I knew that it was up to me to overcome their indifference.

Again, please excuse my use of Mr. Wiesel’s quote here. My little anecdote has little to do with the experience of those who suffered at the hands of evil people who were enabled by the indifference of those who might have stopped them. The point is that we all want to be heard, to be recognized on the most basic level for our own existence, our own individual selves. But too often, we all show indifference that takes that away from others, including those that we love. We all need to listen and hear, to look and see, to express our empathy with those we encounter.

We need to care.

Maybe in that small ways the greater effects of indifference of which Elie Wiesel spoke can be somehow avoided.

We can hope.



The painting at the top is a new piece [at the time this was first written] that I call Memory of Night, inspired by Wiesel’s memorable book documenting his Holocaust experience, Night.

How To Be Alone

GC Myers-The Fulfillment sm

“The Fulfillment”- Now at the West End Gallery



Take your hand
and place your hand
some place
upon your body.
And listen
to the community of madness
that
you are.

How To Be Alone, Pádraig Ó Tuama



I am up and alone in the studio at 4:30 this morning, eager to get a brush in my hand. It might sound crazy but that doesn’t matter to me right now. I am excited about the work for my Principle Gallery show in June that I am working on and feel a compulsion to keep at it out of the fear that this feeling will soon pass.

But for as excited as I am still about the new work, I am not ready to show a lot of it quite yet. Something makes me want to hold most of it back for a bit, as though showing too much of it will somehow diminish the impact of it as a whole. Actually, the gallery hasn’t even seen a lot of this work, probably for that same reason.

I’ve spent more time already from this early morning than I had wanted before I get to work so I will get to the point of this post. It’s the author’s reading and animation of a piece, How To Belong Be Alone, from Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama. It’s a wonderful short poem that speaks to the need to belong which is similar to that driving need to have my voice heard that brought me to painting.

Some days I find myself questioning whether that need to have my voice heard is a necessity or a product of ego. I mean, here I sit writing about my paintings. Isn’t that an act of ego?

Part of me says that it is. But part of me rejects that idea. After all, we all need to know that our voices are heard, that our existence matters, that we belong in this world. Maybe if I believed that my voice or my work deserved to be heard and appreciated above all others or that it mattered more than that of anyone else, maybe then it would be an act of ego.

But I don’t believe that. We all deserve to let the world hear the voice of our unique selves. Each is as valid and valuable as the next.

I think this poem speaks well to this point.

… listen to the community of madness that you are.

Okay, got to get to work. before I burst. Take a look please.



9912238 Up and Up small



There are only patterns, patterns on top of patterns, patterns that affect other patterns. Patterns hidden by patterns. Patterns within patterns. If you watch close, history does nothing but repeat itself. What we call chaos is just patterns we haven’t recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can’t decipher. What we can’t understand we call nonsense. What we can’t read we call gibberish.

–Chuck Palahniuk, Survivor



I tend to agree with the snippet above from author Chuck Palahniuk’s novel.

Everything is built upon pattern. Who we are and how we behave. History. Science. Music and art. It is all dictated by patterns.

Most of us don’t dwell too long on identifying patterns in the world around us and some of us will even refuse to acknowledge the predominance of pattern in the world, believing everything is random and chaotic. I suppose that in itself is part of a pattern, a larger one that is so encompassing that we can’t see it from our vantage point within it.

Just speculating there, of course.

I know that I am always looking for pattern, even when I’m not really looking. I call it pattern, rhythm, flow, sense of rightness and other terms, without knowing why I am drawn to this concept. It just attracts me in that it is so much part of everything that there must surely be significance.

This search for pattern often shows up in my work, especially in those with unusual dimensions like the painting shown on the left, titled Up and Up. The width of its picture plane is very restrictive, forcing all the elements within it to be condensed so that it maintains a semblance of coherence for the viewer. For these paintings, it results in patterns all their own. Patterns that often hold the visual appeal of the whole painting.

For example, Up and Up has a pattern that reminds me of ladder rungs, with each new layer in the landscape lifting you higher. I see it both as a landscape and as a pattern, a sort of DNA-like structure or armature on which this world is built.

Whatever it is, it holds my eye and makes me keep searching for something in it.



This post ran several years ago but has been adapted for the piece shown here, Up and Up, which will be part of my upcoming solo show, Between Here and There, opening June 4, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.

I Feel Free

GC Myers Early Work 1994-Winter Park



From my seat here, I am looking across the studio at a canvas on the easel. It was nearly finished when yesterday’s painting session came to an end. It was just at that point where it was making the vital transformation into something more than just paint smeared on a surface. The most exciting and gratifying part of the process for me.

Thoughts of this piece  haunted me all last night and were there waiting for me this morning. I was envisioning where my next move on the canvas would come and how it would blossom after that.

I found myself eager to move quickly through the woods and over to the studio.

Almost compelled, as though I had no choice in the matter. That painting was demanding my presence in its service, like I was serving some sort of strange psychic bondage to it. As though it was something that needed to released for my own wellbeing, and the sooner it was done, the better.

The difference, of course, that this is a voluntary thing, a welcomed binding to service. I don’t feel restrained by this.

Instead, I feel freed by the ability to follow this impulse.

It’s a hard thing to describe. And to be frank, I don’t have the time this morning to try to do so any further. That painting is waiting to be released out into the world from its own bondage. Got to go set it free.

Here’s a fitting song, I Feel Free from Cream from many moons ago, back in 1966. It has a real atmospheric, cinematic aspect to it. The painting at the top has no relevance here at all. It’s just an early piece from around 1994 that I call Winter Park. I include it this morning just because it pleases me and I am free to do this.

Enjoy.



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