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Archive for April, 2009

Name This Painting!TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO ENTER

Tonight at Midnight is the deadline for submissions to the Name This Painting! contest.  Simply think of a title for the painting shown here, a new piece that will be shown at my 10th annual exhibit at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA in June.  Submit your title either in a comment to this post or by e-mailing it to info@gcmyers.com .  The winner will be selected and announced tomorrow, May 1 and will receive a prize.  Let me give a hint on the prize: It’s not a Mercedes Benz…

I have been wowed by the submissions thus far and have seen many that I will surely borrow for future titles if they don’t end up as the title for this painting.  I have been duly impressed by the thought that has went into the submissions and am deeply appreciative of the efforts.  This is going to be a tough decision.

Here is what you’re up against.  These titles have come in so far:

Multiple Layers

Brilliant Determination

History Lesson

Memory

Remembrance

Smooth Foundations

Simple Foundations

Rooted in Terra Firma

Layer Cake

Time Rising

Standing on History

This Is the Day…

Layers: Memento Mori

From Mother to Daughter

Above and Below

Reaching For the Sky

Red Tree No. 148

Time Soluble

Laminae in Harmony

Intentionality

Time Heaves

Life Over History

The Hero’s Memory

And Life Goes On

So, put on your thinking beanies and give it a shot.  You might surprise yourself.

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Fear Overload

The Mind Ponders

 

What we fear comes to pass more speedily than what we hope.
—- Publilius Syrus – Moral Sayings (1st C B.C.)

 

I don’t think I have to tell anyone that we’re living in a world that right now is full of fear.  Everywhere you turn there is news of some sort bordering on the apocalyptic.  We have the swine flu scare which I still call the swine flu– no offense meant to my porcine friends.  There is financial ruin and a new Great Depression with every newscast.  There is the ongoing conflicts between religious factions in the Middle East and elsewhere leading straight to Armageddon.  Armed druglords with thousands of violent foot soldiers from Mexico.  Asteroids plummeting towards our planet.  Global warming raising ocean levels until our coastal cities are engulfed in water.  Hybrid werewolf/vampires roaming in packs through the streets of our cities, seeking brains for their zombie overlords.  Okay, maybe that one is a little beyond the pale– I think I saw it on Glenn Beck.

And yesterday we happened to sit down with a cup of tea to watch Oprah and we were faced with flesh-eating viruses.  MRSA and strep infections that eat away at the tissue of the body with such speed that in some that the doctors can barely stay ahead of the spread of the bacteria as they hack away body parts.  There was a lady on the show who was a chef and cut her finger while slicing celery.  No big deal, right?  Within  60 hours she had lost her right arm, shoulder and breast all the way to her sternum before they were able to stop the spread.  She now lives with her ribs and lungs covered by a thin layer of skin.  It was an amazing thing to see.  

It was just another ingredient in our recipe of fear.  There are points when I take the time and list all these things that I no longer wonder at the wingnuts who claim we are at the end of days.  But I can’t quite buy in all the way.  I like looking at history and throughout history people of every age believed they were at the  end of time, that civilization had decayed to a point where it could no longer stagger forward.  And yet, here we are.  

Maybe it’s some form of narcissism that makes us believe that ours is the generation that ends our continuum on this planet.  Maybe it’s just plain old fear and the ignorance that usually accompanies it, the ignorance that blinds us to the fact that we are adaptable beings and through the adversities of our times we will somehow stagger onward.  The future may not be as we hope for or envision but remember, we live in a world that is much different than earlier generations imagined for us when they were having these same thoughts.  But the fact remains, we are, for better or worse, still here.

The point of this is that we must not focus on our fears but must look at them as mere obstacles to overcome.  Fear makes us less rational and more reactionary and if we continue to believe the fear that this is some sort of end time, then we will create the conditions to make it so.  To paraphrase Publilius Syrus: If we let fears rule our lives, our greatest fears will come to bear…

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I Saw the Figure 5 in GoldI’ve been a fan of Charles Demuth since the first time I saw his work.  He was considered a part of the Precisionist movement of the 20’s, along with painters such as Charles Sheeler and Joseph Stella among many others, with his paintings of  buildings and poster-like graphics such as this painting, I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold.  He was also one of the prominent watercolorists of his time and while they are beautiful and deserve praise in their own right, it’s his buildings that draw me in.

Demuth’s work has a tight graphic quality but still feels painterly to me.  There’s still the feel of the artist’s hand in his work which to me is a great quality.  There are photorealist painters out there whose craftsmanship I can really admire but who are so precise that they lose thatdemuth-my-egypt feel of having the artist’s hand in the work.  I like seeing the imperfection of the artist.  The first time I saw one of the Ocean Park paintings from artist Richard Diebenkorn, it wasn’t the composition or color that excited me.  It was the sight of several bristles from his brush embedded in the surface.  To me, that was a thrill, seeing  a part of the process.  The imperfect hand of the artist.  I get that feeling from Demuth.

He also had a great sense of color and the harmony and interplay of colors.  His colors are often soft yet strong, a result of his work with watercolors.  His whites are never fully white and there are subtle shades everywhere, all contributing to the overall feel of the piece.  His work always seems to achieve that sense of rightness I often mention.Buildings, Lancaster 1930

His works, especially his paintings of buildings, have a very signature look, marked by a repeated viewpoint  where he views the buildings above him.  His paintings are usually fragments of the building’s upper reaches.  There’s a sense of formality in this view, almost reverence.  I don’t really know if he was merely entranced by the forms of industrial buildings or if he was making social commentary.

Whatever the case, do yourself a favor and take a look at the work of Charles Demuth.  It’s plain and simple good stuff…

demuth-from-the-garden-of-the-chateaudemuth-after-all

demuth_charles_aucassiu_and_nicolette_1921

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Name This Painting!Four More Days!

The Name This Painting! contest ends on at the end of the day on this Thursday, April 30 so there’s plenty of time to submit your idea for a title for the painting shown here, one painted for my upcoming 10th annual show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.  If your title is chosen you’ll receive a prize (I’m not saying what it is except to say you won’t be disappointed) and even if you’re not the prizewinner your title will be listed on the back of the painting, to be seen by,  hopefully, generations to come.

You can submit by commenting on this post or via e-mail at info@gcmyers.com

I’ve been really pleased by the titles that have come so far.  It’s apparent that some thought has went into these, making this a very tough decision.  

The titles submitted thus far:

Multiple Layers

Brilliant Determination

History Lesson

Memory

Remembrance

Smooth Foundations

Simple Foundations

Rooted in Terra Firma

Layer Cake

Time Rising

Standing on History

This Is the Day…

Layers: Memento Mori

So, take a moment to look at the painting and give it a shot.  I can use the help and maybe you’ll walk away with a prize. What have you got to lose?

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The Bats

batsI was walking to my studio this morning just as the sky was brightening.  As I neared the sidewalk leading around to my backdoor I noticed a group of three bats looping in the air above me.  They made several dives toward the chimney at this end of the studio, attempting to land under the lip of the fascia.  Eventually, one by one, they landed and disappeared under the board, between it and the chimney.

I was thrilled to see them and glad that they had taken refuge in that part of my studio.  My home and studio are located at the bottom of a small hill, more of a rise, and, as a result, our property catches much of the runoff.  With the heavy clay soil here it makes the property fairly wet which is a boon for mosquitoes and other flying pests.  Without these bats the mosquitoes would make going outside a real ordeal.  The bats feast on the mosquitoes and keep their levels low enough that we can live outside in the summer with only a bite or two, here and there.  If only the bats could control the deerflies and horseflies. 

But this made me think of how many people still fear and despise bats, keeping ancient myths alive despite scientific fact to the contrary.  The things people believe.  Bats will get tangled in your hair.  Bats crave your blood.  Bats will give you rabies- well, they can carry rabies but so can a host of other animals.  Like any wild animal, care must be taken when coming in close contact with them.

We fear and hate many things based on ancient prejudice.  Even after the myths are dispelled these prejudices live on, having become almost part of our fabric.  I still get uneasy when the bats swoop overhead until reason kicks back in and I am free to admire them and be appreciative for their service in getting rid of our mosquitoes.  But for that first moment, there is that primal response, that instinctual fear.  Makes me wonder how other aspects of my life are affected by these same sorts of ingrained prejudices, not having yet been recognized and replaced with logic.  

I’ve still got some work to do…

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Delivered in the LightWill the wind ever remember the names it has blown in the past?

Jimi Hendrix

 

That’s a line from the Jimi Hendrix song The Wind Cries Mary.  It’s one of my favorite songs from Hendrix and is a delicate quiet song with a ghostly quality  that I think fits Hendrix’s existence in this world.  It’s both strong yet fragile.  On this quiet morning, before the world is fully stirring in a fury of spring activity, I thought this song would fit the moment.

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dsc_0392-small4Contest Reminder!

I’m asking for your help in naming this painting and am offering a prize (it’s better than you think though it doesn’t involve air travel or posh resorts) for the title that I deem fitting for the piece.

So put on your thinking caps and let me know your title for this painting.  Even if it’s not chosen as the final name, your title will be included on the painting’s reverse side for all of eternity.  Well, for an extended period of time.  I’m just not so sure about eternity.

So, submit your title by simply commenting or email me at  info@gcmyers.com

I look forward to your titles.

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The Challenge Ahead

 

      From the very beginning almost I was deeply aware that there is no goal.  I never hope to embrace the whole, but merely to give in each separate fragment, each work, the feeling of the whole as I go on, because  I am digging deeper  and deeper into life, digging deeper and deeper into past and future.  With the endless burrowing a certitude develops which is greater than faith or belief.  I become more and more indifferent to my fate, as a writer, and more and more certain of my destiny as man.

      – Henry Miller, Reflections on Writing

 

This is a fragment from a book of essays, The Wisdom of the Heart, by Henry Miller, the great and controversial author.  When I was young his books such as Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn were still being characterized as “smut” and many libraries didn’t have them on their shelves for fear the moral police would swoop in and raise a fuss.  Probably many only know the existence and influence of his books from their use in a memorable Seinfeld episode, the one with Bookman the library cop whose hard-boiled dialogue still makes me hoot.  

For me, I wasn’t so much attracted to his books by the raciness of the stories but rather by his way of speaking through his words and expressing views that I found at once to be compatible with my own.  He observed and said the things that I  wished I could say with a voice and power I wished I possessed.  I can pick up one of his books and open to a page anywhere in the book and read and be fascinated without knowing the context of what I’m reading, just from the sheer strength of his writing’s voice.

I see a lot of things in this particular essay that translate as well for painting or any other form of creation.  It opens:

Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery. The adventure is a metaphysical one: it is a way of approaching life indirectly, of acquiring a total rather than a partial view of the universe. The writer lives between the upper and lower worlds: he takes the path in order to eventually become that path himself.

Substituting artist for writer, I was immediately pulled in.  The path he refers to is the path I often refer to in my paintings, the path we all walk and struggle along on, trying to find the middle way between these upper and lower worlds.  

It’s a good essay and one I recommend for anyone who creates in any form and struggles with the meaning of their work beyond its surface.  For anyone seeking that path…

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Name This Painting!Contest Reminder!

I’m asking for your help in naming this painting and am offering a prize (it’s better than you think though it doesn’t involve air travel or posh resorts) for the title that I deem fitting for the piece.

So put on your thinking caps and let me know your title for this painting.  Even if it’s not chosen as the final name, your title will be included on the painting’s reverse side for all of eternity.  Well, for an extended period of time.  I’m just not so sure about eternity.

So, submit your title by simply commenting or email me at  info@gcmyers.com

I look forward to your titles.

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