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Archive for May, 2010

I am finished painting now and have started the process of finishing my work for the upcoming show, Facets, at the Principle Gallery in June.   As with every show, there is a final painting completed and for this show this is the last painting finished, a piece from the Archaeology series that is 18″ by 25″ on paper.  I call this painting  Archaeology: Legacy.

This is a piece that I started at the end of last year.  It was one of those times when I got to a certain point and liked what I had in front of me but had decisions to make witht he piece and didn’t feel ready to make them at the time.  So the piece would be set aside.  Occasionally, I would pull it out and add a bit to the underground artifacts but it just kind of simmered, growing slowly. 

As I neared my self-imposed deadline for this show, I began to hover back more and more to this piece.  I think part of it has to do with the feeling I’ve been experiencing in my mind at this point in the process.  Sometimes, as I near readiness for a show, there is a sense of great mental focus and clarity and other times, a feeling of chaos and disassociation.  There is no rhyme nor reason for this.  It just happens.  Maybe it has to do with my view of the outer world at the time  or how often I yell at the moon.

 I don’t know.

But as the prep for the show winds down this year, I find my concentration and attention dwindling.  Thoughts are short and fleeting.  Bursts of thought and image come and go in a flash.  It might be disturbing if I didn’t recognize this as being a sometime by-product of my process.  So, it seemed fitting that the last piece before me was an Archaeology piece where the details underground consist of a free flow of items and associations. 

As it neared completion, it seemed to calm me, as though a great piece of unfinished business that had been hanging like the sword of Damocles above was finally out of the way.  When the last iota of detritus had found it’s way to the surface, I breathed a sigh of relief.  A sigh of finality.

And maybe that’s what this painting is about.  The sigh of relief of a future world growing beyond the legacy passed on to them from a chaotic world.

Or not.

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The term bucket list has become very popular over the last several years.  I suppose everyone has things they would love to do before they kick the bucket, fantasies they want to fulfill.  I don’t have anything formalized myself, anything written down, but a few weeks ago I saw something on television that I might have to have at the top of the page if I ever were to assemble such a list.

Yell at the moon with Buzz Aldrin.

In a recent episode of the NBC sitcom 30 Rock, Liz Lemon, Tina Fey’s character, discovers that her mother in her younger days had been in love with Buzz Aldrin and sets out to reunite them.  When Liz finally meets Buzz, he tells her how awful her mother’s life would have been had she stayed with him and that she was lucky to have left.  Having always fantasized about marrying her own aerospace hero, the imaginary Astronaut Mike Dexter, Liz is disappointed and seeing this Buzz asks her if she would like to yell at the moon with him.

“I walked on your face!” Aldrin yells as the two stand looking at the moon from a lofty apartment in NYC as the moon hovers in the daylight.

“I own you!”

“Stupid moon!” Liz chimes in.

I know it’s goofy.  And even though Aldrin’s delivery is a little stiff and stilted, it reminded me of the way Chief Dan George spoke and acted  in Little Big Man.  There’s something in it that feels honest and sincere that makes it more endearing. Unreal but real.  And the idea of Buzz Aldrin, the wizened old astronaut standing in the window and yelling out at the moon as though it were a living being to him, as though it were a kid he was shooing off his lawn, has an almost mythic quality.  This feels magical to me.  It would be great to be able to stand, next to Buzz Aldrin,  there and tell the moon where it could go.

So, if I ever get down to making a bucket list, that would have to be at the top.  Especially since Edmund Hillary is dead.  I would have loved yelling at Mt. Everest with him.

Stupid mountain…

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PS: The painting at the top of this post is a new piece, A Time to Rest, and is about 11″ by 15″ on paper.  It will be shown at the Principle Gallery show in June.

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Peers- GC Myers 2003

I’m in the last days of painting before I start final preparations such as framing and such for my upcoming show.  I’m currently putting the final touches on a piece that is a multiple similar in form to the one shown here, Peers from back in 2003.   The piece I’m working on consists of 3 rows of 3 red trees on a 30″ by 30″ canvas.  I’ve used multiple images a number of times over the years, although I often go years between.  There is something almost musical, almost choral, in the repetition of form.

I only mention this today because when I came into the studio I put on an album (CD actually but I still call them albums) of work from Arvo Part.  One of the first pieces to play was Cantus in Memoriam of Benjamin Britten.  It was a mesmerizing tonal piece and as it played, I looked at the title and realized I didn’t know what was meant by the cantus in the title.

Looking it up brought me to the term cantus firmus which is described as a sort of polyphonic composition, meaning it is comprised of multiple interwoven and, often, the same melodies.  A Gregorian chant is an example of one type of polyphony.  The voices, or melodies, are repeated,  one over the other, some at different tones and varying lengths.  I don’t know much about music but as I read I began to equate this meshing of voices and melodies in a cantus firmus with what I was trying to achieve with the multiple images in the painting I was working on.  Each image is basically the same but because of the way they are positioned and come together as a whole, they become more than the product of their parts.

At least, that’s my take on it. 

Anyway, I found a name for the piece I am finishing.  Cantus Firmus.

Here’s the composition from Arvo Part:

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Hierarchy ---GC Myers

The name I’ve chosen for my exhibition that opens June 11 at the Principle Gallery is Facets.  When looking at this year’s show, I realized that there was a very wide variety of my work in this group.  Not focusing on one specific aspect as in previous years.  There are  a few Red Roof paintings, a few fragmented sky paintings , a few with converging field rows, a few with Red Chairs and a couple of  my small, lone figures.  It’s overall a pretty interesting group that I think shows a fuller spectrum from the prism of my work.  Thus, the name, Facets.

There are also a handful of my Archaeology pieces in this show.  I only do a handful of these per year now.  The piece above, Hierarchy,  is derived from that series although it focuses more on the layers below the surface rather than artifacts, although there is one yellow shoe there.  This painting is a  30″ by 40″ canvas so it has some size which gives it some visual wallop. 

I’ve been working on this piece for about six months, doing a bit then setting  it aside.  I would keep glimpsing at it when I wasn’t working on it, trying to figure where I would go with it.  But I never wanted to rush it, never wanted to push it too hard.  Wanted it to grow naturally, organically.  It wasn’t until yesterday, when I dragged the last few strokes on the canvas, that I felt I finally saw where the painting had settled and it felt whole.

That’s always an interesting feeling, this sense of the work being suddenly complete.  Full.  Alive.  As though the last few embellishments stir something that make it more than mere paint smeared on canvas, make it an entity with a history and a future all its own.   It’s exhilarating  but sad at the same time, as though the life it’s taken on will soon be gone from my life.  I can’t fully explain it but that’s the feeling I felt yesterday with Hierarchy

So, I share my studio for the next few weeks with this breathing, living creature as it impatiently waits to shows its true self to the outside world…

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Death Mask of Benjamin Franklin

I was looking up some biographical info on Thomas Paine, the English-born pamphleteer whose treatises helped ignite both the American and French Revolutions.  His life would make a wonderfully thought-provoking and sad movie.  Anyway, in the course of doing this research, I came across an image of his death mask.  There was a link that took me to an interesting site, the Laurence Hutton Collection at Princeton University.

The site is a collection of masks of many notables,  some made while the subjects were alive but most from after their death.  It may seem somewhat morbid to some but there was something very beautiful in these faces, as cool and vacant as they may seem.   It’s as though all the layers of history and mythology are stripped away, revealing their true being and common humanity.  There is no posing, no interpretation by the artist to make them appear more heroic or wise.  Just what remains quietly at the end of their existence.  They are what they are.

Death Mask of Napoleon

Death Mask of Thomas Paine

Death Mask of Sir Isaac Newton

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Signet of Eternity

 

This is a new piece that I am calling Signet of Eternity, taken from a poem by Rabindranath Tagore, the great Indian writer/poet.  There’s a great sense of the eternal in this smallish ( a 4″ by 14′ image) painting on paper.  I find it very calming, very soothing, with its clear, cool colors and crisp line work.  There’s a simplicity and delicacy in this that hints at how fleeting and fragile are the the glimpses of eternal forces we are fortunate to witness in our lifetimes. 

I know that sounds pretty metaphysical but I’m just talking about those moments when all the forces of the world present themself before you in an almost perfect harmony and there is a moment of stillness.  Clarity.  As though the world has chosen to reveal its purpose to you for those few precious seconds and in doing so has taken away all the weight of everyday life. 

 I thought about that yesterday as I trudged, head down, through the woods between my home and my studio.  I stopped on the path suddenly and looked around.  The trees were so graceful and  I caught sight of  the trunk of a tall shagbark hickory.  I let my eyes follow it upward to the powerful arms of branches that seemd to plead to the blue patch of sky above.  It was a grand moment and I thought about how often I traveled that path with eyes fixed on the ground before me.  How many times had I let the thoughts and worries in my head carry me without seeing past these things of beauty?  These signets of eternity.

Here is Tagore’s poem:

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And The Title Is...

 

Well, the Name This Painting! Contest for this year is over.

Many thanks to everyone who has participated and sent in thoughtful and imaginative monikers for consideration.  There were over 80 titles submitted and they ranged from the humorous (From Chair to Eternity) to the poetic ( Autumn Has Fallen on My Summer Chair) to a combination of both:

Whose chairs these are I think I know
I bought them at IKEA. Though
They looked the same
It’s clear to see that one is lame.

There were many differing interpretations of the painting, all evocative, and I have been torn all morning trying to choose the one that best fits the piece.  I may have to put finalists up for an online vote in the future because I’ve been struggling with this.  So many worthy efforts.

But, in the end, I do have to choose and I have to choose that which falls closest to how I see the painting.  The winner this year is from Michael Harris from down around Philadelphia for his title:

  Persist (All We Know).

This title struck a chord immediately with me and came close to to summing up a theme that I’ve had running through my head lately, about how we endure this world by simply putting our heads down and trudging ahead on our chosen path.  This will to survive and struggle forward, to persist, is part of us.  It’s all we truly know.  

So you can see why I was taken by this title.  Thank you, Michael, for a great title.  And many, many thanks to everyone who made the effort in sending in their titles.  Your titles will continue to be part of this painting, as well, adjoined on the back for all time.  They all contribute something to it.

Thanks again, everyone!

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