Archive for September, 2013

The Adventures of Prince Achmed aired again recently on TCM and it made me look up a post that I had written on it and its creator, Lotte Reiniger back in early 2010.  I am so enthralled by her mastery of her medium, which is silhouette animation and think her work should be better known than it is that I thought I would run this post again today along with an added biographical video.  Hopefully, if  you enjoy her wonderful work you will be inspired to look further into her art.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)I first saw a film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, from Lotte Reiniger several years ago in a series about early silent films. It was made in 1926 Germany and was one of the first animated films made. It’s a form of animation that Reiniger pioneered and mastered, based on Eastern shadow theatre. Using silhouette figures, each is painstakingly cut and hinged then filmed in small movements with time lapse photography to produce motion in the film. This film took three years to complete. 

lotte-reiniger-11In this telling of the Arabian Nights stories, I was immediately struck by the beauty and movement of the colors in the film. Each cell was tinted by hand to produce intense bursts of color that gave the film a gorgeous surreal quality. The movements of the figures in the film are smooth and natural, very subtle. I found myself so taken with watching the movements and changes that I found myself not following the story. But I didn’t care. It was beautiful to see and sparked the imagination. 

Lotte Reiniger (1899-1981), born in Germany and living most of her post-WW II life in Britain, left quite a body of work from a career that spanned over 50 years, including one of the first film versions of Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Dolittle. She’s pretty much unknown in popular culture which is a great shame. Her work is marvelous and deserves to be seen. 

Here’s a small clip of Prince Achmed along with a biographical film:

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GC Myers- "Greener Pastures: 42"It’s kind of a sad Sunday.  For one thing, our favorite ice cream place, Mindy Moo’s,  is closing for the season.  Actually, that’s probably a good thing as we have been indulging way too often but I still hate to see it close.

Secondly, tonight is the finale to what may be the finest show to ever come across a television screen, Breaking Bad.  I have been addicted since it first  exposed us to the moral gymnastics of high school chemistry teacher Walter White as he found his way into the world of meth, hoping to make enough cash to support his family after his imminent death from the cancer that had recently emerged.   His moral dilemma and the subsequent downward spiral has been a wild ride, supported by incredible writing, storylines and performances, often leaving me gasping at the end of an episode.  I will sorely miss it and have a feeling that almost everything else on TV will pale in comparison for some time to come.

Mariano Rivera Entering the FieldAnd finally, today is the end of era in baseball as Mariano Rivera rides off into the sunset, retiring from the New York Yankees as unquestionably the greatest closer ever and perhaps the most respected and beloved player to come around in a long, long time. Even Red Sox fans give Mariano, he of the hated Yanks, a standing ovation.  He has been nothing but class since day one, never pounding his chest or belittling his opponents and always showing the utmost respect for the game that has given a poor, skinny boy from Panama so much over the years .  His stoic demeanor on the mound is almost Zen in its nature and has long comforted Yankee fans when games are in a tight spot, even on those rare occasions when he has failed.

The painting at the top of the post,  a 12″ by 12″ canvas,  is titled Greener Pastures: 42.  The number 42 on the outfield wall is meant to honor both Mariano and the man who wore it most famously before him,  the barrier breaking Jackie Robinson.  Mariano is the last player to wear this hallowed number after it was retired by Major League Baseball to honor Robinson and has done so with  a fitting grace and character.  On the day honoring Mariano at Yankee Stadium last Sunday, one of my favorite moments was when  Rachel Robinson, Jackie’s widow now aged 91, was on the field and she cupped Mariano’s face in both hands, staring hard into his face with such a wonderful look on her face.  I don’t know what she was thinking or conveying but it looked like she was letting Mo know that Jackie would have approved of the way Mariano has honored his number and his memory.

Hard to believe that after today, there is no more ice cream (well, for a while) or Breaking Bad or Mariano.  Like I said, it’s a sad Sunday with a few glorious endings…


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FredThis is Fred.  He is currently occupying a guest room in my studio, taking up more of my time than I ever imagined when our paths crossed a few weeks back.  But it’s okay because he’s my boy, for now.

We were taking a long walk three weeks ago on a country road near our home.  It was a sunny but brisk day with cool temperatures and a breeze that promised a cold evening.  As we headed down the hill, heading back to our car, we heard a sound , a strained meow of what had to be a tiny cat.  It was faint but it was as though it was yelling out to us.  Looking down we saw this little guy.  Our gazes met and he immediately had second thoughts about summoning  us and tried to scamper away, crawling up a small bank and heading into the bushes lining the road.  Cheri followed him up the bank and picked him up when he collapsed from the fatigue of the effort of his escape.

He was tiny, about 12 ounces in weight and only a few weeks old.  He was obviously undernourished and his eyes were matted and most likely infected.  He could barely lift up his head in Cheri’s hands.  We looked around and saw no signs of any other cats or possible homes for him and determined that we should get him to our vet.  It was a good thing because, according to our vet, he would not have survived the cold temperatures of that night.  His body temperature was perilously low when he arrived at the vet and he was dehydrated.

Fast forward, it is  three weeks later and Fred is prospering.  He is my guest for now until he is strong enough to become the companion for my brother-in-law Jon’s cat, Lucky, who has been my guest here at the studio on a regular basis.  Lucky is named for the good fortune she had in being thrown from a passing car into Jon’s lawn just as he came outside.  I’ve always thought that Lucky needed a companion and now she will have one.  That is, if I can give up my boy Fred.

Fred is a joy.  He was neat from day one, learning to use his box without any effort on our part.  He has grown strong from our hours of play each day and is bright, learning new things every day.  I am teaching him how to play Scrabble today.

I am not a cat person, as a rule.  I like them but my heart doesn’t melt as it does when I see dogs, especially certain types of dogs like Corgis or Beagles.  But Fred is winning me over with his loud loving purr  when he first sees me and theabsolute joy he takes in our play.  It’s going to be hard to see him go but I know he will be exceedingly happy and well cared for in his new home.  Plus, he will be back periodically with Lucky to stay with me.

Besides Fred, we have three cats now who have all found their way back to our home in the woods , all somehow either discarded or lost.  That doesn’t count all the others who have come and went in the years we have been here.  People, be responsible– take care of your animals!


For the story of two feral cats, Partner and Black & White, who came our way, read this post from a few years back.


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GC Myers Early Work ca1994I came across this little piece recently.  It’s a small watercolor on paper that was done in 1994, while I was still developing my own voice and before I began showing my work publicly.  It’s not a great piece of work and will always just live its life in a bin of experiments and other pieces that just aren’t up to snuff.  But this little painting always has meaning for me, providing a lesson in trusting your own instincts as well as weighing the words of guidance given to you.

You see, I had another artist around this time critique my work.  He was a professional artist with years of experience and I trusted his judgement, wanting any feedback that would help me narrow my quest for an individual voice.  On this particular piece he told me that it was sorely lacking, that the figure needed to be more accurate in its depiction, that people would not respond to this kind of rendering.  I  wasn’t positive in his advice but I hesitatingly took it to heart and avoided figures for many years and even to this day hear his words when I consider a figure in my work.

I consider it a huge mistake on my part and wonder what my path might have been had I discounted his advice at that time.  I mistook him for a guide on the creative path to my own voice but what he offered was a route that took me to where he himself was headed.  His guidance was purely subjective, linked to his own vision of how the world looked and should be depicted.

His road was not mine.

Over the years, I have become resistant to listening to others when they begin to tell me what my work should be or where it should be headed.   I also am hesitant in giving advice for the same reason– our destinations may not be the same.

It may not be much but this little piece is a symbol of the trust I now have in my voice and intuition.  It is a constant reminder that it is up to me as to how I use the advice given by those posing as guides on the path.  In this way, this painting is priceless to me.

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GC Myers-  Soft Dream of Night smIf one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.

–Henry David Thoreau


This has long been one of my favorite pieces in the studio, a  14″ by 24″ painting on paper from 2002 called Soft Dream of Night.  It was part of the work that I completed in early 2002 in the aftermath of  9/11 .  It is considered part of what has been  referred to as my Dark Work.  It was work that I feel was very reflective of the feeling of that time and, as a result, was not as deeply embraced as my  typical work that has a more optimistic and forward-looking tone.  As a result, I was able to hold on to several pieces from that group which pleased me because they just felt so emotionally wrought to me that I liked the idea that they stayed in place.

This piece has evolved in feeling over the years for me, from a feeling of regretful, mournful retrospection to one that offers  the promise of a road forward, one that climbs through rich fields with the brightness  of  the moon to light the way.  Though it has a darkness beneath its surface, it no longer feels dark in tone.  It has a confidence and positive feel that would not have come to mind eleven years ago.

Time often changes our perceptions on many things.  I like that this piece has evolved for me and was not forever mired in the memory and tragedy of that time.  Perhaps the darkness underneath this painting is that memory, always present.  But above, life moves forward and dreams are still lived out.

As it should be…

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Triple SpiralThe rational part of my brain always wants to shrug off coincidence as mere matters of probability but I still am excited in a way when I experience it, even when the coincidences are seemingly  mundane, not appearing as some sort of cosmic omen or example of the universe’s synchronicity.

Take this past weekend.  I had one of those weird moments when I was singing a song to myself and just a short time later it pops up on the car radio.  Now, that doesn’t seem like too much of a coincidence.  I mean, I’m sure most of us have had this experience, especially when a song is popular and regularly played on our favorite station.  I know this used to happen to me all the time as a kid, when I would be humming a song and would flip on the radio and there it was, almost synchronized in its timing.  But this recent time was with a song from 1967 that was not a classic song but a novelty hit, Judy in Disguise (With Glasses),   from what was considered a bubblegum band of the time, John Fred and the Playboys.

I shrugged it off with a smile.  It is an infectious song, after all.  Besides, who wants to think that their destiny is somehow entwined with this song?

Then on Sunday evening, we were watching the Martin Scorsese produced Boardwalk Empire on HBO.    A few days before this, I had written a post for this blog that was titled Acres of Diamonds, about the famed inspirational speech from Temple University founder Russell Conwell.  The episode this night was also titled Acres of Diamonds and briefly played  a recording of the speech performed by Conwell.

This coincidence gave me more of a pause than Judy in Disguise.  It just struck me as odd that I had chosen to write about this story on just the weekend that it was also referenced on the TV show.  It was a somewhat famous speech in its time but is pretty obscure today.

Coincidence or omen , a symbol of deeper meaning?  Some view coincidence as evidence of a universal consciousness or of God’s directing hand at work.  I don’t know that we can ever know with any certainty of such things.   I know that I would like to believe that these pop culture coincidences somehow demonstrate that I am closer to the center of the labyrinth that is life, but, as I said, the rational part of me tells me to take it easy– if it’s a symbol, it will reveal itself in due time.  If not, it’s just a fun coincidence.

What do you think this is trying to tell me?  Maybe the message was a warning about buying those pants. Message received…

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Alexander Hogue- The Crucified Land  1939

Alexander Hogue- The Crucified Land 1939

Several years ago, I wrote a post about the work of Alexander Hogue, an American Regionalist painter whose work I felt was at the same level as that of Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton, though he never achieved the wider fame of these two.  I know I knew nothing of his work before stumbling across his name on the site of a gallery that I was associated with at the time in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Hogue had spent the last half of his long life, dying in 1994 at the age of 96.

Alexander Hogue- Mother Earth Laid Bare

Alexander Hogue- Mother Earth Laid Bare

His work was a stunning find for me.   The imagery is bold and powerful.  His color palette was strong and unique, with deep saturated colors often alongside ethereal, wispy colors .  His depictions of the southwestern landscape possess a profound sense of place and spirit, filling what might seem like an otherwise desolate scene with a quality of humanity.  His dust bowl scenes from the 30’s are spectacular visions.

Alexander Hogue --Eroded Lava Badlands Alpine 1982

Alexander Hogue –Eroded Lava Badlands Alpine 1982

So, I was thrilled when I read that the exhibit, Alexander Hogue: An American Visionary was opening this week at the Rockwell Museum of Western Art in nearby Corning.  The Rockwell is an unexpected gem for the visitor to this region, a treasure trove of the largest collection of Western art east of the Mississippi where Hogue’s wonderful work will feel at home, although I feel his work is powerful enough to stand among any painter from the last century.  This exhibit displays work from across the many years of his long career, with works from the 1920’s up to near the end of his life.  Hogue worked until his death, which I find reassuring.

Here’s a video from  the show’s curator, Susan Kalil. I love how she describes the attachment of the owners of Hogue’s paintings to the work. I really urge you, if you are in the Corning area this fall, to stop into the Rockwell to see this show.


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Tiny World

Gephyrocapsa oceanicaI am always interested in seeing what the extreme magnification of an electron microscope reveals about our world.  It’s fascinating to see how tiny matter is built, often having a beautiful architectural grace in their patterns and constructions.  For example, this fellow to the left is a phytoplankton, a microscopic organism that lives in a watery environment, in both fresh and salt water.  Basically, a form of algae that is at the base of the marine food web.

This particular phytoplankton is a coccolithophore, which denotes that it is covered in the calcium plates (called coccoliths) that you see on its surface.  There are over 30 plates on each of these organisms and when they die these plates break free and, in great concentrations, form a deep and opaque turquoise bloom in the sea water.

These little guys hold an important position in the environment, one which I am still struggling to fully understand.  There’s an article on NASA’s Earth Observatory site that better describes their nature and place in the world.  For me, I am simply intrigued by the shapes and patterns of this creature.

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Grass-Is-Greener“The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal, the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment.”

—Earl Nightingale


It’s funny sometimes what you take from an experience in your life.  At one point in my life I was in the retail car business, working at a Honda dealership both as a salesman and a finance manager.  In order to keep their sales staff engaged and excited about pushing their product, the management there would periodically send us to seminars with industry-specific motivational speakers and would also have sets of motivational tapes from other speakers that they would encourage us to listen to in our free time.  One of the sets of tapes was from a man named Earl Nightingale who had a deep and engaging voice that added a serious dimension to whatever he said.  As I listened to his tapes, my interest grew as he told his little tales and his lessons registered deeply within me.

One of his stories was a short retelling of a classic lecture  called Acres of Diamonds from Russell H Conwell (1843-1925), an interesting fellow who was a baptist minister, a lawyer, a philanthropist and the founder and first president of Temple University.  The lecture, one that Conwell delivered over 5000 times during his lifetime, made the point that the riches we seek are often right in our own backyards.  His tale is of an African farmer who sells his farm in order to go in search of diamonds and finds nothing but failure that ends with his suicide.  Meanwhile, the man who took over the farm found an abundance of diamonds and ended up with one of the largest diamond mines in Africa.

There were a lot of lessons to be learned from this tale but primarily  what I took away  was that I must leave the car business–it was not my backyard.   It was the place to which I had come in search of my own diamonds.  I had not yet, at that point, began to search my own backyard. I am not sure if that was the message that management had been hoping would sink in.  Or maybe it was.

The other part of Nightingale’s message was that you had to set a course, aim for a destination.  Everything was possible if you knew where you wanted to go and truly set your mind to it.  He gave a laundry list of great human accomplishments that were achieved once we put our minds and wills in motion towards their fulfillment.  That resonated with me.  I had seen many people over the years who seemed deeply unhappy in their lives and most had no direction going forward, no destination for which they were working.  They drifted like a rudderless boat on the sea, going wherever the strongest current took them without having any influence over this motion.

If you can name it, you can do it in some form.

As I said, it’s funny how things influence you.  It’s been about twenty five years since I heard those words but they still resonate strongly with me, even now.  I try to be always conscious of the goals I set, knowing that the mind and the universe will always try to make a way for the possibility of achievement.


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Arcimboldo- Rudolf II of the Hapsburgs as VertumnusYou don’t often think of work of art from an Italian Renaissance painter as being whimsical. Generally, they seem to focus on themes of religion and myth or on portraiture of wealthy patrons of the time, most beautifully painted.  Then there is the work of Guiseppe Arcimboldo, who was born in Milan in 1527 and died there in 1593, although much of life was spent in the service of  the Hapsburg courts of Vienna and Prague.

Arcimboldo was trained as stained glass designer and painter and initially worked in these fields in a traditional manner.  Much of the work from this time has faded into oblivion, although there are examples of his windows and a fresco or two.  However, it was his other work that gained him fame in his time and which has came through the ages as a constant source of fascination.

Arcimboldo-Winter 1573The other work was creating portraits, sometimes of his patrons such as the portrait at the top of Rudolf II ,  that are composed using all sorts of objects to create the figure and features of the subject.  He used fruits, vegetables, birds, books, fish and many other objects in creating these unusual figures.  The final result was always striking, colorful and whimsically imaginative.  And sometimes grotesque, even a bit spooky– I’m thinking here of a series of pieces that Arcimboldo created portraying the Winter season as a person., such as this example on the right, painted in 1573.

Arcimboldo’s work always brings a smile to my face while also stirring my interest in how he must have worked at the time and how he was perceived in that era.  I am sure he was both admired and disliked for his unique work.  Whatever the case, the work remains a fascination.  I am showing several example here but you can go  a site– Guiseppe Arcimboldo: The Complete Works— that features a broader view of his work.  Very interesting.

Arcimboldo-TierraArcimboldo-The Waiter Arcimboldo-Air Arcimboldo- The Librarian Arcimboldo- The Admiral arcimboldo-winter_1563

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