Archive for October, 2013

GC Myers -Fulfilled smTo be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.

-Robert Louis Stevenson


To me, this new small painting, a piece about 7″ square on paper that is titled Fulfilled, feels totally peaceful.  The road with its winding tracks that disappear over a small rise signifies a journey at its end for me and the Red Tree that appears on piece of land across the water represents the intended  destination that is reached.  The horizon here feels as though it might represent time or eternity.

Whatever the case, it has a great feeling of tranquility, one that feels very satisfying to me.  Fulfilling.

This was one of those pieces that came easily, as though it fell from my hand without any thought or struggle.  This is a sensation I have described in the past, saying that when it occurred earlier in my painting life I would not trust the ease with which it came.  I still felt that struggle was necessary.  Little did I know that what I sought required no struggle,  In fact, this inner wrestling only took me further from the desired end, confusing me and obscuring the destination.

No, what was required was an acceptance of the moment and what I was.  And am.  And in this simple, quiet painting I think I see that.

PS– This painting, Fulfilled, is going to the Kada Gallery in Erie as part of my upcoming solo show there, Alchemy.  The show opens  Saturday, November 16th.

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Michael Mattice hand and strings from videoI’ve written several times here over the summer about my friend Michael Mattice‘s  debut album,  Comin’ Home.  It has been really well received here and abroad,  drawing great reviews from a number of different venues. Below is the first video from the album of the song, Led to Gold, a favorite of mine from the album as it really highlights his abilities on the guitar.  The video has a few DC landmarks recognizable to most as well as the lesser known but  no less spectacular Great Falls, just above DC on the Potomac.  It’s a really well done video to a strong song.

It’s been interesting watching Mike’s creative arc over the past several months.  In September, we spoke at length about the ebb and flow that comes with creativity, especially in how the public reacts to it–overnight success is seldom as quickly gained as it appears on the surface,  I advised that he not be too swept up in this waxing and waning in the short-term and we both agreed that  patience and trust in your own abilities and vision are key to maintaining your course.  If you stay true to your vision, people will come around eventually.   And in Mike’s case, I believe this absolutely true.

Hope you’ll enjoy this!

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Lon Chaney- Phantom of the Opera 1925We went to see the classic silent film , The Phantom of the Opera, on Sunday at the Clemens Center, a beautifully renovated  theater in my hometown of Elmira.  The film featured accompaniment from organist David Peckham playing the theater’s newly restored Marr and Colton pipe organ.  It was pretty special when the Peckham and the organ rose from the orchestra pit before the film began , Peckham playing  the familiar theme from the theatrical play of the same name.

The organ’s grand sound really added  a wonderful dimension to the film, bringing life to the sometimes exaggerated  pantomime of the actors.  If you’ve seen many silent films, you’re familiar with this style of acting though I believe this film is a little over the top  with its frantic gestures and grasping of the neck in fear.  As you can probably detect, this is not one of my favorite films from the great Lon Chaney who starred as the Phantom who haunts the Paris Opera House, although he delivers a strong and compelling performance here.  I found myself identifying more with his character than the wooden stiffs who played the so-called good guys in the film.  So much so that at the end when the mob captures the Phantom,  beating  and throwing him into the Seine as the audience cheered their approval, I felt a real twinge of sympathy for his character.

Lon Chaney made some of the most interesting and powerful films of the silent era before dying at the relatively young age of 47, after a throat hemorrhage  from an infection caused by inhaling painted corn flakes that served as snow on one of his last films.  His ability to transform himself is legendary and made him one of the first mega-stars of film.  I have a hard time watching some of what I consider his best films as they are often grim and filled with base emotion, a quality that is pretty common for the best silent films of the era.

A few years back I wrote here about a couple of his dark movies that featured Chaney as tragic clowns.  Here is what I wrote at the time:

Lon ChaneyI don’t know what made me think of this movie so early this morning.  Something made me think of clowns and how even though their aim is to be comedic and entertaining, they often come across as scary or tragic.

I saw a couple of Lon Chaney silent films a few years back that really reinforce this image.  He Who Gets Slapped and Laugh, Clown, Laugh are anything but laughfests.  Both are grim in nature and filled with tragic circumstances, like many of the films in the post-WW I early 1920’s.

Lon Chaney was a huge star of early films and is pretty much unfamiliar to modern movie fans.  He was known for his ability to transform himself into a wide variety of characters, often contorting his body and altering his face for grotesque effect.  This transformative ability won him the nickname The Man of a Thousand Faces which was also the title of a great film biography of him starring Jimmy Cagney as Chaney.  I recommend this film for those who wishing to learn a little more about an incredible talent.

lon-chaney-laugh-clown-laughChaney is probably best remembered for his classic roles as The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but for me it’s these roles as clowns that define Chaney for me.  They are dark films filled with grim  melodrama and tragedy.  They’re sometimes hard to watch.  But they are filled with real human emotion and complexity, so dark that it’s hard to believe that these were popular successes of the time.  Hollywood had yet to perfect the happy ending.

Again, I’m not sure why these came to mind today.

Maybe I’ll be painting clowns today.  Brightly painted sad faces.  Like Red Skelton.  That’s probably another too obscure reference.

Anyway, if you get a chance, and don’t really want to have your spirits lifted, check out these classics from the great Lon Chaney or his film biography, The Man of a Thousand Faces.

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lou-reed-transformer-imageLou Reed died yesterday at the age of 71.

Lou always found his way into my listening life.  I wrote about Lou a few years back on this blog, recounting how I played his album Rock N Roll Animal all day one Christmas when I was an early teen, filling the house with the strains of Heroin and Sweet Jane.  A few years later, one of my prize finds from scouring the bargain bins at the local Newberrys store were a couple of early Velvet Underground recordings– on eight-track tapes.  I still chuckle at the idea of Lou and the Velvets  on one of those big clunky tapes.  I remember driving with a shoe box filled with tapes to play in the car.  I think there were maybe ten tapes.

But Lou was there, on one of those huge dinosaur cartridges.  It was as unpolished as anything I had heard.  Bad recordings and Lou’s flat vocals which sounded even more strained on these recordings.  But there was something there that transcended the sound quality or even Lou’s voice.  It was real expression.  Not raw emotion, but  restrained expressions of deeper feelings.  The sensation I got is similar to that which I get now from looking at great Outsider art.  It is  work that somewhat takes the form of more traditional art  but is less concerned with the technical aspects and more centered on getting across the feeling and the individual voice of the artist behind the picture.  They can appear crude but sometimes there is a pure beauty in them, one that speaks across the wider range.  Real art.

That’s what I heard in Lou’s songs for many years.  Sorry to see him go.

There are many songs from Lou that I could play here but I want to hear Perfect Day.  It’s a song that I forget at times but when I come across it, find it sticking in my mind for weeks. Hope yours is a perfect day…

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GC Myers- The Furthest Reach smNone of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson


This painting is called The Furthest Reach, a 20″ by 24″ canvas headed to the Kada Gallery for my November show.  This has been done for a few weeks now and has been at the edge of my sight as I have been prepping for this show.  There is something quite reassuring about having it there, serving as a reminder of the trust I have placed in that inner voice that Emerson references in the quote above.

 It has taken a number of years and many thousands of hours spent in the relative isolation of the studio to truly trust that voice, to feel as though I have separated my work from all  external noise and distraction, including the subjective criticism and opinion of others.   It has allowed me to use this  trust as the sole criteria for my work, to no longer judge it against the work or opinion of others.

With this trust the work becomes self-sovereign and, as I have written here earlier this year, the  island serves as a symbol of  this self-sovereignty while the stance of the Red Tree, a symbol of the work for me here,  represents the liberated feeling attained in the realization of this trust.  I see the dock as the gateway to outer world, meaning that while there is trust in the work spawned from this inner voice there is also a willingness to share it  with this outer world.

Again, that’s how I have come to see it in the last few weeks here in the studio.  Perhaps you will see something quite different.  Maybe you will see a confidence and  tranquility in it that meshes with your own experience or perhaps  simply a pleasant scene with a quiet warmth.  Or maybe you won’t see anything in at all.

Whatever your inner voice whispers to you, place some trust in it…

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The Find- smKnowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness.

— George Santayana


I was going through the blog archives and came across this blogpost from back in 2009 headlined with this quote from George Santayana.  The words really jumped off at me this morning.  So often it seems that we self-limit ourselves with our fears and anxieties, making tasks and goals that might actually be within our reach seem impossible to accomplish.  As a result we never reach beyond what we can see in our limited vision of the world.

This is just a short remembrance of my earliest aspirations, before any thought of what was possible or impossible had entered my thought process.  To an 8 year old everything is still attainable and, to their credit,  my parents never imposed any limits on my imagination or aspirations.  That was their form of encouragement.

Here is what I wrote back in 2009:

When I give gallery talks, generally there is a part at the beginning where I run through how I came to be a painter. I usually tell how I wanted to paint when I was a small child, maybe 7 or 8 years old, and my parents bought me an oil painting set from the old Cardinal Paint store in Elmira, where they sold art supplies alongside their house paints. 

Of course, I didn’t have the first idea how to use the paints and the canvas panel ended up covered with a smear of a color that could best be described as pukish looking. Discouraged, I moved on to other things. Many other things through the years. 

Now, that might seem, at first blush, like a sad little story but it always touches me. My parents didn’t know how to go about helping me but they did what they could and never discouraged me from whatever avenue I chose to follow. I was never told I couldn’t be this or that I should be that. They didn’t know what was possible and never tried to put limits on my hopes. 

In high school, I harbored dreams of being a writer and for Christmas one year they gave me a Remington Rand office typewriter. It was a reconditioned monster of a machine, must have weighed 75 pounds. I had it for years and when I did finally get rid of it, it was with great sadness. It was one of the best gifts I’d ever been given and was always a symbol of my parents’ encouragement. 

The point of this is that my parents allowed me the freedom to discover what was possible for me in my life. Did they always go about it in the best way or guide me in any way? Probably not but that didn’t seem as important as the freedom they gave me to search for what was possible for me. 

And being able to find what was possible, as the saying above says, is the beginning of happiness…


The painting at the top is a new piece, The Find, going to the Kada Gallery for the November 16th show.  It is a 16″ by 20″ canvas,

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North Celstial Tree-- JeronimoLosadaI’ve been having some work done here in the studio recently and have been sharing my space with a couple of carpenters.  I am never comfortable sharing my  workspace with anybody and always feel a bit distracted, even inhibited.  But both Tony and Nick are good and easy going guys and I have been able to get some work done.

Yesterday, Tony told me to check out the NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day.  He thought it would look familiar to me.  Clicking on the site I was greeted by the photo above, a magnificent image of a great tree under a night sky taken by Spanish astrophotographer Jeronimo Losada  near Almaden de la Plata in the province of Seville, Spain.  Through a break in the upper reaches of the tree you can see the North Celestial Pole.  Losada focused on the North  Star and over two hours recorded a series of 30 second exposures which created the star trails that make up this spectacular sky.

It was just a great photo and it certainly did strike home even though the tree was not exactly my Red Tree.  But  Tony was right.  The tree , the saddle in the center of the photo created by the wide angle of the lens  and the silhouettes of trees on the horizon reminded me of much of my work.  I had even done a painting or two with that same swirl of light and color in the sky.

Please check out Jeronimo Losada’s  blog  to see some of his other wonderful shots of the landscape beneath the night sky.  There are some brilliant shots there and it’s well worth a visit.  It is a Spanish language site but most browsers have translators.

And for some other great shots of the heavens check out the Astronomy Picture of the Day.  Today’s is a great shot as well.




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GC Myers- Deep Focus sm

Meditation brings wisdom; lack of mediation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.



This is another new painting that is headed to the Kada Gallery for  Alchemy, my solo show that opens there on November 16.   This piece, 18″ by 18″ on canvas, is titled Deep Focus.  This was one of those pieces that just seemed to fall out with very little inner wrangling or consternation.  Once I started, it was off and running with what seemed very little assistance from me.

It was immediately clear that this painting was going to be about focus, about looking deeper and deeper into the canvas. Built from the bottom, each layer pushed the eye further inward.  About halfway into this I began to think of the title for this as being AutoFocus, just for the ease with which it was emerging.  But I finally opted for Deep Focus because of the depth I was seeing in  the picture and the way everything seemed to gravitate toward the central point of the sun that is peeking over the distant hill.

This piece seems to have a very meditative quality, a placid feeling that goes well with the ease of the piece.  Or at least,  the ease that I felt in its creation.  Sitting here now, taking it in, its construction seems simple, almost naive. Yet there is a feeling of opulence that I think comes from the colors and curves of the landscape that sheds this naivete and gives it a feeling of deeper knowledge.  or a way to deeper knowledge.  Far from naive.

Years ago, I had a  hard time trusting the validity of pieces that fell so easily from my hand, believing that  struggle must be part of making a painting come alive.  I was almost embarrassed by the ease with which some pieces came.  But over time, I have come to believe that it is this effortless work that is the goal, the work that is true and has the authenticity that I seek.  This piece is a testament to the trust in my intuition that has come with time.

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Jarnefelt-  under-the-yoke-burning-the-brushwoodI had come across some work from a Finnish artist, Eero Jarnefelt (1863-1937),  whose work  I had not seen before,  It was being shown in a list and as I scrolled down the group I was impressed with his style and the quality of the colors and light in his work.  It was beautiful work, thoughtful and filled with a tranquil quality.  But the final image was a hard veer away from the rest of the body of his work, a smoke and fire filled image of people beating the ground with sticks and in the midst of it , a young girl standing still among the smoldering ashes, staring into the eyes of the viewer as the fire blazes over her left shoulder.

It was a striking image and the girl’s face was haunting with her cheeks and brow smudged with ash.  She looks exhausted and mournful which is obviously the look that struck the artist Jarnefelt in 1893 when this was painted and prompted him to title this painting Under the Yoke.  These words are taken from the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic which is said to have been the main inspiration for much of JRR Tolkien‘s work.  Finland had long been under yoke of Swedish and Russian domination and the mood from it is captured in this little girl’s forlorn look.

It’s became jarnefelt’s most famous work, understandably.  It only serves to underscore the impression his other work made on me.

Jarenfelt- Kesäyön Kuu 1889 Jarnefelt- Saimi in the Meadow 1892 Jarneflet-  Vesileinikki 1895

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GC Myers Stranger (In a Strange Land) -I featured an older piece here on the blog last month, a painting that was considered my Dark Work from around 2002.   The piece shown above is another of these paintings and is one that I have always considered solely mine.  I very seldom consider a painting being for myself only but this one has always felt as though it should stay with me.  It is titled  Stranger (In a Strange Land) which is derived from the title of Robert Heinlein’s famous sci-fi novel which in turn  was derived from the words of Moses in Exodus 2:22.

The landscape in this piece has an eerie, alien feel to it under that ominous sky.  When I look at it I am instantly reminded of the feeling of that sense of not belonging that I have often felt throughout my life, as though I was that stranger in that strange land.  The rolling field rows in the foreground remind me just a bit of the Levite cloth that adorned Moses when he was discovered in the Nile as an infant, a symbol of origin and heritage that acts as a comforting element here, almost like a swaddling blanket for the stranger as he views the landscape before him.

As I said, it is one of those rare pieces that I feel is for me alone, that has only personal meaning, even though I am sure there are others who will recognize that same feeling in this .  For me  this painting symbolizes so much that feeling of alienation that I have experienced for much of my life, that same feeling  from which my other more optimistic and hopeful work sprung as a reaction to it.  Perhaps this is where I found myself and the more hopeful work was where I aspired to be.

Anyway, that’s enough for my five-cent psychology  lesson for today.  In short, this is a piece that I see as elemental to who I am and where I am going.  This one stays put .

Here’s a little of the great ( and I think underappreciated) Leon Russell  from way back in 1971 singing, appropriately,  Stranger in a Stranger Land


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