Archive for June, 2014

GC Myers-Tree Waltz smIt’s the last Sunday of June and I sit in my studio early this morning surrounded by new work in varied states of completion that is headed to the West End Gallery for my show there at the end of July.  There are paintings on easels and on chairs, some propped against the walls, on ledges above the fireplace as well as leaning against the hearth– everywhere I turn they’re facing me.

I take a moment and just sit back and take them all in, just letting them meld together as a collective group.  For a moment, there’s a disconcerting feeling like looking at mirror that is shattered but still in place, a hundred different angles of myself staring back at me.  But there is a quick adjustment, like my eyes coming into focus, and they’re no longer images of myself.  Oh, I’m in there and I am part of what they are but they are more like a group of friends surrounding me, each with their own life but still maintaining a close relationship with me.  I know them well, know their secrets, know what they mean to me.  And they know me, hold my secrets and share a past with me.

In that moment, there’s a feeling like I am in a room full of friends and it is warmly reassuring.  I’m not sure I can do justice with my description here.   It makes me think of a favorite song of mine, Feeling Good Again, from Robert Earl Keen.  Whenever I hear this song I am reminded of  time in my youth spent with my father.

On many Saturdays we ended up at the horse track and before heading out would stop at a beer joint in town.  It would only be about 9 or 10 in the morning but the place would be busy with  some guys drinking their morning coffee and some their first of many beers.  When we walked in, there would be shouted greetings from around the bar.  Everyone knew each other and there was a terrific sense of friendship and camaraderie in their banter.  Looking back, I can  see how that place was a safe haven for a lot of tough lives and how those friendships, though maybe not deep, were reassuring, something on which to hang.  Feeling good again.

So when I hear this song, I am transformed again to that thirteen year old kid drinking a coke while my old man joked around with his buddies and looked over the Racing Form with his cup of coffee.  Have a great Sunday.


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Brassai_1899_1984__ Paris 6I realized after publishing yesterday’s post that, while I had shown the work of many great phtographers,  I had never before shown any of the photos of Brassai here.  That was an oversight on my part.  Called the Eye of Paris by his friend Henry Miller, Brassai’s work is iconic and defines the perception that many people have of Paris in the first half of the last century.

Born in Hungary with the name Gyula Halasz  in 1899, he studied art and served with the Austro-Humgarian army in World War I.  After the war, he found his way to vibrant Paris, filled with the great artists, writers and musicians of the time.  He adopted the pseudonym Brassai  from the name of his hometown and soon was photographing the city that he so loved  and was his home for the rest of his life, until his death in 1984.  His photos of Paris captured its high life and its low life, with photos of the great artists and thinkers that made their way there alongside the photos of decadent parties and photos of the brothels and the prostitutes along the city’s avenues.  For me, when I think of Brassai I think of his night scenes that capture the shadows and mist of the city as well as the lovers who embrace on the darkened boulevards.

It’s powerful work, work that evokes both a time and a place as well as a feeling.  Brassai was indeed the Eye Of Paris and I’m pleased to have taken care of my oversight here.  Most of these photos are from the early 1930’s.

Brassai_1899_1984__ Paris 11 Brassai_1899_1984__Paris 8 Brassai_1899_1984__Paris 5 Brassai_1899_1984__Paris 10 Brassai_1899_1984__Paris 9 Brassai_1899_1984_Paris 2 brassai_Couple_d_amoureux_sous_un_r_verb_re_1933 Brassai_1899_1984__Paris 7 Brassai_1899_1984__Paris 3 Brassai_1899_1984__Paris 4Brassai Notre Damebrassai_theeiffeltowerattwilight

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Matisse with chalk drawing of Picasso- Brassai Photo

Matisse with chalk drawing of Picasso- Brassai Photo

There was an article the other day on Brain Pickings that contained some words on inspiration and creativity that Pablo Picasso had passed on to famed photographer Brassai during the many times that he had photographed and interviewed the artist over the course of thirty years.  It’s a short article with only a few points and, more importantly, a link to an earlier article concerning Picasso’s views on success .  Both are interesting articles that I recommend but what caught my eye was a photo  accompanying the first article  of Henri Matisse with a chalk drawing he had done while blindfolded.

It reminded me of an exercise I periodically use where I attempt to draw faces with my eyes tightly closed.  It usually  involves a single line and is pretty rudimentary.  The whole idea is to be able to visualize an image in your mind and  follow it there with your hand, overcoming the disconnect that comes with the closed eyes.  There are moments when the concentration kicks in and I can feel my hand and the image in a sort of harmony.  It’s a nice little brain exercise.

Seeing the Matisse photo made me want to get a chalkboard and try this exercise on a larger scale, where the sweeping motion of the arm and hand might be easier to synchronize with the mind’s image than with the smaller strokes of  pen on paper such as those below, done on  old newsprint with a ballpoint pen.  They are certainly nothing to celebrate but what I am looking for is a certainty in line and curve  as well as a similarity to my own eyes-open doodles. In that aspect, I am pleased.

Give it  a try.  It’s a nice little exercise for your mind…

GC Myers- Blindfold DoodlesThis one below was done slightly larger and with a few minutes of practice.  Both the size and practice improve the image.


GC Myers- Blindfold DoodlesTh

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Doubt is not a pleasant condition but certainty is an absurd one.



GC Myers- Twilight WandererMuch of my work has a journey or a quest as its central theme and the odd thing is that I don’t have a solid idea of what the object is that I am seeking in this work.  I have thought it was many things over the years, things like wisdom and knowledge and inner peace and so on.  But it comes down to a more fundamental level or at least I think so this morning.  It may change by this afternoon.  I think the search is for an end to doubt or at least coming to an acceptance of my own lack of answers for the questions  that have often hung over us all.

I would say the search is for certainty but as Voltaire points out above, certainty is an absurd condition.  That has been my view for some time as well.  Whenever I feel certainty coming on in me in anything I am filled with an overriding  anxiety.  I do not trust certainty.  I look at it as fool’s gold and when I see someone speak of anything with absolute certainty–particularly politicians and televangelists– I react with a certain degree of mistrust, probably because I see this absolutism leading to an extremism that has been the basis for many of the worst misdeeds throughout history.  Wars and holocausts, slavery and genocide, they all arose from some the beliefs held by one party in absolute certainty.

So maybe the real quest is for a time and place where uncertainty is the order of the day, where certainty is vanquished.  A place where no person can say with any authority that they are above anyone else, that anyone else can be subjugated to their certainty.

To say that we might be better off in a time with no certainty sounds absurd but perhaps to live in a time of certainty is even more so.


The painting at the top is called, fittingly, Seeking Uncertainty, and is a new 10″ by 20 painting on canvas that will be part of my upcoming solo show, Layers,  at the West End Gallery in Corning which opens July 25.

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William McElcheran- Che Fa?I used a quote yesterday from William McElcheran, describing him simply as a sculptor.  I thought I should at least give him the benefit of showing some of his work here.  You might recognize his work even though his name might draw a blank.  He described himself as “Canada’s least-known well-known artist” because few people know the artist behind his public sculptures that dot Toronto and many other Canadian cities.  He is best known for The Businessman, a rotund  and haplessly human character that is satirical but not bitingly so.

McElcheran, who lived from 1927 until 1999, had an impressive work ethic  from early on that allowed him to pursue all manners of creative endeavors.  He was a talented draughtsman, painter and sculptor in many different materials as well as a highly accomplished  architect with over 20 churches and public buildings to his credit.  But it was his Businessman that carries his legacy forward.

William McElcheranBeside the obvious humor in his depiction of the Businessman character, I think that they work so well as sculpture because of the lightness and grace of the figures themselves.  There is a wonderful sense of balance in the figures that takes away any sense of heaviness which I think also takes away some of the ironical bite which makes them all the more palatable, especially for daily viewing in public spaces.

So, there is a little something to put with name behind that quote.

William McElcheran- The Pursuer

William McElcheran- The Conversation William McElcheran The Encounter William McElcheran Businessman on a HorseWilliam McElcheran- The Crowd

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GC Myers-  Led Home smFor the mystic what is how. For the craftsman how is what. For the artist what and how are one.

–William McElcheran, Canadian Sculptor 1927-1999


I came across this quote this morning from the Canadian sculptor William McElcheran and lost myself in the circle logic of its semantics.  It made immediate sense yet somehow did not.  It was like a mist that I could see and feel but still  couldn’t quite  get in my grasp.  And maybe that is the very point of the quote, that art has both a tangible and intangible element.  It seems clear and within reach but there is mist-like quality that one can’t quite put their finger on.  And perhaps that is the very definition of art– to try to put that misty mystical element within reach,  to try to capture what is not quite visible.



I don’t know, maybe its too early on a Sunday morning to be pondering what is how and how is what.

However, it does provide a somewhat proper intro to some Sunday music.  Using the mystical theme, I thought some classic Van Morrison might be in order.  Here’s Into the Mystic from all the way back in 1970.  It stills feel fresh and in the moment.  And that, too, defines art.

The painting at the top is Led Home is a 10″ by 30″ canvas and is at the Principle Gallery for the Traveler exhibit.

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GC Myers-Quester's Path smIn the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in an clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.

-Mahatma Gandhi


      I write a lot about the search for something and in reality I have no idea what that thing is.  Gandhi says that  it is Truth that we seek.  His Truth may be the same as the wisdom that others claim to be seeking.  Others say that life is a search for self or love or to shatter loneliness.

      As for me, I just don’t know.  I have thought it was many things over the years– truth, self, wisdom and a place to fit in.  But none of those ever truly fit for me.  I am not sure I am equipped with the wisdom to handle the truth and, as far as fitting in, I gave up on that some time back.  And I have the self too elusive a thing to seek for too long. It sometime feels like looking for a Bigfoot– you think you may have found it but it always ends up not being what you hoped.

      So I am left filled with even more uncertainty.  And I think this uncertainty is a good thing because it makes me believe that the real quest is for a reason, a purpose for our existence.  And maybe that makes the quest the  real purpose– to be aware of our world, our lives.  To hold up each day, to examine each moment.  Maybe in each moment there is that truth, that wisdom. that sense of self and inclusion, if only we look with some uncertainty, not knowing why we do so.

      But as I say, I don’t know.


The painting at the top is Quester’s Path and is 8″ by 14″ on paper.  It is part of the show, Traveler, at the Principle Gallery.


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Remembering the Artist-Robert De Niro Sr.The other day I watched the HBO documentary Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr., a film produced by actor Robert De Niro to better illuminate the work of his late painter father.  Robert De Niro, Sr. had been a rising star in the New York art world of the 40’s and early 50’s, working in a style that was expressionistic and abstract yet still representational, very much influenced by earlier painters such as George Rouault and Henri Matisse.

He gained some fame early with an acclaimed solo show at the Art of the Century Gallery ran by Peggy Guggenheim who later began the museums bearing the Guggenheim name.  But fame was fleeting as the art world’s flavor of the month changed from the figurative Expressionism which he maintained as the primary vehicle for his artistic voice  to Abstract Expressionism in the 50’s  to the Pop Art of the 60’s.  He was left toiling in a style that was viewed as outdated  while others who he may have viewed as inferior talents or at best equals were lifted in the spotlight, earning the fame and fortune that he sought and  thought his work deserved.  This left him bitter yet to his credit, he remained faithful to his style and his own artistic voice.

It’s an interesting portrayal of the artist in general, touching on many areas that resonate with anyone who works in a creative field and struggles to make their work visible to the world.  His resentment in having his work, which represents everything he understands himself to be,  marginalized is a feeling that many artists will find familiar.  I know that I have felt that same bitterness, that same resentment at times in my career.  But I have come to recognize that it is simply part of the deal I bargained for in becoming an artist, that my work would sometimes find itself as a flavor of the month and at other times simply exist as a possible favorite for a few.

An artist in the film explained this with a great analogy, saying that artists are like characters on a stage in a play.  The spotlight moves around the stage and sometimes falls upon you but soon passes on to the next character and that moment in the spotlight is gone.  But if you persist and stay consistent and in character, eventually the spotlight will cycle around to you again.  He felt that much of De Niro’s life was in between those moments in the spotlight.  And for some, like De Niro, that can be a very difficult thing with which to live.

For me, that was the thing I took from this film, that as an artist you cannot control, the spotlight, cannot control how your work is received or perceived.  You can only do that work that comes from your core– staying consistent and in character, true to your inner voice– and bide your time on the stage, hoping that the spotlight will once again come around.  I fit does, great.  If it doesn’t find you, you have the solace of the work itself, knowing that you have maintained your vision,  and the hope that it will find a champion, as De Niro Jr, is for his father,  in its life after you are gone.

I encourage you to watch the film.  It’s an interesting look at an interesting painter in an interesting era.

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GC Myers Shambhala smJust a reminder that my show, Traveler, is currently on view at the Principle Gallery and will be hanging there until July 9th.  One of the pieces still available is the piece above,  Shambhala, an 18″ by 36″ canvas piece that I wrote about on this blog back in early March.   It’s a painting that I feel very strongly about.  Since that was three months before the show went up, I thought I might replay that post today.  In March, I wrote:

According to Buddhist tradition, Shambhala is name given to what they consider the Pure Land, a utopia of sorts whose reality is as much spiritual as it is physical.  A place where everyone achieves a state of enlightenment and peace and tranquility.  Author James Hilton morphed the name into Shangri-La for his novel Lost Horizon which describes a group of Westerners who find themselves the guests in a small idyllic nation of this name tucked away in a protected Himalayan valley.

Whatever you call it, the idea of a place of enlightenment and peace seems pretty attractive to me these days, given the many events going on in the world being driven forward by such negative factors as greed, hate and fear.  That tranquil inner place is what I see in this new painting, an 18″ by 36″ canvas that carries this name, Shambhala.  The road , for me, represents the search that leads to this elusive state and the sun  a blissful guide with a warm lure that radiates throughout the sky.  The Red Tree is on a small peninsula set into a calm body of water, still attached to the world  but in an ethereal space.  It is in a state of being where it is firmly in the moment, having set aside the past and disregarding the future.  Just absorbing the now.

That’s what I see and that is what I imagine how that moment might feel but I am still on that path, looking ahead for a sight of that hopeful destination.


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GC Myers- American Music 1994Last week I wrote about going through some old work and coming across work that had been lost in my memory, work that I seemed to recognize but couldn’t quite remember the how or why of it.  Didn’t have that recollection of the moment that I usually have with my work where I can recall the emotion of that time, recall the instant it excited me and came to life for me.  You know it’s your own work but it remains an enigma, a question.  This is another that I came across last week.  It was marked as being from 1994 and was titled American Music across the bottom.

I have looked at this piece a number of times over the year and know that it came from a time when I was experimenting on an almost constant basis, trying to capture that thing in my mind that I couldn’t quite identify but knew instinctively was there.  All kinds of things poured out, most eventually set aside like this one.   And through the years, looking at this piece always makes me question why I wrote  American Music across the bottom of the sheet it was painted on.  I don’t know if I saw some rhythm in this that reminded me of a generic American music or if I had been listening to some old music.  The Blasters, fronted by Phil Alvin, had a song of that name in the early 80’s that I always liked so maybe that played a part.

But the fact is that I just don’t know.  And there’s something interesting in that, that I get to look at a piece and try to figure out what the artist was thinking without really being sure.  It’s not too often that you get to do that with your own work. And I think that’s why I gravitate to this piece whenever I go through my old stuff.

An enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in paint.

Here’s the Blasters with their version of American Music.  Maybe you can figure it out.


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