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Archive for September, 2014

GC Myers- A Journey Begins

GC Myers- A Journey Begins

One of the interesting things about doing Gallery Talks, especially when there are a number of people who have followed your work for a while, is the feedback I get about the direction of my work or what has come or gone in it in recent times.  I hadn’t even noticed until someone asked that my Red Chair was lacking from the walls of the Principle Gallery and upon thinking about it I realized  that it had not appeared often in recent times.  I wasn’t surprised.  After doing this for a while, I’ve come to understand that themes and imagery cycle in and out of my work, attaching for a while to my psyche then falling to the back, only to resurface at a later time.

GC Myers- Night Watch

GC Myers- Night Watch

But having someone raise that point prodded me a bit and that Red Chair is in my mind again.  I have a few images swirling that will soon be out, I am sure.  But it also made me go back through my files looking for that Red Chair.  2002 was the high water mark for its appearance, especially in interior scenes painted in that style I refer to as my Dark Work— dark blues and greens over a black base.  Several of them remain with me and are among that work with which I will not part.

But I thought it would be interesting to show how a series of specific imagery, in this case the Red Chair,  goes through a specific time period, how certain elements are added or highlighted or fall away.  The one constant is the weight that the Red Chair brings to each image.  There is a tangible sense of  presence in each, as though the Red Chair alive and contemplating in the moment.  I think that is the appeal for me in these pieces– they don’t feel like still lifes but more like portraits.

Anyway, here is how the Red Chair moved through 2002:

GC Myers- Galvanic Memory

GC Myers- Galvanic Memory

GC Myers- Little Red Riding Chair

GC Myers- Little Red Riding Chair

GC Myers- Inner Sanctum

GC Myers- Inner Sanctum

GC Myers- An Inward Look

GC Myers- An Inward Look

GC Myers- Small Piece pf the World

GC Myers- Small Piece pf the World

GC Myers- Reason to Believe

GC Myers- Reason to Believe

GC Myers- Introspection

GC Myers- Introspection

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Dorothea Lange - Migrant Mother

Dorothea Lange – Migrant Mother

In a couple of days, on September 18th, there is a new exhibit of the photos of Dorothea Lange opening at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown.  If you don’t know the name, you still probably are familiar with her images which include the iconic photo shown here on the right, taken in 1936 while she was working for the Farm Security Administration.  Migrant Mother is one of those images that seem to capture with a glimpse all of the sorrow and hardship of those affected in the Depression-era Dust Bowl,  in this case a mother forced to leave her home and wander in search of work that will provide for her children.

Her worry is etched on her face.  While John Steinbeck‘s book The Grapes of Wrath brought the plight of these displaced farmers of that time to the light, it was  Lange’s imagery that  gave them  a sense of humanity  and dignity that reached out and created an empathy with the viewer.  It was powerful, plain and simple.

Dorothea Lange- Grandfather with grandson  at Manzanar CA Camp

Dorothea Lange- Grandfather with grandson at Manzanar CA Camp

Some of her most powerful work came from an assignment she took with the War Relocation Authority during  WW II, when she was hired to document the interment of Japanese-American citizens.  Lange captured the humanity of these prisoners of race at a time when even the liberal and progressive elements in this country maintained silence over the shameful treatment of these citizens.  The photos were censored by the army during the war and were never seen until they were quietly moved to the National Archives, almost 50 years later.

Lange lived from 1895 until 1965, surviving the polio as a child which left her with a distinct limp for the rest of her life.  But neither the limp nor the chronic ulcers that plagued her for the last decades of her life could slow her down.   She sought to affect social change with her images, to give voice to the disenfranchised and down-trodden.

So, if you’re in the Cooperstown area, I highly recommend stopping in at the Fenimore Art Museum to see this work by this giant of American photography.  I know that I am looking forward to seeing it.

Dorothea Lange-  Flag  at Interment Camp at Manzanar CA

Dorothea Lange- Flag at Interment Camp at Manzanar CA

Dorothea Lange Dust Bowl Farm Dalhart Texas

Dorothea Lange- Dust Bowl Farm, Dalhart, Texas

 

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Photo Courtesy of Jessica Braun

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Braun

It was a really nice time in Alexandria yesterday, doing my annual Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery, an event we started doing in conjunction with the King Street Arts Festival twelve years ago.   Got to spend some time with Jessica, Pam and Clint at the gallery which is always a treat.  The actual talk, despite my normal pre-talk trepidations, went really well.  At least that’s what people tell me– I never trust my own judgement on those things.  But it was a full house with many familiar faces mixed with many new, a great group that made my job fairly easy, allowing me to be myself and be open and forthcoming.  Of course, in the aftermath, I  realized that I had missed several points and questions of my own  that I had wanted to address but that’s okay as the voids were filled with their questions.

Sometimes, these questions from the audience are the best part for me and probably for them, as well.  It is often the moist revealing part of the talk.  After talking about how my fifth-grade art teacher had been a big influence on my work, especially the Archaeology series,  a question came forward asking what advice I would now give to my fifth-grade self.  My response was that I would tell myself to believe that I had a voice that was unique, that I had something to say to the world.  I went on to talk about what finding this voice in art has meant to me, about how it empowered me and made me feel as though I had a role, a purpose in this world.

There’s more I could have added but that will have to wait until the next time.

The talk ended with the drawing for the painting and for several other gifts.  That is always a lot of fun for me and for the audience.  Well, at least the ones who win.  I tried to tell them how much this giving meant to me, how I was actually the one who was walking away with more than I came with.  That is absolutely true and for that I thank every one of those folks who chose to spend part of their Saturday with me at the Principle.  The inspiration you provide is worth more than I can ever give in return.

And, of course, to Michele and the crew at the Principle, so many thanks for everything they have given me through the years– friendship, encouragement and a place to let my voice speak freely.  It is more than appreciated.  So, for some  music, as is the norm on a Sunday morning here, I am sending out La Vie En Rose from Madeleine Peyroux.

Have a great Sunday…

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The task is…not so much to see what no one has yet seen; but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees.

― Erwin Schrödinger

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GC Myers-  New Dimension smI was looking for something to say about this new painting, New Dimension,  when I came across this quote from  physicist Erwin Schrodinger that deals with dimensional perception.

I have to admit to not knowing much about the  quantum physics to which he refers with these words but the sentiment behind it could be describing the driving force behind this painting and much of what I attempt to do as an artist.  I have maintained for some time that art is not about clever ideas or extraordinary subjects but in changing our perceptions of the ordinary, in trying to illuminate those dimensions of the world that remain unseen to us.

The example I often cite is of Van Gogh‘s painting of a vase of irises.  It is an painting of an extremely ordinary subject, a vase filled with flowers,  A common floral painting that has been the subject of perhaps a million or two painters over the ages.  Yet seeing it, one feels that unseen animating energy of nature and the force of Van Gogh’s perceptions of it.  It vibrates with energy.  It is no longer a simple vase of irises but has become a conduit to a new and deeper dimension, one that delivers us closer to the essence our being.  It is now the sacred ordinary.

This piece attempts to go there and does so for me.  But I am too close to it to  judge whether it hits it mark for others.  It is as ordinary as it gets- a horizon, a sky, a sun, a field and a tree.  Yet I am hoping that there is something in it that takes you beyond the mundane, something that sparks and allows your inner self to detect the essential forces at work in this simple scene.  To find the extraordinary in the ordinary, to feel more connected to our essence.  To find a new dimension in our selves.

This painting, New Dimension, is a 12″ by 36″ canvas and will be going with me to the Principle Gallery for my Gallery Talk there on Saturday, September 13th.

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GC Myers- Blue Night Discovery

GC Myers- Blue Night Discovery

I have a small group of new work accompanying me to the Principle Gallery this Saturday for my 1 PM Gallery Talk there.  There are also two older paintings, one a piece that I wrote about here a couple of weeks ago, The Elusive Path.  It is from 1990 and is one of the first Red Tree paintings but was trapped in a bad frame that sapped away much of its potency.  A new and more fitting frame has allowed its true self to shine through.

Another older painting that will be coming with me is shown above, Blue Night Discovery.  Unlike The Elusive Path which had a horrible dull green-blue frame, this painting had a decent looking frame.  The problem was that the mat surrounding this painting on paper was extra wide and the frame was massive.  It was huge and cumbersome, much too weighty for this work.  The framed piece felt like a slab of rock when I would pick it up and I seldom looked at it because it was such a chore to drag it out.

It was buried in the very thing that was supposed to set it forward and present it in its best light.

GC Myers- The Elusive Path

GC Myers- The Elusive Path

I had went through a period of these large, heavy frames and extra wide mats and over the years I have changed most of these paintings back to smaller, more reasonable frames that don’t overwhelm the painting.  So many so that I have a huge stack of these massive frames in a basement room.  There’s enough wood there to build an addition on my studio. Looking at these frames,  I can now safely say that the idea of these wide mats and heavy frames was a misjudgement on my part.

But there is a bright side to this realization.  For all of these frames, the  paintings that had been held captive have almost all found new homes soon after being re-presented in a manner that allows them to show what they really are, to let them exhibit their own qualities.  Seeing Blue Night Discovery out of that huge frame let me see it with cleared eyes not distracted by a setting that had little to do with the piece itself.  I had discounted this painting in my mind for years because of this distraction but now saw the strong forms and saturated colors, the contrasts of the dark of the  blues against the light light of the moon.  It made me remember the time when I had painted it and those positive feelings to which it had given rise.

It seemed new again in my eyes.  All because it was in a new position, a gem in its proper setting.

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They who give have all things; they who withhold have nothing.

–Hindu Proverb

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"Brilliant Determination"

“Brilliant Determination”

I have given away or will be giving away several paintings recently at talks at the galleries that represent my work, including the painting shown here on the left at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria this coming Saturday.  I have described this as an act of gratitude towards the folks who have supported me so well through the years, buying my work and following its growth in the galleries and here online.  This is true, it is an act of gratitude but it also has more meaning than that for me.

It is a small act of giving that is part of a larger battle against the selfishness and meanness of spirit so evident in the world.  I am not exempt here.  I have been a selfish person in my life, probably more so than I would ever admit or know.  And I will probably be selfish in the future even though I try to avoid this pitfall.  But with each small act of giving, of parting with something that I could easily hold onto covetously, there is a lightening of my burden and my spirit.

Generosity forces down many of the meaner parts of myself and creates space within for those better parts to expand and show themselves.  It is an exhilarating feeling, a feeling of liberation from my baser self.  So much so that these events where I give away paintings have become the highlight of my working life.

I think that is why I take so much time and effort in choosing the painting to be given away.  I have to find that piece that I could easily hang onto for myself.  It has to make me twinge a bit, make me a little uncomfortable to give it away.  But once that decision has been made, the lightening begins and I am eager to see where the painting will find a new home.

So, if you can come to the talk on Saturday, know that if you win you are helping fight my battle against selfishness and bringing me great joy.  Even more so if the painting brings you some joy of your own.

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"Brilliant Determination" - GC Myers

“Brilliant Determination” – GC Myers

Well, I finally made my choice for the painting to be given away in a drawing at this Saturday’s Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria.  It was a tough decision that came down to two pieces that both have a lot of meaning for me.  But when it came right down to it, this painting, Brilliant Determination, seemed more appropriate for the event.  It has the Red Tree in a windswept posture in a simple composition that is supported by a deeply textured background that sets the emotional tone for the painting.  The strong texture of this piece has always drawn me in, connected me to it.  One criteria for giving away work has been met– this painting has meaning for myself.

Another criteria is that the painting be a real painting.  It must have real value, be a painting that I would gladly exhibit and not a studio failure that is one step from being tossed into the fireplace.  This 16″ by 20″ painting on canvas meets this requirement easily.

I thought enough of this piece to have written about it here a few years back.  Here’s what appeared in that blog entry:

 

If your determination is fixed, I do not counsel you to despair. Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance.      

– Samuel Johnson

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I’ve been thinking about determination a lot lately.  There are times when nothing seems to come easily and it seems like there are any number of things that would be more enjoyable than struggling forward with your chosen endeavor.  But in the end you force yourself ahead.  There’s a greater satisfaction in struggling with that which you have chosen and feel is meaningful than in doing something that means little to your inner self even though it is easier and, in many cases, more entertaining.

This is something I keep in mind when I’m in the studio.  There are many days when nothing comes easily, every stroke is like lifting a heavy weight and inspiration seems to have left the building long ago.  In these moments self doubts begin to stir and I seriously wonder if I have reached an end to my creative life.  It’s like a dull pain that seems like will be with me forever and there are points I want to stop.

But I remember that this is the path that I chose to follow.  With that recognition I am reminded of other times when I have been at this point before and I know, I just know, that if I steel my mind and force myself to move ahead, one small step in front of another, that I will come to a point  where all this forced energy builds and builds and suddenly breaks free.  In this moment of release, everything suddenly seems effortless and inspiration is everywhere.  It’s like going from the dark depths of a stifling mine to the top of a cool mountain.

And the memory of the toil that it has taken to reach this point fades into the distance.

Until the next time.  And that’s where determination is needed once more.

So, if you can make it to the Principle Gallery in Alexandria this Saturday, September 13th, around 1 PM, you will have a chance at giving this painting a new home.  Plus, there are always a few more surprises.  Hope you can make it!

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GC Myers- Moonshadows

GC Myers- Moonshadows

I am in the midst of preparing a group of work to take with me when I go to Alexandria this coming weekend for my annual Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery on Saturday.  It’s like a mini-show with some new paintings fresh from the studio including the piece shown here, Moonshadows.  It’s a smaller painting on paper, a 6″ by 9″ image, that moodily focuses on the moon and the  shadows cast from it by the Red Tree and the Traveler on the path.  It’s a simple and quiet piece, one that invites thought.

I have also narrowed down the field for the painting that will be given away in a drawing at the Gallery Talk.  There are two pieces that I am going back and forth on, both having real meaning for me.  As I pointed out before, it’s important to me to give away work that is real and alive at these events and I think either of the two pieces I am considering easily meet that requirement. I will reveal the piece in the next day or two so check back.

Being Sunday it’s time for some music and in keeping with the theme of the painting I chose an older song, Open All Night,  from Bruce Springsteen’s great 1982 acoustic album, Nebraska.  I find it hard to believe that this album is over thirty years old but when I consider how many times I have ran these lyrics through my head as I’ve been driving somewhere, I am less surprised.

Anyway, enjoy and have a great Sunday…

 

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View Arts Center-Old Forge, NY

View Arts Center-Old Forge, NY

We spent the last few days up in the lower part of the Adirondacks, around Old Forge.  Being just a day or so past Labor Day, most of the tourists were gone  and the region was beautifully quiet.  It sometimes felt as though we had the place to ourselves.  One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the View Arts Center, formerly the Old Forge Arts Center.  It was my first time visiting the View Arts Center.  What a gorgeous facility!  It is a 28,000 square feet gem with four galleries, a spectacular performance center and several large classroom and studio spaces, including a ceramics center that has an artist in residence.  Exhibitions Manager Cory Card gave me a tour and I was so impressed with every aspect of the place.  Just a beautiful arts center, one that would be the pride of any place fortunate enough to have it.

View Arts Center- Adirondack National 2014 Will Bullas PaintingI had first heard of the Arts Center because of its fame for hosting the  annual Adirondack National Exhibition of American Watercolors, a prestigious juried exhibit of some of the finest examples of watercolor and other water based media painting from around the country.  This year’s edition was hanging and definitely did not disappoint. Just a spectacular show with something for every taste, including some from artists who had inspired me early in my career, before I had ever dreamed of a career as an artist.  For instance, Dean Mitchell, a watercolor master whose work rally drew me to painting early on,  had a prize winning entry in the show.  The painting used in the image above on the right is excerpted from one of my favorites from this show, Geek from California artist Will Bullas.

The show hangs until October 5 so if you have a chance , I highly recommend that you head up to the Adirondacks for some wonderful scenery and some great art at a first rate arts facility.

Another highlight was heading out to North Lake, a little known mountain lake that is well off the beaten path with only a handful of seasonal cabins around it.  I wanted to visit this place because it had once been one of the locations for my great-grandfather’s logging camps in the late 1800’s.  He built one of the original dams and sluiceways there that create the North Lake Reservoir which forms the headwaters of the Black River.  Standing on the newer dam that  stands in that location made me feel a bit closer to this ancestor, to look across that pristine mountain lake and possibly feel the same sense of awe at the natural beauty that he once felt in that same spot.  I was glad to finally see that spot.

Just a nice getaway to the lakes and streams of the mountains that makes me want to head back again soon…

North Lake, NY -View from the dam

North Lake, NY -View from the dam

 

 

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GC Myers-Into the Valley of Color smThe summer shows are past now as I turn to the autumn months where there are a couple of things on my calendar.  First, on September 13th, I will be giving a Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria.  It begins at 1 PM and runs for an hour or so.  There will be a drawing for an original  painting of mine to be given to someone in attendance plus there will be some other surprises.  I am going through my painting here in the studio trying to decide which piece will be the prize this year.  There are some strong contenders, all having some personal meaning for me.

I will also be bringing a small group of new work for the gallery.  Included is the piece shown above, Into the Valley of Color.  It’s a larger painting, measuring 36″ by 36″ on canvas, that I have been enjoying for the last few days here in the studio.  It has a real presence that draws me in when my eyes turn its way.

Next on the calendar is a new solo show, The Common Ground, which opens December 5th at the Kada Gallery in Erie, PA.  I have been showing at the Kada Gallery for going on 19 years and always enjoy my visits there.  I am pretty excited by the direction in which the work is headed as I prepare for this show.  I think it will be a very strong group.  I will be posting updates through the next couple of months.

So, if you’re in the DC area on September 13th, please stop into the Principle Gallery.  For my friend in Western Pennsylvania and NE Ohio, I will see you in December.  I had better get to work!

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