Archive for October, 2014

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. Which road do I take? she asked. Where do you want to go? was his response. I don’t know, Alice answered. Then, said the cat, it doesn’t matter.

–Lewis Carroll


GC Myers- The Moment of Decision smMaybe I should call this new painting The Cheshire Cat Tree instead of The Moment of Decision, which is the title I  gave to it.  There is a sort of  built-in grin in the curve of the lower path, as though it is all that remains after the Cheshire Cat has disappeared and the advice he offered Alice in the quote at the top seems to fit so well with anyone coming to any fork in the road.  And the Red Tree offers only, like the Cheshire  Cat, enigmatic advice and guidance at best for it knows that we alone are responsible for our decisions and the path that we will ultimately follow.

For me, this painting also has an interesting interplay between the direction of the two paths,  the lower one being more earthly and the other heading upward  toward a light filled horizon and the heavens above.  It seems to break the painting in two parts, opposing forces that co-exist in harmony.  Yin and yang.

Just a thought.

The Moment of Decision is 24″ by 36″ on canvas and will be part of my show at the Kada Gallery in Erie, PA opening December 5.

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Project Yosemite Night ImageYosemite National Park is an elemental place, one formed from a beautiful union of stone, wood, water and light.  There is a wonderful time-lapse film project, Project Yosemite, filmed by Colin Delehanty and Sheldon Neill,  that  attempts to capture this elemental beauty.  It has stunning vistas showing the changing light of both day and night set against the backdrop of some of the park’s iconic landmarks.

The night scenes with the heavens moving above as shooting stars fire across the starry sky are pretty incredible as are the movements of the climbers on some of the massive rock faces.  They appear as bug-like figures and at night they become fireflies as their lights cast tiny but bright specks of light against the granite monoliths.

There are two great films.  Take a look and definitely check out the Project Yosemite site.  Just beautiful work.

Yosemite HD from Project Yosemite on Vimeo.

Yosemite HD II from Project Yosemite on Vimeo.

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Merry-cemetery-Sapanta-RomaniaIt’s a few days before Halloween which conjure up all sorts of macabre images, especially those of creepy cemeteries.  I am not one of those people who are repelled by the thought of cemeteries and I am sure I have mentioned my fondness for cemeteries on this blog.

I’ve always been attracted to the peacefulness of them, the shape of the stones and the names inscribed on them.  I try to imagine the lives behind those stones and names, trying to somehow connect with their essence.  I even speak to them sometimes, especially those that I know or those who have become my favorites in the cemeteries where we regularly walk.  For instance, I always say hello to one couple with  what I consider  wonderful names– Arthur and Flora Greengrow.

Grim Reaper Figure at Base of Tombstone

Grim Reaper Figure at Base of Tombstone

While many of us here are scared a bit by cemeteries, there are place where that is not the case.  There is, for example, Merry Cemetery in Sapanta, Romania.  It is filled with brightly colored wooden tombstones that are carved with a sometimes humorous limerick and naively painted images depicting the deceased at work or play .  Sometimes, however, the stones show how the person died.   These images can be a bit gruesome but even then there is a lightness about the tombstone.  You see, they are aligned with the Dacian culture which is associated with the Zalmoxian religion which has a differing view on death compared to most, seeing it as a moment of great joy filled with the anticipation of the better life that is waiting.

With the bright blue tombstones and descriptive and often humorous limericks  ( there is a very funny one about a woman where the  voice of the limerick is her son-in-law who hopes she is happy now because he doesn’t want her back), Merry Cemetery has become a worldwide tourist attraction with crowds traveling to see the 800-some tombstones.  I guess it’s always a Happy Halloween in Sapanta.

Here a few views of some of the tombstones:

Merry Cemetery Tombstones  Romania

Merry Cemetery Tombstones Romania

Merry-Cemetery-Romania- Tombstones showing means of death

Tombstones with a boy drowning and a girl being hit by car

Merry-Cemetery-Romania- Young Man being hit by train

Young Man being hit by train

Merry-Cemetery-Romania- Decapitation Tombstone

Decapitation Tombstone From WW II Era


Top of Tombstones, Merry Cemetery

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Addams Family DancerI love this little GIF of Wednesday Addams busting out some James Brown-like moves as Lurch looks on.  As we’re approaching Halloween in a few days, it seemed like a fitting accompaniment to this week’s Sunday music.  It also fits the music as well.  I found myself watching her feet intently as the song played and it just seemed to mesh perfectly with the click-clack of the percussion.  You be the judge.

This week’s song is from the Rolling Stones‘ classic 1972 album, Exile on Main Street.  The song is  their enhanced  cover  of the  song,  Shake Your Hips, from bluesman Slim Harpo.  This was not the first time the Stones (along with many other rock bands) had covered a Slim Harpo song.  They did a great version of his I’m a King Bee on their debut LP in 1964.  But in 1972 the Stones were at their peak and this song just became part of who they were, feeling like it was their own work and not a cover.

Anyway, give a listen and keep your eyes on Wednesday’s feet.  Hope this gets your Sunday rocking.  After all, it is, as every rock radio station in the world will remind us, still Rocktober.

Have a great day.

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Georgia O'Keeffe-Cow's Skull  Red, White and  Blue -1931

Georgia O’Keeffe-Cow’s Skull Red, White and Blue -1931

I don’t know if I have talked much about Georgia ‘OKeeffe (1887-1985) here on the blog.  Her work was a big influence on me when I was starting, especially with her use of  bold, clear color and in the way she pared away detail in her compositions, leaving only the essential.  Her lines and forms were always organic and natural, something in them almost creating a harmony or vibration that easily meshed with the viewer on a gut level.

I was looking at films of artists at work earlier and came across a short segment from a 1977 documentary by filmmaker Perry Miller Adato that was aired on PBS at the time to mark O’Keeffe 90th birthday.  I was immediately captivated by the film of her as younger woman early in her time in New Mexico set against her at 90, listening to talk about paintings that were based on the bones she found in the high desert, telling a bit about the iconic painting shown here.

Her words were direct and plain-spoken in a mid-western voice that reflected her mid-western upbringing.  There’s an interesting juxtaposition of her speaking in very simple terms about her work set against a curator speaking in a bit of artspeak.  I’m not saying his point wasn’t valid.  It was just interesting to see how she spoke easily on the subject, it all being just a part of who she was.

It was just a neat clip that reminded me of why I liked her work so much in those early years.  As I said, this is just a clip and I am sorry that I don’t know where you can see the entire film.  But enjoy this and perhaps you’ll stumble across the whole film some other day.

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GC Myers- Many Ways to Wander smWandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.

-Anatole France


On Monday,  I showed  a work-in-progress at an early stage of a painting that is bound for my December show at the Kada Gallery in Erie, PA.  Above is the resulting painting,  a 24″ by 48″ canvas that I am calling Many Ways to Wander.

For me, the title connects with the many paths that show themselves to the eye, from the fragmented white roads going in what seem to be several directions among the rolling foothills to the observatory’s relationship with the sun and space.  There is also the Red Tree’s posture which represents a spiritual questioning of the universe.  I also see it in the depth created by the distant hills and valleys, which create a sort of visual portal, representing for me an inner wandering.

There is a lot going on in this painting, with direction, color and shape.  But despite this it remains a quiet contemplative piece, with a sun that oversees all and acknowledges our need to search with a cool and non-judgmental eye, knowing that each will find their own path to follow in their own way.  And that is as it should be.

I’m enjoying this piece in the studio over the past few days.  There always seems to be a new angle to see it from, something new to glean from the details and forms, and that seems to pull m eye to it on a regular basis.  I find myself wandering in it throughout the day and I am calmed by it.  And that is all I can ask of it…

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In different hours, a man represents each of several of his ancestors, as if there were seven or eight of us rolled up in each man’s skin, — seven or eight ancestors at least, — and they constitute the variety of notes for that new piece of music which his life is.
―Ralph Waldo Emerson


GC Myers- Family Lines smThis is another newer painting that is headed to Erie for my show, Into the Common Ground,  in December at the Kada Gallery.  This 30′ by 40″ canvas is titled Family Lines with the Red Tree serving as the symbol of a family tree and the Red Chair acting as an offspring of it.  The broken segments of the winding path leading up to it represent for me the often arduous task of finding your connection to this tree while the light of the sky represents ultimate discovery and illumination.

I’ve often felt as though I had little definition of myself or my connection to the world through my ancestors.  My work as an artist has helped change this in many ways, giving me a portal for displaying who I am or  at least aspire to be in definition.  But my connection to my ancestors was always vague and hidden away beyond my knowledge.  I wondered who they were, what their stories held  and what traits they fed forward  through time to me.  I began to study my genealogy, hoping to discover some form of connection with the past that might help me better understand who I was in the present.  To discover what worlds the winding path that led to my own life traveled through.

It’s been a wonderful process that has given me greater connection with the past and with the history of this country and with those countries that gave birth to my ancestors.  Naturally, I am always drawn to the grand stories that are uncovered, the heroic and celebrated ancestors that I find myself hoping have somehow contributed some of their positive traits to my DNA.  But I am equally intrigued and touched by the simple and sometimes tragic tales that are uncovered.

I had earlier written of a great grand uncle who had lived his whole life in a county home for the infirmed. He was described in the censuses during his life as “feeble-minded” and he was unceremoniously buried  in an unmarked grave there at the county home.  I recently came across his death certificate and they listed him as a lifelong sufferer of epilepsy.  It made the story even more tragic in that this was perhaps a person who had a condition that would be treatable today.

I think of this person quite often.  His story is as much a part of that tree as those of  its more celebrated members.  It may not be the most beautiful leaf on the branch but it is there.  As Emerson says, we represent in some form a number of our ancestors and whose to say what part this ancestor plays in that piece of new music that is my life.

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GC Myers WIP 2014 smOnce in a great while I show my works in progress here on the blog.  I ‘m never too excited about it because  in many of the stages that are shown the work still lacks that thing, that completeness, that gives it life.  But there is a point earlier in the process where it does attain a certain sense of completion.  It’s right after the initial blocking in of the painting with red oxide paint and after the the first layers of color have given the beginnings of light to the sky.  It has a mood of its own at this juncture, a direction and a sense of the life it will have.

Outside of the final moments near the completion of the moment, this is by far my favorite stage of the process.  After this, as more layers of color are added, it devolves for a while, becoming flat and dull on the surface.  It loses any brightness.  Without this early glimpse of what it might be, these later stages might be discouraging.

This early stage is one where I sometimes find myself wanting to stop, to go no further and just let it be as it is.  But I always seem to push past this and move on to the fuller version that has more color and a bit more polish.   I may show a few more stages along the way until the final version emerges.  By the way, this a 24″ by 48″ canvas.

Being Sunday morning, it’s time for a little music.  I have had an old Burt Bacharach song in my head for a few days, one from his heyday with Hal David where they churned out an amazing string of hits for Dionne Warwick in the early 60’s.  His music always has a distinctive sound and feel.  There is a coolness  and lightness in the sound of  much of his music that I can’t fully describe and Warwick’s strong but delicate phrasing fits it like a glove in these songs.  I guess that’s why it sticks in my mind so well.  Here’s Walk On By from Dionne Warwick.  A little coolness for what I hope will be a great Sunday for you.


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Earlier in the week at the dinner at which I was speaking  I was asked why there were no windows or doors in my houses.  I answered that I wanted them to be somewhat anonymous and that leaving the windows and doors out allowed the eye to glide easily over them to the focal point of the painting.  I didn’t mention that I have painted houses and building with windows and doors, usually when the structure is a central figure in the composition.  I wrote a blog entry several years ago about one such painting.  In this essay I also mention how I came to paint clouds in the manner that I do, answering another question that I was recently asked.  Even though the painting shown is long in the hands of that collector, here’s what I had to say:

GC Myers- As Clouds Roll By 2010This  is a new painting that I’ve just finished, tentatively called As Clouds Roll By.  It’s a 14″ by 18″ image painted on ragboard.  It’s a composition that I have visited on a number of occasions, this time at the request of a collector in Pennsylvania, and one that I always get great pleasure from painting, savoring the subtle variations that make each piece unique .

Even though this is a very simple composition with few elements, the great satisfaction I feel after finishing a piece such as this is something I can’t fully explain.  Perhaps it’s the recognition of the things in this piece that fully jibe with what I hope to achieve in my paintings.  The simplicity of design. The quietude of vast open space.  The depth into the picture, even though it is a very simple composition.  The inviting warmth of the house and tree.  The languorous fashion in which the clouds roll by, in a way representing the slow and inevitable march of time.

It clicks a lot of my own buttons.

The clouds in this piece always take me back to the first time I painted clouds in that looked like these.  I was not yet a full-time painter and had obtained a large commisiion that would prove to be very important to me.  I was on a short deadline and was still painting in the dining area of our home at the time with large sheets of paper spread over folding tables.  I was working on a large triptych and was nearly finished when our late cat, Tinker, decided to explore the tables.  Bounding up, she stepped first in a damp part of my palette and ran across the three sheets, leaving perfect little paw prints in a watery blue tint in her wake.  As the echoes of my bellow faded, my mind raced as I looked at my now very unfinished work.

Start over?  No time.  Try to blend them in to the background?  Not with this particular style of painting.  I sat and looked, concentrating.  Wait a minute.  The prints only ran across the sky portion of all the sheets.  And they ran in lovely diagonal manner.

Quickly, I was at it with paint and within several minutes I had blocked in clouds where once there were paw prints.  It worked.  Tinker’s run across the sky fit the rhythm of the piece and the clouds actually gave a fullness to the composition that it had lacked.  It was actually quite an improvement.

So when I see clouds such as these, I always flash back to my initial panic and the subsequent discovery of good fortune in this happy accident.  Since that day, when what seems to be a disastrous event happens with one of my paintings I step back with a much calmer mind and eye with the knowledge that perhaps this is just a new opportunity to see things a new way.

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GC Myers- Here There Everywhere smI’ve done several paintings through the years using textured surface that has bands or strings that twist and turn throughout.  It’s an extreme texture, more pronounced on than my typical surfaces, and, as a result, takes center stage in these pieces.  They become the driving force in the painting.

These bands that run through these paintings always spur something in me, some sense of wonder at the great unknowns of our world and universe.  The new painting shown here, Here There Everywhere, certainly does this for me.  Looking at it, I am filled with questions about the world or worlds that lie just past our perceptions.  Are there other dimensions, other pasts and futures swirling around us at any moment?  And if so, are we connected in some way to this web of chaotic energy or are we merely physical beings, unwitting bystanders in the great dance of the universe?

In this painting, the Red Tree serves as the questioner, living in the moment but recognizing the forces that permeate everything and give that moment a discernible depth and meaning beyond the simple beauty it can physically observe.  I know that I have had that feeling.  I might be out driving and see a certain curve of a field, a bend of a tree or the filtering light from the sun and suddenly feel an intense emotional response that seems to have no basis of origin in my past , one so strong that I find myself asking why and where it came from.

Perhaps this indefinable emotional is a brush with these other worlds, these energy forces?

I certainly don’t know.  Part of me wishes it to be so but part of me simply wants to savor that moment and emotion without questioning it.  Something to ponder on a gray autumn morning.

This painting, Here There Everywhere, is a 24″ by 30″ canvas and is part of my show, Into the Common Ground, at the Kada Gallery in Erie, PA which opens in early December.


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