Archive for June, 2015

GC Myers- In the Moment of GraceThis is a new piece, an 18″ by 24″ painting on panel, that  is part of my upcoming show at the West End Gallery.  It is titled In the Moment of Grace.  Fittingly, it was finished in the time that I listened to President Obama‘s stirring eulogy for the victims of the Charleston tragedy on Friday in which he pulled its theme from the classic hymn Amazing Grace.  Although I was already fully invested in  this painting, that fact added so much more meaning to it for me.

That eulogy was the culmination of a remarkable and historic week, one that found the Supreme Court issuing decisions that upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and made Gay Marriage a right throughout the nation.  And if that wasn’t enough, the Confederate flag finally came down in South Carolina, though it took the act one young black woman willing to be imprisoned for her civil disobedience rather than the act of an intransigent State House and Senate.  The President’s words over the fallen in South Carolina framed the end of this week perfectly.

Amazing Grace.

Despite the wonder of it all, I know there is much more to be done and more conflicts to be faced in the struggle for equality and fairness for all.  That is the nature of change and change is the nature of America.  And I think that is the point that is missed by so many of those who hold so tightly onto the past,  those people who say that they want “their country” back: America is not a monolith, not owned by one group or region and cannot be defined by one thing, person, place or time.

That is its strength.  Like a great work of art, it lives always in the present.  And the present is an inclusive and shifting prism, a kaleidoscope or, yes, a rainbow of diverse people who make up this nation.  It has eventually always made room for all who sought to live in that light and it is that spirit of inclusion that separates us from the rest of the world.  Tolerance unifies a disparate people and brings us closer to grace.

As I said, there are many more hurdles to be overcome, more work to be done.  I could continue preaching here for a while but I wish to just sit back for a moment and relish the present.  So, for this Sunday morning music I thought a little Amazing Grace would be appropriate.  Her is a truly beautiful version from Judy Collins and the Boys Choir of Harlem, sung on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Have a good Sunday and reflect for a moment on this remarkable week.


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AERMETRY  - Photographer Nicolaus WegnerThere was an interesting video recently online called Art of the Storm from photographer Nicolaus Wegner that featured a fantastic time lapse of a super cell forming over the Black Hills of South Dakota earlier this month.  While it was beautiful and awe inspirng, it was a link at the end of the video to some of his other time lapse films that caught my eye.  One in particular stood out.

Called AERMETRY,  it features storm and cloud formations and movements that are mirrored as they move across the screen, creating kaleidoscopic images that are fascinating.  Definitely hard to look away, especially if, like me, you are one of those people who try to identify things in random patterns.  There is however a photosensitive seizure warning attached so if you are susceptible to such things please take note.

You can see more of the work of Nicolaus Wegner, including more sensational time lapses, at  his website, Light Alive Photography.

AERMETRY from Nicolaus Wegner on Vimeo.

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The_Torment_of_Saint_Anthony_(Michelangelo)A man paints with his brains and not his hands.

-Michaelangelo Buonarroti


I am a little intimidated in quoting the words of a man who is believed to have painted the piece shown above, The Torment of Saint Anthony, at the tender age of 12 or 13.  Pretty amazing.  It’s obvious from this and almost everything of his that came after that Michaelangelo had both brains and hands–craftsmanship of the highest degree and thought and feeling that brought his work to life.

But his words ring true for any painter.  Painting should not be mere craft, not formulaic process nor exact replication of the reality before them.  No, it is beyond  that.  It is how the artist imbues the work with their own thought and emotion, their own spirit, their own essence– an investment of the self— that elevates the work above craft.

Doing that is the trick.  At first glance, it seems both a tall task and a simple one.  But it comes down to simply feeling emotion in what you are doing and being willing to openly display it without reserve.

Now, maybe I am misinterpreting Michaelangelo’s words to fit my own subjective view of painting.  Perhaps in these ten words he was speaking about taking a more scientific or mathematical approach to painting and composition. That I don’t know.  But when I read it, it made sense to me because the differentiating quality I see in painting, from self-taught outsiders to the highest level of traditional representational painters, is how much of themselves a painter is willing to invest in their creations.

It is the thought process of the artist that makes the painting, not the mechanical process.

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GC myers-Sanctuary A couple of days ago I wrote about the theme behind my upcoming Home+Land show at the West End Gallery, briefly describing that feeling of feeling at home in a place.  This homing instinct has been noted by others including a passage in the book Desert Solitaire from late author/environmentalist Edward Abbey.

Written in 1968, the book tells of his time as seasonal park ranger at Utah’s Arches National Park in the 1950’s and has been compared to Thoreau‘s Walden for the philosophical ruminations that run alongside his stories of working the park.  I read it probably well over thirty years ago and had forgotten this short passage until running across it on another site.  It fit so well into the other day’s post that I thought I would share it:

Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary.  A houseboat in Kashmir, a view down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, a gray gothic  farmhouse two stories high at the end of a red dog road in the Allegheny Mountains, a cabin on the shore of a blue lake in spruce and fir country, a greasy alley near the Hoboken waterfront, or even, possibly, for those of a less demanding sensibility, the world to be seen from a comfortable apartment high in the tender, velvety smog of Manhattan, Chicago, Paris, Tokyo, Rio or Rome—there’s no limit to the human capacity for the homing sentiment. Theologians, sky pilots, astronauts have even felt the appeal of home calling to them from up above, in the cold black outback of interstellar space.

I know that this homing instinct, the need to be peacefully at ease in a place, has been a prime motivator in many parts of my life and it shows itself in my work on an a regular basis.  The example at the top very much reflects this sense of home and is called, fittingly, Sanctuary.  It is part of my show Native Voice which hangs now at the Principle Gallery and ends July 6.




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I wasn’t going to write anything today.  Getting ready for the new show at the West End Gallery has kept me exceedingly busy but I came across a clip from a Viktor Frankl lecture that I liked and wanted to share.  Frankl ‘s book, Man’s Search For Meaning, has been an important book in my life and his ability to find hope in the darkest of times always provides inspiration.  The clip, from 1972, shows this optimism and even though it is from 1972, it speaks for any time.  Honestly, the idea that this man who has experienced the worst side of mankind can find hope for mankind makes me slightly ashamed at the cynicism I sometime find in myself when I consider the future of this planet.

You can find Frankl’s book on YouTube as a free audiobook by clicking here.

To preface the clip I thought I would share a blogpost and painting from five years back:

GC Myers- LifebloodWe who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked throughout the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

———-Viktor Frankl


I don’t know why this came to mind today but it did.  Viktor Franklwas an Auschwitz survivor who, after the war, createdlogotherapy, one of the important schools of psychotherapy alongside those of Freud, Adler and Jung.  It was a therapy based on finding meaning in one’s life, a reason to struggle onward.  In his best known book, Man’s Search For Meaning, he recounts his time in the concentration camp and how he and others who survived  seemed to have something in common– the discovery of a purpose and meaning in living.  It might be love. It might  be the will and drive to create.  Just something to set on their horizon to pull them ahead despite the horror around them.

Maybe it was this painting, Lifeblood,  that brought back Frankl for me.  I had come across his work a number of years ago and and his words and example have helped me through some desperate, foundering times of my own.  There is a certain power in knowing that we all are fated to suffering of some sort, just by the sheer nature of existence.  There will be pain, there will be death.  No one is exempt from the distresses of  life.  But these can be endured through the knowledge that we have the choice in how we react to such events, how we perceive the deprivations of our lives.  We can choose to wallow, to give in,  or we can forge ahead.

Maybe that’s how I see this painting, as a path through the pains of living, symbolized by the blood red of the ground.  All the leaves, everything it had,  have been stripped from the tree yet it still stands.  It reaches for the light above, seeks a meaning for its suffering.

I didn’t see it that way when I first painted this.  It was simply color and form.  Simplicity and harmony.  But sometimes there’s an associative power to a piece that gnaws at you, begs you to look deeper and find what it’s trying to say.  And maybe the ideas of Viktor Frankl hide in this piece for me…

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GC Myers Home+Land smThe ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.

–Maya Angelou


This is the title painting, Home+Land,  for my next solo show which opens July 17 at the West End Gallery in Corning.  It’s a pretty large painting at 36″ high  by 48″ wide on canvas and one that fairly represents my feelings on how we are tied to the land, how we identify home with a sense of place.  This is the theme for this show as well as for much of my work in general.

I have long equated the idea of home with the landscape, with how we are shaped by those places that we know from an early age.  The rhythm, the shapes and the perspectives of the landscape that surrounds us becomes part of who we are , something that travels with us throughout our lives. Wherever we go, we look for similarities to that feeling of our home landscape.

It might be in the actual landforms or the way in which the vegetation interacts with the land and the structures of the homes there. It simply looks like home.  Or it might be just in the way the light strikes the land or the rhythm and flow of movement within the landscape that create a level of comfort that equates to that feeling of home.

I know, for myself, that there have been places where I have been where the landscape has been so different from the hills and fields surrounding my original home yet I still feel a sense of being at home.  And there are other places that, while similar in shape and having beauty and charms of their own, leave me uneasy and feeling out of place.  And there are places in which I immediately feel out of place in an alien way, places to which I could never fully adapt.  Definitely not at home.

I guess what I am trying to say is that home is a mix of feeling and place.  It is that place where you feel as comfortable and satisfied in place as the Red Tree in the painting above.


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Cabbage Row- Catfish Row Charleston SCFirst things first, a happy Father’s Day to all you fathers out there, including my own living down in Florida.  I was going to say more about him today and some recent cognition troubles he’s been experiencing but I think I will keep it simple and just send out my wishes for a Happy Father’s Day.

Being Sunday, it’s time for some Sunday Morning Music.  I was going to play something with a father-y theme but this week’s tragic event down in Charleston has been on my mind.

In the late 1980’s, my parents lived  for a couple years on one of the sea islands outside of Charleston so we were able to visit a few times.  It was hard not to embrace the place with all its charms, its people and history always on display.  I’ve had a soft spot for that area ever since and when the Principle Gallery opened a new location there two years ago I was thrilled in that it might give me an excuse to visit that place once more.

So when a hate-filled , weak-minded coward given  power through a gun takes the lives of nine innocent people in that city, I am filled a multitude of emotions.  Sadness for the families and friends of those victims, for the city itself and for this nation that seems to accept this type of tragedy more and more as the norm.  Anger at the killer and at ridiculous hatred he possesses.  Anger at the societal mindset that incubates or tolerates this hatred, especially in a state where the Confederate flag brazenly flies about the state capital.  Anger at those people who believe that this is somehow “their”country and that it is their duty to somehow take it back.  Anger at politicians who give lip service but little else in the aftermath, only looking to put the event in a perspective that suits their own agenda.

How many more times will we tolerate this?  Many, many more I am sure because there is no easy answer here, no magic pill that wipes away racism, especially in a society where the constant thinly-veiled racism shown  in the contempt and disrespect for our president is accepted as the normal.  We can’t continue the way we have int he past, simply accepting this as the everyday event it is quickly becoming.  We must not tolerate intolerance. We must choose to change.

But Charleston will survive, will get past this time as it has so many other dark days.  This morning I am playing a song that has a foot in those earlier days of Charleston.  It’s a song from George and Ira Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess based on the Dubose Heyward novel, Porgy, set in the the real Cabbage Row area of Charleston.  This became Catfish Row in the story so that it could be relocated to the seafront.  The photo above with the Catfish Row sign is the actual site of Cabbage Row where families of freed slaves lived in the late 1800’s and ealry 1900’s, selling cabbage from the windowsills.

The song is I Loves You, Porgy from the late and oh so great Nina Simone.  She was one of the greatest and most distinct interpreters of song ever.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard her sing anything that didn’t become hers once it was sang.  This song is a tour de force among many version of it from a wide range of singers. Enjoy and have a great Sunday and a great Father’s Day.

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paul-gauguin-the-alyscamps-in-arlesDo not paint too much after nature. Art is an abstraction; derive this abstraction from nature while dreaming before it, and think more of the creation which will result than nature.

-Paul Gauguin


Although I wouldn’t probably call Paul Gauguin one of my favorite artists, I do admire and respect much of his work.  More importantly, there are a lot of things I’ve taken from his work over the years, including the advice offered in the above quote.  The idea that the painter could paint the landscape not exactly as it were before them but, rather, in how they felt they saw it was a mind expanding thought.  It meant that the artist could take liberties with color, space and form to find their own expression of nature.

Another thing I culled from looking at Gauguin’s paintings was his use of multiple colors within his surfaces.  I remember seeing an exhibit quite a few years ago at the MFA in Boston.  Looking closely at some of his Tahitian scenes, I noticed that while one would say the overriding color of each piece might be green there were other colors among the greens of the tropical landscape, most noticeably large flecks of vermillion, that gave the overall color so much more depth and interest.  I knew that I needed to increase the complexity of my own colors.

I’ve also talked quite a bit about Native Voice, about painting in a way that was purely natural and distinct like a signature to the artist.  Gauguin’s work is to me a perfect example of this native voice.  His ease in being himself on his surfaces made it easier for me to be myself.  Whenever I get a chance to look closely at his work I take the opportunity because I almost always find something in it that helps me in my own work.

 It always has something to say and share.  And that in itself is an influence and a hope for my own work.

Paul Gauguin A Farm in Brittany

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Helen Frankenthaler -Sirocco

Helen Frankenthaler -Sirocco

I received a nice letter yesterday from the American Ambassador to Kuwait, Douglas Silliman,  expressing thanks for the loan of a painting of mine to hang at their residence at the embassy in Kuwait City.  In describing  how they came to choose the works that hang there, he mentioned that one of the other pieces in the embassy exhibit was Sirocco from the late Helen Frankenthaler.

This really interested me because she was an artist whose unorthodox use of materials greatly influenced my own thoughts on how I worked.  It brought to mind a quote from her that I have used several times here in the past that expresses just this point.  One time I used this quote was from a post from over two years ago that I would like to rerun today, called Willingly Off Balance:

gc-myers-feb-2013-smThis is a new piece that I started over the weekend.  It’s a fairly large canvas, 24″ by 48″,  gessoed and blackened before I began to lay out the composition in the red oxide that I favor for the underpainting.   I went into this painting  with only one idea, that it have a mass of houses on  a small hilltop.  That is where I began making marks, building a small group of blocky structures in a soft pyramid.   A little hilltop village.  From there, it went off on its own, moving down the hill until a river emerged from the black.   An hour or two later and the river is the end of a chain of lakes with a bridge crossing it.  We’ll see where and what it is when  it finally settles.

I like this part of the process, this laying out of the composition.  It’s all about potential and problem-solving, keeping everything, all the elements that are introduced, in rhythm and in balance.  One mark on the canvas changes the possibility for the next.  Sometimes that possibility is limited by that mark, that brush of paint.  There is only one thing that can be done next.  But sometimes it opens up windows of potential that seemed hidden before that brushstroke hit the surface.  It’s like that infinitesimal moment before the bat hits the pinata and all that is inside it is only potential.  That brushstroke is the bat sometimes and when it strikes the canvas, you never know what will burst from the rich interior of the pinata, which which is the surface of the canvas here.  You hope the treats fall your way.

One of the things I thought about as I painted was the idea of keeping everything in balance.  Balancing color and rhythm and compositional weight, among many other things, so that in the end something coherent and cohesive emerges.  It’s how I view the process of my painting.  Over the years,  keeping this balance becomes easier, like any action that is practiced with such great regularity.  So much so that we totally avoid problems and when we begin to encounter one, we always tend to go with the tried and true, those ways of doing things that are safest and most predictable in their results.

It’s actually a great and safe way to live.  But as a painter who came to it as a form of seeking,  it’s the beginning of the end.  And as I painted, I realized that many of my biggest jumps as an artist came because I had allowed myself at times to be knocked off balance.  It’s when you’re off balance that the creativity of your problem-solving skills are pushed and innovation occurs.

It brings to mind a quote from Helen Frankenthaler that I used in a blogpost  called Change and Breakthrough from a few years back:   There are no rules. That is how art is born, how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules. That is what invention is about. ”  

 You must be willing to go outside your comfort zone, be willing to crash and burn.   Without this willingness to fail, the work becomes stagnant and lifeless, all the excitement taken from the process.  And it’s that excitement  in the studio that I often speak of  that keeps me going, that keeps the work alive and vitalized.

It’s a simple thing but sometimes, after years of doing this, it slips your mind and the simple act of reminding yourself of the importance of willingly going off balance is all you need to rekindle the fire.

This is a lot to ponder at 5:30 in the morning.  We’ll see what this brings in the near future.  Stay tuned…


By the way, this is the end product of the painting started above, Game of Life.

GC Myers- Game of Life 2013

GC Myers- Game of Life 2013

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NeilGaiman-by-AdrienDegganI tend to think that all forms of art– music, literature, dance and the visual arts– somehow transmit information or knowledge of some sort that enhances our lives as humans.  It is something beyond the sheer pleasure it offers, something deeper and necessary.

In the most recent post from Maria Popova‘s wonderful site, Brain Pickings,  there is an outline ( and an available full Soundcloud recording) of a recent lecture from author Neil Gaiman ( of Sandman fame among many other things) where he speaks on the purpose and lives of stories, how stories grow and spread through time and cultures.

One of my favorite bits from this post came as Gaiman illustrates the purpose of story telling in telling an anecdote about his cousin Helen, a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor:

A few years ago, she started telling me this story of how, in the ghetto, they were not allowed books. If you had a book … the Nazis could put a gun to your head and pull the trigger — books were forbidden. And she used to teach under the pretense of having a sewing class… a class of about twenty little girls, and they would come in for about an hour a day, and she would teach them maths, she’d teach them Polish, she’d teach them grammar…

One day, somebody slipped her a Polish translation of Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone with the Wind. And Helen stayed up — she blacked out her window so she could stay up an extra hour, she read a chapter of Gone with the Wind. And when the girls came in the next day, instead of teaching them, she told them what happened in the book.

And each night, she’d stay up; and each day, she’d tell them the story.

And I said, “Why? Why would you risk death — for a story?”

And she said, “Because for an hour every day, those girls weren’t in the ghetto — they were in the American South; they were having adventures; they got away.

I think four out of those twenty girls survived the war. And she told me how, when she was an old woman, she found one of them, who was also an old woman. And they got together and called each other by names from Gone with the Wind…

We [writers] decry too easily what we do, as being kind of trivial — the creation of stories as being a trivial thing. But the magic of escapist fiction … is that it can actually offer you a genuine escape from a bad place and, in the process of escaping, it can furnish you with armor, with knowledge, with weapons, with tools you can take back into your life to help make it better… It’s a real escape — and when you come back, you come back better-armed than when you left.

Helen’s story is a true story, and this is what we learn from it — that stories are worth risking your life for; they’re worth dying for. Written stories and oral stories both offer escape — escape from somewhere, escape to somewhere.

I think that is a wonderful example of how art serves as a template or pattern that we can follow in order to survive life in general.  And as I said, that is one of the great purposes of art.

Please check out the full article on Brain Pickings.


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