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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

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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

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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

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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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