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Archive for September, 2016

GC Myers- Breakthrough

The painting above is called Breakthrough and is a 30″ by 30″ canvas.  I chose it for this post because it fits well with my state of mind this morning.  You see, sometimes a breakthrough announces itself in a big momentous way while sometimes it comes in quiet, barely awake moment.

I woke up this morning in the dark and for the first time in a long while found myself thinking about a painting I had been working on.  I was thinking about how I had left it at the end of yesterday and the approach I wanted to take when I went back into it today–the colors I wanted to add and the manner in which I would apply them.

For most of you, the thoughts of imminent work may not seem like a great way to start your waking day but for me it was an exciting thrill.  It felt normal in a good way to me, something that has been lacking in recent months when it seems as though every day offered a different task or challenge that took me further out of the routine that has long been my emotional and creative stabilizer.

But this morning it seemed closer to my normal normal.  And it felt good.  It was energizing in that it meant that my mind was moving away from things I can’t control and back to those things that control and guide me.  Just knowing that my waking mind transitioned immediately from the subconscious to a creative state was exciting.

And reassuring.  There have been moments in recent months when I thought that part of me was slipping away, that I would have trouble finding my way back to that creative wellspring that has nourished me for so many years.  But this morning I see a creative path moving forward and am eager to move ahead on it.  It feels like a breakthrough and that feels right and good.

Whew!

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A friend of mine posted the quote below, one that I have long admired,  online this morning and it set me off thinking how our indifference to so many things affects us in many ways.  For example, in the blogpost below from a couple of years back I wrote of how I was spurred on by the unknowing indifference of others to my work.  But we are also sometimes intellectually lax and this allows us to build up an indifference to things that we know in our cores are wrong and unacceptable.

Take for example the  words and actions of Donald Trump.  He often says and does things that deserve loud condemnation yet we have come to have an indifference, a tolerance, to his constant stream of untruth and divisive rhetoric.  It seems easier to accept something that should appall us, especially when his supporters are so loud and angry, than to step up and say that this is wrong.  So we let his many and well documented lies, his unfounded boasts and his vitriolic appeals to our darker angels slide.  In our indifference we don’t look any further into his words or past.  

We begin to accept him at face value.  

This sort of indifference is always a dangerous thing.  Elie Wiesel knew that from firsthand experience in the Germany of the 1930’s when Hitler’s appeal to nationalism and the indifference of those who saw him as a fool and not a threat allowed the rise of Nazism which led to Auschwitz and to the many other horrors of WW II.

Don’t go crazy here– I am not making that jump in saying that Trump will lead us to anything like Nazi Germany.  But to let disinterest and indifference creep into how we view our civic responsibility in voting is a dangerous thing.  Our indifference may have us thinking that this election doesn’t have much to do with our day to day life. But ask the vets who fight our wars or the families who are left to bury them.   

The point here is to fight indifference, to stop and be curious when faced with anything.  The world is too complicated for us to be careless and indifferent.  Especially now.
gc-myers-memory-of-night-sm“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

-Elie Wiesel

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I’ve been sitting here for quite some time now, staring at the quote above from Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel.  I had planned on writing about how my work evolved as a response to the indifference of others but now, looking at those words and putting them into the context of  Wiesel’s experience, I feel a bit foolish.  Wiesel, who had survived the Holocaust, was eyewitness to indifference on a grand scale, from those who were complicit or those who did not raise their voices in protest even though they knew what was happening to the personal indifference shown by his Nazi guards, as they turned a blind eye to the suffering and inhumanity directly before them on a daily basis, treating them as though they were nothing at all.

The indifference of which he speaks is that which looks past you without  any regard for your humanity. Or your existence, for that matter.  It is this failure to engage, this failure to allow our empathy to take hold and guide us,  that grants permission for the great suffering that takes place throughout our world.

So you can see where writing about showing a picture as a symbolic battle against indifference might seem a bit trivial.  It certainly does to me.  But I do see in it a microcosm of the wider implications.  We all want our humanity, our existence, recognized and for me this was a small way of  raising my voice to be heard.

When I first started showing my work I was coming off of a period where I was at my lowest point for quite some time.  I felt absolutely voiceless and barely visible in the world, dispossessed in many ways.  In art I found a way to finally express an inner voice, my real humanity,  that others could see and react to.  So when my first opportunity to display my work came, at the West End Gallery in 1995, I went to the show with great trepidation.  For some, it was just a show of  some nice paintings by some nice folks.  For me, it was a test of my existence.

It was interesting as I stood off to the side, watching as people walked about the space.  It was elating when someone stopped and looked at my small pieces.  But that  feeling of momentary glee was overwhelmed by the indifference shown by those who walked by with hardly a glance.  That crushed me.  I would have rather they had stopped and spit at the wall than merely walk by dismissively.  That, at least, would have made me feel heard.

Don’t get me wrong here– some people who are not moved by a painting walking by it without a glance are not Nazis.  I held no ill will toward them, even at that moment.  I knew that I was the one who had placed so much importance on this moment, not them.  They had no idea that they were playing part to an existential  crisis.  Now, I am even a bit grateful for their indifference that night because it made me vow that I would paint bolder, that I would make my voice be heard.  Without that indifference I might have settled and not continued forward on my path.

But in this case, I knew that it was up to me to overcome their indifference.

Again, please excuse my use of Mr. Wiesel’s quote here.  We all want to be heard, to be recognized on the basic levels for our own existence, our own individual selves. But too often, we all show indifference that takes that away from others, including those that we love.  We all need to listen and hear, to look and see, to express our empathy with those we encounter.  Maybe in these small ways the greater effects of indifference of which Elie Wiesel spoke can be somehow avoided.

It’s a hope.

The painting at the top is a new piece that I call Memory of Night, inspired by Wiesel’s book, Night.

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GC Myers- Wayfaring StrangerOne of the results of doing this blog for so long– over eight years now– is that when real life takes precedence and there’s not enough time or energy to write anything, I feel a real sense of guilt.  This has become an entrenched part of my day and to be too busy or distracted with something else leaves me with a bit of an empty feeling, like I’m shirking my duty, even if it is only to myself.

And that’s how I am feeling this morning.  Way behind on so many things, some way due in part to forces beyond my control and partly due to my own faults, I still find myself needing to get something down this morning if only to start to get my normal, productive routine back on track. So, I went through some older images and the painting above from back in 2004 immediately jumped out at me.

It’s a favorite of mine called Wayfaring Stranger.  based on the old 19th century folk song concerning a pilgrim’s journey to a better place in this world.  I’ve always liked the clarity and feel of this painting.  The houses have an anonymous coolness, the kind a stranger might feel as they pass by while on their journey and the distant sky with its dark warmth and the golden fields beneath it  reminds me of the song’s second verse:

I know dark clouds will gather o’er me
I know my pathway is rough and steep
But golden fields lie out before me
Where weary eyes no more shall weep
I’m going home to see my mother
She said she’d meet me when I come
I’m only going over Jordan
I’m only going over home

It’s a very simple painting but I think that simplicity is it’s strength, much like the song.  The song has been sung by scads of performers over the years but I really like this version from Neko Case.  Give a listen.  Time for me to get back on my own path…

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Sunny Point from the shore of Keuka LakeThe last couple of weeks have been pretty hectic as you might guess from the lack of posts here.  There was the Gallery Talk last weekend at the Principle Gallery down in Virginia then a few days spent setting up and leading the painting workshop at Sunny Point on Keuka Lake with a bunch of personal things jammed in between.  I was plain pooped out yesterday and just couldn’t get myself to write anything for the blog.

Inside at Sunny Point. Keuka LakeBut the workshop at Sunny Point this week went really well and was, I think, fun for the folks there. Me, too.

But I do know that they made incredible strides in a very short period of time and had created several pieces that were pretty advanced in my opinion.  I think I made some strides, as well, as far as my teaching method goes which made everything goes a little faster. This, along with the beautiful setting on the shore of Keuka Lake, with the lap of the waves keeping rhythm just outside the workspace, made this year a bit  more enjoyable than last year’s affair which was very satisfying in itself.

I was very unsure going in if I would be willing to do this again but this experience with this setting and the warmth of the folks there makes me think I might want to try once more.  We’ll see.

For this Sunday’s musical selection I thought I’d go with something slightly weighty and cerebral.  I think this version of Tomorrow is My Turn  fills the bill.  It’s from the super talented Rhiannon Giddens and is a remake of Nina Simone‘s English language version of a Charles Aznavour  song, written originally, of course, in French.  None of that really matters when you’re listening.  So set everything aside and give a listen.  Then have a good Sunday…

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Even though this post only ran last August, I thought it was worth replaying, if only to remind us to maintain some semblance of civility and sanity in this bitter election season.  I was reminded of this post because the painting featured in it, Raised Up, went with me to the Principle Gallery for my talk there this past Saturday.  It’s a piece that I like very much as is the song at the end from John Prine.  Hope you’ll enjoy them as well…

GC Myers- Raised Up

Practice kindness all day to everybody and you will realize you’re already in heaven now.

Jack Kerouac

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I am not sure what to do with these words from Jack Kerouac but I do like them and think they deserve to be passed along.  I am a firm believer of kindness in all forms and believe that it is a pathway to a better life here in this world.

When I was waiting tables I found that my own attitude and demeanor often dictated how others responded to me.  If I smiled and acted congenially, more often than not the person I was dealing with responded in the same manner.  We are reactionary creatures and we instinctively respond according to the tone we encounter– rudeness with rudeness and anger with anger.

And kindness with kindness.

It’s our choice.  If we can fight against our reactionary nature and choose to act and react with kindness, we can shape our world and then perhaps realize that a form of heaven might be within our grasp.

I have never had the faith or certainty of those who believe that there is an actual heaven waiting beyond this world.  I would like to but I just don’t have it within me.  So, for me, if there is to be a heaven it is something to be sought in the here and now.  By that, I mean creating an environment that is honest, kind and gentle.  A life that is peaceful and quiet–that would be heaven to me.

So, when you’re out there today and face rudeness and anger, make the choice to react in a gentler manner and be kind.  Your world might be one small step closer to heaven.

This quote reminded me of a song from one of my favorites, John Prine.  The title pretty much sums it up: He Was In Heaven Before He Died.

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gc-myers-gallery-talk-2016-smMany, many thanks to everyone who came out to the Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery on Saturday.  While I wasn’t as sharp as I would have liked, everything (including the giveaways at the talk’s end!) went off really well and it was great to speak with so many folks that I only get to see once in a great while.

I don’t know if I can really ever fully explain how important these talks have been for me.  It’s not only for the wonderful feedback I receive about the work which helps me see the paintings in the way others do but in the way it allows me to express my gratitude for the life that their appreciation of my work has given me.  These talks allow me to see how fortunate I was to have fallen into this life.

So,  a deep thank you to everyone there, including my good friends at the Principle Gallery– Michele, Clint, Pam, Haley and Pierre— who allow me to feel at home in their space with their warm friendship.  You have all given me more than you will ever know, more than I can ever repay in gifts or words.

Since I was out of the studio yesterday and missed my Sunday morning music, I thought I’d fill that void today with a selection that gallery director Clint reminded me of this past week in a posting on Facebook where he played this song and invited his friend to identify it.  It’s a song from guitarist Bill Frisell , called Ghost Town/ Poem For Eva. I couldn’t identify the song at first without a clue from Clint even though I knew that I knew the song.  I have used music from this particular Bill Frisell album in an earlier video of my Outlaw series.

So, give a listen and have a good week…

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Defiant Heart! Win this Painting!

Defiant Heart! Win this Painting!

Just a last reminder:

I will be giving a Gallery Talk today, Saturday, September 17, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.  The event starts at 1 PM and is about an hour long with plenty of conversation and a lot of Q & A so if there is something about my work you want to know, today is your best chance to ask about it.  I promise to be completely honest and transparent– or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof.  It is an election year, after all.

Plus, the highlight is the free drawing at the end of the talk for the painting shown here, Defiant Heart.

And, as usual, a little more.

Hope you can make it!

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