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Archive for February, 2017

shel-silverstein-listen-to-the-mustntsBusy day. But there’s always time for a little Shel Silverstein.

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Valentine’s Day

GC Myers- Baucis and Philemon 2010There’s a lot to be said about love, romance and Valentine’s Day.  But I have a busy day so it will have to wait until another day.

If that ain’t romantic, I don’t know what is.

Anyway, have a great day. evening, whatever with the one you love.  Here’s Valentine’s Day from Bruce Springsteen from all the way back in 1987. Wow, do I feel old today!

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The post below, from early 2012, is a favorite of mine.  The idea that each individual has their own unique strength and quality–their own lever, if you will– is what I see as the basis for my work. This post also serves as a reminder that there is never an obstacle too large or a foe too powerful that can’t be moved with the proper lever. I think it’s something we should think about during this time.

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Give me a place to stand, and I will move the Earth.

Archimedes

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This is actually a condensed and long accepted version of  Archimedes‘  words.  It was really about the power of lever in physics.  He actually said: Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand  and I will move the Earth.  But the lever has been dropped over the 2200 or so  years since he lived and has come to signify something more than a statement about physical mechanics.  It is an almost existential statement about the power of the individual in changing the world.  The small somehow defeating  the overwhelming forces set against them.

David versus Goliath.

The biblical David’s lever was his intelligence and the sling and stone that he used to offset the lever of the Philistine’s size and strength in order to take down the giant.  Every underdog has somehow identified a strategic advantage that has enabled them to triumph against all odds.  Something that plays to their own strengths and magnifies their greater opponent’s weaknesses.

What is the lever you will use to move the Earth?

I call the painting above A Place to Stand after these words of Archimedes.  It is a new piece that is a 24″ by 30″ canvas that is a very simple composition that relies on the juxtaposition of the single Red Tree set against a powerfully set sky that seems ready to overwhelm the diminuative tree.  Yet, against all the elemental force  of wind and weather that  the sky can muster, the tree perseveres.  It uses the flexibility of its trunk and limbs to absorb the wind and its bark protects it against the heat and cold.

It stands alone, without protection for all the world to see. Yet it stands. Just standing where you are with resolve is sometimes a lever powerful enough to change the world.

Perseverance is often its own victory.

Persevere.

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brassai_1899_1984__-paris-11I thought for this Sunday’s music I’d do something with a Valentine’s Day theme.  I also wanted to use the Brassai photo shown here, one of his famed Paris photos that I used in a post from a few years back. I decided to incorporate a post from a few years back about the song The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.

Most people immediately think of Roberta Flack when they think of the song  and for good reason.  Her 1972 version was  truly beautiful and deserved every bit of the acclaim it earned.  But the song didn’t originate with her and has had many, many versions through the years, including one of my favorites from Johnny Cash, which you can see below along with the Roberta Flack version.

The song’s history began in 1957.  It was written by Ewan MacColl,  a British folk singer who is a very interesting character in his own right.  He was a married man who fell in love with the much younger Peggy Seeger, the half-sister of folk icon Pete Seeger.  He later married Seeger.  MacColl wrote the song about her and for her to perform.  She needed a song for a play she was appearing in here in the USA so MacColl wrote the song and taught it to her via the telephone as he was barred from entering the States because of his Communist ties.  As I said, he was an interesting character.

Her original version has much different phrasing than the better known Flack version and while it is not my favorite, it is nonetheless lovely. It is said that MacColl despised all the later versions of the song, preferring his wife’s.  Hey, it was written for her, after all.

Cash’s version is much more ponderous, closer in tone to the Flack version.  It is from his American series near the end of his life.  His voice was weaker and even rawer than in his younger days but Cash used it in an incredibly expressive way, giving the song  the feeling of a dirge as he looked back from a point near the end of his and his wife’s life, to an earlier time in his life and the fresh discovery of love.  It is both beautiful and sad– much like life and love.

Just a great song. Have a good Sunday…


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GC Myers- Tower of LiesHow long can you stand on a tower of lies?
How long can you endure on a tower built with  lies for posts and boasts for beams ?
How long before you see the folly in reinforcing one lie with another?
How long before the foundations come apart and fail?
How long before truth comes as gravity to pull this tower down?
How long can we tolerate you standing brazenly atop your tower of lies?
How long until the inevitable collapse comes?
How long until we begin to tally the casualties from the fall?
How long before we begin to build a straighter and stronger tower?
How long can you stand on this tower of lies?

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This is a new small painting that I hope to expand into a limited series based on what I call towers of folly.  We’ll see how that progresses…

 

 

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GC Myers- Surface CalmThrough practice we can get to the point where some disturbance may occur but the negative effects on our mind remain on the surface, like the waves that may ripple on the surface of an ocean but don’t have much effect deep down. 
Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness

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I’m finally getting into a bit of a better work groove here in the studio and it’s proving to be a nice distraction from the crapfest taking place here in our government. During both the actual painting process and just looking at it afterwards, pieces like this new 12″ by 12″ canvas are proving to be a great tool in making an escape from the chaotic idiocy of it all.  I think that’s why I am calling this new painting The Calm Surface.

It feels very placid and calm, as though the storms that may rage far away will not shake it’s  tranquil demeanor.

And that’s what I want for myself. I want to be, as the Dalai Lama advises above, that deep ocean water where the rough waves on the surface don’t reach down to the calm depths.

But I am not there.  I don’t have that kind of depth yet and maybe I never will attain it.

But at least in works like this I have a tangible goal, a target for which I can set my bearings.

And that’s what I need right now– something to really work for.

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pinocchio_shrekI’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It’s awful. If I’m on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I’m going, I’m liable to say I’m going to the opera. It’s terrible. 

J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the truth and lies lately.  It’s hard to not do so given the current administration’s adoption of using falsehood as the most important component of their strategy in dealing with the press and public.

Every day we are hearing numerous statements and “facts” that are bewildering to behold in that they are so easily proved to be false. I think they are basing this strategy on the old adage that says a lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

The lie moves out there into the great unknown and remains even after it is proven to be false.  The very existence of the statement, even though it is absolutely a lie, is proof enough of its reality for the uninformed.

These are lies that have purpose. These are not innocent misstatements or poor word choices. There is motive. They are meant to do damage, to create effects such as confusion and division.

This is some high level lying, my friends. It’s a world away from the adolescent lies that Holden Caulfield spoke of in the passage at the top of the page.

And a world away from the many, many lies I have told in my life.

You see, I ‘m a confessed and dedicated lifelong liar.

If you ask most people if they lie, they are going to say no.  Most likely it will be an indignant NO! that comes with a glare and a little spittle on their lips like you just tried to stab their baby with a fork.

But if I am asked that question I always tell the truth–Yes, I am a liar.

I heard many lies early on from well seasoned and highly convincing liars.  It was an apprenticeship of sorts.  I learned to fib to get what I wanted, to avoid blame and responsibility, to make others feel better and to cover my inadequacies and my shames.  Sometimes they were petty lies like those of Holden Caulfield, lies for the sake of lying where I would do it simply because I could.  It was just a small thrill to create a false reality that I knew would most likely go undetected.

To the kid’s mind, there was no harm or consequence involved. But of course, that is only a lie we tell ourselves to make it all seem okay. It did damage. Even those little fibs stressed my moral boundaries and acted as a gateway to a higher level of larger, more harmful lies as I moved into adulthood.

Along with this came that ability to rationalize the falsehoods that would temper the sense of shame I began to feel as my life progressed. Every lie became part of bigger construct, an ever growing tower built of lies. I am not going to get into specifics here but I will say that there came a point when when I didn’t know if the words coming out of my mouth beforehand were going to be the truth or another addition to my tower of lies. It came down to whatever was the easiest course through the situation at hand.

Fortunately, and this is not a lie, the shame I felt in living this way prevailed. I became a born again believer in truth, even the hard ones that I once avoided with all sorts of lies. It was liberating in so many ways.  Life became simpler with truth.

My tower of falsehoods was disassembled and I now reside in a snug and modest bungalow of relative honesty. I say relative because I have found that in dealing with my father’s dementia there are acceptable lies that we allow ourselves to tell so as not to alarm him and to ease his anxieties. That rationale does make it any easier to accept and I often find myself wracked with guilt.

I also use the term relative because lying is like a monkey on your back that will not let go.  Once in a while I feed the monkey exaggerations ( I think a million or a million and a half people came to my last gallery talk) and meaningless and ridiculous fibs such as saying that I got out of bed at 6:30 when I know for fact that it was 6:15.

That satisfies the monkey for now but someday soon I hope to send the monkey to a farm at some remote place where I will hopefully not visit it at all ever again. I am working on it. That is the truth.

You would think that with this long personal relationship with lying, I might find something admirable in the artistry of the liars we’re experiencing today.

I don’t.  We can’t rationalize it nor can we accept it as a normal mode of operation.  Every lie must be challenged, every lie must be counted and displayed for the world to witness.

To tolerate it is to choose to live on a very tall tower of lies. And that is a dangerous and precarious perch for us all.

Think about it before you shrug off yet another obvious lie from those who want to govern you.

I have to go. I have a Liars Anonymous meeting that starts 30 minutes from now.  That’s a lie– it starts in an hour. Liar!

 

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GC Myers- Truth Shines ThroughThe truth remains the same in every version of this world. It is a constant.

It cannot be obscured nor hidden for long.

And while we may be distracted from that which is truth, sometimes by pretty colors or words that poorly mimic the real thing, truth remains at the ready.

It needs nothing while it waits unlike the false truths that must be fed fear and selfishness in order to exist. Truth is an inextinguishable ember that is always ready to flame brightly when given the air and space in which it can breathe to life.

Yes, there is truth.  It’s out there and it’s waiting to bring light.

And to those who mishandle the truth, who try to forge it into something that falsely serves them, it will bring an all encompassing inferno that will leave them in ashes.

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If I’d thrown in some scripture, that might sound like I was auditioning to be a Baptist minister, huh?

Well, maybe the truth needs a little sermonizing because a large part of the flock these days seems to be distracted by a gold plated idol who feeds them a pablum of fear and selfishness.

And that’s what I see in this new piece, a 12″ by 6″ painting on panel,that I call Truth Shines Through.  Truth stands in here is in the guise of the Red Tree rising like a flame over and through the colors that seek to pull your eye away from it.

The Red Tree is the truth and reality of this piece and it burns brightly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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fred-lyon-san-francisco-1953Sunday morning. Time for a little music.

I saw this photo online earlier.  It’s from the great San Francisco based photographer Fred Lyon who is still active at age 91.  His photos of San Francisco from the 40’s and 50’s are wonderful.  This image, called Foggy night, Land’s End, San Francisco, 1953, really captured my imagination. It just seems filled with all sorts of stories that are begging to be told. Magnificent shot.  See more of Fred Lyon’s work at his website by clicking here.

I wanted to come up with a song that might come out of this photo and I settled on Because the Night. It was written by Bruce Springsteen for Patti Smith in 1977 and she had her biggest success with that song.  Great version.  But I personally prefer the Springsteen version.  This particular performance is from Largo, MD in 1978. Hard to believe it’s been that many years.

I also just wanted to take a moment to talk about the refugee controversy in this country.  I know you’re probably sick to death dealing with everything that is going on but I just wanted to remind ourselves that the thing that have long separated us from other countries around the world is not based on power,  It was never about military strength. It wasn’t about our wealth and the privileged few that control it.

It was about us.  It was about our music, our films, our literature which reflected our entrepreneurial spirit– that every person had a value and a purpose and was free to make the most of it.  The freedom with with we expressed these things was the rare thing that made us the desired landing place for the disenfranchised people around the world.

You see it in our films.  Think about just about any Frank Capra movie– who was an Italian immigrant, by the way. Those values he so lovingly extolled in his films are the very things that have defined America around the world. The people who rail against refugees and immigrants out of fear, ignorance, selfishness or hatred go against these values, the very things that have made us special.

It’s the freedom to define yourself, to mold yourself into what you think you should be.

It’s still there and it is still the beacon, the light in the darkness, that draws people to our shores. Fear and ignorance can end that freedom, extinguish that light. And when we no longer attract the world, we have lost our real power, our real strength.

Sorry.  You most likely don’t need to hear any more diatribes but sometimes they need to be said if only for the speaker’s sake.  And I needed to say that.

Give a listen and have a good day. And keep your eyes open!

 

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bowling-green-monumentMost of us most likely find ourselves still reliving that fateful day, thinking about where we were and what we doing when we first came aware of it. You know what I’m talking about.

The Bowling Green Massacre.

So many of us fell on that day, that terrible February 30th. We remember how, in the aftermath as we tried to get our bearings and find a way forward, Frederick Douglass came forward to rally and steady us with his powerful words.  It was good work that he did that day. You hear about it, more and more.

2/30. We cannot forget. We will not forget.  No, we have historians like Kellyanne Conway that will continue to tell that tale.

And so many others, I am sure.

Sigh.

It’s getting harder to sort yourself out when you wake up in the morning and you’re not sure which dimension of reality you are in on that particular day.  So today I’m calling for a movie day and will share two short films.

The first is Color of Reality made by filmmaker Alexa Meade who is known for her perspective-altering technique that combines sets and people that take on a painterly appearance. Movement Artists Jon Boogz and Lil Buck create compelling dance moves that make this film a thoughtful call to action.

The second is an animation set to President Obama‘s telling of how his campaign’s “Fired Up, Ready to Go” slogan came to be. It’s both funny and inspiring.  If you need a reason to get fired up (and many of us do these days, given the events taking place before our eyes)  give this a look and a listen.

Have a good day.  Hope you’re fired up and ready to go. I am.

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