Archive for February, 2018

It’s a busy morning with much to do so I am running the post below from several years ago that deals with the indifference that so many of us exhibit about so many things. If something doesn’t impact us directly, we tend to shrug our shoulders and say “Oh, well.” The passive acceptance of this sort of  indifference has been the great enabler of many of  history’s darkest eras. We live in a time where we cannot afford to be indifferent or we will again find ourselves in another dark place sometime soon. The anecdote I share below is no doubt trivial in the greater scheme of things but indifference is an insidious thing at any level.

A little  indifference can lead to greater sorrow…

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


I’ve been sitting here for quite some time now, staring at the quote above from 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 and crusaded so that it might never happen again, 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 their innocent captives 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 mere 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 feel a reaction. 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 my work on the wall than merely walk by dismissively. That, at least, would have made me feel heard.

Don’t get me wrong here– some people walking by a painting that doesn’t move them with barely 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. My little anecdote has little to do with the experience of those who suffered at the hands of evil people who were enabled by the indifference of those who might have stopped them. The point is that we all want to be heard, to be recognized on the most basic level 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.

We need to care.

Maybe in that small ways the greater effects of indifference of which Elie Wiesel spoke can be somehow avoided.

We can hope.

The painting at the top is a new piece [at the time this was written] that I call Memory of Night, inspired by Wiesel’s book, Night.


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 I will give a proof to demonstrate with facts that there are no rules in painting and that oppression or servile obligation of making all study or follow the same path is a great impediment for the young who profess this very difficult art.

–Francisco Goya


The great Spanish painter Francisco Goya (1746-1828) is one of those artists whose work doesn’t always move me, especially that work that came before he was fifty year old and was serving as a Court Painter to the Spanish Crown. That work is fine but remains, for me, unremarkable. It feels academic and restrained and not unlike the work of any number of other Master painters.

It adhered to all the rules.

But with an illness in 1793 that left Goya with the deafness that profoundly affected him, his work began to move in an altogether different direction, one that would mark him as one of the great transitional artists in the move from the Old Masters to the modern era.

The work began to grow darker and was not centered around portraiture and genre paintings that would please the upper classes. The work from this time dealt with themes based on mythology, superstition and witchcraft, and the wars and political upheaval in the Europe of that era. It is often disturbing work that often eschewed the traditional rules of painting and created a new art form would come to define his name. One of his most well known paintings, The Third of May 1808, shown at the top, is considered a groundbreaking work in that it left behind many of the ideas that had ruled painting before it.

No Rules is an idea I have tried to embrace throughout my career. It’s nice to know that someone like Goya was one of the first painters to embrace it.

Here’s another thing that Goya said that strikes close to home for me:

Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels.

Reason in painting is a quality that is not often discussed. But I believe that there has to be a sense of orderliness– reason— in painting that allows the viewer to connect with it, even if they don’t always fully understand why. Even the seemingly most chaotic abstractions usually possess a rhythm and sense of reason that allows an interaction.

I have really come to admire Goya’s work more and more over the years. The more I look the more I like. His work has directly– my Outlaws series came about as a result of seeing a group of his miniatures– and indirectly, with his words and thoughts, influenced my own work. Here are a few of my favorites. I encourage you to look on your own. Here is a link to a site with 700 images of his works.


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I was looking for something to play for this week’s Sunday morning music and I saw a song that I hadn’t heard in many years from an artist that I seldom even think about, Melanie. Most of you who remember Melanie most likely immediately think of a couple of her hits from the early 1970’s that were close to being novelty songs.

Most notably, there was Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma and Brand New Key. You know that last one: I’ve got a brand new pair of rollerskates/ You got a brand new key.

Pretty lightweight stuff. But she had chops, being one of only three solo women to perform at Woodstock. In fact, this song, Lay Down (Candles in the Rain), was written about her experience at that festival. It’s a song that completely fell off my radar, to the point where I had forgot that this was a Melanie song.

This is the full version with lyrics. It has a lead in that you probably never heard on AM radio back in the day. Give a listen and have a great day.


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“What does that represent? There was never any question in plastic art, in poetry, in music, of representing anything. It is a matter of making something beautiful, moving, or dramatic – this is by no means the same thing.”

 Fernand Leger


I found it hard to believe that the French artist Fernand Leger (1881-1955) hadn’t shown up on this blog before. I’ve always enjoyed his work, especially his use of simplified forms, visible line and dark-tinged color. These were qualities that I knew I wanted for my own work in the early days when I would look at his work and that of a few other artists. I liked most of his work, from his early Cubist inspired abstractions and his later more figurative work.

But I really identify with his words above. The idea of painting moving past the idea of pure pictorial representation into something more like the expressive phrasing of dance, music or poetry is an idea that has clanged around in my head for a long time.

It is to look at a painting of a cow, to use an example, and feel the same sort of response which comes with experiencing the grace of a dance or the beauty of a musical passage.  The gesture of the painting, its movement and rhythm, and the emotions that it evokes have transcended the apparent subject it portrays. The cow as the subject of the painting is replaced by the emotional response to the forms, lines and color in the painting. That response becomes the subject and that cow becomes less of a symbol for a cow and more of a representation of the emotions that the painting brings forth.

Some magical cow, huh? Don’t know why I chose a cow as an example. It was the first thing that came to mind and it is early, so bear with me.

The point is that I see often this in Leger’s work. I feel an emotional response to some of his work without even recognizing what might be considered the obvious subject on the surface.

It’s something I desire for my own work. I would imagine that most other artists do, as well. But I don’t know if there is an actual way of ensuring that it takes place within one’s work. Maybe it’s either there or it’s not. Maybe it has to come without conscious thought, from a clear and empty mind.

I don’t know. But I can hope.

Here’s video slideshow of some more of Leger’s work.

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I fell down a rabbit hole this morning, spending much  too much valuable time going from video to video until I ended up with a song with a goofiness that made me laugh. It’s called I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman from 1967. It’s from a singer called Whistling Jack Smith whose real name was John O’Neill, who was a British tenor noted for his talent as a whistler.

The song’s original title was Too Much Birdseed.

I don’t know which I like better.

You just don’t hear many whistling songs these days so give it a listen– maybe it will make you smile.

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The Pebble/ Redux

A great flame follows a little spark.



Below is a posting from several years back that is about one of my earliest attempts at painting, about 25 years back. While I am not particularly proud of the piece itself, it still has great meaning for me. I find that by revisiting it periodically gives me a glimpse of the motivations, excitement and energies that propelled me in those early days. Unfortunately, those things that get pushed aside by habit and acquired skill over time. Trying to remember what my younger self was seeing and experiencing brings those things back, if only for a short time.


GC Myers-1993 PieceI was looking through some old work, pieces that came from my earliest forays into painting about twenty years ago when I was just beginning to experiment. I came across this particular piece and stopped as I always do when I am meandering through the old work and this painting appears before me. It is one of my earliest efforts, done in late 1993. It is rough and doesn’t exactly represent where my work has went in the meantime. I was hesitant in  showing it here but felt that there was something important in it for me.

This painting, copied in part from another artist’s watercolor, was done with old air brush paints on very cheap watercolor paper.  As I said, it’s rough and not a piece for which I hold a lot of pride. Nor is it a piece that shows any level of mastery. Certainly not a piece that I want many people to see if they are not already familiar with my work from the decades beyond this. You seldom want to show something that displays a weakness but sometimes there is something of value that goes beyond the surface.

But for me there is something about this piece that propelled me forward, something that gave me some sort of insight into where I might want to go with this whole thing.  I equate it to walking along and suddenly stumbling for what seems no reason. You stop and look down to see what made you trip and there is nothing but a tiny pebble. Insignificant in every way. Certainly nothing that would make you stop at any other time. But this time it has somehow caused you to loose your balance.  So you stop and stand there, looking down at this pebble. In the moment, you  begin to see other things that you had never taken notice of before and the path you had been walking before the pebble waylaid you is forgotten.

And that’s what this painting was and is for me– a pebble. On it’s own it is very little and completely innocuous. But for me it that thing that tripped me and made me stop to take  notice of a new path. There were small inklings– the curves of the landscape and the blocking of the colors, for example– in this this piece that sparked thoughts and further explorations that, in turn, pushed me even more as I went forward.

In a very long chain of mostly fortunate reactions, this was the catalyst. So while I may not hold this painting in high esteem (nor would I expect anyone  to do so) this old work has real meaning for me.


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In the Revealing

The painting shown here is from about eight years back, a 30″ by 40″ canvas that is titled In the Revealing. It’s a favorite of mine and hangs in the studio where I can see it from my desk. It has never hung in a gallery and most likely never will.

It’s in its home.

For me, it very much relates to the thought in the words of Rumi shown above. When all is said and done, our true nature is a constant.  It endures the worst of this world and keeps us grounded when things look bad because it tells us that those things which were once important, remain so even when the chaos of this world seems have wholly obscured them.

In times like this, this painting reminds me that true nature endures. And that is an important thing to remember.

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