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Archive for May, 2018

Lux Vitae- GC Myers

Tomorrow, Friday, June 1, is the opening for my show of new work at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. Haven is my 19th show with the wonderful folks at the Principle, a mark that still boggles my mind. When I first began painting after being injured in the fall from the ladder at the house we were building back in 1993, I had no idea it would ever amount to anything.

In fact, I was pretty sure it wouldn’t. There was nothing in my past that pointed to any future level of success as an artist.

I just wanted something to call my own.

So from being invited to show my work with the Principle Gallery and onto my first solo show there in 2000– which was called, surprise,surprise, Red Tree— I have felt like I was playing with house money, that anything beyond this was gravy. Sorry for mixing metaphors there.

But in my mind, with that first show, I had already exceeded my expectations. Plus, beyond that, I had achieved my primary goal of creating something that I could call my own, something that would be validated internally by myself and externally by others.

So, each show is a reminder of how fortunate I have been in the past two decades. And knowing that I have been the beneficiary of such good fortune drives me to work a bit harder, to dig a little deeper for every subsequent show. I still believe that I have much to prove and room to grow with my work, as an artist and a person.

These years have given me no sense of entitlement. In fact, I think I feel less entitlement than I did in my earlier years in this field.  I didn’t know any better then. Now, I understand that as an artist you are on a constant  proving ground which requires real commitment and self-belief in order to stay relevant.

These were some of the thoughts that drove me while working for this show and I think it shows in the paintings. I am personally pleased and excited with this show, mainly because I know that I have done what I hoped to do with this show. It feels like an honest and real expression.

But, hey, that’s just my opinion. You can judge it for yourself. Or not. But if you do want to take a look, Below is a nice short video ( it’s only a minute and a half!) I threw together with some of the pieces from the show.

The painting at the top is Lux Vitae, a 30″ by 40″ canvas that I think is really symbolic of this show.

Hope you’ll come out and see it tomorrow.

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There are a few paintings in my show, Haven, which opens on Friday at the Principle Gallery, that feature intertwined trees. One such piece, a 24″ by 30″ canvas titled Nuptiae, is shown above.

It’s a motif that I have used a number of times over many years. I have always liked the manner in which climbing vines embrace embrace their host trees. There’s often a sensuous physicality in the curves and bends of their united trunks that makes it easy to see them in human terms. This human equivalency is something I have tried to pull out of my landscapes. Early on, this was the simple basis for the handful of intertwined trees paintings I created.

But I received a request for a commission that changed the meaning of these paintings for me. A couple was about to celebrate their tenth anniversary and wanted a painting to mark the occasion. They shared an affinity for the Greek myth of Baucis and Philemon and wanted the painting to reflect the tale’s tone and moral.

Nuptiae, at the top, is my most recent interpretation of the story. It’s a painting that was nothing but a pleasure to paint, one of those pieces that fall off the brush almost on their own and every move made feels right. Even so, the final result exceeded what I saw for it when I first envisioned it.

Below is what I wrote back in 2010. It’s a simple retelling of the myth as I know it.

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I often get requests for commissioned work but usually am not excited by the prospect of being dictated to in the creation of my work, actually turning down many that get too specific in their requirements. I want my paintings to reflect my thought process and emotion as well as my craft. As a result, I have an informal set of rules that let me have free rein in the creation of the work so that the painting is allowed to form in an organic way. Not forced, which often takes away the vitality of many pieces, in my opinion. 

But this particular request is unlike many others that I receive. They want this piece to relate the story of the classic myth of Baucis and Philemon, which is the tale of a poor but happy couple who are unknowingly visited by Zeus and Hermes disguised as dusty travelers. Beggars, actually. 

Coming into their village earlier, the two gods had went door to door among their neighbors seeking hospitality and were rebuffed in every attempt, often with harsh words. Zeus became angry as door after door was slammed in his face. Finally, they came to the door of the shack of Baucis and Philemon, by far the poorest looking home in the village. 

Upon knocking, they were greeted warmly by an elderly couple who welcomed them in to their impoverished but clean home and treated them with what little they had in the way of food and drink. They were gracious and hospitable, seeking to give comfort to the strangers. As the night wore on, the couple, who had been serving their simple wine to the travelers from a pitcher, noticed that the pitcher stayed full even after many pours. They began to suspect that these were not mere beggars but were, in fact, gods. 

They apologized to the gods for not having much to put before them then offered to catch their prized goose, which was really a pet, and cook it for them. The old couple chased the goose around the shack until finally the frightened creature found sanctuary on the laps of the gods. Stroking the now safe goose, Zeus then informed them of their identities and, after complimenting them on their hospitality and speaking of the mean-spiritedness of their neighbors, instructed the couple to follow them.

They climbed upon a rise where Zeus told them to stop and look back. Where once their town had stood was nothing but water from a deluge that had washed away everything including all the townsfolk who had insulted Zeus. From where their poor home had been, a majestic golden-roofed temple with sparkling marble pillars rose from the receding waters. 

Zeus told the couple that this would be their new home and asked what wish he could grant them. They asked that they be made priests, guardians of this temple and that they should always remain together until the ends of their lives. Seeing their obvious love for each other, Zeus readily agreed. The couple lived for many more years together, reaching a prodigious age.

One day they stood together in their old age and all the past moments from their life and love together flooded over them. Baucis saw leaves and limbs sprouting from Philemon and realized that the same thing was happening to her. Standing on the plain outside the temple, they transformed into two trees, an oak and a linden, that grew from the same trunk, their limbs intertwined, eternally together. 

That’s a simple re-telling of the tale but I think you can see why this couple might want a symbol of this story to mark their time together…

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The interpretation of our reality through patterns not our own, serves only to make us ever more unknown, ever less free, ever more solitary.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel Speech 1982

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This is a new painting, a 16″ by 20″ canvas, that is part of Haven, my solo show that opens Friday at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. It is titled Seeking the Design.

I chose the words above from the Nobel Prize speech from the late author Gabriel Garcia Marquez to accompany this painting even though Marquez was speaking above how the people and countries of South America had suffered over the centuries by trying to adhere to patterns of behavior and expectation imposed upon them by foreign influences.

These words spoke to me on a more individual level. We often live our lives according to the norms and expectations of others, following well worn paths from which we seldom, if ever, depart. As a result, we often become no more than others expect us to be.

It as though we have not even attempted to find our own pattern, our own design for living.

And that is what I see in this painting. The Red Tree, an earthly being, has come to the end of that worn path and must make a decision about how to proceed. While there are multitudes of options revealed in the maze-like underpainting of the sky and earthly options that likely exist beyond the layers of distant hills, the Red Tree must choose between finding the pattern that best suits its own desires and needs or going back on that path to follow in the footsteps of the crowd that travels along it.

I get the feeling that latter option would result in one feeling, as Marquez pointed out, more unknown, ever less free and ever more solitary.

For me, this painting has a nice harmony between dark edged weariness and colorful optimism. It is both scary and invigorating in finding one’s own design or pattern to follow. I believe the Red Tree will be following its own path.

Well, that’s how I see it, anyway.

 

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I am replaying a post today that I ran for Memorial Day back in 2010 that featured the living photographs of Arthur Mole. I have added a few more images to the original post. Enjoy and have a good Memorial Day.

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Arthur Mole Photo- Marine Corps Insignia

On this Memorial Day, I thought I would show some patriotic images photographed in the first part of the 20th century by Arthur Mole. Mole made a name for himself at the time by assembling large groups of people in formations and photographing them from a specially constructed 80-foot tower. He started at church conventions and later did the same for a number of universities but was probably best known for his symbols of the US and its military.

Needing large groups for his intricate compositions, military bases seemed like the perfect place to find massed groups of people to use as the paints on his palette. For instance, the Marine Corps insignia shown here was shot at Paris Island and took 100 officers and 5000 troops in order to fill out all the details in the composition.

Athur Mole Photo- Shield of the United States

It took quite a few more people to fill out the upper details in his compositions in order to maintain perspective from the perch where he shot as these areas were considerably larger in size than the than those nearer the camera. Take this US Shield shot in Battle Creek, Michigan as an example. It took 30,000 troops to complete this but the bulk of these troops were used in the area above the first row of stars.

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The varying shades were achieved by having the troops wear different clothes, obviously. For the light areas, they simply wore t-shirts and for the dark areas they wore their uniforms. In the shield photo, those in the dark areas also wore their hats to make the tone more uniform on film. No shining faces breaking up the dark shades.

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Arthur Mole Living Photograph- Liberty Bell

These are pretty amazing photos when you consider that they were taken in world long before Photoshop or any type of computer generation. It must have taken a tremendous amount of planning and effort to pull off these shoots, from the building of the tower to the precise placement of each soldier. For that alone they deserve a tip of the hat.

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And on this Memorial Day, the sight of troops who sacrificed in some way for our country standing side-by-side to create the symbols that embody our nation is a  fine way to remember them outside of the battles they fought and the great sacrifices they made.

Arthur Mole Living Photograph – Star Detail

Arthur Mole Living Photograph American Flag

Arthur Mole Living Photograph- Statue of Liberty

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Well, I made delivery yesterday to the Principle Gallery of the paintings for my show, Haven. This exhibit opens Friday, June 1 at the Alexandria gallery with a reception that runs from 6:30 until 9 PM.

I guess I should say that it feels good to have the work in place but that wouldn’t be completely honest. While there is satisfaction in the simple completion of a large task I know from past experience that I will do little more than worry for the next several days. And the fact that this is my nineteenth solo show at the Principle Gallery and that I feel this may be among the most cohesive and strong group of work of these shows does absolutely nothing to stem the worry I feel.

In fact, this good feeling about the work, sensing that this work is as true to whatever vision and voice I possess, that makes me worry more than ever. To have it not connect with others, to have it feel distant and obscure on the wall, would have me questioning my own judgement about what I do. While I know that to base anything on the results of one show is foolish, it still makes a mark and creates a wound that makes you a little less willing to fully show yourself for fear of opening that wound again.

But hopefully this worry is baseless. For now, I will live with my worry and the belief that the work in this show ranks among the best that I have done. Time, as is always the case, will tell.

One of the paintings in the show is shown at the top. It is titled To the Siren’s Song and is 16″ by 20″ on canvas. It’s a piece I already miss having in the studio, one that constantly pulled my eye toward it in the months leading up to the show. The painting itself became a kind of siren to me and there is a perceptible void in its absence. For me, there is a blending of colors and forms,  of representation and abstraction, that I find compelling.

But that’s just me.

For this Sunday morning music I have chosen a song that I think fits into the blend of this painting. It is from the late singer/songwriter Tim Buckley who passed away at the all too early age of 28 back in 1975. Most of you are more likely to know the work of his son, Jeff Buckley, who also tragically died an early death at age 30 back in 1997. But Tim Buckley was as highly regarded in his time and his work has played a large influence on may other artists. This song is one of his better known and has been covered by a number of artists over the past half century. Fittingly for this painting, it is titled Song of the Siren. This video is from The Monkees TV show in 1968.

Have a good Sunday.

 

 

 

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“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

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This morning, I am finally coming to the end of preparations for my show at the Principle Gallery that opens a week from today, next Friday, June 1. Finishing touches this morning and loading for delivery later in the day. This point in the process generally brings a sense of relief even though there still is much ahead before I can fully relax.

I have had a few chances to finally look at this group of work as a whole and can say that I am truly excited to see it hanging in the gallery. I may have buried myself more in this body of work than any group in quite some time, maybe as a way of seeking sanctuary from the problems of the outer world. Perhaps the title of this show, Haven, was self-fulfilling.

I didn’t concern myself with trying to meet the expectations of others, didn’t worry about including work that might be directed towards anyone besides myself. I concentrated only on color and form and textures and mood. The colors are deep and dark. The forms have an organic simplicity. The textures create their own narratives beneath the picture plane. All of this comes together to create a sense of mood within these paintings that I think may be more consistent and palpable than any show of mine in some time.

In short, I think it’s a very strong show.

The painting at the top, Light and Wisdom, is one painting from the show. I think this piece, a 16″ by 20″ canvas, is emblematic of this show’s feel and look, possessing all of the qualities I listed above.

I love the lines below it from T.S. Eliot, feeling that they express so well what I see in this painting. Life often feels like a constant search for some vague object– knowledge, wisdom, love, experience, etc.– that will make us somehow whole. Yet, as is often the case, we only reach wholeness within ourselves, in that place where the journey began. Maybe that is why I chose this painting for this bit of verse from Eliot– it has a sense of wholeness that has been ultimately fulfilled by realizing that the answer was in itself.

The answer, it seems, is always at hand.

 

 

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I am always interested in seeing new places where my work can be found. It’s hung in US embassies in Nepal, Uganda and Kuwait. It’s appeared in magazines in Denmark, a calendar in Spain, a video in Korea along with a number of other spots around the world. It’s gratifying to see if only that it means the work translates well, reaching well beyond my little spot here in my studio tucked in the woods.

The latest sighting comes from Budapest in Hungary. My work was featured at a place there, not too far from the Danube River, called Jól Festesz, which loosely translates to, according to Google, as Where are you going to be. I am sure something is lost in the translation.

Jól Festesz is either a business or an arts organization that holds classes where an instructor leads a group of aspiring artists in painting a selected work or art, allowing the students to leave with a finished copy of their own making. This started in December of 2017 and the work of mine shown above was the subject of their very first event.

I checked out their site on Facebook and came across several photos from the event. I will tell you that they were painted in a much different manner than the original but I was pleased at how well the students captured the overall image. Their instructor obviously did a great job. Take a look below to judge for yourself.

It made me smile to think that there are some bits of my work, if only in the form of a copy made in an art class, floating around in homes around Budapest. Hope those folks are enjoying their own red trees.

Élvez! That means enjoy, if I am using the term correctly.

 

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