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Archive for December, 2019

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Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.

–Oscar Wilde

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Yesterday, I wrote about trying to go back through my work from the past decade and choose pieces that best summed up each year. It’s a difficult, if not impossible, task. There are often many different directions that the work moves in over a given period of time or sometimes pieces that strike a chord most for me may not represent the larger body of my work for that time period.

This past year, for instant, had many tentacles. The landscapes began appearing with multiple beds of flowers. The sailboats took on larger and more expressive waves. A new female figure emerged to paddle across flat waters. And, of course, the faces from my Multitudes series began to appear.

All of these elements will no doubt remain in play for the near future and maybe well beyond that. Who knows? And who knows what new things will emerge to grab my focus?

I sure don’t.

The piece shown here, Saints and Sinners, is from this year’s Multitudes series. It’s a favorite of mine, one that I might consider as a piece to represent this past year, at least for its particular tentacle. It’s a painting that I think works well for ending this year and welcoming the next. It has a feeling of looking backward and forward. Of examining what we have been, what we are and what we might someday be.

As I like to say: What I was then is not what I am now and what I am now may not be what I will be in the future.

None of us are fully saints or sinners. There may be a few who are fully sinners well beyond redemption ( ** comes to mind) but most of us are in that boat that drifts between the two opposite shores.

I am hoping that we drift closer to the saintly shoreline in 2020.

Have a good and safe New Year’s Eve.

 

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In my picture of the world there is a vast outer realm and an equally vast inner realm; between these two stands man, facing now one and now the other, and, according to temperament and disposition, taking the one for the absolute truth by denying or sacrificing the other.

Carl Jung

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Time flies.

We’re looking at another decade slipping away. I originally didn’t give much thought to any way of marking this but in recent days began looking back at work from the past ten years, trying to to see if there was a single piece that summed it up for me.

That is really difficult. Even trying to choose a single painting that sums up a single show or year is often near impossible. There are favorites, pieces that speak to me more personally than others, but they often don’t reflect the body of work as a whole. But choosing one that stands as a symbol for ten years of hard work seems out of the question.

But I tried and came up with a few that stood out as possibilities. The painting at the top, for example. It’s The Internal Landscape from 2012. It’s a large piece, 4 1/2′ by 7′, and was the titular centerpiece of my show that year at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, NY.

It’s a painting that has meant a lot to me, as far as building a confidence in myself that my work had lasting value that might carry it into the future somehow. I had been a full-time artist for about 14 years at the point that this was painted yet I still wasn’t confident my own evaluation of my work. I felt that it was a real expression, not mere decoration. It was my inner reality and like, Jung’s words above, I often found myself torn between this inner realm and the outer realm of the world. I knew this as a real world but I didn’t feel that I was qualified to say if this reality was enough, that it transcended what it meant for myself.

But this painting and its acceptance by the viewers of that show made me realize that my work’s effect could move beyond me.

And that was vastly important to me in doing this thing that occupies my days and nights.

Now, I can’t say this painting fully sums up the decade for me but it may come as close any other piece I might choose. It occupies a wall in my studio now and I take moments now and then to take it in. Its size makes it an embracing piece, one that makes me feel as though I am stepping into it with the warmth of the colors and shapes wrapping around me. It’s easy to spend time in front of it and let my mind wander among the fields and hills.

I don’t know that it will ever find a home outside the studio and that is fine with me. It feels like family, like a part of me now.

 

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Ring of Fire- Gina Pfleegor 2019

We’re moving into a new decade in a few days and I though I would play some music this Sunday morning that reflected that fact. My personal opinion is that this could be a momentous year with ramifications that could echo down through whatever history we have left here. You can interpret that however you wish, be it with cheery optimism or dark pessimism. It could go either way at this point.

You might get a hint of my own view from the song selection: the Johnny Cash classic, Ring of Fire, written by June Carter. However, this is a different take on the song. Where the original is uptempo with a mariachi guitar band feel, this version from former Animals lead singer Eric Burdon in 1974 has a driving military march feel.

I first came across this version many, many years ago when I found the Eric Burdon album it was from, Sun Secrets, in a bargain bin of 8-track tapes at the old J.J. Newberry five and dime store in Elmira, which, if I am not mistaken, has been closed for decades now. I think I paid a quarter for the tape, which appealed to me had versions of many of Burdon’s earlier Animals’ hits such as It’s My Life and When I Was Young.

Hey, it was a quarter and our car at the time still rocked a player for the massive 8-track cartridges. I was always afraid that if I slammed on the brakes too hard that one of them might fly up and crush my skull.

It turned that some of that album was meh but some of the songs, especially the reworked versions of older songs, really worked. I especially liked this version of Ring of Fire even though the Cash version is perfect as it is. I just like to hear new interpretations, I guess. Give a listen and see for yourself.

The painting above is titled, of course, Ring of Fire. It’s from artist Gina Pfleegor, who also exhibits her work at the West End Gallery. I am proud to have this piece hanging in my studio.

Gina has been a tremendously talented painter of realism for a number of years but has really blossomed in recent years, moving to new levels with a series of metaphorical paintings with female figures as their central focus, many using her daughter as the model. These pieces have a unique quality that make them really sparkle on the wall and engage the imagination of viewers, myself included.

I always look forward to seeing what’s next with her work. You can check out her work on her site, Gina Pfleegor Fine Art. You can best see her newer work by clicking here which takes you to a Google images page with her work.

Just plain good stuff. So, take a look her Ring of Fire, give a listen to Eric Burdon’s version of Ring of Fire then brace yourself for whatever 2020 might bring.

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Awaiting Voice

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For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
But, as the passage now presents no hindrance
To the spirit unappeased and peregrine
Between two worlds become much like each other,
So I find words I never thought to speak
In streets I never thought I should revisit
When I left my body on a distant shore.

T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding

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It is hard to believe that we are fast approaching the end of the second decade of what we called the New Millenium. Twenty years have passed in what seems the blink of an eye. So fast that the events of those years blend together more than all the years that came before them, at least for me.

I feel a bit like Rip Van Winkle. I could have closed my eyes twenty years ago and just opened them to find a world that appears the same but is much changed in many ways, with new words and new language.

And yet we stand on the precipice of a new decade that will no doubt shock and surprise us with its own words and language.

What new voice are we awaiting to hear in this new year, this new decade? Is it one we haven’t yet heard? If so, will it have the power to inspire us, to lift us up? Or push us down? Will it change our perceptions of who we are and why we exist?

I have lots of questions.

Not many answers though.

I am just like most other folks, waiting without a clue for that new voice and new language that is most certainly on its way.

I am without certainty, not sure even if I feel optimism or pessimism. It is more like a numbness, like waiting silently in a dark closet for someone to finally open the door to let me out. Don’t know who’s going to open that door or what’s out there, good or bad, but I know it will be opening soon.

Hope we are ready for those new words and language.

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The painting at the top is Light and Wisdom which is currently

at the West End Gallery in Corning.

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Come sail your ships around me
And burn your bridges down.
We make a little history baby
Every time you come around.
Come loose your dogs upon me
And let your hair hang down.
You are a little mystery to me
Every time you come around.

Nick Cave, The Ship Song

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Hope everyone out there had a decent day yesterday and came through relatively unscathed. Myself, I just felt like a song this morning. I guess there’s little holiday lag that makes me want to not do too much at the moment. Here’s a lovely song from singer/songwriter Nick Cave. I like the original, a beautiful piece of songwriting, but this cover from Puddles Pity Party really hits for me. Maybe it’s the clown makeup and costume, making you have to focus to get past it.

I don’t know. I just like the arrangement and his voice is right for the song. Give a listen, if you’re so inclined, and have yourself a good Boxing Day. Again, if you’re so inclined.

 

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Wishing everyone out there a good day and a Merry Christmas. Just going to let the soothing tones of Mel Torme‘s lovely version of the Vince Guaraldi classic, Christmastime Is Here, from A Charlie Brown Christmas. It seems almost sacrilegious to play something other than that sparkling original. But this version, with Torme’s older and even mellower voice and a gorgeous arrangement, is a worthy alternate.

Hopefully, your day will have that same kind of pace and mellowness.

Enjoy the day.

 

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Today, being the day of Christmas Eve, is a stressful day for many folks. Factor in a load of general busyness and pressing obligations, last minute shopping among throngs of other stressed out folks and worrying about if you’ve done enough or too little and you’re left with a high stress situation.

It creates a pressure that sometimes takes away from the desired spirit of good will and cheeriness we normally associate with the season. And that’s a shame. We have enough stress already.

So, today I am taking it easy. Reducing my load. No pedantic lectures on generosity and giving. Just extending a wish that you have a relaxed and happy holiday. Take a breath today and try to just be in the moment.

Here’s Ella’s version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Ella usually makes everything a little better, even these stress-filled days. Give a listen. It’s a great first step towards reducing the tension.

And then have yourself a merry little Christmas.

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