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Archive for June, 2021

Stardust

GC Myers- In Rhapsody  2021

“In Rhapsody”- Now at the Principle Gallery



And now the purple dusk of twilight time
Steals across the meadows of my heart
High up in the sky the little stars climb
Always reminding me that we’re apart

–Stardust, Hoagy Carmichael



I wasn’t going to write this morning but Stardust came on my playlist and I couldn’t help sharing it. It felt like a decent way to start the day, with a gentle breeze. Not a boomboom– I don’t need that today. The song is an American classic written by Hoagy Carmichael. Besides Stardust, Carmichael wrote songs that have become part of the musical fabric of this country– Georgia on My Mind, Up a Lazy River, Rockin’ Chair and many others. He also wrote a song with what is considered the longest title–  I’m a Cranky Old Yank in a Clanky Old Tank on the Streets of Yokohama with my Honolulu Mama Doin’ Those Beat-o, Beat-o Flat-On-My-Seat-o, Hirohito Blues.

But Stardust performed by the inimitable Nat King Cole is what stirred me this morning as I get ready for my upcoming show at the West End Gallery.

I also am readying myself for an appearance on our local morning news show this coming Friday. The morning show from WETM has recently been doing a series live each Friday from 6-7 AM called Mornings in Corning which features artists based in the Southern Tier. The artists appear in several short spots throughout the hour to talk a bit about their work and their career. This Friday is my turn to be uncomfortable while doing that in front of a camera.

If you’re up and able to watch WETM, please tune in. I’ll try not to do anything that might embarrass either of us.



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Hopper/ Hard Work

Hopper - box-factory-gloucester 1928

Edward Hopper- Box Factory, Gloucester 1928



So many people say painting is fun. I don’t find it fun at all. It’s hard work for me.

–Edward Hopper



Boy, this sentiment from Hopper sure rings true this morning. I have never thought of painting as fun, at least in any way that I define fun. I mean, I have enjoyed painting. I have been gratified and fulfilled by it. I have learned and grown with it.

But fun?

Oh, there have been times when parts of it are fun. The interaction with people at openings and gallery talks, for example. Or with the folks who have taken workshops with me. There are usually lots of laughs and moments of real jo joy but even that fun is tempered with hard work and a certain amount of angst.

Right now, I am in the period between my two annual shows at the Principle Gallery and the West End Gallery. Every year, there is a lot of tension for me in finishing and reacting to one big show while painting and prepping for the next within a short time frame, usually about 6 weeks.

I have been doing this stress test for the last 21 years or so, so you would think I had it mastered. But the truth is that it never gets easier. In fact, it seems to get more difficult with each passing year. There are times of feeling creatively blocked which triggers a sense of panic because of the time limitations. Plus there are more downswings of mood in this intervening period, more anxiety and vivid imagery in my dreams at night, and even greater doubt ( if that’s possible) built up within myself that brings on a withering sense of fatigue.

I’ve done a lot of heavy manual labor in my life and this is a fatigue that rivals any felt at those times.

Certainly not my definition of fun. 

But inevitably, hard work and perseverance carries the day and I get through this period.

I know there are some out there who would say What’s the big deal? It’s just some guy smearing paint around. And they’re right in a way. This carries no more weight than any other thing done by anyone else. Nor is my job any harder or more important than most other jobs. Maybe in the end, it will turn out to be less important. Who knows for sure?

It’s just happens to be what I do. It’s the only thing I do relatively well.  Plus it pays the bills, fulfills my psychological  needs and keeps me somewhat isolated from the general public, which protects both parties involved.

It’s my thing so I take it seriously. I would be the same way if I was still waiting tables, selling cars or wheeling concrete.

But fun? Ask me tomorrow, maybe the answer will be different. Tomorrow might bring a whole new perspective including some actual fun.

But hard work is on the menu today. Eddie Hopper knows what I mean.



Hopper- queensborough-bridge 1913hopper-landscape

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GC Myers- Standing Proud  2021

Standing Proud“– Now at the Principle Gallery, Alexandria, VA



Short on time this morning but heard this Nina Simone song just now and felt like it might be good to share. Not a bad way to kick off what promises to be a too busy week.



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996-242 Private Song sm

“Private Song”– GC Myers, 2006

I’ve shared hundreds of songs here over the past thirteen years — omigod, it’s been that long!?– that I have been writing this blog. Some were new to me and some were favorites of mine. Sometimes I will think I have played a particular song since it means a lot to me and do a search to discover that it somehow has been overlooked, that I have never shared it here.

Such is the case for the song I am sharing today, I’m Not Like Everybody Else from the Kinks. I was positive I had played it here at some point but that is not the case. I mentioned it once, when I was writing about the use of music in TV and film and how I thought this song was used brilliantly to end an episode of The Sopranos. But I never played it here.

It’s a song that certainly speaks to our desire to be uniquely seen, to not be clumped in and labeled along with everyone else. That’s the attraction for me, outside of the fact that I just like its sound. This iconoclastic desire to be seen only as myself is probably the reason I do what I do.

If everybody else is doing it, then I don’t want to do it.

That can sometimes be a valuable asset in art but in real life it doesn’t always work out ideally. There’s generally an aloofness that comes with this attitude, a distance put between yourself and others. It can be off-putting and isolating to some folks, I suppose. 

But it becomes a way of being after awhile and you don’t see things as being or not being like everybody else. You just do what you do and that’s that, whether you or anybody else likes it or not.

The ironic part of this song is that we all want to be unlike everybody else and, as a result, end up being just like everybody else. Maybe the subtitle of this song should be I’m Just Like Everybody Else.

I don’t know. I’m yammering on now and I have work to get to right now. Without further ado, here’s a favorite song from the one and only Kinks– they really are not like everybody else.



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Crossroads

GC Myers- Crossroads of the World  2021

“Crossroads of the World”- Now at the Principle Gallery



I’m standing at the crossroads
There are many roads to take
But I stand here so silently
For fear of a mistake
One path leads to paradise
One path leads to pain
One path leads to freedom
But they all look the same

–Crossroads, Calvin Russell



I am in the middle of getting work ready for my next show, Through the Trees, which opens July 16th at the West End Gallery in Corning. So, I find myself super busy this morning with not a lot of time to write. But my Principle Gallery show is still in progress and I wanted to showcase a piece from that show today along with a song that reminded me of it.

The painting, shown above, is Crossroads of the World, and the song is the aptly titled Crossroads from the late Calvin Russell, a Texas based blues/roots rock musician who died in 2011 at the age of 62. I recently came across him and didn’t know much about him.

He lived a pretty rough life– you can see it in his face– and his music never gained much notoriety here in the states but found more receptive audiences in Europe, most notably France where he achieved his greatest success. I’ve liked much of what I have heard from him including this song.

Thought it might make for a nice paring this morning before I get to work. Give a listen.



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david-hockney-mulholland-drive-1980

David Hockney- Mulholland Drive 1980



It is very good advice to believe only what an artist does, rather than what he says about his work.

–David Hockney



An artist only has so much control over how their work is seen and spoken of by others. The creation itself speaks loudest for the artist, of course. But it is also represented in words by gallery personnel, museum staffs and others. Each individual interpretation adds to or detracts from the work. The artist has little say unless they make an effort to control the narrative with their own words.

I know that I have tried to do this, with varying degrees of success. I felt that in order to do this I would have to try to be honest with my own assessments of the work and what I was seeing in it so that the viewer’s experience might be honestly enhanced. Hopefully, a little more depth into the work would be provided.

Whether this matters in the long term, I do not know. But for the time being, it gives me the feeling that I am somewhat in control of my narrative. Below is a post from a few years back that speaks a bit more about artists speaking about their work and the difference between doing so with words that actually say something substantive and those that are mere fluffy word clouds.



When I first read this quote from the great British artist David Hockney, a painter whose work I admire and always find interesting, I wanted to be offended. After all, I am an artist who has said plenty about his work through the years– this blog and gallery talks being evidence of that– and have tried to be always transparent and forthcoming when talking about my work. But even so, I nodded in agreement when I read his words.

Part of my own desire to be honest and open about my work came from the frustration I felt in reading other artist’s writings that were filled with ArtSpeak, that way of seeming to say something important and meaningful without really saying anything at all. The words danced around all form of meaning and never fully jibed with the images that accompanied the words, leaving me with a single word resonating in my mind:

Bullshit

And I know bullshit. I was a longtime bullshit artist. I sold swimming pools and automobiles– yes, I was even a used car salesman! – to the public for quite some time. I knew that you could sell by focusing on the strengths of the product and by dancing around questions about its drawbacks. Fill any voids with words that sounded like they were filled with meaning but really made no commitment to anything.

For me, there came a time when I was determined to not deal anymore in that manner of speaking and when I finally came to painting, I knew that I did not want my work to fall into that pool of bullshit. I wanted to tightly control how I represented my work and to be completely open about it. Its whole purpose for me was my own honest expression and I wanted people to be able to witness that without a crap filter between them and the work.

For the most part, I feel that I have been able to maintain that through these last several years. Oh, occasionally I feel myself straying off the path. But I simply remind myself that the product I am representing is the core of my self and once I cross that line I would be betraying everything art has provided for me.

But these are just words and maybe you should take them with Hockney’s advice in mind.



David Hockney- Arranged Felled Trees

David Hockney- Arranged Felled Trees



This post ran several years ago. I just didn’t have the energy to write anything new today without it turning into something I didn’t want. And here we are.



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GC Myers- To the Calling Moon  2021

To the Calling Moon“- Now at the Principle Gallery



I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone

I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone
  enough
to truly consecrate the hour.
I am much too small in this world, yet not small
  enough
to be to you just object and thing,
dark and smart.
I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know,
or else be alone.

I want to mirror your image to its fullest perfection,
never be blind or too old
to uphold your weighty wavering reflection.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere I wish to stay crooked, bent;
for there I would be dishonest, untrue.
I want my conscience to be
true before you;
want to describe myself like a picture I observed
for a long time, one close up,
like a new word I learned and embraced,
like the everyday jug,
like my mother’s face,
like a ship that carried me along
through the deadliest storm.

–Rainer Maria Rilke ,  1875-1926



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Edward Hopper -Early Sunday Morning 1926

Edward Hopper -Early Sunday Morning 1926



I don’t celebrate birthdays much but yesterday was Kris Kristofferson‘s birthday. His 85th. He’s been many things in his life, as the bio on his website points out:

He was an Oxford scholar, a defensive back, a bartender, a Golden Gloves boxer, a gandy dancer, a forest-fighter, a road crew member, and an Army Ranger who flew helicopters. He was a peacenik, a revolutionary, an actor, a superstar, a Casanova, and a family man. He was almost a teacher at West Point, though he gave that up to become a Nashville songwriting bum.

Definitely one of the more interesting people of our time. And a helluva songwriter.

Me and Bobby McGee is burned into my brain, especially the version from Janis Joplin, who he also dated for a while, just to add to his interest factor. There are plenty of others to mention but for me, my mind always goes to either Bobby McGee or to Sunday Morning Coming Down, which was a big hit for Johnny Cash.

The feel of that song is unmistakable and for someone who grew up when the Blue Laws were still in effect and Sundays were, for the most part, shut down affairs, it rings true. The Edward Hopper painting at the top captures that same feeling for me. The stillness that comes after long Saturday nights spent knowing that the following day was there for recuperating.

And the weekly Sunday dinner. Ours was often a roast chicken meal, if we weren’t going to another relative’s home for the meal.

The song opens up floodgates of memory and feeling. I have to say that this morning feels like one of those Sunday mornings long ago.

Anyway, here’s Kris Kristofferson and his Sunday Morning Coming Down.



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GC Myers- Endless Time 2008



The piece above, Endless Time, has long been what I consider perhaps my favorite orphan, having never found a home. Painted in 2008, it’s currently at the West End Gallery for one last public viewing. It has made a few rounds of the galleries over the years but always came home to me. And while I was sad that it never struck a similar chord with someone who wished to give it a home, I was always pleased– almost excited– to have it return. It’s a piece that I consider a link to my earliest works, a reminder of the inner forces that drove me into the work I now do.

For me, it is an elemental piece.

Back in 2009, I wrote in a blogpost here about this painting:

This is really a direct descendent from my earliest work that focused on open spaces and blocks of color, work that was meant to be spare and quiet. The weight of the piece is carried by the abstract qualities of the landscape and the intensity of the colors.

With this piece, I have chosen to forego the kinship that the red tree often fosters with the viewer, acting as a sort of greeter inviting them to enter and feel comfortable within the picture plane. In Endless Time the viewer is left to their own devices when they enter the picture. There is no place to hide, no cover. They are exposed to the weight of the sky and the roll of the landscape. They are alone with not a sound nor distraction.

It becomes, at this point, a meditation. One is not merely looking at a landscape. To go into this painting one must be willing to look inside themselves as well.

This painting, like much of my early work, was in large part influenced by a piece of music, Tabula Rasa, from the great contemporary composer Arvo Pärt. It’s a piece that speaks of empty spaces and the meditative quality of silences. The purpose of my work as I saw it at that time was to find silence, to find a sanctuary from the cacophony and discord of civilization. That is still very much the case although the work has evolved in other ways.

I thought for this morning I would share another composition from Arvo Pärt which I think also very much fits this piece. It is titled Spiegel im Spiegel which translates from the German as Mirror in the Mirror. Think of an Infinity Mirror where two mirrors facing one another produce an image that is endlessly reflected back upon itself in ever smaller variations until it finally disappears. In some ways, some art serves as an infinity mirror of sorts, I know that this piece does so for me.

So give a listen but be warned that this is a quiet and meditative piece performed with only a piano and cello. If you’re looking for a toe-tapper or a sing-along, you might be disappointed. But like sometimes looking at art, one’s openness and patience is rewarded.



This post was adapted from a prior version that ran back in 2016.



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Opulenta

GC Myers-Opulenta 2021

Opulenta“- Now at the Principle Gallery



I know that I am mortal by nature, and ephemeral; but when I trace at my pleasure the windings to and fro of the heavenly bodies I no longer touch the earth with my feet: I stand in the presence of Zeus himself and take my fill of ambrosia.

― Ptolemy, Ptolemy’s Almagest



This is a new painting that is part of my current solo exhibit at the Principle Gallery. It’s called Opulenta which refers to the richness of its colors which I see as a reminder of the richness of the world in which we live. A richness which we often overlook in our haste to get through our days and lives.

We are blessed with the infinite wealth and beauty of the universe always within our reach if only we pull ourselves away from the trivial and take notice of this miracle. It lightens our load and, as Ptolemy points out, lifts our feet from this mortal earth and takes us to higher planes of being.

You know, partying with Zeus and scarfing down some sweet ambrosia. That kind of thing.

I kid about that part but I understand his intent. I am as guilty as anyone in sometimes overlooking the opulence in which we exist. But I do know the experience to which he refers.

We might be better caretakers if we could understand the treasure entrusted to us in this world.

Now, where is that Zeus? I haven’t had my breakfast yet and that ambrosia sounds pretty darn good.



9921069 Opulenta Principle Gallery 2021 Catalog Page

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