Archive for July, 2021

GC Myers- Lux Templi

Lux Templi“- Hanging now at the West End Gallery

There is a town in North Ontario
Dream comfort memory to spare
And in my mind I still need a place to go
All my changes were there

–Neil Young, Helpless

I was stumbling around this morning, not really having any idea what I was doing, when this song, Helpless, came on.  The original version from Neil Young has been a longtime favorite, one that I have played here a few times over the years. But I particularly like this version from the great k.d. lang and it really struck home with me this morning.

It was the first verse that did it, especially its last lines– in my mind I still need a place to go/all my changes were there. There’s something about the role memory plays in our wellbeing that jumped out at me, at least as I interpreted it. It reminded me of all the times when I have been in some sort of mental distress and how often I revisited my memory at those times to perhaps seek a point in the distant past that is remembered as being safe and comfortable– dream comfort memory to spare.

And in those distant memories seeking some sort of answer or clue to relieve whatever was troubling me in the present.

A reboot, a return to a point before all the changes. 

Of course, that’s an impossibility and for me that’s where the helpless element in this song takes place. While we may seek clues and maybe even comfort from the past, we are entities that have undergone changes, for better or worse, in the intervening time.

We face the present as we are. And the future? Who knows? The present will undoubtedly change us so we will be changed in some ways when the future meets us.

I thought the painting at the top, Lux Templi, felt right with this song. There’s a solitariness to it that has the feeling of the open spaces of northern Canada. I guess where it diverts from the song is that while it has this sense of aloneness, it doesn’t feel overwhelmed by it. It has both a sense of self-dependence and a spiritual connection with nature.

I don’t know. I’m just spit-balling here. Give a look and a listen and decide for yourself.

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GC Myers- Surveyor

Surveyor“– Currently at the West End Gallery

I tried to discover, in the rumor of forests and waves, words that other men could not hear, and I pricked up my ears to listen to the revelation of their harmony.

― Gustave Flaubert, November

I often write here about the need to have one’s voice heard, about how we all have a desire to send our message of who we are out into the world. And I do believe this.

But as important as this might be, I often find myself at this time of the year feeling a little tired of my own voice. And a little regretful, especially after openings or talks where I come away feeling that I spoke too much and didn’t listen enough.

It’s as though there should be a certain balance between the two — talking and listening– and I feel like I am out of this balance.  A yin/yang thing, I guess.

I know that I feel a lot better when I listen more and talk less. Maybe this allows the voice of someone else to be heard, someone who may need that more than me in that moment.

And hearing them creates a bit more balance and harmony. For them and for me.

And that feels better because, after all, balance and harmony is what I am seeking with my work.

And myself.

I think that might be the message carried in the piece at top, Surveyor. I see this painting as being about the Red Tree seeking this harmony in the rumor of forests and waves as Flaubert put it, as well as a having a need to communicate with the other distant tree.

Harmony and communication– it falls within the balance between talking and listening.

Okay, enough talking on my part…

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GC Myers- In Cool Air rev sm

In Cool Air“– Now at the West End Gallery

Drafting a world where no such road will run
From you to me;
To watch that world come up like a cold sun,
Rewarding others, is my liberty.
Not to prevent it is my will’s fulfillment.
Willing it, my ailment.

— No Road, Philip Larkin

There’s a lot to do this morning plus my computer is a little glitchy this morning so I won’t say much. I thought I’d pair the small piece above from my current West End Gallery show, In Cool Air, with a reading by Tom O’Bedlam of No Road from poet Philip Larkin. Not sure that they fully mesh in terms of tone and message but I am a sucker for Larkin’s verse with its sometimes cynical and slightly misanthropic viewpoint.

I especially like the final stanza shown above. There’s something to it that I can somewhat equate with what I do.

Or not. Who knows, really?

All I know that on a busy morning, these lines and this small painting felt like a small respite.

Good enough for me.

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GC Myers- Eureka Moment

Eureka Moment“– Now at the West End Gallery

It is not easy to convey, unless one has experienced it, the dramatic feeling of sudden enlightenment that floods the mind when the right idea finally clicks into place. One immediately sees how many previously puzzling facts are neatly explained by the new hypothesis. One could kick oneself for not having the idea earlier, it now seems so obvious. Yet before, everything was in a fog.

― Francis Crick, What Mad Pursuit

As a pioneering scientist best known for revealing the double-helix structure of DNA, I guess Francis Crick knows something about Eureka moments.

For those of you who don’t know, Eureka is from the Greek and means “I have found it.” Archimedes, the famed 3rd Century BC scholar, is believed to be the first to have used the term, having ran through the streets naked yelling Eureka! after having a sudden scientific revelation while in his bath. Any sudden discovery, usually of knowledge or enlightenment, has come to be known as a Eureka moment. Goldminers during the California Gold Rush would yell Eureka! when discovering a rich vein of gold and it remains the state’s official motto.

It’s a pretty dramatic thing, this burst of sudden revelation. It can change perceptions of things in a flash and everything surrounding it falls immediately into place. It’s kind of like you’ve been struggling to look at one of those Magic Eye images (autostereograms) that appears as just a mass of dots until something clicks in, allowing your mind to see the image hidden among the dots.

A pattern that was hidden becomes apparent and obvious. And once you see it, it can’t be unseen.

Not counting Magic Eye paintings, I don’t know how many times a person experiences such Eureka moments in their life or if it even occurs for everyone.

I am relatively sure I have had one such moment. Four? Well. maybe two. Or more likely 1 1/2. I don’t know which probably means it wasn’t a real Eureka moment. But I did have that one and if that is the only one I ever have, I am okay with that though I will always seek and hope for another.

That’s the basis for the new painting at the top, Eureka Moment, that is now at the West End Gallery as a late addition to my current solo show there. It certainly captures the feeling I experienced during what be my singular Eureka moment.

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Free to Breathe

GC Myers- Free to Breathe sm

Free to Breathe‘- At the West End Gallery- SOLD

My soul, be satisfied with flowers,
With fruit, with weeds even; but gather them
In the one garden you may call your own.

― Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac

I tend to agree with the famous line from the poet John Donne that no man is an island, entire of itself. Every person, with only the most extreme exceptions, is in some way connected to the greater body of humanity, both contributing to and being dependent on it. The pandemic of the past year and a half has given ample evidence of our interconnectedness and interdependence.

Yet, I also believe that we need to have a refuge of some sort from being part of the whole of humanity. A place and time where we are sovereign and can feel, if only for a brief time, that we are apart from the thoughts, actions, and influences of others.

A place where we can air our ideas, thoughts, and dreams without the critical eyes, ears, and minds of others. A place where our responsibility is only to ourselves and our own wellbeing.

A place where we are free to simply breathe if that is what we wish. Or need. Sometimes a deep breath in the cool air of open spaces can make you feel like you are free of everything.

So, yes, no man is an island. But sometimes it does one good to be alone on one for a bit.

I wasn’t going to show this painting, Free to Breathe, here originally. It sold before I had a chance to write about it and I wasn’t pleased with my photography on this piece. It has tones of blue and green in it that don’t show well. I have difficulty capturing these specific combinations of colors with my own meager photography skills which is a shame because they often appear in my work. It is definitely one of those paintings, like quite a few of my works, that is quantitatively better to see in person. But I felt it deserved a few words since it’s a piece that I like very much and it carries message that is near and dear to my heart– that we all need space once in a while to think and create for only ourselves. Space to be the only one breathing the air around us.

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GC Myers- Pax Terram  2021

Pax Terram“– Now at the West End Gallery

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

― Wendell Berry, The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry

The painting at the top here is a new, late addition to my solo show currently hanging at the West End Gallery. It’s 12″ by 16″ on aluminum panel and is titled Pax Terram which loosely translates as Land of Peace.

It’s one of those pieces that are important for me as a means to alleviating my anxiety. The process of creating a harmony in the painting requires a deep focus which stabilizes me. It makes me take a breath and step back from the concerns that sometimes plague me. It’s much like stepping back from the easel while painting to see how things look from a distance.

A benefit of using this process to do such a thing is that when I am done, its calmness inducing effects don’t end. The painting itself continues the work. Looking at Pax Terram affects me in much the same way as the actual process of painting.

It reminds me very much of a favorite Wendell Berry poem, one of this better known works that I have shared here before, titled The Peace of Wild Things. Reading it feels like the stepping back I mentioned above.

A pause and a breath.

This poem has been translated into a choral work that also has placid charms. It’s from composer Jake Runestad and the performance below is from the choral group Conspirare.

Seems like a good way to kick off what looks to be a hectic week.

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He was different; innocent of heart, and full of good will, which nobody wanted, this castaway, that, like a man transplanted into another planet, was separated by an immense space from his past and by an immense ignorance from his future.

― Joseph Conrad, Amy Foster

GC Myers-To Other Worlds

To Other Worlds“- At the West End Gallery

Wow. That’s quite a passage from Joseph Conrad‘s short story, Amy Foster, which was about a shipwrecked emigrant landing in Britain, unable to speak the language. He learns a bit of English and weds a kind local servant girl, Amy Foster, but remains always the outcast, unable to fully express his past or his dreams for the future to anyone around him. His native language is looked upon with suspicion and derision. He dies asking for water in his native language, nobody understanding his request.

I don’t see this new painting, To Other Worlds, in the same tragic light as Conrad’s story but it has that sense of  being in a world that feels completely strange and alien. Maybe it is a world where your language and forms of expression seem odd and untranslatable to those you come across. Your past is, like that described in the Conrad passage, is separated from you by an immense space, forever unknown to those in your present. Your future seems hazy at best as you are unable to plan in world in which you can’t communicate effectively and that you don’t fully understand.

It’s very much the feeling I felt from my early Exiles series. I was still learning to harness the communicative aspects of art and often felt alien in this world. I certainly never felt like I fully understood this place or its people.

I guess that part hasn’t changed significantly. But I have somewhat reconciled my past, present and future with my work. Just being able to communicate with an expression of some sort of inner feeling has made this world seem less strange.

But that feeling of being in a world where one feels out of place in nearly every aspect still sometimes shows up in my work. I think it’s important o hold onto that feeling so that you can recognize it in others and attempt to let them know you see them and understand the landscape they are trying to find their way through.

Okay? Okay.

Here’s this week’s Sunday morning music. It’s Hejira from Joni Mitchell. It fits here in that hejira is a word for a migration, a flight from danger which often places those who flee in the role of the exile, the stranger in a strange land. Joni’s lyrics for this piece, like most of her songs, are wonderful. Certainly feels right for this stranger in this strange land on a gray wet Sunday morning.

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Splendid Isolation

GC Myers- Pondering Solitude sm

Pondering Solitude“– Now at the West End Gallery

I want to live alone in the desert
I want to be like Georgia O’Keeffe
I want to live on the Upper East Side
And never go down in the street

Splendid Isolation
I don’t need no one
Splendid Isolation

–Warren Zevon, Splendid Isolation

Just going to let the late Mr. Zevon take care of it this morning…

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Bold Dreams

GC Myers-  Climb Ever Higher

Climb Ever Higher“- Hanging Now at West End Gallery

It was possible in this wonderful city for that nameless little boy -for any of its millions- to have a decent chance to scale the walls and achieve what they wished. Wealth, rank or an imposing name counted for nothing. The only credential the city asked was the boldness to dream. For those who did, it unlocked its gates and its treasures, not caring who they were or where they came from.

― Moss Hart, Act One

I like this passage from the autobiography of playwright Moss Hart. I would like to believe that the boldness to dream was the only thing needed for success.

Of course, you have to add the ability to work harder than many others to achieve that dream along 

Maybe throw in an openness to sharing your dream with others, including those who might either help you achieve that dream or tell you that it will fail.

And that means you must possess the ability to shed the opinions of those who criticize your dream or those who can’t visualize it. Or use than as fuel for the inner fire needed to achieve that dream.

Then add a willingness to fail time and time again.

The boldness to dream gets you to the bottom of the hill. It’s up to you to get up it. There will be those who will recognize what you are trying to do and give you a hand up.

You will see others along the way up that hill, people whose wealth and names and connections have placed them higher on the hill while you were still at the bottom. They have a head start, no doubt. They should be used as targets, milestones that you overcome and pass.

But be courteous to those folks you pass, even the mighty and haughty among them, because at some point you will meet them again. It’s not always a one-way trip. You can try to keep slogging up that hill but sometimes you will have time when  you will slide back down it.

That’s when willpower comes into play. You see, the dream is only realized if you get back up and keep at it.

And when you reach the top of that hill, find the next higher hill and climb it. And if there’s not a hill, make it for yourself.

Well, that’s my pep talk for this Friday. Maybe it felt appropriate because of the Olympics opening taking place tonight. Lot of folks climbing their own high hills there in Japan, even in these difficult times. Just another obstacle for them to overcome.

We should all be so bold in our dreams…

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GC Myers- Night and Time and Place sm

Night and Time and Place“- Now at the West End Gallery

The past,’ he thought, ‘is linked with the present by an unbroken chain of events flowing one out of another.’ And it seemed to him that he had just seen both ends of that chain; that when he touched one end the other quivered.

― Anton Chekhov, The Witch and Other Stories

I see this new painting, Night and Time and Place, as being about our relationship with time and place. It’s a piece that gives me great pause. In a calming way, mainly because it makes my own little worries and grievances seem insignificant when compared with the vastness of time and space.

But it also makes me realize how interconnected we are with the time and place in which we dwell. We like to think of ourselves as being independent creatures, moving forward free from any connection to the past or any ties to the world outside of our field of vision. We believe that the outer world does not concern us.

But we are, of course, dependent creatures. Even at the most essential level, we depend on a tenuous relationship with the closest star to provide us with heat and light. I say tenuous because it took eons to get to the point where the conditions making up the environment of this planet fed by our Sun could sustain us. And with but a little change in those conditions, our relationship with the Sun be comes much more difficult.

We are also dependent on the Earth for water and food. Again, it took ages to get to a point where the conditions of the water and the food we could eke out would sustain us. We live in a small notch in time that has the ability to sustain our fragile selves.

No, we are not independent, self-sustaining entities in any way. We are are on a chain connected to this place and to the other inhabitants of this planet, as far removed as they may sometimes seem. Our actions and choices affect them and vice versa. We all feel it when the chain is rattled.

And, as Chekhov’s character so aptly put, the past and present are part of that chain. The actions of the past often reverberate down the chain of our history. Like it or not, we will always be part of that chain and would be wise to pay attention when it quivers before moving forward.

All that said, I see this painting as being about feeling at peace with our arrangement with the universe, our dependence on the heat and light of the sun, the tidal power of the moon, the sustaining power of water and food, and of the clean air provided to us.

At peace knowing that our actions have meaning and consequence beyond what we see.

That we are part of this time and place.

Night and Time and Place is part of Through the Trees, my annual solo exhibit now hanging at the West End Gallery in Corning.

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