Archive for February, 2022


GC Myers- Last Kind Words

Last Kind Words– At the Principle Gallery

Leaning over this parapet I see far out a waste of water. A fin turns. This bare visual impression is unattached to any line of reason, it springs up as one might see the fin of a porpoise on the horizon. Visual impressions often communicate thus briefly statements that we shall in time come to uncover and coax into words.

― Virginia Woolf, The Waves

This excerpt above from Virginia Woolf had me thinking about optics, how the visual appearance of a thing communicates to others on a subconscious, emotional level. How we internally know our feelings on seeing that thing before we have had time to fully translate them into words or fully realized thoughts.

It’s a big part of being a visual artist. You want your work to communicate fully, even at a distance, before the viewer has time to think or comprehend what they are seeing.

You want that immediate electric emotional response that is beyond thought or words.

If only it were an easy task.

Apart from art, this also made me think about the optics of the unjust war taking place in Ukraine, especially as it pertains to their leaders. On one hand, you have President Zelensky who is shown with his troops and commanders, unshaved and in battle fatigues, defiantly standing on the streets of his besieged capital city. He also speaks directly and plainly to the people of Ukraine — and to the Russian people in addresses on Telegram.

It is immediately an image that one can see a people rallying behind, someone who sets an example that makes them want to stay and stand their ground. It is an inspirational image.

Then on the other hand, the images of Putin are of him speaking with his commanders and underlings in grand settings that have them placed at a minimum fifteen feet away from Putin. Sometimes, he sits at the head of a huge table, maybe thirty feet long, with a single person on one side near the opposite end.

It is a cold image, one that speaks of both power and fear.

It immediately brings to mind an image of a dictator who sits in a palace and eats rich foods– after his taster approves– while sending his conscripted troops to their death without a single drop of empathy for their suffering and sacrifice or for that of the normal citizens who will unjustly bear the brunt of the consequences of his actions.

It’s an image that makes one understand why, without even taking into account how senseless and unjustified this invasion has been, the world has rallied and united behind the leader and the people of the Ukraine.

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GC Myers- Viva Nox (The Vivid Night) sm

Viva Nox (The Vivid Night)— At the West End Gallery

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

― Desmond Tutu

For the things you know are right
It’s the truth that the truth makes them so uptight

–Sly Stone, Stand!

Well, Kviv and Ukraine make it through another night, still stand this morning. They have already lasted longer against a Russian takeover than the Republican party.

It is far from over and will most likely result in hundreds, if not thousands, of additional civilian deaths beyond the over 200 Ukrainians men, women and children already killed by Russia’s random rocket attacks on cities and villages. This includes hospitals and all sorts of residential areas.

A human tragedy.

But the Ukraine resistance has been remarkable and smart. I viewed video yesterday from a vehicle going down a road as it passed dozens of burned out Russian support vehicles which carried all sorts of equipment from fuel to temporary bridges and large excavators.

Behind every invading force there is a trailing line of support carrying the supplies needed to execute the invasion. This is called a logistics tail. The idea of attacking a logistics tail is that you can cut off the invading force from the fuel, food, and ammunition needed to resupply, effectively isolating them. This shortens the window of opportunity for the invading force to conquer the attacked nation. If the invaders don’t get the job done within this window after losing their logistics tail, they become very vulnerable to counterattacks and potential defeat.

It’s an immensely vital aspect of warfare that is often overlooked by casual observers, such as myself. The saying is: Amateurs talk tactics and professionals talk logistics.

I am hoping that the Ukraine forces have been able to cripple the Russian logistics tail enough so that it soon becomes apparent that a lasting victory and occupation will be impossible to achieve and that the Russians will be forced to sue for peace and withdraw.

But until that time, it’s a nation in the midst of a humanitarian and existential crisis. The lives and futures of so many innocent people are at stake. It is also important for the rest of the world in that it provides a glimpse of what might be in all our futures if might overcomes right.

Let’s hope that the people of Ukraine can remain standing. 

Here’s Sly and the Family Stone and their song Stand! for this week’s Sunday morning music.

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Acts of Defiance

Zelensky in Kviv

We are all here.“– Zelensky in Kviv

Who is left in the ghetto is the one man in a thousand in any age, in any culture, who through some mysterious workings of force within his soul will stand in defiance against any master. He is that one human in a thousand whose indomitable spirit will not bow. He is the one man in a thousand whose indomitable spirit cannot bow. He is the one man in a thousand who will not walk quietly to Umschlagplatz. Watch out for him, Alfred Funk, we have pushed him to the wall.

― Leon Uris, Mila 18

The fight is here: I need ammunition, not a ride.

-Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky 

These were the words from Ukraine President Zelensky in response to being asked why he didn’t flee to another Western nation in the face of the Russian army’s advance on Kviv.

Words that will no doubt have some place of honor in history.

It was but one example of the many acts of defiance by the citizens of Ukraine in recent days.

There was the lady who confronted a Russian soldier on the street, his automatic weapon across his chest. Dropping multiple f-bombs, she asked him who he was and why he was here, uninvited. She threw sunflower seeds at him and told him to put them in his pockets so that at least flowers would grow from the Ukrainian soil where he would soon die.

Or the Ukrainian soldier in a video who spoke in Russian so that the Russian soldiers would understand. Working on his weapon as he spoke confidently with wide smile to the camera, he said, Dudes, you are fucked.  

More words that might go down in history.

It is early in the conflict and my heart hurts for the people of the Ukraine as well as for the young conscripted Russian soldiers who have found themselves in battles they did not expect since by Russian law only volunteer soldiers are to be on the frontlines.

It seems so unfair to those on both sides who are left to suffer and die for an invasion that has no apparent purpose nor legitimate rationale.


But it is a conflict that seems symbolic of the struggles taking place here and around the world between the forces of democracy versus those of autocracy and oligarchy. It demands our attention as it may be more than symbolic– it may be the beginning of a struggle on a much wider stage.

A note: The Umschlagplatz mentioned in the excerpt at the top from Leon Uris’ novel of the Warsaw Ghetto of WW II, Mila 18, was the staging area adjacent to the railroad stations where the Jewish people were herded and kept while waiting for transfer to the various concentration camps.

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Fighting Chaos

GC Myers- High in the Hills

High in the Hills– Now at the Kada Gallery, Erie PA

I have an idea that the only thing which makes it possible to regard this world we live in without disgust is the beauty which now and then men create out of the chaos. The pictures they paint, the music they compose, the books they write, and the lives they lead. Of all these the richest in beauty is the beautiful life. That is the perfect work of art.

― W. Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil

I made a quick trip to Erie PA yesterday to deliver some fresh work and meet the new owner of the Kada Gallery, Doug Scalise, who takes over the rein in the wake of the retirement of my longtime friend, Kathy DeAngelo.

It was a good visit and I left feeling very much encouraged by Doug’s vision for the future of the gallery. He is a youthful, affable guy with a lively entrepreneurial spirit. Good energy. We agreed on a date for a solo show of new work at the gallery later in the year, on November 11, 2022. Really looking forward to it.

So, yesterday was a good day, a hopeful day.

Unfortunately, this morning I began to watch and read about the invasion of Ukraine. It was disheartening, to say the least.

One of the first things I saw was video shot from an apartment in Ukraine, looking out on a wide boulevard. In it, an armored, tracked vehicle of some sort is rolling at a good pace down the wide street as small sedan is approaching from the opposite direction on the far side of the street. The armored vehicle suddenly swerves and comes directly across the street and runs over and completely rushes the car.

The remainder of the video is of citizens trying to extricate, with only a steel bar and a hammer, the driver who has somehow miraculously survived the assault and whose lower body is trapped ( and no doubt severely damaged) under the crushed front of his vehicle.

I watched the beginning of the video a few times, the part with the actual assault from the armored vehicle. I was struck and enraged by the senseless cruelty and inhumanity in the act.

It was not an accident. It was a decision by the operator of that armored vehicle to crush that passing vehicle and kill its driver.

And for what purpose?

It was just a passing car, not a military vehicle nor an apparent threat. It appears to just be a senseless and random act of cruelty, the work of a heartless bully without any concern for who they hurt, even an innocent civilian, because they know they will not experience any repercussions.

They will write it off as being part of the chaos of war even though it was an obviously conscious decision.

There were more scenes that could cite– mothers sleeping and consoling with their children on the floors of the subways which now serve as bomb shelters as the Russians bomb both military and civilian sites., including apartment buildings.

Or the thirteen Ukrainian border patrol officers who refused to surrender a small 40 acre island west of the Crimea to a Russian warship. When ordered to surrender they responded via the radio, “Russian warship, go fuck yourself.”

All thirteen were killed.

And all I can ask is: For what purpose?

There is no apparent nor authentic rationale for this war. It only serves greed and a thirst for power, the same factors that have created a sense of chaos and division throughout the entire world in recent years.

Many of us think we can just ignore it and it will go away, never affecting us. It’s thousand of miles away, across the ocean after all.

But that’s not the way the world works.

We have turned our heads away too many times before and that only emboldens and normalizes acts of cruelty and inhumanity by those who are power hungry.

Evil cannot be ignored. Unchecked evil will eventually find its way to those who attempt to do so, maybe even in the streets of our own cities and villages.

I am paying attention, not turning away. But even so, I need to try to find something to make sense in this time of crisis and chaos. I am fortunate to have my work to fall into, something that gives me a glimpse of the potential for beauty, as described in the Maugham excerpt at the the top.

Maybe that’s the ultimate purpose of all art, to give us a pattern that leads us out of the inevitable chaos we all face at some point in our time on this planet.

I certainly hope that is holds true for this moment.

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Bold Run”- Now at the West End Gallery

“Most people are convinced that as long as they are not overtly forced to do something by an outside power, their decisions are theirs, and that if they want something, it is they who want it. But this is one of the great illusions we have about ourselves. A great number of our decisions are not really our own but are suggested to us from the outside; we have succeeded in persuading ourselves that it is we who have made the decision, whereas we have actually conformed with expectations of others, driven by the fear of isolation and by more direct threats to our life, freedom, and comfort.”

― Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom

Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose
Nothin’, don’t mean nothin’ hon’ if it ain’t free, no no

Kris KristoffersonMe and Bobby McGee:

I am on the road this morning, taking some new work out to the Kada Gallery in Erie. I came across this post from a couple of years back and it made me think again about what freedom looks like. There are so many people running around yelling “Freedom!” but I am not sure they even know what they’re describing or wanting.

I think they want the illusion of freedom and don’t understand what real freedom entails. Made me wonder if I knew anyone that was truly free.

Anyway, here’s the post:

What is real freedom?

I can’t say for sure. Wish I could.

Lately, I have been thinking about the 1941 book from Erich FrommEscape From Freedom. In it, Fromm writes about that we actually have a fear of freedom.  Real freedom requires personal responsibility for our decisions and actions and creates an almost unbearable anxiety in man. Real freedom means living without a safety net, where we decide who and what we are, what we want from life, where we are held accountable for each decision we make.

Put that way, freedom sounds much more perilous.

As a result, we have fostered a desire to be told what we should be and what we should do. Fromm makes the point that we want someone to make the decisions that guide our lives while maintaining the illusion that we have freely made them.

“Modern man lives under the illusion that he knows ‘what he wants,’ while he actually wants what he is supposed to want. In order to accept this it is necessary to realize that to know what one really wants is not comparatively easy, as most people think, but one of the most difficult problems any human being has to solve. It is a task we frantically try to avoid by accepting ready-made goals as though they were our own.”

A life of real freedom is scary and difficult so it is always tempting to just fit in, to accept a bit of comfort and security in exchange for losing a large degree of that freedom. Doing this make us susceptible to falling prey to those with less than honorable intentions.

“Escape from Freedom attempts to show, modern man still is anxious and tempted to surrender his freedom to dictators of all kinds, or to lose it by transforming himself into a small cog in the machine, well fed, and well clothed, yet not a free man but an automaton.”

The concept of this book seems to be playing out in real time lately.

I don’t know that we, myself included, understand the concept of real freedom. I have tried to shape and live a free life but have I succeeded?

I don’t know.

I will continue to look for an answer but in the meantime, here’s  a song for the time being, one that might fit the freedom theme here. It’s I Want to Be Free, an old Leiber and Stoller hit first sung by Elvis Presley in the 1957 film Jailhouse Rock. While Elvis does a fine job with the song, I much prefer this version from Robert Gordon who had a nice run as a rockabilly artist with several memorable albums in the 1980s. Here, I think he fills in the blanks that Elvis left in his version.

Give a listen and have a good day. And take a minute to think about what you think real freedom is.

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The Stoic

GC Myers- Pax Terram  2021

 Pax Terram— At the West End Gallery

It is in your power to withdraw yourself whenever you desire. Perfect tranquility within consists in the good ordering of the mind, the realm of your own.

― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book IV:3

My interest is always piqued when I come across a bit of wisdom from Marcus Aurelius, the 2nd century AD Roman emperor. Aurelius was also a Stoic philosopher whose book Meditations with its observations on living a good and virtuous life still reverberates in the present day.

Wisdom then is wisdom now.

We often tend to think of Stoics as being kind of emotionless due to their attempts to have control over their reactions and passions. But that self-control is but a small part of Stoicism.

Their classic principles are often categorized as:

  • Nature: Nature is rational.
  • Law of Reason: The universe is governed by the law of reason. Humans can’t actually escape its inexorable force, but they can, uniquely, follow the law deliberately.
  • Virtue: A life led according to rational nature is virtuous.
  • Wisdom: Wisdom is the the root virtue. From it spring the cardinal virtues: insight, bravery, self-control, and justice.
  • Apathea: Since passion is irrational, life should be waged as a battle against it. Intense feeling should be avoided.
  • Pleasure: Pleasure is neither good nor bad. It is only acceptable if it doesn’t interfere with the quest for virtue.
  • Evil: Poverty, illness, and death are not evil.
  • Duty: Virtue should be sought, not for the sake of pleasure, but for duty.

A simplified modern take is as follows:

1: Focus on what you can control.
2: Take action.
3: Be virtuous.
4: Lead by example.
5: Diminish your ego.
6: You’re not entitled to anything.
7: Exercise your will.
8: Practice resilience when faced with obstacles, failure, or tragedy.
9: Choose your response.
10: Be grateful.

You can see how the principles of Stoicism might be the basis for many 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Just a basic outline for living a better life, inner and outer. Its principles often end up being the object of much of my work.

Like I said, wisdom then is wisdom now.

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Dance Me to the End…

GC Myers- Everlasting Bond sm

Everlasting Bond– At the Principle Gallery

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove

Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

-Leonard Cohen, Dance Me to the End of Love

I have a piece on the easel that is calling out to me this morning that needs my attention. It’s nearing that point where it takes on its own life so I am eager to get to work. Thus, I don’t have much to say this morning though there certainly is enough craziness and danger in the world right now on which to comment.

The painting above, Everlasting Bond, and the song below have a common theme, one that is the antithesis to the perils of these times: Love.

The song is Madeline Peyroux‘s version of Dance Me to the End of Love from the late Leonard Cohen. It has a jazzy, swingy feel. A good way to kick off what I hope will be a good work day.

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O Captain! My Captain!

Abe-Lincoln late photo

In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity.

–Abraham Lincoln, December 1, 1862 Message to Congress

Short on time but wanted to just put out a reminder that this is President’s Day. Abraham Lincoln always held high esteem in our family. Growing up, there was a  photo of Lincoln in our family photo albums. It was very old, small sepia-tone photo that most likely belonged to my mother’s grandmother, who had raised my mother from early childhood after her own mother had died.

From my genealogy work, I know that my great-grandmother was born just after the Civil War but her father and many of her uncles and cousins had fought for the Union Army in the conflict. There are plenty of offspring along the line named after the great Union generals Ulysses Grant and William Sherman but surprisingly none named after Lincoln.

I think they felt that would be going too far, that the name was too sacred, too burdensome a load to put on the shoulders of a child..

I have read similar accounts from other families who also had photos of Lincoln in their family photo albums. It speaks volumes for Lincoln’s moral and steadfast leadership in times of peril.

After the four years of the former guy’s tenure, it’s hard to believe that such leadership is possible. Let us hope that that are those out there in our future with same strength of character, with similar depths of honesty and moral courage willing to take on this difficult role.

Here’s reading of  Oh Captain! My Captain! from Walt Whitman, that captures the loss felt by the American nation at the time of Lincoln’s death.

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Mishima/ Closing


Zeche Zollverein

Wasn’t sure what I would write about this morning. I came across a performance of a favorite Philip Glass piece, one from his soundtrack of the film Mishima, that I was going to use for this week’s Sunday Morning Music selection. It was performed by a saxophone quartet, the Multiphonic Quartett.

I was intrigued by the setting for their performance. It was some sort of industrial building with gray concrete walls and these strange, huge inverted pyramid structures hanging from the high ceiling. At first glimpse, I thought they might be in some sort of experimental recording location and these were some type of acoustical structures that moved or enhanced the sound.

The more I watched the video, the more intrigued I became. Looking through the details I saw that the location was Zeche Zollverein. Doing a little research I found that it was once one of the the largest coal mines and coking plants in Europe, located near Essen, Germany.

It was a marvel of industrial architecture and the shaft shown in the photo at the top, Shaft 12, is considered the most beautiful coal mine in the world. It has been out of service since 1986 and the complex has been transformed into a massive cultural/arts center for the region. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. I have included a video below that shows a bit of the complex.

Those inverted pyramids turned out to be huge chutes that fed coal into the processing plants where t was transformed into coke used for steel production.

There’s no doubt a lot more to be said about the place but I thought I would pass on some basic info. I like the idea of transforming industrial sites that are potential eyesores into something beautiful and useful. It certainly makes an interesting setting for the Glass piece.

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GC Myers- Devotional

Devotional– At the West End Gallery


The heart can think of no devotion
Greater than being shore to ocean –
Holding the curve of one position,
Counting an endless repetition.

-Robert Frost

Things to do this morning keep me from writing much. But here are a few things that kind of line up with one another. A painting, a Robert Frost poem and an Arvo Pärt composition, Da Pacem.

A good way to ease into a Saturday morning in a world that seems a bit on edge.

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