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Archive for May, 2022

Lakesong



GC Myers- Lakesong  2022

Lakesong— At the Principle Gallery Show, Opening This Friday

There is a lake that one day refused to flow away and threw up a dam at the place where it had before flowed out and since then this lake has always risen higher and higher. Perhaps the very act of renunciation provides us with the strength to bear it; perhaps man will rise ever higher and higher when he no longer flows out into a God.

― Friedrich Nietzsche



Nietzsche, of course, was famed for uttering the words God is dead. I am not here to dispute or defend his theory on the existence of God and Heaven.

That’s not my job and I am not interested in swaying anyone from whatever they might believe unless, of course, those beliefs prove harmful to or denigrate others.

Other than that, believe what you wish. More power to you.

But I do like Nietzsche’s lake metaphor in the excerpt above from his book The Gay Science, which was also where he first wrote the words God is dead.

The idea that we should live for the life we have before us rather than a hoped for afterlife makes sense to me. It’s something I have often brought up here in many posts including some very recent ones. I often think that we have immediate access to both heaven and hell here and now on this earth. It simply depends on how much we are willing to work towards one or other.

That’s a pretty rudimentary thought, one that I don’t really want to go into further here today. But it does serve as the premise for what I see in the painting shown above, Lakesong. It’s a 30″ by 15″ canvas that is part of my show of new work that opens Friday at the Principle Gallery.

It contains symbolic elements that I often employ. The field segments and rows symbolize work and the orchardlike trees the bounty of nature, for example.

There is steeple in the structures in the midground representing belief. But, as in the metaphor of Nietzsche, the lake and the Red Tree, symbolizing man here, has risen above it and seems to be living fully in the moment, in a type of tranquil communion between the Red Tree, the lake and hills before it and the sun above. It creates a very peaceful feeling for me, one that makes me take pause and try to see whatever bits of heaven might be around me at the moment.

And there are plenty.

That, of course, is just my take on it. You might not see it that way or want to dispute my reading. That’s okay. I would be disappointed if everybody saw or reacted to it in the same way.

Let’s end this today with a nice piece of music from contemporary pianist and composer Greg Maroney. The title is Lakesong and, unsurprisingly, blends very well with this painting of the same title.



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GC Myers- The Steadying Light

The Steadying Light– Included in the Principle Gallery Show



Men’s lives are short.
The hard man and his cruelties will be
Cursed behind his back and mocked in death.
But one whose heart and ways are kind – of him
strangers will bear report to the whole wide world,
and distant men will praise him.

– Penelope in The Odyssey, Homer



Didn’t want to do my normal Memorial Day kind of post. No talk of patriotism, bravery, or self-sacrifice. No flag waving or glorification of war.

I guess that’s because as much as Memorial Day is about remembering our war dead, it is also about those folks who lost those soldiers– the parents, wives and husbands, children and friends of the fallen.

Those who remember. Those who memorialize. Those who had to go on with the hole left by the loss in their lives.

Some don’t even move on with their lives, remaining caught up in that moment of loss. The Penelopes of the world, waiting eternally for their Ulysses to return. However, in the case Penelope, her mythic hero ultimately returned. Most others were not so fortunate.

That aspect, the idea of the waiting Penelope, has often shown up in my work. I often think of my Red Tree, especially those perched on a mound on the shore beside an endless watery horizon, patiently witnessing the recurring dusks and dawns of many days as they wait for some sort of release from their vigil of loss.

Each new light of dawn renews their hope and each fading dusk dashes it.

Great loss has that effect. I know that when I visit the national cemetery where my parents and grandparents are buried and walk among the stones memorializing the many dead soldiers, I find myself thinking as much about the people who these soldiers left behind, those who hold their memory dear and feel the loss in their passing.

The people who carry memory forward. May they find some steadying light.



The Steadying Light is a 12″ by 24″ canvas that is part of my 23rd annual solo exhibit at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. The work is now in the gallery and the show opens Friday, June 3, 2022.

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Paradisium

GC Myers- Paradisium  2022

Paradisium– At the Principle Gallery Show, Opening Friday



Only add
Deeds to thy knowledge answerable; add faith;
Add virtue, patience, temperance; add love,
By name to come called charity, the soul
Of all the rest: then wilt thou not be loath
To leave this Paradise; but shalt possess
A paradise within thee, happier far.

John Milton, Paradise Lost



I had a lot of choices when I went looking for a blurb to start this post. Lots of words written about paradise over many past centuries. However, I thought the lines from Milton and his Paradise Lost were the most appropriate, however. I like the idea of Paradise being a potentiality within each of us and not some actual physical destination that we have to seek and gain acceptance from external authorities.

My definition is certainly not the stereotypical Heaven of organized religions with clouds and winged angels with harps and an all-knowing robed god on a throne. A place here you have to wait to die before gaining entry, if you are a member of the club.

No, I prefer to believe that Paradise is always within our grasp, that we determine our own definition and mind’s perception of it. As Milton also wrote in Paradise Lost:

The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.

I think Milton is on to something. In our minds, I think we all live within a stone’s throw of both heaven and hell. We can go either way at any time.

And, unsurprisingly, the route to either aligns pretty much with how we embrace traditional virtues. As Miton points out, we can reach Paradise here and now with good deeds, virtue, patience, love, charity and faith. I might be a little sketchy on the faith part here, but I do have faith in the belief that adhering to these other virtues calms the mind and creates an environment in which one’s personal Paradise can flourish.

Maybe that’s faith enough.

On the flipside, I believe that shunning virtues and embracing selfishness, greed, hatred, lying, or any of a host of other negative traits, can create a personal hell within us.

Been there, done that. Both sides of the coin.

And let me tell you, while I may not be fully in Paradise, I much prefer the journey and the scenery that leads that way.

The new painting at the top is titled Paradisium. It might well be a hope and vision for my own personal Paradise. It certainly calms my mind, makes me think better thoughts. Perhaps it represents that journey and scenery along the way to whatever Paradise is within me.

Not sure but I feel better for it.

Paradisum is a large painting on canvas, coming in at 36″ by 36″ in size. It is one of the centerpieces of my annual solo show that opens Friday, June 3, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria.

Now, let’s follow up with a selection for this week’s Sunday Morning Music that goes hand and hand with this blog and painting. It’s a longtime favorite song, close to 50 years, from the late John Prine titled Paradise, of course. I looked it up and found, much to my surprise, that I last played it on this blog way back in 2009. It’s one of those songs that is so ingrained from years of both listening and singing that it feels like I must have shared it just yesterday.

This is a wonderful version from a variety of musicians, some who are among my favorites, who came together to record this song for The Hello In There Foundation which was started by John Prine’s family with a mission to identify and collaborate with individuals and communities to offer support for people who are marginalized, discriminated against or, for any reason, are otherwise forgotten.

Sounds like a path to Paradise to me.



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GC Myers- Transcending Words 2022

Transcending Words— At the Principle Gallery Show 2022



Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.

― Rumi, 13th Century Persian Poet



Words. All the words that have filled the air in recent times.

Words used as tools and not as forms of expression.

Words used to incite. Words used to place blame and evade responsibility. Words used to deceive, used to cloak ill intent and moral failings.

So many words.

There comes a time when words fail us. A time when we need to set aside all words and observe the world around and inside us. To gaze with open seeing eyes.

A time to simply absorb silence.

For me, this morning seems that time. Even these few words seem like a burden when all I want to do is look deep into the green foliage of the forest surrounding me.

Or into the distance at a rising sun, like the Red Tree in the painting above. Austere and unencumbered by the meanings and weight of words.

Just as it is.

Maybe that should be the title of this painting. However, the words I chose are instead Transcending Words.

As Rumi also wrote:

In Silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.

I am ready to stop my weaving for a bit, ready to see the pattern improve.



The painting above, Transcending Words, is 18″ by 36″ on canvas and is part of my 23rd annual solo effort at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. The work is in the gallery and the show opens Friday, June 3, 2022.



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The Long View

GC Myers- The Long View 2022

The Long View– Part of the Principle Gallery Show, June 2022



Do you see how an act is not, as young men think, like a rock that one picks up and throws, and it hits or misses, and that’s the end of it. When that rock is lifted, the earth is lighter; the hand that bears it heavier. When it is thrown, the circuits of the stars respond, and where it strikes or falls, the universe is changed. On every act the balance of the whole depends. The winds and seas, the powers of water and earth and light, all that these do, and all that the beasts and green things do, is well done, and rightly done. All these act within the Equilibrium. From the hurricane and the great whale’s sounding to the fall of a dry leaf and the gnat’s flight, all they do is done within the balance of the whole.

But we, insofar as we have power over the world and over one another, we must learn to do what the leaf and the whale and the wind do of their own nature. We must learn to keep the balance. Having intelligence, we must not act in ignorance. Having choice, we must not act without responsibility.

― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Farthest Shore



The painting at the top, The Long View, is included in my annual solo show at the Principle Gallery that opens a week from today. It’s a piece that checks a lot of boxes on the list of things that I look for in my own work.

In short, it makes me happy. Maybe happy isn’t the right word. Maybe I should say that it makes me feel contented. Or balanced. Not really sure but who cares about a word to describe it when you have the actual wordless feeling at hand?

I guess I should try to explain, however.

One of the things that greatly attract me to this painting is the geometry of it. It feels totally balanced to me from a compositional standpoint. That’s all fine and good, something I look for in all my work. But this piece achieves it with many geometric shapes formed by the various elements within it. I see all sorts of triangles and quadrilaterals in it. And I’m not talking about the field with actual quadrilaterals in the bottom right quarter of the painting.

Instead of trying to explain, I did a quick image of the painting with lines showing some of the shapes I am describing. A picture worth’s a thousand words, as they say.The Long View lines

Now, to be honest, I don’t know what this proves. Maybe I just like drawing lines on things, I don’t know. I think, however, that the geometric relationships between various elements create rhythms and harmonies that our minds pick up on and synchronize to on a subconscious level. And that is what I see in this piece.

Hey, that sounds pretty good. And here I am, thinking it was just blather.

The bottom line is that, for whatever reason, this painting speaks to some deeper part of me. 

All I can hope for in my work.



The Long View is 24″ by 24″ on aluminum panel, and is now at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA as part of my annual solo show which kicks off with an opening reception next Friday, June 3, 2022.

Unfortunately, I will not be attending the opening. It took a lot of time and agonizing to come to that decision. I truly want to get back to speaking freely with folks about my work at openings and gallery talks, but I am still hesitant and more than a little uncomfortable in doing so.

That might seem unreasonable or unwarranted. Maybe so. The isolation brought on by the pandemic has certainly brought the reclusive part of me to the front burner. It was there before but that built-in urge towards solitariness has really blossomed in the past few years. Just going beyond the end our driveway for whatever reason, even running to get gas for the mower, has become a momentous event.  

Maybe that’s crazy. Could be. There are a lot of other reasons for my not being able to attend the opening but I will spare you the details. Maybe later in the year or next year, who knows?

I do know that I will certainly miss a lot of the folks I’ve come to know over the years down there. And I would dearly love to see this show on the wall. I think it’s a certifiably strong show, perhaps my best in many years. It’s filled with deep, rich pieces that I think will hang beautifully in that wonderful space at the Principle Gallery.

I am hoping you will make it there. You can let me know if I was right.

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Idyllium



GC Myers- Idyllium 2022

Idyllium— At the Principle Gallery, Alexandria, VA

There was almost a fairy quality to this place, he thought. The far look and the clear air and the feeling of detachment that touched almost on greatness of the spirit. As if this were a special place, one of those special places that each man must seek out for himself, and count himself as lucky if he ever found it, for there were those who sought and never found it. And worst of all, there were even those who never hunted for it.

― Clifford D. Simak, Way Station



I needed to write this morning but knew it had to be something to take me away from the despair and anger that has accompanied the last couple of days here in this country.

Something to ease the mind, sooth the soul.

I chose to focus on the new painting shown here, a 24″ by 12″ canvas that is included in my solo show that opens next week at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria.

I call it Idyllium.

The rolling landscape creates multiple layers that lead my eye toward the setting — or is it rising?– sun whose light creates a swirling effect of color in the sky. I feel pulled into this piece  by its depth and there is a softness and harmony in the colors and forms that makes the whole thing feel like a comforting blanket.

It’s just what I need this morning.

Well, to be honest, most mornings.

There’s a lot more that I could say about this painting, but I think the excerpt at the top from a novel, Way Station, by sci-fi writer Clifford Simak, pretty much sums up what I am seeking and seeing in this painting.

And what I hope to detect in much of my work.

Almost touching on the greatness of the spirit…

Clifford Simak was one of the masters of the genre during the Golden Age of Science Fiction in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. This novel won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1964. A film adaptation for Netflix is supposedly in the works.

Simak’s first published short story, in 1931 in the magazine Wonder Stories, was The World of the Red Sun. This sparked my interest because I sometimes employ a red sun in my works, as you might recall from a  post from a couple of days back on the painting, New World Symphony.

I’ll have to find that story.

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Monsters All

Blcak Band



As a breath on glass, –
As witch-fires that burn,
The gods and monsters pass,
Are dust, and return.

 — George Sterling, The Face of the Skies



It was less than two weeks ago that I last wrote about a mass shooting, that one being the Buffalo supermarket. If someone wanted to write exclusively about mass shootings, they would have no problem finding new material on a regular basis here in America.

The reactions always follow a pattern. The outrage, the shock, the same old thoughts and prayers are extended from the very politicians who do all that is in their power to either eliminate gun laws or hinder the enforcement of existing laws by declawing and underfunding the agencies who do the actual enforcement. These shootings occur so often that it’s hard to not notice the rife hypocrisy when the governor of Texas and other politicians claim that these killings are incomprehensible or inconceivable, especially when their clearly stated aim is to put as many guns out there as is humanly possible. Maybe a gun or two for every living breathing person.

I mean, what could go wrong with something like that?

But even with a crazy number of guns out there, this is not solely a gun problem. It might have been at some point many years ago. Of course, you have to factor in mental illness. But maybe even mental illness remains more a symptom than cause. Other countries have comparable levels of mental illness without having a weekly slaughter of the innocents so maybe we should put the idea that this is simply a matter of mental illness on the shelf.

No, my opinion– and it’s just that– is that our cult of guns might well have transformed into a monster driven by many other societal factors, mental illness being just one.

There are many other things that come to mind. A growing lack of empathy and a growing sense of self-entitlement. A sense of victimization and a willingness to blame others for our own inadequacies. A desensitization to outrage and incivility.  A desire for instant gratification. A plague of self-centeredness. The worship of and desire for celebrity. A growing sense of powerlessness coupled with a growing acceptance of outright lies and conspiracies.

I could go on and on just off the top of my head. These are all things you can see in just about any single reality show on TV right now where awful behavior is celebrated.

And that’s what these slaughters resemble from my viewpoint. I use the word slaughter rather than shotting because that word is too clean, not conveying the true horror of children being shot with military-grade weaponry. Consider that the families in Texas were required to provide DNA samples so that they could identify the children because of the physical carnage done to their small bodies. I hate to point that out, but any form of whitewashing here does a grave disservice to potential future victims.

And there will be future victims. Most likely in a couple of weeks. And we will go through the same dance of grief and outrage. A rerun, if you will, since this is certainly the reality show we have created.

What does it say about us that if monsters kill kids, we just sit idly by watching without raising a finger to stop them? Doesn’t that in itself make us monsters?

I wish I had an answer to this awfulness. I don’t and don’t have the hubris to believe I do. But I do know that what we are doing is not working, that what we have become is not what we want to be as a country.

It will take something drastic that will require cooperation, sacrifice, and common goals.

Sadly, that sounds like a pipedream these days and most likely this horror show will be on the air again soon. And we’ll all be passively watching, same as always.

Monsters all.

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New World Symphony

GC Myers- New World Symphony 2022

New World Symphony– Part of the June 2022 Principle Gallery Show



But first whom shall we send
In search of this new world, whom shall we find
Sufficient? Who shall tempt, with wand’ring feet
The dark unbottomed infinite abyss
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his aery flight
Upborne with indefatigable wings
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy isle?

― John Milton, Paradise Lost



Well, the work for my annual show at the Principle Gallery has been delivered. It is officially out of my hands. With that comes that relief that comes with meeting a deadline as well as the anxiety of waiting to see what sort of reception the work will receive.

This my normal state of being at this point every year.

This year’s feeling is much the same as I have felt after delivering this show every year over the past 23 years. Actually, the relief is the same but, while there is way more than I desire, the anxiety doesn’t feel overwhelming.

I think that comes from the fact that I have loved painting this show, have felt immersed in it over the past several months. The work does everything I want it to do for myself which is my primary criteria for judging my own work. That takes away a lot of the worry about how it will be received.

Don’t get me wrong here. I still want the work to be well received and to sell accordingly. That’s my job, after all. But even if it doesn’t reach my hopes for it, this show still shines for me.

One example is the piece shown above, a 28″ by 22″ painting on aluminum panel, that carries the tile New World Symphony, borrowed from the popular symphony from Antonin Dvorak. There’s a lot I like about this painting, but the focal point remains the red ball of a sun that dominates the center of the sky.

It provides a stark counterpoint to the comfort found in the rolling hills, buildings and body of water below, which creates a sense of home for me. That red ball places this hominess in a strange environment, one that feels alien yet still welcoming. It is filled with potential for a better and fruitful future because it is a newfound place, one that doesn’t carry the weight of past history, hierarchy, or tradition.

Of course, these things– the histories, hierarchies, and traditions– will all be newly formed as they have always been in newfound places. But the aspiration remains that these things will be form in an uncorrupted way in new worlds.

Maybe that’s what that strange red ball represents for me– aspiration and hope.

I can’t say for sure but there’s something in this piece that pulls me in.

Dvorak’s New World Symphony, which premiered in 1893 at Carnegie Hall, was written during the composer’s three years as a resident of the United States while serving as director for the National Conservatory of Music in NYC. During his time here, Dvorak absorbed much from the African American spirituals and the music of the Native Americans and incorporated his observations of these forms in this symphony without actually directly quoting from existing examples.

The second movement’s melody is a great example of this and was transformed into a song in 1922 with lyrics by one of Dvorak’s American students, William Arms Fisher. Fisher titled the song Goin’ Home and it is often mistaken for an African American spiritual. I am including a version below from Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble that features American banjo player/singer/songwriter Abigail Washburn singing lyrics in English and Mandarin. It’s a lovely performance that I believe fits this painting well.



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Written In the Wind

GC Myers- Written in the Wind

Written In the Wind– Soon at Principle Gallery



Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.

― William Butler Yeats, The Land of Heart’s Desire



Well, today is a travel day as I deliver the work for my upcoming show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA, which opens on Friday, June 3, 2022.

I am short on time but wanted to at least share some Sunday Morning Music to go along with the new piece at the top, Written In the Wind. I thought it might match up well with a favorite composition from Vince Guaraldi. This song, Cast Your Fate to the Wind was released in 1962, winning the Grammy for Best Jazz Composition, and has been recorded many, many times by other artists.

Good tune to take on the road and hopefully a good one to start your Sunday.



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The Secret Garden



GC Myers- Secret Garden

Secret Garden— Part of the June Show at Principle Gallery

Sometimes since I’ve been in the garden I’ve looked up through the trees at the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy as if something was pushing and drawing in my chest and making me breathe fast. Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden – in all the places.

― Frances Hodgson Burnett,     The Secret Garden



I used the title Secret Garden for this new painting that is part of my upcoming annual June show at the Priniciple Gallery. I see this piece as representing that special inner part of ourselves that we all carry but seldom show to the outside world.

Our secret gardens are in that internal region where we hide away most of our thoughts, ideas, and feelings. Things so valuable to us that we guard them closely, seldom sharing them with others for fear of being exposed to scrutiny in the form of criticism or ridicule or anything that separates us from the flock and makes us appear vulnerable.

I certainly understand that.

But I have found that sharing this secret garden is an essential part of being an artist. My belief is that art succeeds or falls short based on its honesty, commitment and depth of feeling– concepts that fall within the realm of vulnerability.

Things that live and grow in our secret gardens.

It can be a scary thing, this sharing of our secret gardens. I certainly get unnnerved at times when showing my work. I am sure I have shared the first time I saw my work all together in a solo gallery show, at the Principle Gallery back in 2000. Walking into that space and having my work suddenly surrounding and shrouding me instantly brought on a feeling of nausea. It all seemed so personal, so vulnerable.

I felt like a rabbit in the middle of a busy highway and wondered in that moment if I had made a mistake and that maybe I should have kept my garden a little more secret.

But this rabbit survived. And I guess the lesson I learned from that experience and subsequent shows was that those feelings of apprehension and vulnerability come naturally when you honestly share from your secret garden. You want these things that mean much to you to reach out and have some meaning to others.

That’s what I see in this piece which tells you everything you need to know about how I feel about it.



Secret Garden is 24″ by 12″ on panel and is included in Depths and Light, my upcoming show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. The show, my 23rd consecutive show there, opens Friday, June 3, 2022.

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