Archive for May 24th, 2022

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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