Archive for June 1st, 2022

In the High Country

GC Myers- In the High Country

In the High Country– At the Principle Gallery Exhibit

—And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear,—both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.

–Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, William Wordsworth

This painting is called In the High Country and is 24″ by 18″ on aluminum panel. It is part of my annual show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria which opens Friday, June 3.

I have special affection for this piece. I suppose that’s because it reminds me somewhat of the hilltop plateau where I spent some of my teen years. Though I only spent perhaps five or six years there before leaving home, it deeply affected me.

It was a place that forever made me think of myself as a hill person, someone at home pushed up closer to the sky, high among the trees and fields. Someone who finds themself out of sorts in places where hills and mountains are nowhere to be seen and is instantly soothed with the first sight of a hillside in the distance.

My hilltop was forever windy and you could look across the tops of the shorter chains of hills that ran parallel to it, gathering a view that probably extended for thirty or forty miles.

It was an elemental place, one of silence and distance. It served as a teacher, a sort of hilltop yogi that whose wisdom was gained by merely being still and silent in its presence. It was the kind of place that still makes me stir when I read the words of Wordsworth in the excerpt from his poem above:

The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being

It felt more like a person than a place, if that makes any sense. I guess that shouldn’t be a big surprise since I have often seen the landscape around me in human rather than geological terms. I often see human forms in hilltops and trees and rock formations. It’s a big part of my work, actually.

But this observation about my early hilltop home came to me when I was recently looking at this painting and suddenly saw it as a portrait. Actually, for some strange reason, it reminded me of two specific paintings, one being Diego Velazquez‘ 1650 portrait of Pope Innocent X and Francis Bacon‘s 1953 distorted take on it.

But that observation aside, this made me think how this location was more human than place in my mind, one that felt like a personal relationship with private conversations and kept secrets.

I suppose that is not unusual for any place that one holds deeply as home. But that’s what I see in this piece and why it speaks a little deeper to me.

The show is now hung at the Principle Gallery, ready for viewing ahead of its opening on Friday, June 3. The exhibit catalog is now available online by clicking here.

In Situ In the High Country A

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