Archive for August, 2022


Brueghel - Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

Pieter Brueghel- Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Brueghel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

W.H. Auden, Musée des Beaux Arts

This painting from Pieter Brueghel the Elder is such a wonderful piece, not only for the beautiful manner in which it is rendered, as is the case with all Brueghel paintings. There is so much to take, again like all Brueghel paintings. Icarus, the mythic character whose wings of wax melted when he flew too close to the Sun who is seen only in the legs plunging into the sea near the ship in the bottom right quarter, might well be the main character in this painting but the competing narratives give it greater depth.

Maybe even a sense of reality. After all, the amazing and the sometimes miraculous often takes place while being barely noticed by those near enough to be witness. There are still jobs to be done, places to go and people to see. Life to live. No time for taking in the wonder before them.

It makes me wonder how often it has happened to myself or those around me. How often have we witnessed something remarkable yet didn’t even notice?

Or maybe it should be said that we often have mythic level lives, filled with tragedy, suffering and heroism, being lived around us that we don’t even recognize as we focus on our own lives and concerns.

Something to think about, I guess. The Auden poem says it well, that suffering often takes place unnoticed as folks just live their lives around it.

Here’s a reading of it from Tom O’Bedlam.

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GC Myers-  Exiles: The Lost One 2011

Exiles: The Lost One 2011

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

H. P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu (1926)

Today’s triad was a tough one. I thought the painting at the top and the passage from the H.P. Lovecraft story of horror paired up well. The painting could easily be seen as portraying someone faced with the sudden realization of their position in a terrifying reality, deciding whether to accept madness or to flee into the waiting arms of a new dark age.

Okay, that sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s overstating the case for that poor fellow in the painting. Maybe I shouldn’t put such a burden on him.

He’s quite an enigma to me, as it is. He (his title is The Lost One, by the way) was painted back in 2011 as a quick attempt at recapturing the look and feel of the Exiles series from the mid-1990’s. I never perceived him as having the same depth of emotion and sort of thought of him as a lesser member of the Exiles family.

But over the years, he has grown on me. Every time I pull him out, he seems to have deepened a bit and gained some different aspect that I hadn’t noticed before. Maybe it is just the result of familiarity.

I don’t know. But he seems to have more of a story to share with me as time passes. Maybe he has evolved or maybe it’s me. Or maybe instead of using evolve I should use devolve?

Who knows?

To finish up this triad I am playing a song from Sister Gertrude Morgan called I Got the New World in My View. That could certainly apply to The Lost One and to the Lovecraft passage though I doubt Sister Gertrude would see it that way. The late Sister Gertrude Morgan (1900-1980) was a lot of things– a street poet. preacher, musician, and visual artist– who was born in Alabama lived the last half of her life in New Orleans. Her influence on the artists and musicians of New Orleans is immense and she gained wider recognition in her later life and in the recent years.

This song is from a 1970 album, Let’s Make a Record, which featured simply her voice accompanied by her tambourine. It’s pretty remarkable stuff. An example of her artwork is shown with the link below. I will attempt to share more in the future.

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Greetings From Lilliput

georges rouault- automne ou nazareth

Georges Rouault– Automne ou Nazareth

The painter who loves his art is ruler in his own kingdom, even if he be in Lilliput and a Lilliputian himself. He transforms a kitchen maid into a fairy, and a great lady into a brothel matron, if he wants to and sees them so, for he is a seer. His vision includes everything that is alive in the past.

-Georges Rouault, Stella Vespertina (1947)

In the past few weeks, I’ve featured some artists who I consider influences. Some are obvious and some are not. What one takes away from any particular piece art is not always the obvious thing in that piece. For me, it’s usually not the subject of a painting. It can be the roughness or the fineness of the paint strokes. Or the play of light and dark. Or the use of dark linework or a singular striking color.

I have mentioned Georges Rouault a number of times here. His work, especially the work from his Miserere series, was a big influence on my early Exiles series. There is just something in his work that speaks to me.

But today I am focusing on the passage above from his Stella Vespertina, a 1947 limited edition book that featured 12 prints of his work along with short writings. It also included another favorite line of mine:

“The conscience of an artist worthy of the name is like an incurable disease which causes him endless torment but occasionally fills him with silent joy.”

I particularly like the passage at the top which I guess is because I do like my work. I guess that sounds a bit uncouth but why would any artist continue if they didn’t like their own work on some level?

It has to have something in it that satisfies or pleases the artist even if it might leave them wanting a bit more from themselves. As Rouault points out, it can provide endless torment and silent joy.

For me, my own satisfaction in my work is the main criteria for it. If it has that sense of completeness that pleases me and fills me with that silent joy, then it doesn’t matter what others might say or if it has no place in the marketplace.

I guess that does make me a ruler in my own kingdom, as Rouault put it. I can’t really say whether it is Lilliput or Camelot or even anything larger than that. When you’re in your own world, you only see yourself in relation to the parts of it around you.

But if I am a king in Lilliput, as I often believe myself to be, so be it. I am often pleased by this over which I rule and that is enough for me.

Georges Rouault Misere Images

Georges Rouault – Miserere Images

Georges Roulat Profile of Clwon 1938-39

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A Day in the Life

9922151 The Long View sm A

The Long View– At the Principle Gallery

I have lived in the pursuit of a vision, both personal and social. Personal: to care for what is noble, for what is beautiful, for what is gentle; to allow moments of insight to give wisdom at more mundane times. Social: to see in imagination the society that is to be created, where individuals grow freely, and where hate and greed and envy die because there is nothing to nourish them. These things I believe, and the world, for all its horrors, has left me unshaken.

-Bertrand Russell, The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell

Today’s triad combines a painting titled The Long View with a passage from the autobiography of Bertrand Russell outlining the elevated vision that was his life’s pursuit and an interesting cover of the classic A Day in the Life from the Beatles.

I guess the connecting thread between the three might be the manner in which we choose to navigate our lives. The idea behind the painting has to do with living one’s life as a quest for something more, mainly wisdom and self-knowledge. Russell expressed much the same, choosing to pursue goodness over evil. And the song is about that mixture of mundaneness and tragedy that takes place around us each and every day.

You might see other connections or may not see any. So be it.

This version of A Day in the Life is from a cover jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery recorded in 1967. It’s an interesting instrumental performance in that it begins as a simple jazz combo and builds to include an orchestral backing. The song is practically unrecognizable until later in the song. Though I take it with a grain of salt, I have read that this was because Montgomery had never heard the original song from the Beatles until after he had recorded this. This was his take on the sheet music.

It might well fall within Russell’s criteria for his vision. Anyway, it’s worth a listen on an August Sunday morning.

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Traitors on Ice

Virgil and Dante

Virgil and Dante in the Circle of Traitors-Gustave Doré Engraving

There are but two parties now: traitors and patriots. And I want hereafter to be ranked with the latter and, I trust, the stronger party.

Ulysses S. Grant, Letters of Ulysses S. Grant to his father and his youngest sister, 1857-78

Watching the revelations from the redacted affidavit that was unsealed yesterday had me wondering if the stolen intelligence had already produced results that we might never know. After all, if a spy or informer in another country was killed or swept away as a result of this stolen intelligence, that news would never reach the general public and even if it did, it would have no meaning for us.

But later in the day I came across a NY Times article from October of 2021 with the title, Captured, Killed or Compromised: C.I.A. Admits to Losing Dozens of Informants. It described a cable sent out by the CIA at the time to all its stations around the globe, warning that they had recently lost a troubling number of informants. 

I don’t want to jump to conclusions here. That is left to the investigators of the DOJ. But I have to wonder, what if…? That would put us into the realm of treason and that is the highest crime against one’s country for which a citizen can be tried. It is the ultimate betrayal of one’s country, even more so when the person being accused has taken a solemn oath to protect this nation.

Again, I am not saying that this is how it is. But based on past performance, it is not out of the realm of probability.

As they say, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

We’ve been watching that duck waddle for some time now and there’s no getting around it– it’s a duck. 

I am reposting a blog entry from about four years back that is every bit as pertinent now as it was then. To those of us who have followed politics for many years and the former president’s rise to infamy for the past 6 to 7 years, there is a level of frustration that warnings, such as the referenced article below from Rod Dreher, were often viewed by others as being hyperbolic. I guess some folks don’t want to believe that someone in that position would ever betray their fellow citizens. But to many, myself included, it seemed to be occurring brazenly in plain sight and would be easily proven if not for the control and manipulation of the legal system by the disgraced former president and his all too willing partners in crime in Congress.

I will stop crowing now and urge you to read the paragraphs below to see how close Dreher’s words came to the reality of the moment. I’ve also added two passages from Ulysses Grant that also seem to speak to moments such as this.

I came across the image above from an article in The American Conservative from September of 2016, written by a writer, Rod Dreher, who is labeled as a leading conservative intellectual. Neither the magazine nor the author are in my regular reading rotation and I might not find substantial common ground with either on many issues, but the article was an interesting read. The article had to do with the current [now former] resident of our White House in the run up to the 2016 election and his historic inability to keep his vows in all aspects of his life.

Here are two paragraphs that stood out for me:

“One of the themes in Dante’s Commedia is the terrible political consequences that result when people break their vows. Dante the poet was exiled through the constant strife in Florence, and throughout Italy. In his fictional person, a pilgrim through the afterlife, Dante learns that so much of the violence and discord that has torn Italian society apart has to do with the inability of people to trust others to be true to their word. In the Inferno, the lowest level of Hell is reserved for Traitors, the worst of whom — those whose treason had wide social consequences — are immobilized in a lake of ice for eternity. In Dante, punishments fit the crime. For Traitors, who lived with no ultimate loyalties except to themselves, because that preserved the absolute freedom of their will, the just punishment was to be frozen in place forever.”

“Why are Traitors the worst of all sinners, in Dante’s scheme? For one thing, they make social and communal life impossible. If you cannot count on people to honor their vows, you never know what is real, and who is trustworthy. For another, as the pilgrim Dante learns in Paradiso, free will is God’s greatest gift to a man. To make a vow is to make a gift of God’s gift — that is, to pledge one’s sacred liberty, to a cause, person, or institution, out of love. If vows are tossed aside lightly, love is cheapened, and the order of the entire universe is weakened. By breaking vows, we weaken the power of love and goodness in the world. This is how our free will, the gift most precious to God, the gift that tells us the most about His nature, becomes a source of disharmony and debilitation within ourselves and the community.”

Dreher later goes on to make a prediction about the election saying that if the Republican candidate ( I just cannot write that name!) won, his presidency would be, using terms from Dungeons & Dragons, at best neutral evil and at worst, chaotic evil. This is a conservative thought leader speaking, certainly not a Democrat or liberal voice.

His prediction has turned out to be prescient, unfortunately for us all, in his prophecy of chaotic evil.

But is [was] the [former] president* a traitor to more than his vows?

Hearing the word Treason yesterday come from the mouth of Judge Sullivan in the Michael Flynn sentencing hearing was a seismic shift in the ongoing Mueller investigation. To hear it in the clear air was a stunning thing, a movement of the whole affair into a new sphere that everyone had been dancing around for some time now. I know that the words, treason, along with its running mate, traitor, have been running around the perimeter of my mind for some time now.

For those of you who don’t follow this, you might think I am peddling conspiracy theories or just plain crazy talk. Maybe you’re right but every day seems to reveal more and more of a large criminal conspiracy. Like me, there are those of you who have been watching and trying to amass all the data points, all the massive amounts of information that are being dutifully exposed, on an internal flow chart that would take up the wall of a gymnasium in reality. You folks are most likely nodding in agreement.

Now is the time for us all to pay attention, like it or not. We may be on the verge of the exposing of a large circle of traitors, actors of treason who, along with a foreign adversary, have sowed division and violence among their fellow citizens for political power and personal gain.

We must now all serve as witnesses.

I do not know where this leads but if it leads to a band of traitors forever encased in a lake of ice at the lowest level of Hell, so be it.

[ 2022: Get that ice ready! Incoming!]]

If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason’s and Dixon’s, but between patriotism and intelligence on one sight, and superstition, ambition, and ignorance on the other. 

Ulysses S. Grant, Speech to the Society of the Army of Tennessee (1875)


Virgil and Dante in the 9th Circle of Hell, Gustave Dore, 1861

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The passions are a kind of thirst, inexorable and intense, for certain feelings or felt states. To find or invent ‘objects’ (which are, more strictly speaking, relational structures) whose felt quality satisfies the passions, – that for me is the activity of the artist, an activity which does not cease even in sleep. No wonder the artist is constantly placing and displacing, relating and rupturing relations; his task is to find a complex of qualities whose feeling is just right – veering toward the unknown and chaos, yet ordered and related in order to be apprehended.

–Mark Rothko, Beyond the Aesthetics (1946)

I have several things to do this morning but wanted to share something from another of those artists whose work and words have influenced me. In the past week or so, I have shared both art and writings from Kandinsky and Klee. I have to add Mark Rothko to that list.

Some people are surprised when I list him as an influence, but his work very much guided my own early explorations into painting. Especially in finding ways to express complex emotions within a limited visual vocabulary of symbols and colors which he terms as invented objects.

I thought the passage above was pertinent in that he speaks of seeking and moving towards the unknown and chaos while still maintaining enough order in which the work can still be comprehended. The idea behind my recent show at the West End Gallery was based on finding order in chaos but could have been just as much termed about comprehending the chaos with which we forever coexists.

Just something to think about this morning…

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GC Myers- The Allure 2022

The Allure— At the West End Gallery

I know only that I was born and exist, and it seems to me that I have been carried along. I exist on the foundation of something I do not know. In spite of all uncertainties, I feel a solidity underlying all existence and a continuity in my mode of being.

-Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections

Well, this year’s solo effort at the West End Gallery draws to a close after today. There is always a bit of sadness when the work comes off the walls.

It feels like a true ending.

But having done this job, if I can call being an artist that, for many years now, I have seen a lot of shows come to an end. With that comes the realization that it is not the end of anything but a period of time.

The end of a short chapter in a long and endless book.

I am not sure why I began thinking this thought this morning. Maybe it was looking closely at the painting above and some of the others in this show recently.

I paint my suns and moons in a very distinct way, with a dark outline around the lighter center. It’s almost childish in the way it presents the sun as big ball with a black line around it. I have been doing it that way for so long that it feels perfectly natural to my hand, eye, and mind. It has become its own continuity and I never even give a thought to doing it in any other way.

This morning I wondered why that was.

I came up with a variety of answers, most applicable but unsatisfying in the end. But one really struck me and seemed to ring true when I viewed these suns and moons in a variety of my other paintings where they served as prominent features.

That one answer was that perhaps that line represents for me the continuity and circular nature of time and life. The lines around the suns and moons emphasize the consistency in their existence. They rise and fall in the sky above, followed by the same the next day.

That continuity is soothing in that it keeps us in a state of equilibrium. Whatever our problems and losses might be– or even our triumphs– it serves as constant reminder that there is another day and with it comes the new. Some good, some bad, some indifferent. But each is generally only for the short term. Ultimately, there should be balance.

I know I am not explaining this fully or well. But it helps me to realize that I am seeing these suns/moons as a symbol of continuity and balance. It makes me look at my own work with a slightly altered eye.

And it makes the end of things like this show seem inconsequential in the context of the bigger picture. As I said, it is the end of a chapter.

Turn the page and another begins.

If you have made it in to see the show, I sincerely thank you.

If not, it is not the end. Another chance comes around that circle eventually. Maybe then…

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The Inside Man

GC Myers- Imitatio

Imitatio– At the West End Gallery

There is probably no point in my going into your questions now; for what I could say about your tendency to doubt or about your inability to bring your outer and inner lives into harmony or about all the other thing that oppress you – : is just what I have already said: just the wish that you may find in yourself enough patience to endure and enough simplicity to have faith; that you may gain more and more confidence in what is difficult and in your solitude among other people. And as for the rest, let life happen to you. Believe me: life is in the right, always.

–Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet (1934)

When in doubt, always go to Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. I thought the passage above would go well with the painting at the top and the piece of music at the bottom.

He writes of the young poet’s inability to bring his inner and outer lives into harmony. That’s something I understand, this trying to find a sense of balance between the inner and outer me that meets the criteria needed for survival in both.

I see this in this painting that is part of my soon-to-be-gone show at the West End Gallery. It’s called Imitatio and, for me, it’s about this struggle in a way. It asks questions: Is art a reflection of our inner or outer self? Or is our inner self a reflection of art? How do we find that balance between the art we feel inside and the life we live in the outer world?

Yeah, I know. You’re looking and asking where those questions are in the painting. But, trust me, I see them there in the signs of both a struggle and a celebration.

What you see is on your shoulders.

The song I chose is called The Inside Man. I have no idea about its title’s meaning but for today it refers to the inner part of us. It feels right somehow. It’s a piece I stumbled across awhile back, a piece of dance music from a Croatian DJ/ musician, Funky Destination, that I find myself going back to time and time again. It never fails to grab my attention and stir both my inner and outer self

Finally, a reminder that there are two days– just today and tomorrow– left in this year’s show at the West End Gallery. Hope you can make it in to see Imatatio and the others. Let’s give Rilke the final word here:

And as for the rest, let life happen to you. Believe me: life is in the right, always.

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End of the Line

Show Final 3 Days ver 2

Well, it’s alright, even if they say you’re wrongWell, it’s alright, sometimes you gotta be strongWell, it’s alright, as long as you got somewhere to layWell, it’s alright, every day is judgment day

–The Traveling Wilburys, End of the Line

This morning, I am just going to point out that my exhibit now hanging at the West End Gallery, Chaos & Light, is in its final days. It comes off the walls at the end of the day on Thursday, August 25, so if you have any desire to take in this show, you have to get into the gallery pronto.

It’s a show that has felt good for me in many ways, really clicking off a lot of the boxes in my list of things in which I take satisfaction. It has a sense of fullness and completion that pleased me in a surprising way when it was all together.

That’s something that I can’t really explain because it’s just a gut feeling, an intuitive reading of the work as it hangs together. I used the word surprising because I am always on the search for what might termed deficiencies or, at least, weak links in the chain that the work forms. I can generally find something, even if it’s a mere triviality of no consequence in the end, that I use to temper any excessive pride or hubris I might have built up.

I couldn’t find much of anything to fret about in this show. It just felt right.

And that’s a rare thing. Which is why I might be feeling a bit more wistful about this show ending. But as they say, all good things must come to an end.

And this week marks the end of the line. So, if you can, make your way to the West End Gallery before this coming Friday.

Here’s a song from the Traveling Wilburys that sums it all up– End of the Line. The Traveling Wilburys were, if you remember, a supergroup assembled in the late 1980’s, comprised of Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne. This was probably their best-known song and it holds up pretty well.

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Klee’s Secret Place

Paul Klee Groynes 1925

Paul Klee, Groynes, 1925

Chosen are those artists who penetrate to the region of that secret place where primeval power nurtures all evolution. There, where the powerhouse of all time and space call it brain or heart of creation activates every function, who is the artist who would not dwell there?

–Paul Klee

I featured Wassily Kandinsky here last week, pointing out that he was one of the artists who really sparked me with both their works and words. I can almost always find something in his work or his writings that sets my mind racing.

It might come in the form of a visual cue in his paintings or an ideological one in his writings. The interesting part of this is that it’s not always apparent where this inspiration is sending me. It generally feels like something new to me.

And that’s always exciting.

Another artist who does the same thing for me is Paul Klee.

A few days ago, I came across the piece at the top, Groynes, from 1925. Like the Kandinsky piece from last week, this was a painting that I had never viewed before. I can tell, even with my faulty memory, because there is a reaction to certain pieces of art of any kind that leaves a mark.

Maybe it’s a burn from the sparks it sets off. I don’t really know. But I would have remembered seeing it.

The funny thing is that I don’t expect many others to react as strongly to it as I did. There are pieces of art that have an obvious intrinsic appeal– the classically beautiful– where one would not be surprised by a widespread positive reaction. I would not anticipate that kind of reaction to this piece.

But something in it just stopped me. I have been coming back to it over the past few days and can’t put my finger on what I am seeing in it, why it made say “oh!” aloud when I first saw it. And I can’t tell how– or if– I will metamorphize and incorporate it into my own work or thinking. 

It’s perplexing. But in the best sort of way.

By the way, I couldn’t find out much about this piece, even to what the title refers. Groynes are typically barriers that extend out into the water perpendicular to the shore of a river or large body of water to control erosion. But Klee often used words in his own way so it may have another meaning altogether.

I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter to me much. The fire has been already lit.



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