Archive for October, 2022

Mad Daddy

London After DarkMonsters exist because they are part of the divine plan, and in the horrible features of those same monsters the power of the creator is revealed.

–Umberto Eco, Name of the Rose

I am on the road today, delivering the work for my show, Places of Peace, that opens Friday at the Kada Gallery in Erie.

I didn’t have time to write about new work from the show (that’ll come tomorrow) but wanted to at least post something about today being Halloween. I am not sure that this unholy trinity of words, image and song work together but, hey, I am really tight on time.

First you get an excerpt from Umberto Eco that says, more or less, that the monsters we face are part of who we are, part of our creation. As I age, that makes more and more sense. I am much more scared by what we are than some supernatural force or mythic beast.

Our ability to terrorize and abuse one another rivals any monster.

Then I throw in a poster from a legendary Lon Chaney silent film, London After Midnight. There are no remaining complete copies of the film, the last being destroyed ina 1965 studio fire.

I am a big fan of Chaney, the Man of a Thousand Faces. Even without his flair for stage makeup, Chaney’s face had the ability to perfectly portray the human monster and produce feelings of terror, all without the need for gore. The character from this film always gave me the chills, even in the stills from the film.

Plus, it’s a great poster.

And let’s wrap it up with the ever-Halloweeny Cramps and their psychobilly rant Mad Daddy.

Again, the human monster. Because on Halloween- or any other day, for that matter– nothing is more terrifying than that.

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Peace Offering

GC Myers-Time Passage

Time Passage— Coming to Kada Gallery, November 4

He that would live in peace and at ease must not speak all he knows or all he sees.

–Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack

Been sitting here for way too long this morning, trying to figure out a way to properly express both my despair and anger at the rising tide of hatred we have experienced in recent days in the form of physical violence, intimidation, and multiple examples of public expressions of racism and antisemitism. The specter of fascism seems as near as and much scarier than Halloween.

But for today, I am going to be still and abide by the words of Poor Richard. Maybe gain a bit of peace for to call my own.

For this week’s Sunday musical selection, here’s a peace offering– literally. It is a song from the ultra-talented Rhiannon Giddens with her banjo called Peace Offering.

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Force Natural

GC Myers- Force Natural 2022

Force Natural– Soon at Kada Gallery, Erie, PA

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

–George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, 1903

I came across the lines above from the George Bernard Shaw play, Man and Superman, while looking for something to accompany this new painting. It describes the feeling that the individual gets when they recognize their sense of purpose, when they understand what they are doing is what they are meant to be.

And that the thing that gives them this sense of purpose has meaning and importance of some sort.

It does give the feel of being a force of nature.

It fosters a sense of responsibility for one’s own place in this world as well as a sense of gratitude, both to the universe for allowing one to be in such a position and those who have helped them find this place.

There are no gnawing grievances, no complaints of things taken, or offenses suffered. It recognizes the sense of purpose in all others and embraces the differences that exist among all others.

The Force Natural stands upright as it is, flawed yet strong and just as it should be.

That last bit from Shaw– being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy — might well describe one side of the struggle which we are witnessing in our political and cultural life right now. It is a movement based on selfishness, spite, and grievance.

Its sense of purpose is not a force of nature, but an unnatural force.

What I see in this painting is the antithesis of that movement and way of thinking.

This new painting is 10″ by 20″ on panel and is titled Force Natural. It is included in my solo show, Places of Peace, that opens next Friday, November 4, at the Kada Gallery in Erie, PA.

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The Uplifted Heart

GC Myers- The Uplifted Heart , 2022

The Uplifted Heart– Coming to the Kada Gallery

As I walked in the woods I felt what I often feel that nothing can befall me in life, no calamity, no disgrace (leaving me my eyes) to which Nature will not offer a sweet consolation. Standing on the bare ground with my head bathed by the blithe air, & uplifted into the infinite space, I become happy in my universal relations. The name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign & accidental. I am the heir of uncontained beauty and power.

–Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals

Since Thoreau has made a couple of appearances this week, I figured we’d keep going on the Transcendentalist Train and have a little Ralph Waldo Emerson this morning. After all, their reverence for nature, the individual, the conscience and intellectual reason make me believe that they match up well with the spirit of my work.

I certainly think this new painting, a 24″ by 24″ canvas titled The Uplifted Heart, meshes with that Transcendentalist spirit, especially as it pertains to the excerpt from Emerson above.

Standing on the bare ground with my head bathed by the blithe air, & uplifted into the infinite space, I become happy in my universal relations... I am the heir of uncontained beauty and power.

That’s some powerful feeling. I wouldn’t be disappointed if that were the only thing that a single person took away from one of my paintings. That transcendent feeling is, after all, what most artists, me included, seek through their work.

This piece comes close to that for me.

The Uplifted Heart is part of Places of Peace, my solo exhibit of works that opens next Friday, November 4 at the Kada Gallery in Erie, PA. There is an opening reception that runs from 6-9 PM. I will be there and look forward to talking with some folks I haven’t seen in quite some time. Hope you can make it.

Here’s a wonderful performance from David Byrne and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus of his song One Fine Day.Its tone and title fit this post well.

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GC Myers- Haven of Spirit sm

Haven of Spirit— Coming to the Kada Gallery, Erie

No man is an island.

Or so said John Donne. He was probably right. I guess the best you can hope for is to be at the very end of a long and skinny peninsula that is extremely difficult to reach by any means.

You can still be got. But, by gum, folks got to work to get to you.

Sounds pretty good right now. You can probably guess that I’m in a bit of a foul mood this AM. Tired and a little cranky with a lot on my plate as I prep for my Kada Gallery show that opens next Friday, November 4.

Makes me glad that I do what I do. I can sequester myself away at the end of my figurative peninsula and not have to put on a happy face for anyone. I used to have jobs where wearing that smiley face was a valuable asset, where the task was to make others comfortable. I was adept at masking emotions on those cranky, disjointed days. It might have been my only real talent.

Might still be.

But on mornings where I don’t feel like smiling or making nice, it’s a damn fine job that lets me set aside that mask and just scowl and mutter a little. Here’s a little song from Dan Reeder that sums it all up pretty well. It’s called Just Leave Me Alone Today. He records on John Prine’s Oh Boy label and is very much in a similar mode. I played him here a couple of years ago with his song Clean Elvis.

Of course, it you’re not cranky this morning and want something a little more upbeat, I’ve also included his Bomp Bomp. It made me smile this morning without reaching for my mask. 

And that’s a good thing on any day.


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The Heartening Light

GC Myers-The Heartening Light sm

The Heartening Light– Soon at Kada Gallery, Erie

I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious effort.

–Henry David Thoreau, Where I Lived and What I Lived For, 1854

I guess it will be okay to share some Thoreau two days in a row. His words seem to have survived the test of time pretty well and still ring true.

I immediately saw a connection between this new painting, The Heartening Light, and the words from Thoreau above. The Red Tree here, in its position atop the fields, seems to be an end product of hard work.

Perhaps that conscious effort alluded to by Thoreau?

After all, we can choose what we want to be, and for the most part it is our effort that determines the outcome.

And sometimes, in the midst of our labors, we need a little encouragement, something that keeps us looking forward.

And that’s the aspect I am seeing in this painting– the light of encouragement that inspires growth.

Of course, there are limitations and setbacks along the way. But so long as there is even a flicker of encouragement there is possibility.

Here’s a favorite old Hank Williams song, I Saw the Light, to go along with this piece. This version is from the original studio acetate recordings that includes an interesting false start with comments.

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The Noble Spirit

GC Myers- The Noble Spirit sm

The Noble Spirit— Coming to Kada Gallery, November 4

In our daily intercourse with men, our nobler faculties are dormant and suffered to rust. None will pay us the compliment to expect nobleness from us. Though we have gold to give, they demand only copper.

–Henry David Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

While looking for a few words concerning the noble spirit to kick off this post about the painting at the top, I came across the excerpt above from Thoreau, which set my mind racing.

Would a greater number of us act in a more noble manner if others expected us to do so? Do lowered expectations of others result in their actions– or ours, for that matter– being something less than noble?

Or is it that years of being disappointed by the bad behavior of others has made us cynical, automatically lowering our expectations?

I don’t know. In my experience, I have been sometimes surprised when someone acts with a civil and caring manner or goes out of their way to help me or others.

It bothers me that I am surprised. I want to think the best of people and to find that I now expect so little from them is discouraging.

But, at the same time, a small noble act from another heartens me and gives me hope.

I don’t know where this came from, but I read or heard somewhere that people want to be asked to help, that one of the best ways to befriend someone is to ask them to do a favor for you. The fact that there is something that they can do for another sparks the noble response, giving them a sense of purpose and worth.

It turns out that the favor you are asking is for them as much as it is for you.

So, maybe people will share the gold within themselves if we give them the chance.

Maybe not. I don’t know. I might be way off here. It is stiil very early and I still have night fog in my brain. Come to think of it, I may have read that part about asking a favor of others in my dog-eared copy of The Manipulator’s Handbook.

Even so, it can’t hurt to be less stingy with our inner gold and to ask the same of others.

Amen. Fin. The End.

Now, get off my lawn.

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Sharing Heart

GC Myers- Sharing Heart sm

Sharing Heart– Coming to Kada Gallery November 4, 2022

That pleasure which is at once the most pure, the most elevating and the most intense, is derived, I maintain, from the contemplation of the beautiful.

–Edgar Allan Poe, The Poetic Principle, 1848

Running a little late this morning but wanted to share this new painting that is part of my upcoming solo show, Places of Peace, which opens November 4 at the Kada Gallery in Erie.

It’s a 12″ by 24″ canvas called Sharing Heart. It fits in the category of my other Baucis & Philemon paintings with its intertwined trees denoting an eternal bond. But more than that, I see this piece as being about the generosity of spirit, that which makes one wish to share all that they are and have with others. To pull others up, to assist and elevate them.

It can come in the form of love, support, beauty or so many other things. In reality, that’s not far removed from the love that is the basis for the Baucis & Philemon pieces.

We want what is best for those we love.

It’s certainly a concept to be embraced and embellished.

There’s obviously more to be said on this subject but as I said, I am running late and time is short this morning. Let me add one bit of music to this mix. It’s Lift Me Up from Bruce Springsteen. It was written in the late 90’s for a film, Limbo, from filmmaker John Sayles.  The song is a quiet, almost pleading, song that features Bruce singing throughout in a falsetto that takes on a lovely and mesmerizing quality as the melody engulfs it.

Seems to fit this painting.

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A Place of Peace

GC Myers- A Place For Peace

A Place For Peace— Coming to Kada Gallery, Erie

I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that every-thing will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.

Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

Reading the words above from Anne Frank’s diary, I am both gladdened and saddened. Gladdened by her youthful optimism, which is hopeful and infectious, inspiring belief that a better world is imminent. I have felt that same sense of hope when looking up at the sky.

I am then saddened by the reality that she, like so many millions, was deprived of the chance to achieve the happiness she sought.

I might be phrasing that wrong. Maybe happiness should not be equated with peace and tranquility. I suppose you can have an inner peace without feeling a sense of happiness. Maybe it is just as the author Gustave Flaubert wrote to fellow author Ivan Turgenev:

I don’t believe that happiness is possible, but I think tranquility is.

But maybe not. I think happiness is possible. But it’s a fleeting moment or two, a temporary joy in the result of circumstance.

Tranquility is something more than that. It is an inner quiet based on an understanding of one’s purpose and meaning in life. Maybe Anne Frank, even in the cruelty of the days that followed the time when she wrote the words at the top, was able to find a sense of peace and tranquility.

I certainly hope so.

I have read accounts of others in similar situations who did just that, who found an inner peace within that allowed to live and survive within the bounds of the moment.

Maybe that is all we can hope for in this world, that beyond fleeting moments of joy there is a place of peace within.

I don’t know. It’s still not 7 AM and I am just thinking this morning. Well, trying to think. It sometimes feels like a futile gesture but for some unknown reason I keep trying.

And that gives me hope.

For this Sunday’s musical selection, let’s go with George Harrison and his Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth). Seems about right this morning…

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The Man with the Hoe

GC Myers- 1995- Exiles-Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

Exiles: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, 1995

Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground,
The emptiness of ages in his face,
And on his back the burden of the world.
Who made him dead to rapture and despair,
A thing that grieves not and that never hopes.
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw?
Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow?
Whose breath blew out the light within this brain?

–Edwin Markham, The Man with the Hoe 

This is one of those posts that just came out of the blue. I was looking for something to begin a post about two vintage paintings from around 1995 that will be included in the Kada Gallery show when I came across the beginning lines above from Edwin Markham poem, The Man with the Hoe.

Reading the rest of the poem, I was reminded of the painting at the top, another vintage piece titled Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Markham’s poem and its message decrying the greed of those who exploit and dehumanize the workers very much was in line with what I see in this piece.

Overused, overlooked and underappreciated.

Millet,_Jean-François_-_Man_with_a_HoeMarkham based the poem on a painting of the same title from Jean-François Millet, that portrayed an exhausted laborer in the field leaning on his hoe, his mouth agape as he looks blankly past the endless fields that surround him. I was struck by the similarity of feel in the Millet piece and my own. Both jibed well with Markham’s words.

The poem was first recited by Markham at a New Year’s party at the end of 1898.  The editor of the San Francisco Examiner was at the same party and published the poem in the paper soon after. It then became a huge success across the nation. At the time, as movements and calls for social reforms were gaining momentum in this country, the poem, with its warning that the mindless beasts would someday rise up against those who had cultivated and exploited them for so long, was called “the battle cry of the next thousand years.”

Perhaps they were right. The prevalent greed that marked the Gilded Age is little different than that exhibited by the super-rich few that control most everything in this world now. We may not physically be standing in fields but many of us remain that man with the hoe.

Here’s a fine reading of the Edwin Markham poem.

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