Archive for October, 2022

GC Myers- A Matter of Perspective sm

A Matter of Perspective— Coming to Kada Gallery November 4

Thus, the task is, not so much to see what no one has seen yet; but to think what nobody has thought yet, about what everybody sees.

Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.

–Arthur Schopenhauer, Parerga und Paralipomena, 1851

This new piece that is headed to Kada Gallery for my November Places of Peace show is one of those thinking pieces. Everything about it sets my mind to work.

My primary observations are that we live so often within the limits of our own field of vision. By that I mean that we often only see what serves us, that which we expect to see. As a result, we fail to see all that surrounds us.

This cause us to lose a sense of perspective of both our smallness and largeness in this world which makes us live in the realm of one or the other of the two.

And we need to live with both our smallness and largeness.

I’m reading this and it sounds kind of crazy but hear me out.

In short, I am saying that we need to know both our insignificance as well as the importance of our singularity.

In the grand scheme of things, from the longer view we are but a speck, mere clods of mud and blood and bone.

Ah, but look closer and see what magnificent clods we are!

It’s a matter of perspective, right?

Here’s a song from the Beatles whose first line jumped to my mind as I wrote this. This is We Can Work It Out. Oh, and the title of the 12″ by 36″ painting at the top is, of course, A Matter of Perspective.

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Flame of Life

GC Myers- Flame of Life sm

Flame of Life— Soon at the Kada Gallery, Erie

To be nobody-but-yourself -in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else -means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

–e e cummings, A Poet’s Advice To Students

I chose the lines above because I thought it meshed well with the feeling that I was getting from the painting above. It’s titled Flame of Life and is a new smaller piece headed to the Kada Gallery for my upcoming solo show there. The lines are from a post from a number of years ago featuring advice from the poet ee cummings to aspiring young poets is one of the most popular posts from this blog.

Its popularity is understandable. The advice is just what any person needs if they want to pursue a life in the arts. I say arts because even though this is targeted at its surface for poets, its wisdom is easily transferred to all other forms of creativity. You can substitute artist, painter, musician or any other term used for a creative person for the word poet in the essay below and the advice is as sound and fitting.

The painting above definitely echoes the nobody-but-yourself feel that cummings invoked in the excerpt just below it. In art– and life, in general– staying true to who you are might well be the most difficult battle of one’s life.

Here’s the full essay including my original intro:

Whenever I am asked to speak with students, I usually tell them to try to find their own voice, to try to find that thing that expresses who they really are. I add that this is not something that comes easily, that it takes real effort and sacrifice. The great poet e e cummings (you most likely know him for his unusual punctuation) offered up a beautiful piece of similar advice for aspiring poets that I think can be applied to most any creative discipline.

Or to anyone who simply desires to feel deeply in this world.

Take a moment to read this short bit of advice and see what you think– or feel.

A Poet’s Advice To Students

(e e cummings)

A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feeling through words.

This may sound easy. It isn’t.

A lot of people think or believe or know they feel-but that’s thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling-not knowing or believing or thinking.

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.

To be nobody-but-yourself -in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else -means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

As for expressing nobody-but-yourself in words, that means working just a little harder than anybody who isn’t a poet can possibly imagine. Why? Because nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the time-and whenever we do it, we’re not poets.

If, at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and working and feeling, you find you’ve written one line of one poem, you’ll be very lucky indeed.

And so my advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do something easy, like learning how to blow up the world-unless you’re not only willing, but glad, to feel and work and fight till you die.

Does this sound dismal? It isn’t.

It’s the most wonderful life on earth.

Or so I feel.

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GC Myers- Still, The Earth Moves

Still, The Earth Moves— Coming to the Kada Gallery, November 4

Most sweet it is with unuplifted eyes
To pace the ground, if path be there or none,
While a fair region round the traveller lies
Which he forbears again to look upon;
Pleased rather with some soft ideal scene,
The work of Fancy, or some happy tone
Of meditation, slipping in between
The beauty coming and the beauty gone.
If Thought and Love desert us, from that day
Let us break off all commerce with the Muse:
With Thought and Love companions of our way,
Whate’er the senses take or may refuse,
The Mind’s internal heaven shall shed her dews
Of inspiration on the humblest lay.

-William Wordsworth, Most Sweet It Is, 1835

I wasn’t planning on using another poem today from one of the big-name poets of the past since I had employed a short verse from Longfellow yesterday. But while searching for something to accompany the new painting above, I came across the line:

Of meditation, slipping in between
The beauty coming and the beauty gone.

Those two lines seemed to align well with what I was seeing in this piece. But finding and reading the rest of the verse, I found that the whole of it also echoed my thoughts on the painting. I read it to mean that clearing one’s mind of thought and all that we know sometimes leads to inspirations and revelations that spring from within– The Mind’s internal heaven, as Wordsworth phrased it.

The title of this painting, Still, The Earth Moves is from my own slightly longer phrase:

Yet while I am still, the earth moves. 

Looking at this piece made me think of hopefully possessing the ability to quiet my thoughts, to shed away all worries and concerns, to the point I might reach a sense of stillness where I could almost feel the earth as it moved, with me on it, under the sky above.

That sort of deep meditative stillness has always fascinated me though it often seems to evade me or, in those few moments when it does come to me, be quickly fleeting. I suppose that finding bits of it in my painting will have to serve as some sort of surrogate.

In the end, that is not a small thing.

Here’s the great Carole King and I Feel the Earth Move from her classic 1971 album, Tapestry. I think a lot of people have forgotten what a huge album it was at the time. Actually, at any time. It has sold over 30 million copies, making it a 14X Platinum record and one of the bestselling records of all time. This song was a big reason. It might also have fed my own fascination with a stillness that allows one to feel the earth move.

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Endless Possibility

GC Myers-  Endless Possibility

Endless Possibility— Coming to the Kada Gallery, Erie


Where are the Poets, unto whom belong
The Olympian heights; whose singing shafts were sent
Straight to the mark, and not from bows half bent,
But with the utmost tension of the thong?
Where are the stately argosies of song,
Whose rushing keels made music as they went
Sailing in search of some new continent,
With all sail set, and steady winds and strong?
Perhaps there lives some dreamy boy, untaught
In schools, some graduate of the field or street,
Who shall become a master of the art,
An admiral sailing the high seas of thought,
Fearless and first, and steering with his fleet
For lands not yet laid down in any chart.

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1882

This small painting, at 8″ by 16″ on canvas, is another new piece headed to the Kada Gallery in Erie for my upcoming show, Places of Peace, opening November 4.

It’s titled Endless Possibilities. As a non-sailor, I can only imagine the feeling of being carried by the whims of the wind over the surface of the sea. The image of endless horizon all around and the possibilities offered in any and every direction is fascinating to ponder. As is the idea of sailing toward an unseen– and perhaps unknown– destination dependent upon your own wits and experience.

I guess that is how discoveries and breakthroughs take place in anything. We head toward the unknown because that is where real possibilities exist– if only we have the courage and wits to make it there.

Here’s a song about possibilities. It’s The Band and their classic version of the Bob Dylan song, When I Paint My Masterpiece.

Someday everything’s gonna be differentWhen I paint that masterpiece

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Places of Peace

And Peace Arrives (Et Pax Advenit) sm

And Peace Arrives — Coming to the Kada Gallery, November 4

Man is the only animal who does not feel at home in nature, who can feel evicted from paradise, the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem that he has to solve and from which he cannot escape.

–Erich Fromm, Man for Himself (1947)

I am coming into the final two weeks of preparation for my next exhibit. The solo show opens Friday, November 4, at the Kada Gallery in Erie, PA. I have been represented by Kada since 1996 and this will be my tenth solo show there, the last having taken place in 2017.

I am calling this show Places of Peace.

It’s a simple and straightforward title because, for the most part, that is the thing I am seeking in my work.

A place of peace, of quiet and harmony.

Much of my life has involved searching for something I couldn’t envision or describe. I was looking for something that would relieve an anxiety that seemed to come from both inside and outside myself.

I soon realized that they were not to be found in the outer world until they had first been found in the inner.

What I was seeking were Places of Peace— places anchored more in feeling and imagination than reality. Places that allowed me to find an inner balance and harmony while living in an outer world that I often did not understand.

I ultimately found these places in my painting.

These places of peace have provided much needed refuge for me over the past 25+ years and in that time, recurring symbols and icons– the Red Tree, the Red Roofed Houses, the Red Chair, the inward leading path, and the ever-present Sun/Moons— have formed the language with which I describe these places to others. Over the years, that language has evolved and grown, adding nuance with the use of deeper and more layered colors and textures.

This symbol language is all there, making up the better part of this show. That makes this a show that very much speaks to and for me. The paintings from this show, such as the one at the top, And Peace Arrives, have provided me with places in which I find that balance and harmony that I sought for so long.

My hope is that it does the same for others.

Here’s song from the immortal Sam Cooke that has the right vibe. Definitely a place of peace in its own right. Because That Where It’s At

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Soulful Shades

GC Myers- Time & Patience

Time & Patience–At the West End Gallery

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

–A. E. Housman,  A Shropshire Lad, No. 40 (1896)

Sunday morning, focusing on the color blue for no reason. It’s a color that is always near in my thinking and my work. From the shades of Housman’s blue remembered hills to that of the blue in the sky of the painting shown here and the soulful shade in the song below, it always finds a way to come to mind for me.

For this Sunday Morning Music selection in blue, I am going back to one of my favorites, Neko Case, whose music has appeared here a number of times.  This song is Soulful Shade of Blue, taken from a live set in 2004 that became the album The Tigers Have Spoken, one that instantly made me a fan when I was introduced to it.  This song is a cover of a great old Buffy Saint-Marie tune which probably doesn’t mean much to you if you’re not of a certain age. She wrote and performed (she still does) some wonderful lasting songs. Click on her name for a quick education on her career.

Here’s Soulful Shade of Blue.

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Dum Medium Silentium

GC Myers- Spirit of Silence sm

The Spirit of Silence

Who then tells a finer tale than any of us? Silence does.

Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen), Last Tales (1957)

I am going to heed the words of Isak Dinesen this morning and let silence tell its tales. It will certainly tell a better one than I this morning.

Here’s a piece of music from Lithuanian composer Vytautas Miškinis performed by the Atlanta Master Chorale. It is titled Dum Medium Silentium which is derived from a 12th century Gregorian chant whose first line translates as While all things were in quiet silence.

Enough said…

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Glorious Uniqueness

GC Myers- Terminus sm

Terminus– At the West End Gallery

While we have the gift of life, it seems to me the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die – whether it is our spirit, our creativity or our glorious uniqueness.

–Gilda Radner, It’s Always Something (1989)

Have a lot going on this morning but thought I’d share this post that ran in 2015 after first running in 2010. I added the quote above with Gilda’s glorious uniqueness:

This season always signals the end of one year and the beginning of the next and generally sets me to thinking about pasts and futures, thinking about their connection and how it affects my life and work. One way to examine the past is to delve into genealogy, something that I began doing in earnest several years ago and continue on a regular basis, especially at this time of the year. It has provided a background, a basis for being and a connection with my environment that I often felt was missing as I grew up.

I will talk a little bit about it with family members, trying to pass on my findings, but have gotten so used to glassy-eyed looks of disinterest that I now seldom bring it up in conversation. Not everyone wants to look back and I can respect that. For me, however, it has been essential to my own progress forward, providing me with perspective and a sense of being. I wrote a bit about this several years ago on this blog, documenting a relative’s pitiable existence and how it relates to my work. I think it says as much about how I define my purpose as an artist as well as anything I have written before or since.

I woke up much too early this morning. Deep darkness and quiet but my mind racing. Oddly enough I found myself thinking of a person I had come across in my explorations in my personal genealogy. It was a cousin from several generations back, someone who lived in the late 1800′s in rural northern Pennsylvania. The name was much like so many of those you often come across in genealogy, one with few hints as to the life they led. Few traces of their existence at all. 

 At the time, it piqued my curiosity for some reason I couldn’t identify. He was simply a son of the brother of one of my great-great grandparents. As I said, you run across these people by the droves in genealogy, people who show up then disappear in the mist of history, many dying at a young age.

But this one had something that made me want to look further. I could find nothing but a mention in an early census record then nothing. No family of any sort. No military service. No land or property. No listings in the cemeteries around where he lived. I searched all the local records available to me and finally came across one lone record. One mention of this name at the right time in the right place, a decade or so from when I lost sight of them.

It was a census record and this person was at that time in their late 30′s. It was one line with no other family members, one of many in a long list that stretched over two pages. I had seen this before. Maybe this was a jail or a prison. I had other family members in my tree who, when the census rolled around, were incarcerated and showed up for those years as prisoners. So, I went to the beginning of the list and there was my answer.

It wasn’t a prison. Well, not in name. It was the County Home. This person was either insane or mentally or physically handicapped though at that time it could have been something like epilepsy or for just being too different. It was a place for living out their life in a home when they could or would no longer be cared for by family.

It struck me at the time that this person was certainly much like myself and everyone else. He was someone who lived and experienced feelings as we all do. He would have laughed and cried, loved and been happy, and felt alone and afraid. And now he was merely a name representing a person who has probably not been thought of in many, many decades. If ever.

This all came back to me in a flash as I laid there in the dark this morning. I began to think of what I do and, as is often the case when I find myself wide awake in the dark at 3:30 AM, began to question why I do it and what purpose it serves in this world. Is there any value other than pretty pictures to hang on a wall? How does my work pertain to someone like my relative who lived and died in obscurity? 

In my work, the red tree is the most prominent symbol used. I see myself as the red tree when I look at these paintings and see it as a way of calling attention to the simple fact that I exist in this world.  I think that may be what others see as well– a symbol of their own existence and uniqueness in the world. 

If I am a red tree, isn’t everyone a red tree in some way? Isn’t my distant cousin living in a rural county home, alone and apart from family, a red tree as well? What was his uniqueness, his exceptionalism? He had something, I’m sure. We all do.

And it came to me then, as I laid in the blackness. Maybe the red tree isn’t about my own uniqueness. Maybe it was about recognizing the uniqueness of others and seeing ourselves in them, recognizing that we all have special qualities to celebrate. Maybe that is the real purpose in what I do. Perhaps this realization that everyone has an exceptionalism that deserves recognition and celebration is the reason that I find it so hard to shake the red tree from my vocabulary of imagery. 

 Don’t we all deserve to be a red tree, in someone’s eyes?

There was more in the spinning gears this morning but I want to leave it at that for now.  It’s 5:30 AM and the day awaits…

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Symbols and Sounds

Hugo Ball Reading His Poem Karawane

Hugo Ball Reading His Poem Karawane

The symbolic view of things is a consequence of long absorption in images. Is sign language the real language of Paradise?

–Hugo Ball, Flight out of Time: A Dada Diary (1927)

I read the words above and wondered if Hugo Ball, one of the founders of the Dada movement of the 1920’s, was referring to the meaning found in the universal language of symbols and icons or actually meant sign language, such as ASL,  American Sign Language. Either might make sense.

I finally found an online copy of Ball’s book, Flight out of Time: A Dada Diary, and found the complete passage. Turns out he was referring to the imagery of the painter.

The painter as administrator of the vita contemplativa [contemplative life]. As herald of the supernatural sign language. That has an effect on poets’ imagery too. The symbolic view of things is a consequence of long absorption in images. Is sign language the real language of paradise? Personal paradises- maybe they are errors, but they will give new color to the idea of paradise, the archetype.

Mystery solved. Okay, it wasn’t much of a mystery and probably doesn’t hold much meaning for most folks.

But there is something to be said about the power of symbology as a language. I can certainly reach out to more people in a variety of cultures much easier with my images than with my words.

The main elements in my work have highly symbolic meaning. The Red Tree, Red Roofed Houses, Red Chairs, the sun/moon balls in the sky– all translate easily without words. And if I have done my job well enough, the nuance of meaning that I see in these symbols translates as well. In a best-case scenario, an image could translate equally to anyone anywhere with any level of education.

This is not meant to put visual imagery or the shape and symbology found in music over the written or spoken word. There is no better way to transmit thoughts with intricate nuance and meaning than well written words.

But even the language of words has its own shapes. Going back to Hugo Ball, we find that he was an innovator in sound poetry, which would be poetry that discards all meaning and creates rhythm and shape with nonsensical word-like sounds. One of his sound poems, Gadji beri bimba, was adapted to the song I Zimbra on the 1979 Talking Heads album Fear of Music. Its lyrics were as such:

Gadji beri bimba clandridi
Lauli lonni cadori gadjam
A bim beri glassala glandride
E glassala tuffm I zimbra

I know this post hasn’t really delved into any great depth on these subjects and a lot can be debated. I am just throwing it out there as I come across it early this morning. Maybe it was just a pretense to play I Zimbra. The performance of the song below is from an appearance touting David Byrne’s American Utopia Broadway show and features an intro that better explains this blog.

I am also including a reading of the Hugo Ball poem Karawane from the top of the page. This is read by Marie Osmond. Yes, Marie Osmond is now a Dada artist…

Plus, I think I will throw in one more song this morning that is based on the shapes of sounds more than meaning of words.

It’s a 1973 song from Italian singer Adriano Celentano who set out to prove that any song that even sounded like it was sung in English could become a hit in Italy. He created a song comprised of pure nonsense that sounds vaguely like words spoken in English called– buckle up for this title– Prisencolinensinainciusol. As he had predicted, the song became a hit in Italy though I think it has as much to do with its thumping rhythm as its nonsense words.

You be the judge.

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Do It Again

Early Sketch 1990's

The happiness of most people we know is not ruined by great catastrophes or fatal errors, but by the repetition of slowly destructive little things.

–Ernest Dimnet, What We Live By, 1932

I think about repetition quite often. There’s the repetition of history, for example, where we seem doomed to continuously relive every mistake made in the past by our forebearers. Like we, somehow, are going to achieve different results than those in the past.

Or on a smaller scale, the repetition of destructive behaviors by individuals, even though they often know that the outcome will not be any better than it was in their past. We all know those people. Hell, we may be those people.

I guess that would be the kind of repetition that Ernest Dimnet was writing about in the excerpt at the top. Dimnet was a French priest who had a worldwide bestseller in the 1920’s with his book The Art of Thinking. It was an early self-help book that placed Dimnet’s works at the time on the same level of that from Dale Carnegie and his eternally classic How to Win Friends & Influence People.

Dimnet didn’t have the lasting power of Carnegie and few know the name now. I read several recent reviews of his books online and was surprised at how relevant those reviewers found Dimnet’s observations and advice.

I guess human nature hasn’t changed much in the past century.

Repetition, see?

Then there’s the repetition of small non-destructive behaviors like those exhibited by us creatures of habit. I find them to be coping devices, things that provide an orderliness to stave off chaos. Even writing this blog on a daily basis for the past 13 or 14 years has become a repeated exercise on which I depend in order to stay upright.

I also think of repetition in terms of my work. I repeat forms and themes endlessly. It’s done both consciously and subconsciously. I accept and embrace it but sometimes worry about it. However, I seem incapable of changing my pattern. I often feeling like I am in an eternal Groundhog’s Day as though I know that there is something I need in those same forms and themes and that the next one will somehow reveal that vital information to me.

Maybe today will be the day…

Here’s a song from Steely Dan that sums up Dimnet’s words pretty well. It’s Do It Again.

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