Archive for December 31st, 2022

Get Up, Stand Up

GC Myers- Solitary Song- 2022

Solitary Song— At the Principle Gallery, Alexandria VA

You will be wrong and you will be bad quite often. That is the process of growing. Keep failing, but keep listening and keep learning. Do not let the failures allow you to shrink and to move into some small corner to do your work: Always be big and bold. Take risks. No one grows without a lot of stumbling.

–Tennessee Williams, Interview with James Grissom, 1982

I have been in that annual period of retrospection, looking back on the past year’s work. I am trying to determine where I went hit or missed with my creative decisions and where I want to work to take me in the coming year.

I feel really good about this past year’s work. It has done everything I needed it to do for myself, which is always my first goal. I feel that much of it ranks among my best work.

But even so, I have had a nagging indefinable doubt and dissatisfaction about the year as a whole. It’s like everything is there and where I want it to be artistically in individual pieces but the accumulated body still somehow lacks some element that I have overlooked.

This is not an easy thing to discern and might not even make any sense to the casual observer. I mean, if the work is strong and totally satisfying, isn’t that enough? Isn’t that the goal?

The short and easy answer is yes and I could easily go along with that– except for that nagging doubt that is hanging around. Then I came across this quote from Tennessee Williams the other day and it stopped me cold, especially this line: Do not let the failures allow you to shrink and to move into some small corner to do your work.

I immediately recognized that the missing element from this past year– and maybe much, much longer– was that I was allowing myself to shrink within my work. I was not taking risks, working big and being bold.

Going back through the years, I realized that the scale of my work kept getting progressively smaller. Looking at this year’s shows as they were hung, I didn’t see the big statement pieces that have often reinforced and tied things together in past shows. In fact, most of my early shows always had multiple pieces that were larger than anything I have painted in a while. They were big and bold and seemed to have a positive effect on the surrounding work.

This might not seem like much of anything, let alone a revelation, to you. I understand that. But for me, it was most enlightening, like I had come across the missing piece of a murky puzzle. It gives me something to work on, to build off.

I am not big on New Year’s resolutions, but I might follow the advice of Tennessee Williams as a goal for the coming year: Always be big and bold. Take risks.

We shall see.

To complete this triad of image, words and song on this New Year’s Eve, here’s a well-worn classic from Bob Marley, Get Up, Stand Up. More good advice to heed.

Have a good New Year’s Eve…

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