Archive for January 22nd, 2023

Ring of Fire

GC Myers- Rings of Fire series 2023

Ring of Fire #6

Love is a burnin’ thing
And it makes a fiery ring
Bound by wild desire
I fell into a ring of fire

I fell into a burnin’ ring of fire
I went down, down, down
And the flames went higher
And it burns, burns, burns
The ring of fire, the ring of fire

–June Carter Cash, Ring of Fire

I wrote about this new group of work earlier this week, saying that I wasn’t sure if I would ever show them publicly. In the interim, after discussing it with Jesse at the West End Gallery, I decided to at least show a few of them in the upcoming February Little Gems show if only to see how people react to them.

I anticipate that the reaction will be similar to a series from a number of years ago, Outlaws, featuring figures brandishing handguns, often in a position where they appeared to be looking through a window. Some folks saw these figures as threatening, as though they were predators looking into a home from the outside. Others saw them as being terrified characters in a defensive position inside with threats outside that window. It acted as a sort of Rorschach test of the viewer’s perception of the world.

I see the same sort of response for this group though there is not the incendiary inclusion of a handgun here. I don’t expect an overwhelming embrace of these characters. I am sure most will see them as either tragic, sad figures or some scary, evil beings. I don’t know that there is another way to see them.

This might end up being just a vanity project and I’m okay with that. There are usually unforeseen benefits in these projects, often coming in a change of perspective or process that finds its way to my other work. It’s often just the shaking up of things that matters. And I think this does just that for me.

My hope is that they make people stop and look, both at the figures as they are and at the way in which they are painted. They are done solely with a very small brush, a liner that produces small marks and slashes of color. The marks in these pieces are the real point of these pieces for me, providing energy and form to them.

I have changed the title of this series. I am simply calling it Ring of Fire rather than Season in Hell or Season of Fire. That, of course, is taken from the classic Johnny Cash song written to him by his wife-to-be June Carter when he was still married to his first wife. It also refers to the inclusion of distant fire in each of these paintings, a symbol of both hell and destruction. On the more positive side, the destructive forces of fire often lead to new growth and new ways of being.

As Hermann Hesse wrote in his novel Demian:

Whoever wants to be born, must first destroy a world.

I am simply numbering the individual pieces in this series, something I don’t normally do. For instance, the piece shown above is titled Ring of Fire #6. For this series, I wanted people to form their own titles for these figures rather than be too influenced by my personal take on them. I am showing six pieces from this series in the Little Gems show.

It’s an obvious choice for this week’s Sunday Morning Music. It would be too easy to play the Johnny Cash version with its great Mariachi horns that we all know so I thought I’d give you a choice of two other versions. One is from the song’s creator, June Carter Cash, in a tribute to her husband after his death. It is as the song should be. The other is from the pioneering Southern Cal punk band Social Distortion. This song has been a staple in their repertoire for decades.

Different but, like most great art, the song transcends many lines.

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