Archive for February 2nd, 2023

Ring of Fire #5

Ring of Fire 5 detail 2

Ring of Fire 5 detail

And this do I call immaculate perception of all things: to want nothing else from them, but to be allowed to lie before them as a mirror with a hundred facets.

–Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

The annual Little Gems show at the West End Gallery opens next Friday, February 10. In my contribution to this year’s show, I have included a group of 6 small face pieces from what I call the Ring of Fire series. I wrote about that series a bit in the past couple of weeks, describing how they came about from an abundance of photo paper I didn’t want to throw away and a desire to shake some things free in my mind. 

GC Myers- Ring of Fire 5

Ring of Fire 5

They are all painted quickly with little if any forethought. Watercolors are used and the brushes used are very small, nothing larger than a size 0 liner, so that the strokes are little slashes and rubs of color again the blackish background. It is meant to be done with an immediacy that brings whatever life is present to bear as soon as possible. A line of red and yellow fire is in the background of each and the faces have a reaction to being in proximity to that fire. The result are faces in various states of distress, some in anguish or terror. 

For me, they represent a release of some sort. They provide a form of release in psychological terms which might be as important for me as anything they provide artistically. They allow me to reveal those parts of my psyche that often left unexpressed or dealt with in other ways. 

From the perspective of the creative process, the brushwork is rough and barely controlled which is what I react to in each of these pieces. I love seeing the imperfection of the unblended strokes and swipes that build up and animate the faces, as you can better see in the detail shown at the top. This rough rendering might be the main takeaway for me, artistically.

I don’t know how these will be received but I have some idea based on other series that showed other aspects of my work in the past. For example, in 2006 I did a series called Outlaws that were pieces done with dark sepia backgrounds with figures that were often holding handguns. I chose the handgun for that series because there was no gray area in how one perceived a gun in a picture. One has an immediate visceral response. 

Some folks loved the work and some didn’t. Actually, some folks hated it.

And I understand that. I had a woman come up to me at the opening for my 2006 solo show that contained the Outlaws series at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. She was visibly distressed and spoke quickly, almost breathlessly. The work upset her greatly and she begged me to promise that this wasn’t the direction my work was heading in the future, that it wouldn’t replace the Red Tree landscapes she loved.

I assured her that the Red Tree would not go away and explained that, like all humans, I have multiple facets and shades in my personality. A variety of light and dark colors like the spectrum of color that comes from a single prism. I told her that this was merely another facet in the prism of who I was as a human. Perhaps not as visible as the Red Tree but still there.

Still me and part of the whole. Maybe it was the tails side of the coin on which the Red Tree was the heads side. Or maybe it was the yin to the Red Tree’s yang.

She seemed relieved but I understood her concern. We want things that we love to stay the same We don’t want them to not change or to suddenly challenge our perspective on them.

I know that by showing this other part of the prism, the work of the Outlaws and this Ring of Fire series, I am endangering how my other work is perceived. But I also trust that the people who really know and understand my Red Tree and other work have an understanding of the wholeness of each human, of the multiple shades of color n each our prisms.

After all, there is a bit of this work, this darker aspect, in even the brightest and most optimistic of my other work. If anything, this work acts as a complement to the Red Tree.

That’s my take on the Ring of Fire series. You will have your own reaction, good or bad. As it should be, it is yours to have.

Here’s an old video of the Outlaws series. It features a guitar composition, Variation on a Theme (Tales from the Farside), from the great Bill Frisell.


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