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GC Myers- And Dusk Dissolves sm

And Dusk Dissolves“–Now at the West End Gallery



It was that hour that turns seafarers’ longings homeward- the hour that makes their hearts grow tender upon the day they bid sweet friends farewell…

― Dante Alighieri, Purgatorio



Dante had it right– dusk is that hour of recollection, some warm and some less so. As I age I see this more clearly, most likely as a result of simply having more to look back on than look forward to at this stage in my life.

Don’t jump too hardly on that last line. I feel there is still a tremendous amount of living ahead for me and others my age or older. It’s just math– the ratio of time lived to the expected or hoped for time left in one’s life– says that the greater part of our life is behind us for people of my age and older. 

And I believe dusk does often remind us of this fact. It’s a time when we sometimes pause to look back on the day, to reckon what we have done and not done during that time and to measure what lies ahead for the next day.

And sometimes this recollection extends back further than the day that just passed due to the moment in which it takes place. Maybe it’s the warmth and color of the sunset. Maybe it’s the way the landscape around us changes in the setting light, as colors deepen and contrast to the narrowing light. Whatever it might be in that moment, something triggers flashes of distant memories.

Words spoken and unspoken. Maybe just a glance from a face you remember or the most innocuous detail from some moment that didn’t seem important when you saw it so long ago.

Sometimes these moments are full and make sense. Sometimes they are fragments that seem insignificant. Yet they remain in place in our memory.

And as that moment of recollection passes and we move to settling in for the night and looking ahead to the coming day, these recalled moments dissolve, much like the setting sunlight melts into darkness.

There’s a wealth of recollections to pull from as one ages and maybe I see that in the depth and richness of the colors here. Maybe every stroke of color in that sky is a fleeting and flashing moment from my memory. I don’t know.

It makes me think of when my dad was in his final years suffering from dementia. His memory was spotty at best and often large segments of it were absent. I remember one instance when he was disturbed and asked me with great seriousness to tell him if I knew who his mother was. I went to a photo of her from her college yearbook (Potsdam 1918!) and explained in great detail her history. He listened to me more intently than any other time I can remember in my life, like he needed to know this and wanted to inscribe it deep into memory.

Looking back on that moment now, I can only imagine him as the Red Tree looking back and, instead of the richness of individual colors in that sky of memory, he is seeing a hazy grayness with occasional peeks of color. A recognizable tree or hillside whose color has faded to almost gray. And the distant deeply colored mountain that might have been his mother was not even visible.

Makes me appreciate every moment, every fleck of color, every drop of light, every insignificant recollection that remains with the hope that my dusk never fully dissolves.



This painting, And Dusk Dissolves, is 30″ by 48″ on canvas and is part of my current solo show, Through the Trees, at the West End Gallery in Corning, NY. It will be on display until the end of August.

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GC Myers- Crossroads of the World  2021



It was a pity that there was no radar to guide one across the trackless seas of life. Every man had to find his own way, steered by some secret compass of the soul. And sometimes, late or early, the compass lost its power and spun aimlessly on its bearings.

Arthur C. Clarke, Glide Path



Trackless seas of life.

Clarke’s words above certainly resonate with me. We go through our lives pretty much on our own, with little guidance. Oh, folks will tell you how to live your life but they generally have little more insight than yourself. They usually just want you to adhere to their own perceptions, their own idea of how the world should look. And that’s okay. They are as free to do so as you and I are free to not follow their advice.

But for the most part, we stumble and fumble along on our own, following the bearings of that secret compass of the soul that Clarke mentions.

We all follow our own compass, even if we don’t fully realize it. We subconsciously set courses that we don’t yet recognize for some vaguely defined destinations that are just the inkling of an idea in our imagination.

Along the way, we often seem out of place and lost, as though that compass has indeed lost its power and is spinning on its bearings. We then often recalibrate and give up on that first course we had set and set out for some new destination, one that is often within sight and attainable.

But sometimes, after we creep for what seems like ages through the darkness, row endlessly through the doldrums, and hold on through stormy seas with a shaken compass that we find hard to trust, we somehow, wonder of wonder, find ourselves at our destination, now fully realized.

What a strange thing and wondrous thing.

GC Myers- Crossroads of the World in situ Principle Gallery 2021And that is what I see in the painting at the top, Crossroads of the World. It is, of course, part of my solo show that opens tomorrow, Friday June 4, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.

The sun here represents that secret compass of the soul. Its rays light the way forward but its direction is forever wavering and sometimes its face is obscured by clouds of all sorts and sizes, some of our own making.

And the crossroads where the paths cross symbolize the crossroads we come to each day as we make our way toward our destination. Every day is a new crossroad, new choices and paths to be considered and made. Some paths take us into the dark of the forest and some lead us out into the clearing, where we can see ahead for what seems like forever.

I great sense of liberation from this piece, that we are free to ultimately follow our own desires, our own longings. But there is as well as a sense of satisfaction that comes from making your own way, for following through on those desires. For persevering through all the detours and setbacks to finally end up in that place that was a tiny half-baked fragment of an idea when it first appeared in your hopes so long ago.

I guess that sounds like a lot to pull out of a painting but, hey, it’s how I see it at this point in time and space, at this crossroads that I was led to by own secret compass of the soul.



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GC Myers- Late Fragment- Raymond Carver ca 1997 sm



And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

–Late Fragment, Raymond Carver



I was looking for something yesterday in the bedroom here in the studio that I call the library. It’s a room lined with bookshelves and the floor littered with boxes with old unframed paintings. It’s a great place in which to retreat when I am feeling stuck. I can pull out a book and read a passage that I haven’t thought of since I last read it, in some cases that being forty years ago. It always feels like there is something new or old or, at least, interesting to find in there.

But yesterday I stumbled across two long thin pieces of old matboard held together with artist’s tape. I couldn’t remember what might be sandwiched between them and opened it, revealing the piece shown at the top. Seeing it brought back a flood of memories.

It was an old painting done back in the 1990’s, probably 1997. It is called Late Fragment after the short Raymond Carver poem above. I had once had it framed and displayed it at the West End Gallery many years ago. I remember distinctly discussing it with several folks at an opening. But it eventually came back to me and for some reason it ended up being unframed. It obviously has bounced around in my old studio in the woods and now my current one as it is stained and a bit grimy.

But there are things in it that had slipped my mind that came back yesterday. I remembered that this piece was originally meant to be in a handmade book of my small paintings accompanied by favorite short poems. I did a couple back around that time. I haven’t seen them in many years and have no documentation on them that I can find but I remember binding them with thick heavy thread along with bookcovers made from heavy dense cardboard covered in rice paper. I would love to see them again.

This piece was meant to be in the center of one of these books and would fold out to reveal itself in whole. You can see the creases where it was folded which gave it a segmented look that I have replicated in paint may times since. If I remember right,  the heavy watercolor paper made it too thick for the book in which it was intended so it ended up in a frame instead.

It’s not a great piece. There are so many ways in which it would be different now. But there’s something in it that is endearing to me. Maybe it’s rawness of it which is accentuated now by the grime and stains that adorn it. Maybe it’s attraction comes from this as a metaphor for the aging process we all go through.

Or maybe it’s the nascent quality of the painting itself. The way the tree is handled as more of a silhouette than with real details of any sort. Or the tiny sun/moon off in the distance. That was not uncommon in my work at that time.

Or maybe it was just the reality and potential held in it. It was a whole entity then, both as a painting and as a symbol of who I was then. It remains true now but I have changed in the intervening years and while I remain basically the same, I am different. My views and ways of expression have changed and evolved, hopefully for the better.

But who knows? Maybe twenty some years from now, if I can keep myself alive that long, I will look back on this post or a recent painting and say the same thing:

Yes, that was me and while all in it is still true, this is where and who I am now. 

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GC Myers- The Peaceful Silence sm

“The Peaceful Stillness”



I want to be quiet this morning. No, I need, not want, to be quiet this morning.

Need to be quiet.

It’s one of those days when I wake up in the dark of the early morning. My dreams, which evaporate as soon as my feet touch the cool floor, have somehow dashed any facade of confidence I may have been wearing and I am already a bit glum before I have even seen the first light of morning. I slip on my jeans that are covered with paint and as I slide my right leg in, my toe catches a small tear in the pant leg. For some reason, my jeans always tear in this same spot, just above the right knee.

But this morning my toe catches that tear and in the darkness I hear it rip even more. I feel anger and frustration layering on top the glum blueness I woke up with and I want to just let my toe rip the hell out the jeans then throw them across the room in the dark. And scream so hard that my diaphragm aches and my throat burns from the effort.

But I don’t. I restrain myself and just stand there in the dark stillness, taking a long breath of cool air. Then I calmly ease my leg into the torn jeans. My eyes adjust a bit to the dark and I can see out the window that morning light is beginning to sift through the trees. The sun will soon be up.

I tell myself there’s still time for hope. I just need to be quiet and let it find its way here this morning.

I make my way along the path through the woods to the studio and I feel much of the frustration and anger slip away. I am still a bit glum and blue but lying on the kitchen floor with my Hobie, the faithful and loving cat with which I share my space, helps. Her loud purrs of satisfaction are like an elixir. I am tempted to click on the news to catch up and immediately turn it off after about 45 seconds of it make my blood pressure tick up a few notches.

I need quiet but I need some music. I remember this piece from the great jazz pianist Bill Evans, Peace Piece. I put it on and its quietude and gentle tone bring me back. And the music keeps playing and I know I have dodged a bullet of sorts. My blue is okay now. It’s like an old grouchy friend who I know how to deal with.

I can manage this. All I need is some quietness, some light, some hope.

I am showing a new piece at the top, one that I call The Peaceful Stillness. It’s 18″ by 24″ on aluminum panel and is part of Between Here and There, my solo show at the Principle Gallery which opens on June 4.

I wasn’t planning on writing this blogpost for this painting but it seems to work with it. I know I felt an easing of my angst and frustration on seeing this painting. It mirrored my attempts to find that quietness within. So, while I should probably talk about the process or meaning or symbolism in it, I am going to let it stand as is this morning.

It did what I wanted it to do. No, what I needed it to do.

Here’s Peace Piece from Bill Evans if you need some help on your end.



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gc-myers-mothers-day-1994-sm (1)



Art is the child of nature in whom we trace the features of the mothers face.

― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



Hard to believe that 25 Mother’s Days have come and gone since my mom passed away. Seems like it was just a year or so back in time.

Longfellow was probably right about art being a product of the influence of our mothers, if I am understanding his words correctly. I know my mom played a role in me becoming an artist if only for the fact that she never discouraged me from following any particular path and always gave the encouragement she could.

I wish she had lived long enough to see that things worked out okay for me and my work. She only saw my earliest work, like the piece at the top that I gave to her on Mother’s Day in 1994 and which now hangs in my studio to remind me of her. She never saw it hanging in a gallery or museum nor would she know that I would end up making art as my livelihood.

Looking around the studio at the work assembled for my show in June, I think she would be really happy with it. I am not saying she would love the work itself. I will never really know that. But she would love the fact that I did it and I know that would be enough, that it would be a source of great pride for her.

And that makes me happy.

Maybe that’s what Longfellow was referring to with his words.

I don’t know. Just going to take some time today to remember my mom, though a day seldom goes by without some trace of her coming through to me. So glad I have those memories of her.

Like the song says: they can’t take those away from me.

For this Mother’s Day Sunday musical selection, here’s a recording of that classic George and Ira Gershwin tune done by Billie Holiday at a later stage of her career, in 1957. I like this performance a lot with Ben Webster on sax and Barney Kessel on guitar.



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Ralph Fasanella Bread and Roses

Ralph Fasanella- Bread and Roses



This past week was the beginning of May and May Day, the first day of the month which is a holiday of several stripes, from a pagan celebration of the coming of summer to one that celebrates the rights of workers around the world. For me, it always reminds me of the late folk artist Ralph Fasanella. Before becoming a painter, he was a union organizer throughout his life and it is represented in much of his work. The painting at the top, Bread and Roses, for example, depicts the long and often violent 1912 labor strike against the textile mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The striker was called the Bread and Roses strike because the strikers demanded both better pay and benefits– the bread– as well as respect and recognition– the roses.

But when I think of Fasanella, beyond his labor and baseball paintings, I am also always reminded of a story about his response to a suggestion from someone about this painting. I have talked about it in posts here before but thought it would be a good story to share once more.

Anyone who does anything that people look at, listen to or read is always susceptible to a host of well-meaning folks who want to share ideas on how whatever it is that you do can be done better. It usually starts with some simple phrase: What you really need to do is… Or it could  be You should really try to… 

I generally listen politely and say something like I’ll look into that or Maybe I will try that sometime. Some of the suggestions are quite good and if I were so inclined might well be something I would do. But that is the key thing here: if I were so inclined.

If it’s not something that I want to do with great energy or excitement, if it’s not something that fits in with how I work and see things, then it ain’t getting done.

Another suggestion is that the artist or author should try to do something like other artists. That always hits a sour spot with me. It usually starts with Your work reminds me so much of… or Have you tried painting like….

I know when I was starting that a goal was to not have my work constantly compared to others so when I talk with young artists I try not to tell them that their work reminds me of another artist. There are exceptions to this, say when an artist is very new to the process and needs the affirmation that they are capturing something in the same way as a well known artist. But unless I know what the artist is trying to do and say with their work, it’s not my place to tell then how they should change their work or how it reminds me of other artists.

That brings me back to my Fasanella story. I am replaying a bit from when I first posted it here ten years ago. The portion with the Fasanella story is from a blog post from the Fenimore Art Museum which has a great folk art collection and whose president, Paul D’Ambrosio, was a friend and chronicler of  Fasanella’s work and life.

Here’s that post from 2011:



Over the years, I have been approached by several people who think they are doing me a great service by telling me that I should change the way I paint in some way or that I should try to paint more like some other artist. Early on, when I was first exhibiting my work, I had another more established artist tell me that I should change the way I paint my figures, that they should look the way other artists paint them. I responded to this artist and the others who offered me their advice with a smile and an “I’ll look into that.”

But that one time, I also mistakenly heeded the older painter’s words, being inexperienced and seeking a way as I was, and stopped painting figures for a while before realizing that this was not good advice at all. My style, after all, was my own and didn’t need to conform to what others thought were rules.

Here’s the post about Fasanella and his response to such advice.

Ralph Fasanella had trouble painting hands. A lot of trained artists do too, so it is not surprising that a union organizer who turned to drawing suddenly at the age of 40 would struggle with hands early in his career. But he did have something that proved better than years of formal training: he believed that he was an artist and that what he was doing – painting the lives of working people – was a calling that deserved his complete attention and all-consuming passion.

And that made him react when anyone suggested that his paintings weren’t up to snuff. He said that he was painting “felt space,” not real space. His people and the urban settings he placed them in were not realistic in the purest sense of the word, but they sang with spirit and emotion. As Ralph said, “I may paint flat, but I don’t think flat.”

Rembrandt Hands

His most memorable quote, and the one that says the most about him, occurred very early in his artistic career, when someone told him that his hands looked like sticks. He ought to study Rembrandt’s hands, they said, in order to get it right.

His response is priceless: “Fuck you and Rembrandt! My name is Ralph!”

I may not really adopt Ralph’s approach but you can bet his words will be echoing in my head the next time someone says “You should paint like…”


So, those are some of my thoughts on suggestions. Now I am going back to my work, doing it in the only way I know or can. If you have some suggestions for me, well… I’ll look into it.

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GC Myers- In Retreat (Shelter)



When I flew over the Atlas Mountains in a plane, I realized that their formation-through erosion, geological dramas, the action of winds-was completely independent of our moral anxieties; man is in a kind of cyclone; he builds solid houses to protect and shelter his heart. Outside, nature is nothing but indifference, even terror.

― Le Corbusier, When the Cathedrals Were White



As I have written recently, I am neck deep in the  work right now as I prepare for my upcoming solo show, Between Here and There, at the Principle Gallery. It opens on June 4 at the Alexandria, VA gallery that has graciously hosted my solo outings there for the past 22 years.

I am generally excited about each show as it nears but the anticipation to get this work out in the public, out in open air, feels even greater this year. Maybe it’s the events of this past year– a pandemic, an insurrection, the death of my father, a hobbled ankle that has constantly nagged at me, etc– but I felt somewhat distracted in my work over the past year or so. I feel that the work from this time was where I wanted it to be but it came with great effort and a focus that wasn’t always there.

The work from the past several months has been quite unlike that. I am in the midst of a great groove where I feel focused and locked in. It’s one of those rare and wonderful times where the work is coming easily, one piece throwing me instantly into the next, to the point where I will set aside a painting that is 3/4 complete so I can begin the next while the focus and rhythm is still resonating in my brain. I have several such paintings still awaiting completion around the studio as I sit here this morning.

It’s a wonderful feeling, one that I can’t fully explain to you. With this focus, the outside world is diminished, almost blocked out. The work becomes a sort of shelter, a retreat from the darkness and outrage of the world beyond my studio walls. Of the many benefits that being an artist offers, that might be the most valuable for me, the thing that keeps me afloat through thick and thin. The shelter of this work is a life saver.

So good to have it back. I only hope that the show lives up to the feeling. It’s at this point each year that I begin to worry that I am delusional, that my proximity to the work and the process makes me incapable of actually seeing it for what it is.

Contact intoxication, maybe?

But the benefit of being in such a groove is that the work engrosses me so much that it keeps me from fully fixating on this uncertainty. How it is received seems insignificant when it’s like this.

Now that’s the shelter I need.

This leads me to the small piece shown at the top, a 12″ by 12″ canvas that is part of the show, one of the first pieces completed. It set things in motion. It is titled In Retreat (Shelter) which only seems appropriate this morning. I could easily see that Red Roofed structure as my studio or myself as one of those Red Trees that seem to be seeking shelter behind it.

I am going to link this image and post to a song whose chorus has periodically entered my mind over the past 30 or so years. It’s fittingly titled Shelter and is from Lone Justice from back in the mid 1980’s. Led by vocalist Maria McKee, they were very hot for a few years but they couldn’t hold together long enough to reach the potential that so many saw in them. They disbanded in 1987 and Maria McKee went on to a solo career. I thought their two albums were very good and they were regulars on my turntable back in the day. But honestly, I haven’t heard any of their music for probably twenty five years though, as I said, the chorus from this songs pops into my head every now and then. It was produced and cowritten with McKee by Steve Van Zandt, who is known as Miami Steve with Springsteen’s E Street Band, Little Steven with his Disciples of Soul or with his Underground Garage Sirius show, or as Tony’s consigliere Silvio Dante on The Sopranos. You can hear his influence in this song.

Give a listen. Maybe it will help you find some shelter of your own or at least have its chorus pop into your head someday in the future.



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GC Myers-The Fulfillment sm

“The Fulfillment”- Now at the West End Gallery



Take your hand
and place your hand
some place
upon your body.
And listen
to the community of madness
that
you are.

How To Be Alone, Pádraig Ó Tuama



I am up and alone in the studio at 4:30 this morning, eager to get a brush in my hand. It might sound crazy but that doesn’t matter to me right now. I am excited about the work for my Principle Gallery show in June that I am working on and feel a compulsion to keep at it out of the fear that this feeling will soon pass.

But for as excited as I am still about the new work, I am not ready to show a lot of it quite yet. Something makes me want to hold most of it back for a bit, as though showing too much of it will somehow diminish the impact of it as a whole. Actually, the gallery hasn’t even seen a lot of this work, probably for that same reason.

I’ve spent more time already from this early morning than I had wanted before I get to work so I will get to the point of this post. It’s the author’s reading and animation of a piece, How To Belong Be Alone, from Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama. It’s a wonderful short poem that speaks to the need to belong which is similar to that driving need to have my voice heard that brought me to painting.

Some days I find myself questioning whether that need to have my voice heard is a necessity or a product of ego. I mean, here I sit writing about my paintings. Isn’t that an act of ego?

Part of me says that it is. But part of me rejects that idea. After all, we all need to know that our voices are heard, that our existence matters, that we belong in this world. Maybe if I believed that my voice or my work deserved to be heard and appreciated above all others or that it mattered more than that of anyone else, maybe then it would be an act of ego.

But I don’t believe that. We all deserve to let the world hear the voice of our unique selves. Each is as valid and valuable as the next.

I think this poem speaks well to this point.

… listen to the community of madness that you are.

Okay, got to get to work. before I burst. Take a look please.



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GC Myers Early Work 1994-Winter Park



From my seat here, I am looking across the studio at a canvas on the easel. It was nearly finished when yesterday’s painting session came to an end. It was just at that point where it was making the vital transformation into something more than just paint smeared on a surface. The most exciting and gratifying part of the process for me.

Thoughts of this piece  haunted me all last night and were there waiting for me this morning. I was envisioning where my next move on the canvas would come and how it would blossom after that.

I found myself eager to move quickly through the woods and over to the studio.

Almost compelled, as though I had no choice in the matter. That painting was demanding my presence in its service, like I was serving some sort of strange psychic bondage to it. As though it was something that needed to released for my own wellbeing, and the sooner it was done, the better.

The difference, of course, that this is a voluntary thing, a welcomed binding to service. I don’t feel restrained by this.

Instead, I feel freed by the ability to follow this impulse.

It’s a hard thing to describe. And to be frank, I don’t have the time this morning to try to do so any further. That painting is waiting to be released out into the world from its own bondage. Got to go set it free.

Here’s a fitting song, I Feel Free from Cream from many moons ago, back in 1966. It has a real atmospheric, cinematic aspect to it. The painting at the top has no relevance here at all. It’s just an early piece from around 1994 that I call Winter Park. I include it this morning just because it pleases me and I am free to do this.

Enjoy.



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Diebenkorn Ocean Park 67

Richard Diebenkorn- Ocean Park #67



When I am halfway there with a painting, it can occasionally be thrilling… But it happens very rarely; usually it’s agony… I go to great pains to mask the agony. But the struggle is there. It’s the invisible enemy.

–Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993)



I am in the middle of painting and preparing work for my upcoming shows, the first being my annual solo show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria in June. This is my 22nd show there so there is a definite pattern of behaviors and responses that occur during this process of putting together a show.

Some are quite good, resulting in me feeling a sense of purpose or worth. Then there are others that have me wondering why I am doing this or if I am good enough. It’s a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows, sometimes both taking place within hours of each other.

Sometimes a new painting will elicit both elation and doubt. I sometimes finish a piece being totally enamored of its effect on me then begin to doubt my own feeling. Is the appeal I feel real and from the piece itself? Or is it something else? Does my own bias blind me to its flaws?

I had that happen yesterday as I finished a piece that had me very satisfied at its completion. I just loved it, thought that it captured what I felt and needed to say in it. And did so in a bold way. But within hours, my doubts dispensed with all good feelings. I felt like maybe I was seeing things in it that would not be visible to others.

I ended the day not sure what to think of it and not trusting any reaction I felt.

The words from the late painter Richard Diebenkorn above ring very true for me at times like this. There is a constant struggle in the process for me during this time of my painting year. I am up one minute and down the next. At least, I know and accept this so I don’t mistake it for something else, like a psychotic episode.

There might even be something to be gained from this struggle. Maybe it keeps down that form of blind confidence that ultimately stifles the work’s growth.

Conversely, maybe the doubt prohibits growth?

I don’t know and don’t know that I ever will. But I continue the struggle, day in and day out. And cherish the highs and persist through agony of the lows.

It’s all I know how to do.

Time to get on the rollercoaster.

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