Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

“Depth of Moment”- From the show “Red Tree 20: New Growth,” at the Principle Gallery

Well, the paintings are in the gallery now for my new solo exhibit, Red Tree 20: New Growth, opening next Friday, June 7, at the Principle Gallery.

I can now let out a big sigh of relief just knowing the biggest part of the process– the creation, finishing, and delivery–is out of the way.

And I can give an even bigger sigh of relief in seeing that the work looks very strong in the gallery. It had the pop in that space that I hoped for. Sometimes pieces can feel bigger and stronger in the studio and much less so in the open space of a gallery. This group had the depth of color and strength of forms along with the sizing and scale that fit well in the space.

They could say what they had to say. That’s all I could hope for them. Now it’s up to them.

Phew! Now it just comes down to seeing if others can see and hear what they are saying. We shall see…

For today’s Sunday morning music, here’s a song from the very unique Leon Redbone, who passed away Thursday at the age of 69. It’s a 1977 performance of Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone. Gentle and easy for a gray and very wet and green morning here. Hope there’s some sunshine for you, wherever you might be.

Read Full Post »

Civil War Soldier DageurrotypeMemorial Day weekend. I’m no historical anthropologist so I can’t be completely certain when I say that I don’t believe there is any one group of people on this planet who have not been touched by war in some significant way. The history of this world has been written in the bloody ink of war.

A few years back, when I began doing genealogy for the families of my wife and myself, I was surprised at the many, many generations in each line who had taken part in the wars of their times, putting their lives aside to give so much of themselves– in some cases, their very lives– for causes that often might have been mere abstractions to them.

In fact, we have both have ancestors who have fought and died in every war and conflict waged on and by this nation since the Pilgrims first landed at Plymouth Rock. I have a 7th great grandfather from the 1600’s, Benjamin Church, considered the founder of the Army Rangers, who led his Ranger unit in King Phillip’s War  and other early wars. There are ancestors who fought on both sides of the conflict during the American Revolution. There are ancestors who were prisoners of war at Andersonville and a number of others who are buried throughout the American south, from Louisiana to Georgia to Virginia, as a result of the Civil War.

Part of me is proud that these people have answered the call to be a small part in something bigger. But another part of me is simply sad to think that they were called on to give so much in order to satisfy or deny the baser motives of those in power. War has usually been about greed and acquisition, nationalistic pride or ethnic and religious hatred– in each instance proposed with the greatest conviction and certainty by the leaders of each side of the cause.

And on Memorial Day, we remember the people who actually fulfilled the pleas of these leaders, be they right or wrong. These citizens did what they were asked and what they felt was necessary in their time and place. And I have nothing but respect for that.

For today’s image, I chose the daguerreotype of the Civil War soldier at the top because there was something in him that seemed to show the sacrifice of war. Maybe it’s the steely stare of his eyes. Or maybe it was his belt that is cinched in to what looks to be a ridiculously tiny diameter, showing how emaciated he appears to be. I’m not exactly sure but there is something in him that seems contemporary, less dated.

And for today’s Sunday musical selection, I have chosen the song Ben McCulloch from Steve Earle.  It tells the story of two brothers who enlist in the Confederate Army in the Civil War and discover the hard realities of war as they serve under General McCulloch, who was a real person who died in battle in 1862. The chorus probably echos the sentiments of many soldiers through time for their commanding officers who foolhardily place them in situations where they face overwhelming odds.

So have a great Sunday and a Memorial Day filled with some appreciation of what the day really encompasses.

**********************
This post originally ran several years back but its message is the same as I would convey today.

**********************
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_0h1StPJBM

Read Full Post »

Another Memorial Day weekend has come. Not going to ramble on much this morning about the meaning of the holiday. Just going to show a photo and play a song, Fortunate Son, that is about the injustice of wars where the young and the poor pay the price by fighting and dying in wars waged by rich old men who shelter their own children from having to pay that same price.

The photo above, from the National Library of Medicine, feature five Civil War veterans who lost limbs in combat. I guess in their own way, they are fortunate in their own way by simply being able to come out of the war only missing limbs. That was probably small comfort to them.

Here’s the 1969 Creedence Clearwater Revival song, Fortunate Son, performed by John Fogerty along with Dave Grohl and the Sound City Players. It’s a very good version and a message that still resonates after 50 years.

Have a good day.

 

Read Full Post »

Wasn’t going to write anything today as I have a full schedule in prepping work for delivery of my June Principle Gallery show combined with my visit to see my dad at the local nursing facility where has lived with his dementia for most of the last three years. But I began listening to some music and when Heroes from David Bowie came on, it made me scroll back through some older posts and I came across the one below.

Heroism is a term that has been warped a bit by our fascination with comic book heroism. On a Memorial day weekend, we should be reminded that many of the people who we memorialize for their service and sacrifice didn’t have superhero qualities. They were no different than anyone else when faced with adversity and danger– scared, confused and wishing it was all over. But heroism comes in fighting through these emotions and simply doing the task that is required of them. To simply do the right thing and take responsibility for those things before them that they can control. To unselfishly serve in the moment.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Doing one’s duty without giving thought to how the outcome might affect you is a rare thing. I guess that is why we celebrate holidays devoted to service and heroism.  And it’s especially rare in these perilous times where a single, simple act of heroism from a small handful people in congress could completely change the direction in which this country is headed.

That might be too much to ask of them. Heroism is not for everyone, I suppose. But for the rest of us, let us put aside our selfish concerns and serve someone and something greater than ourselves. Just do what is right. Then we can all be heroes.

Here’s the post from several years back:

*******************************

Arthur Ashe HeroismKeeping up the theme that was the subject of an earlier post this week, I decided that for this Sunday morning’s musical selection I would play a lovely version of Heroes from David Bowie. It’s an acoustic version (with Gail Ann Dorsey accompanying him on vocals and bass) from a 1996 performance at the Bridge School Benefit, an annual concert began by Neil Young to benefit the Bay Area school that helps kids with severe speech and physical impairments. In that context, the song takes on additional layers of meaning as you see the many parents in the audience with their children, many cradling them.

Heroism.

Looking for an image to illustrate this post, I did an image search by punching in the word hero. It was all superheroes and warriors which saddened me because I know that heroism is something far more than that. It’s about doing those things that need to be done, about taking responsibility in order to serve a purpose beyond your own needs. We think of it as a rare thing but it is evident every day in the actions of those people who give so much of themselves to others.

For me, an example of this came to me in a very personal way. When my mother was struggling in the last months of her battle with cancer, I visited her for  last time. Her and my father had been together for about 46 years at that point, years which could be described as turbulent at best. For such a long married couple, they had an odd love/hate relationship which had them always on the edge of huge screaming  battles that were fraught with violence. They were terrible things to see and even as a child I often wondered why they remained together. But they did and as she neared the end of her life, Dad became her cook, her maid, her nurse, and her driver to the many treatments that made up the last months of her life. Her everything.

When I made my last visit, I noticed a photo on her bedside table. It was photo of the two of them together from several years before, standing at some Florida site drenched in sun. On the cheap little frame, underneath my father was a word formed in simple block letters, those kind of press-on letters that you rub on from a sheet.

It was the word Hero.

Now, at that point in my life I didn’t see my father in heroic terms. Far from it. No, he was and is a very flawed human being with many traits that are far from any definition of heroism. But in this case, he took on the form of a hero for my mother and in that moment, looking at that photo, for myself as well. I realized that the word was not about great accomplishment but rather about following that need to serve another and just doing the right thing in a moment of need.

So it can be for everyone, as the song says :

I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can beat them, just for one day
We can be heroes, just for one day

I finally came across the  quote at the top from the late Arthur Ashe that seemed to best fit the thought .

Have a great Sunday. Be a hero to someone today.

Read Full Post »

George Grosz- Explosion, 1917

**************************

In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defense against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.

-James Madison, speech at the Constitutional Convention, 1787

**************************

The drumbeat of war has started.

It’s all too predictable.

Here at home, the executive branch is under huge strain as it tries to deflect against any inspection or investigation of its actions. The president* has had historically low approval numbers while his actions seem designed to favor the wealthy few or his most ardent supporters at the expense of the majority of its citizens. He has shown a penchant for punishing those who stand against him and for spewing hateful, divisive rhetoric at rallies.

This same president* has shown a decided preference for foreign dictators and despots over our traditional friends and allies. He has attempted to follow their examples here at home, shattering the norms of democracy by trying to gain more and more power for the executive branch, unburdening himself from any sort of oversight by the other branches. His actions are uncompromising and unilateral, evidence of his desires for the same sort of unfettered power he sees in those autocrats he so admires and fawns over.

He desires unlimited executive power with little or no oversight.

So, as investigations roil around him, as his ambitions become more and more apparent (and attainable thanks to a craven GOP senate and a personal lawyer in the form of the Attorney General) what better way to deflect attention and gain support than use the ancient ruse, as Madison pointed out in his speech at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, of moving towards war against some foreign enemy?

We already have a historic foe in Iran. Our president* has been assisted by foreign autocrats, particularly the Russians and the Saudis, in reaching his lofty perch and appears to be in debt in some way to them now, willing to do their bidding on the world stage.  Iran is already an enemy to one of this president*’s greatest supporters, the Saudi Prince.

Recent unsubstantiated attacks of Saudi and UAE oil tankers (damage made by these unseen attacks was above the waterline, causing no spillage or injury nor made the ships less seaworthy) have the drums beating louder and louder. We have sent a carrier group to the Persian Gulf and plans are being prepared to send up to 120,000 US troops to the region. That is a force of about the same size as when we invaded Iraq. This would also be a unilateral move on the US’s part, with no involvement from our former traditional allies.

It is dangerous moment for us and the world.

A conflict  in this region could cost us dearly. The number of troops who would be sacrificed, and sacrificed is the term I knowing use, is unknown but even one or four or a hundred would be too many for such a misdirected ploy. There has even been talk that if this turned into a full blown war that we would not have sufficient numbers of troops and might need to reinstate the draft.

Or use private armies, an idea I find as reprehensible and financially irresponsible as the idea of private prisons.

Financially, it would cost our nation for decades to come as we know from the debt we still pay for the wars of the early 2000’s. Gas and oil prices would no doubt rise sharply with an ongoing war in that area of the world.

The repercussions throughout the world as far as trade are not known but past experience would point to a global downturn which in turn would strain those countries with already marginal economies. Would-be tyrants would be emboldened and there would be a surge in refugees fleeing such places.

It would be an existential test for a world already under stress.

And all because of a man* who has debts to those who would use him for the worst of reasons.

He is compromised and as a result, we, the people of this nation, are compromised as well. We will all be forced to pay for this compromise, some with money and some with their blood, their limbs, and their lives.

And for what? To divert attention? To change the narrative? To pay off some sort of debt?

And the drum beats on.

Read Full Post »

I wasn’t going to make Mother’s Day the subject of today’s blog but walking over to the studio in the gray,cool drizzle put me in a slightly sad and wistful mood, one that made me think of my own mother on this day. I’ve posted the bit of writing below a couple of times over the years and thought it was worth doing so again this morning.  I ran this post before with an old Eddy Arnold song that I knew Mom liked very much but today I am running it with one she most likely never heard, Helpless, from Neil Young. It’s one of my favorites and one that certainly aligns with the tone of this morning here. Have a good day.

*****************

GC Myers- A Hard PastIt’s Mother’s Day again. You might think the image I am showing today is an odd selection for this day. It’s a small painting called A Hard Past that is from my 2008 Outlaws series. It’s one of a few pieces that I deeply regret ever letting go as it holds great personal meaning for me. I just didn’t realize it at the time.

I know that this may not seem like a flattering thing to say but every time I look at this image I see my Mom’s face. At least, a certain look she had when she was sitting by herself in silence at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of tea and smoking her ever-present Camel cigarettes, those unfiltered beauties that no doubt contributed to the lung cancer that took her life at age 63.

She would sit in stillness for a long period time at that table with a distant and hardened gaze on her face. I always wondered what she was thinking or where she was in that moment. But when you’re a kid you just move through the kitchen without a word or a question.

Oh, the things we leave unsaid and the questions that go unasked.

More’s the pity…

The title, A Hard Past, came from this memory of her. She had a pretty hard life- her mother died when she was three, no school beyond ninth grade, years of toiling in a factory and a long, turbulent and angry marriage to my father. It gave her a hard edge, a toughness that several people commented on after her death back in 1995.

But they also commented on her humor, generosity and willingness to help others who might need a hand– those qualities that I also saw in her. Those qualities that I so miss.

So while this painting may not seem like a flattering tribute, just seeing my Mom in this piece means so much to me, reminding me of all she was to me.

Have a pleasant Mother’s Day…

*************
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7rQvJgTQ9U

Read Full Post »

I would much rather be writing about art this morning and I am sure most of you would rather be looking at a piece of art than listening to my opinion on any current event. You might even mumble that I should shut my trap and paint. Well, this is my space, my journal, my diary, and when I am affected I need to put my feelings down somehow. And after watching the testimony of the Attorney General yesterday before the Senate Judiciary committee, I feel the need to air a grievance or two. It left me angry and more than a little worried about the future of this country.

I believe that we are closer to becoming an autocracy than we have ever been at any point in our history. The AG basically said yesterday that the president is above the law, that the president has the right to shut down any investigation into his actions if that president– the person under investigation— feels that the investigation is unfair to him. The AG also stated that because there is a Department of Justice policy that the president cannot be charged with a crime ( a ridiculous policy in itself!) he should not even be subject to investigation in the first place.

Think about that. The person with the greatest power in the nation cannot be held accountable by federal law enforcement agencies. He is free to lie and break multiple laws– even work with foreign powers to subvert our elections– in order to protect his position and the DOJ will simply stand by or work to investigate the president’s personal or political enemies, something that the AG did not rule out yesterday.

The AG showed himself to be the dangerous enabler many folks thought he would turn out to be. It was evident yesterday that this man was not acting as the protector of the people and our laws but as the protector of a single person– the president– who he has put above all law.

He has assumed the position not as attorney general but as both protector and sword of the president.

I don’t think that is in the job description. That is a real danger to real democracy and multiplies the power and threat of the presidency.

A lot of folks might say that this is just rhetoric and overstated hype. But autocracy and tyranny creeps up on you in small steps. It doesn’t just drop one day and you’re suddenly in an authoritarian society. It comes in small concessions made to the long established traditions and norms. It comes in accepting half-truths and outright lies even when they are easily proven to be falsehoods. It comes in beating down and denigrating the free press.

It comes with ridiculous promises and claims that stoke a sense of rabid nationalism among their true believers and so many clouds of confusion that the average citizen throws up their hands and says, “Whatever!” And that is exactly what they need to keep their march to autocracy. They need people to give up and turn blind eyes to their subversion because at this point, an alert citizenry that holds their representatives in government accountable might be the only thing keeping us from sliding into the abyss of tyranny.

I personally feel like we are at the edge of that chasm now and it is only a thin string that is keeping us from tumbling over.

For those of you who give a damn I say stay alert. Read the news and support the free press. Read the Mueller Report. If something doesn’t sound right or make sense, investigate. Call or write your reps and senators. Vote every chance you have. Ask questions.

Democracy and what we consider real freedom are not guaranteed nor are they free. At some point, a price must be paid by us all. It is looking more and more like we are all being called to account.

One last note and this rant is done: I think there is a lot more to come out, if it is allowed to see the light of day, concerning the Russian connections, especially in areas like money laundering, influence peddling and kompromat. I also think much might be heard soon about the Russian owned Alfa Bank.

Here’s a song from a couple of years back that says it all. It’s Take Back the Power from the LA-based ska punk band, The Interrupters. Have the best day you can and stay alert. Art tomorrow, I promise.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: