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I myself incline to drift, to accept a lesser situation rather than strive for a greater, and yet, I know that character in life and art is only made by an effort that is quite beyond one’s ordinary everyday acceptance of things as they are. 

–Lawren Harris, Letter to Catherine Whyte

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Came across this quote from one of my favorites, the painter Lawren Harris, and it really stood out for me on a couple of fronts.

Personally, it was a reminder that an artist’s character is developed by continuing to push beyond what they know they can do. To become more and not settle for the situation as it is. It’s easy to do what you know is possible but trying to do what you are not sure is within your grasp builds confidence, builds character. That is what moves the needle.

That’s an important thing for any artist to have in mind. I know I have to kick myself on a regular basis to not lull myself to sleep by doing what I know I can do and not attempting to do that new thing that seems too much for me to handle.

But on a larger scale, Harris’ words speak to where we are as a nation at this very moment, We are in a crucial moment and what happens in the coming days and weeks will determine both where we are headed as a nation and what makes up our collective character. Do we take the easy way that just accepts things as they are? Or do we pull from deep within our character and do that which is right even though it might require true effort and perhaps even sacrifice?

I wish I could say which way it will go but I don’t know. I believe that there is so much more that will be soon uncovered that to maintain the status quo will be untenable and there will be big change.

That the character we aspire to as a nation will finally come forward.

But that’s just my belief. Like all beliefs, without effort, it’s not worth much.

I thought the painting at the top, Light House at Father Point, was a great symbol for this post. The light house is a warning device, one that alerts sailors that they are approaching an area where they must proceed with caution.

We are at such a point as well. If we don’t pay attention we could end up on the rocks.

Let’s heed the warning from our own light house and not just take what is at hand as being the way things should be.

Let’s make an effort.

Let’s be more.

Let that define our character.

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The Seven Social Sins

1- Wealth without work.
2- Pleasure without conscience.
3- Knowledge without character.
4- Commerce without morality.
5- Science without humanity.
6- Religion without sacrifice.
7- Politics without principle.

–Frederick Lewis Donaldson, Westminster Abbey sermon, March, 1925

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The list above has been attributed for years to Mahatma Gandhi who published this same list later in the year in 1925 but it first came from a sermon given by Anglican priest, Frederick Lewis Donaldson, at Westminster Abbey in March of that year.  Gandhi published it in his newspaper, Young India, in October, stating in a very short commentary that the list was sent to him by a “fair friend,” adding “Naturally, the friend does not want the readers to know these things merely through the intellect but to know them through the heart so as to avoid them.”

Though Gandhi may not have originated the list, his reputation sent the message worldwide.

Reading the list early this morning, I was struck that the entirety of the list could be applied to many of those who wield the power of government, most notably the person(?) who sits in our white house. He is devoid of all the positive social attributes on the right side of this list, existing without conscience, character, morality,humanity, or principle. Nor is he unwilling to work or sacrifice anything of his own to make the world better for those beneath him in the social pecking order.

Based on his comments stating that traumatic head injuries suffered by our soldiers weren’t real wounds, I think you can throw empathy and a few other positives into the list of things missing from his being.

In short, he is a hollow man.

A husk.

And the more we follow his lead, giving in to his twisted and selfish worldview, the more hollow we become as a nation. You can easily see it in the way he has affected the republican party which has many members in power who, like him, are crossing off more and more items on the list above. They have become a husk of a political party, one without conscience or principle or shame of any sort, all too willing to carry the water for the hollow man.

As a result, he is going to be acquitted in this trial. That’s a forgone conclusion.

As Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote over two thousand years ago: “Here is a man whose life and actions the world has already condemned – yet whose enormous fortune…has already brought him acquittal!

Some things remain the same. That doesn’t make it right nor does it undo the harm already done and the damage yet to come.

And the more hollow we become as a nation, the more of these sins that we normalize, the less able we will become to recover when that damage fully arrives.

We must ask more of our leaders. And ourselves.

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“No matter how corrupt, greedy, and heartless our government, our corporations, our media, and our religious & charitable institutions may become, the music will still be wonderful.

― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

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It’s obvious that the removal trial coming before the Senate is being rigged by the GOP leadership to have no witnesses, no press coverage and as little evidence as possible. It is a travesty that mocks the entire concept of law and justice. It is a slap in the face of all citizens.

It’s infuriating. But I didn’t want to write about that today. So, I won’t.

However, I did come across a great quote from the late Kurt Vonnegut that allows me to use it to somewhat comment while moving on to something else. Vonnegut reminds us that while the coming days may mark the end of the Great American experiment as we know it, we have made some great music. Hopefully, that part of us will not change.

It reminded me of a post from several years back that I am running again today:

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GC Myers- American Music 1994Last week I wrote about going through some old work and coming across work that had been lost in my memory, work that I seemed to recognize but couldn’t quite remember the how or why of it. Didn’t have that recollection of the moment that I usually have with my work where I can recall the emotion of that time, recall the instant it excited me and came to life for me. You know it’s your own work but it remains an enigma, a question. This is another that I came across last week. It was marked as being from 1994 and was titled American Music across the bottom.

I have looked at this piece a number of times over the year and know that it came from a time when I was experimenting on an almost constant basis, trying to capture that thing in my mind that I couldn’t quite identify but knew instinctively was there. All kinds of things poured out, most eventually set aside like this one. And through the years, looking at this piece always makes me question why I wrote  American Music across the bottom of the sheet it was painted on. I don’t know if I saw some rhythm in this that reminded me of a generic American music or if I had been listening to some old music. The Blasters, fronted by Phil Alvin, had a song of that name in the early 80’s that I always liked so maybe that played a part.

But the fact is that I just don’t know. And there’s something interesting in that, that I get to look at a piece and try to figure out what the artist was thinking without really being sure. It’s not too often that you get to do that with your own work. And I think that’s why I gravitate to this piece whenever I go through my old stuff.

An enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in paint.

Maybe you can figure it out. Here are The Blasters with the original version of their song, American Music.

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There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.

——Isaac Asimov, Newsweek interview, 1980

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We’re on the eve of a dramatic and historic event starting tomorrow with the impeachment trial in the Senate. The stakes from this trial are as high as we have ever faced as a nation, far more than the two previous impeachment proceedings of the last fifty years, the Nixon and Clinton affairs. Neither of those had imminent national security issues. Neither had the sitting president asking for and receiving assistance from foreign nations in gaming our elections. Neither had the president using the whole power of his office and the many agencies at his disposal to obstruct and evade investigation.

As serious as those prior impeachments were, they pale in comparison to this trial and the ramifications that emerge from its outcome. With an acquittal of charges, the current president** will be totally unrestrained in his actions with, for all practical purposes, no oversight. An acquittal basically says that any president from this point forward can do whatever he desires. He can smother any investigation, refuse to release any information and persecute those who stand against him.

The president**, if you believe the hackneyed rationale of his attorney Alan Dershowitz, is unimpeachable for abuse of power or obstruction of justice.

Dershowitz has written that this president** could allow Russia to retake Alaska, in the same way it is attempting to reclaim Ukraine, without ordering resistance from our troops. As wrong as he claims it would be, Dershowitz writes that this would not constitute an impeachable offense.

As insane as that sounds, it may not be out of the realm of possibility for this president**, given his subservient stance toward Putin and Russia.

His power, according to Dershowitz–at least at this time–is near absolute. To put it plainly, he is above the law.

That is the nightmare scenario we are facing in this trial– a man with little, if any, self-restraint who may be given the green light to indulge his deepest and darkest desires. And to think that he won’t head that way with this newly found freedom is foolishness. Can you think of a single day in the past three years where he has tried to unify this nation in any way? His time in office has been a blur of self-serving actions, befuddling lies that are pawned off by his willing accomplices as truths, attacks of retribution and an almost nihilistic attack on the functional systems of our nation.

With acquittal, the last three years of madness and stupidity will be seen as the “good old days” as we go forward.

How did we get to this point? Well, it’s been heading this way for about forty years. For one thing, there is the unrestricted money in political campaigns which allows the wealthiest among us to parlay their wealth into political power that would give them even more advantages. So they can amass more wealth and more political power.

That might be the biggest contributing factor. But much of it comes down to the words at the top of the page from Isaac Asimov.

This cult of ignorance has been nurtured greatly in the past forty years. Minds that are easily distracted and lazy are easily manipulated. Those who wish to cultivate these people feed them misinformation, disinformation and outright lies, stoking their fears and angers while at the same time bringing them to the belief that their only hope lies in the very people who are fanning the flames and profiting from it.

Ignorance is a powerful force.

Ignorance becomes a belief system. It’s almost impossible to fight this belief with rational and fact based arguments. The line my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge” could easily be replaced now with “my belief, as unfounded and ridiculous as it is, is greater than your facts.

I try to maintain a sense of hopefulness in the face of the tide of ignorance that swirls around us. But today, as we wait on a trial that whose outcome seems almost preordained to hurl us into an abyss, I am not particularly filled with optimism.

I want to be wrong and hope I am proven so.

But I don’t think I am and don’t think I will be at this point.

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When the idea first came to mind of doing an auction to raise funds to help out the wildlife organizations in Australia that are faced with the Herculean task before them, I thought it would be ending at noon today. But due to the generosity and good spirit displayed those folks who participated, the auction terminated early with all three paintings reaching the goals set for them.

So early, in fact, that all were paid for and the funds forwarded to Wildlife Rescue Australia (WIRES) by last evening.

The final tally?

The three pieces raised a total of $3750 which I bumped up to an even $4000 for the donation.

The donation was made to the Australian charity in Australian dollars, which after conversion, came out to 5815 AUD$. Sounds more impressive, right?

Hopefully, those funds will help the healing there in some small way.

The three bidders who put in the winning bids are spread around and all are folks who I have come to know through my work.

For the first painting, A Clearing Comes, I want to thank Denny S. of Springfield, Ohio for stepping up to the plate with his generous bid. I use the baseball term because Denny has the first baseball painting (and one that I periodically run out here) I did a number of years back. More than that, Denny is just an all around good guy with a generous heart. Thank you, Denny.

The Hideaway

The next painting that went was The Hideaway, won by Jennifer M. and Stevan K. of nearby Trumansburg, NY. I’ve met this lovely couple a few times over the past few years and am always pleased to spend some time talking with them. They attended this past year’s Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery with their children, who impressed me greatly with their questions and observations. Jennifer and Stevan, you are warm and caring people and I thank you so much.

Part of the Pattern

And the final painting, A Part of the Pattern, went to John M. and Ron S. from Moline, Illinois. They first saw my work at my 2012 exhibit at the Fenimore Museum in Cooperstown while on a road trip. I met them face to face a year or two later as they were visiting the West End Gallery while on another road trip. They are both good and gracious guys and I thank you both, John and Ron– or Hank as he is sometimes known.

To these winning bidders and everyone else who took part, I extend my everlasting gratitude. There are so many dire problems in this world right now, so many places with people and creatures that need our help, that it seems almost ridiculous to think that any one of us can make a difference in any meaningful way.

It’s a big world with big challenges.

But thanks to people like these folks, small steps can be made. And more than that, hope is maintained and carried forward, as is the belief that can still affect the world around us.

That we can make a difference.

And so long as we have that belief, hope and possibility remain.

So, make a difference. I am not asking you to shift the world from its axis. Help someone out. A hand up to someone who is down. Give some time. A dollar, or five or ten, here and there.

Do what you can and be generous in your spirit.

It will do the world some good.

A Clearing Comes- Auction for Australian Wildlife

 

 

 

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7:55 AM UPDATE: The third and final painting for this auction reached its set goal of $1000! Thanks to everyone for making this a great fundraiser.

Many, many thanks to everyone for making a success of the auction to benefit the rescue and rehabilitation of Australian wildlife affected by the recent wildfires there. On each of the last two days, paintings put up for auction reached their set goals, moving the amount raised closer to the $4000 mark I arbitrarily set as a goal.

Now if we can have the third and final piece sell, we’re there.

That final painting is Part of the Pattern. I have set a Buy Now price of $1000 on it, with an opening bid of $400. I knew when I chose this piece for this auction that it would be the last to go. It is a bit more personal in its view, a bit more narrow in its appeal and attuned to my own beliefs. That it speaks loudly and clearly to me doesn’t mean that it will have the same effect across the board.

While I keep telling myself that my feeling are strong enough that I should just keep it, it remains a painting that I am willing to part with, not for money for myself, but in order to do something good. I want that for this painting– that it does something good now and perhaps again later, at some future point in the life of whoever obtains it.

To that end, I am promising that if someone bids the Buy Now price of $1000, there will be a special added gift with it. I am not disclosing what this is but if you know my past, you will recognize that this is not an empty promise. My credo has always been to give a bit more than people expect. It’s a lousy way to do business but it helps me sleep at night.

So, take a look at yesterday’s post for the rules of the auction and bid. You’ll be getting a painting that I think is special along with an added gift but more than that, your bid will provide a lot of help for creatures that are trapped in the midst of a true environmental tragedy.

Thanks for helping out.

Here’s a post I wrote about Part of the Pattern several years back that better explains how I see it:

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GC Myers- Part of the Pattern

There are only patterns, patterns on top of patterns, patterns that affect other patterns.  Patterns hidden by patterns. Patterns within patterns.  If you watch close, history does nothing but repeat itself. What we call chaos is just patterns we haven’t recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can’t decipher.  What we can’t understand we call nonsense. What we can’t read we call gibberish.

–Chuck Palahniuk, Survivor

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I tend to agree with the snippet above from Chuck Palahniuk’s book.

Everything is built upon pattern. Who we are and how we behave. History. Science. Music and art. It is all dictated by patterns.

Most of us don’t dwell too long on identifying patterns in the world around us and some of us will even refuse to acknowledge the predominance of pattern in the world, believing everything is random and chaotic. I suppose that in itself is part of a pattern, a larger one that is so encompassing that we can’t see it from our vantage point within it.

 Just speculating there, of course.

I know that I am always looking for pattern, even when I’m not really looking. I call it pattern, rhythm, flow, sense of rightness and other terms, without knowing why I am drawn to this concept. It just attracts me in that it is so much part of everything that there must surely be significance.

All of this flowed forward with this new painting, a 4″ by 17″ piece on paper that I’m calling Part of the Pattern. It’s based on a theme I’ve used several times recently of pools rising through a tall vertical picture plane like ladder rungs. This particular piece was so much more stylized in its forms that it really became more about pattern than subject. I see it both as a landscape and as some sort of underlying pattern that makes up the landscape. A sort of DNA-like structure on which the world is built. Whatever it is, it holds my eye and makes me keep searching for something in it.

“Part of the Pattern” in the Studio

 

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9:15 PM AUCTION UPDATE: We have a winning bid of $1000 for “The Hideaway”. “Part of the Pattern” is still available.

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Okay, here’s the deal: The initial auction to raise funds to aid in the relief of Australian wildlife from the fires was a success. $1750 was the winning bid for the painting offered and that amount (plus a bit more) will be donated to Wildlife Rescue Australia (WIRES), which is the largest wildlife rescue and rehab organization in Australia.

My initial goal was to donate $2000 to this organization. We’re there and that’s a pretty good sum to send them. It will really help in a big way and I can feel pretty good about doing that much.

But I have a real nagging feeling that we can do a little more. That we should do more.

So, I’ve moved the goal to $4000.

That would be twice as much help, right?

To get there I have pulled two more paintings to auction. Both are particular favorites of mine and one has been living with me in the studio for a few years. It was one of those personal pieces that I thought was going to be a permanent fixture here. But doing this seems more important than holding onto a piece of art for myself. Better it is out in the world because it helped a worthy cause.

That piece is Part of the Pattern, which is on paper, matted and framed at 22″ high by 9″ wide. When it was last in a gallery it’s price was $1000. It would be valued at about $1250 now but we will go with its last gallery price for valuation. The bidding on this painting starts at $400 and there is BUY NOW price of $1000.

The second painting I am offering is The Hideaway, below, a painting that always jumps out at me. It is also on paper, matted and framed at 12″ by 12″. It’s value is $1000. The bidding on this painting starts at $400 and there is BUY NOW price of $1000.

So, same rules apply. Auctions both end Saturday, January 18, at 12 noon EST, unless the Buy Now prices is reached.

You can either bid in the comment section or email your bid to me at info@gcmyers.com with the word AUCTION on the Subject line. PLEASE SPECIFY WHICH PAINTING YOU ARE BIDDING ON.
I will pay for shipping and will include a few extra surprises with each. I will also provide proof of the donation being made.

Hope you will take part. Like the saying goes, every little bit helps. Thanks!

Part of the Pattern- Up For Auction

The Hideaway- Auction to Benefit Australian Wildlife

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