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“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

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Above is a new painting, a larger one at 30″ by 48″ on canvas, that is part of Red Tree 20: New Growth, my annual solo show that opens this coming Friday at the Principle Gallery. With its size and deep coloring, it presents a strong and striking image in person. Along with that strength, looking at it, the feeling that came to me was one of hope. There’s a sense of journey in this, a movement through dark and possible peril towards light and the possibility of tranquility. That brought about the title To the Gardens of Hope.

In short, hope is the thing that drives us through the dark.

In dark times we must hold on to hope, to have a goal of light that drives us to action. Too often we think of hope and dreams in passive terms. But hope without action is futile, a lazy daydream that will never grow in the gardens of light.

Hope combined with action is a potent force.

Maybe that is why the words above from the first book of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy seem to mesh so well with how I see this painting. That story certainly had existential peril and darkness. But throughout the tale there was always an end goal that gave hope. And plenty of action was required to get to that goal, to overcome the darkness with light. This concept was not in mind during the painting but now that I think of it, this could be from one of the kingdoms or shires of those books.

That concept can also be summed up in four short lines below from the poet Langston Hughes. Without hope and dreams, we have no will to act and are, as he describes, broken-winged birds.

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     “Hold fast to dreams,     

For if dreams die    

                    Life is a broken-winged bird,     

That cannot fly.”     

       ― Langston Hughes

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So, in perilous times, when darkness seem pervasive, hope has a place for those willing to step forward and move toward the light.

That’s only my take on this painting. You might well see it in different terms and that is, as always, as it should be.

This painting along with the rest of the show will be hung today in the Alexandria gallery. Hope you get a chance to stop in and see it. If you’re around Old Town Alexandria on Friday evening, I will be at the gallery for the opening reception which runs from 6:30-9:00 PM. Come in and say hello. I look forward to it.  

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All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.

Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, 1908

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This little snip from The Wind in the Willows seems to capture that same feeling of a conscious sense of wonder that I see in the new painting above. Titled I Stand Before You, it is 12″ by 36″ on canvas that is part of my solo exhibit, Red Tree 20: New Growth, at the Principle Gallery that opens this Friday, June 7.

I have been showing at the Principle Gallery since the early days of 1997. In the first few years there, I had been included in a group of five painters– Tom Buechner, Marty Poole, Tom Gardner, Rudy Gyr, and myself– from my home region that the gallery termed The Finger Lakes School. That group had two successful annual shows before I was moved out on my own with a solo show in 2000 called Redtree. That was a very successful show and its momentum has, in many ways, carried me through the past two decades.

This year’s show marks my 20th solo show at the Principle Gallery and if I had to use a term to describe what I wanted the work from throughout that time to convey, I might very well use the term sense of wonder. Just being able to witness small bits of this world around me, to see the green of grass and leaf, the ruffle of feathers or the mottle of light on the forest floor, brings about a feeling that I am experiencing all the wonder of this world.

And more than that, this past twenty years has allowed me to maintain that sense of wonder. Part of me expects that sense to diminish as I age but, if anything, it has expanded with through the years. The simplest pleasures, ones that I might well have overlooked in a youthful exuberance to see bigger and grander wonders, now seem like rare and privileged glimpses into the inner workings of the universe.

This very moment, I tuned my head and in the distance I watch two wild turkeys walking up the drive with broken light flashing off their iridescent  feathers. I can’t tell you what a wonder that seems to me and how it makes me appreciate the life I am privileged to live.

As I have pointed out many times before, I am not an overtly religious person. But perhaps this sense of wonder, this sense of awe, fills that same void for me. I don’t know but I am pleased I still wonder about such questions, that I don’t take these simple things that fill me with awe for granted. Maybe that’s a form of prayer.

Who knows?

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Red Tree 20: New Growth opens Friday, June 7, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA, with an opening reception that runs from 6:30 until 9:00 PM. Hope to see you there.

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I’ve been going through some old work for a small exhibit late this summer–I will write more about this at a later date– and have been going through some of the Exiles paintings from the mid- 1990’s. This painting, The Creeper, always jumps off the screen at me and I am hoping to make it part of the exhibit. The post below is from all the way back in 2009. Thought I’d repost it today.

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GC Myers- The Creeper

The Creeper is another of the Exiles series although I would have to say he is an anomaly in the series. He does not mirror the sense of loss or suffering of the other pieces. He is not the mournful exile that so many of the pieces in that series depict.

No, he is the menace of dark dreams. He is always there, looming halfway in the bedroom window. While there is almost the hint of a smile on his face, it is not  pleasant or reassuring.

But, while he is a little scary, there is a bit of whimsy in his appearance. He is more cartoonish than the others. When I look at this face I am constantly reminded of the movie parodies from the beloved Mad magazine of my youth, with their Mad Magazine Godfather Parodyoversized, caricatured faces. This softens the whole feel of the piece for me and makes him less terrifying.

Now, whether someone without that same frame of reference will see him in the same way is another question. Without that reference, maybe he is as creepy as his name.

For me, The Creeper always brings back the memory of a young friend who loved this painting and truly identified with everything about it. He saw the humor but felt the darkness of it as well. He was a vibrant whirlwind of energy who knew well about the personal demons as depicted in this painting. He was a tortured personality and took his own life several years ago.

For him, The Creeper was all too real. When I look at this painting now, I see it as that creeping darkness that invades so many minds, keeping them from finding true peace.
GC Myers- The Creeper

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Life is too short to be little. Man is never so manly as when he feels deeply, acts boldly, and expresses himself with frankness and with fervor.

Benjamin Disraeli

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I gave a talk last week with a local arts group, the Elmira Regional Art Society. There was also a  painting demonstration where I first laid out a composition in red oxide then laid in a few preliminary layers of color on an 18″ by 36″ canvas. The thought was just to give an idea of how the process progresses in a condensed timeframe. As a result, I painted very fast, much quicker than I normally do.

But the demo turned went well and I was fairly pleased with the end result, shown here. Quite honestly, going in I had planned on painting over the demo image and reusing the canvas. But this had good rhythm and the first layers of colors pointed me in a good direction, one that made feel I should keep working on this piece.

So, over the weekend I went at it.

I spent some time looking at the piece and didn’t feel too good about the way the central mound rose out of the field rows. It had the effect of stopping my eye so I went back in and extended it to the bottom of the canvas. This also had the effect of giving the field with the rows more dimension and depth into the picture plane, which is something I am often looking for in these pieces. There is a side by side at the bottom which shows the change in the composition as well as how the colors evolved.

Along with brightening parts of sky, finding a harmony in the colors was the biggest part of the remaining work on this painting. Some forms took on  new color and some were deepened and highlighted.

The final move came in placing the Red Tree which focused the whole piece. It has the feel of a flame for me, with the sky behind it reflecting its light. I call this painting Fire on the Mountain.

I am pleased how this piece emerged, given how it began and the fact that there were no expectations for it. Sometimes that happens.  Thanks for everybody from ERAS who attended the talk. With your questions, comments and good humor, you all had a part in making this piece work.

 

 

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“Nirvana is right here, in the midst of the turmoil of life. It is the state you find when you are no longer driven to live by compelling desires, fears, and social commitments, when you have found your center of freedom and can act by choice out of that. Voluntary action out of this center is the action of the bodhisattvas — joyful participation in the sorrows of the world. You are not grabbed, because you have released yourself from the grabbers of fear, lust, and duties.” 

Joseph CampbellThe Power of Myth

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I was going to share another of the Multitudes pieces that will be included in this year’s June exhibit at the Principle Gallery. But I saw that I have been a little heavy on my sharing of that work as of late and was a little concerned that people might think that was the sole focus of this show.

The title of this show, Redtree 20: New Growth, refers to the fact that this is my 20th solo show at the gallery. My first exhibit in 2000, Redtree, basically marked the beginning of the Red Tree that has become the trademark element of much of my work through the years. Though many elements have entered my visual vocabulary, the Red Tree is a constant and feels new to me each time I paint it.

Now the painting I am showing today, Night Nirvana, a 30″ by 40″ canvas, is what I would call a Red Roof painting, not a Red Tree piece. But it very much reflects the evolution and change taking place in the work over the years.

The process is always changing in some way. Some colors move forward and others recede. New elements are added and some fade away. Even something as basic as the way the surfaces are prepared has gone through changes.

I think that the fact that there is this constant evolution is the reason that my friends at the Principle Gallery are still inviting me to do this show after all these years.

But one thing that hasn’t changed in those 20+ years is the underlying purpose that I hope to find in the work– a place of inner peace and freedom from a world that seems chaotic and in turmoil all too often.

A Nirvana, if you will.

I think the words of Joseph Campbell above, from The Power of Myth, sum up very well what I hope to find in my work. And that aligns very well with what I feel in this new piece which is a sense of a found tranquility that finds a peaceful order amidst the chaos.

It is the realization of self, freed from the expectations and limitations of others.

Well, it is hopeful. And that keeps me want to keep moving forward.

And that is enough.

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Redtree 20: New Growth opens June 7, 2019 at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.

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There is an opening next Friday, February 22, [I originally said the opening was on the 15th because, well, sometimes I get confused]of a special exhibition at the Principle Gallery that marks 25 years of providing high quality artwork in historic Alexandria, Virginia. It has been my great pleasure and honor to be part of this great gallery for 23 of those years and I am pleased to have several pieces in this special show.

Like many of the artists it represents, the Principle Gallery has grown and evolved over those 25 years, becoming one of the most prominent galleries in the country with artists and collectors from near and far as well as another gallery branch in Charleston, SC.

But even with its growing influence in the gallery world, its strength remains the personal and warm welcome it offers to anybody who wanders through the doors of its location in the historic Gilpin House at 208 King Street. There is never a sense of pretense or condescension and the entire staff does all it can to make all feel comfortable. It is all about allowing the gallery visitor to experience the artwork in a way that allows them to relax and fully absorb the art in a personal fashion.

And they have done that successfully every day for the past twenty five years. And I sincerely thank and applaud hem for that. I hope that if you’re in the area you can stop in to celebrate the occasion with them on Friday evening, February 22. The opening reception begins at 6:30.

Unfortunately, I can’t make this opening. But I will be there in June for the opening of my 20th annual solo show. Hope to see you then!

 

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My annual show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, Virginia, opens on Friday, June 7th. This year is my 20th solo show there, something that seemed out of the realm of possibility when this run began with the first Redtree show back in 2000.

Nothing seemed guaranteed at that time.

I was still a fairly new artist at that point, showing my work publicly for barely five years with the last two years as a full-time artist. Still had that new artist smell. I understood that the Principle Gallery was taking a chance on me and that this show was a great opportunity for me as an artist. Solo shows in great galleries don’t just come to artists on an everyday basis and the success or failure of such a show could dictate how my career moved on from that point. I knew that all too well.

I remember my trepidation in the months before that first show as I prepared for it. I was operating in abject fear of my own failure was having trouble visualizing what success this show would even resemble. My final goal for the show ended up being that I simply hoped to not be embarrassed.

Fortunately, it turned out to be very successful. That led to the next year and the next and so forth. There have been varying degrees of success with the shows along the way but one thing that seldom changes is the absolute fear of failure that comes with each show. So, here I am, twenty years in, and still feeling that same ball of anxiety in my gut. If anything, it might even be worse because I see this as a personal landmark of sorts. I want it to be a show worthy of twenty years invested by the gallery.

I’ve been looking at some of he work from those earliest Principle Gallery shows, trying to see similarities and differences between the work then and now. To see how it has changed, to see what has been gained and lost. One that struck me this morning was the piece above from 2001 called Symphony to Joy. It’s a piece with what I would term great organic appeal. I mean that it in the sense given by the linework within the piece and the way the colors and forms play off one another. It just seems very natural.

Maybe I shouldn’t try to explain such things.

But what I am looking at is how I can regain that natural feel, that organic sense present in the painting. Twenty years of painting have straightened some lines, taken some spontaneity out of some color choices, and softened some rough edges. Experience and knowledge has taken the place of the urgency of the pure emotion found in these early pieces.

I sit here this morning anxiously wondering how to find a way to merge the experience with that emotional urgency. Hope I can figure it out before June 7th.

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