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GC Myers- Song of Joy  2021



The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

― Rabindranath Tagore



Titled Song of Joy, this 18″ by 24″ painting on masonite panel is included in my annual solo exhibit Between Here and There, opening Friday, June 4, at the Principle Gallery.

This piece really struck me in a powerful way while it was in the studio. There is something in the brightness and clarity of the colors that just feels joyful to me. And the orange sun rising adds a sense of forward-looking hope to this joy. Even the shapes of the rich green forms in the foreground had a happy, joyful feeling.

It might be one of the more optimistic paintings I have done in some time. There is a positivity that I think reflects the thought above from the great Nobel Prize winning poet/writer Rabindranath Tagore. There is real joy to be found in the recognition that we are all filled from the same stream of life, that the lifeforce of all living things and the atoms of which we are all comprised are from that stream.

This sense of unity, this joyfulness in simply being, also makes the natural sorrows of this world, the inescapable realities of our lifetimes, somewhat easier to absorb. It is, after all, simply part of the stream’s flow. And for all of the joy and brightness of this painting, it has an underlying darkness showing through.

By its very nature, it is brightness built on darkness. It’s something I always want and seek in my work, this sense of visible darkness which contrasts and heightens the light.

Joy in life despite the its hardships.

And in this painting, that is the source of the Red Tree’s Song of Joy.

Here’s a song that sort of expresses this type of joy. It’s Feelin’ Good Again from Robert Earl Keen. It’s a favorite song that I’ve played it here before. It always reminds me of my dad and his bar buddies, many who he had known most of his life. I remember stopping at the bar with him on a number of times on Saturday mornings, a quick pitstop on the way to the horse track, and how all these guys would be so happy in seeing one another, laughing and shouting. It might have been as close to real joy as I ever saw in my dad. This song always feels like it’s a song of joy he would understand.



9921063 Song of Joy Catalog page

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GC Myers- In Rhapsody  2021



My soul is a hidden orchestra; I know not what instruments, what fiddlestrings and harps, drums and tamboura I sound and clash inside myself. All I hear is the symphony.

― Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet



The idea of a union between music and painting has long been a theme in my work. I think my new solo show, Between Here and There, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria probably explores that idea more than most of my prior shows.

The painting above might be the best example of this. It is titled In Rhapsody and is 24″ by 30″ on canvas. I see all sorts of musical equivalencies or analogies in it. I see the Red Tree here as a conductor of sorts, standing in a sort of spotlight of brightness amidst an orchestra composed of the landscape and the skies and the mountains as he pushes them to a loud crescendo. Something very Beethoven-like or Wagnerian to that, probably due to the influence of Bugs Bunny cartoons in my childhood. I most likely know more about Warner Brothers’ cartoons than I do about classical music but that doesn’t dampen my appreciation for either.

Or I see whole painting as a musical score, the layers of the landscape moving back into the picture plane as movements in a musical piece, each with their own emotional content and inflection that leads to the next, with which it blends and meshes into a building harmony. It builds more and more as the layers move deeper culminating in the movement from land and water up into the red-violet of the sky. The sky here feels like the crescendo here for me.

Everything builds to the drama contained in the color and clouds of that sky.

For me, it has an ethereal, timeless quality that reminds me of a fine piece of music, one that moves people in any time in which it is played. Music and art are emotion-based and while everything in this world is forever changing and the circumstances might be completely different for generations of listeners or viewers, our emotional responses remain very much the same. We coo in love and rage in hate, we laugh in joy, we cry in despair, and so on.

Our emotions are fields of constancy and music and art work their magic in those fields. I hope this piece does that, as well. Of course, this is simply how I personally see and feel the piece and that doesn’t amount to much more than small hill of beans when you get right down to it. How this painting or any other piece of mine works it way into the future is well beyond my control. It has to prove itself.

Below, is an example of a piece of music that I think fits well with In Rhapsody. It is a section from Beethoven‘s famous 5th Symphony, one that builds to crescendo beautifully. The video is a composed of a graphical score with multiple colors and forms that is fascinating to watch as it scrolls along with the music. I thought it was also interesting how the colors of its beginning screen match so well with the painting as you can see in the image below the video.



My annual solo show, Between Here and There, opens this Friday, June 4, at the Principle Gallery at their King Street location in Alexandria, VA. Unfortunately, I will not be in attendance this year. We are hoping for some sort of event, a gallery talk, later in the year as circumstances allow. You can see the show catalog here. Thank you!



GC Myers- In Rhapsody Principle Gallery 2021 Catalog page

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GC Myers-  Invocation in Blue sm



A certain blue enters your soul. A certain red has an effect on your blood-pressure.

– Henri Matisse



Matisse certainly had it right.

For me, blue is the color of the soul and spirit and red the corporeal, the blood and body. Blue is the ethereal. Red is the carnal. I think that is why both colors play such a large part in my work. Actually, they play large parts in the work of most artists. They are two of the three primary colors for a good reason.

But in my work they often symbolize those two parts in us as individual humans– the body and the spirit, the carnal and the ethereal. Having the two come to terms within the picture and within myself is often part of my aim, something I usually don’t recognize until I am examining the painting after completion.

I think this new painting, a 16″ by 20″ canvas that is part of my new show at the Principle Gallery which opens next Friday, June 4. This piece is titled Invocation in Blue. I see it as dealing with that space between the spirit and the physical in each of us, about how we aspire to our higher aspects but are bound by our earthly desires.

Head in the stars, feet in the mud, figuratively speaking.

And that is sort of what I see here. The Red Tree aspires to the ethereal calm found in the endless blue of the night sky and the peaceful presence of the moon. But it is still rooted in the earth, still comforted and sustained by its earthly needs and desires. The patchwork of reds and purples seem almost like a quilt or comforter that mainly warms and protects but also restrains.

But even so, both of the worlds attached to each color have an appeal of their own. And in this piece, they dwell side by side, as they often do within some of us. It is a painting that has an acceptance of its place in the universe, that recognizes that we can and do exist in both the ethereal and the corporeal worlds. It is a painting of the peaceful balance that can exist between the two.

But, as always, that’s just my opinion. You might see it as something altogether different. And to that, I say, Good for you. That’s just as it should be.

Okay, here’s some music to accompany the painting. It’s also a great song to sip coffee by. It’s the great jazz piece Blue in Green. It is most often associated with Miles Davis. He is credited with writing it and his version is iconic. Brilliant. But I also like the version below from pianist Bill Evans who played on the Davis recording and was later revealed to be the true composer of the tune though he never received credit on the label or in royalties. It’s just a beautiful piece and I like to think it sums up the balance between the two worlds I discussed above.



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GC Myers-  Symphony of Silence  2021



Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.

― Rumi, 13th century Persian poet



The new painting at the top, titled Symphony of Silence, is an 18″ by 36″ canvas. This weekend, it is headed down to the Principle Gallery as part of my solo show, Between Here and There, which opens June 4th.

I have written in the past about what I see as the connection between painting and music, how I see some of my pieces as simple songs and others as more intricate compositions. Perhaps symphonies or concertos.

This, in my eyes, is one that seems simple at a first glance. It is sparse and without great details. But the more I look at it, the more I see in it. How each element and color plays off the next and how they are fortified by each. It feels like there are rhythms and melodies running through it, from side to side as the terrain flows and up and down with rise of the moon.  There is inward and outward movement with the light of the stars and the undulation of the trail. The blocks that make up the night sky seem to swirl and rotate in all directions. The far mountains appear almost as sound waves. 

There is seemingly constant movement throughout the landscape and the skyscape. Almost a cacophony.

Almost.

It is silence.

Somehow the movements, the rhythms, and contrasts all run together at some point.

Harmony. Made up of the stars in motion countless lightyears away and the ancient wisdom contained in the stillness of the land and water. Always there but in silence. 

It is a simple piece but one that constantly shares something more than it lets on with a mere glance.

Here’s a piece of music to accompany it, a longtime favorite of mine and one that has played a large part in how I came to view my own work. It’s from composer Arvo Pärt and his composition Tabula Rasa. This is the second movement, fittingly titled Silentium. It feels right with this painting.



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Turner-Peace_-_Burial_at_Sea framed

Peace: Burial at Sea- JMW Turner 1842



I have been super busy lately but when I get a free minute I have been listening to short bits of poetry read online. Most are only a minute or two long which provides a short break in the thought process which I find refreshing. I particularly enjoy works read by narrator Tom O’Bedlam.

Who this Tom O’Bedlam actually is has been a question for some time since he emerged around 2008 as a reader of poetry and garnered a folowing. He is an anonymous reader whose name is based on an equally anonymous 16th century poem, Tom O’Bedlam’s Song, which is considered one of the great anonymous poems in the English language perhaps the greatest of the mad songs, those verses dedicated to the ramblings of the seemingly insane. There is quite a long tradition of mad songs in poetry which makes one wonder about the link between poets and madness.

But the identity of the present day Tom O’Bedlam is still up in the air though his name does link to the website of contemporary poet David J. Bauman. Even so, it is never quite clear that he is the voice of O’Bedlam and his own readings sound much different. It is surmised that he uses an audio program to achieve the timber and tone of O’Bedlam’s distinctly pleasing voice.

I don’t really know and to tell the truth, it doesn’t matter much. I just enjoy the results and the choices of the poems selected for him to read. I particularly enjoy the work of British poet Philip Larkin (1922-1985) who often has a slightly acerbic, misanthropic skew to his very engaging work. I used one of his poems, High Windows, years ago for the inspiration for a painting.

Here’s a short example of Larkin’s work as read by the aforementioned Tom O’Bedlam. They linked the verse with the stunning painting at the top, Peace; Burial at Sea,  from a favorite of mine, the exquisite JMW Turner. Maybe that’s why I chose this one today.

Can’t really say but this is Next, Please. Take a break if you can and give a listen. Maybe it will refresh you, as well. If not, at least it make make you think a bit.

And that’s never a bad thing.



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I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d,
I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.

–Song of Myself  32, Walt Whitman



leaves of grassA little busy this morning but wanted to share a few lines from Uncle Walt. I find that it has a soothing effect much like the effect of watching the wild creatures that live around us. My current best animal friend is Howie the older tom turkey who sometimes runs down the path toward me when he sees me coming, gobbling loudly as he comes. I know it’s just because of the sunflower seeds I put out for him and his other bird friends but his evident joy in seeing me always makes me smile.

I think we all appreciate someone displaying a little bit of joy when they see us, even if it’s just an old tom.

I sure do.

Here’s a reading of an excerpt from Whitman’s Song of Myself from his eternal classic Leaves of Grass.



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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- Show's Over, Folks



Everything is going to be fine in the end.
If it’s not fine it’s not the end.

― Oscar Wilde



My solo show, Between Here and There, which opens June 4th at the Principle Gallery, has a group of smaller paintings featuring Red Chairs in interior scenes are mostly scenes of the aftermath of prior proceedings. I’ve shown a few here already and thought I would share another today. The one above is titled Show’s Over, Folks.

Kind of like a cop at a crime scene saying, “Shows, Over, folks, Nothing more to see here. Move on.

I enjoy these pieces in many ways. I like composing and painting them. I enjoy looking at them because while they often make me smile, they often make me think as well. There’s usually a fair amount of atmosphere in them to take in and interpret. Sometimes my take on a piece like this will change from view to view. Perhaps it’s dependent on my own mood at the time that I am looking.

Right now, this one makes me smile. The show might be over for the night and that might be sad but it ain’t the end. Like Wilde’s words at the top– if it’s not fine it’s not the end.

Here’s song that kind of goes with this piece. It’s an old Kinks favorite, Till the End of the Day. With lyrics like: Yeah, I get up/And I see the sun up/And I feel good, yeah/’Cause my life has begun how can things not be fine?

Now, off to work.



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GC Myers- The Animating Presence sm

“The Animating Presence”- At the West End Gallery, Corning



Running a little behind this morning but feel an obligation to at least share a song this morning. It’s Bodhissattva from an old favorite, Steely Dan.

Bodhissattva is a Buddhist term for a person who believes that their own enlightenment is not important as guiding and assisting others to reach enlightenment. They have put off reaching becoming arhats, which is the term given to those who reached enlightenment or nirvana, meaning that they have rid themselves completely of the Three Poisons of greed, hatred, and ignorance. Since an arhat is considered a “perfected person” they become free of the cycle of samsara or reincarnation.

On the other hand, a bodhissattva, which the Dalai Lama is considered, forgoes samsara in order to continually be reborn so that they can help many others free themselves from suffering and reach nirvana before ultimately reaching enlightenment themselves at some point in the distant future. To be a bodhissattva one must practice the Six Perfections which are:

  1. Be generous and give to others.
  2. Live a life in which you do the right thing.
  3. Have patience with all people.
  4. Sustain your energy so that you keep going through difficult times.
  5. Work on concentration by meditating.
  6. Gain wisdom

So, there’s a little knowledge this morning. I don’t know if you needed it. But I guess freeing ourselves from the Three Poisons of greed, hatred, and ignorance or practicing most or all of the Six Perfections can’t hurt any of us.

Here’s Bodhissattva from Steely Dan. Good tune to start off the morning.



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Georgia O'Keeffe- Blue and Green Music



Lots to do this morning so I am just going to share a favorite painting from Georgia O’Keeffe and a piece of music whose composition was influenced by that same painting.

The painting is Blue and Green Music which was painted by O’Keeffe during her years in New York, somewhere around 1920. It is her attempt at translating music into visual form. I think it works on that level but even without knowing that this was her aim, I would be enthralled by this piece. The use of contrasts of colors, light and dark, and hard and soft edges along with the rhythmic curl of the bright organic form that occupies the center of the picture makes this an absolute feast for the eyes.

Or, maybe I should say, a symphony for the eyes.

I know that it sets off all sorts of sparks in me.

The piece of music is titled, of course, Blue and Green Music, and is a composition from the contemporary composer Samuel Hazo. I believe this piece is from somewhere around 2010 or 11. From the number of videos of this piece on YouTube, I would guess this has become a popular piece for high school and college concert bands and orchestras.

It’s a lovely piece of music. Taking a few minutes to listen while pondering Georgia O’Keeffe’s brilliant creation is not a bad way to kick off the morning.



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