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Archive for the ‘Influences’ Category

teenage-werewolfFirst, let me extend thanks to everyone who came out to the show at the Kada Gallery on Saturday night.  It was great seeing some old friends and meeting some new ones.  And thanks to Kathy and Joe at the Kada for their longtime friendship and encouragement–you provided me with a wonderful night.  If you didn’t make it out there, you can still see the show as it hangs until December 3.

Now, today is yet another Halloween.  It doesn’t have the same impact on me now as it did when I was much younger but I still get a kick out of this  night and all the goofiness around it.  And I have to say that the imagery that swirls around this night was very influential to me when I was a kid.  You often see macabre imagery show itself in the work of student artists.

So in honor of this most hallowed evening, I thought I’d throw out some scary music but there isn’t a great selection of monster themed music.  Oh, there’s the Monster Mash but that gets played to death this time of the year, much like Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer at Christmas.  And the Addams Family or Munsters themes are memorable but not what I’m looking for.

cramps-bad-music-for-bad-peopleBut there are the Cramps.

The Cramps emerged out of the NY punk scene of the 70’s with a distinct sound  that influenced by rockabilly and the B-Horror movies of the 50’s.  Two guitars and a small drum kit- no bassist- and a leader called Lux Interior and a girl guitarist/femme fatale named Poison Ivy, the Cramps’ music was often called psychobilly.  Many of their songs paid direct homage to old horror flicks, like Human Fly and the one I’m highlighting here, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, which starred  a very young Michael Landon in a pretty kitschy story.  It might not be high art but the Cramps created some high energy creep-tastic stuff, very appropriate for a most inappropriate night.

Below I Was a Teenage Werewolf I’ve included their even more creepy TV Set.  Give a listen and have yourself a very spooky night.

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GC Myers-- Into the Clear AirI said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

T.S. Eliot

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I’ve read these lines from T.S. Eliot before but it was only this morning that I equated them to the creative process.  Well, so far as I see it in my own experience.  You see, you can struggle to describe in words how things come about, how things finally appear.

You might describe an inner process of visualizations and intricate thought synthesis, of pulling deep emotions to the surface and so on.  Maybe that is so but I think it is not really part of the process but is rather an interpretation of what you believe happened.

I think the real creative aspect occurs in a way much like the words above describe– in the stillness and darkness of a meditative void.  The mind emptied and all thoughts of the past and the future are set aside.  No hopes or desires.  Just a quiet dark blankness that waits in endless patience for the first crackling of light to pierce through.

But there are times when the light doesn’t come and you lose patience in the waiting.  So you start without the light and occasionally, nearing the end of the process, you find that your mind has emptied and the light has caught up with you.  What you are looking at it something quite unlike what you thought it might be when you struggled to begin.

I know this all sounds pretty esoteric, pretty out there and maybe it won’t make a lick of sense to most who somehow slog through to this point. But really it comes down to the idea that you clear the mind and let it just happen.

If it happens at all.  Sometimes the light doesn’t find you.  But on those times when it does, it is like the freshest clear air has wafted over you and left you with a feeling of ethereal lightness. The clearest air.  And I guess that is why I keep doing this and probably will until the day I die.

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The painting above is a 16″ by 20″ canvas titled Into the Clear Air and is included in Part of the Plan, my show that opens tomorrow, Saturday, October 29, at the Kada Gallery in Erie.  The reception begins at 6 PM.  Hope you can make it!

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GC Myers- The Introspective MindIntrospection, or ‘sitting in the silence,’ is an unscientific way of trying to force apart the mind and senses, tied together by the life force. The contemplative mind, attempting its return to divinity, is constantly dragged back toward the senses by the life currents.

Paramahansa Yogananda

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I often consider my landscapes as being deeply introspective even though by their very nature they are outward looking.  They are most often scenes where the central figure– the Red Tree in most cases– finds itself in a moment and place where the inner and outer, the mind and the senses, converge.

It is a moment of calmness, one that allows the mind to expand and soar outside itself, to see the world and itself from new perspectives.  It allows it to see all that it is and is not.  To see all possibility, paths that are open but not yet visible.  Perhaps even a return to divinity as the words of the great Hindi yogi Paramahansa Yogananda states in the quote above.

I like the idea of this juxtaposition of contrasts, the inner and the outer set side by side, each strengthening the other so long as they stay in balance.  I can’t say that I go into a painting with that as a goal in the front of my mind.  I think it’s just one of those things that when you recognize it in the final product realize that it was what you were looking for even though you didn’t know it at the outset.

And perhaps letting it slip from your consciousness was the key all along.  Trying too hard to find something so elusive usually ends in failure.  But just letting things go without placing too much emphasis on any aspect sometimes brings what is important to the forefront.

I know that in this new painting, a 15″ by 30″ canvas titled Introspection, that how I see it now had little to do with where I initially thought it would go or say.  At its start I never gave a single thought as to leading it to the message that it now holds for me.  I just let the paint work, let my mind move freely in the forms and color to release what it ultimately held.

So maybe that is the key– to free the mind from the senses as Yogananda says.  Easier said than done…

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The painting above, Introspection, is included in Part of the Plan, my solo show opening October 29 at the Kada Gallery in Erie, PA.

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GC Myers- WatchmanFor thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.

Isaiah 21:6

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The biblical verse above is of course the one which was the basis for the title for Harper Lee‘s sequel, to her classic To Kill A Mockingbird.  In the books, Scout regarded her father, Atticus Finch, as such a watchman, a moral and righteous sentinel looking out for injustice and evil.

And that is kind of how I see the central figure of this new painting, the lone Red Tree set high on rocky outcropping in what seems to be an endless sea.  Maybe it is the red of the sky that sets such a tone.  I don’t know.

I’ve been fascinated by small islands in my work lately.  The isolation of them gives these pieces a brooding quality and reminds me a bit of working as an artist.  I’ve often felt that the job of an artist is to act as a sort of watchman.

It is very much a job of isolation, one that is often formed in the solitariness of youth when one always felt like an outsider, observing the world quietly and mostly unseen from the edges of life.  The work itself is done and grows in isolation but is very much influenced by one’s observations of the world around them.  And much of the work, if it reaches the level of art, is based on a sensitivity to what that artist has observed and felt.

And maybe that is the real purpose of artists, to act as a watcher, looking to warn us of our own straying from reason and to keep our humanity intact.  Maybe that is what I see in this painting.

gc-myers-defiant-heart-smThis painting is 8″ by 24″ on canvas and is titled, of course, Watchman.  It is coming with me to the Principle Gallery this Saturday, September 17, when I give my Gallery Talk there beginning at 1 PM.  There will be a group of new paintings including this piece as well as a group of selected pieces from my studio that will only be available for that day.  And there is, of course, the drawing at the end of the talk for the painting, Defiant Heart.

Should be a good time and I hope you can make it to the Principle Gallery this Saturday!

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Hugette Caland-- Boat Race on the Potomac

Hugette Caland– Boat Race on the Potomac

I am not going to be able to write much here today but I did want to at least share a few images from artist Hugette Caland.  Born in Lebanon in 1931 to a father, Bechara El Khoury, who was to become the first President of that country in 1943, Hugette Caland, now 85, lives and works in .  Over the past five decades she has created a wonderful and diverse body of work that has become very celebrated in recent years.

I am showing the pieces that struck me but be advised that this is only a tiny glimpse of the range of her work.  I was immediately struck by the piece at the top, Boat Race on the Potomac, a very large piece measuring something in the area of 5′ high by 11′ wide.  Many of the pieces shown here, such as this piece, are very large textile wall hangings that are done with markers.  It set off all kinds of fires in my brain when I saw it and during the past few trying weeks has been an image that I often return to when I get a chance to move my mind away from the situation at hand.

As I said, I don’t have time today to spend much time giving all the background info that Hugette Caland and her work deserves but I just wanted to share these images as I feel they have something to say to me at this moment, something that I will use moving forward.  Please take a look and I urge you to seek out her story and some of the other images and videos available online.  Great stuff.

Hugette Caland-Rossinante Under Cover III diptych 51x84  mixed media on canvas 2011

Hugette Caland-Rossinante Under Cover III diptych 51×84 mixed media on canvas 2011

Hugette Caland-Rossinante Under Cover IV

Hugette Caland-Rossinante Under Cover IV

Hugette Caland-Out of Venice 58.5x76

Hugette Caland- Out of Venice 58.5″x76″

Hugette Caland-The Purple One 65x165

Hugette Caland- The Purple One 65″ x 165″

  Golden Daisies

Hugette Caland- Golden Daisies

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I am often asked about the meaning of the tree that looms large in my painting.  I normally stumble around while trying to explain what feeling, what meaning I find in this form.  But I recently came across an extraordinary short essay from a favorite author of mine, Herman Hesse, that expresses all those things I have tried to say about trees with my own words and images.  From Trees: Reflections and Poems, this is just a beautiful piece that rings the bell for me:

GC Myers- Moon Communion smFor me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. . . . Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.

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GC Myers- In the Inner PlaceShakespeare said that art is a mirror held up to nature. And that’s what it is. The nature is your nature, and all of these wonderful poetic images of mythology are referring to something in you. When your mind is simply trapped by the image out there so that you never make the reference to yourself, you have misread the image.
Joseph Campbell (with Bill Moyers), The Power of Myth

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I think that the words above that Joseph Campbell spoke during his conversation with Bill Moyers for  The Power of Myth speak beautifully for both mythology and art, at least in my view.  I believe that we truly connect with myth and art when we see it as personal to ourselves, as being somehow symbolic of our own experience and being.  Our emotions and reactions.

Of course, many myths and much in art may not speak to us on this personal level.  I certainly don’t expect my work to speak to everyone no matter how much I may wish that it could.  It simply can’t.  My work is a reflection of my journey, my limited knowledge and my flawed self.  Yours is completely different.  But occasionally, there is a moment when you will see something of yourself in my representation of my inner world and that to me is magical.

This new painting, an 8″ by 24″ canvas, is what I see as being a very personal piece that might well reflect for others.  I call it In the Inner Place and it is included in my upcoming show, Part of the Pattern, at the Principle Gallery which opens June 3.  Without being specific, I see many things in this painting that I think speak strongly to how I want to see my world and my place in it.

An inner perception.

You might simply see it as a pleasant piece.

Or not.

Or you may see it as something reflective of your own inner world, something that speaks to who you are.  I can’t say.  We can’t control what anyone sees in a mirror.

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