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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

I am just about done with painting for my solo show, Haven, that opens June 1 at the Principle Gallery. There are always mixed emotions at this point.

There’s a sense of relief at finishing a group of work if only for completing a large task. There’s also a little sadness that I have to put my brushes aside for a couple of weeks as I move into the part of the process where I physically get the paintings ready for showing. It is a time, sometimes tedious, spent photographing, varnishing, matting, staining and framing.

There’s also a air of excitement at both seeing the work come together as a group and in seeing each individual painting in its finished state, ready to present to the world. They have their own aura at that point, with their own sense of being and voice. It’s very gratifying in that moment.

One of the new paintings that gratifies in this way and has its own voice that speaks directly to me is shown above. It’s a 16″ by 40″ canvas piece that I call My Blue Heaven. The colors and the created depth that the eye follows into the picture really strikes a chord, giving it a sense of quiet awe for myself. Oh, to be deeply within that scene, blanketed in blues and greens with watchful stars and the warm nightlight of the moon to guide and comfort me.

Personally, I am going to miss this painting. But I do get to enjoy its company for the next week or so and that is a pleasure in itself.

I am sure may of you recognize the title of this painting as being the title of an old song. It was first recorded in the 1920’s and has been a standard ever since, recorded by hundreds of artists. The most notable was the version that was a hit for Fats Domino in the 1950’s. Today, I thought I’d play a nice version from Norah Jones.
Have a great day.

 

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This new painting has been sitting in front of my desk here in the studio for several weeks now and it has began to feel like part of the place. It just feels right in that spot, even though it takes up a lot of space–it’s a big painting, 36″ high by 48″ wide— blocking a large part of the stone fireplace that I normally enjoy having in front of me. I wasn’t happy taking it down to photograph it. Like I said, it just felt right where it was.

Maybe there’s a sense of optimism or empowerment in it that I find attractive, both qualities that are sorely needed in these times. Maybe it’s the sense of unity with its surroundings that the Red Tree seems to possess. Or maybe it’s the symmetry in its composition or the rhythm in the bands of hills.

I can’t really say for sure but whatever it is, it makes me feel better in the time in the time it is front of me.

Hopefully, it will work that way for someone else when it goes to my show, Haven, at the Principle Gallery that opens on June 1.  If not, I will gladly welcome it back to brighten my outlook.

I am calling it Natural High.

I guess that makes a nice segue for this week’s Sunday morning music. The choice this week is, of course, the soul classic, Natural High, from the group Bloodstone recorded back in 1973. I hadn’t heard the song in a very long time and after hearing it recently, it became an earworm for me. It dug itself in and I found myself singing its chorus under my breath as I was walking through the woods to the studio at 6 AM. Maybe that’s why I chose to use its title for this painting. The song is an earworm for me like the painting is an eyeworm.

God, that sounds disgusting, doesn’t it? All these worms and ears and eyes. When, in fact, it’s actually all good. Take a look, give a listen and have a great Sunday.

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Watching the murmurations of starlings is a fascinating and hypnotic thing to see, indeed.  Murmuration is the word for the starling flock and for the intricate dance in the sky performed by these huge groups of birds which often number in the tens of thousands.

The murmurations move gracefully and quickly, creating constantly shifting forms that seem derived from some higher levels of geometry and quantum mechanics than my simple mind can comprehend. I get the feeling when I watch them that I am seeing some essential base element of our universe made visible.

We have never really fully understood the hows and whys of these complex movements. Researchers have found that these displays are almost always set off by a predator such as a falcon near the edge of the group. The group responds as a single unit without an actual leader in order to avoid and distance the group as a whole from the predator.

Researchers believe that this done with something called scale-free correlation which allows birds at any point in the group to instantaneously sense and react to what any other bird in the group, no matter how far away, might be experiencing. Any information moves through the group instantly and without any degradation of the message. It’s like an incredibly complex version of the telephone game. With people passing a simple message along in this game, the message is often garbled beyond recognition within a relatively short time. Here the message is passed tens of thousands of times without missing a word, a comma or inflection.

How they do it remains a mystery. Maybe that’s why they remain so fascinating, to remind us that we still know so little of the grand scheme of things.

For this Sunday morning music here’s a piece, On Reflection, from contemporary composer Max Richter. It is accompanied here by a video of the murmurations of starlings. The music and the flowing motions of the birds create a hypnotic and soothing effect. Give a listen and relax. Maybe you can imagine being part of that murmuration.

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The musical Hair opened on Broadway on this date 50 years ago, back in 1968. I grew up listening to this album and most of the songs feel like they are ingrained somehow in my DNA. Hailed as the American tribal love-rock musical, it was a groundbreaking show with songs that permeated the culture and helped define the era. Aquarius certainly feels like that time and that year.

And what a year 1968 was, here and around the world.

There were the tragic assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and Robert F. Kennedy in April and June.

In a stormy election season, the 1968 Democratic Convention  was an eight-day violent skirmish in the streets of Chicago between police and protesters. Ultimately, Richard Nixon was elected president.

Here and around the globe, student anti-war protesters filled the streets and sometimes, as in the cases of Columbia University and Howard University, took over and occupied buildings.

North Korea captured the American surveillance ship the USS Pueblo and held its crew prisoner for 11 months. North Korea released the crew but kept the ship. It is now an exhibit Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang.

There was the Tet Offensive and the My Lai Massacre in Viet Nam.

You had the Prague Spring that results later in the year with the Russians marching into Czechoslovakia to exert their control.

Before the opening of the 1968 Mexico Olympics, students protested in the streets that the money spent by the country for the Olympics would be better put to use in much needed social programs. The protesters were surrounded by the army and fired on, killing over 200 students and injuring over 1000 more.

The Olympics themselves were memorable with Bob Beamon soaring to an unfathomable record in the long jump. And, of course, there was the iconic image of Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the podium for the medal ceremony for the 200-meter run. Bare-footed with their heads cast downward, both raised gloved fists in the Black Power salute.

That would be enough for most years– maybe most decades. But there was even more that I don’t have time to go in here that make it one of the most chaotic and super-charged years in our history.

And among all that, the subversive sound of Hair played on. Well, it’s been fifty years and the world seems to have rotated back to find us in a similar time of chaos.

Some things never change, I guess.

So, for this week’s Sunday morning music I thought something from Hair would be fitting. So many great choices  but here are a couple of  better known selections, both of which became hits for artists that covered them in the following years. The first is Easy To Be Hard which was hit for Three Dog Night. The second is the title anthem which was #1 hit for The Cowsills.

Give a listen and have a good Sunday.


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Running around this morning, trying to get some things tied up but thought I’d share an interesting version of the Jimi Hendrix classic Hey Joe as performed the Joscho Stephan Trio. Stephan is a German guitarist who primarily plays in the gypsy jazz style, as you might deduce from the beautiful guitar he plays. This is a fun and energetic twist on the song, a shot of ear caffeine to get the week off on and running.

I thought I’d throw in this old doodle, an oddity from twenty years or so back.  Done very quickly with a Sharpie and embellished with a little watercolor,  the figure is a simplified and stylized representation of the way in which the figures from my early Exiles series were painted, composed from blocks of color.  It was never meant to be seen outside my studio but I like this for some reason. He looks like he could be playing Hey Joe.

Give a listen and get your motor running.

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 I was looking for something to play this morning and put on this album, Blues Twilight, from jazz trumpet player Richard Boulger. I’ve played a couple of tracks from this album here over the years.

While the title track was playing I went over to over to a painting that hangs in my studio, the one shown above. It’s an experiment titled October Sky from a few years back that is a real favorite of mine. I showed it for only a short time before deciding that I wanted it hanging in the studio. I never really worked any further in the direction this piece was taking me. Part of that decision to not go further was purely selfish, wanting to keep something solely for myself, something that wasn’t subject to other people’s opinions.

A strictly personal piece. A part of the prism that doesn’t show.

I look at it every day but generally it is from a distance, taking it in as a whole. But his morning, while the album’s title track played I went  and really looked hard at it, up close so that every bump and smear was obvious. And I liked what I was seeing, so much so that I grabbed my phone and began snapping little up close chunks of it.

It all very much felt like the music, like captured phrases or verses.  Each had their own nuance, color and texture and they somehow blended into a harmonic coherence that made the piece feel complete.

It’s funny but sometimes when I am working hard and in a groove that takes over from conscious thought, I almost forget about those things that I myself like in my work because I don’t have to think about them in the process of creating the work. Looking at this painting this close made me appreciate the painting even more, made me think about it in a different way than the manner in which I now used to seeing it.

Guess it’s a good thing to stop every now and then and look at what you’ve done, up close and personal.

Here’s Blues Twilight from Richard Boulger. Enjoy the music and take a look at the snips, if you so wish. But definitely have a good day.


GC Myers- October Sky detail
GC Myers- October Sky detail GC Myers- October Sky detail GC Myers- October Sky detail GC Myers- October Sky detail GC Myers- October Sky detailGC Myers- October Sky detail

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While searching for a piece of music to feature here this morning, I found myself looking over at this new painting shown here as I listened to the music. As usual, the search had me running down rabbit holes that sent me in all different directions, none that satisfied me enough to want to share it.

Then I somehow ended up on this modern classical piano piece from composer Phillip Glass, Etude No. 14, played by pianist Vikingur Olafsson. There’s a part in it, starting at about 1:15, that the sound and this painting just seemed to mesh for me, filling out the feeling that I was experiencing as I was taking it in.

It is a painting that is still on the easel, near completion or so I think. I am in that part of the process where I am still examining it, absorbing it to see what it has for me, what it’s trying to say to and for me. And here, the music created a narrative line that pulled me and the image together.

It’s hard to explain. Everybody sees art differently, having different expectations of what they hope to extract from it, if anything. I think a lot of folks don’t even think about those expectations and just react to what is before them. I do that as well and it is generally gives a true response.

But more often I see art as an existential puzzle with pieces that provide clues as to our meaning and purpose. There are works that attract me and I search them for these clues, trying to figure out if there are answers or where it will send me next in my search. In this painting, the Glass music helped me see what I had only sensed before.

As I said, it’s hard to explain.

Anyway, give a listen and have yourself a good Sunday. By the way, I am calling this painting Etude No. 14.

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