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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

I breathe a deep sigh of relief this morning.

Another Gallery Talk in the rearview mirror, this one at the Principle Gallery. Many, many thanks to the many folks who came out yesterday to spend an hour with me on perfect end of summer day in the Capital District. It was wonderful to see new faces along with the more familiar faces of the many older friends there who I was able to spend a few minutes catching up with.

This was my 17th Gallery talk there and while it is somewhat easier after all those times, it still is a daunting thing to stand in front of a crowd and talk off the cuff. I wasn’t as smooth yesterday as I had wished and didn’t hit all my intended points. I always fret a bit in the aftermath of these talks about things I have said, worrying that I wasn’t clear or spoke with the wrong attitude for what I was trying to get across.

Or just said something plain dopey.

But I also worry about those things left unsaid. Sometimes there are little anecdotes I mean to tell that get lost in the the brain while I am standing there in front of the group.You would think that in 17 hours of yammering on in these talks over the years, everything would have been said, that everything would have found it way out by now. But I know that’s not the case, that there are still a lot of stories yet to be told and potential secrets to be revealed. I guess I’ll have to start now on getting these things into next year’s Talk which I am aiming to make the best yet.

But this year’s talk ended up as a pretty good talk, even with my own critical take on it. It certainly ended on a high note.

Again, my eternal gratitude to those who came out and especially to the whole staff at the Principle Gallery– my good friends Michele, Clint, Owen, Leigh, Pierre and Josh— for the very hard work done in making it possible. They had a large opening the night before, hosting the 14th annual exhibit of the International Guild of Realism with artists coming from around the country to attend. To turn around in a little over 12 hours and host this event is quite remarkable. I am filled with appreciation and affection for these folks.

So, like I said, mark it down now. Next September– best Gallery Talk ever. Promise.

Here’s this Sunday’s music. I thought I’d show one more piece that went down to the talk yesterday, Eyes of Night, shown above. This song lines up nicely with this piece for me. It’s Field of Diamonds, one of Johnny Cash‘s works from his final years. It was period of great expression and artfulness at the end of his time here on earth. It’s an interesting chapter for an artist with a very long and memorable career.

He saw his career in the future rather than in the past. Wished I had said that yesterday.

Have a good Sunday.

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GC Myers-Guided By BeautyOne of those days that start out on the wrong foot, sleeping late on what promises to be a hectic, busy day when I want to get up early. Maybe I needed the extra hour or so of sleep. I don’t know except that it didn’t refresh me in any way and I find myself instantly filled with the anxiety that has been plaguing me in recent days. It’s that teeth grinding, headache inducing kind of tension that ends up in a knotty sharp edged ball in the gut.

It brings me quicker to frustration and anger at the slightest perceived provocation. I know it’s this way and I fight it but it’s a powerful beast, this ugly anxiousness. Please excuse me if you see me on the road today and for some unknown reason I appear to be swearing loudly and making obscene gestures.

This sounds more like a diary entry than a blog post. Sorry. I don’t want to bore you with my own particular brand of craziness. I have mine and many of you, no doubt, have your own. And these are certainly times that test our ability to remain on an even keel, even for the most sturdy willed of us.

My work helps me. It draws me into it and stills my mind. Or maybe it activates parts of it that have been bitch-slapped into submission by my anxiety? I don’t know for sure. I find that the times when I am most anxious occur when I have a  inner desperate need to express myself and too many things pulling at me, keeping me from doing so.

That sure is how it feels in this instance.

But time has taught me this will pass if I hold on, if I visualize a calmer time ahead that I can set as a point on my horizon to navigate towards.

Maybe that’s the purpose of this new painting, Guided By Beauty. Maybe it’s that point, that destination on the horizon.

It does calm me greatly.

And I needed that now.

This piece is heading to the Principle Gallery for my annual Gallery Talk this coming Saturday, September 21, beginning at 1 PM. I will be announcing the painting that will be given away at the Talk tomorrow so come back please. It’s gonna be a peach! Plus, as always, there will be plenty of other surprises. So, if you are so inclined, make a point of getting to the Principle Gallery next Saturday.

My choice for this Sunday morning music is a song from one of my favorites, Neko Case. It’s Deep Red Bells.

Have a good Sunday and if you see me on the highway, please forgive me.

 

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GC Myers Exiles-Bang Your DrumI am getting ready to head out to Westfield later today for an Art Talk that I will be giving this evening, Thursday beginning at 6 PM, at the Octagon Gallery at the historic Patterson Library. The talk is in support of my Icons & Exiles exhibit that hangs there until next Friday, September 20. It’s a very eclectic exhibit that showcases work from several different series from the past 20+ years that normally hasn’t had much public exposure. Much of this work is more narrative driven than my typical work which is more about emitting emotion. So there are plenty of stories to be told from this show.

I thought I’d share a blog entry that ran here back in 2009 about one of the paintings in the exhibit and how it relates to the act of promoting your work, something I’ve talked about here in recent weeks. Here it is:

This is another piece from my early Exiles series, titled Bang Your Drum. This is a later piece, finished in early 1996.  

Initially, I was a bit more ambivalent about this painting compared to the feeling I had for the other pieces of the Exiles series. It exuded a different vibe. For me, the fact that the drummer is marching signifies a move away from the pain and loss of the other Exiles pieces. There is still solemnity but he is moving ahead to the future, away from the past.

Over the years, this piece has grown on me and I relate very strongly to the symbolism of the act of beating one’s own drum, something that is a very large part of promoting your work as an artist.  

For me and most artists, it is a very difficult aspect of the job, one that is the polar opposite to the traits that led many of us to art. Many are introverted observers of the world, passively taking in the world as it races by as they quietly watch from a distance. To have to suddenly be the the motor to propel your work outward is an awkward step for many, myself included. Even this blog, which is a vehicle for informing the public about my ongoing work and remains very useful to me as a therapeutic tool for organizing  my thoughts, is often a tortuous chore, one that I sometimes agonize and fret over. Even though my work is a public display of my personal feelings, this is different. More obvious and out in the open.

There’s always the fear that I will expose myself to be less than my work. The fear that people will suddenly discover the myriad weaknesses in my character that may not show in my paintings, forever altering their view of it. The fear that I will be  revealed to be, as they say, a mile wide and an inch deep.  

But here I stand with my drumstick in hand, hoping to overcome these fears and trusting that people will look beyond my obvious flaws when they view my work. Maybe they too have the same fears and that is the commonality they see and connect with in the work. Whatever the case, there is something in the work that makes me believe that I must fight past these fears and move it forward, out into the world.

What that is, as I’ve said before, I just don’t know. Can’t think about it now– I’ve got a drum to pound…

Hope you can make it to the talk tonight. I’ll be there, banging my drum. Here’s a little music to get you in the mood. Todd Rundgren from 1983 even though it seems about a million years ago. He knows what I’m talking about.

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Couldn’t let the day go by without mentioning that today Otis Redding would be celebrating 78th birthday if he were still alive. Unfortunately, he tragically died 52 years ago in a plane crash. Only 26 years old and filled with a world of talent and a quality in his voice that so many singers try to emulate but seem to always come up short.

I still get chills sometimes listening to his music.

The painting here, The Lost One, is included in my Icons & Exiles show now hanging at the Octagon Library at the Patterson Library in Westfield, NY. I will be giving an Art Talk there this Thursday, beginning at 6 PM.

The Lost One was painted several years ago and was an effort to revisit the Exiles series that was painted back in 1995. While I feel that this painting fits into the series, it doesn’t have the same base of emotion as the others in the series which were painted at time of personal grief. It tries but comes out on a different emotional level.

It seems you can’t simply replicate deep emotion.

But even so, I like and appreciate this piece. It has its own forlorn sadness.

That being said, let’s listen to some Otis. Here’s Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song) from Mr. Pitiful himself.

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Sorrow and solitude
These are the precious things
And the only words
That are worth rememberin’

Townes Van Zandt, Nothin’

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A kind of gray and glum Sunday morning, wet and cool. It has the feel of the season turning, of the green of the leaves to be soon fleeing. The deer outside my window are taking on their new dark winter coats, the beautiful rich reddish coats of summer gone leaving them to look like they have rolled in coal dust, grimy and gray.

But they carry it well.

Myself, I feel as gray and glum and grimy as the scene and I fear I don’t carry it as well as my dear deer.

But that’s okay.

These gray days aren’t pleasant but there is something of value in them. They make you feel something and that is an important thing. It sometimes feels like we live without feeling the moment. And even if the moment isn’t a glorious moment of elation, to feel anything– even sorrow and solitude– at any given time may be the the only gift we have in the precious time we spend in this world.

Like Townes says in the lyrics at the top. Or maybe Warren Zevon said it correctly in Ain’t That Pretty At All:

Going to hurl myself against the wall
‘Cause I’d rather feel bad than feel nothing at all 

On that note, let’s get to this Sunday morning music which is, of course, the song Nothin’ from the late great singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt. His voice is a bit of an acquired taste but on songs like this, its flat simplicity and plaintive tone are absolute perfection. One of my favorites from many that he wrote. I have also included a bit of a different version from the Grammy winning collaboration of Robert Plant and Allison Krauss. Plant’s falsetto set against the heavy crunch of Krauss’ electrified fiddle make it a powerful version.

Have a good Sunday.

PS: The painting at the top Exiles: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is a reminder that I will be giving an Art Talk this coming Thursday, September 12 beginning at 6 PM, at the Patterson Library Octagon Library in support of my Icons & Exiles exhibit that hangs there until September 20.


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GC Myers- Night Comes On

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I went down to the place where I knew she lay waiting
Under the marble and the snow
I said, Mother I’m frightened, the thunder and the lightning
I’ll never come through this alone
She said, I’ll be with you, my shawl wrapped around you
My hand on your head when you go
And the night came on, it was very calm
I wanted the night to go on and on
But she said, go back, go back to the world

Leonard Cohen, Night Comes On

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I finished the painting above earlier this week, a 20″ by 20″ canvas piece that really spoke to me as I was painting it. All the time I was working on it, I had a song running in my head– Here Comes the Night from Them, the Northern Irish band of the 1960’s that featured Van Morrison. Great song with a memorable chorus that really seemed to align with what I was seeing in this piece. Here Comes the Night was the title I mentally attached to this painting while working on it.

But after I was finished with the painting and spent a few days looking at it in the studio, something about the title gnawed at me. For some unknown reason Here Comes the Night as a title just didn’t feel right any more. But I knew there was something in this painting that jibed with a song in my mind, some song that used night in its title and resonated with me personally.

I strained for a couple of days going through night songs that came to mind but none of them were right. It was one of those times when you come across the right answer you will immediately know it.

That time came early this morning. I came into the studio with the title Night Comes On stuck in my mind. I was pretty sure it was from an old Leonard Cohen song that I hadn’t heard in years and had mostly lost in the mossy mire of my brain. But as soon as I put it on, the lyrics flooded back to me, reminding me that it was a song that always cried out to me whenever I heard it.

I knew immediately that it was the right choice. And not just for the lyrics.

While listening to the song and looking at the painting, I realized that the sky and the moon in this painting related directly to a dream that I had several years ago. I am hesitant to share the dream, as its personal and there’s a small superstitious part of me that fears I will weaken the power of that dream if I tell it aloud.

I will say that it came to at a point where I was filled with uncertainty, especially about my place in this world as an artist. I was in between my two annual shows and felt absolutely worthless and creatively impotent. I felt hopelessly paralyzed.

But one night this dream came to me with sense of great calmness and a wisdom that I most certainly never knew in my waking life. I was instantly soothed, my immediate worries evaporating. In the years since it appeared, this dream has remained a source of calm when I am stressed out. This dream marked a change in how I saw myself and what I do. A change that brings with it a calmness and acceptance.

There is something in the sky of this painting that is pulled directly from that dream. I didn’t see it until I heard this song this morning and then that was all I could see. It gives me chills– in a good way.

Here’s the Leonard Cohen song. Time for me to go back to the world.

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Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
One hasn’t got time for the waiting game

— September Song, Kurt Weill/ Maxwell Anderson

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Ah, the beginning of September. As the songs says, the days grow short and the weather turns the leaves to flame. There’s a refreshing coolness in the air and the busy rhythm of summer eases away and in comes a slower, more relaxed cadence. Recognizing this dwindling of days brings a retrospective air to things, one that makes you realize that you can’t waste moments or wait for them to come to you. I always felt that I was in the September of life and now, being truly there in terms of years, I believe I was right.

Maybe that’s why this song has appealed to me for so many years now. It’s a song I play here every year at the beginning of this month and one that I often find myself humming without thought to myself. It is a gorgeous blend of melody and lyric that communicates on multiple levels.

I’ve played many versions over the years, including some absolutely beautiful versions from Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. I have never played the original version from actor Walter Huston in the 1938 Broadway production of Knickerbocker Holiday or a great instrumental version from Chet Baker. I’ll get to them at some point. My favorite is this one from Willie Nelson which seems to have the perfect blend of weariness and age in his voice to transmit the feeling of the song. At least, the feeling that I get from it.

The painting above is a favorite of mine from 2011 called Dissolve. It’s included in my show Icons & Exiles hanging until September 20 at the Octagon Gallery in Westfield, NY. This piece is what I would call a September painting.

Have a good day and, hopefully, a good September.

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