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I pursue no objectives, no systems, no tendency; I have no program, no style, no direction. I have no time for specialized concerns, working themes, or variations that lead to mastery. I steer clear of definitions. I don’t know what I want. I am inconsistent, non-committal, passive; I like the indefinite, the boundless; I like continual uncertainty.

-Gerhard Richter

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Gerhard Richter, the contemporary German artist born in 1932, is one of those artists whose thoughts about his work have made me appreciate to his work much more fully. He has a way of putting things in terms that are accessible, not just balloons filled with pompous artspeak that says very little.  More than that, much of what he says aligns with how I see art and the purpose of art, even though our work manifests itself in very different ways. I often come something he has said or written that very much echoes my own thoughts, often in a a very similar way. For example, he speaks about the rightness of art, something I to which I also often refer.

His work has moved around through the years through his iconic abstractions to photography and photorealism painting. I tend to gravitate and think of his work in terms of his abstract work, the Abstraktes Bild series from the 1980’s and the 2010’s. I thought I’d share a few of those pieces along with some his thoughts.

At the very bottom is a piece of music from guitarist Bill Frisell. It is from a project that combined Richter’s work, specifically a large book of his art, along with an album from Frisell titled Richter 858. Each track on the album correlates to a piece of Richter’s art. The piece of music below corresponds to the painting directly above it, Abstrakte Bild 858-3. Interesting concept.

 

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I believe that art has a kind of rightness, as in music, when we hear whether or not a note is false.

-Gerhard Richter

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My paintings are wiser than I am.

-Gerhard Richter

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I would like to try to understand what is. We know very little, and I am trying to do it by creating analogies. Almost every work of art is an analogy.

-Gerhard Richter

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I believe that the quintessential task of every painter in any time has been to concentrate on the essential.

-Gerhard Richter

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The desire to please is maligned, unfairly. There are many sides to it. First of all, pictures have to arouse interest before people will even look at them, and then they have to show something that holds that interest – and naturally they have to be presentable, just as a song has to be sung well, otherwise people run away. One mustn’t underrate this quality, and I have always been delighted when my pieces have also appealed to the museum guards, the laymen.

-Gerhard Richter

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Gerhard Richter- Abstraktes Bild 858-3

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Well I never pray,
But tonight I’m on my knees, yeah.
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me, yeah.
I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind, I feel free now.
But the airwaves are clean and there’s nobody singing to me now.

No change, I can’t change, I can’t change, I can’t change,
but I’m here in my mold, I am here in my mold.
But I’m a million different people from one day to the next
I can’t change my mold, no, no, no, no, no, no, no

The Verve, Bittersweet Symphony

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No rest for the wicked. Busy busy early this morning so for this week’s Sunday morning music, thought I’d pair up a new painting from my recent Multitudes series with a classic bit of Britpop, Bittersweet Symphony, from The Verve from back in 1997. Hard to believe it’s been twenty plus years. Many of you no doubt know the song and the video, which has about half a billion views on the YouTube on the interweb, but I think it works for myself this morning and as an accompaniment to the painting.

The painting is a darkly colored piece called Multitudes: Everyday Saints. I was prepared to give an explanation of this piece but the more I think about it– and I’ve already spent too much time doing just that this morning– I think I’ll just let it stand out there alone for awhile.

Take it as it is, okay?

Gotta run now. Give a look and a listen and have a good Sunday.

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Super busy day. Still feverishly painting away and mixing in beginning prep work on staining frames and varnishing paintings as the  clock ticks down. Only two weeks until I deliver this group of work to the Principle Gallery for my solo show there, opening June 7. There is always a sense of tension, panic and rush at this point in getting ready for a show, something I know from the fact that this year’s show is my 20th solo effort at the Principle. After all these years, I know the routine that has been formed.

But there is even a bit of added anxiety in it being the 20th show there. I guess this anxiety comes, putting it in the simplest terms, because I fear every show could be my last show, my last chance to prove myself, my final opportunity to demonstrate that I am deserving. This being the 20th just accentuates that point that there might not be a 21st.

Fear as a primary motivator doesn’t sounds right when pertaining to art but it seems to be the case with me. I don’t know if that’s good or bad and I really don’t care at this point. It keeps me from lulling myself into an attitude where I believe I am owed anything from anybody. Experience has taught me that I am entitled to nothing, that I have to treat every show as my first and possibly last show.

So, I am going to get to work in an early morning cold sweat. Just the way it should be, I guess. I thought I’d share a song, It Takes a Lot to Know a Man,  from Irish singer Damien Rice. There are two version below. One is the studio recorded song with instrumentation and accompanying lyrics.

The other is a live vocal performance that took place at a German music festival with Rice and the choral group Cantus Domus performing for an audience of one.  A single audience member at each show was kidnapped and taken to a hidden location. When the sack was removed from their heads they found that they were in what appears to be some sort of underground chamber surrounded by the group and Rice, who proceed to give them a one to one concert experience. I can only imagine being both incredibly uncomfortable and deeply moved. It’s an interesting film and a lovely song.

Have a great day.


 

 

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I wasn’t going to make Mother’s Day the subject of today’s blog but walking over to the studio in the gray,cool drizzle put me in a slightly sad and wistful mood, one that made me think of my own mother on this day. I’ve posted the bit of writing below a couple of times over the years and thought it was worth doing so again this morning.  I ran this post before with an old Eddy Arnold song that I knew Mom liked very much but today I am running it with one she most likely never heard, Helpless, from Neil Young. It’s one of my favorites and one that certainly aligns with the tone of this morning here. Have a good day.

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GC Myers- A Hard PastIt’s Mother’s Day again. You might think the image I am showing today is an odd selection for this day. It’s a small painting called A Hard Past that is from my 2008 Outlaws series. It’s one of a few pieces that I deeply regret ever letting go as it holds great personal meaning for me. I just didn’t realize it at the time.

I know that this may not seem like a flattering thing to say but every time I look at this image I see my Mom’s face. At least, a certain look she had when she was sitting by herself in silence at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of tea and smoking her ever-present Camel cigarettes, those unfiltered beauties that no doubt contributed to the lung cancer that took her life at age 63.

She would sit in stillness for a long period time at that table with a distant and hardened gaze on her face. I always wondered what she was thinking or where she was in that moment. But when you’re a kid you just move through the kitchen without a word or a question.

Oh, the things we leave unsaid and the questions that go unasked.

More’s the pity…

The title, A Hard Past, came from this memory of her. She had a pretty hard life- her mother died when she was three, no school beyond ninth grade, years of toiling in a factory and a long, turbulent and angry marriage to my father. It gave her a hard edge, a toughness that several people commented on after her death back in 1995.

But they also commented on her humor, generosity and willingness to help others who might need a hand– those qualities that I also saw in her. Those qualities that I so miss.

So while this painting may not seem like a flattering tribute, just seeing my Mom in this piece means so much to me, reminding me of all she was to me.

Have a pleasant Mother’s Day…

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7rQvJgTQ9U

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All over the place this morning as I looked for a piece of music. Went from the 1970’s funk of Curtis Mayfield to 1990’s Tom Waits to Pete Townsend at the Secret Policeman’s Ball to Tom Morello and Rage Against the Machine to early and late Warren Zevon to a William Burroughs spoken word piece (Seven Souls) set against an electro beat. There was also some Jimmy Reed blues and some Ian Dury and the Blockheads.

It was fun, as always, one of my favorite parts of doing this blog. I like sliding down those rabbit holes, moving from one thing to another connected by some vague association recognized by an algorithm that is well beyond my comprehension.

But despite it all, nothing hit the spot that I wanted to hit this morning. I felt all out of rhythm in a way. Then I somehow fell on this bit of music.

I don’t exactly know what connection led to this piece, a classical guitar performance of a composition, Oblivion, from the late Argentine tango composer Astor Piazzolla. It is performed by contemporary Ukrainian guitarist Nadja Kossinskaja and it just seemed to fit the feeling of the morning at this point in time.

It finally got me back in rhythm and back on track, regardless of how I got to it.

Give a listen. It’s good stuff and a good way to kick off a Sunday whether it’s wet and gray, as it is here, or sunny and warm. Have a good day.

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I would much rather be writing about art this morning and I am sure most of you would rather be looking at a piece of art than listening to my opinion on any current event. You might even mumble that I should shut my trap and paint. Well, this is my space, my journal, my diary, and when I am affected I need to put my feelings down somehow. And after watching the testimony of the Attorney General yesterday before the Senate Judiciary committee, I feel the need to air a grievance or two. It left me angry and more than a little worried about the future of this country.

I believe that we are closer to becoming an autocracy than we have ever been at any point in our history. The AG basically said yesterday that the president is above the law, that the president has the right to shut down any investigation into his actions if that president– the person under investigation— feels that the investigation is unfair to him. The AG also stated that because there is a Department of Justice policy that the president cannot be charged with a crime ( a ridiculous policy in itself!) he should not even be subject to investigation in the first place.

Think about that. The person with the greatest power in the nation cannot be held accountable by federal law enforcement agencies. He is free to lie and break multiple laws– even work with foreign powers to subvert our elections– in order to protect his position and the DOJ will simply stand by or work to investigate the president’s personal or political enemies, something that the AG did not rule out yesterday.

The AG showed himself to be the dangerous enabler many folks thought he would turn out to be. It was evident yesterday that this man was not acting as the protector of the people and our laws but as the protector of a single person– the president– who he has put above all law.

He has assumed the position not as attorney general but as both protector and sword of the president.

I don’t think that is in the job description. That is a real danger to real democracy and multiplies the power and threat of the presidency.

A lot of folks might say that this is just rhetoric and overstated hype. But autocracy and tyranny creeps up on you in small steps. It doesn’t just drop one day and you’re suddenly in an authoritarian society. It comes in small concessions made to the long established traditions and norms. It comes in accepting half-truths and outright lies even when they are easily proven to be falsehoods. It comes in beating down and denigrating the free press.

It comes with ridiculous promises and claims that stoke a sense of rabid nationalism among their true believers and so many clouds of confusion that the average citizen throws up their hands and says, “Whatever!” And that is exactly what they need to keep their march to autocracy. They need people to give up and turn blind eyes to their subversion because at this point, an alert citizenry that holds their representatives in government accountable might be the only thing keeping us from sliding into the abyss of tyranny.

I personally feel like we are at the edge of that chasm now and it is only a thin string that is keeping us from tumbling over.

For those of you who give a damn I say stay alert. Read the news and support the free press. Read the Mueller Report. If something doesn’t sound right or make sense, investigate. Call or write your reps and senators. Vote every chance you have. Ask questions.

Democracy and what we consider real freedom are not guaranteed nor are they free. At some point, a price must be paid by us all. It is looking more and more like we are all being called to account.

One last note and this rant is done: I think there is a lot more to come out, if it is allowed to see the light of day, concerning the Russian connections, especially in areas like money laundering, influence peddling and kompromat. I also think much might be heard soon about the Russian owned Alfa Bank.

Here’s a song from a couple of years back that says it all. It’s Take Back the Power from the LA-based ska punk band, The Interrupters. Have the best day you can and stay alert. Art tomorrow, I promise.

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Tracy Letts , Benjamin Walker and Annette Bening in “All My Sons”


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“Mother: What more can we be?

Chris: You can be better! Once and for all you can know there’s a universe of people outside and you’re responsible to it and, unless you know that, you threw away your son because that’s how he died.” 

Arthur Miller, All My Sons

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I had the good fortune to take in the current Broadway production of the Arthur Miller play All My Sons yesterday. A powerful, beautifully crafted  play with memorable  performances made it one of those moments when I truly appreciate the shared experience of live theater. There’s something hopeful, even with a darkly set play that bares our faults and inadequacies, in sitting in a theater filled with people who you can feel being moved by the material and the performances. I woke up this morning thinking about this play which is a pretty indicator of how well it hit the mark for me.

Written in 1947 and set in the aftermath of World War II, it’s a drama that maintains its impact and relevance. Times may have changed some things, but the unbrave new world it presented then are recognizable in these times as well. The conflict between those who fail to accept responsibility for their actions in the name of self-preservation and those willing to sacrifice and hold themselves accountable is as cogent now as it was then.

There were lines, such as the exchange between the mother, Kate and her remaining son, Chris, (played masterfully by Annette Bening and Benjamin Walker) that leapt off the stage for me. But the moment that I felt was the most memorable came without words. It was at the pivotal point where the father, Joe (in a tremendous performance from Tracy Letts), silently reads the letter from his MIA son that sets the course for the final act. I don’t know how long he read in silence. It might have only fifteen seconds or so but it felt like it a minute or more. The silence of the theater was absolute as though everyone there was holding their breath in anticipation of his response.

It was a great moment from what I feel was great performance. Glad to have taken a short break to have experienced it. Makes me want to do better, be better.

So, this Sunday musical selection came about as we were waiting for our car to be brought around. Sitting in the lobby and  Sly and the Family Stone’s Sing a Simple Song was playing in the background. I felt my head boobing to the beat and I look across the lobby and see another guy sand wife both reflexively moving up and down on the balls of their feet to the beat. Thought that maybe the world would be a better place with Sly being played more. Give a listen and have a good day.

 

 

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