Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

I don’t paint like a woman is supposed to paint. Thank God, art doesn’t bother about things like that.

Alice Neel


Thursday was International Women’s Day and I saw an article on social media that asked if you could name five female artists. It wasn’t difficult for me but this is what I do so I am regularly scanning the work of others, past and present. I see a lot of work by women that is incredible and have been directly influenced by many of these women.

But I could imagine for the casual observer it might be a difficult thing to name five female artists. Any honest person that does a quick scan of the history of art can plainly see that this field has long been dominated by males. But this makes it like most other fields of endeavor and reflects a societal bias that has often long placed less importance on the accomplishments and the self-expression of women.

It is something that must and will change. It is changing before our eyes.  I say that because I have had the great fortune to be associated with a number of galleries that feature increasingly large rosters of female artists. This is not by design. It’s just that more and more interesting and wonderful work is being done by female artists who have finally realized that their voice, their expression, should be secondary to no one.

I have seen the numbers grow substantially over the years and am excited by it, mainly because the things that I see in the art that attracts me are usually perspective dependent, not gender dependent. Anything that broadens the field and gives a wider range of viewpoints and more options is a good thing in my opinion.  The gender, or race or nationality, of the artist should not play a role in our perception of their work unless that work deals directly with these subjects.

Hopefully, soon an artist will simply be an artist. Not a female artist or a black artist or a Latino artist or whatever subtitle people choose to attach before the word artist.

One of the artists that jumped to mind for me when I read the question about naming five female artists was Alice Neel (1900-1984) who was famed for her portraiture. She had a very distinct way of using color and always followed her personal muse, never adhering to any particular genre or school. She was a bold painter in a time when the female artist was still very much underappreciated. In the years since her death she has gained great recognition for he work. I urge you to take a closer look at her work and her life.

Alice Neel. Hartley. 1966. oil on canvas. 127 x 91,5cm. gift of Arthur M. Bullowa. National Gallery of Art Washington.


Read Full Post »

Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.

Pablo Picasso


Many of my favorite artists worked and produced their greatest works in times where the world was under great stress. World wars and– in the case of Picasso’s painting, Guernica, shown above– Civil Wars. The Great Depression. Times of social transformation. Even when the work didn’t overtly deal with the events of the day, much of the work reflected on the collective consciousness of that time.

I think that is so because art is, just as Picasso so succinctly states, a lie that makes us realize the truth.

Artists fabricate, often creating work that is on its surface pure fantasy with little relation to the world as others might observe it. But their fabrication is made up from everything that impacts them– their knowledge, their observations, their opinions and emotions. Artists take in the world and create something that seems like a pure fabrication.

A lie.

But what seems the lie often proves to be built of ultimate truths, just constructed in a manner that allows others to see this truth clearly.

I don’t know that we artists always succeed. I certainly don’t feel that I do as often as I would  like. But so long as we feel deeply and create our lies, we will at some point reveal a truth.

Got to get to work now…


Read Full Post »

It’s a busy morning with much to do so I am running the post below from several years ago that deals with the indifference that so many of us exhibit about so many things. If something doesn’t impact us directly, we tend to shrug our shoulders and say “Oh, well.” The passive acceptance of this sort of  indifference has been the great enabler of many of  history’s darkest eras. We live in a time where we cannot afford to be indifferent or we will again find ourselves in another dark place sometime soon. The anecdote I share below is no doubt trivial in the greater scheme of things but indifference is an insidious thing at any level.

A little  indifference can lead to greater sorrow…

GC Myers Memory of Night sm

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

-Elie Wiesel


I’ve been sitting here for quite some time now, staring at the quote above from Elie Wiesel. I had planned on writing about how my work evolved as a response to the indifference of others but now, looking at those words and putting them into the context of  Wiesel’s experience, I feel a bit foolish. Wiesel, who had survived the Holocaust and crusaded so that it might never happen again, was eyewitness to indifference on a grand scale, from those who were complicit or those who did not raise their voices in protest even though they knew what was happening to the personal indifference shown by his Nazi guards, as they turned a blind eye to the suffering and inhumanity directly before them on a daily basis, treating their innocent captives as though they were nothing at all.

The indifference of which he speaks is that which looks past you without any regard for your humanity. Or your mere existence, for that matter. It is this failure to engage, this failure to allow our empathy to take hold and guide us, that grants permission for the great suffering that takes place throughout our world.

So you can see where writing about showing a picture as a symbolic battle against indifference might seem a bit trivial. It certainly does to me. But I do see in it a microcosm of the wider implications. We all want our humanity, our existence, recognized and for me this was a small way of  raising my voice to be heard.

When I first started showing my work I was coming off of a period where I was at my lowest point for quite some time. I felt absolutely voiceless and barely visible in the world, dispossessed in many ways. In art I found a way to finally express an inner voice, my real humanity, that others could see and feel a reaction. So when my first opportunity to display my work came, at the West End Gallery in 1995, I went to the show with great trepidation.

For some, it was just a show of  some nice paintings by some nice folks. For me, it was a test of my existence.

It was interesting as I stood off to the side, watching as people walked about the space. It was elating when someone stopped and looked at my small pieces. But that feeling of momentary glee was overwhelmed by the indifference shown by those who walked by with hardly a glance. That crushed me. I would have rather they had stopped and spit at my work on the wall than merely walk by dismissively. That, at least, would have made me feel heard.

Don’t get me wrong here– some people walking by a painting that doesn’t move them with barely a glance are not Nazis. I held no ill will toward them, even at that moment. I knew that I was the one who had placed so much importance on this moment, not them. They had no idea that they were playing part to an existential crisis.  Now, I am even a bit grateful for their indifference that night because it made me vow that I would paint bolder, that I would make my voice be heard. Without that indifference I might have settled and not continued forward on my path.

But in this case, I knew that it was up to me to overcome their indifference.

Again, please excuse my use of Mr. Wiesel’s quote here. My little anecdote has little to do with the experience of those who suffered at the hands of evil people who were enabled by the indifference of those who might have stopped them. The point is that we all want to be heard, to be recognized on the most basic level for our own existence, our own individual selves. But too often, we all show indifference that takes that away from others, including those that we love. We all need to listen and hear, to look and see, to express our empathy with those we encounter.

We need to care.

Maybe in that small ways the greater effects of indifference of which Elie Wiesel spoke can be somehow avoided.

We can hope.

The painting at the top is a new piece [at the time this was written] that I call Memory of Night, inspired by Wiesel’s book, Night.

Read Full Post »

Truth exists. Only lies are invented.

Georges Braque


I am in the studio, looking at a new larger painting on my easel that is nearing completion. The words above Braque clang around in my mind as I look at it.

The painting is strictly an invention, a representation of a nonexistent place.

I ask myself, “Is it therefore a lie?”

No, of course not.

The painting is a true expression of my emotion and existence. That place represented on the canvas exists within me.  And maybe within others who see its symbolic truth.

But I think I know what Braque means with his words. I have some paintings in the studio that I know are lies, not done with honest emotion. They aren’t necessarily bad. In fact, a few have a shiny appeal and have an appearance of truth in them. But there is something just a bit off in the way they come across to me, like hearing the words of a well constructed lie that you know in fact to be untrue.

And if that feeling comes across to me, it no doubt does the same for some others, as well. Not everyone. Some people don’t want to look beyond the surface and are willing to accept the lie before them because it somehow fits their own needs. For them, it is an acceptable truth.

It is a useful lie that serves a purpose to fill their personal need.

And that is okay.

Well, at least it’s okay in the realm of art which is based on personal and subjective preferences.

In other aspects of this life, I think we are finding that this casual acceptance of invented lies can have dire consequences.

Hopefully, truth prevails…


Read Full Post »

Every 60 Hours

Every 60 hours.

There is a school shooting every 2 1/2 days in the USA.

Overall, there is a mass shooting every 36 hours. Every day and a half.

To be fair, not every school shooting is a mass event. Some are just guns being discharged in a school, sometimes without injury. But sometimes there are events like the 17 students murdered yesterday in Florida. And all mass shootings involve four or more people being shot or killed.

Apparently, the thoughts and prayers route isn’t doing too well for this particular subject. There doesn’t seem to be much thought going into stemming this tide of death and all those prayers fail to move a god whose silence seems to be replying, “You figure it out for yourselves.

You figure it out for yourselves— that is ultimately the answer.

When you hear a politician offering thoughts and prayers on an every other day basis, what you are really hearing is, “I have no thoughts on how to change this without upsetting the special interests who pay me. And by saying I am praying means that it is not my responsibility and is in the hands of God.

Ultimately, everyone says there is little to be done. It’s too big an issue and obviously too difficult to solve without sacrificing some divine right to own an assault rifle. Instead, we shrug our shoulders again and again and opt to instead sacrifice our children, ourselves and the society in which we live.

Some of us will go out and buy guns in response to these type of things, thinking that if we are armed to the teeth and feel a tiny bit of security for ourselves, it is now  okay.

But do we want to live in the type of world that this sort of thinking creates?

Apparently, the answer is yes because we continually choose to take no action whatsoever, thinking that all the multitudes of thoughts and prayers will magically kick in at last.

Thoughts and prayers? Stick that phrase where the sun don’t shine, pal.

Thoughts and prayers are empty words when real action is required.

We have to figure it out for ourselves and until we make that decision to do so, to take personal responsibility and sacrifice in the name of change for a greater good, we will go through this again and again and again and again.

Until it hits every school, every community, every family. Maybe then we will see what we have become and will decide that a change is needed.

Until that day comes, we have our  thoughts and prayers.


Read Full Post »

This new small painting is titled and never looked back… and is headed to the annual Little Gems show at the West End Gallery. It’s a piece that reminds me of the Depression era and the Dust Bowl refugees who forced from their homes by a hostile environment and a pitiless economy, leaving all they ever knew behind. I can only imagine the feelings of loss, the anxiety, the confusion and the anger that must have been constantly running through these people’s minds.

To have to leave one’s home– and never look back.

I know this is hardly a happy subject to face on a Sunday morning but I worry that we will someday soon face the same sort of situation. It has happened in one instance recently, if you consider the many people of Puerto Rico who have lost everything in the past year and how they have been forced to leave their island home. They are the current modern day Okies.

You may say this an unfounded worry, given the strength of our economy. And you’re probably right, at least for the short term.  But with the deregulation taking place in the financial sector, the shredding of the social safety net and unparalleled wealth inequality– a mere 6 people have more wealth than the bottom 50% of the global population, 3.7 billion people– we are setting the stage for a huge economic crash when the economy eventually sputters, as it will given its cyclical nature.

I know that I sound like a bummer filled with gloom and doom. I don’t mean it that way. I am just sending out a cautionary note that if we continue to ignore the lessons of the past, we will relive them. Not necessarily in the same way. We may not be Okies jammed into old trucks, heading out west to pick fruit. I don’t have the imagination to think what our lives might be in the next critical situation that comes our way. But I do know that it won’t be good unless we begin working now to avert the worst of it.

Okay, enough. Today’s Sunday morning music is a classic Dust Bowl era song from Woody Guthrie that was in my mind when I was finishing up this painting. It’s title is I Ain’t Got No Home in This World Anymore.

In the 1950’s, Guthrie lived in public housing in Brooklyn that was built with public funds by a NY developer by the name of Fred Trump – yeah, that guy’s father. Guthrie noticed the fact that people of color were not allowed in that development and later wrote new verses for this song that called out the racism of Old Man Trump, as he called him. This discrimination throughout Trump’s network of developments persisted for nearly 25 years until a Civil Rights lawsuit was brought by the Federal authorities and was settled in the late 70’s. Here’s a link to an article outlining more of the details.

Like I said, we relive the past.

Give a listen and have a good Sunday.

Read Full Post »

Every age manifests itself by some external evidence. In a period such as ours when only a comparatively few individuals seem to be given to religion, some form other than the Gothic cathedral must be found. Industry concerns the greatest numbers-it may be true, as has been said, that our factories are our substitute for religious expression.

Charles Sheeler
In much of his photography and painting, Charles Sheeler (1883-1965) equated the sheer mass and space of modern industry with the grandeur of medieval cathedrals. He saw in both of these environments, spaces that bring awe to the common man. These places often make one feel small and insignificant and in the presence of a powerful entity, one that dwarfed one’s own strength and power.
I think his work accurately showed the transition of our spiritual adoration from the religious to the corporate structures. It seems to me that we have bestowed a new sense of reverence on corporations, believing that they are some sort of savior and protector that will always act in the best interest of the many. When we speak of policy now, we don’t speak about how we can help people in need, we speak about how we can help large businesses. The idea there is that if they do well the benevolence they show in their hiring and acquiring will naturally take care of all ills.
If you look at that from a historical perspective, that’s not much different than the place occupied by the church throughout the ages. I know that’s not a new observation but it seems more and more obvious in recent times as so many common people have come to view capitalism in almost religious terms, with corporations deserving our veneration and protection.
And it makes me wonder if Sheeler was right, that the factories and corporations have become our substitute for religious expression? What will future generations see as the external evidence of our age? Will our perceived legacy be little more than the spaces of large corporate campuses and huge distribution centers? Is that the extent of our reach now?
Just thinking a little this morning.  Anyway, here are some other Sheeler paintings.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: