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Archive for the ‘Quote’ Category

Mark Twain holds great say in our area. He spent many of his summers overlooking my native city, Elmira, and the Chemung River valley at Quarry Farm, where he wrote many of his best loved books. His family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery is a tourist attraction. Maybe that’s why I’ve always felt an affinity for the man and his writing.

Or maybe it was his inability to suffer fools, most notably those with great advantages and power. The current goings-on in DC, especially with the spite and greed that is accompanying the healthcare bill, have me swearing under my breath whenever I let the subject enter my mind. Keeping it out is a full-time and exhausting job.

So, today instead of venting, I thought I’d share some of my favorite Mark Twain-isms. Though some of this lines seem ornery and misanthropic, I think they reveal great compassion and empathy for the common man. I mean that in the singular sense. I like to believe that he was as leery of organizations, clubs, populist movements and, especially, those who reign over these groups as I am.

Plus they make me smile. And I need that these days, more than ever.

 

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If we are always arriving and departing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored. One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.

Henry Miller
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We often search and search, moving from place to place, trying to find that certain something that we can’t quite name. We have it in our minds that it is a physical place, a tangible object, that will satisfy our need to wander.

New people to meet.

New streets to explore.

New landscapes to surround us. New hills to climb.

But maybe what we seek is just a new way of seeing ourselves, of a new opportunity to unleash the person we desire ourselves to be. Or, more likely, a chance to see ourselves as we really are, something that becomes obscured in the familiar. Being anchored, as Miller infers above, in the repetition of  day to day life has us showing ourselves always in the same light. We lose touch with aspects of who we are that are never allowed to come to light.

The search allows us that new perspective. While we remain the same we see ourselves from new angles, new vantage points, allowing us to feel new. Different.

Sometimes it is good and sometimes it is not, exposing perspectives on ourselves we would rather not see and may have hidden for a long time. But hopefully unveiling the truth of all that we are will somehow  make us feel comfortable in our wholeness.  Knowing our shortcomings as well as our strengths make us more real, more human.

What we seek is always with us.

You might not view it the same way but that’s what I am seeing in this new painting, an 8″ by 16″ canvas, that I call Destination Seen. It is headed to the West End Gallery for my upcoming show, Self Determination, which opens July 14.

 

 

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I ran this blog entry back in early March but wanted to run it again as we got closer to the opening of Truth and Belief, my solo show opening tomorrow at the Principle Gallery. I wanted to show this painting in its final form with the band of Indian yellow that now surrounds the central image. It was shown without this but I thought that this really added a bold kick to the piece that needed to be shown.

We have to balance the lineality of the known universe with the nonlineality of the unknown universe.

Carlos Castaneda
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I am calling this new painting Balance (Known/Unknown).  It is a 14″ by 32″ canvas and will have a slightly different edge detail that I will show at a later date. [It is shown with it here.]

The Carlos Castaneda quote above just reached out to me when I was looking at this piece. The Red Tree here seems to be standing at the edge of the known, the terrestrial world that is defined here with earthy color, solid forms, and dark lines– the lineal universe.  Beyond it the non-lineal universe beckons, represented by a nebulous sky and a sun that acts as an unblinking eye.

It all is very much a metaphor for the purpose of art and that is to act as an intermediary between the known and the unknown, the go-between for that which is of our five senses and those things that go  far beyond those senses.

Things that we feel in an emotional sense.

And that is what art often does, putting the deep feeling of that which we cannot see onto those things that we do see.  It makes the intangible tangible.

That said, I like this new piece and have been enjoying my time with it. Every day I find a new angle within it that gives me pause, that excites me, and sets me thinking. And that is all I hope for in my work.

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There is also a nice article on this week’s edition of Technique Tuesday on the blog of the Principle Gallery, Principlearttalk. This article has to do with the history and use of stylization in art using my work as a contemporary example. It’s a good read.  You can go to this article by clicking on the Technique Tuesday image above or by clicking here.

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I came across this post from about 4 years ago and it made me take pause to think.  Sometimes in the course of living day to day, we often lose sight of the bigger picture that is our own life. We often focus on small things, little tasks and minor grievances, causing us to take for granted whatever good fortune that we may have experienced. I find that this is true in the weeks before a show when I am buried in my work. And I think that it  must seems especially true for most of us in these crazy days that we are going through as a nation.

So, today, instead of worrying and burying myself in angst, I am going to focus on the ways in which I have been so fortunate and allow myself to enjoy it, to be happy. Here’s what I wrote four years back:

There is but one success– to be able to spend your life in your own way.

— Christopher Morley, 1922

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I was contacted a week or two back by a man who had given me a great opportunity as an artist in my early years, a large commission that gave me the confidence to make the leap to painting on a full-time basis.  We had not seen one another in many years but he had seen some of the recent publicity about my work and he reached out to me, wanting to congratulate me and see how things were going in general.

For me, it was an opportunity to offer him the gratitude I felt he deserved even though it had been fifteen years since he had worked with me.  The years had clarified how large his decision to use my work meant to my career. So we talked for a bit, me thanking him and him telling me how proud he was of my work and of his ability to have seen something in it in those early days.  It was a nice talk and, after agreeing to get together soon, he put a  final question before me that gave me pause.

Are you successful, Gary?”  he asked.

I wasn’t sure what he meant by successful and the possibilities ran through my mind.  Was he talking about being a financial success?  A critical success, one based on notoriety?  Or was he asking if I was simply happy, satisfied by my life?  It suddenly seemed that success was such a relative term, that one person’s definition of success might not even begin to satisfy the next person’s requirements for it.

But my own?  What was success for me? In the flash of that moment, I tried to put this all together  and determine what the word meant to me.  I thought for a split-second of success being determined by money and fame but settled quickly on my own self-satisfaction as being the determinant of what I might define as success.  I knew in that moment that there would always be those who will make more money, gain more fame and influence than me.  But I also knew that even with more of these things I would be no more  satisfied with the life I was leading–  I do what I want  and I am able to do it on my own terms.  The image came to me then of those times when I am walking through the woods between my house and my studio and I stop and look around, thinking that I am more fortunate in this way than I ever dreamed of in my early years.

I knew in that flash that this  feeling of that satisfied moment in the woods was success for me.  I told him that yes, I was successful, more than I had hoped for.

I have thought about this conversation a number of times.  I still have fears and anxieties, still aspire for more in my career.  But it’s those moments of feeling truly fortunate to do what I do, feeling that warm glow of satisfaction in my life if only for a few seconds here and there each day, that define success for me.

I think back to a few weeks ago when I spoke with a group of high school students and I hope that I gave them  some idea that this is what success is– that if they can set their own  expectations and find satisfaction in these, they will be successful.

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The new painting shown here is a 9″ x 12″ canvas and is titled The Question. It is included in my solo show, Truth and Belief, which opens June 2 at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. 

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Every now and then a man’s mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., Autocrat of the Breakfast Table

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This new painting has been capturing my eye in the studio every time I mindlessly glimpse in its direction.  It instantly wakens my mind and sets it into a deeper focus, making me look deeper into the painting as I try to ascertain what is there that has convinced me that there is something more beyond the deepest point in the painting, something that triggers thought and emotion.

It pulls me in and swallows me up.

I don’t know why that is, exactly.  It could be the deep colors or the contrast of the light around the sun/moon/whatever. The simple forms and the depth into the picture plane?

I just don’t know.

But as the quote above from the elder Oliver Wendell Holmes ( the father of the famous jurist who was great man of letters in the 19th century) claims, it creates a sensation in me that stretches me, makes me want to experience it again, makes me want to know more. To feel more. To expand beyond the smallness of who I am now as a human, shedding the baser qualities that have marked me up to now.

And to stay in that expansive state, to not shrink back into that lesser self.

In short, I like this piece. As always, you might not see it this way or see in it anything that stirs you at all. And that is as it should be because I primarily paint for myself, paint to satisfy my own needs and desires. The fact that anyone sees something in them is a gift and a surprise to me.

A small miracle, in fact.

So, if you find something in this piece that stirs you, I thank you for creating that miracle so that I might experience it.

This painting, Looking Beyond, is 12″ by 16″ on canvas. It is included in my solo show, Truth and Belief, which opens June 2 at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.

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Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable. 

Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

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This is another new painting that is headed to the Principle Gallery for my solo show that opens on June 2. The name I chose for this show is Truth and Belief, two concepts that often, especially in this past year of confusion, get jumbled up in our minds

At least, that’s what I believe. It might be true. Or not.

You see, that’s the thing.  We often claim to want to know the truth but what we want is validation. We want a truth that confirms what we already believe to be true.

Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

And in the face of a truth that contradicts their beliefs, some will hang onto their misguided belief with even greater tenacity.  They view the truth at this point as an adversary, something to be overcome or at least pushed aside to make room for their belief.

But truth is always there, like it or not.  It will at some point come into view for all to see, believers and non-believers alike.

And that’s what I see in this piece.  The path going into the picture separates with one branch heading into the forest  where the view will be limited by the trees and the terrain. The other branch follows a route that takes it to a higher point where the view is unobstructed. The truth of that time and place is clear and undeniable despite what one might believe.

Now a disclaimer: I don’t know if any of this is actually true.  But I do believe it to be so. As much as it can be for a schlub sitting in the woods in front of a computer at 6 in the morning. Once I climb to a better vantage point I might think otherwise.

This piece is titled Seeking Truth and is 12″ by 12″ on canvas.

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Conquer the angry one by not getting angry; conquer the wicked by goodness; conquer the stingy by generosity, and the liar by speaking the truth.

Gautama Buddha, The Dhammapada

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Looking at this new painting, a 12″ by 12″ canvas, I didn’t have to spend a lot of time trying to interpret it as its message comes through clearly for me.

The title, The Radiant Heart, had come pretty quickly from the radiating fields and the sunlight along with the deep red of the heart-like mound on which the house is located. In my mind, these things symbolized a generosity of spirit and a willingness to reach out to others with honesty and goodwill. Much like the qualities in the words of the Buddha shown above.

They are seemingly simple qualities that most people would no doubt assume apply to themselves.

But in the bright light of reality how many of us can say we truly live up to those qualities– goodness, generosity, truthfulness, and placidity?

I can say that I aspire to them and  hope to arrive at a time when I can claim all four as being truly part of who I am.  But I have often come up well short on all four accounts.  I have been less than good with my behavior and my intentions. I have been stingy and greedy.  I have lied and deceived. I have been angry and vengeful.

And that was just yesterday. God only knows what today will bring.

But, seriously, the only transcendent moments in my life have come when  I have been freed from those negatives, cut loose from greed, anger, and dishonesty. So, I must try to keep reaching that point where those better aspects are normal and always at hand.  It’s hard, especially in these times when we witness so much anger, so much avarice, so much outright dishonesty and lying, and so little compassion or empathy. It’s hardest to maintain composure and not explode in anger in reaction to these horrible, shameful actions you see taking place on a daily basis.

But perhaps the sheer difficulty of maintaining high aspirations in these days make it even more important that it be done. Because if we don’t get closer to a point where those better qualities guide us, then we will be living in a world unfit for and hostile to most of us.

And that’s not a world I can tolerate.

A lot of words for a small painting, huh?

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This painting is part of my upcoming solo exhibit at the Principle Gallery, “Truth and Belief,” which opens June 2 at the Alexandria gallery.

 

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