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GC Myers- Pillars of Wisdom- Wait and Hope sm



“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.
” Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.”

Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo



The painting above is another that is included in my show, Between Here and There, that opens June 4 at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. It is 12″ by 16″ and is also painted on an aluminum panel.

It is titled Pillars of Wisdom: Wait and Hope. This was inspired, in part, by the excerpt above from the classic The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. As I was painting it, I began call this piece Pillars of Wisdom but after it was completed I came across this bit from Dumas. The idea of seeing these being trees named Hope and Wait and that they represent the totality of human wisdom seemed perfect.

So many of us live with a certainty and assurance that is beyond me. We have yet to learn all there is to know, all the answers to the infinite number of questions that hover over us like so many stars in the night sky. Perhaps one day we will fully be bathed in the light that is all wisdom, but until then all we have are those two words: Wait and Hope.

Hope waits for the light to come and Wait hopes for it.

Wait and Hope. What more do you need to know?



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Fanny spoke her feelings. “Here’s harmony!” said she; “here’s repose! Here’s what may leave all painting and all music behind, and what may tranquillise every care, and lift the heart to rapture! When I look out on such a night as this, I feel as if there could be neither wickedness nor sorrow in the world; and there certainly would be less of both if the sublimity of Nature were more attended to, and people were carried more out of themselves by contemplating such a scene.

― Jane Austen, Mansfield Park



GC Myers- Tranquilium smThis is a new painting that is included in my new solo show, Between Here and There, which opens June 4 at the Principle Gallery. It is titled Tranquilium and is 10″ by 20″ painted on an aluminum panel.

I have recently started painting on aluminum composite panels which are two layers of aluminum sandwiched over a polyethylene core. They are rigid, acid-free and extremely durable which means that a painting done on one of these panels should be long-lasting.

The durability and  stability of my work is something I have thought about since my earliest days as an artist. While I have no control over how my work moves into the future after it leaves my hands, I can at least give it a chance to survive while maintaining the look and integrity of the original painting.

I don’t know if my work will live on but if so, I want it to look as good as possible. I believe work painted on these panels have the best chance at doing just that.

Plus, I like painting on them, Every surface– canvas, wood panel, or paper– has its own feel under the brush. A stretched canvas has an appeal for me in that there is often a drum-like feel and cadence as the brush bounces off the taut surface. It adds to the meditative quality of the process. Paper has a softness that comes through even when it is covered with multiple layers of gesso.

Much like wood or masonite panels but far more stable and unaffected by moisture, the aluminum panels have a unmoving solidity that lets me know how my brush will react as it meets the surface. That helps for my process. I know what is going to happen at that moment. And that’s a good thing.

This piece, Tranquilium, has satisfied something within me. It has a stillness and placidity that feels timeless so it’s natural that I would like to think that it will live a longer life than my own. Hopefully, it has something in it, perhaps that which Jane Austen’s Fanny described above, that will speak to someone in the future as it does to me in the present moment. Lifting the panel with this painting, feeling its weight and solidity and the way the image comes off the surface, it certainly seems like it might.

I will never know but at least I am giving it a chance.

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GC Myers- Show's Over, Folks



Everything is going to be fine in the end.
If it’s not fine it’s not the end.

― Oscar Wilde



My solo show, Between Here and There, which opens June 4th at the Principle Gallery, has a group of smaller paintings featuring Red Chairs in interior scenes are mostly scenes of the aftermath of prior proceedings. I’ve shown a few here already and thought I would share another today. The one above is titled Show’s Over, Folks.

Kind of like a cop at a crime scene saying, “Shows, Over, folks, Nothing more to see here. Move on.

I enjoy these pieces in many ways. I like composing and painting them. I enjoy looking at them because while they often make me smile, they often make me think as well. There’s usually a fair amount of atmosphere in them to take in and interpret. Sometimes my take on a piece like this will change from view to view. Perhaps it’s dependent on my own mood at the time that I am looking.

Right now, this one makes me smile. The show might be over for the night and that might be sad but it ain’t the end. Like Wilde’s words at the top– if it’s not fine it’s not the end.

Here’s song that kind of goes with this piece. It’s an old Kinks favorite, Till the End of the Day. With lyrics like: Yeah, I get up/And I see the sun up/And I feel good, yeah/’Cause my life has begun how can things not be fine?

Now, off to work.



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GC Myers- In Retreat (Shelter)



When I flew over the Atlas Mountains in a plane, I realized that their formation-through erosion, geological dramas, the action of winds-was completely independent of our moral anxieties; man is in a kind of cyclone; he builds solid houses to protect and shelter his heart. Outside, nature is nothing but indifference, even terror.

― Le Corbusier, When the Cathedrals Were White



As I have written recently, I am neck deep in the  work right now as I prepare for my upcoming solo show, Between Here and There, at the Principle Gallery. It opens on June 4 at the Alexandria, VA gallery that has graciously hosted my solo outings there for the past 22 years.

I am generally excited about each show as it nears but the anticipation to get this work out in the public, out in open air, feels even greater this year. Maybe it’s the events of this past year– a pandemic, an insurrection, the death of my father, a hobbled ankle that has constantly nagged at me, etc– but I felt somewhat distracted in my work over the past year or so. I feel that the work from this time was where I wanted it to be but it came with great effort and a focus that wasn’t always there.

The work from the past several months has been quite unlike that. I am in the midst of a great groove where I feel focused and locked in. It’s one of those rare and wonderful times where the work is coming easily, one piece throwing me instantly into the next, to the point where I will set aside a painting that is 3/4 complete so I can begin the next while the focus and rhythm is still resonating in my brain. I have several such paintings still awaiting completion around the studio as I sit here this morning.

It’s a wonderful feeling, one that I can’t fully explain to you. With this focus, the outside world is diminished, almost blocked out. The work becomes a sort of shelter, a retreat from the darkness and outrage of the world beyond my studio walls. Of the many benefits that being an artist offers, that might be the most valuable for me, the thing that keeps me afloat through thick and thin. The shelter of this work is a life saver.

So good to have it back. I only hope that the show lives up to the feeling. It’s at this point each year that I begin to worry that I am delusional, that my proximity to the work and the process makes me incapable of actually seeing it for what it is.

Contact intoxication, maybe?

But the benefit of being in such a groove is that the work engrosses me so much that it keeps me from fully fixating on this uncertainty. How it is received seems insignificant when it’s like this.

Now that’s the shelter I need.

This leads me to the small piece shown at the top, a 12″ by 12″ canvas that is part of the show, one of the first pieces completed. It set things in motion. It is titled In Retreat (Shelter) which only seems appropriate this morning. I could easily see that Red Roofed structure as my studio or myself as one of those Red Trees that seem to be seeking shelter behind it.

I am going to link this image and post to a song whose chorus has periodically entered my mind over the past 30 or so years. It’s fittingly titled Shelter and is from Lone Justice from back in the mid 1980’s. Led by vocalist Maria McKee, they were very hot for a few years but they couldn’t hold together long enough to reach the potential that so many saw in them. They disbanded in 1987 and Maria McKee went on to a solo career. I thought their two albums were very good and they were regulars on my turntable back in the day. But honestly, I haven’t heard any of their music for probably twenty five years though, as I said, the chorus from this songs pops into my head every now and then. It was produced and cowritten with McKee by Steve Van Zandt, who is known as Miami Steve with Springsteen’s E Street Band, Little Steven with his Disciples of Soul or with his Underground Garage Sirius show, or as Tony’s consigliere Silvio Dante on The Sopranos. You can hear his influence in this song.

Give a listen. Maybe it will help you find some shelter of your own or at least have its chorus pop into your head someday in the future.



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GC Myers- Shared Joy sm



This is the true joy in life: the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one, the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap, the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

-George Bernard Shaw



The painting above is a new piece from my June show at the Principle Gallery. It’s a 12″ by 12″ canvas that feature my Baucis and Philemon inspired trees. There’s a brightness to it that gives me a true feeling of joy which most likely led to its title, Shared Joy. It reminded me of a blogpost from back in 2016 where I was describing another piece that brought up similar feelings. I thought I would share it today along with this Sunday Morning music which is a jazzy version of On the Sunny Side of the Street from Esperanza Spalding. It’s from a 2015 White House performance and it showcases her virtuosity on the double bass. Nice version with a lot of joy in it.

Here’s the blogpost from 2016 followed by On the Sunny Side of the Street. Enjoy.



After describing a painting that I found joyfully appealing, I continued:  There was just a feeling of realized joy and happiness throughout it, the kind that Shaw described above in his play Man and Superman.

I think the feeling he describes must be one of the greatest joy in this world: to find a purpose into which you can fully throw your whole being for all of your time on this planet.

A purpose that gives you a place to stand and rise above the selfishness and pettiness of those, including yourself, who would drag you down.

A purpose that allows you to tap into some greater force in order to gain energy for your toils.

A purpose that lets you deny the cynicism that sometimes shows up in abundance in this world.

A purpose that serves you endless joy in what seem to be empty moments.

A purpose that even finds the joy in tears.

I think there is a purpose for each of us. Finding it is not always a simple matter and some of us will never find the one purpose that is truly our own. We may not be willing to give enough of ourselves to something that is beyond our own needs and desires. We might still find some joy in our life but it will no doubt be short lived.

For me, it has been painting. At first, I found this surprising because I often viewed it as being selfish in nature. It was my perspectives. My emotions. It was even called self-expression.

But I found that there is purpose in it and that this came from having others find comfort and happiness in their reactions to my expression.

Their joy fed my joy, even more than my own satisfaction and joy from the work.

But there are days when I still find myself losing sight of this purpose, when it is a struggle both in the studio and in the outer world and I feel drawn back down to less positive feelings. But I will be somehow reminded of that purpose and that joyful feeling returns.

That happened the other day. A gallery owner called and told me of a person who had bought a painting of mine that they had desired for quite a long time. In fact, this person had come into the gallery for this painting and it was gone, having been returned to me. I sent the piece back to the gallery and when the person returned to get it, they started crying in joy. I can’t even express how this makes me feel outside of saying again that their joy fed my joy, their tears became my tears.

Those moments make my time alone in the studio seem more special and filled with purpose. They make me that joyous one, if only for a while.

And that is good enough for me…

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GC Myers 2021 Work a sm



Nothing whets the intelligence more than a passionate suspicion, nothing develops all the faculties of an immature mind more than a trail running away into the dark.

― Stefan Zweig, The Burning Secret



The new painting above is part of my June solo show, Between Here and There, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. Its title, The Burning Secret, is borrowed from a Stefan Zweig short story. The Austrian Zweig (1881-1942) was a giant of literature in the 1920s and 30’s, his books among the biggest best-sellers and most translated of the time. But he has not come forward in history with the same impact as some of his contemporaries such as Hermann Hesse and Thomas Mann, though there was new interest in his work after director Wes Anderson made Zweig’s The Grand Budapest Hotel into a wonderful film.

I am not going to get into Zweig here but the short excerpt form the story at the top seemed to fit so well with what I was seeing in this new painting. The forest of Red Trees has a feeling of danger and menace yet also beckons. I know that, as one possessed of an immature mind despite my quickly advancing age, that the danger possessed in mystery is an attractive thing for this unnurtured sort of mind.

You know you stay out of that place but there is something in there that needs to be found, some mystery to be exposed.

The fractured sky above appears to shed light and clues and the house seems to almost stare into the dark of the forest. Though it is apparently night the light on the fields is surreally mysterious and shadowy.

Yet, even with its evident potential for peril, there is something in this that tells me that the core of this mystery, the secret waiting to be uncovered, is not to be feared. The fear only comes in not knowing which allows the immature mind to run wild.

The more mature part of the mind feels that behind the mystery there may be answers. Perhaps even answers to the larger questions that have plagued one’s mind.

It makes me want to follow that path, that trail running away into the dark.

Who knows what lies beyond?



The Burning Secret is 13″ by 19″ on paper and is matted and framed in an 18″ by 24″ frame. It is included in my solo show, Between Here and There, which opens June 4, 2021 at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.

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GC Myers- From Here to There sm



Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself.

It is not far, it is within reach,
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,
Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.

–Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, Section 46



 

I thought some lines from Uncle Walt might fit well with the new painting above. It is titled From Here to There and is part of my annual solo show that opens this year on June 4th at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria.

This show, titled Between Here and There, concerns itself primarily with the concept of the journey.   It could be as simple as an actual physical journey from one spot to another or it could be more metaphorical, symbolizing our journey through life, from birth to death.  

Beginnings and endings. Origins and final destinations. We all start and finish the journey.  

But the totality of the journey is never fully expressed in the start and end points. No, between here and there are all sorts of roads to follow, obstacles to conquer, bodies of water to cross, creatures to love, and things to be learned.

And dreams to be dreamed. Hopes to be hoped.  

In this journey, do we ever truly feel the satisfaction of reaching our destiny? There are other numerous destinations within the two endpoints of our life’s journey and sometimes we may reach a goal that we once thought was well beyond our grasp. It may produce a momentary feeling of euphoria that we take for satisfaction but eventually we yearn to be on our way once more. As Whitman points out later in this section:

This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look’d at the crowded heaven,
And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of those
orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of every thing in
them, shall we be fill’d and satisfied then?

And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and continue beyond.

Maybe we are destined to be always going forward, to always have a gnawing inside us to move, to learn and do and feel more.

To fill the space between here and there.

Here’s the whole of the section from Song of Myself:



I know I have the best of time and space, and was never measured and never will be measured.

 

I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!)

My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the woods,

No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair,

I have no chair, no church, no philosophy,

I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange,

But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,

My left hand hooking you round the waist,

My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public road.

 

Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,

You must travel it for yourself.

 

It is not far, it is within reach,

Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,

Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.

Shoulder your duds dear son, and I will mine, and let us hasten forth,

Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go.

 

If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff of your hand on my hip,

And in due time you shall repay the same service to me,

For after we start we never lie by again.

 

This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look’d at the crowded heaven,

And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of those
          orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of every thing in
          them, shall we be fill’d and satisfied then?

And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and continue
          beyond.

 

You are also asking me questions and I hear you,

I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out for yourself.

Sit a while dear son,

Here are biscuits to eat and here is milk to drink,

But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in sweet clothes, I kiss you with a good-by kiss and open the gate for your egress hence.

 

Long enough have you dream’d contemptible dreams,

Now I wash the gum from your eyes,

You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.

 

Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,

Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,

To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout, and laughingly dash with your hair




 

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GC Myers- Book Club Meeting sm



It’s the Book Club Meeting.

Seems like it should be a mild affair but, in fact, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Books. Liquor. A warm evening. Tight shoes. 

Who knows how this madness will end?

This is a new painting, a 12″ by 12″ canvas, titled, of course, Book Club Meeting. It’s headed to the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA for my annual solo show there. The show this year is titled Between Here and There and opens on Friday, June 4.

This painting is part of a small group of pieces that feature interior scenes. They take on the quietness of a still life but most are set in the aftermath of some sort of blow up or scuffle, allowing the mind to imagine the events that led to this moment. Who did this and why? What really happened here?

I think it’s this blank space, this evident mystery, that the viewer has to fill in for themselves that is the appeal in this series. They have the ability to make it what they want it to be rather than me just dictating a narrative. 

I know I enjoy painting these particular pieces. I guess I am drawn to it because it’s a matter of leaving small bits of evidence that will hopefully create a new narrative for the viewer while still composing a piece that has harmony, calm stillness, and visual appeal.

Hopefully, they will appeal to others, as well.

Here’s a song from the late Willie Dixon that I think plays well with this piece. This was originally first released by Bo Diddley and covered by many artists, including one from Long John Baldry that is a favorite of mine that has player here in the past. I like this version from jazz/rock keyboardist Ben Sidran. It’s kind of a different cover of the song but it still works well in its own unique way which is how I like my covers. 

Give a listen. And be careful with those books, folks.



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20210331_055939 The Memory of That Time sm



I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.

― Virginia Woolf, Diary, March 18, 1925



This new painting at the top is titled The Memory of All That and is part of my upcoming solo show, Between Here and There, at the Principle Gallery. The show opens June 4, 2021.

This piece has held the feeling of deep memory for me since it was completed. Maybe it’s the burnished edge of darkness that runs around its perimeter, like looking through an old film cell that has aged and darkened. You hold it up to the light and the brightness from behind brings the central image to life once more while seeming to put the peripheral imagery in shadows. They’re still there, just not as distinct.

The Virginia Woolf quote at the top seems especially applicable here. I see the Red Tree taking on  the role of a being who returns to the their past, gazing at the old homestead. The memories that flood in take on an emotional feel that is often deeper and more pronounced than was evident at the actual moment being remembered.

The present is often incomplete. It sometimes lacks the context which comes from pertinent future events that add the emotional depth and flavor we feel when we later revisit it as memory.

I know that this is something I often see in my own memories. Even those that had emotion at the moment in which they occurred are often deeper and many times felt with completely different emotions upon recall. For example, take some incidents of the petulant anger of youth. I might remember the initial incident and anger but the memory now might contain a bit of embarrassment at my lack of self-control, naivete and wrongheadedness.

Or what might have been a fun moment then now contains feelings of familial love or even a sense of loss.

As I said, the present is seldom complete. And future events– changes within ourselves and in the circumstances our lives–will continue to change our memory of it.

That’s what I am reminded of in this piece. The Red Tree will grow larger and its perspective will change, as will the homestead and everything around it. Our memories sometimes seem like they are set in concrete but they often shift and change in ways that we barely perceive.

After all, we live in an impermanent world. Memory sometimes gives us the feeling of permanence, even though it may only illusory.

Okay, enough. I have lots to do today and its time to get to work.



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PG GCMyers-- Comforter sm



But there is a greater comfort in the substance of silence than in the answer to a question. Eternity is in the present. Eternity is in the palm of the hand. Eternity is a seed of fire, whose sudden roots break barriers that keep my heart from being an abyss.

The things of Time are in connivance with eternity…

― Thomas Merton, “Fire Watch, July 4, 1952”



I had been looking for an image that would match up well with the lines above from the late mystic monk/theologian Thomas Merton when thought of this newer piece. It is titled Comforter and is part of my upcoming June solo show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria.

The title feels self-evident in the painting with its shades of blue that are underlaid with layers of magenta that give it a warmth that I finding comforting. The warm light of the moon also has a calming effect and the patchwork effect of the fields speaks directly of a comforter.

As I said, the title speaks for itself.

But Merton’s passage adds a layer of spiritual comfort. It comes from an epilogue for his book The Sign of Jonas and details one of his first duties as a novice monk performing a fire watch. It entailed walking through the monastery in the early hours of the morning making sure that all was well, that no accidental fires or water leaks were taking place. It was a task filled with silence and vigilance but also one that offered comfort in the knowledge that all was well.

And that seems to fit with this small painting. The Red Tree seems to be overlooking all while pondering its own existence, its own purpose. And in doing this silent duty, it finds comfort.

Another passage from Merton’s essay seems applicable as well:

And now my whole being breathes the wind which blows through the belfry, and my hand is on the door through which I see the heavens.  The door swings out upon a vast sea of darkness and of prayer.  Will it come like this, the moment of my death?  Will You open a door upon the great forest and set my feet upon a ladder under the moon, and take me out among the stars?

Perhaps the Red Tree is looking for that ladder under the moon.

I think I will think on that some more. In the comfort of silence.

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