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Idyllium



GC Myers- Idyllium 2022

Idyllium— At the Principle Gallery, Alexandria, VA

There was almost a fairy quality to this place, he thought. The far look and the clear air and the feeling of detachment that touched almost on greatness of the spirit. As if this were a special place, one of those special places that each man must seek out for himself, and count himself as lucky if he ever found it, for there were those who sought and never found it. And worst of all, there were even those who never hunted for it.

― Clifford D. Simak, Way Station



I needed to write this morning but knew it had to be something to take me away from the despair and anger that has accompanied the last couple of days here in this country.

Something to ease the mind, sooth the soul.

I chose to focus on the new painting shown here, a 24″ by 12″ canvas that is included in my solo show that opens next week at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria.

I call it Idyllium.

The rolling landscape creates multiple layers that lead my eye toward the setting — or is it rising?– sun whose light creates a swirling effect of color in the sky. I feel pulled into this piece  by its depth and there is a softness and harmony in the colors and forms that makes the whole thing feel like a comforting blanket.

It’s just what I need this morning.

Well, to be honest, most mornings.

There’s a lot more that I could say about this painting, but I think the excerpt at the top from a novel, Way Station, by sci-fi writer Clifford Simak, pretty much sums up what I am seeking and seeing in this painting.

And what I hope to detect in much of my work.

Almost touching on the greatness of the spirit…

Clifford Simak was one of the masters of the genre during the Golden Age of Science Fiction in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. This novel won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1964. A film adaptation for Netflix is supposedly in the works.

Simak’s first published short story, in 1931 in the magazine Wonder Stories, was The World of the Red Sun. This sparked my interest because I sometimes employ a red sun in my works, as you might recall from a  post from a couple of days back on the painting, New World Symphony.

I’ll have to find that story.

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Monsters All

Blcak Band



As a breath on glass, –
As witch-fires that burn,
The gods and monsters pass,
Are dust, and return.

 — George Sterling, The Face of the Skies



It was less than two weeks ago that I last wrote about a mass shooting, that one being the Buffalo supermarket. If someone wanted to write exclusively about mass shootings, they would have no problem finding new material on a regular basis here in America.

The reactions always follow a pattern. The outrage, the shock, the same old thoughts and prayers are extended from the very politicians who do all that is in their power to either eliminate gun laws or hinder the enforcement of existing laws by declawing and underfunding the agencies who do the actual enforcement. These shootings occur so often that it’s hard to not notice the rife hypocrisy when the governor of Texas and other politicians claim that these killings are incomprehensible or inconceivable, especially when their clearly stated aim is to put as many guns out there as is humanly possible. Maybe a gun or two for every living breathing person.

I mean, what could go wrong with something like that?

But even with a crazy number of guns out there, this is not solely a gun problem. It might have been at some point many years ago. Of course, you have to factor in mental illness. But maybe even mental illness remains more a symptom than cause. Other countries have comparable levels of mental illness without having a weekly slaughter of the innocents so maybe we should put the idea that this is simply a matter of mental illness on the shelf.

No, my opinion– and it’s just that– is that our cult of guns might well have transformed into a monster driven by many other societal factors, mental illness being just one.

There are many other things that come to mind. A growing lack of empathy and a growing sense of self-entitlement. A sense of victimization and a willingness to blame others for our own inadequacies. A desensitization to outrage and incivility.  A desire for instant gratification. A plague of self-centeredness. The worship of and desire for celebrity. A growing sense of powerlessness coupled with a growing acceptance of outright lies and conspiracies.

I could go on and on just off the top of my head. These are all things you can see in just about any single reality show on TV right now where awful behavior is celebrated.

And that’s what these slaughters resemble from my viewpoint. I use the word slaughter rather than shotting because that word is too clean, not conveying the true horror of children being shot with military-grade weaponry. Consider that the families in Texas were required to provide DNA samples so that they could identify the children because of the physical carnage done to their small bodies. I hate to point that out, but any form of whitewashing here does a grave disservice to potential future victims.

And there will be future victims. Most likely in a couple of weeks. And we will go through the same dance of grief and outrage. A rerun, if you will, since this is certainly the reality show we have created.

What does it say about us that if monsters kill kids, we just sit idly by watching without raising a finger to stop them? Doesn’t that in itself make us monsters?

I wish I had an answer to this awfulness. I don’t and don’t have the hubris to believe I do. But I do know that what we are doing is not working, that what we have become is not what we want to be as a country.

It will take something drastic that will require cooperation, sacrifice, and common goals.

Sadly, that sounds like a pipedream these days and most likely this horror show will be on the air again soon. And we’ll all be passively watching, same as always.

Monsters all.

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New World Symphony

GC Myers- New World Symphony 2022

New World Symphony– Part of the June 2022 Principle Gallery Show



But first whom shall we send
In search of this new world, whom shall we find
Sufficient? Who shall tempt, with wand’ring feet
The dark unbottomed infinite abyss
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his aery flight
Upborne with indefatigable wings
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy isle?

― John Milton, Paradise Lost



Well, the work for my annual show at the Principle Gallery has been delivered. It is officially out of my hands. With that comes that relief that comes with meeting a deadline as well as the anxiety of waiting to see what sort of reception the work will receive.

This my normal state of being at this point every year.

This year’s feeling is much the same as I have felt after delivering this show every year over the past 23 years. Actually, the relief is the same but, while there is way more than I desire, the anxiety doesn’t feel overwhelming.

I think that comes from the fact that I have loved painting this show, have felt immersed in it over the past several months. The work does everything I want it to do for myself which is my primary criteria for judging my own work. That takes away a lot of the worry about how it will be received.

Don’t get me wrong here. I still want the work to be well received and to sell accordingly. That’s my job, after all. But even if it doesn’t reach my hopes for it, this show still shines for me.

One example is the piece shown above, a 28″ by 22″ painting on aluminum panel, that carries the tile New World Symphony, borrowed from the popular symphony from Antonin Dvorak. There’s a lot I like about this painting, but the focal point remains the red ball of a sun that dominates the center of the sky.

It provides a stark counterpoint to the comfort found in the rolling hills, buildings and body of water below, which creates a sense of home for me. That red ball places this hominess in a strange environment, one that feels alien yet still welcoming. It is filled with potential for a better and fruitful future because it is a newfound place, one that doesn’t carry the weight of past history, hierarchy, or tradition.

Of course, these things– the histories, hierarchies, and traditions– will all be newly formed as they have always been in newfound places. But the aspiration remains that these things will be form in an uncorrupted way in new worlds.

Maybe that’s what that strange red ball represents for me– aspiration and hope.

I can’t say for sure but there’s something in this piece that pulls me in.

Dvorak’s New World Symphony, which premiered in 1893 at Carnegie Hall, was written during the composer’s three years as a resident of the United States while serving as director for the National Conservatory of Music in NYC. During his time here, Dvorak absorbed much from the African American spirituals and the music of the Native Americans and incorporated his observations of these forms in this symphony without actually directly quoting from existing examples.

The second movement’s melody is a great example of this and was transformed into a song in 1922 with lyrics by one of Dvorak’s American students, William Arms Fisher. Fisher titled the song Goin’ Home and it is often mistaken for an African American spiritual. I am including a version below from Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble that features American banjo player/singer/songwriter Abigail Washburn singing lyrics in English and Mandarin. It’s a lovely performance that I believe fits this painting well.



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Written In the Wind

GC Myers- Written in the Wind

Written In the Wind– Soon at Principle Gallery



Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.

― William Butler Yeats, The Land of Heart’s Desire



Well, today is a travel day as I deliver the work for my upcoming show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA, which opens on Friday, June 3, 2022.

I am short on time but wanted to at least share some Sunday Morning Music to go along with the new piece at the top, Written In the Wind. I thought it might match up well with a favorite composition from Vince Guaraldi. This song, Cast Your Fate to the Wind was released in 1962, winning the Grammy for Best Jazz Composition, and has been recorded many, many times by other artists.

Good tune to take on the road and hopefully a good one to start your Sunday.



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The Secret Garden



GC Myers- Secret Garden

Secret Garden— Part of the June Show at Principle Gallery

Sometimes since I’ve been in the garden I’ve looked up through the trees at the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy as if something was pushing and drawing in my chest and making me breathe fast. Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden – in all the places.

― Frances Hodgson Burnett,     The Secret Garden



I used the title Secret Garden for this new painting that is part of my upcoming annual June show at the Priniciple Gallery. I see this piece as representing that special inner part of ourselves that we all carry but seldom show to the outside world.

Our secret gardens are in that internal region where we hide away most of our thoughts, ideas, and feelings. Things so valuable to us that we guard them closely, seldom sharing them with others for fear of being exposed to scrutiny in the form of criticism or ridicule or anything that separates us from the flock and makes us appear vulnerable.

I certainly understand that.

But I have found that sharing this secret garden is an essential part of being an artist. My belief is that art succeeds or falls short based on its honesty, commitment and depth of feeling– concepts that fall within the realm of vulnerability.

Things that live and grow in our secret gardens.

It can be a scary thing, this sharing of our secret gardens. I certainly get unnnerved at times when showing my work. I am sure I have shared the first time I saw my work all together in a solo gallery show, at the Principle Gallery back in 2000. Walking into that space and having my work suddenly surrounding and shrouding me instantly brought on a feeling of nausea. It all seemed so personal, so vulnerable.

I felt like a rabbit in the middle of a busy highway and wondered in that moment if I had made a mistake and that maybe I should have kept my garden a little more secret.

But this rabbit survived. And I guess the lesson I learned from that experience and subsequent shows was that those feelings of apprehension and vulnerability come naturally when you honestly share from your secret garden. You want these things that mean much to you to reach out and have some meaning to others.

That’s what I see in this piece which tells you everything you need to know about how I feel about it.



Secret Garden is 24″ by 12″ on panel and is included in Depths and Light, my upcoming show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. The show, my 23rd consecutive show there, opens Friday, June 3, 2022.

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Steadfast

GC Myers- Steadfast  2022

Steadfast– At the Principle Gallery, June 2022



Be still, my heart; thou hast known worse than this. On that day when the cyclops, unrestrained in fury, devoured the mighty men of my of my company; but still thou didst endure till thy craft found a way for thee forth from out the cave, where thou thoughtest to die.

― Homer, The Odyssey



I thought I would make an effort to write this morning by focusing on the last small piece which was completed only yesterday for my upcoming June show at the Principle Gallery.

There’s something about the last piece finished for any show that interests me. They often clearly reflect my feelings at that moment when I am coming off a period of intense and concentrated work and have begun to think not about process, but about possible reaction (or non-reaction) to the work. Think is not the right word here. It should be worry or doubt, things I have discussed here many times before.

Going from this internal process of creating the work to the external act of sharing creates a sort of whiplash. The internal part succeeds in satisfying my own needs, in filling emotional and spiritual voids within. It creates a framework and form from which I can make sense of my life and this world.

It is what I need to sustain myself internally.

Going from that way of viewing the work to presenting it to others outside myself with the hope of gaining their approval and patronage creates a great deal of turmoil in my psychic network. This is the place where the worry and doubt from above come into the picture.

Does my own perception of the work jibe with that of those who might view it? Have I overestimated it and by extension, myself?

It’s a time of anxiety in my small world. But experience has taught me that I must just hold tight on to my belief in the work, that it has intrinsic worth and will at some point move beyond fulfilling my needs alone.

And this is what this smaller new painting represents for me. It’s 6″ by 12″ on panel and is titled Steadfast.

I see it as being about having a certain toughness, a quality of endurance that I esteem greatly in people. It’s the ability to persevere and adapt, to be knocked around but keep moving forward.

And when the big winds come, you hold tight and wait for them to die down. Steadfast. Then you get to doing what needs to be done.

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Henry Moore Sculpture



It is a mistake for a sculptor or a painter to speak or write very often about his job. It releases tension needed for his work.

Henry Moore



I haven’t been writing much here as of late as I prep for my upcoming Principle Gallery show, which has provided a big boost in starting my day’s work. The break has been great but it has made writing or speaking about the work even more difficult. That’s usually not the case for me as I can usually speak or write about my work freely and easily.

Maybe it’s the pandemic and its isolating effects. I don’t speak much about my work with anyone much these days and writing s often a one-way street. I don’t really know but I can certainly feel the difficulty.

I had a phone interview several weeks back for an article/preview of my Principle Gallery show that will be appearing in the June issue of American Art Collector. I have done quite a few of these interviews over the years and have never had much of a problem in communicating about my work on these occasions. But this one was terrible. I was flustered the whole time, spouting disjointed inanities, and felt like crap after the call ended. I am hoping they disregard everything I said or at least shape them into some comprehensible form.

I am sure this will pass but it brought to mind a post from back in 2015 about Henry Moore’s words about how it is a mistake for an artist to speak or write too much about one’s work.

Maybe I am just following his sage advice. Here’s that post again.



Came across this quote from the great British sculptor Henry Moore and it struck me on two accounts, both in the words about an artist talking too much about his job and the other in the need for tension. I am aware and worry about both things quite often.

Talking and writing about my work has been a normal thing for me for years now and, while I think it has helped me express myself in many ways especially in the way it acts as a confessional in which I can air out my anxieties, I have often feared that my willingness to be transparent will detract from my work in some way. In times when I am less than confident, I fear that my words will somehow expose me as a fraud or, at least, point out the more obvious flaws in my character.

Even as I write this, I am questioning the very act of doing so.

But I do it. And will probably continue to do so.  It’s become part of who I am at this point, even on those days when I find myself questioning the wisdom in it.

As for tension being needed for the work, that is something I have believed for myself for a long time. Tension pushes me, makes me stretch forward out of my comfort zone. Tension has been the igniter for every personal breakthrough in my work, creating an absolute need to find new imagery or new ways to use materials.

There are times when I feel that I have become too comfortable in the materials and processes that I employ, and that people have become too accustomed to seeing my work. I feel stagnant, stalled at a plateau. It is in these times when tension, even fear, begins to build in me and I begin to scan in all directions for a new way of seeing or a new material in which to work. The tension becomes a burning need to prove myself.

This tension is not a comfortable thing. But I know it is a necessary condition in order for my work to continue to grow, which is what I want and need. To the casual observer it would seem to be a good thing to reach a point where you are comfortable and satisfied in what you do but when I don’t feel that tension I begin to worry.

Odd as it may seem, I see that anxiety as a means of finding a path forward or an open door to be found. It puts me on edge and raises my awareness, which often ultimately reveals something useful.



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Bruised Orange

GC Myers- Bruised Orange  2022

Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)– Part of the June Principle Gallery show,



You can gaze out the window, get mad and get madder
Throw your hands in the air, say “What does it matter?”
But it don’t do no good to get angry
So help me, I know

For a heart stained in anger grows weak and grows bitter
You’ll become your own prisoner as you watch yourself sit there
Wrapped up in a trap of your very own
Chain of sorrow

–John Prine, Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)



Coming into the last week of preparations for my annual solo exhibit at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. Lot to do still. There’s varnishing, framing, staining, matting and a bunch of other small things I can’t even think f at the moment. And I am still working on a last painting or two, like the one at the top.

I finished this yesterday and the tone of it very much fit the day as I began to hear details from the Tops Supermarket shooting in Buffalo that left 10 dead. This was after a shooting the evening before in Milwaukee. 

But the Buffalo shooting hit a nerve. I have known folks who have worked at Tops stores in this area, know people in Buffalo, know the shooter’s hometown. The fact that it felt local made it sting even a bit more. It drove the point home that there are people living nearby who despite a normal appearance are hate-filled, racist sociopaths. The murderer here was 18 years old and left a manifesto that spouted right-wing, white supremacist talking points– the same sort of messages that fill the airwaves every day and night on Fox News, Newsmax, OAN and other networks. The same messages spouted by mainstream politicos from the right now.

There is definitely some correlation there between the messaging and the act of violence. Or at least some connection between the messaging and its appeal to the mind of those who seek only others to blame for their own shortcomings, failures and disappointments.

He’s not the first to be prompted to deadly violence and he certainly won’t be the last. After all, this is America and we’re number one in this category by a long stretch. This doesn’t happen anywhere else but here, especially with the shocking regularity that we display with our mass shootings and murders. 

I work hard to find positives in my work to counter the feelings that days like yesterday bring up, to give me some sort of guard, a wall that keeps out the darker aspects of our world, if only for a fleeting moment.

But sometimes the images are more of a mirror than a wall. That’s the case with the new painting at the top. It’s 12″ by 24″ on panel that was finished yesterday as the news was coming in. Some pieces come easy, almost falling on to the surface. But nothing came easy in this painting. It was one of those pieces that fought me most of the way. Or maybe I should say my mind fought with itself, not wanting to show my reaction in the moment. Whichever it was, it was a struggle. Pieces like this have a different form of satisfaction attached to them for me.

This piece is titled Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow) which I outright stole from a favorite John Prine song. The song will, of course, be this week’s selection for some Sunday Morning music. It seems a good match for the painting with its rising mound and color that has the appearance of the roundness of an orange and a bruised, foreboding sky.

Like many John Prine songs, his lyrics stick with me and often speak to the moment at hand. These lines sure do. We’re carrying a lot of bruises these days. 

It ain’t such a long drop, don’t stammer, don’t stutter
From the diamonds in the sidewalk to the dirt in the gutter

And you carry those bruises
To remind you wherever you go



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GC Myers- Waiting For the Light

Waiting For the Light– Coming to the Principle Gallery, June 2022



This notion that we must wait and wait while we slowly progress out of enslavement into liberation, out of ignorance into knowledge, out of the present limitations into a future union with the Divine, is only true if we let it be so. But we need not. We can shift our identification from the ego to the Overself in our habitual thinking, in our daily reactions and attitudes, in our response to events and the world. We have thought our way into this unsatisfactory state; we can unthink our way out of it. By incessantly remembering what we really are, here and now at this very moment, we set ourselves free. Why wait for what already is?

― Paul Brunton, Advanced Contemplation: The Peace Within You



This new painting has an interesting dichotomy of feeling for me. On one hand, it makes me think that it might be about waiting, with the Red Tree here perched on a hillock anticipating the coming light of day.

Like Penelope on the shores of Ithaca waiting for Odysseus to return.

But on the other hand, I get the sense that the Red Tree here is beyond waiting, that it already understands that it already has all that it needs in this moment, that it already knows what it is.

That it already knows the was, the am and the will be of itself.

It waits for nothing because everything is already at hand.

It makes me wonder where my own self lies between those two poles, one of waiting and the other of being. I am not that advanced as a human, so I imagine it’s much closer to the waiting side of the equation. My anxieties attest to that.

This piece serves as both a reminder of where I might be now and to a point to which I hope to advance. And both are in the same place. Both are at hand.

Just have to unthink my way to that bit of knowledge.



The painting at the top is a new 12″ by 12″ canvas titled Waiting For the Light. It is part of my upcoming annual solo exhibit at the Principle Gallery, opening Friday, June 3, 2022.

The quote is from Paul Brunton (1898-1981) who was a British writer who traveled to India in the aftermath of his service in World War I where he encountered Hindu/Buddhist mysticism for the first time. He wrote several best-selling books on his experiences that more or less brought Hindu/Buddhist thought to the west for the first time in popular form.

I first stumbled across his work at a decisive point in my life and might not be here today but for that chance discovery. I still often turn to his words and observations when I feel overwhelmed. And like this painting, he points out that most of the answers are already within ourselves.



 

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Absorbed

GC Myers- Absorbed  2022

Absorbed– Coming Soon to Principle Gallery, Alexandria, VA



What I call innocence is the spirit’s unself-conscious state at any moment of pure devotion to any object. It is at once a receptiveness and total concentration.

― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek



I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at this new painting that is headed to the Principle Gallery for my annual solo show there in June. There’s something in it that makes me focus on it. Maybe it’s the composition where everything– the trees, the path, the spiral pattern of the sky– is pushing the eye inward toward the glowing sun/moon.

Or maybe it’s the saturation in the color. Or maybe it comes from something I desire in my own lagging ability to concentrate.

I can’t say for sure. Most likely, it’s some combination of these things, some alchemy of odd elements that come together in ways I can never predict.

The words from Annie Dillard above seemed to reinforce what I am seeing in this piece. It has a sense of innocent devotion, a feeling that is earnest and intense.

Thinking about it a bit, I guess those are words I would like to have attached to the bulk of my work– innocent, earnest and intense.

This new 20″ by 16″ painting on panel is titled Absorbed. As I said, it’s part of Depths and Light, my 23rd annual solo show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA that opens on Friday, June 3. I think this painting falls neatly into that depths and light category.

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