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For Souls Past

World War I Casualty

Like a great many of you out there, I have not had to experience the hardships of war firsthand. It remains something to see from a distance, on the television or in movies. Terrifying and deadly but always from afar. With this comfortably safe and remote view, it becomes an easy thing to simply shrug it off after a while and turn back to our own personal endeavors, thinking that the specter of war won’t affect us and can remain a distant afterthought.

But it doesn’t take much to realize how close war has been to each of us and our families for generations. While working on my family’s genealogy, I found war after war through the ages where relatives served, some dying and some being wounded. Young and sometimes not so young men who rallied to the call and paid some sort of price for their efforts. My genealogy is unremarkable in that aspect as the same can be said for most families.

There is a lot to hate about war. The horror of it, the death, devastation and destruction of war should be enough. But when you consider the potential and futures of those lost in wars, not to mention the financial costs that sap the economies of the world depriving the people of resources better spent on making their lives better, it becomes a despicable thing.

But while war is, and should remain, a thing to be despised, we owe a huge sense of gratitude for those who have served and paid the ultimate price to preserve the things and ideals we take for granted nearly every day, all the time thinking that these things will remain in place without any need for protection.

So today, remember the price paid, the lives cut short. Hate war, yes. But give these soldiers who have shed their blood our gratitude and respect, as well as our empathy for the other lives and futures they were never able to realize.

This post ran here for Memorial Day back in 2011. Fr this year’s remembrance, here’s a song from Richard Boulger called For Souls Past. Seems to fit.

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Some folks inherit star-spangled eyes
Hoo, they send you down to war, Lord
And when you ask ’em, “How much should we give?”
Hoo, they only answer, “More, more, more, more”

-Fortunate Son, John Fogerty

Another Memorial Day weekend has come. I am in the final days of prepping work for my Principle Gallery show that opens in less than two week so I am too busy to ramble on much this morning about the meaning of the holiday. I am just going to basically redo a post from several years back that shows a photo and play a song, Fortunate Son, which is about the injustice of wars where the young and the poor pay the price by fighting and dying in wars waged by rich old men who shelter their own children from having to pay that same price.

The photo above, from the National Library of Medicine, feature five Civil War veterans who lost limbs in combat. I guess, in their own way, they were fortunate in the fact they were able to come out only missing limbs from a war where so many others lost their lives.

That was probably small comfort to them.

It’s a great and moving photo. I spent a few moments this morning looking closely at each of their faces. Hope you’ll do the same.

Here’s the classic Fortunate Son released by Creedence Clearwater Revival back in 1969. It’s message still resonates after 50+ years and most likely applies to most every war ever waged.

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Peak Solitude

GC Myers- Peak Solitude  2023

Peak Solitude— At Principle Gallery Show, June 2023

Solitude, though it may be silent as light, is like light, the mightiest of agencies; for solitude is essential to man. All men come into this world alone and leave it alone.

–Thomas De Quincey, Selected Writings of Thomas De Quincey, 1853

The painting at the top is titled Peak Solitude. This new 30″ by 24″ work on canvas is included in this year’s edition, Passages, of my annual solo exhibit at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. The show opens two weeks from today with an opening reception on Friday, June 9th. I will attending the opening this year for the first time since 2019.

Solitude, or the pursuit of it, plays a big role in much of my work and this piece fits in well. It’s one of those paintings that has consistently held my eye since it was completed a few weeks back. I find that I am easily pulled into this one with its pacifying rhythms and deep rich tones.

It definitely possesses a sense of quietude for me. I sort of think of it as a reverse Tower of Babel, where in order to escape the din and confusion of the masses gathered below, one has to climb higher and higher. At the peak, there is stillness and clarity, both of vision and thought.


All that solitude has to offer. And all I ask of my work.

The song below is Corcovado, also known as Quiet Night of Quiet Stars, a bossa nova piece written by Antonio Carlos Jobim in 1960. The original version was from Stan Getz along with bossa nova legends Jobim and Joao and Astrud Gilberto. I don’t know if that anything can come close to that original version with Astrud Gilberto’s vocals but I do enjoy this contemporary performance from the Stringspace Jazz Band.

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tina-turner--eiffel-tower-peter lindbergh

Tina Turner on the Eiffel Tower/ Photo by Peter Lindbergh, 1989

And you know what I say to people who ask, “What do you do when all the odds are against you?” I say, “You keep going. You just don’t stop. No matter, if there’s one slap to the face, turn the other cheek. And the hurt you’re feeling? You can’t think about what’s being done to you now, or what has been done to you in the past. You just have to keep going.

― Tina Turner, My Love Story

Saddened to hear of the passing of Tina Turner yesterday. She lived quite a life, one that had more than its share of highs and lows and touched many worlds. She was a one-of-a-kind performer, a generational talent. She was the prototype for dynamic rock and roll singers, a commanding presence onstage. But she was more than that. Among the many labels she wore, she was a survivor, a worldwide symbol of personal and spiritual growth as well as an inspiration and muse to many.

I am not going to say much more today on her death. I will leave that to others. It is a great loss but she left us plenty to carry forward in the form of her music and performances.

That is immortal.

I have literally hundreds, maybe thousands of favorite songs. It would be hard to choose any single one as my favorite but if forced, her River Deep, Mountain High might be that pick. I think it might be Phil Spector‘s masterpiece and it marked Tina’s first time recording as solo artist, without Ike. It is a tour-de-force that goes full bore quickly and somehow keeps building. It was song, with its huge sound and power, that was perfectly designed for the big stadium shows that marked Tina’s resurgent career in the 80’s and 90’s. A perfect bond of song and singer.

This performance of that song is from a television program in the 90’s from France, a country that which she had great affection, spending much of her later life at her home in the south of France and in Switzerland. I don’t now that I ever saw her give less than total effort and this is no different. As I wrote about this song a few years back when I shared it here, in the words of the great John Lee Hooker: If you can’t dig this, you got a hole in your soul– and that ain’t good.

There also a short video– only a minute long– below it about her work with the late fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh. He is the man whose work began the era of the supermodel and who took the iconic phot at the top of the page of Tina climbing the Eiffel Tower in her heels. 

Thanks for everything, Tina. Peace be with you.

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Time Passages

GC Myers-Time Passage

Time Passage— Coming to Principle Gallery, June 2023

A healthy human environment is one in which we try to make sense of our limits, of the accidents that can always befall us and the passage of time which inexorably changes us.

-Rowan Williams, Choose Life: Christmas and Easter Sermons in Canterbury Cathedral

…the passage of time which inexorably changes us…

Yes, it does.

I was going to write a whole thing on time passing and aging. About how it took a while to get used to seeing and experiencing the changes that aging affected on my behaviors and appearance. The new wrinkles that came one day and decided to take up permanent residence on my face. The beard that was suddenly just white, no longer salt and pepper. Or the fact that now, like the line from the Leonard Cohen song, I ache in the places where I used to play. 

But I’m not going to write that particular post.

We can bitch and moan about it, but it happens. That’s the message today. That’s it.

And I’m okay with it. In fact, I feel kind of lucky to be able to continue aging in a world that often seems determined on seeing us not living. I have finally began to enjoy my age and appreciate what little wisdom that experience and time have gifted me. I better accept my limitations now as well as better celebrate my abilities.

In fact, this time passage feels like a gift.

Take that’s for what it is right now. Tomorrow might find me singing a completely different tune.

Here’s an old song that lines up with the painting at the top, Time Passage, which is headed to the  Principle Gallery for my June show, and the lines from Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. The song is Time Passages from Al Stewart. Released in 1978, it was one of those ubiquitous songs that seemed to always be on whenever you flipped on the radio back then. It wasn’t a favorite of mine but listening to it today for the first time in quite a few years, I found it pretty pleasing.

Kind of soothing.

Maybe that’s a product of time passing…

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GC Myers- Archaeology: The Past Comes Forward

Archaeology: The Past Comes Forward– Soon at Principle Gallery

We are that strange species that constructs artifacts intended to counter the natural flow of forgetting.

–William Gibson, Distrust That Particular Flavor

The painting above is a new addition to my Archaeology series and is included in my June solo exhibit at the Principle Gallery. It is titled Archaeology: The Past Comes Forward and is 18″ by 18″ on canvas.

There is a lot I like about this series of paintings, aside from the process of painting the artifact field which is a sort akin to writing in a stream of consciousness, just letting things go without much, if any, forethought. I think the main aspect that attracts me to it is its ability to reveal new hints and new surprises with each new examination of the details. Every view creates new and different links between the artifacts and a new story and interpretation seems to emerge each time.

I think I may have compared these paintings to a jigsaw puzzle in the past. You’re trying to piece tiny bits and pieces together to get a fuller view of the whole they represent. Isn’t that kind of what archaeologists are doing?

It begs the question: What are the artifacts that would best represent what you are in this world if future archaeologists were to excavate the remnants of your life?

I sometimes ponder that question when I am painting these pieces. There are obvious choices. Paintbrushes. Books. Artwork. A guitar and things like that. However, the thing that always jumps out at me is that we don’t get to choose what pushes its way to the future to represent us. I look around at the mundane objects and wonder if they will end up being the sum total of my existence when some being in Year 21278 comes across evidence of our time.

Will my existence then be reduced to toenail clippers, a screwdriver and a broken pair of reading glasses? Will a plastic bucket , a chainsaw blade and a piece of chicken wire say anything about what the person I was thought and felt twenty thousand years before?

Most likely, it doesn’t matter. Maybe Gibson was right, we construct these things, these artifacts, so that we don’t forget and aren’t forgotten. But for the time being, I am enjoying this painting and the things it keeps me from forgetting.

Here’s song, Traffic in the Sky, to go with this post from Jack Johnson. I chose it because of these lines:

Puzzle pieces in the ground
But no one ever seems to be digging
Instead they’re looking up towards the heavens

The answers could be found
We could learn from digging down
But no one ever seems to be digging

Seemed to fit.

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GC Myers- Imitatio

Imitatio– At the West End Gallery

My rebelliousness went so deep that, faced with a can of asparagus that instructed me to open at this end, I always, stubbornly, opened it at the other.

–Dorothy Gilman, A New Kind of Country (1978)

Wasn’t going to write anything this morning but an old Graham Parker song came on that I hadn’t heard in a long time that made me think about my somewhat contrarian nature. I have never liked being told what I can or cannot do. It becomes a personal challenge to prove that whoever imposed this often arbitrary judgement on me was wrong.

I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. If you tell me that it’s bad, I will probably try to find an example that proves you wrong. And if you tell me that it’s good, I would most likely agree but point out the many times I have failed while trying to disprove the judgements of others. Faced with any rule, I try ways to bend it or make it fit my way of doing things.

This might be viewed as a personality flaw. It doesn’t necessarily make for a good employee, team member or friend. But it does sometimes serve a purpose, especially as an artist. It makes you push yourself when you might not have pushed yourself otherwise. It helps you determine your true limitations and strengths. It drives change and growth.

So, maybe it’s good?

I don’t know. And honestly, I don’t care. And that’s only because if I did care, that would make me a conformist. And the contrarian part of me won’t allow that.

This was all just an excuse to get to the Graham Parker song. This is from his1976 album, Howlin’ Wind which I think I had on 8-track. Man, the world has changed! But this song still works pretty well. This is Not If It Pleases Me. Give a listen if it please you.

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GC Myers- Silent Eye of Night

Silent Eye of Night– Coming to Principle Gallery

Let’s take a ride to the easy plateauWhere the cold don’t come and the wind don’t blowMoonlight flickers on the water below

Easy Plateau, Ryan Adams

This is another new painting that will be going to the Principle Gallery in a couple of weeks for my annual solo exhibit there. This year’s show is called Passages and opens Friday, June 9th.

This piece is titled Silent Eye of Night and is 24″ by 12″ on canvas. For me, the cool of the moon acts as a counterweight to the warmth of the colors of the sky and the landscape. This juxtaposition creates the calmness and balance that marks the tone of this piece in my eyes. It’s one of those pieces that always grabs my eye as I am working and makes me stop to rest on it for a moment. Something very satisfying in this piece for me. I don’t know how to describe it other than that.

For this week’s Sunday Morning Music, here’s a song from Ryan Adams who I haven’t played here since 2009. I used to listen to him a lot but for some reason he just fell off my radar and out of my listening cycle. Maybe it’s time to get reacquainted. This is Easy Plateau.

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GC Myers- Struggle and Will

Struggle and Will– At the West End Gallery

When I was younger, I used to believe that I never wanted to leave this world without saying ‘fuck you’. And now I never want to leave this world without saying ‘I love you’.

–Paul Schrader, Interview, Venice 2023

I found the passage above from director/screenwriter Paul Schrader very compelling. Schrader is best known for writing Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ for Martin Scorsese and directing films of his own such as American Gigolo, Blue Collar, Light Sleeper, Affliction and a number of others. Complicated films with psychologically troubled central characters and often plenty of violence. His comment above came from an interview he gave in interview while debuting his latest film, Master Gardener, which opened in theatres just yesterday.

Leaving that aside, it was his succinct description of the arc followed by many expressive people that interested me. It certainly lined up with my own feelings. Early on, there was always the desire to make a loud bang that couldn’t be ignored or to carve a deep wound in this world, one that would leave a scar that would mark one’s existence here. It was both a creative and destructive– and self-destructive– urge built from the fires of anger and insecurity.

But as time passed and the weight of age adds up, one’s perspective slowly changes. Oh, the anger and insecurities are still there but are no longer the central driving force they once were. There is a realization and acceptance of the shortness and fragility of our lives that makes us understand that we gain nothing with our hatreds and prejudices.

Certainly not peace of mind or of the spirit.

That only comes from love and joy, of finding beauty and harmony.

I have said ‘fuck you‘ many times before to many things in many ways and sometimes still have to hold down that urge and its accompanying anger. I take little pleasure in that knowledge.

Life’s too short to dwell in anger.

I no longer want to make a scar on this world. I want to leave something to mark my existence but not a wound or a scar. No, it must be a creation built on Love. Beauty. Harmony. Grace. Compassion.

A creation where anger exists only to act as a contrast which shows the power of love and light. A creation of ‘I love you’ and not ‘fuck you’.

I had no intention of writing this this morning but that passage was stuck in my head and had to be addressed. Here’s a song that ends the new Schrader film, Master Gardener. It revolves around the line, I never want to leave this world without saying ‘I love you’, which prompted Schrader’s words. It is written and performed by Devonté Hynes AKA Blood Orange with vocals from Mereba. This is Space and Time.


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9923132 Passages- New Worlds Revealed sm

Passages: New Worlds Revealed— Soon at Principle Gallery

The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is.

–Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past

I’ve been looking at the new painting above for several months now and still get the feeling from it of suddenly having a landscape open before me that is at once strange and wondrous yet not alien. As though I am looking at the world I know with eyes that have never seen it. The normal, that which is recognized yet often unseen, seems new and vibrant with these new eyes.

Maybe that’s what Proust was referring to in the passage above. Maybe we all need to try to see things with new eyes– and perhaps new ways of seeing things– every so often. Maybe we need that new sight and perception in order to restore the sense of wonder that staves off the weariness that often comes the longer we live in this world.

Perhaps this sense of wonder is the source of that fountain of Eternal Youth that Proust mentions. And maybe art is a form of seeing through the eyes of others, of reaching other universes that we fail to see with our own eyes, of maintaining a sense of wonder in this world.

I like that and it makes sense, at least at 5:30 AM. I would like to believe that my work serves that sort of purpose, that the viewer sees that which feels familiar to them in a different way. With new eyes, if you will.

I am not sure that this song completely fills out today’s triad but I like having it here this morning. This is Find the River from R.E.M.


The painting at the top is titled Passages: New Worlds Revealed and is 12″ by 36″ on canvas. It is included in my upcoming annual exhibit at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA which opens Friday, June 9.

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