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Just a month out from my solo show, Haven, at the Principle Gallery. The work for the show as a whole is shaping up well and I am going through waves of elation and anxiety as I prepare. The elation comes in the way I feel the new work is finishing off and the anxiety in that I fear my judgement might be off base a bit, that what I am seeing and feeling in the work might not come across to others.

That I am working with my head in the clouds.

Fortunately– or unfortunately–that anxiety is not new to this show. I’ve had it in varying degrees for every single show I’ve done over the past two decades. This is my 19th solo exhibit at the Principle Gallery and my 52nd or 53rd solo show overall and I can’t remember ever feeling absolutely confident in how people would react to what I was doing. But so long as I have faith in my own reaction to the work, that I trust that I am experiencing real feeling from it, then I live a little easier with that anxiety, even though it never fully recedes.

The piece shown here is a new painting, 24″ by 12″ on canvas, that elicits the elation I described above. It checks every box for what I wanted from it. It has an equilibrium of fineness and roughness that appeals to me. There is a cleanness in its design that makes it feel solid and whole to my eye. It draws me in and lets me feel that I am the Red Tree here and it is a fulfilling experience.

It makes me feel good, to put it plainly.

Now, I must note that these are my reactions. You might look at it and feel nothing. That is no less valid a reaction than my own. But because I know what I am feeling is true and genuine for myself, the anxiety of showing it to someone who might not feel anything from it is lessened.

So, with that thought in mind, I must get back to work.

With my head in the clouds.

This painting is titled, of course, Head in the Clouds. I used the quote below from Thoreau just a week or two ago but it fits this piece and this blogpost so well I am using it again:

It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are, if indeed you cannot get it above them, than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise.

–Henry David Thoreau

In this case, I think I know where I am…

 

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Earth Day…

Today, April 22,  is Earth Day. It’s an annual event to show support for strong environmental protections and actions to help keep this planet a clean and healthy place in which to live. It was first observed on this date back in 1970 and as it nears 50 years of age, it has never been more needed.

We are in the midst of a deep and vast cleansing but it is not taking place in the environment. No, it is happening in the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, where decades of of regulations enacting environmental protections are being flushed down the toilet, all for the benefit of large industries and energy companies.

I am old enough to remember the pollution of the 60’s and 70’s. The thick smog that hovered like a brown blanket above and on the cities. The many rivers so polluted that they were awash with dead fish and the others that were simply on fire. The acid rain that formed from the factories of the midwest and blew east, devastating the Adirondack forests and lakes. Love Canal and so many other Superfund cleanups– paid for by tax-payer dollars– of contaminated sites left by negligent industries. Masses of inefficient cars belching gray smoke and so many other things that contributed to a world that seemed to be built on trash and pollution.

Environmental protections have made huge strides in the past 48 years. If you ever drove through Cleveland in the 60’s and you see it now, you understand what I am saying. These regulations have made great strides toward cleaner skies and waters– outside of the giant Texas-sized islands of plastics that sludge along in our oceans and seas. But this administration has sold the country a bill of goods that says, simply put, that all regulation is bad and unnecessary.

And the gullible among us buy it, as though requiring businesses to operate in a safe and responsible manner somehow impinges on their own personal freedoms, even though there is huge truckload of evidence to the contrary.

There may be some regulations here and there that are not needed or are outdated. But for the most part, each of these arose from a need to stem specific practices that were detrimental to the public good. Are any of us worse off for having cleaner air to breathe, purer water to drink, better cars that get higher gas mileage and spew less smoke, or healthier forests and parks to in which to walk? What citizen benefits by allowing coal sludge to be dumped into waterways?

And as for the argument that these regulations cost businesses more? So what? It is the social responsibility of businesses to operate within our laws and regulations, especially when it concerns the health and welfare of our citizens. It is always passed on to us, the consumer, on a cost-plus basis that actually benefits the businesses. But this added cost passed on to us to avoid pollution and contamination is minimal compared to the bill that that comes due to us when we, the taxpayers, have to clean up things afterwards.

Not only do we have to live with an environment with dirtier air and water, we have to pay for the irresponsible screw-ups that gave it to us.

Okay, I am going to stop now even though I could rant for quite a bit more, especially about the cost analysis of renewable energy versus fossil fuels. I will end by saying that the EPA is doing damage to our regulatory framework and the environment it was designed to protect that may take decades to reverse.

This damage can only be halted by the actions of citizens. Get active. Speak up. For god’s sake, vote for clean air and water and renewable energy. If you can’t vote fot that, then we are in for grimy future.

Here’s this week’s Sunday morning music. It is, of course, the classic plea for the environment from Marvin Gaye, Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology).

Have a good Earth Day.

 

 

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I fell down a rabbit hole this morning, spending much  too much valuable time going from video to video until I ended up with a song with a goofiness that made me laugh. It’s called I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman from 1967. It’s from a singer called Whistling Jack Smith whose real name was John O’Neill, who was a British tenor noted for his talent as a whistler.

The song’s original title was Too Much Birdseed.

I don’t know which I like better.

You just don’t hear many whistling songs these days so give it a listen– maybe it will make you smile.

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The Pebble/ Redux

A great flame follows a little spark.

Dante

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Below is a posting from several years back that is about one of my earliest attempts at painting, about 25 years back. While I am not particularly proud of the piece itself, it still has great meaning for me. I find that by revisiting it periodically gives me a glimpse of the motivations, excitement and energies that propelled me in those early days. Unfortunately, those things that get pushed aside by habit and acquired skill over time. Trying to remember what my younger self was seeing and experiencing brings those things back, if only for a short time.

 

GC Myers-1993 PieceI was looking through some old work, pieces that came from my earliest forays into painting about twenty years ago when I was just beginning to experiment. I came across this particular piece and stopped as I always do when I am meandering through the old work and this painting appears before me. It is one of my earliest efforts, done in late 1993. It is rough and doesn’t exactly represent where my work has went in the meantime. I was hesitant in  showing it here but felt that there was something important in it for me.

This painting, copied in part from another artist’s watercolor, was done with old air brush paints on very cheap watercolor paper.  As I said, it’s rough and not a piece for which I hold a lot of pride. Nor is it a piece that shows any level of mastery. Certainly not a piece that I want many people to see if they are not already familiar with my work from the decades beyond this. You seldom want to show something that displays a weakness but sometimes there is something of value that goes beyond the surface.

But for me there is something about this piece that propelled me forward, something that gave me some sort of insight into where I might want to go with this whole thing.  I equate it to walking along and suddenly stumbling for what seems no reason. You stop and look down to see what made you trip and there is nothing but a tiny pebble. Insignificant in every way. Certainly nothing that would make you stop at any other time. But this time it has somehow caused you to loose your balance.  So you stop and stand there, looking down at this pebble. In the moment, you  begin to see other things that you had never taken notice of before and the path you had been walking before the pebble waylaid you is forgotten.

And that’s what this painting was and is for me– a pebble. On it’s own it is very little and completely innocuous. But for me it that thing that tripped me and made me stop to take  notice of a new path. There were small inklings– the curves of the landscape and the blocking of the colors, for example– in this this piece that sparked thoughts and further explorations that, in turn, pushed me even more as I went forward.

In a very long chain of mostly fortunate reactions, this was the catalyst. So while I may not hold this painting in high esteem (nor would I expect anyone  to do so) this old work has real meaning for me.

 

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In the Revealing

The painting shown here is from about eight years back, a 30″ by 40″ canvas that is titled In the Revealing. It’s a favorite of mine and hangs in the studio where I can see it from my desk. It has never hung in a gallery and most likely never will.

It’s in its home.

For me, it very much relates to the thought in the words of Rumi shown above. When all is said and done, our true nature is a constant.  It endures the worst of this world and keeps us grounded when things look bad because it tells us that those things which were once important, remain so even when the chaos of this world seems have wholly obscured them.

In times like this, this painting reminds me that true nature endures. And that is an important thing to remember.

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Seeking Home

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“If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.” 

~ Rev. Henry Ward Beecher

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The new painting shown here on the right is titled Memory of the Crow and is included in the Little Gems show at the West End Gallery which has its opening this evening.

I’ve always felt there was something special about crows, especially in regard to their intelligence. I couldn’t agree any more than I do with the words above from Henry Ward Beecher.  Especially about the cleverness of men.

But the intelligence of crows is obvious to anyone who watches them for any amount of time. This was evident to the Native Americans who held these birds and their wisdom in high esteem as part of their belief system and their mythology.

Maybe because they are always near, always in close proximity to man as they live off the refuse he creates, the crops he plants and the vermin he attracts. This omnipresence gives the crow a sense of being a constant, unblinking witness to all that happens. And maybe this constant watching breeds that sense of wisdom that some of us see in them.

It makes me wonder what the crow sometimes thinks or remembers.  How do they perceive us and what is their awareness of us? Are our good and bad times their good and bad times as well? When we  abandon a place do they feel sense of loss? Do they attach themselves in any way to us?

Or do they see it as a passing of time with us as ephemeral visitors passing through their eternal world?

Those are the kind of  questions that rise for me in this piece. Makes me wish I could talk with the crow…

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Here’s a link to a post and update from a number of years back about a crow that lived around my studio.  It also includes a version of Joni Mitchell’s Black Crow from Diana Krall– good listening on a Friday morning.

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