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Women in Art Replay

WomenInArtThis blog post ran here about eight years ago but it’s a great video that should be seen again. It’s called 500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art.

It is a montage of famous portrait paintings of women through the centuries morphing from one to the next.  The creator of this video, Phillip Scott Johnson, did a great job of choosing and arranging the subjects, earning him an award for his creativity from YouTube. The accompanying Bach piece performed on the cello  by Yo-Yo Ma fits beautifully.  Makes for a nice Sunday morning viewing.

If you would like to identify any of the paintings used in the video, click on the group of six paintings above and you’ll be taken to a website that identifies each.  Enjoy…

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I watched an old movie in the studio this weekend. It was Young Mr. Lincoln and starred Henry Fonda as the young Lincoln when he was a fledgling country lawyer. Every time I see Fonda I am reminded how he had a knack for taking on characters that were strong in their principles and often stood bravely against the wrongs of this world– The Grapes of Wrath, 12 Angry Men, My Darling Clementine, Mr. Roberts and several others including The Ox-Bow Incident.
This blog from back in 2009 was about that movie and a particular scene that sticks with me. I think there is something in it for these times.
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The Oxbow IncidentI don’t like crowds.

Maybe it’s just some sort of neurosis like agoraphobia or maybe it’s just having developed a sense of uneasiness from seeing how individual people could react differently after becoming part of a group.

It always confounded me from an early age how the dynamics of a group could change the behavior of an individual person, bringing out characteristics that might be undetected in one-to-one interactions.  It’s as though the protection of the group brings out extreme attitudes that would otherwise be stifled.  The whole moral compass is pushed further from the center and whatever sense of conscience that is present becomes diluted.

I was reminded of this feeling when I saw a short film about the actor Henry Fonda that talked of the parallels between his own life experience and that of his character’s experience  in the movie The Oxbow Incident , where he was the lone voice of reason against a mob that lynches three men without evidence of their guilt.

As a 14 year-old boy in Omaha, Nebraska in 1919, he witnessed a mob storm the courthouse that was located across the street from his father’s printing business.  They  were inflamed by allegations made by a white woman that she had been assaulted by a black man.  A suspect had been taken into custody and was in the courthouse.  The mob, whose size was estimated to be between 5000 and 15000 people, exchanged gunfire with police in which two of the mob were killed.  The mayor of Omaha tried to intervene  and was beaten and himself lynched before being saved.

The suspect was not so lucky.

The accounts of this mob rule are horrific.  Fonda carried this memory with him for the rest of his life and it informed many of the roles he had over his career.   In The Oxbow Incident his character confronts the mob afterward in a bar and reads them a letter written by one of the hanged men to his wife.  I could go on and on but I think the clip says it all…

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O’Sullivan’s March

I’m out the door this morning but wanted to at least acknowledge St. Patrick’s Day with a little traditional Celtic music from the Chieftains.

This video features O’Sullivan’s March and has some stunning shots of the Irish scenery, especially that rugged coast.

Enjoy and if you’re of the mind, raise a Guinness in honor of St. Pat today.

I might do just that.

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Edward Hopper: Inside

Another busy day. First thing this morning I am speaking to about 65 third-graders who have been exposed to my work through their art teacher who contacted me with a wonderful list of questions the kids had asked.  I wrote about them a week or two back and showed some of their paintings. I am looking forward to talking with them and answering their questions as well as doing a brief demonstration.

But even though I am real busy I wanted to share another video of Edward Hopper paintings, this time focusing on the isolation of his interiors.  The soundtrack for this video uses the lovely Moonlight in Vermont from the Nat King Cole Trio.

So take a look and try to have a great day.

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Valentine’s Day

GC Myers- Baucis and Philemon 2010There’s a lot to be said about love, romance and Valentine’s Day.  But I have a busy day so it will have to wait until another day.

If that ain’t romantic, I don’t know what is.

Anyway, have a great day. evening, whatever with the one you love.  Here’s Valentine’s Day from Bruce Springsteen from all the way back in 1987. Wow, do I feel old today!

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Pattern/A Replay

The painting below, from a few years back, came back to me a while ago and has been living with me in the studio. In the time it has been here it has become one of my favorites.  I find myself scouring it with my eyes on a regular basis, going up and down, letting my eyes follow the path and the lines of the landscape.  Trying to look into the mirror-like pools or the moon, half expecting to see myself looking back from the surface.  I have really fixated on this piece and thought I would put it back into a gallery again, to see if it had anything on someone else that it had on me. So it is at the West End Gallery for a bit. Here’s what I wrote about it a few years back:

GC Myers- Part of the Pattern

There are only patterns, patterns on top of patterns, patterns that affect other patterns.  Patterns hidden by patterns. Patterns within patterns.  If you watch close, history does nothing but repeat itself. What we call chaos is just patterns we haven’t recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can’t decipher.  What we can’t understand we call nonsense. What we can’t read we call gibberish.

–Chuck Palahniuk, Survivor

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I tend to agree with the snippet above from the Chuck Palahniuk book, Survivor.

Everything is built upon pattern. Who we are and how we behave.  History.  Science.  Music and art.  It is all dictated by patterns.

Most of us don’t dwell too long on identifying patterns in the world around us and some of us will even refuse to acknowledge the predominance of pattern in the world, believing everything is random and chaotic.  I suppose that in itself is part of a pattern, a larger one that is so encompassing that we can’t see it from our vantage point within it.

Just speculating there, of course.

Maybe even trying to break away from the pattern is actually part of the pattern.

All I know is that I am always looking for pattern, even when I’m not really looking.  I call it pattern, rhythm, flow, sense of rightness and other terms,  without knowing why I am drawn to this concept.  It just attracts me in that it is so much part of everything that there must surely be significance.

All of this flowed forward with this new painting, a 4″ by 17″ piece on paper that I’m calling Part of the Pattern.  It’s based on a theme I’ve used several times recently of pools rising through a tall vertical picture plane like ladder rungs. This particular piece was so much more stylized in its forms that it really became more about pattern than subject. I see it both as a landscape and as some sort of underlying pattern that makes up the landscape.  A sort of DNA-like structure on which the world is built. Whatever it is, it holds my eye and makes me keep searching for something in it.

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The Boys / A Replay

Between feeling ill over the past week or so and the ongoing dumpster fire known as the Trump transition, I felt like I needed to do something different, maybe share one of my favorite stories about a couple of feral cats who made their way to us a number of years back.

 We get a lot of strays here.  Our two housecats, Zsa Zsa and Lucy-Furr, and, Hobie, my studio assistant, all just showed up. Actually, every cat who has been with us came to us this way. In fact, there is a stray under our garden shed at this moment who has been our guest for the past couple of months but is still very skittish.  Perhaps someday he/she (we’re still not sure) will be a studio companion for Hobie.

I came across a group of photos from a few years back that brought back very bittersweet memories. The photos were of a pair of feral cats that took up residence around our place along with a three legged raccoon that was in the vicinity for a short time. The cats tolerated the raccoon’s presence and they never seemed too upset when he helped himself to the food we put out for them.

The cats were an interesting pair. We called the tiger one Partner and the other Ben although we always called him simply Black & White. Partner and Ben were the Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin characters from the movie Paint Your Wagon. The two cats had started coming to our place in the woods a few years before and always came separately. Ben was super skittish and would never let you get close enough to touch him but hung around and came to recognize that there were times when food was available. Partner was more affable and approachable but he only came once in a great while, at which point Ben would often attack him and chase him away, off into the woods.

This went on for a year or so and for the longest time we seldom saw Partner. Then one year, as a very bitter winter began to close in, Partner came back and made a stand. Instead of running away he held his ground against Ben. It was a horrible thing. For a day or so, they were in what seemed to be non-stop combat outside our house. Under our house. Maybe on our house, I don’t know. There was thumping and screeching and all sorts of awful noise. We would try to intervene but they would run out of sight and pause for the time we out there then resume immediately after we went back inside.

The next morning when I put out some food for them, they both emerged together. They were a mess with bloody cuts and scrapes on both but still wouldn’t let us get too near.  Yet they were together now with not a hint of malice between them. From that time on they were inseparable. They spent that very,very cold winter sleeping together in a crude catbed I had built for them, one on top of the other. When they would walk through the yard or up our walkway, they would walk in step with their shoulders shoved  together as though they were joined at the shoulder. As spring and summer came, they would lazily sleep on our walkway, often spooning as they laid together with their legs wrapped around each other or would sleep facing one another, their paws lightly touching. When our female cat, Tinker, was outside, Partner would make attempts to be friendly but Ben wanted no part of her and, in an obviously jealous act, would aggressively push himself between the two. It was an amazing transformation from their previous animosity to this sweet friendship.

It was a short lived life together however.  They both became obviously ill that next winter and they passed away that season, both disappearing with days of one another. We’ve always regretted not being able to do more for them but through this time they never let us get too close to them, always being extremely wary of any attempts to corral them. So when I see these photos I am torn between the sheer sadness of their hard fought existence and the absolute joy and comfort they had found in their love for one another. A rare thing indeed…

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