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Silent Watch

GC Myers- Silent Watch sm

Silent Watch— At the Principle Gallery

Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.

Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

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My Father at 85

DadMy Father At 85

His large ears hear
A hermit wakes
and sleeps
in a hut underneath
his gaunt cheeks.
His eyes blue,
alert, dis-
appointed and suspicious
I do not bring him
the same sort of jokes
the nurses do.
He is a small bird
waiting to be fed,
mostly beak,
an eagle or a vulture
or the Pharoah’s servant
just before death.
My arm on the bedrail
rests there,
relaxed, with new love.
All I know of the Troubadours
I bring
to this bed.
I do not want
or need
to be shamed
by him
any longer.
The general of shame
has discharged him
and left him in this
small provincial
Egyptian town.
If I do not wish
to shame him, then
why not
love him?
His long hands,
large, veined, capable,
can still retain
hold of what he wanted.
But is that
what he desired?
Some powerful
river of desire
goes on flowing
through him.
He never phrased
what he desired,
and I am
his son.

–Robert Bly (1926-2021)

He never phrased what he desired/ and I am his son

I was going to share some typical Father’s Day prose when I came across this poem, My Father at 85, from Robert Bly.

It surprised me at how much it seemed in line with my experience with my own father at the end of his life. Roles reversed, shame lost, the idea of him being a small bird waiting in his bed to be fed, and the realization that you never really knew the totality of that person, his true desires and dreams. Not even sure he had them.

And I am left to wonder if that is the legacy passed down to me, to end this life in that same way, as an enigmatic character with unphrased desires and dreams.

That might not be the best way to celebrate the day. But it is honest. And there are plenty of other moments in the memory bank– good and bad, highs and lows, some filled with laughter and happiness, and some that plead to be forgotten.

I suppose that’s the life of every parent. It will never be perfect. That’s too high a bar for anybody.

My own dad wasn’t perfect. He had plenty of shortcomings and, I am sure, plenty of unspoken desires.

Like every parent.

Like every person.

I am just grateful he was there and did what he could. I guess the best thing I can say about my dad is not that I loved him but that, at the end of the day, I liked the guy.

For this Sunday, here’s an oldie from Clarence Carter that I distinctly remember listening to with my dad in the car back in 1970 when the song came out. It was a song that always got a noticeable response from him. I didn’t think about it at the time, but his own dad had died just a year or two before. I have no doubt the words to the song hit some chord in him.

Here’s Patches. Happy Father’s Day.

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GC Myers- Reinforced 2022

Reinforced – Part of the Principle Gallery Exhibit

After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her.

Mark Twain, Diaries of Adam & Eve

The paintings based on the Baucis and Philemon myth, a tale I have shared many times here since I first introduced the work back in 2010, has become one of my most popular series. The new painting above, Reinforced, is a prime example and is part of my current solo show at the Principle Gallery.

There are most likely a host of reasons for this popularity. One is the fact that there is a definite narrative in these pieces. The story is evident in these pieces if one is already aware of it and hearing it for the first time creates a connection to the painting for those in long term relationships. We do, after all, try to interpret and absorb art in ways that relate to our own thoughts and feelings, our own situations.

I think another reason is that they tend to be simple, balanced compositions. What that means is that, because each element has more weight in a simple composition, the amount of visual interest created comes in things like texture, color gradients, strokes, linework and contrast along with the care with which it is painted.

Now, that’s not to say that less care or attention to detail is given to more intricate compositions. Both are given equal treatment. It’s just that a more complicated piece can sometimes do so with minor deficiencies but not a simple piece. A simple composition is totally dependent on these factors in order to be effective, to come alive.

And I find it easy to give these pieces a little more care, a little more attention to the details that they require. Maybe it’s because I have been married for a very long time and can relate to the idea of a life of two separate entities growing together in a way that extends into eternity.

It’s easy to see my wife and I in these pieces. Easy to see the merging and adaptations that have occurred through the years. Easy to see how we have become necessary support and reinforcements for one another.

The painting becomes very personal. It serves as a celebratory emblem of love and devotion on days such as anniversaries and other certain days. But is also provides a reminder of these things on the difficult days of this life, letting me know that these days are temporary when compared to that which I have in my reinforcement.

It’s a powerful thing. Trust me. I know from experience. I’m not going to tell you how long we’ve been married but let me say it’s long enough that I should be out on the corner, shaking my fist at the young whippersnappers.

Here’s a favorite song from Joni Mitchell. It’s called Help Me and it deals with first passionate flames of love, not the long enduring love of Baucis and Philemon. I include this because these pieces remind me of how that early love transforms but somehow remains and sustains.

That’s my story for the day. Now, get out of here. Those whippersnappers await.

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Crows Watch

GC Myers- Crows Watch sm

Crows Watch— At the Principle Gallery Show

I like to prowl ordinary places
and taste the people-
from a distance.

Charles Bukowski, Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit

As far as birds are concerned, crows are my bird of choice to employ in my work. I think it’s their aloofness, their keen intelligence and their sense of constant observation that appeals to me.

I want to say we share these qualities, but I don’t know that either my intelligence or observation skills measure up in crows terms.

But I do have the aloofness part down cold, especially after the last few years of seclusion. I feel more crowlike than ever, perched in my trees here. Observing the world from a distance. Swooping in every so often to grab a shiny object then retreating quickly into the cover of the woods.

Now, I don’t know if that’s good or bad, normal or abnormal, right or wrong. But it feels like a natural extension of my true self. Kind of like how we emphasize or diminish certain personality traits — good and bad–as we age.

This crowish aloofness feels like a natural inborn trait that has just moved to the forefront.

And I’m okay with that.

Just wish the intelligence and observation skills came along as part of the package.

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The Emperor's New Clothes

In the large town where the emperor’s palace was, life was joyous and happy; and every day new visitors arrived. One day two swindlers came. They told everybody they were weavers and that they could weave the most marvelous cloth. Not only were the colors and the patterns of their material extraordinary, but the cloth had the strange quality of being invisible to anyone who was unfit for his office, or unforgivably stupid.

–Hans Christian Andersen, The Emperor’s New Clothes

In the Hans Christian Andersen story, The Emperor’s New Clothes, the emperor was overly concerned his public appearance. Playing on this, two swindlers come into the kingdom and convince the emperor that they are the most magnificent tailors he has ever encountered. These faux tailors tell him that they can weave the most magnificent cloth and make him a remarkable suit of clothing. They say it will be invisible to those who are unusually stupid, incompetent or unfit for the positions they held.

The emperor goes big for this idea, thinking that such a suit of clothing will enable to determine who is wise and should be trusted and who is stupid or unfit and should not be trusted with any position of power. He employs the tailors at great expense to weave the cloth and make him the clothes.

Looms were set up and remained empty even as the swindling tailors said the fabric was being made on them. The emperor sent many ministers and other officials to check on the progress of the suit and the swindlers would take them to the loom where they would exult over the nonexistent fabric. They would describe the beauty of the colors and the pattern and the officials stood in rapt attention, nodding and oohing and aahing even as their own eyes told them that nothing was there.

Not a single person would say that there was nothing there. Nobody wanted to be marked as stupid or unfit in the eyes of the king.

The weavers brought the clothing to the king and convinced him that the suit was so light that it felt like wearing nothing at all. When the emperor cried that there was nothing there, they called in his court and, being afraid to be seen as either a fool or unfit, they exclaimed how marvelous the clothing appeared on the emperor. Emboldened by the silence of his court, the emperor decided to parade his new suit through the streets.

The people of the kingdom had heard of the amazing fabric that would be invisible to the stupid and the incompetent. So as the emperor strode naked before them, they cheered with rousing approval.

That is until a small child exclaimed, “ But he hasn’t got anything on!”

The crowd tried to shush the child but soon a whispered buzz was going through the crowd. The child was right!

The crowd cried in unison, “He hasn’t got anything on!”

The emperor shivered and blushed.  Knowing that it was true, he continued his parade with his toadies holding up his nonexistent train behind him as he marched.

I ran the above version of the Hans Christian Andersen fable several years ago. It seems pertinent this morning.

The Andersen fable was first published in 1837 but is based on a Spanish fable from around 1335. There was also a similar Indian fable that predates even that. The idea of a vain and inept public official being propped up by toadying underlings willing to continue the farce is not a new idea. It is evergreen and extends across all nations, indeed.

I believe we are at the part of our own pitiful version of the tale where the emperor (or the emperor wannabe in this case) is bared to all for what he truly is– a fraud willing to sacrifice our system of democracy for power and piles of other people’s money.

It’s a shame that it has taken so long to get to this juncture in the story. Many folks have been saying that he has no clothes for years and years and it seemed obvious with even the most basic scrutiny. But his courtiers wanted to keep their places of power and his adoring crowd of follower wore, along with their red hats, blinders to his swindle, refusing to believe the proof before their eyes.

It’s sometimes easier to continue the farce than admit you have been swindled.

Of course, this parade of fraud is not over. There is more to come, unfortunately. But at least someone has cried out, “He hasn’t got anything on!”

And no sane or sensible human can dispute that.

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Tempus Pacis

GC Myers- Tempus Pacis

Tempus Pacis– At the Principle Gallery Exhibit

You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts;
And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime.
And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered.

― Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

This new painting, 30″ high by 20″ wide on canvas, is included in my current solo show at the Principle Gallery. I call it Tempus Pacis which translates as Time of Peace.

I believe this painting is very much about finding peace in the quiet beauty of nature and transferring that stillness to our inner self. To be at peace with our thoughts

Much as in the words of Kahlil Gibran above.

That being said, I will stop now out of fear of fully murdering thought with my words.

Ah, sweet solitude…

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Night Still Comes

GC Myers- Viva Nox (The Vivid Night) sm

Viva Nox (The Vivid Night) – At the Principle Gallery Exhibit

I love to watch the fine mist of the night come on,
The windows and the stars illumined, one by one,
The rivers of dark smoke pour upward lazily,
And the moon rise and turn them silver. I shall see
The springs, the summers, and the autumns slowly pass;
And when old Winter puts his blank face to the glass,
I shall close all my shutters, pull the curtains tight,
And build me stately palaces by candlelight.

― Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal

In Situ Viva NoxSunday morning, with much to do today. I have my annual solo show at the Principle Gallery currently up and on display but there is no time to savor or rest on that. I am waist deep in new work for my upcoming annual show at the West End Gallery which opens on July 22.

Every day is a whirl of work at the moment. Seems like there is always something to do waiting for me in the next moment. I don’t mind. I actually need that feeling of the chore.

But even so, I find myself looking forward to the comfort that comes at the end of the day and the easing of the weight of tasks that comes with the fading of light. The end of my workday has me both wishing I could do a little more while at the same time looking forward to the evening that brings rest and the shelter of dark. Then comes the pleasure of sleep, along with the mostly restorative dreams that accompany it.

A time to build me stately palaces by candlelight.

Then go happily to work on them when daylight comes. That time is now so for this week’s Sunday morning music, I am playing a favorite from Neko Case that continues the theme of night that goes with Baudelaire and the painting at the top, VIva Nox. The song is Night Still Comes.

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The River Angel

GC Myers-River Angel sm

River Angel— Included in the Principle Gallery Show

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.

Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through it and Other Stories

There are a lot of things going on in this country and in the world at the moment. Momentous things that might well change the course of our history for the near future. Maybe even the distant future.

But in the end, it is all a small flow in the river of time. A river that seems stable and eternal but is always changing and always moving forward. Sometimes, we just need to stand aside and watch the river flow.

So, I am just going to let this stand as is today and watch the haunting waters run.

In Situ River Angel

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On the Sunny Side

GC Myers-  On the Sunny Side  2022

On the Sunny Side – Now At the Principle Gallery Show

The storm and its fury broke today
Crushing hopes that we cherish so dear
The clouds and storms will, in time, pass away
The sun again will shine bright and clear.

Keep on the Sunny Side, Ada Blenkhorn & J. Howard Entwisle, 1899

I thought it would be a good idea to show one of the smaller pieces from my current show at the Principle Gallery. I like this painting a lot, mainly for its color and brightness which gives it a sense of hope and optimism. I also like the balance of the composition. It’s simply constructed but it feels full and right, something I always look for in my work.

Plus, it has a message that we need to keep in mind during these stormy times.

Its title is On the Sunny Side which was nabbed from the titles of two songs that came to mind, actually. One was jazzy classic On the Sunny Side of the Street (grab your coat /grab your hat/ leave your worries on the doorstep), a song from the 1930’s that has been recorded by countless artists over the years. The other was the bluegrassy Keep on the Sunny Side which was written in 1899 and popularized by the Carter Family in the late 1920’s.

Either song works really well with this forward-looking piece but for today I chose the version from The Whites which was included in the great soundtrack for the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? It’s a lovely, faithful rendition of the song and it fits nicely with the upbeat tone of the painting.

And that’s something I can use this morning.

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GC Myers- The Garden Beyond Chaos

The Garden Beyond Chaos– At the Principle Gallery

One man practicing kindness in the wilderness is worth all the temples this world pulls.

― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Maybe the simple act of being kind is the only answer we need.

It certainly serves a greater purpose than the all too many examples of hate-preaching I have observed in recent weeks. For example, this past Sunday in a suburb of Fort Worth, a Baptist preacher called for the deaths of all gay people, saying, “They should be lined up against the wall and shot in the back of the head! That’s what God teaches. That’s what the Bible says.

Now, I’m no Bible scholar nor am I even identified as a Christian, but I don’t believe that is in the book that these folks like to swing around and hold up so high. Doesn’t really seem to be in line with the teachings of their savior, if you ask me.

No, it’s just plain old run of the mill hatred and an incitement to violence. Instead of trying to help their congregation find and spread peace, love, and kindness, they instead seek to sow even more divisions prejudices, and hatreds in this world.

Instead of calming souls, they add to the chaos and turmoil.

And as the good book says, “Chaos begets chaos and that is a plague upon the Lord.

Hey, I can make up stuff from that book, too. And, hell, mine doesn’t call for anyone to be shot in the back of their heads.

No, kindness, along with love and acceptance, is the simple solution for what ails this world and keeps it in what seems to be a constant state of chaos. Trying to find beauty in and unity with this world and the others in it would appear to be a much more productive way of existing.

That’s pretty much the meaning I find in the painting at the top, The Garden Beyond Chaos, a new piece from my current Principle Gallery show. It’s about how beauty and coexistence with all beings provides a barrier against the chaos that swirls around this world. About how kindness, love, and beauty create a form of order that is a yin to the yang that is hatred and chaos.

It might appear to be a naive notion. But I would gladly wallow in that form of naivete to the end of my days rather than live in a world filled with nothing more than hatreds, judgement, and prejudices.

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