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GC Myers- Night Comes On

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I went down to the place where I knew she lay waiting
Under the marble and the snow
I said, Mother I’m frightened, the thunder and the lightning
I’ll never come through this alone
She said, I’ll be with you, my shawl wrapped around you
My hand on your head when you go
And the night came on, it was very calm
I wanted the night to go on and on
But she said, go back, go back to the world

Leonard Cohen, Night Comes On

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I finished the painting above earlier this week, a 20″ by 20″ canvas piece that really spoke to me as I was painting it. All the time I was working on it, I had a song running in my head– Here Comes the Night from Them, the Northern Irish band of the 1960’s that featured Van Morrison. Great song with a memorable chorus that really seemed to align with what I was seeing in this piece. Here Comes the Night was the title I mentally attached to this painting while working on it.

But after I was finished with the painting and spent a few days looking at it in the studio, something about the title gnawed at me. For some unknown reason Here Comes the Night as a title just didn’t feel right any more. But I knew there was something in this painting that jibed with a song in my mind, some song that used night in its title and resonated with me personally.

I strained for a couple of days going through night songs that came to mind but none of them were right. It was one of those times when you come across the right answer you will immediately know it.

That time came early this morning. I came into the studio with the title Night Comes On stuck in my mind. I was pretty sure it was from an old Leonard Cohen song that I hadn’t heard in years and had mostly lost in the mossy mire of my brain. But as soon as I put it on, the lyrics flooded back to me, reminding me that it was a song that always cried out to me whenever I heard it.

I knew immediately that it was the right choice. And not just for the lyrics.

While listening to the song and looking at the painting, I realized that the sky and the moon in this painting related directly to a dream that I had several years ago. I am hesitant to share the dream, as its personal and there’s a small superstitious part of me that fears I will weaken the power of that dream if I tell it aloud.

I will say that it came to at a point where I was filled with uncertainty, especially about my place in this world as an artist. I was in between my two annual shows and felt absolutely worthless and creatively impotent. I felt hopelessly paralyzed.

But one night this dream came to me with sense of great calmness and a wisdom that I most certainly never knew in my waking life. I was instantly soothed, my immediate worries evaporating. In the years since it appeared, this dream has remained a source of calm when I am stressed out. This dream marked a change in how I saw myself and what I do. A change that brings with it a calmness and acceptance.

There is something in the sky of this painting that is pulled directly from that dream. I didn’t see it until I heard this song this morning and then that was all I could see. It gives me chills– in a good way.

Here’s the Leonard Cohen song. Time for me to go back to the world.

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Sitting down by my window
Honey, looking out at the rain
Sitting down by my window, looking out at the rain
All around that I felt it
All I can see was the rain 
Something grabbed a hold of me
Feel to me, oh, like a ball and chain
Hey, you know what I mean that’s exactly what it felt like
But that’s way too heavy for you, you can’t hold them all

Big Mama Thornton, Ball and Chain

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Sitting here this morning, watching the rain outside the studio window. Got much to do but find myself just watching the rain and the deer shuffling around the yard. It’s gray and misty with an air of sadness. Brings to mind the opening lines of Ball and Chain, a Big Mama Thornton song that Janis Joplin immortalized with her performances of it, most notably one from Monterey Pop in 1967.

Here’s that performance. There’s a part around 3:28 in that shows the late Mama Cass Elliott in the audience, totally transfixed by the performance. I think she knew that she was witnessing something special.

Take a look, give a listen and have yourself a day. You can choose whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. Myself, I’m going to watch the rain a little bit more then get to work.

 

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“Breakout” Currently at the West End Gallery

Not much to say here today.

This week marks the last chance to see my Moments and Color show at the West End Gallery. The show ends this coming Friday, August 30.

My Icons & Exiles show will hang until September 20 at the Patterson Library Octagon Gallery in Westfield, NY. There will be an Art Talk there on Thursday, September 12 at 6 PM.

I am in the process of getting ready for my 17th annual Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. It takes place on Saturday, September 21, beginning at 1 PM. I am looking for a prize to give away that equals the 1970 Gremlin from the West End Gallery talk earlier month. This is going to be a tough task.

I thought I’d play a video this morning to kick off the week with some energy. It’s a video of Led Zeppelin from 50 years ago, in March of 1969, playing live in a Danish television studio. This was just after the release of their first album. In another video from this session you can see the small audience file in and sit in a semi circle around the band. There are maybe 50 or 60 people, at best. And they played like they were in front of a full arena. It’s a great but long performance, over 12 minutes long, but the first couple of minutes are definitely worth a look. Have a good day and here’s How Many More Times.

 

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Before the Gallery Talk

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Home is where I want to be
Pick me up and turn me around
I feel numb, born with a weak heart
I guess I must be having fun

The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along
Feet on the ground, head in the sky
It’s okay, I know nothing’s wrong, nothing

David Byrne, This Must Be the Place

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I was looking for a piece of music to play for this week’s Sunday morning music that kind of jibed with the experience of yesterday’s Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery and I came across the lyrics for This Must Be the Place from David Byrne and Talking Heads. Had to laugh because the first two stanzas, shown above, described my feelings about it perfectly.

I certainly begin every talk feeling that home is where I want to be.

I feel like I am picked up and turned around for examination.

Certainly feel numb and a little vulnerable, a little weak of heart.

But I guess I must be having fun.

That’s just the first stanza. I don’t have to paraphrase the second. It’s spot on as it is.

Many, many, many thank you’s to everyone who came out to yesterday’s Gallery Talk. You were a fantastic group.

And an exceptionally large on. We brought in extra chairs but by about twenty to one, when the talk was to begin, all of the seats were filled. A lot more folks came in after that  and had to stand. We may have to bring in bleachers and a warm up act for next year’s talk!

But it was the folks that were there yesterday that made this talk successful and, dare I say, fun. It was a wonderful mixture of people, young and old, new faces and familiar faces. They asked great questions, overlooked my gaffes, laughed at the right times and made me feel like I was having a casual conversation with some friends over a lunch table. That is a remarkable thing for a guy who would always rather be in his studio alone.

But yesterday, for that hour or so, in that gallery with a large group of friends to talk with, it certainly felt like that must be the place. That’s a gift to me and I can’t tell you how appreciative I am to receive that gift from all who were there yesterday. Thank you so much.

Going to be hard to top this year’s talk but next year, but we’ll try. I promise someone will get that Gremlin next year!

Here’s a great performance of This Must Be the Place from Talking Heads. Have a great day.

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Busy this morning getting ready for two events–this coming Saturday’s Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery followed quickly in the next week by the opening of my Icons & Exiles exhibit at the Octagon Art Gallery at the historic Patterson Library.

There’s actually a lot to do for both events, even the Gallery Talk where you might think that I just show up and talk. Sometimes it sure seems that way. But I do try to organize my thoughts, to establish some sort of theme that kicks off the thing in a positive way. And for me, that is work.

So, today I am showing a piece, The Attuning, that has only been shown once. It had been in a gallery’s flat files for many years and I do not think and I do not think was ever shown fully presented in mat and frame. It probably only came out of the file a few times over the years. It appeared on their website and its colors appeared a little severe to my eye. That was how I judged the piece for all those years. It became a lesser piece for me.

But when I saw the actual piece again for the first time in six years, I realized how wrong my judgement had been. Yes, they were strong colors. But my original photo editing had skewed it away from its reality. The actual painting felt so much different than the image I had seen online. It was, in fact, much more nuanced and subtle than I had been seeing it in my mind through the years.

I saw it in the way I no doubt saw it when it was created.

I have reedited the image and it feels closer now to the reality of the painting. Glad it was able to change my mind.

That brings us to the music for this Sunday morning. It is When Your Mind’s Made Up from Irish singer/songwriter Glen Hansard. This is from Once, the 2007 film that Hansard starred in and for which he won an Oscar for his songwriting. It was later turned into a hit Broadway musical. This song was my favorite from the film, where it was performed with a backing band in a recording studio. There, the song built and built with the band coming to a large crescendo. I came across this live performance with just Glen Hansard and thought that it couldn’t possibly match the version with the band.

I was very wrong. Glad it was able to change my mind.

Give a listen and have a good day. Hope to see you next Saturday at the West End Gallery for the Gallery Talk beginning at 1 PM. Check out yesterday’s blog entry to see the painting you could win there. Plus, a few other things that I’m not going to discuss here.

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Let the New Day Begin- at the West End Gallery Now

The work for this year’s edition of my annual solo show, Moments and Color, is now hanging in the West End Gallery, all ready for the opening this coming Friday, July 12. I put together a video slideshow of the work from the show which is below.

This was an interesting project, in that it was hard setting the lineup for the images in this video. I couldn’t frontload the video with what I might consider the best pieces because I couldn’t rank them. There’s great consistency across the board that made deciding difficult. Each time I tried to move a piece up or down in the lineup, it didn’t seem to make a difference in the quality or feel of the video. I think you could watch this backwards and would get the same visceral experience from it.

And I like that. That consistency has always been a point of pride for me. I like to think that every piece, from the smallest and simplest up to the largest and most complicated, has the same level of consideration and effort.  After all, big or small, they all represent me out in the world and to skimp on one in effort or any other way diminishes them all.

This show has a lot of facets, a lot of familiar and new looks, but it just hangs together well. It’s a show that gives me a lot of satisfaction on a number of levels. Please take a look at the video and if you’re in the Corning area, please stop in for the opening on Friday, from 5-7:30 PM. I look forward to seeing you there!

 

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There is just way too much to do this morning as I am finishing up work on my upcoming July show at the West End Gallery. But even though my time is spent on this work, the events taking place in this country occupy my mind a lot of this time. I am not going to go into it at this point but I wanted to share a video that speaks to it in a way.

It is from one of my favorites, the ultra talented Rhiannon Giddens, and was produced in the aftermath of the Charleston, SC church shooting in which 9 church members were murdered. It’s probably hard to remember, there have been so many mass shootings in the years since that we barely notice anymore when only 3 or 4 or 5 people are killed.

The song is Cry No More and the words at the top appear at the end of the video. They serve as a powerful reminder that we get what we put up with and that to be silent is to accept this status quo. All the tears in the world accomplish nothing unless they are followed with a powerful and unified voice.

So, cry no more. Know your history. Know your mind. Speak up. Be loud.

 

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