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Posts Tagged ‘9/11’

I wasn’t planning on featuring another older blog post.   But in recent days I have realized that some of the struggles I am going through in the studio are very similar to those I experienced in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in late 2001 and through 2002.  My reaction to those attacks and the the current state of the country has been very similar.  

But there are differences between now and then.  How these will come out in the work is still to be seen.  It seemed in 2001 our angst was a matter of simple light and dark.  Right and wrong.  But the situation now is much different.  It is almost Kafkaesque in its absurdity.  Truth has become a matter of perception and belief rather than factual evidence.  We are no longer facing a darkness from some outside force.  

Instead we find ourselves in a tangle of lies, disinformation and misinformation.  Deeply divided visions for our future.  A giant Gordian knot of our own darkness.  And like the Gordian knot, the solution to undoing this tangle may come from an unlikely person or source.  A unique strategy that involves thinking outside of the box.  Or the stroke of a sword.

While I have yet to act on this impulse, I am seeing my coming work,  much like I did in 2001, in darker tones.  Deeper shadows.  And like that earlier “dark work” the focus and strength of the work will not be found in the oppressive nature of the darkness.  No, it’s strength will hopefully arise from the hope found in the light that will be there.

And there will be light.

This is from back in 2008:  

____________________

A Journey BeginsMy work had a dramatic change for a while in the months after 9/11.  Like everyone, my worldview shifted that day and this was reflected in my work.   It became darker in appearance and tone,  a bit more ominous in feel.   A lot of this had to do, technically, with the way the pieces were painted.  I was using a dark base and adding color in layers on top of this base, slowly building up my surface.  Much like painting on black velvet.  Normally I start with a white base and add layers of colors, taking away color as needed to achieve a desire effect.  As I pulled paint off the surface, the light base would come through and give the picture plane a glowing presence.  My normal technique is basically a “reductive” style whereas this new work in 2002 was “additive”.

Being untrained, these are terms I’ve adopted to sort of describe what I see as my technique.  They work for me.

Night TranceThis new work was not nearly so optimistic in feeling as my previous work.  People were a bit slower to embrace it and I wasn’t surprised at a time when our nation was still reeling.  But it was a true expression of how I felt at that time and I remember my time at the easel with these pieces as being very trance-like.  I would start a piece and have a hard time stopping. A virtual intoxication of color.  Or maybe more of a refuge in the scenes.  I don’t know.

Since the public was a bit more lukewarm to this group , which the galleries call “the dark work”, I have several of these pieces still and I am still both excited and calmed when I look at them.  They are rich and bold and very still in nature.  They may be dark but I still think there is hope in these paintings but it’s a wary type of hope.

And in the end, hope is hope…

In the Flow

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Aaron Shikler-  John F Kennedy -Official PortraitHistory often turns on certain points in time, with dramatic  events that send us on a course that seem drastically different than the one we imagined ourselves to be on beforehand.  Perhaps it’s an exercise in futility to wonder what the world might look like had these events not taken place but one can’t help but imagine, if only for a moment,  an alternative history.  For instance, how would our country look today had Lincoln not been assassinated or if the events of 9/11 had been averted?  Pearl Harbor?

Of course, I’m writing this today on the day marking the 50th year since President John F. Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas back in 1963.  That day seemed to mark a swing in our consciousness from which I don’t think we’ve ever fully recovered, leaving me to wonder how the last 50 years would have differed had not JFK been killed.  Where would we be now?

The ripples from this event are many.  How would Viet Nam proceeded?  Would there have been the same escalation and would there have been the same sense of outrage from the youthful protesters of that era?  Would the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr and Robert Kennedy taken place?  Did JFK’s killing somehow enable these other assassinations?

I find my head swimming with what-ifs and coulda-beens when I ponder this.  More than my simple mind can handle.  But sitting here this morning, fifty years after that day in Dallas, I can’t imagine a scenario where our world is better now than it would have been had that day not taken place.  I know there is no room for such regrets, that we are where we are and no amount of despairing  will change the course of history we’ve followed to this point.  But, if only for a moment on this single morning, I would like to think of what might have been.  Perhaps, if string theory somehow applies, there is a parallel reality where the events of that day never happened and our arc through history was much different.  I know that I would like to see that …

 

 

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-GC Myers -Dark Work  ca 2002I am pretty excited to include a small group of older paintings in my upcoming show, Alchemy, which opens November 16th at the Kada Gallery.  The group consists of four paintings from 2002, all painted in darker tones and without  the Red Tree that inhabits so much of my other work.  This work, which is often called my “dark work,” was painted in the months of 9/11 and reflected the state of mind of myself and most of our nation at that point, seeming less optimistic  and more foreboding in the context of the time.  To me this felt like important work, at least on a personal level, in that I knew that I was completely emotionally invested in each piece.  As much as I can say about anything I’ve painted, this was work that I felt had to be done.

This body of work sold well but there was a general cooling of the art market  in the aftermath of 9/11 which left me with several of these pieces that came back and have stayed with me in the studio for the past decade.  They have remained favorites of mine through this time, always surprising me with their solidness and presence when I pull them out.   In my opinion, they have aged well and time has washed away a bit of that time  in which they were created.  They have now taken on a much different feel for me.  I don’t get that sense of foreboding from them anymore.  If anything, there is a guarded optimism in this work, the distant glows over their horizons seeming more pronounced than I remember at the time.

While all that has changed is the context of time, I now see them as meditative and serene.  I will be interested to see how this work strikes viewers at this show.

The pieces are show individually below, the first being  Desideratum,  11″ by 15″ on paper:

GC Myers- Desideratum smThe piece below is Night Karma which is 16″ by 20″ on paper.

992-091 Night Karma smNext is Dark Cadence which is 9″ by 19″ on wood panel:

995-323 Dark Cadence sm

And finally, here is Soft Dream of Night which is 14″ by 24″ on paper.  I wrote about this piece here several weeks ago.

995-324  Soft Dream of Night sm

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GC Myers- Muse 2002

GC Myers- Muse 2002

I am now preparing for my show at the Kada Gallery, Alchemy, which opens in two weeks on November 16th.  Along with all of my new work for this show I am including a small group of paintings from around 2002.  These are paintings that were darker in tone , both visually and emotionally, than my other work at that time, reflecting my feelings in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.  These pieces have not been shown in years and I believe that they have aged well, especially when they are not considered in the context of the time in which they were created.  I am eager to show them again.

I went back in the archives of this blog and came across this posting that speaks a bit more about how I handled the reception for this work when it first went out into the world.  This painting, Muse, is not part of the group.  It is, as noted below, in the  trusted hands of a man who I consider a friend in Virginia.

here’s what I wrote back in 2009:

This is a painting from back in 2002 titled Muse. It was part of a series I was painting at that time, in the months after 9/11, that some of my galleries still call my Dark Work. It was painted in a style that I call my obsessionist style these days, meaning that it is painted by building layers of color over a dark ground as opposed to the reductive style I have used so much in the past where I apply a lot of wet paint, puddles, then pull it off the surface until I reach the desired effect. 

When I was doing these paintings they seemed like a stark contrast to the reductive work, especially given the tone of that time. They were well received although not with same gusto as the lighter, more transparent, work. I felt very strongly about this work but allowed my desire to please the galleries need for my most sellable work override my desire to pursue this work to further levels. I moved back to primarily painting the wetter reductive work and was able to continue to push that work further through color and texture. I never regretted the move back to this work but there was always a little nagging voice in the back of my mind that I hadn’t pushed the other work to its full destination and had let outside influences hinder an inner process. 

I have begun to see my body of work as my own personal narrative, the story of who I am and how I am seeing my world at any given time. In order for it to be so it must be an honest and complete reflection, guided by my own inner muse and not outside forces telling me what I should or should not do. It took a while but I realized that I have the ability and right to control my own personal narrative, to tell my story in my own way. 

I’ve done this in many ways for years already. I am constantly given ideas for paintings or am requested to do commissions but seldom do I follow up on them unless they fit in with where I see my work heading. In that aspect, I normally reject outside influence. I stick to my narrative.

The piece above, Muse, actually fits this post well in that it now belongs to a man who asked me to do a painting of his son, a truly gifted guitarist. He sent me photos and they were wonderful. He was long and lanky with a really interesting ethereal look, a portrait painter’s dream. In fact when I looked at the pictures I could only see him as painted by other painters I know. I struggled for a while trying to do something with this but in the end I realized it wasn’t part of who I was at that point, not part of my narrative. I let it slide and after a long while, apologetically explained this to the father who was extremely gracious. 

So I am back focusing more, at this time, on this obsessionist work, allowing it to be a bigger part of my story. I will continue to paint in the other style but I just feel that there is something waiting to be told, something to be discovered in this other work at this time. That is my decision made without outside influence, my choice for my personal narrative.

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GC Myers-  Soft Dream of Night smIf one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.

–Henry David Thoreau

****************

This has long been one of my favorite pieces in the studio, a  14″ by 24″ painting on paper from 2002 called Soft Dream of Night.  It was part of the work that I completed in early 2002 in the aftermath of  9/11 .  It is considered part of what has been  referred to as my Dark Work.  It was work that I feel was very reflective of the feeling of that time and, as a result, was not as deeply embraced as my  typical work that has a more optimistic and forward-looking tone.  As a result, I was able to hold on to several pieces from that group which pleased me because they just felt so emotionally wrought to me that I liked the idea that they stayed in place.

This piece has evolved in feeling over the years for me, from a feeling of regretful, mournful retrospection to one that offers  the promise of a road forward, one that climbs through rich fields with the brightness  of  the moon to light the way.  Though it has a darkness beneath its surface, it no longer feels dark in tone.  It has a confidence and positive feel that would not have come to mind eleven years ago.

Time often changes our perceptions on many things.  I like that this piece has evolved for me and was not forever mired in the memory and tragedy of that time.  Perhaps the darkness underneath this painting is that memory, always present.  But above, life moves forward and dreams are still lived out.

As it should be…

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Before…

Back home, safe and sound.  Sweet.

First, many,many thanks to everyone who came out to the Gallery Talk  at the Principle Gallery yesterday.  You were a great group and made my time in front  of you  very easy and enjoyable.  I hope I was able to pass on somethings you might not have known or answered whatever questions there may have existed.  If not, let me know and I’ll try to rectify that. 

I could talk much more about yesterday’s talk  and how much I appreciate those who attended but I guess I should at least way in on the obvious part of this date.  It’s, of course, the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks .  I’m sure there’s not a soul out there who hasn’t been made to remember this fact by the almost constant coverage by the media over the last several days. 

In yesterday’s talk, I tried to avoid mentioning this, wanting to provide some sort of diversion, but somehow ended up talking about it anyway.  I think it came about when I was trying to explain how much the support and energy that I received from these folks over the years had transformed my life.  It reminded me very much of a feeling I felt on September 10 in 2001, the day before the attack.

It was a spectacular late summer day with hints of autumn in the air, a pure blue sky and a sun that was softly warm but not harsh.  Purely pleasant.  I remember walking around my pond that day.  I was at the point in my year when I was done with shows that I was going to do for the year.  Both had been wildly successful, beyond what I ever expected, and  I finally had a bit of time to relax and really think about this as I strolled around the pond.  I thought about how different my life was now, in 2001, than it was ten years before.  I had felt myself  a lost soul at that time, living a purposeless life with little prospect of doing much with it.  But over the years, art had come into my life and everything was different.  I found a form of expression, began to see clearer those things that were there in my life that had always been there and were core to my existence but I had somehow overlooked as I stumbled around in prior years. 

I found myself and a reason for living.  As I stopped by the pond with that clear sky above, it all struck me on that day, that September 10.  I felt myself the most fortunate man in the universe that day.  My life felt as complete and satisfying as I could imagine and I was filled with an overwhelming sense of appreciation for my good fortune.  I had trouble believing it was my life I was indeed living.

Of course, within 24 hours that feeling disappeared in the smoke and devastation of the events of that day.  It’s taken ten sometimes awful years to somewhat approach that feeling again and yesterday, as I felt the warmth of that group,  I talked about this feeling and my appreciation for them for allowing me to regain that feeling.  I don’t know that I made it clear but one doesn’t always speak easily about matters of grace.

The painting at the top was painted on that day and reflects very much the fullness and contentment I felt for my life at that point.  It is filled with that sense of peace and grace I hinted at above.  It came to be titled Before…  

There was a strange twist to this painting.  I always number my paintings so that I can more easily record and track them over time.  The serial number for that painting was 99-911.  I did nothing to make it fit this way, and in fact didn’t even recognize this number’s relationship to the date until some time later.  Just an eerie coincidence.

It  is a painting that I deeply regret ever letting go and though I know that the folks who now possess it have their own deep feelings for this piece, they will never know how much it still  lives with me, how much it reminds me that day, that September 10th when life seemed as good it could be and how rare and fleeting that moment can be.

Thanks again to everyone from yesterday.  Have a good and peaceful day.

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The Dark Work

A Journey BeginsMy work had a dramatic change for a while in the months after 9/11.  Like everyone, my worldview shifted that day and this was reflected in my work.   It became darker in appearance and tone,  a bit more ominous in feel.   A lot of this had to do, technically, with the way the pieces were painted.  I was using a dark base and adding color in layers on top of this base, slowly building up my surface.  Much like painting on black velvet.  Normally I start with a white base and add layers of colors, taking away color as needed to achieve a desire effect.  As I pulled paint off the surface, the light base would come through and give the picture plane a glowing presence.  My normal technique is basically a “reductive” style whereas this new work in 2002 was “additive”.  

Being untrained, these are terms I’ve adopted to sort of describe what I see as my technique.  They work for me.

Night TranceThis new work was not nearly so optimistic in feeling as my previous work.  People were a bit slower to embrace it and I wasn’t surprised at a time when our nation was still reeling.  But it was a true expression of how I felt at that time and I remember my time at the easel with these pieces as being very trance-like.  I would start a piece and have a hard time stopping.  A virtual intoxication of color.  Or maybe more of a refuge in the scenes.  I don’t know.

Since the public was a bit more lukewarm to this group , which the galleries call “the dark work”, I have several of these pieces still and I am still excited when I look at them.  They are rich and bold and very still in nature.  They may be dark but I still think there is hope in these paintings but it’s a wary type of hope.  

And in the end, hope is hope…

In the Flow

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