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Posts Tagged ‘Alexandria VA’

 

GC Myers- From Here to There sm



Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself.

It is not far, it is within reach,
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,
Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.

–Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, Section 46



 

I thought some lines from Uncle Walt might fit well with the new painting above. It is titled From Here to There and is part of my annual solo show that opens this year on June 4th at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria.

This show, titled Between Here and There, concerns itself primarily with the concept of the journey.   It could be as simple as an actual physical journey from one spot to another or it could be more metaphorical, symbolizing our journey through life, from birth to death.  

Beginnings and endings. Origins and final destinations. We all start and finish the journey.  

But the totality of the journey is never fully expressed in the start and end points. No, between here and there are all sorts of roads to follow, obstacles to conquer, bodies of water to cross, creatures to love, and things to be learned.

And dreams to be dreamed. Hopes to be hoped.  

In this journey, do we ever truly feel the satisfaction of reaching our destiny? There are other numerous destinations within the two endpoints of our life’s journey and sometimes we may reach a goal that we once thought was well beyond our grasp. It may produce a momentary feeling of euphoria that we take for satisfaction but eventually we yearn to be on our way once more. As Whitman points out later in this section:

This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look’d at the crowded heaven,
And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of those
orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of every thing in
them, shall we be fill’d and satisfied then?

And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and continue beyond.

Maybe we are destined to be always going forward, to always have a gnawing inside us to move, to learn and do and feel more.

To fill the space between here and there.

Here’s the whole of the section from Song of Myself:



I know I have the best of time and space, and was never measured and never will be measured.

 

I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!)

My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the woods,

No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair,

I have no chair, no church, no philosophy,

I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange,

But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,

My left hand hooking you round the waist,

My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public road.

 

Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,

You must travel it for yourself.

 

It is not far, it is within reach,

Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,

Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.

Shoulder your duds dear son, and I will mine, and let us hasten forth,

Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go.

 

If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff of your hand on my hip,

And in due time you shall repay the same service to me,

For after we start we never lie by again.

 

This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look’d at the crowded heaven,

And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of those
          orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of every thing in
          them, shall we be fill’d and satisfied then?

And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and continue
          beyond.

 

You are also asking me questions and I hear you,

I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out for yourself.

Sit a while dear son,

Here are biscuits to eat and here is milk to drink,

But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in sweet clothes, I kiss you with a good-by kiss and open the gate for your egress hence.

 

Long enough have you dream’d contemptible dreams,

Now I wash the gum from your eyes,

You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.

 

Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,

Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,

To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout, and laughingly dash with your hair




 

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GC Myers- Book Club Meeting sm



It’s the Book Club Meeting.

Seems like it should be a mild affair but, in fact, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Books. Liquor. A warm evening. Tight shoes. 

Who knows how this madness will end?

This is a new painting, a 12″ by 12″ canvas, titled, of course, Book Club Meeting. It’s headed to the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA for my annual solo show there. The show this year is titled Between Here and There and opens on Friday, June 4.

This painting is part of a small group of pieces that feature interior scenes. They take on the quietness of a still life but most are set in the aftermath of some sort of blow up or scuffle, allowing the mind to imagine the events that led to this moment. Who did this and why? What really happened here?

I think it’s this blank space, this evident mystery, that the viewer has to fill in for themselves that is the appeal in this series. They have the ability to make it what they want it to be rather than me just dictating a narrative. 

I know I enjoy painting these particular pieces. I guess I am drawn to it because it’s a matter of leaving small bits of evidence that will hopefully create a new narrative for the viewer while still composing a piece that has harmony, calm stillness, and visual appeal.

Hopefully, they will appeal to others, as well.

Here’s a song from the late Willie Dixon that I think plays well with this piece. This was originally first released by Bo Diddley and covered by many artists, including one from Long John Baldry that is a favorite of mine that has player here in the past. I like this version from jazz/rock keyboardist Ben Sidran. It’s kind of a different cover of the song but it still works well in its own unique way which is how I like my covers. 

Give a listen. And be careful with those books, folks.



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20210331_055939 The Memory of That Time sm



I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.

― Virginia Woolf, Diary, March 18, 1925



This new painting at the top is titled The Memory of All That and is part of my upcoming solo show, Between Here and There, at the Principle Gallery. The show opens June 4, 2021.

This piece has held the feeling of deep memory for me since it was completed. Maybe it’s the burnished edge of darkness that runs around its perimeter, like looking through an old film cell that has aged and darkened. You hold it up to the light and the brightness from behind brings the central image to life once more while seeming to put the peripheral imagery in shadows. They’re still there, just not as distinct.

The Virginia Woolf quote at the top seems especially applicable here. I see the Red Tree taking on  the role of a being who returns to the their past, gazing at the old homestead. The memories that flood in take on an emotional feel that is often deeper and more pronounced than was evident at the actual moment being remembered.

The present is often incomplete. It sometimes lacks the context which comes from pertinent future events that add the emotional depth and flavor we feel when we later revisit it as memory.

I know that this is something I often see in my own memories. Even those that had emotion at the moment in which they occurred are often deeper and many times felt with completely different emotions upon recall. For example, take some incidents of the petulant anger of youth. I might remember the initial incident and anger but the memory now might contain a bit of embarrassment at my lack of self-control, naivete and wrongheadedness.

Or what might have been a fun moment then now contains feelings of familial love or even a sense of loss.

As I said, the present is seldom complete. And future events– changes within ourselves and in the circumstances our lives–will continue to change our memory of it.

That’s what I am reminded of in this piece. The Red Tree will grow larger and its perspective will change, as will the homestead and everything around it. Our memories sometimes seem like they are set in concrete but they often shift and change in ways that we barely perceive.

After all, we live in an impermanent world. Memory sometimes gives us the feeling of permanence, even though it may only illusory.

Okay, enough. I have lots to do today and its time to get to work.



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PG GCMyers-- Comforter sm



But there is a greater comfort in the substance of silence than in the answer to a question. Eternity is in the present. Eternity is in the palm of the hand. Eternity is a seed of fire, whose sudden roots break barriers that keep my heart from being an abyss.

The things of Time are in connivance with eternity…

― Thomas Merton, “Fire Watch, July 4, 1952”



I had been looking for an image that would match up well with the lines above from the late mystic monk/theologian Thomas Merton when thought of this newer piece. It is titled Comforter and is part of my upcoming June solo show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria.

The title feels self-evident in the painting with its shades of blue that are underlaid with layers of magenta that give it a warmth that I finding comforting. The warm light of the moon also has a calming effect and the patchwork effect of the fields speaks directly of a comforter.

As I said, the title speaks for itself.

But Merton’s passage adds a layer of spiritual comfort. It comes from an epilogue for his book The Sign of Jonas and details one of his first duties as a novice monk performing a fire watch. It entailed walking through the monastery in the early hours of the morning making sure that all was well, that no accidental fires or water leaks were taking place. It was a task filled with silence and vigilance but also one that offered comfort in the knowledge that all was well.

And that seems to fit with this small painting. The Red Tree seems to be overlooking all while pondering its own existence, its own purpose. And in doing this silent duty, it finds comfort.

Another passage from Merton’s essay seems applicable as well:

And now my whole being breathes the wind which blows through the belfry, and my hand is on the door through which I see the heavens.  The door swings out upon a vast sea of darkness and of prayer.  Will it come like this, the moment of my death?  Will You open a door upon the great forest and set my feet upon a ladder under the moon, and take me out among the stars?

Perhaps the Red Tree is looking for that ladder under the moon.

I think I will think on that some more. In the comfort of silence.

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GC Myers- Take Off Your Shoe ( Stay a Little Longer)



Been working lately on a group of interior scenes that are part of my June show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. I showed one this past week called After Party and it set the tone for this group with the sloppy disheveled look of a room after the party is over.

There are many things I like about these pieces. One is the fact that they can seem humorous while still seming quietly mysterious and even pensive or somber. I like that dichotomy. Maybe that’s because I have often seen humor in some of the more serious moments of my life.

It’s often a short ride from crying to laughing.

Another of the things I like about painting these pieces is their rough edges and slightly askew perspectives. I paint these pieces with slightly larger brushes than needed which gives them the softly sloppy look that appeals to me.

Like much of my work, these pieces are not planned out. I just start in one spot and see what builds out from that first mark on the surface. I make a mark then reassess and add another then reassess again, weighing the balance of the composition as well as the balance of the colors and contrasts.

It’s like juggling where you are always readjusting with each toss of the ball and with each new additional ball thrown into the mix. Maybe that is what I should call myself–paint juggler.

This piece is a small 9′ by 12″ canvas and is called Kick Off a Shoe ( Stay a Little Longer) which is a tip of the hat, in a way, to the old Bob Wills Western swing classic, Stay All Night ( Stay a Little Longer). Below is a version of that song from Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel, who have for many decades kept the spirit of Bob Wills’ music alive with their own brand of Western swing. Always sure to get your toes tapping.

Give a listen and get up and dance a little. Maybe kick off a shoe and stay a little longer. What’s stopping you?



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“Keep Your Distance’– Now at the Principle Gallery, Alexandria, VA



If I cross your path again,
Who knows where,
Who knows when
On some morning without number,
On some highway without end
Don’t grasp my hand and say
“Fate has brought you here today”
Oh fate is only fooling with us, friend

–Richard Thompson, Keep Your Distance



Yesterday was a good day in that the first covid-19 vaccine hit the streets. A glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel, but we still got some distance to cover before we get out of it. It is important that we don’t relax and begin to think that the answer is here , that we’re all suddenly safe. It will be months, possibly 6 or 8 months, before the vaccine has hit enough people to begin to think we’re in the clear.

And in that time there is still peril. So, we must keep doing whatever we can to mitigate the risk. And that mainly comes from wearing masks and keeping your distance. It may not be convenient or to our liking but it’s not too much to ask, in the big scheme of things. Let’s do it for a little longer and not drop our guard when the end may be in sight.

In this spirit, I thought I would revisit a painting is currently at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. I first showed it here the morning after I completed it, on the day March when the reality of the pandemic hit and everything began to shut down. Not more than an hour or two after I ran a blog entry about this painting, I visited my dad for what would end up being the final time before his nursing facility shut down. 

The painting is called Keep Your Distance and is an homage of sorts to my earlier work, especially that from around 1997 to 2001. It was in that timeframe that the Red Tree first emerged and my compositions often revolved around a solid block of color dominating the foreground separated by a thin line of unpainted surface  from a large sky. It is a simple composition that whose depth and emotion is modulated within its color, texture, and the subtle positioning and interrelationship of its forms.

Sometimes, it is the simplest compositions that I believe display the truest emotions and the greatest depths. But it takes emotional commitment to instilling those things within few forms that make up a simple composition. Even the seemingly empty parts of the composition have to carry some emotional value.

In other words, simple ain’t always so simple.

And I think that is what I like so much about this piece. It speaks reams of meaning to me without hiding it behind excess detail. It wants to be read, to be heard, to pass on whatever individual message it holds for the viewer. 

I named it Keep Your Distance. We were just learning the intimate details of the virus and the idea of social distancing was taking hold. This piece had a feeling of distance and isolation within it so it felt right. Actually, it’s a title that I may have used without the events of the time.

The title comes from a favorite Richard Thompson song of the same name. I have played that song here several times over the years but I thought today I’d play a cover I hadn’t heard until this morning. It’s from country artist Patty Loveless. Though traditional country music is in my wheelhouse, I  am not a huge modern country music fan. But I have a lot of respect for Patty Loveless.

I saw her perform back January of 2002 at Radio City Music Hall when she was part of the Down From the Mountain tour that came out of the film O Brother Where Art Thou? It was just months after the attacks of 9/11, another time of crisis in this country, and I remember how strangely quiet the city was at that time. Traffic was light and car horns were almost nonexistent. It felt like a bizarro world version of NYC. I remember having the doorman at the hotel sincerely thanking us for staying there as it was pretty lightly occupied.

But it was a great show and Patty Loveless did herself proud. Around that time, she had released an album called Mountain Soul that was a return to her traditional mountain music roots which melded well with the rest of the artists on that bill. I came away really impressed with her voice and her stage presence. So, I was pleased when I came across this version of a favorite song. It’s a little more countrified than the original but, like all great songs, it works in many genres.

Give a listen and have a great day. But remember to keep your distance, okay?



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“Riding It Out”- Now at the Principle Gallery



“Speak, roofless Nature, your instinctive words;
And let me learn your secret from the sky,
Following a flock of steadfast-journeying birds
In lone remote migration beating by.
December stillness, crossed by twilight roads,
Teach me to travel far and bear my loads.”

― Siegfried Sassoon



Just wanted to share the new painting at the top, Riding It Out, which is currently at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA as part of their Small Works show which officially opens this coming weekend. I thought the short verse from the late British poet Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) was fitting for this piece.

I have to admit I knew nothing of Sassoon or his work except that which I have looked up after coming across this short piece. He was an interesting character. Before World War I, he was sort of a idler of the near upper class, primarily spending his time playing cricket and writing verse. He opposed the war at its onset but served and was highly decorated for his almost suicidal courage, earning the nickname Mad Jack.

However, his writing did not glorify war or its combatants. He was deeply affected by the horrific nature of war, the senseless brutality, the foolish jingoism that enabled it and the way people fetishized it. His verses on about the war were raw and brutal in their own way and he was recognized as one of the great war poets. One of his most famous poems, Atrocities, has the narrator coming across a man in a bar bragging about his exploits, how he killed German prisoners, when he knows the man to have been a coward who faked illness whenever the orders were dangerous and was eventually sent home. His disgust at the man is almost palpable.

But his words here, while not concerned with war, deal with endurance and match the tone of this painting as I see it. From adversity and challenge, we lean how to bear our burden. We learn how to endure. That’s how I see a lot of my boat and wave paintings, as being about being challenged in the moment and persevering.

Something many of us face every day with our own waves, our own challenges. Hope you ride yours out today.

Have a good one.

 

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“And Darkness Leaves”- At the Principle Gallery



Said it’s a mean old world, heavy in need
And that big machine is just picking up speed
And we’re supping on tears, and we’re supping on wine
We all get to heaven in our own sweet time
So come all you Asheville boys and turn up your old-time noise
And kick ’til the dust comes up from the cracks in the floor

Singing, “Hard times ain’t gonna rule my mind, brother
Hard times ain’t gonna rule my mind
Hard times ain’t gonna rule my mind no more”

–Hard Times, Gillian Welch



I was listening to some music as I was going through some images early this morning while trying to figure out what to write for today’s blogpost. The song, Hard Times from Gillian Welch, came on and its chorus– Hard times ain’t gonna rule my mind no more— really jumped out at me. Made me think of how we handle the many adversities of life.

Sometimes it’s a matter of adjusting the way we do things or changing altogether. Proactive measures.

And sometimes its a matter of waiting, just figuring that all things inevitably pass and if you can hang on, it will all eventually work out. This tends to be the way most of us get through. To use a boxing analogy, you go to the ropes and cover up, take the body blows and hope the bell rings before you fall.

This second way of coping made me think of this new piece, And Darkness Leaves, which is headed to the Principle Gallery in Alexandria for their annual holiday show of small work that opens next Saturday. There’s a lot of symbolism that you can attach to this piece but it comes down to hanging on, waiting for the dark to recede.

Waiting for that bell to ring.

It sure seems like we have taken a lot of heavy body blows as a nation in this latest round. There were moments when we seemed out on our feet and we only held up by the ropes, those institutions and laws that have been the bedrock of this nation since we were first formed. But we held on and regrouped, gathering strength and throwing some big punches of our own. 

The bell has rung and we get to face another round. Just as there is always a clearing after every storm. Just as the darkness leaves after every night and we get to face another day.

We’re still in the midst of a fight. But the darkness will inevitably leave and we’ll soon get to stand in the light once more. So keep that chorus close at hand:  hard times ain’t gonna rule my mind no more.

You have a good day, okay.



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GC Myers- Shelter in Place 2020

My annual solo show of new works opens today at the Principle Gallery in Old Town Alexandria. This year’s show, my 21st there, is titled Social Distancing which very well describes the distance between me sitting in my studio this morning and the show hanging in the gallery down in Virginia. Now, that’s real social distancing.

It feels disconnected and strange to not be at an opening tonight and still be writing about it from the studio. But we are in the strangest days of recent times so I guess it’s only fitting that any event, particularly one titled Social Distancing, is not spared.

I think the duality of this idea– work about separation that seeks connection– is right in line with the message of much of my work throughout the years. The work has always focused on the distances of our world while still seeking to find closeness and connection.

Home, as it might be called.

Though I still haven’t yet seen the work on the walls of the gallery, I feel that this is a strong group. Strange times often bring out certain strengths and aspects of people. And art, at its best, reflects humanity. I believe this group is reflective of that.

I think it is authentic and human. Joyfully imperfect.

I hope you get a chance to get into the Principle Gallery to see Social Distancing. For those of you who can’t make it there, below is the catalog for the show. Thanks!

Be safe and have a great day.

 

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In my picture of the world there is a vast outer realm and an equally vast inner realm; between these two stands man, facing now one and now the other, and, according to temperament and disposition, taking the one for the absolute truth by denying or sacrificing the other.

–Carl Jung

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

My annual show at the Principle Gallery each June is normally made up of solely new work. But I think we can all agree that this year is anything but normal. There’s been a little bit of everything thrown at us. I think that if a swarm of Bigfoots — or is it Bigfeet?— suddenly descended upon us from every mountaintop, we would just shrug it off as being just the next shoe to drop.

So, this being such an unusual year, I chose to change things up a bit and include a group of vintage pieces of my work in this year’s show. My only criteria was that they had some sort of link to the theme of the show which is, as the title states, Social Distancing.

Many of us are new to the concept of social distancing but for me it’s something I’ve been practicing for much of my life, even if I didn’t use that particular phrase. I have, especially for the last twenty five years, kept to myself, more or less. I have tried to simultaneously live in two worlds, the outer and the inner. Much like the view Jung takes in the words above, I have tried to straddle both of these worlds and have found that Jung’s observation is pretty close to the bone. The more and more time I spend in that inner world, the more real and expansive it becomes. I then find myself willing to sacrifice more and more of my connections to the outer world.

Reading that last paragraph just now, I realize that it doesn’t sound exactly healthy.  But even so, it seems to suit my temperament and disposition, to use Jung’s words again. Plus, in my inner world, it’s not considered unhealthy.

Two of the vintage paintings from this show that I think relate directly to this straddling of worlds are shown here today. The one at the top is a piece called Flower Shadow, that was painted back in June of 1995, twenty five years ago. It was never shown publicly but was always a favorite when I went through my older work, a piece that always made me stop for a few extra moments to consider it.

While part of me is attracted to it because of how it connects me to that early work, there’s something in it that speaks directly to me. Maybe it’s the idea of this rough flower, inside looking wistfully out a window. Living in two worlds, the inner and the outer, with an air of lightly wistful melancholy around it. It still speaks clearly to me, twenty five years later.

The other vintage piece is from ten years later, in 2005, and is from a limited series from that time that I called In the Window, which featured interior spaces with a window looking out on a landscape, which was the focal point of these pieces. This particular painting, In the Window: Dream Away, shown here on the right, was one of the first from that series.

Initially, this series was intended as a means to present my landscapes in a different way, like placing a gem in a different setting in order to highlight that gem. But as time passed, this concept of two worlds became more apparent to me in this work. I believe this particular piece, with its clarity and clean expression, exemplifies both of those concepts, the gem in a new setting and the being existing in two worlds.

I am really pleased to show these pieces now, though I do not being able to get some in person reactions like those normally received at a reception. But, as noted, these are not normal times so I will just put them out there and hope they speak clearly for themselves.

Hope you can make it to the Principle Gallery in Alexandria for Social Distancing, my annual solo show that opens there this Friday, June 5.

 

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