Posts Tagged ‘American Impressionism’

GC Myers-  Inner Perception smallThis is a painting from a few years back that has toured around a bit and found its way back to me. Called Inner Perception, it has been one of my favorites right from the moment it came off my painting table.  Maybe the inclusion of the the paint brush (even though it is a house painter’s brush) with red paint in the bristles makes it feel more biographical, more directly connected to my own self.   Or maybe it was the self-referential Red Tree painting on the wall behind the Red Chair.

I don’t know for sure.  But whatever the case, it is a piece that immediately makes me reflective, as though it is a shortcut to some sort of inner thought.  Looking at it this morning, the question I was asked at the Principle Gallery talk a week or so ago re-emerged, the one that asked what advice I might give my fifth-grade self if I had the opportunity.  I had answered that I would tell myself to believe in my own unique voice, to believe in the validity of what I had to say to the world.

I do believe that but I think I might add a bit to that answer, saying that I would tell my younger self to be patient and not worry about how the world perceives you.  That if you believed that your work was reflecting something genuine from within, others would come to see it eventually.

I would also add to never put your work above the work of anyone else and, conversely, never put your work beneath that of anyone else.  I would tell myself to always ask , “Why not me?”

This realization came to me a couple of years ago at my exhibit at the Fenimore Art Museum.  When it first went up it was in a gallery next to one that held the work of the great American Impressionists along with a Monet.  I was initially intimidated, worrying that my work would not stand the muster of being in such close proximity to those painters who I had so revered over the years.

But over the course of the exhibit, I began to ask myself that question: Why not me?

If my work was genuine, if it was true expression of my inner self and inner perceptions, was it any less valid than the work of these other painters?  Did they have some greater insight of which I was not aware, something that made their work deeper and more connected to some common human theme?  If, as I believe, everyone has something unique to share with the world, why would my expression of self not be able to stand along their own?

The answer to my question was in my own belief in the work and by the exhibit’s end I was no longer doubting my right to be there.  So to my fifth-grade self and to anyone who faces self-doubt about the path they have chosen, I say that if you know you have given it your all, shown your own unique self,  then you must ask that question: Why not me?


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Childe Hassam  Flag PaintingI am a big fan of the flag paintings of Childe Hassam, the American Impressionist painter who lived from 1859 until 1935.  His flag series was perhaps the most popular work in his long career and started in 1916 as America sat waiting to enter the war that was taking place in  Europe, which  I wrote about in a blogpost from 2010.  In that article I wrote:

However, when I think of paintings of flags I always think of the work of Childe Hassam.  He started this series of paintings in 1916 as the buildup to our entry in World War I was reaching a crescendo.  In many cities around the country there were Preparedness Parades that displayed  the general population’s escalating enthusiasm for entering the fray.  The most famous of these was in San Francisco where, at one such parade in July of that year,  a bomb was exploded by radicals of the time that killed 10 bystanders and injured many more.  However, Hassam was in NYC and the displays on the avenues of multitudes of flags among the canyons of the growing city inspired him to produce a number of powerful paintings, not bombs.

Childe Hassam Fourth of July 1916I think these paintings say a lot about America, especially at that time.  The cityscape shows an expansion of urban growth brought on by the influx of an immigrant population and a prospering, industrialized economy.  The flags represent a unifying bond that ties together all these diverse groups, a simple symbol that speaks easily to the wants and desires of the population.  Their dream of America.  Perhaps it also covered up many of the injustices and inequalities rampant then.  And now.

But I tend to think of it in the better light, as a call to our better nature and to a society of choice and opportunity.  An image of possibility and hope.   And Hassam’s paintings do that for me in a beautiful, graceful manner.  The flag in its best light…

So, as we prepare for this year’s Fourth of July, I think of these paintings and the symbolism that they hold for myself and hope that we find a return to being that nation of possibility and hope, a society of choice and opportunity.  Have a great Fourth!

Childe Hassam The_Avenue_in_the_Rain- 1917 Childe Hassam-Flags_on_the_Waldorf- Amon_Carter_Museum Childe_Hassam-Avenue_of_the_Allies-1917


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