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Posts Tagged ‘Annie Dillard’

GC Myers- Exultation 2021

Exultation“- Hanging Now at the West End Gallery



Say you could view a time-lapse film of our planet: what would you see? Transparent images moving through light, “an infinite storm of beauty.”

The beginning is swaddled in mists, blasted by random blinding flashes. Lava pours and cools; seas boil and flood. Clouds materialize and shift; now you can see the earth’s face through only random patches of clarity. The land shudders and splits, like pack ice rent by a widening lead. Mountains burst up, jutting and dull and soften before your eyes, clothed in forests like felt. The ice rolls up, grinding green land under water forever; the ice rolls back. Forests erupt and disappear like fairy rings. The ice rolls up-mountains are mowed into lakes, land rises wet from the sea like a surfacing whale- the ice rolls back.

A blue-green streaks the highest ridges, a yellow-green spreads from the south like a wave up a strand. A red dye seems to leak from the north down the ridges and into the valleys, seeping south; a white follows the red, then yellow-green washes north, then red spreads again, then white, over and over, making patterns of color too swift and intricate to follow. Slow the film. You see dust storms, locusts, floods, in dizzying flash frames.

Zero in on a well-watered shore and see smoke from fires drifting. Stone cities rise, spread, and then crumble, like patches of alpine blossoms that flourish for a day an inch above the permafrost, that iced earth no root can suck, and wither in a hour. New cities appear, and rivers sift silt onto their rooftops; more cities emerge and spread in lobes like lichen on rock. The great human figures of history, those intricate, spirited tissues that roamed the earth’s surface, are a wavering blur whose split second in the light was too brief an exposure to yield any images. The great herds of caribou pour into the valleys and trickle back, and pour, a brown fluid.

Slow it down more, come closer still. A dot appears, like a flesh-flake. It swells like a balloon; it moves, circles, slows, and vanishes. This is your life.

― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek



I’ve been wanting to share this passage from Annie Dillard for some time. When looking for something to partner with the new painting at the top, Exultation, it came to mind.

I see this painting as being about the appreciation for the wonder of the moment in this place. Our whole existence as a species has been a miracle of sorts, taking eons and ages for the conditions of this planet to adjust to a point where we might survive and even thrive.

It is a precious and precarious existence.

As Annie Dillard makes clear, the mark made by humans is but a blip in the time-lapse film of this planet’s history. And each of us, from the greatest figures in history to the most humble among us, is no more than a fleck of dust whirling as background noise.

Our time was always going to be limited in the grand scheme of things. It took, as I say, a miraculous concoction of conditions to create the delicate environment required to sustain us. But that environment is equally as fragile. We may well be shortening our own screen time in that film of this planet’s lifetime.

But in our best of times, as few as they may have been or will be, it has been place of great beauty and abundance. A place that allows us at those moments to sense a seeming harmony between the earth, sea, sky, and all that is beyond this world.

Perhaps our tenuous existence on this planet’s timeline makes those rare days even more precious. Times to exult.



Exultation is a 24″ by 36″ painting on canvas now hanging at the West End Gallery. It is included in my solo show there, Through the Trees, which opens tomorrow, Friday, July 16. There is an opening reception from 4-7 PM Friday at the gallery.

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“What geomancy reads what the windblown sand writes on the desert rock? I read there that all things live by a generous power and dance to a mighty tune; or I read there all things are scattered and hurled, that our every arabesque and grand jeté is a frantic variation on our one free fall.”

― Annie Dillard, An American Childhood



I have a lot to do this morning as I prep several new small pieces for delivery to the West End Gallery later today. I enjoy working on the small works. There’s something about their compact nature and the challenge of trying to make a larger statement in such a limited space. I know I have previously used the comparison of these small pieces to a haiku, a lot being said with few words or in a small space.

The piece shown here is one such new small piece and I think it achieves that goal. I really like its atmosphere. I had another title– The Sun Worshipper— but felt it was too direct yet didn’t capture the feeling of this piece. Instead, I went with a word for the title that was more open to interpretation. I call it Arabesque.

It’s a word that can be interpreted in many ways. It is a dance move– in ballet where the dancer stand on one leg with the other extended backwards. I could see that here.

It is also an ornamental element in architecture with patterns of rhythmic linework often used in Moorish structures. I could see the Red Tree here as being in that fashion.

It also applies to a musical composition that, like the architectural arabesque, uses rhythmic repetition and ornamentation of the melody. I can also see that here.

Plus, there’s the connotation of warmth that comes with the word arabesque. It has the feel of the sand, the wind, and heat of the desert.  I see those things here, as well.

So, Arabesque it is.

Here’s an example of a musical arabesque from guitarist Roxane Elfasci performing Arabesque #1 from Claude Debussy.

Enjoy and have a good day.



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