Posts Tagged ‘Cornell’

I love it when people exceed the expectations put upon them by others.  People who persevere in pursuit of a dream despite little or no encouragement from the outside.   My current favorite is Jeff Foote, shown here, the starting center of the Cornell Big Red basketball team who is on an improbable run in the current NCAA tournament.   Jeff and his teammates face the highly favored and number one seed Kentucky team Thursday night for a chance to move into the final eight teams in the tournament.

Like the Big Red team in this tournament, Jeff Foote has always been an underdog.  He went to Spencer-Van Etten High School, located in a very small rural village not far from where I live.  It’s a small school with most graduating classes numbering less than a hundred students and isn’t known as a hotbed for turning out sports stars.  So when Jeff was playing for S-VE as a gangly 6′ 8″ teenager, he kenw he wanted to play Division I ball but attracted practically no attention.  Division I powerhouses didn’t come to see him.  Neither did even smaller Division I schools.  For that matter, no Division II schools came calling.  Only RIT, a Division III school  a couple of hours away in Rochester expressed any interest at all.

But he wanted to and believed he could play Division I ball and instead of just giving in to the expectations of others, Jeff kept pushing.  He applied to St. Bonaventure, a Division I school in western NY, and made the team as a walk-on.  No scholarship.  No guarantee of playing time.  But he was in Division I even if it was at the end of the bench as a now gawky 7-footer.  At the very least, it gave him a framework in which to work hard towards improvement.

In the meantime, Jeff’s mother, a nurse at a hospital in Elmira, became acquainted with the coaching staff at Cornell when one of their players suffered a back injury and came to her hospital for treatment.  She became friendly with them and told them that they should take a look at her son, the 7- foot walk-on for the Bonnies. 

They were intrigued by the thought of the big unknown kid.  They gave him a try-out and the work Jeff had put in was apparent.  He transferred to Cornell and has had a wonderful career there, improving steadily as the starting center for the three-time Ivy League champions, going each of the last three years to the NCAA tournament.  This year he was named the Ivy League Defensive Player of the year and his game continues to grow as he continually strives to improve.  He’s eyeing a career in the European Leagues and has set his long range goal on the NBA. 

Don’t underestimate the kid.

And don’t count out the Big Red.

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When I was first starting to paint, one of the painters that I admired when I first ran across his work was the Modernist painter of the early 20th century, Arthur Dove.  As I was beginning to form my own visual vocabulary, I found many similarities in how Dove and I represented certain elements in our paintings. This gave me a feeling that I may be following the right path and gave me a little more certainty and confidence in my own work.  I was also drawn by the duality in his work between the abstract and the representational.  There was always the sense that you were looking at something recognizable and familiar even when there was definite abstraction present.  This was something I have aspired for in my own work.

I didn’t know much about the man but was also pleased when I found that he was from the Finger Lakes region of NY  and had been educated just up the road at Cornell.  No big deal, obviously, but it gave me an insight into the influence of the local landscape in his work and his eye that I could compare to my own.

One of the factors in being self-taught for me, was in finding an artist that I could identify with , who seemed to have a similar feel for how things would translate in different media.  I am surprised, even today, how much of my early work resembles some Dove pieces that I have only seen recently for the first time.

I can’t say I loved all of Dove’s work.  I don’t know if anybody can say that about any other human if their work fully represents them.  But I do admire the spirit and feeling of his work and know my work is better for it.

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Blue Canal Pieces- GC MyersThese are two new pieces I recently completed, both 12 ” square canvasses.  They are in the same vein as several other paintings I have completed recently and featured here on the blog.

As I’ve stated before, these pieces are for me all about shapes and forms and color, more so than about an actual depiction of place.  I want to clarify that the feeling and sense of place that is created in these pieces is important to me.  But it is something that comes about as a result of the way forms and color fall together, rather than a premeditated plan for the composition.

The canal in these pieces is very important with that bright blue counterpoint to the red of the roofs and the way it bisects the village.  I have tried using a more subtle color in the canal but that blue pop! makes each painting stand out.

I have considered keeping these pieces together as a set, which is something I have done in years past, but I probably will not this time.

I had an interesting experience with a set of 3 very small paintings that were sold 11 or 12 years ago.  They were tiny landscapes, only about an inch and a half square in size.  They were, like the paintings above, not of any specific location but like many of my landscapes, influenced by the area around my home.  There is a spot on the way to Ithaca called Connecticut Hill that has an interesting look and feel that I often think of when I’m painting.

I met the buyer of this particular set one day at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA  as I was delivering some work and we spoke about the paintings.  He told me that he loved the way they reminded him of an area near he went to college.  I asked him where he had went.  He said Cornell, in Ithaca.  I asked him where this place was he had described.

He said Connecticut Hill.

He didn’t know that I was from near there when we spoke and there was little in those tiny pieces that would make me say they were of that place.  Just the feeling…

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Robertson-Deliberate Final CVR A year or two ago, I was interviewed down in Alexandria by Larry Robertson, who was conducting a couple of hundred interviews with people on the idea of entrepreneurship.  Larry is an expert and consultant on entrepreneurism, advising many enterprises  and lecturing often on the subject at Georgetown and Cornell Universities.  We had met several years before at an opening for my work at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, when he had obtained a painting of mine.  several years had passed and at an opening a couple of years ago, Larry approached me with an invitation to be interviewed for a book for which he was researching.

So we met a few months later and sat for a couple of hours.  I knew that there was a certain amount of entrepreneurism in being an artist, in that you had to create a product of your own design and establish a network for distributing it out into the wider world.  Basically, you must take your own vision and make it available for others to embrace.  But I thought I had little to offer Larry for his book.

That day Larry explained to me some of his concepts that would be laid out in his book.  He described how he had observed the growth of my career in the Alexandria area and showed me in a small chart how my work acted as a pebble which, upon striking the surface of a pond (which would be the initial successful sale of my work there,) sends out waves that spread along the surface, creating more and more opportunity for my work to be seen and be successful.  He said the success of my work  was a perfect template for success for enterprises of all sizes.  I hadn’t thought of it in that way.

I came away from the interview thinking that I had indeed taken more from the interview than I had given.

Well, Larry’s book has hit the shelves.  It’s titled A Deliberate Pause: Entrepreneurship and Its Moment in Human Progress and is a really engaging read.  He features wonderful guidance from his hundreds of interviews from a wide and varying group of entrepreneurs including Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus , the developer of microcredit where very small loans are given to the very poor so that they may pursue their own vision of enterprise, along with a multitude of  other well known names.  If you have even a small amount of the entrepreneurial spirit running in your veins, this is an invaluable guide with much to offer.

I think that this spirit of innovation and individual creation of vision,  as described in this book, will be a major force in forming the future economy of this country, in pushing along new technologies and new ways of approaching old ideas.  You can go to Larry Robertson’s website for his book by clicking on the book cover shown.  Well worth your time…

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A Return to RootsI live in a part of New York state that doesn’t normally get a lot of headlines.  We’re somewhat rural with a few smaller  cities scattered across what is called the Southern Tier  that runs along the NY/Pennsylvania border.  

We have Corning which is known for its glass industry including a world-class museum.  There’s Ithaca with  Cornell and Ithaca College.  Then there’s my hometown of Elmira where Mark Twain spent his summers, writing many of his books from his study overlooking the valley, and is buried here.  Home of the late, great Ernie Davis.  We’re also known for our prisons.  I can barely contain my pride.

Then a little east there’s Binghamton.  

It was primarily known as the birthplace of IBM but after yesterday will be known in the national mind as the location of yet another murderous rampage.

14 killed.

I don’t know much about the assailant and I really don’t need to hear a lot.  I’m sure there will be all kinds of new info today and  in the week ahead, all profiling a troubled soul.  Unfortunately, we’ve heard it all before.  Too many times.

I don’t have any answers to the scourge of mass killings.  I have sympathy for the families who lost members.   I have empathy for those who witnessed and survived, many immigrants to this country.  Their terror and bewilderment that such a thing could happen in their chosen home is palpable.

And I have a degree of sorrow and empathy for the killer.  While I can’t understand how a person could be driven to such violence , I can imagine the alienation and rage that ran through his mind.  I don’t know his circumstances or what might have possibly tripped that final switch but he obviously lived in a troubled state of mind without the necessary coping mechanisms.  

That doesn’t excuse or justify his actions.  It only brings to mind the scores of people that live among us with that same anger, that same sense of separation.  The vast majority live this side of the line but more and more cross it and we’re left watching the news, horrified.

And you hope and you pray that this time will be the last.

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