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Posts Tagged ‘GC Myers’

Another Labor Day has come. Most folks have forgotten that this holiday was first celebrated back in 1894, signed in as a federal holiday as an effort to bring an air of reconciliation to the nation which had just endured the widespread and violent Pullman Strike. It is meant to honor the Labor Movement and the workers it represents.

For me, the day reminds me of the first time I worked outside of our home for someone else as a child, a memory that was recently reawakened at a wedding of an old friend near the fields where I first used my hands and back for labor. There was an old potato farmer on the road where I grew up and a friend of mine would periodically go down there and work, most of the time picking or bagging potatoes. One day he asked if I wanted to come along as the farmer was going to lay irrigation pipe that day and could use some extra help. Being eleven years old and wanting to make some extra cash and having no idea what I was getting myself into, I agreed.

It was hot and dusty work. The long pipes weren’t heavy but were awkward and each time they began to dip towards the ground as you carried them brought a gruff yell from the crusty old farmer, who was not one to wear out his smile from use. He certainly didn’t put much wear and tear on his that day. To make up for it, he did a lot of yelling and cursing at us.

We had just a short break to eat the sandwich each of us had brought with us and after about eight hours in the fields, I was exhausted and covered with alternating layers of sweat and gray, grimy dust. It was the first real day of work I had experienced. It had been a tough for an untested eleven year old but now I would be rewarded.

As my friend and I prepared to mount our bicycles and head tiredly home, the farmer stood before us in his dusty bib overalls, unsmiling, of course.

“Suppose you want to get paid?”

It came out of his mouth not so much like a question but more like a complaint. We silently nodded, eager in our anticipation of our sweet reward. He stuck his thick, strong farmer hand into a pocket and pulled out a handful of change. He counted out three dollars in quarters to each of us and said, “Okay?”

Again, not really a question. More of a dismissal, more like okay, we’re done here, now go.

We were just kids but we knew we had been taken advantage of that day. But we were eleven years old and afraid to death to talk back to the surly old man, to say that this was unfair. We never worked another day for him and I found out later that this was his modus operandi, working the hell out of kids then underpaying them. If they didn’t come back, so what? There were always kids looking  to make some money.

It was a small incident but it shaped how I viewed labor and the way many people are exploited. It was a clear object lesson, in microcosm, on the value of the labor movement in this country as a unifying force for those of us most susceptible to being exploited.

The labor movement is underappreciated now. Our memories are short and we lose sight of the abuse and exploitation of workers that have taken place over the ages. We take for granted many of the rights, rules and protections in the workplace, thinking they have always been in place. But they are there only because people in the labor movement stood up against this exploitation and abuse. These folks willing to stand against injustice deserve our gratitude on this day. We could use a hell of a lot more of them now.

So, as you spend your holiday in a hopefully happy and relaxing manner, remember those who made this day possible. Happy Labor Day.

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This post originally ran on this blog back on Labor Day in 2010.

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This is one of those post where I am just using the content as a pretext for playing a piece of music I want to share. In this case, the pretext is that this year’s edition of my annual solo show, Moments and Color, finishes its run at the West End Gallery at the end of business today. It is a show that blends my better known motifs, such as the Red Tree above in Life Pop, with new directions such as the faces (or masks) that populate the Multitudes series. It’s a show that very much pleases me, both in how it came together and in the response to it.

I want to than everybody who was able to make it to the gallery. Thank you so much for the feedback and for giving homes to many of the works that were part of this show. And, as always, all the thanks I can find to Jesse and Linda Gardner at the gallery for doing a masterful job of hanging the show and for their friendship and encouragement through the past 25 years.

As I often point out, my life would be so much different if I had never encountered the Gardners. And for that I eternally grateful.

Today is the last opportunity to see this show, so if you’re so disposed, pleases stop in at the West End Gallery today. Plus, there is a wealth of great work by the gallery’s many other talented artists that you should take the time to see.

American Music- January 1995- GC Myers

Now, on to the real purpose of this blog– playing some music that I have wanted to share for a bit. I thought the song So Long Baby, Goodbye from The Blasters back in 1981 would fit this subject perfectly. The Blasters, headed by Dave Alvin, were at their peak in the early 1980’s. They were the favorites of many critics and their big thumping sound ushered in the rockabilly revival of of the 80’s and predated and paved the way for the Americana music genre that we know today.

Since that time they have flown under the radar and a lot of folks don’t know the name or have long forgotten it. I was a fan from their first album and even put the name of one of their songs, American Music,  to a small experimental painting back in early, when I was first starting out. It was painted about a month before I began showing my work at the West End Gallery, no doubt while I had The Blasters on the turntable.

Here are two songs from The Blasters– So Long Baby, Goodbye and American Music. Again, many thanks. Have a good day.


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“Pondering Solitude”- Part of the West End Gallery show ending Friday

Around this time of the year, I always want to apologize to the folks that read this blog. Much of the content revolves around promoting of the work in my shows or my talks. Though I know it’s a necessary evil and part of my job, it’s still something I would rather not have to do. With two shows hanging and two more talks coming in the next few weeks, which means more promotion here, I thought I’d run a post from 2015 that includes a post from 2011. It sums up pretty well what I feel about the whole thing.

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The time just before the solo shows and gallery talks that are a big part of what I do is the hardest time for me, by far the most stressful and difficult part of this whole art thing.  There’s a direct conflict between my internal need need to seek solitude and the external need to discuss and promote my works and the galleries where they hang.  For weeks leading up to events, solitude is pushed to the rear and the act of promotion takes center stage.

The ego becomes a foe at this point and I am soon tired of hearing my own voice and experience a bit of self-loathing at times. But I feel compelled to persevere out of the duty and loyalty to the galleries that represent me and the need to make a living for myself. It is the part of the job that probably is the hardest hurdle for any artist to clear, a sometimes unsavory task that keeps many artists from reaching their largest audience.

Here are a few other thoughts on the subject from a few years ago, right around this same time in the 2011:

I was asked yesterday what I was going to speak about in today’s gallery talk at the West End Gallery. I kidded that I was going , of course, to speak about me.

Me, me, me.

I went on to explain how I approach these talks, trying to read the group in attendance and finding something of interest in the work that sparks a dialogue where they participate. The hope being that they leave with a little more insight into the work and I leave with with a little more knowledge of how they view it. But that offhand joke yesterday about me has stuck in my craw. Just joking about it has bothered me somehow. 

One of the conundrums of art is that you are expressing a sometimes very personal aspect of yourself in a public forum, exposing one’s weaknesses and flaws to the world for all to see. The need to do this is the need for an affirmation of one’s own existence in this world. I know that this has been the case for myself. I have often felt insignificant throughout my life in this world, unseen and unheard. But it seemed to me that my life, like all others, had to have meaning of some sort and that my feelings and thoughts mattered as much as any other being’s.

If I was here and thinking, I mattered.

Cogito ergo sum.

Until I fell into painting I never found a way to affirm this existence, an avenue to allow my voice to be finally heard. But having found a method of expression, the question becomes: What part does ego play in this? Where is  that line that separates the need for self-expression from base self-glorification?

This has always bothered me. Even though I want to express myself and want my work to hopefully affect others, this constant self-promotion puts one at least on or near this dividing line. For me, that’s an uncomfortable position. Don’t get me wrong. When it comes to my work, I certainly have the confidence of ego. It may be the only part of my world where I have supreme confidence though, on many days, even that is shaky.

But on days like today, when I have to talk about “me, me, me,” I always get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach both before and afterwards. Before because of the dread of exposing myself as a fool and afterwards from the fear that I did just that. 

Oh, well.  All just part of the job…

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First, want to thank everyone who came out to the Octagon Gallery at  the Patterson Library on Friday evening to see the work in the Icons & Exiles show that opened there. I met a bunch of new folks who were not familiar with my work and got to tell the stories behind a number of the folks that populate this particular group of paintings. It was a very enjoyable time.

And many thanks to Nancy Nixon Ensign who curated and hung the show. She did a fantastic job of mixing the works from various series into a cohesive unit that invites you to move slowly around the space so that you can take it all in. Great job, Nancy!

I will be giving an Art Talk on this show on Thursday, September 12, so if you’re in the Westfield area– which is a charming town!–try to make it there. The show itself hangs until September 20.

For this Sunday morning music I am going with one of my favorite Bob Dylan song from more recent times. By that I mean within the last twenty years or so. With a career that spans almost 60 years, you sometimes have to specify from what period a song might come. This song, Thunder on the Mountain, is from 2006.

Have yourself a good day…

 

 

 

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My Icons & Exiles exhibit opens tonight at the Octagon Gallery at the Patterson Library in Westfield, NY. There is an opening reception that runs from 7-9 PM. The show hangs in the gallery until September 20. If you’re in the area, please stop in and I’ll be glad to spend some time telling you some of the stories behind the work in this show.

And there are a lot of stories in this show.

Much of the work in this show is from what I consider my three most personal series of paintings, the Exiles, the Outlaws and the Icons. For example, the painting at the top is the first painting completed in the Exiles series back in 1995 and is titled A Prayer For Light. For myself, from a standpoint of meaning, it might be the most important painting I’ve done. It hasn’t been displayed publicly in well over 20 years.

I am proud of this show and believe it is an interesting exhibit, one that I hope will provoke thought in those who see it. The Patterson Library is a beautiful building and the Octagon Gallery is a wonderful space in which to show work.  I hope you can make it to the lovely town of Westfield to see it.

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ICONS & EXILES

Now at the Octagon Gallery at Patterson Library, Westfield, NY 

Runs From Friday, August 23- Friday, September 20, 2019

Opening Reception Friday, August 23, 7-9 PM

Art Talk Thursday, September 12, 6-7 PM

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As I’ve noted here recently, my Icons & Exiles show begins tomorrow evening with an opening reception from 7-9 PM in the Octagon Gallery at Patterson Library in Westfield, NY. One of the things that most attracted me to accepting the invitation to do this show was the opportunity to exhibit work that has seldom, if ever, been shown in public. This includes the little piece below, a small painting from around 1997 that has been a personal favorite for all that time. I am reposting a blog entry about this painting from back in 2010. Hope you can make it out to see it in the show.

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More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones

— Mother Theresa

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This is a little piece that I did many years ago, one that never made it out of the studio. A piece that is really for me.  I can’t say that it’s a great piece of work or even good. But that doesn’t matter because it’s one of my personal favorites. It’s informally called Be Careful What You Wish For after the old adage: Be careful what you wish because you may just get it. I always bear this saying in mind to remind myself that with everything you desire there is a responsibility, a price to be paid that may not be evident on its surface.

 The unconsidered consequences we often fail to ponder when making wishes and decisions.

Kind of like the story of The Monkey’s Paw, the old tale where a family receives a monkey’s paw from a friend who has just died. The paw is a talisman with the supposedly mystical power to grant the holder three wishes. The family wishes for money and their son is killed in a horrific accident and they receive a large amount of money from his insurance policy. After the funeral, they are stricken with grief and they wish for their son to be alive again.  Soon, there is a knock at their door. It is their son–alive. But he is still horribly mutilated from the accident and in extreme agony. They use the third wish to wish him dead again.

This painting also reminds me of Pandora’s Box, where Pandora is given a box (or jar, depending on how the story is told) by the god Zeus with the instructions to not open it under any circumstance. Of course, she does. Immediately, all the evils in the world are released and in her panic, she slams the lid back down, trapping Hope in the box.

The man with the shovel in the hole here seems to be in the same situation. In my mind, he was digging for things that were better left alone and they soon flew from the pit he had dug, even as he feverishly tried to fill in the hole. What exactly they are, I am not sure. There is a giant or a troll that peeks from beneath a tree. Perhaps they are demons. Or regrets. Or lesser versions and aspects of the digging person, things he has been keeping inside for all his life.

Things that were better left alone.

Like many things, I am not sure. Whatever the case, it remains a little painting that always triggers thought in me. That’s probably why it remains a favorite.

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Yesterday, I delivered the work for my Icons & Exiles show to the Octagon Gallery at the Patterson Library in Westfield, NY. I have to admit that the gallery isn’t anything like the image of it I imagined when I was approached a couple of years ago to do this exhibit. But seeing the space and the library again put any doubts I had to rest. What a great gallery space! And the library is such a beautiful building! Both the gallery and the library are gems.

I am actually excited to see this group of work in this space.

The work for this show primarily consists of work from my early Exiles series along with my more recent Icons series. There is also a smaller group from my 2006 Outlaws series along with a variety of pieces that don’t fit into any series. They are just favorites of mine, personal paintings that I think are pretty interesting.

There are also two pieces from my Archaeology series including the painting shown at the top, Archaeology: A New History. This painting hasn’t been shown in many years and is, at 36″ by 48″, the largest painting of this series. It is one of my favorites from this series so I am pleased to have it back out in public view as part of this show.

I think this will be an interesting show, one that has a more narrative feel than my typical shows. There are many stories being told in these paintings.

I know that Westfield is a bit out of the way for many folks. For my friends in Erie, where my work has shown at the Kada Gallery there for the past 24 years, it is a 30 mile trek and for those in my home area it’s a few hours drive. But it takes you by lovely Lake Chautauqua and its famous institute and Westfield itself is a peach of a town. Hopefully, this show will make the trip worthwhile.

So, if you find yourself out around Lake Chautauqua or,over a short distance, closer to Lake Erie this Friday, August 23, between 7 and 9 PM, please stop in and take a look at the Icons & Exiles show at the Octagon Library at the historic Patterson Library.

I’ll be glad to tell you some stories.

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