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Posts Tagged ‘Georgia O’Keeffe’

Light of Day

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I always have a curious sort of feeling about some of my things – I hate to show them – I am perfectly inconsistent about it – I am afraid people won’t understand – and I hope they won’t – and am afraid they will.

–Georgia O’Keeffe

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I came across this quote from Georgia O’Keeffe and it made me smile. I think I know exactly what she meant.

An artist is always in constant state of self-editing, constantly putting out to the world the work they believe best represents them. It is their public face. But this public face usually can’t fully represent the artist as a whole because in this self-editing there is always work that falls into the territory to which O’Keeffe referred.

I think every artist has work they may never show to the world. Some is flawed, some is just plain crap and some is just too personal, showing aspects of the artist that don’t necessarily coincide with the public face they have worked diligently to create. I know that I have a lot of this work, much of it in the flawed and plain crap categories. More than likely, most of it will never see the light of day.

But the longer I do this, I understand that it is all part of who I am as an artist. I become less wary of showing the good and the bad of what I do and have done. Take the piece at the top. It’s another found piece from my old studio, about 17″ square on paper.

At the time I painted it, I made the decision that it didn’t fit in with the face of the work I was putting out then. It was too sloppy, too raw. But almost 20 years later, it is this very rawness that makes me want to show it.

I can see plainly the urgency that was present when it was painted. It shows in the bellies that jut out from each side vertical edges, from the masses of spews that burst from its top. Even the surface of the tree shows me signs of this urgency.

It’s a flawed painting but it is fully alive and that’s all I am looking for in the work. Why wouldn’t I want to let it see the light of day?

 

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If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.

-Emile Zola

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The show is hung in the gallery. I am relieved and anxious, same as always. It’s been twenty years of doing this, of sweating out–or maybe it’s bleeding out –work for my annual show at the Principle Gallery. It’s always hard but I don’t want to imply that it’s harder than any other job. Every job, every career has its good and bad parts.  You can only hope that the good parts far outweigh the bad.

I think my job does, most times.

I was asked this past week in an interview for a regional magazine how and why I came to be an artist. I think I said that I just wanted to have my voice heard in this life. I wish I had added that I wanted to do all I can to put out work that will hopefully live beyond the limitations of my own worldly life, as well. Just so someone somewhere someday will know that I existed and thought and felt. That I laughed and cried.

That I had a voice that needed to be heard at times.

Maybe that’s what Zola meant by living out loud– needing to be heard.

These kind of thoughts always populate my mind when my shows roll around because in so many ways, I feel exposed and vulnerable on those walls. Defenseless against all judgement and criticism.

But after so many shows, I am almost numb to these fears and doubts. I know my own voice now and trust that it is real. It’s all I have to offer of value and it is that that allows me to live out loud. Like Georgia O’Keeffe said: I have already settled it for myself so flattery and criticism go down the same drain and I am quite free. 

That said, I think this is a very strong group of work, one that carries my voice well enough to remind me that I truly exist.

Hope you can make it to the show. Whether you can or can’t, below is a slideshow preview of the show.

There is also a very nice article and interview at PrincipleArtTalk, the blog of the Principle Gallery, about this show and some of the new work. You can go to that article by clicking here.
Celebrating 20 Years of the Red Tree

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Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.

 

Georgia O’Keeffe
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I am going to make it short and sweet today. The painting at the top is Music in Pink and Blue II from Georgia O’Keeffe. I had a calendar page with this image tacked to the wall of my old studio up in the woods for about ten years. The color and rhythm of it made it a favorite of mine. More importantly, O’Keeffe’s ability to make her unknown known resonated with me. It also made evident that revelation, the willingness to expose one’s totality including weaknesses and unknowns, was indeed the important thing in making one’s art.
It’s a nice reminder for this and every morning.

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The Deer

Sun-bleached bones were most wonderful against the blue – that blue that will always be there as it is now after all man’s destruction is finished.

-Georgia O’Keeffe
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It’s the first day of deer hunting season here. I watched two young bucks a few minutes ago in front of the studio. One was very young and small with two prongs jutting from its head while the other was older and heavier. His rack was larger, 8 points, I think. There was a familiarity between them and they bumped heads in the way bucks do when they joust for dominance except that this was gentle and almost instructive. The little guy jumped backward and the larger one went back to grazing.

Then a third buck appeared, heavier through its shoulders and neck with a rack that was thicker than the buck that was already here. This newcomer immediately took umbrage at the little guy and chased him around a bit and finally up into the pine forest that surrounds my studio. He paid no attention at all to the other buck. He came out of the forest with a twiggy branch tangled in his rack, dangling out in front of his head.

He then looked at the lone doe on site as she grazed with her hind quarters to him. He slowly advanced towards her in a comical manner. If this were a cartoon he would be tip-toeing towards her with that branch acting as some sort of goofy camouflage. But she took notice and ducked under one of my large rhododendron bushes, leaving him there alone. He put down his head to eat at the grass and the branch dropped free.

I look out now and he’s still there, looking around. I silently send him my best wishes for the next few perilous weeks. There is always a little anxiety at this time of the year for these ones that I know so well. I have seen so many of these deer on a daily basis for years that I recognize some quite well, having watched many of them grow from tiny fawns to strong bucks and does. And I think they recognize me as well and have a certain comfort level with me and this place.

It makes me feel a bit protective of these beautiful creatures. Be careful out there and stay safe, my friends. I’m talking to the deer, of course, but if you are a hunter the same advice goes out to you.

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GC Myers- In the Land of Many Colors sm

GC Myers- In the Land of Many Colors

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.

Georgia O’Keeffe

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My show, Home+Land, opens tonight  at the West End Gallery with an opening reception that runs from 5-7:30 PM.  The West End was the first place to give me an opportunity to display my work, over twenty years ago, and has served as a home base for my painting in the years since.  I’ve written here in the past how different my life might be without that first opportunity.

As a result, I attach special significance to my shows here.  Maybe that played a part in my choice of Home+Land as the title for this year’s show.

I’m not sure.

But I do know that, no matter how widely traveled my work is beyond this area, it personally means a lot for me to have my paintings strike a chord with and be appreciated by my friends and neighbors locally– people who often know me in other ways than my being an artist.

And I hope that happens with this particular show.  It is a show that I feel explores the idea of home and place in many colors, textures and forms.  It is a show that I feel represents my work fully to this point in time and speaks for me in ways that words never could, much in the way Georgia O’Keeffe said her work did in the quote at the top.

It would be easy to sit here and write umpteen words about the two pieces from the show shown here, In the Land of Many Colors at the top and Lake Tranquil below, but they effortlessly say more than I could ever say with all my struggling words.  As they should.

So, if you’re in the Corning area tonight, stop in at the West End Gallery for a bit.  Have a glass of wine, stroll around the gallery and see the show.  I’ll be there to answer any questions you might have and would love to hear your comments.

GC Myers- Lake Tranquil

GC Myers- Lake Tranquil

 

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Georgia O'Keeffe-Cow's Skull  Red, White and  Blue -1931

Georgia O’Keeffe-Cow’s Skull Red, White and Blue -1931

I don’t know if I have talked much about Georgia ‘OKeeffe (1887-1985) here on the blog.  Her work was a big influence on me when I was starting, especially with her use of  bold, clear color and in the way she pared away detail in her compositions, leaving only the essential.  Her lines and forms were always organic and natural, something in them almost creating a harmony or vibration that easily meshed with the viewer on a gut level.

I was looking at films of artists at work earlier and came across a short segment from a 1977 documentary by filmmaker Perry Miller Adato that was aired on PBS at the time to mark O’Keeffe 90th birthday.  I was immediately captivated by the film of her as younger woman early in her time in New Mexico set against her at 90, listening to talk about paintings that were based on the bones she found in the high desert, telling a bit about the iconic painting shown here.

Her words were direct and plain-spoken in a mid-western voice that reflected her mid-western upbringing.  There’s an interesting juxtaposition of her speaking in very simple terms about her work set against a curator speaking in a bit of artspeak.  I’m not saying his point wasn’t valid.  It was just interesting to see how she spoke easily on the subject, it all being just a part of who she was.

It was just a neat clip that reminded me of why I liked her work so much in those early years.  As I said, this is just a clip and I am sorry that I don’t know where you can see the entire film.  But enjoy this and perhaps you’ll stumble across the whole film some other day.

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This is  a very famous photo by Edward Weston of a nautilus shell that is considered one of the jumping off points for the Modernist movement in art back in the first quarter of the 20th century and one of the great photos of all time, selling a few years back at auction for over a million dollars.  It’s a beautiful and simple image that transcends itself.  I came across it recently along with a mention as to how it came about  when  Weston, on a trip to California,  encountered a painter whose work, particularly in some close up pieces of shell, greatly stimulated him.  Her name was Henrietta Shore.

It was not a name I had encountered  and doing a quick Google search came across a number of striking images that reminded me of Georgia O’Keeffe.   It turns out that she was a contemporary of O’Keeffe and  it was said that Shore’s work had eclipsed O’Keeffe’s when they were exhibited together, something which happened a few times.  Shore also had an incredible painting pedigree, training with the likes of William Merritt Chase, Robert Henri and even John Singer Sargeant.  She had lived in London and New York before moving to California, settling in Carmel around 1930.  Once there, she didn’t show her work much outside of the Carmel/Monterey region  and never really gained the notoriety that came to O’Keeffe.  It was another one of those cases where I have come across amazing talents who have fallen off the wider map for some reason that remains a mystery to me.

There is great sensuality in her work, for instance the human-like twist and feel of her Cypress trees, that I found really appealing, something I try to work into my own paintings.  Looking at Weston’s body of work, I can see the similarity in how he portrayed many of his subjects, finding wonderful beauty in simple twists and curves.

I also liked that she stopped dating her paintings because she  didn’t want them categorized into time frames in her career because she viewed her work and her life as being part of a continuum  that transcended time.  Again, something I hope for in my own work.  How had Henrietta Shore escaped my notice for all these many years?

There’s not a lot of data out there about Shore, at least with a quick search.  She didn’t have a long list of exhibitions after the 30’s and those that she did have were in the Monterey area, so became a sort of regional painter which doesn’t take anything away from her great talent.  It only deprives the rest of us from finding her and finding something for ourselves in her work.  Thankfully, modern technology and the web allows us to stumble across such a wonderful painter long after she has faded from the national stage, even though her work will always live on in the continuum.  Just plain good stuff…

 

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