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Posts Tagged ‘Gillian Welch’

“And Darkness Leaves”- At the Principle Gallery



Said it’s a mean old world, heavy in need
And that big machine is just picking up speed
And we’re supping on tears, and we’re supping on wine
We all get to heaven in our own sweet time
So come all you Asheville boys and turn up your old-time noise
And kick ’til the dust comes up from the cracks in the floor

Singing, “Hard times ain’t gonna rule my mind, brother
Hard times ain’t gonna rule my mind
Hard times ain’t gonna rule my mind no more”

–Hard Times, Gillian Welch



I was listening to some music as I was going through some images early this morning while trying to figure out what to write for today’s blogpost. The song, Hard Times from Gillian Welch, came on and its chorus– Hard times ain’t gonna rule my mind no more— really jumped out at me. Made me think of how we handle the many adversities of life.

Sometimes it’s a matter of adjusting the way we do things or changing altogether. Proactive measures.

And sometimes its a matter of waiting, just figuring that all things inevitably pass and if you can hang on, it will all eventually work out. This tends to be the way most of us get through. To use a boxing analogy, you go to the ropes and cover up, take the body blows and hope the bell rings before you fall.

This second way of coping made me think of this new piece, And Darkness Leaves, which is headed to the Principle Gallery in Alexandria for their annual holiday show of small work that opens next Saturday. There’s a lot of symbolism that you can attach to this piece but it comes down to hanging on, waiting for the dark to recede.

Waiting for that bell to ring.

It sure seems like we have taken a lot of heavy body blows as a nation in this latest round. There were moments when we seemed out on our feet and we only held up by the ropes, those institutions and laws that have been the bedrock of this nation since we were first formed. But we held on and regrouped, gathering strength and throwing some big punches of our own. 

The bell has rung and we get to face another round. Just as there is always a clearing after every storm. Just as the darkness leaves after every night and we get to face another day.

We’re still in the midst of a fight. But the darkness will inevitably leave and we’ll soon get to stand in the light once more. So keep that chorus close at hand:  hard times ain’t gonna rule my mind no more.

You have a good day, okay.



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Thought I’d rerun this post from last year. I can always listen to The Revelator and it seems appropriate to the moment.


 

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Darling remember, when you come to me
I’m the pretender; I’m not what I’m supposed to be
But who could know if I’m a traitor?
Time’s the revelator

Gillian Welch, The Revelator

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I came across an image of the painting at the top, a piece from 2006 called What Is True that holds a lot of meaning for me, and it set me thinking.

Truth is patient. It waits for the light of a sun that sometimes travels through the vastness of space and time, millions and millions of light years, to shine on it.

Time always finds truth at some point and when it shine its light upon it, there is revelation.

Every day is filled with revelation, so it seems.

Time and truth are coming together.

Here’s a favorite song of mine from Gillian Welch, The Revelator.


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When the gates swing wide on the other side
Just beyond the sunset sea
There’ll be room to spare as we enter there
Room for you and room for me
For the gates are wide on the other side
Where the flowers ever bloom
On the right hand on the left hand
Fifty miles of elbow room

50 Miles of Elbow Room, Herbert Buffum

***********************

I have always longed for elbow room.

Huge arching domes of clear air above.

Wide open spaces for the eye to search.

Soundless vistas with not a soul to be seen.

The elbow room I long for is not that described in the lyrics of the 1930 gospel song, 50 Miles of Elbow Room, from songwriter Herbert Buffum. His version of elbow room is a placid paradise in the hereafter

Ideally, I don’t have to die to find my sought after elbow room. Of course, finding such a place might entail a little imagination along with a willingness to accept that this elbow room most likely will be located inside oneself.

Maybe that’s what I am trying to uncover with my work.

Elbow room. At least, my own little bits of elbow room.

The painting at the top is such a piece. It’s part of my aptly titled show, Social Distancing, that is still planned to open on June 5 at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. There is some doubt as to whether there will be an actual physical opening reception but there will be a show hung to be viewed so long there is– wait for it– social distancing.

This painting is titled Elbow Room, of course. It’s a return of sorts to my earlier work of the early and mid 2000’s, painted in the transparent inks I favor on paper. In a way, painting it felt like it was something inherent. Built in. Natural, like coming home, like a circle being completed.

For me, this is the hardest work to judge. It’s like looking at old family photos. You don’t look at the faces and apprise them for attractiveness or ugliness. You just see them for what you know them to be, for what they mean to you. How the outside world sees them is not important.

And this certainly feels like a family photo for me.

So, on this Sunday morning, let’s hear a bit of that song, 50 Miles of Elbow Room. I couldn’t find the original from Vaughan Happy Two. The two most significant versions are a gospel version from the Rev. F.W. McGee in 1933 and a traditional folk version from the Carter Family in 1942. The song I am playing today owes its influence to the Carter Family. It’s performed by a favorite of mine, Gillian Welch.

Have a good Sunday. Hope you find some elbow room for yourself, if that’s what you want.

 

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**********************

Darling remember, when you come to me
I’m the pretender; I’m not what I’m supposed to be
But who could know if I’m a traitor?
Time’s the revelator

–Gillian Welch, The Revelator

***********************

I came across an image of the painting at the top, a piece from 2006 called What Is True that holds a lot of meaning for me, and it set me thinking.

Truth is patient. It waits for the light of a sun that sometimes travels through the vastness of space and time, millions and millions of light years, to shine on it.

Time always finds truth at some point and when it shine its light upon it, there is revelation.

Every day is filled with revelation, so it seems.

Time and truth are coming together.

Here’s a favorite song of mine from Gillian Welch, The Revelator.

Read Full Post »

Snowing like made still. Been out plowing for a couple of hours already this morning, just trying to keep the driveway open, and there is definitely a few more hours of plowing ahead. But I thought I’d take a break, drink some coffee and try to throw out some music for a snowy Sunday morning.

Came up with an old song, Valley of Tears, written and performed originally in 1957 by Fats Domino and covered by a number of other artists over the years. Buddy Holly did a version that charted in 1961 that had a skating rink/ magic organ quality to it but I really like this version from the late great Solomon Burke accompanied by one of my favorites, Gillian Welch, and her husband David Rawlings.

Solomon Burke was one of the early greats in the transition period between R&B and Soul. He was a real preacher and blended the spiritual and the physical aspects of soul– the sex and the salvation– into his music. He never got the acclaim as some of the other big names of 60’s Soul but he is is revered.

This is a great, heartfelt performance of the song. Give a listen while I get back to my own valley of tears. If you consider the falling snow tears, that is. Have a good day.

 

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I stop every time I go back through old posts on the blog and come across this photo. It makes me think about how we constantly take in information in many forms and what we do with that input– how it affects our perception and vision as we move forward. As an artist, this is the fuel that feeds my furnace. 

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I was listening to music this morning as I read email and puttered around. My iPod was docked and in random mode so anything could come on.  At first one of my favorite pieces, Tabula Rasa from composer Arvo Part, played. It’s a modern classical piece that I have always identified with. Tabula Rasa translates as empty slate and was actually very influential in a lot of my early painting, helping me visualize the feeling of wide space as I painted.

Next up was Highway Patrol from Junior Brown, which is worlds away from Tabula Rasa. It’s clunky and chunky and throttles along on Brown’s deep twangy voice and his unique guit-steel guitar licks. I began to think about how the mood shifts so quickly between the two selections, how the mind is suddenly thrown from silence to chaos and how in the vacuum of that contrast something new is being formed

Something very interesting in this contrast. I began to wonder if this has an effect on my painting, on strokes and color selection.  Am I looking for different things in my work when different types of stimuli are present? It’s something I’ll have to examine further.

The picture shown is of a visual/psychological phenomenon called the contrast triangle. Just above the reflected light on the water is a dark triangle in the sky, tapering from the area above the lit reflection on water up to the moon/sun in the sky.

This triangle is not really there.

If you cover the water, the darkness fades away. Go ahead, try it.

The triangle only exists in our eyes and minds. Our reaction to the reflected light creates something new, a different form. Don’t know why I put this in today except that maybe this little area of created vision is similar to the influence of other stimuli on a person’s creative work.

I don’t really know.  I am working off the cuff here, you know.

Here was the next song that came up this morning, perhaps the third leg in my own personal contrast triangle.  It’s another favorite, Gillian Welch performing with her husband David Rawlings, with Miss Ohio.  What this triangle will produce in my eyes is yet to be seen but I am sure it is something.  We’ll see…

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I thought I’d replay the post below.  Sometimes there are days when nothing seems to work and I’ve had quite  a few of them.  Early on, I took these days as an indication of a lack of talent.  But time teaches that bad days are temporary and that there are lessons to be learned from even those bad days.  Knowing when to throw in the towel and start over is such a lesson.  Here’s my post from several years back:

gc-myers-studio-march-2011I’m sitting in my studio looking at an empty canvas. Not too long ago it was not empty.  No, I spent the better part of the afternoon yesterday working on this canvas, a 36″ square that was prepped beforehand with gesso and a first layer of black paint.  Several hours spent and not a minute of it felt smooth or in rhythm.  The paint didn’t come off the brush in the way that I expected or desired.  The composition seemed to just go nowhere ,leaving bland and lifeless  bits of nothing littered all over the canvas.  I never felt a flow, which is that quality I have described before where one mark leads to the next as though you are reading the lines and strokes on the canvas like they were revelatory tea leaves.

No tea leaves here yesterday.  Everything led to nothing.   After a few hours, I was exasperated and I knew deep down inside that I had betrayed my own words by trying to force the work rather than let it flow out organically.

That was the lesson and I knew what had to be done.  I  laid the canvas flat on the floor and broke out the black paint, covering the offensive marks that had been there moments before.  Blackness filled the space where there had been color just moments before.

It felt good, actually.

Time reveals many things and after tens of thousands of hours spent in the studio I have learned that  failure is no big deal.  It’s like the weather– temporary.  It comes and goes.  A failure like yesterday doesn’t make me happy but knowing that sometimes things just don’t work out makes me take such a temporary failure  with a philosophical shrug.  And instead of struggling ahead with this horror show that was unfurling before me, trying to somehow cobble it back to life, my experience has taught me that it would be best to retreat and start anew.

Tabula rasa-  clean slate–so to speak.

So here I sit this morning, a new day,  with a fresh canvas waiting for me and there is a new air of anticipation around it.  Yesterday is but a lesson and there’s no telling what the time spent today will reveal.  Can’t wait.

Here’s one of my all-time favorites which sort of ties in with today’s post.  It’s Time (The Revelator) from Gillian Welch.

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GC Myers- Two Sides  Aww, change the channel.  It’s a rerun…

Wait, it’s not another rerun, just another mass shooting/ terror event in Anytown, USA.

Another episode of America- The Series.

Same basic script– crazy ideologue(s) with automatic weaponry goes into a school/church/community center and kills multiple people before dying in a firefight with responding police forces.  Insert a montage of non-stop cable news network coverage with “experts” and politicians  praying and posturing in clips of some saying there are too many guns and others who say we need to be even more armed.

You could even insert a clip here of a nutty bible college president — let’s have him played by Jerry Falwell, Jr. of Liberty College–saying he wanted the students on his campus to have carry/conceal permits so they could “shoot the Muslims.”  Because that’s the kind of measured rational response we expect from those entrusted to lead our kids.  Besides, nothing says safety like an arena filled with armed college age kids.  Kids with inflated self-images emboldened by being raised on a diet of action movie heroes who are somehow never hit by the hail of bullets from their enemies and in a culture of video games that cheapens life.

Seems reasonable to me.  There certainly won’t be any confusion or problems with law enforcement agencies when some of those young armed students are of  African or Middle Eastern descent.  I see a spin-off in the future.

The script plays out for a few days of hand-wringing and funerals but little real action before fading to black.  Hit replay and do it all over again.

That’s seems to be the gist of it.  I wish whoever is writing this crap would come up with a new storyline.

996-226 Elvis in the WildernesssmI am going to change the channel now.  It’s time for Sunday music and I’ve been singing this song all week.  It’s the Tom Jones version of Elvis Presley Blues which was written and performed originally by Gillian Welch.  I am a big fan of Gillian Welch and love her version but I really admire Tom Jones’ take on it as well.  It’s pared down accompaniment really highlights the power of his voice which is still formidable even at age 75.

The images shown here are from my Outlaws series from back in 2006.  The one at the top is Two Sides and the one to the left is Elvis in the Wilderness.  I thought they fit today.

Enjoy the song and have a good Sunday.

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gc-myers-studio-march-2011I’m sitting in my studio looking at an empty canvas.  It wasn’t empty not too long ago.  No, I spent the better part of the afternoon yesterday working on this canvas, a 36″ square that was prepped beforehand with gesso and a first layer of black paint.  Several hours spent and not a minute of it felt smooth or in rhythm.  The paint didn’t come off the brush in the way that I expected or desired.  The composition seemed to just go nowhere ,leaving bland and lifeless  bits of nothing littered all over the canvas.  I never felt a flow, that quality I have described before where one mark leads to the next as though you are reading the lines and strokes on the canvas like they were revelatory tea leaves.

No tea leaves here yesterday.  Everything led to nothing.   After a few hours, I was exasperated and I knew deep down inside  that I had betrayed my own words and had tried to force the work rather than let it flow out organically.  That was the lesson and I knew what had to be done.  I  laid the canvas flat on the floor and broke out the black paint, covering the offensive marks that had been there moments before.

It felt good, actually.

Time reveals many things and after tens of thousands of hours spent in the studio I have learned that  failure is no big deal.  It’s like the weather– temporary.  It comes and goes.  A failure like yesterday doesn’t make me happy but knowing that sometimes things just don’t work out makes me take such  a temporary failure  with a philosophical shrug.  And instead of struggling ahead with this horror show that was unfurling before me, trying to somehow cobble it back to life, my experience has taught me that it would be best to retreat and start anew.

Tabula rasa, so to speak.told

So here I sit this morning, a new day,  with a fresh canvas waiting for me and there is a new air of anticipation around it.  Yesterday is but a lesson and there’s no telling what the time spent today will reveal.  Can’t wait.

Here’s one of my all-time favorites which sort of ties in with today’s post.  It’s Time (The Revelator) from Gillian Welch.

 

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I recently was asked  if I ever painted any landscapes from a bird’s eye  perspective and this piece immediately came to mind.  My records on it are sketchy but I believe it was a 6″ by 9″ image on paper painted sometime around 1996.  It’s long been a favorite in my mind.

There’s something in the way the blue of the barn’s roof and the red of the silo stand out against the stripes of the fields that does something for me.  I know that’s not very deep analysis  but, hey, it’s early on a Sunday morning.  Also, there’s something about this image that  always brings to mind a song, the old gospel favorite I’ll Fly Away.  Maybe that’s the connection here.  The song is about a final release from the earthly bonds of life and this piece is definitely about  a freedom, a release of some sort.  Maybe not about  the final departure but definitely about being freed and moving from one state to another.

Transformation?

I don’t know.  But I do know that I like this version of I’ll Fly Away from Gillian Welch accompanied by her husband, David Rawlings.  Enjoy and have a great Sunday, the last of this summer.

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