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Posts Tagged ‘Icons’

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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I am busy this week prepping for my Gallery Talk this coming Saturday at the West End Gallery and in getting work ready for my Icons & Exiles exhibit. That will open at the Octagon Gallery at the Patterson Library in Westfield, NY next Friday, August 23, with an opening that begin at 7 PM.

The Icons & Exiles show will mainly feature paintings from my early Exiles series from 1995, my ancestral Icons series from 2016, and the Outlaws series from 2006. There will also be a small group of my more typical work as well as some oddities that don’t really fall into any of those categories.

One of these is the small painting at the top, Struwwelpeter. It was painted around the same time as the Outlaws series in 2006 but I wouldn’t consider him an outlaw in the truest sense of the word. He is more of an outcast, a young man who refused to bathe or cut his hair or trim his nails. His hair is described as standing up on his head and his nails as being long and pointy. As a result, this unkempt young man is forever unloved.

Struwwelpeter was the title character in a small book of strange and sometimes grisly cautionary children’s tales designed to warn children not to misbehave. It was put together in Germany in 1845 by Heinrich Hoffman, a doctor who assembled these stories for his three year old son. He printed a small edition and it became popular immediately. It has became a classic, remaining in print around the world since that time.

One of the more recognizable stories from the book concerns the Scissorman. This short episode warns that if young children sucked their thumbs, the Scissorman will find them and cut off their thumbs.

Do not suck your thumb!

Struwwelpeter hasn’t been seen in well over a decade so I am pleased to have him out and in public, even as slovenly as he might be. There are more oddities like him in this show, some that have shared here in the past and some never seen. It should be a fun show.

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UPCOMING EVENTS:

GALLERY TALK-This Saturday, August 10, beginning at 1 PM at the WEST END GALLERY–Good talk, some fun and prizes!

ICONS & EXILES OPENING- Friday, August 23, from 7-9 PM at the OCTAGON GALLERY at the PATTERSON LIBRARY in Westfield, NY

ART TALK- Thursday, September 12, beginning at 6 PM at Octagon Gallery, Patterson Library, Westfield, NY

GALLERY TALK- Saturday, September 21, beginning at 1 PM at PRINCIPLE GALLERY, ALEXANDRIA, VA– Details coming

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I briefly mentioned a few weeks back, in a post about the discovery of some lost work in my crumbling old studio, that I was preparing some work for a small solo show at a public space in western New York, out near the shores of Lake Erie. Well, here’s a little more on that show.

Patterson Library, Westfield, NY

The show takes place at the Octagon Art Gallery located in the historic and beautiful Patterson Library in Westfield, NY, which is a village in Chautauqua County, not far from the well known lake with the same name and its famous Chautauqua Institution. It’s an area known for its vineyards filled with the Concord grapes that have been made into Welch’s Grape Juice at a plant there since 1897.

Exiles: Cain 1995

The library is a gorgeous Beaux Arts structure from the early 20th century and the gallery is, as its name implies, a large octagon shaped space. When I first agreed to this show last year, I wasn’t overly thrilled about doing a small show in a distant library. But visiting the space changed my mind. It’s a great space and environment with a history of some very fine exhibitions. I began to see it as an opportunity to display the work from some earlier series that have seldom, if ever, been displayed. There is a large group of pieces from my very early Exiles series, several from my later Outlaws series, and all my ancestral Icons from 2016 along with a number of other anomalies that I feel fit into place with these guys. There will also be a few examples of my trademark work as anchors.

The show is called Icons & Exiles and it opens Friday, August 23 and is on display there until September 20. There is an opening reception on the evening of Friday, August 23,that runs from 7-9 PM. There will be an Art Talk in support of the show on Thursday, September 12 beginning at 6 PM.

I’m actually kind of excited for this show now. It will be great to see these pieces fully presented together for the first time. So, if you find yourself out in Western NY near the shores of Lake Erie, stop in and take a look. I think it will be an interesting show.

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Slovakian Resurrection Icon circa 1640

Slovakian Resurrection Icon circa 1640

It’s Easter Sunday.

The day of the Resurrection.

I’ve said it before here, I am not a religious person. I wasn’t raised with religion and much of my knowledge of it as a kid came from a local church lady, Nellie Beidelman, who used to come to our little elementary school on a regular basis. We would assemble in the cafe-a-gym-a-torium (a space that served all three functions) to hear her tell Bible stories with the aid of a felt board with beautifully painted cut-out figures.

I know it’s not something that could ever take place today in a public school. But she was a very warm, gentle person and a fine storyteller without being preachy. I always found the stories interesting as they introduced me to the classic tales of the Old and New Testament and still vividly remember her telling of the Resurrection. It didn’t make me feel any more inclined toward religion but at least I knew the stories and the lessons that they contained.

I just never had that certainty of belief. I admired it in others and sometimes wished I had it, wondering why I didn’t. But that same certainty made me uneasy. What would someone do in the name of their belief, that thing that seemed so certain to them and so distant to me? The news is filled with horrors perpetrated by those with this certainty firmly in place, whether it’s ISIS inspired suicide bombers or radical Fundamentalists killing physicians who have performed abortions.

And reading history doesn’t make this uneasiness with certainty go away. How many of millions have perished at the hands of those who were certain in their beliefs, however misguided and wrong they may seem to us now? Even in doing my genealogy I have come across so many atrocities done by my ancestors in the name of their beliefs that it makes me question the decision to look into the past at all.

That being said, I still sometimes envy those with that certainty and the comfort they seem to find in it. My own beliefs, as they are, are always subject to questioning, always filled tinged with a bit of uncertainty. But they still offer a degree of comfort. Sometimes stopping as I walk and feeling the sun on my skin and gazing into the blue of the sky fills me with a feeling that seems transcendentally reverent in that moment. The outer world fades for a brief second and I seem connected with something greater than this time and place.

That moment is my certainty, that thing on to which I hold as proof of something greater. And that moment once in a great while is all I ask of it.

So, with or without that certainty, whether you observe Easter or any other religion’s activity today, I wish you a great day. But stop once in a while and just feel the sun on your skin and notice the color of the blue in the sky. For this week’s music, here’s a great cover of a Bob Dylan song, Times Have Changed, from the great soul singer Bettye Lavette, who recently did an album of her interpretations of Dylan songs. This song won an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2001 for it’s use in the movie Wonder Boys.

Enjoy Bettye’s take on it and have a great day.

 

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GC Myers- Icon- Tacy CooperThe more I read about this ancestor,the latest entry in my Icon series,  the more interesting I find her.  Her maiden name was Tacy Cooper and she is my 10th great-grandmother, born around 1609 in England.  Little is known of her parentage or when exactly  she came to America but she is known to have lived in Dorchester, near Boston in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the early 1630’s.

At the time, the Colony was strictly ruled by the Congregational Church and its precepts.  Very puritanical, of course.  Many of the settlers who were coming into the colony sought more religious freedom than was being offered and under the influence of Roger Williams, set out  in 1634 to leave the Colony and establish a new community outside its boundaries.  They sent out a party of scouts who chose a site on the Connecticut River below present day Hartford.  Soon after, a group of about 100 people set out by foot for this location.  Among them was Tacy Cooper and her future husband, Samuel Hubbard.  They met during this journey and Samuel later wrote that Tacy was the lone bright spot in the whole undertaking.

Although the heavy goods for the community had been shipped by boats from Boston up the river, it was a harsh trek.  Many of their provisions had also been shipped and their trip was ill-timed.  By the time of their arrival, a bitter winter had set in on them and the boats had not arrived nor would they arrive in the future. Without those provisions,  a number of this group died that winter and those who remained survived on acorns, malt and grain that had brought along as seed for future crops.  To make things worse, the Pequot Indians were attacking as they tried to stem the spread of the settlers into their territory.

But they persevered  and in 1636, Tacy and Samuel were married.  However, the religious freedom they sought did not come to bear in this new community.  Samuel spoke up in protest to the role of the Church Elders in the local government and was driven from the community along with several other families who were in agreement with him.  They fled south, settling in the area now known as Springfield, Massachusetts.  They thought they were outside  the boundaries of the Massachusetts Colony but in subsequent years,  the provisions of the settlement of the Pequot Wars brought that location back into its realm.  In protest, Samuel and Tacy became Baptists.

In the following years, Baptists were banished from the Colony and, after many threats, they fled once more, this time to Rhode Island where they were reunited with Roger Williams.  They lived peacefully there for many years as members of the Baptist Church but it didn’t end there.

In the mid 1600’s, a movement had began in England– the  Seventh Day Baptists.  While they were almost exactly the same in their beliefs as traditonal Baptists, they observed their sabbath on the seventh day, Saturday.  In 1665, Stephen Mumford moved from England to Rhode Island, bringing this new sect with him.  He spoke of this beliefs to Tacy and Samuel  and a few other members of the First Baptist Church of Newport.

It was Tacy alone who first chose to join with Mumford in observing a seventh day sabbath.  Soon after Samuel and four other joined them and they formed the first Seventh Day Baptist church in America.  Tacy is considered the first American founder of the church.  The Seventh Day Baptists exist to this day and were a big part of my mother’s line for almost two hundred years and six generation, although I am pretty sure she would have not been aware of this fact.

While I am not a religious person in any organized sense of the word, I still find it fascinating in the way religion has shaped much of my( and just about everybody else’s) past.  I am pleased that Tacy was such a strong woman.  She was the one who stood and answered the Church Elders when she and the others were made to account for their desire to break from the Baptist Church.  She went before the congregation and  with “great clearness and force” outlined their reasons for departing.  I can’t help but think that this must have been a rare moment in early America– a woman speaking to power.

This may not be the best painting of the Icons but it moves me in the same way.  I always hope to find something in these stories that I can take for my own life and I can only hope to one day have Tacy’s strength and conviction.

 

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GC Myers- Icon: Joe H.Here’s my latest entry into the Icon series, a 12″ by 12″ canvas piece that is titled Icon: Joe H.  He is my 3rd great-grandfather and his name was Joseph Harris and he was born in the Lindley (the town named after our common ancestor, Eleazer Lindsley,who was among the first Icons) area south of Corning in 1833.

He led a fairly typical life for the time and place, serving in the Civil War and raising a family.  He worked primarily as a blacksmith and a sawyer ( I have a lot of lumbermen in my family– maybe that’s where my affinity for trees comes from) in his early years, working for a number of years in the then booming timber business that was taking place in northern Pennsylvania and western NY.   It was there that his wife, Emeline Whitney, died just a year or so after the end of the Civil War.  Later in his life, he returned to the area of his birth, settling in as a farmer  just over the border in Pennsylvania where he died in 1922.

That was about the extent of his life for me, at least what I could find of it in records.  I did discover that he married his step-sister, Jennie, who was twenty years younger, as his second wife.  But it was my research into local newspapers that gave me a better sense of him.

Looking at records gave no indication of anything but the basics but in his 1922 death notice printed in the Wellsboro Agitator ( I love the name of that paper!) the headline lists him as a “Skilled and Noted Musician.”  It goes on to say that he had been the one-time Banjo Champion of the United States.  He very well may have picked up the banjo from his Civil War experience as it’s popularity in the time after the war is often attributed to many people being exposed to it for the first time during their service.  I could never find anything to document a championship which was no big surprise as it most likely occurred somewhere in the 1870’s or 1880’s and whatever group sanctioned the competition is more than likely no longer in existence.

But I was pleased to know that music played a big part in his life and I later found an item that confirmed this.  It stated that his son, William Harris, was working as a musician in one of the  oilfield boom towns in northern PA in the 1890’s when he tragically took his own life by shooting himself at the hotel where he was living.  As is often the case, you find a lot of tragedy when you look backwards so it’s some consolation to know that there was a bit of music and joy mixed in there somewhere.

I did visit Joe’s gravesite a while back.  It is a bare-boned and flat plot of land that sits next to a harsh little trailer park visible from the new interstate.  Standing at his grave you looked into the backyard of several trailers, the kind of yards scattered with kids toys, spare tires and oil drums.

It made me a little sad but then, I guess a guy who lived through the Civil War, endured the death of his first wife and several of his children before him and lived to see the first World War, this wasn’t all that bad.

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GC Myers-  Icon: FrancoisMy current Icon series has been a real pleasure for myself in that it’s refreshing to work on pieces that I realize are only for myself, not worrying if they strike a chord with anyone else.  For me, it’s fulfilling to flesh out some of my ancestors and their stories, to give them an image that I an hold on to.  As I’ve said these are meant as symbols– I’m not trying to recreate their actual appearance.  In most cases, there is nothing to work with, nothing that would give me a clue as to how they might really look.  So, this is how I see them in my mind.

The painting at the top is a 12″ by 12″ canvas that is titled Icon: François.  He is my 9th gr-grandfather, born in 1640 in the area around Boulogne, France.  It is on the English Channel not to far from Calais.  He was a soldier in the Grandfontaine Company of the Carignan Regiment,  which was sent in 1665 to Quebec in what was then called New France.  The troops came in several ships, François arriving in August aboard the ship L’Aigle d’Or— the Golden Eagle.

These 1200 troops were sent to protect the new settlements  that France had established and to aide in fort construction along the Richelieu River.  They were also sent in order to help populate New France.  Some were offered money or land to stay in the new country and build a life there.  François, I believe, fell into that category as he showed up soon after in census listings as a master woodworker living in Quebec.  While I am not positive that he received any

incentives to stay in New France, such is not the case with his wife and my 9th gr-grandmother, Marguerite Paquet,  She was one of the Filles du Roi, or the King’s Daughters.  Between 1663 and 1673, King Louis XIV sponsored this program which offered young French women, all single and many orphaned,  free transportation and settlement to New France along with a dowry of money or land in the new land if they agreed to marry one of the men living there.  You see, the first settlers were overwhelmingly male.  I have at least two or three Filles du Roi in my line as do most French Canadians.

François died as relatively young man in 1675 but not before he and Marguerite had three children which set off a long line that runs through Canadian history to today, spawning hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of decendents.

I see François is this painting as an Adam-like character, naked and in a new world that he will help populate,  The brushstrokes radiating from the halo represent the generations that descend from the choice he and his wife made to seek a new life in the new world.  It’s a simple painting and a relatively simple story– at least as simple as you can make one’s entire life into a short tale.

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