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Posts Tagged ‘Just Looking Gallery’

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Living in isolation has never been a great challenge for me in normal times. I thought I was a distant island that only needed a visitor every once in a while for those few things I couldn’t provide for myself. But these are not normal times and the impingement from the outer world pushes hard into my space now, disrupting the solitude that I thought was impenetrable.

Listening to the words that the great leader*** spoke yesterday, where he basically admitted that he wanted the states’ governors to bend the knee before him and had instructed the VP to not call and offer assistance to those that didn’t, made me realize that we are all islanders now.

50+ sovereign states, all fending for themselves, with a hope that exceeds reality that the unified power of the central government will offer much needed aid, will somehow favor them above the others in their time of need. We are in trouble and call out for aid to those who have a sworn duty to serve us.

Much as Puerto Rico did not so long ago in the aftermath of the historic hurricanes that ravaged that island.

We are all Puerto Rico now.

We probably should have taken the treatment Puerto Rico received, a few rolls of paper towel dismissively thrown at them along with conditioned promises of aid that were never fully realized, as an omen. We all are about to receive that same treatment and the storm that approaches this time is even larger and deadlier.

Anyway, I came across a post written for a 2013 show at the West End Gallery that featured the above painting, Islander, as its title piece. I thought the words were pertinent to this time. Its a painting that really resonates deeply with me on a personal level and one that, inexplicably at least for me, has never found a home. It still resides at the Just Looking Gallery in California, waiting patiently for someone to see what I see in it.

Along with the post below, I have included a version of Simon and Garfunkel‘s classic I Am a Rock. This video features the lyrics which is a way I have been listening to a lot of music lately. Times of crisis make me look harder for connecting threads of meaning. Whether they are there is another thing.

Give a look and have a good day on your little islands.

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I am an islander.

But I don’t live on an island. Never have and probably never will.

No, my island is a metaphorical place, one that exists in the creative ether of my mind. An island that is completely apart from and immune to the outer world that exists across the deep surrounding waters. Self-sustaining and self-ruled, a blank slate on which I can create my own reality.

It’s a place free from the ire and pettiness of others. Free of strife and injustice. and filled with the quiet of solitude. Filled with color, warmth and emotion.

An island of creation and peace.

But there is a paradox in being an islander. While trying to remain separate, it becomes abundantly clear that we can never really exist as totally independent from the outer world. Actually, to the islander those bonds to the outside world become even more apparent and important. The isolation only serves to heighten our recognition of our inclusion and connection to the world. You begin to recognize them as lifelines, bringing those things to the island that you cannot create in yourself.

Try as one might, one can never live in isolation from their own humanity. I think the best you can do is to create an island that you can visit periodically to revitalize yourself. And that’s what I believe I see in the work for this show– paintings that take me away for a short while from the outer world and place me on that peaceful island.

For that short time, I am truly an islander.

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No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

–John Donne, Meditation XVII, 1624

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I have been living with this painting, Introspection, for several months now in the studio. It’s been in a spot where my eye regularly falls on it and it never fails to make me pause for a second or two to give it some consideration. It fulfills its title very well for me, reminding me to look inward on a regular basis while trying to shut out the noise of the world of man.

It’s leaving the studio today, heading out to California to hang at the Just Looking Gallery in San Luis Obispo. I think I am going to truly miss its gentle reminder.

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GC Myers Streaming Peaceful smHe who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with
the world.
    – Marcus Aurelius

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This is a new painting that is  titled Streaming Peaceful, a  24″ by 36″ canvas that is part of a group of paintings that should be arriving today at the Just Looking Gallery in San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast of California.  This very much a signature piece for my work in form and content, a deep landscape under a gradated sky with the Red Tree holding central  focus.

But for me the central aspect of this piece is the placid feel that emanates from it.  It has a rich and supple feel that I find brings immediate calm as soon as my eyes lock on to the image.  Even at this moment as I write, there is an instant sensation as though I am releasing a deep breath when I shift my gaze upward on the screen to this painting.

And that sense of being near some sort of core of peacefulness is what I am looking for in my work, at least in my own personal relationship to it.  I have maintained this quite a few times over the years here that my primary personal goal in painting is not in mere representation, not in pure design or technical prowess.  No, what I want, my ultimate goal,  is to simply move myself with the work to an inner point where I am finally calm and at peace with the world.  For me, feeling that calming envelope surround me is all I truly seek in my work.

Everything else is secondary.

And  this piece hits that mark– for me.  I can’t speak for others.   We all seek different things and have differing reactions to art.  What others see or feel in this is their experience alone and that is as it should be.

But, like it or not, I am at peace in it.

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Ralph Gorton in Rossion Supercar  on Car ChasersThe guy on the right in the picture here is Ralph Gorton, who owns the Just Looking Gallery in San Luis Obispo, CA, a gallery where I’ve shown my work for three years now.  I had a solo show there in late 2012 and my work has done really well in California thanks to Ralph and Ken at the Just Looking Gallery.  It’s been a great ride but getting to know Ralph a little bit has been a real kick.

He is a a larger-than-life character in all ways, including the height that helped him become a Division I basketball star in his college days.  He is known to be an astute  entrepreneur, a lover of art, a well-known college basketball coach and mentor, an athlete, a father and husband, a mountain climber and wilderness explorer, a sometime model (there’s a story there!) and a world-class storyteller.  And a pretty good guy , to boot

I think he would be a perfect specimen for reality television.  Well, tonight he makes it there on The Car Chasers on CNBC at 10 PM.  It’s a show where they try to locate specific cars for would be buyers and Ralph is in the market for a Rossion Supercar, a limited edition hand built sportscar built here in the US that has crazy speed.  Zero to sixty in 2.8 seconds.

Here’s a link to a short clip from tonight’s episode.

And in case you were wondering what it feels like to go from 0-60 in under 3 seconds, here’s a video from Tesla who makes a new electric four door sedan with the ability to do just that. It gives you the immediate reactions of a few normal folks who were also wondering.

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GC Myers- Winding Through smJourneys, like artists, are born and not made. A thousand differing circumstances contribute to them, few of them willed or determined by the will-whatever we may think.

-Lawrence Durrell

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This new painting, Winding Through, is making its own journey, heading out to the Just Looking Gallery in San Luis Obispo, CA along with a group of other new work.  The idea of journeying, inwardly and outwardly, is very much the theme of this  36″ by 24″ canvas and the above quote from Lawrence Durrell fits well with this theme.

We can set a course for a destination and make all sorts of plans toward arriving at that endpoint.  But plans seldom account for the obstacles encountered along the way and the way in which we react to and are changed by them.  These reactions and changes mold us, create a new version of ourselves.  And despite our best intentions to remain true to the course we set earlier, we may find our new selves on a completely different path headed to a very different endpoint, sometimes much better or worse than that originally intended.

But occasionally, we wind our way through the obstacles and changes and find ourselves at a place where we had hoped to be right from the start.  We are much different than we began as a result of the journey and how we see that endpoint may be slightly different than we first imagined.  In fact, it may only seem like our original endpoint because as we adapted to the bumps of the road our endpoint adjusted as well, moving to coincide with the lessons we were learning along the way.

We become what we are to become.

This is only a quick, early morning reading of what I see here.  Off hand, I can think of hundreds, maybe thousands, of exceptions and additions to the paragraphs above.  I may not even agree with it by the end of the day.

But that, too, is part of the journey…

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GC Myers- The ClearingThis new piece,  a 16″ by 16″ image on paper,  has been a long time in the making.  I started it when we got back from California at the beginning of December and have went at it in dribs and drabs over the last several weeks, finally putting on what I feel are the last touches yesterday.  It’s an odd piece for me, darker in theme and feel, but one that makes me want to continue looking at it.

The idea came from the trip, from someone I met at the Just Looking Gallery.  He has some of my work and told me that he had an idea for what he thought would make an interesting painting for me.  I usually don’t get much inner response to those type of solicitations but I immediately had an image in mind as he described a simple clearing where a path comes to an end.  It was  an intriguing concept that was a new variation on the path that often winds through my paintings .

Does that path ever come to an end?   What if it did end?  How would that place look and feel?  All of these thoughts ran through my mind in a flash.  It was such an existential question with great symbolic potential.  The idea and the image ran through my mind for the rest of the trip.

This is the first incarnation of that thought.  I used the Red Chair as the central character here.  I felt that there needed to be a character of some sort in this space and didn’t want it to be a figure.  The chair also creates a new set of questions.  Why was it there?  Who put it there and who sits in it?  As the path in this piece comes to its conclusion , the wider clearing at its end gives it the appearance of an old keyhole.  Perhaps this is a symbol for the unlocking of some barrier behind which lay the answers to our greatest questions or  to some grand mystery?

It’s a piece that keeps asking questions and I don’t know if it will ever yield answers.  But it makes me want to keep looking. and perhaps that is its purpose here.

I don’t know– it’s a mystery to me as well.

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GC Myers- The Internal Landscape 2012I’ve been hobbled a bit over the last couple of weeks by a pinched nerve in my neck that has made any work (or sleep) almost impossible to accomplish. Hopefully, it will soon fade and I will be working feverishly again.  But while it has kept me from work, it has not prevented me from thinking back on 2012 and what it meant for my work.  It was truly a great year for it, one that will be hard to replicate.

Four solo shows in galleries.

In June, there was A Place to Stand at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, Virginia.  It was my  thirteenth solo show at a gallery that has meant very much to my career.

July found my show, In Rhythm, opening at the West End Gallery in Corning, New York.   I started my career at the West End and this show, my eleventh there, may have been the best of the lot.

Inward Bound opened in October at the Kada Gallery in Erie Pennsylvania.  I have  been  showing with the Kada for what will be seventeen years  in early 2013 and had a show there every two years since 2004.  This was one of my favorites there or anywhere.  There was a wonderful review in the Erie paper that I featured here.

December found me on the west coast with an opening of my show, The Waking Moment, at the Just Looking Gallery in lovely San Luis Obispo.  It was my first show with this long established California gallery with whom I began a relationship earlier in the year.  They have done an absolutely terrific job in exposing my work to folks from LA to San Francisco.  It was a pleasure meeting the collectors and staff out there I look forward to a long term partnership with them.

Of course, the biggest event this year was my first ever museum exhibit, Internal Landscapes: The Paintings of GC Myers, at the prestigious Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York. It opened in August and just closed this past Sunday,  A fitting end to a great year.  The show featured a group of my work from the past several years including the new The Internal Landscape , shown above, which is the largest piece I have painted and one that I featured on this blog early in the year as it was being completed.  The response exceeded my expectations in all regards and remains the high water mark  in my career to date.  It has given me a new perspective on what my work is and what it might be.  A great experience, all in all.

In between shows, there were gallery talks as well as my work being featured on the cover of a new CD, Lowe Country.  Plus, several of my paintings found their way to Uganda to hang in the US Embassy there, accompanying the new ambassador.

Along the way, I met scores of great folks who shared their stories with me.  Many thanks to everyone I encountered as well as more thanks than I can ever fully express to all of the  staff at the galleries and at the Fenimore who gave me the gift of this year.

As I said, it was year that will be hard to match.  But as soon as I am able, I will be trying to do just that. Or more.

 

 

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GC Myers- MoondancerI am slowly trying to get back into some sort of rhythm in the studio after getting back from what for me was an extended absence  while traveling out to California for my show there.  It was only a week or so but it was enough to disrupt that fragile balance and set me a bit off kilter.  I can sense it in getting back into my painting rhythm as well as writing this blog.  Just a bit more of a struggle at the moment. I don’t fret over this as I once might have because I’ve been through this more than a few times.  If I put my head down and forge forward, it returns after a bit.

Sometimes it also helps to look at some of my recent work, trying to find the string of continuity that might run forward from it and latch on to that.  In doing so, I looked this morning at a piece from the show at the Just Looking Gallery  in San Luis Obispo, a 12″ by 36″ painting called Moondancer.  It’s a piece that’s built on bold color, one that instantly catches my attention.  The central figure of the red tree here definitely has the feel of a performer,  either as an entertainer doing an expressionistic dance before the moon or as some sort of shaman doing a ritual dance asking the moon for whatever gifts or powers  it might bestow.  The moon definitely is in audience to the performance.

It;s that sense of performance that I will probably take from this painting today in the studio, both as the central figure acting as a performer as well as seeing myself as a performer before the easel.  I often think of myself as a performing artist, each painting a new performance.  Each day is both rehearsal and performance.  I think that’s why breaks in my routine disrupt my rhythm so.  It’s like a musician not practicing for an extended period.  The ability is still there, just a little work away from returning.

Here’s a video of a classic song, Moondance,  from Van Morrison,  that might be the namesake for this painting.  I choose this song today because if you were to watch many of the available videos of it online, you would be hard pressed to find performances that were not unique.  Morrison does the song in different tempos and cadences, each time taking the same song and bringing something new to it.  Again, that’s echoes what I try to do in painting, trying to bring something new in common forms and images that populate my scenes.

Anyway,  it’s a great song from many years back.  This version is from a concert in Montreux in 1980.  Enjoy!

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Yvette and Akshay at GC Myers'  JLG Show 2012Well, I’ve been back for a couple of days now and I’m still trying to recall details of our trip out to California, particularly those from the show at the Just Looking Gallery on Saturday evening.  I am trying to recollect the many faces and names and stories that flash in my memory, trying to make sure that I account them all properly.   For instance, here is a photo taken during the show  with Yvette and Akshay along with two paintings they chose from the show.   We had a lovely conversation during the show where I learned more about their lives  and their backgrounds.  While I know it’s important  to expound and to shed some light, if I can, on the work, the meaningful part of these shows for me  comes in hearing what people who find something of value in my work have to say.  I realize how fortunate I am to be in a position where I can listen, a position where people are willing to speak earnestly with me.

I really treasure getting to know more about those who collect my work.  I have often said that it comes in handy when I am working for long periods in the studio.  There are points when the whole act of painting becomes abstract to me and I begin to question the validity of what I am doing.  It can be troubling and I can begin to feel all alone in my studio, alone in my own world.  But it is at these points that I recall people such as Yvette and Akshay  or Mike and Lilia  or Marla and Josh or any of a number of other folks who I have met.   I immediately begin to feel reconnected to the work and less alone, as though there are eyes peeking over my shoulder as I work.  It’s a wonderful thing, one that has helped me many times.

Knowing this, it should be an easy thing to simply listen but at points during the show, when it is very busy and   time is very limited, sometimes I have to speak more than I listen.  I think it was Yvette who asked near the end of the reception how I was enjoying the night.  I replied that I got to talk on and on about myself so what wasn’t here to like?  I added that, unfortunately, I had to listen to that same guy talk all night and boy, was I sick of hearing him talk.

But I do try to listen if only because I think the need to be heard, the need to be recognized as part of this world,  is what drives this work.  I think many of us feel disengaged and voiceless at times in the whirl of the larger world.  My hope for my work is that it allows the viewer to feel once again connected to world, to feel as though there is someone listening to their words, their hopes, their dreams. Maybe that’s a little too much to ask.  Maybe but I can still hope.

So, to the many folks who shared a bit of themselves with me this past Saturday, I say Thank You.  You don’t know how much you’ve given me.

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Just Looking Gallery, SLO - GC Myers Show 2012 aWell, we got home last night after several days on the  west coast for my show this past weekend at the Just Looking Gallery in San Luis Obispo.  And though it was very wet , we had a great time.  We saw a lot of great sights, from  the heights of Yosemite  down to the coastal area around  SLO.  But it was the friendliness and warmth of the people there that made the biggest impression.  We met so many wonderful people.  My biggest complaint is that they were there to hear about my work  so I did more talking  when I would rather be listening, hearing about their lives and stories.

But it was a great trip and we have so many people to thank, from Ralph Gorton and Ken McGavin at the gallery  to the many folks who made it to the show, many traveling from quite a distance.  It was great to get to know Ralph and Ken better and to hear their entertaining stories.  And they do have some great stories.  They made Cheri and me  feel very welcome.  I will relate a few more details in the coming days but for the moment, I am still a little fatigued from the trip and am settling back into the studio routine this morning.

Again, many,many thanks to everyone who crossed our path this past week.  It was a real pleasure.

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