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Posts Tagged ‘Leon Russell’

“Exile on Main Street”- At the Principle Gallery



When you’re drunk in the alley, baby with your clothes all torn
When your late night friends leave you in the cold gray dawn
Whoa I just seen so many flies on you
I just can’t brush ’em off

The angels beating all their wings in time
Smiles on their faces and a gleam right in their eyes
Whoa, thought I heard one sigh for you
Come on up now
Come on up now
Come on up now

May the good Lord shine a light on you
Yeah, make every song you sing your favorite tune
May the good Lord shine a light on you
Yeah, warm like the evening sun, ah-nah-nah yeah

— Mick Jagger/Keith Richards, Shine a Light



I am in the beginning phases of my preparation for my annual shows at the galleries that represent my work. This is always a difficult period, trying to find a thread to grasp and follow. You never know where it will lead and what sort of work it will produce. That uncertainty is agonizing for me. Because so much of my livelihood depends on how these shows shake out, deciding what form the work will take is a big move.

I don’t gamble anymore but in some ways, it’s like placing a large bet. I am betting that my choice in moving ahead and the work it will produce will provide the income I need to live and will allow me to maintain my status as an artist deserving of future shows in the galleries that represent me. This decision puts a knot in my gut every year at this time. That awful feeling is the reason I don’t gamble anymore. This is the only bet I am willing to make now.

Getting to that point where I have decided what direction the work will follow is not really a process at all. It’s more like panicked examination of past work and new influences, trying to find something that grabs me, holds my limited focus and can perhaps inspire me. It can be maddening at times but it’s sometimes fun to roll back through the work from the past, to see what clicks as strongly now as it did then. There seems to always be something in doing this that reminds me of things, traits in my work, that I have put aside and no longer employ in my current work. That sometimes leads to revisiting those traits. Sometimes the results are enlightening, making me want to make it part of my process again, and sometimes I discover that the things I was doing then just don’t translate to the current moment.

That’s where I am. Seeking. Looking for a light that shines.

That brings me to today’s title.

While going through some past work, I noticed that one of my favorite pieces from the past year, Exile on Main Street, was still at the Principle Gallery. It was one of the cityscapes that were part of my annual show there, last year’s show being titled Social Distancing. I loved doing this work as well as the resulting pieces. This, as I said, was a favorite from that group. There is warmth and distance, Quiet and tension. Things I tend to see and look for  in my better works.

Naming it, I borrowed the title from the classic 1972 Rolling Stones album, Exile on Main Street. I thought a favorite song of mine from that album would fit my current process– Shine a Light. It’s credits list Mick Jagger and Keith Richards from 1972 as the songwriters but it was actually a collaboration with the late Leon Russell that came from 1968.

The song’s title was then (Can’t Seem) To Get a Line on You and dealt with the problems caused by the drug addiction of Stones’ guitarist Brian Jones. It was recorded as such for inclusion in a 1970 Leon Russell album but not released until the 1990’s. The Russell version (which included the Rolling Stones) is very similar and strong but the version from Exile on Main Street is more formed, more powerful.

I thought the song fit my process and also added a little more to the painting this morning. Give a listen and have a good day.



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GC Myers Stranger (In a Strange Land) -

 And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.

Exodus 2:22

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

I have been writing recently about some of the orphans, those paintings that make the rounds of the galleries and finally come back to me. The piece above is one of these orphans but it really isn’t. It’s mine alone, one of the rare pieces that I don’t think I would ever give up. Like many parents when looking at their children, I see much of myself in this painting.

Over the years I have periodically written about a group of paintings that were considered my Dark Work that were painted in the year or so after 9/11.   The piece shown above is one of these paintings. I very seldom consider a painting being for myself only but this one has always felt, from the very minute it was completed, as though it should stay with me.

It is titled  Stranger (In a Strange Land) which is derived from the title of Robert Heinlein’s famous sci-fi novel which in turn was derived from the words of Moses in Exodus 2:22, shown here at the top. The name Gershom is derived from the Hebrew words ger sham and means a stranger there. It is defined now as either exile or sojourner.

The landscape in this piece has an eerie, alien feel to it under that ominous sky. When I look at it I am instantly reminded of the feeling of that sense of not belonging that I have often felt throughout my life, as though I was that stranger in that strange land. The rolling field rows in the foreground remind me just a bit of the Levite cloth that adorned Moses when he was discovered in the Nile as an infant, a symbol of origin and heritage that acts as a comforting element here, almost like a swaddling blanket for the stranger as he views the landscape before him.

As I said, it is one of those rare pieces that I feel is for me alone, that has only personal meaning, even though I am sure there are others who will recognize that same feeling in this. For me  this painting symbolizes so much that feeling of alienation that I have experienced for much of my life, that same feeling from which my other more optimistic and hopeful work sprung as a reaction to it. Perhaps this is where I found myself and the more hopeful work was where I aspired to be.

Anyway, that’s enough for my five-cent psychology  lesson for today.  In short, this is a piece that I see as elemental to who I am and where I am going.  This one stays put .

Here’s a little of the great (and I think underappreciated) Leon Russell from way back in 1971 singing, appropriately,  Stranger in a Stranger Land

This is a repost of an entry from back in 2013 that has been heavily edited. 

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My Buddy Chase in front of the work

Back in the studio after Friday’s opening of Truth and Belief at the Principle Gallery. Without hyperbole, I am saying it was a good show and a good trip. As smooth and easy and satisfying as any of the previous 17 shows there. Just plain good. Good crowd. Good conversations with good people. Good feelings about the work.

So when we left yesterday, I can honestly say I felt pretty good about the whole thing. Still do, which is new territory for me. Usually by this morning I am filled with second thoughts about things I could have done differently, words I could have said differently and so on. But for now, I am standing pat with the whole of what happened.

It was good.

I have to send out heartfelt thank yous to everyone at the Principle Gallery. They are a very special group of people. Affectionate thanks to Michele, Clint, Pam, Pierre and Haley for their friendship and encouragement. There’s so much I could say but I think they know how we feel about them.

Plus super thanks to my canine friends, Ash and Chase, who always brighten my visits with their high energy.

I think this show was as honest and transparent an expression of what I hope to be as an artist and a person as I could have mustered. I don’t feel like I am masked behind the work, that I am presenting a facade that misrepresents me. I am hoping that means I am closing in on some elusive and unconscious goal. Can’t say I will ever truly reach it. Might not even know if I do. But for now, the mask feels like its off.

For this week’s music, I have chose a song that sort of fits with that last sentiment.  It’s This Masquerade written and performed by the late great Leon Russell. It is probably best known for the George Benson version that was a huge hit across all of the charts. But I like this version from Leon alone with his piano.

Enjoy. Have a good day.

 

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gc-myers-995-125-party-lights-small1I saw a short segment on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) that they run between their films at this time of year.  It’s their look back at  all of the people associated with filmdom who have died this past year. Every year it seems that I find myself being surprised at the number of well known actors, directors, composers, etc who have passed away in that year.

This year was no different.

But they flashed a shot of David Bowie and it reminded me of the musical talents that passed away this year.  Bowie. Prince. Leonard Cohen and so many more that some were lost in the shuffle.

One who slipped away somewhat unnoticed in those surreal days after the election [sic] was musician and songwriter Leon Russell.  A wonderful writer and a gifted pianist, he collaborated with just about everybody in the recording industry in a career that spanned almost 60 years.

I never thought he got his rightful appreciation after his death so I thought I’d share a Christmas song of his that also goes under the radar in the great flood of holiday music that overwhelms every year at this time.  It’s called Slippin’ Into Christmas and has a bluesy edge that kind of fits this year.

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GC Myers Stranger (In a Strange Land) -I featured an older piece here on the blog last month, a painting that was considered my Dark Work from around 2002.   The piece shown above is another of these paintings and is one that I have always considered solely mine.  I very seldom consider a painting being for myself only but this one has always felt as though it should stay with me.  It is titled  Stranger (In a Strange Land) which is derived from the title of Robert Heinlein’s famous sci-fi novel which in turn  was derived from the words of Moses in Exodus 2:22.

The landscape in this piece has an eerie, alien feel to it under that ominous sky.  When I look at it I am instantly reminded of the feeling of that sense of not belonging that I have often felt throughout my life, as though I was that stranger in that strange land.  The rolling field rows in the foreground remind me just a bit of the Levite cloth that adorned Moses when he was discovered in the Nile as an infant, a symbol of origin and heritage that acts as a comforting element here, almost like a swaddling blanket for the stranger as he views the landscape before him.

As I said, it is one of those rare pieces that I feel is for me alone, that has only personal meaning, even though I am sure there are others who will recognize that same feeling in this .  For me  this painting symbolizes so much that feeling of alienation that I have experienced for much of my life, that same feeling  from which my other more optimistic and hopeful work sprung as a reaction to it.  Perhaps this is where I found myself and the more hopeful work was where I aspired to be.

Anyway, that’s enough for my five-cent psychology  lesson for today.  In short, this is a piece that I see as elemental to who I am and where I am going.  This one stays put .

Here’s a little of the great ( and I think underappreciated) Leon Russell  from way back in 1971 singing, appropriately,  Stranger in a Stranger Land

 

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