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Posts Tagged ‘Leonard Cohen’

GC Myers- Night Comes On

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I went down to the place where I knew she lay waiting
Under the marble and the snow
I said, Mother I’m frightened, the thunder and the lightning
I’ll never come through this alone
She said, I’ll be with you, my shawl wrapped around you
My hand on your head when you go
And the night came on, it was very calm
I wanted the night to go on and on
But she said, go back, go back to the world

Leonard Cohen, Night Comes On

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I finished the painting above earlier this week, a 20″ by 20″ canvas piece that really spoke to me as I was painting it. All the time I was working on it, I had a song running in my head– Here Comes the Night from Them, the Northern Irish band of the 1960’s that featured Van Morrison. Great song with a memorable chorus that really seemed to align with what I was seeing in this piece. Here Comes the Night was the title I mentally attached to this painting while working on it.

But after I was finished with the painting and spent a few days looking at it in the studio, something about the title gnawed at me. For some unknown reason Here Comes the Night as a title just didn’t feel right any more. But I knew there was something in this painting that jibed with a song in my mind, some song that used night in its title and resonated with me personally.

I strained for a couple of days going through night songs that came to mind but none of them were right. It was one of those times when you come across the right answer you will immediately know it.

That time came early this morning. I came into the studio with the title Night Comes On stuck in my mind. I was pretty sure it was from an old Leonard Cohen song that I hadn’t heard in years and had mostly lost in the mossy mire of my brain. But as soon as I put it on, the lyrics flooded back to me, reminding me that it was a song that always cried out to me whenever I heard it.

I knew immediately that it was the right choice. And not just for the lyrics.

While listening to the song and looking at the painting, I realized that the sky and the moon in this painting related directly to a dream that I had several years ago. I am hesitant to share the dream, as its personal and there’s a small superstitious part of me that fears I will weaken the power of that dream if I tell it aloud.

I will say that it came to at a point where I was filled with uncertainty, especially about my place in this world as an artist. I was in between my two annual shows and felt absolutely worthless and creatively impotent. I felt hopelessly paralyzed.

But one night this dream came to me with sense of great calmness and a wisdom that I most certainly never knew in my waking life. I was instantly soothed, my immediate worries evaporating. In the years since it appeared, this dream has remained a source of calm when I am stressed out. This dream marked a change in how I saw myself and what I do. A change that brings with it a calmness and acceptance.

There is something in the sky of this painting that is pulled directly from that dream. I didn’t see it until I heard this song this morning and then that was all I could see. It gives me chills– in a good way.

Here’s the Leonard Cohen song. Time for me to go back to the world.

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Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Leonard Cohen, Dance Me to the End of Love

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The painting above, 8″ by 16″ on canvas, is a smaller piece headed to my upcoming solo show at the West End Gallery. The intertwined trees in this piece refer back to my Baucis and Philemon paintings which are are symbolic representations of the Greek myth of the poor elderly couple who show the god Zeus unlimited kindness when he shows up in their village dressed as a beggar. He spares their lives alone when he destroys the village and rewards them with an eternity bound together as two trees on a hill.

This piece definitely reminds me of the tale. Maybe it’s the deep and dark threat that is posed from the clouds. Perhaps these clouds represent the wrath of Zeus while the clearing sky on the horizon represents eternity.

I don’t know for sure.

But it is a striking piece, one that is very simple to take in yet has the depth I want for it.

I am calling it Dance Me to the End of Love after the song chosen for this Sunday morning music. It is from Leonard Cohen from 1984. Interestingly, the song has Greek roots, its composition following that of a Greek folk dance performed through the centuries by members of the butcher’s guilds. It is often referred to as the Hasapiko, translating to the Butcher’s Dance.

So, give a listen. Have a good day, okay?

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Moments and Color, my annual solo exhibit at the West End Gallery in Corning, NY, opens on Friday, July 12 with an opening reception running from 5-7:30 PM. It is, as always, open to the public.

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ChoirChoir Choir Hallelujah 2016 with Rufus WainwrightJust came across a really nice video that was filmed in late June.  It was part of the Luminato Festival in Toronto, which has become one of the largest arts festivals in North America since beginning 10 years ago.

The film shows an event organized by Choir!Choir!Choir! which is a Toronto based open choir.  It requires no commitment and meets twice a week in the back of a local pub.  Over the years it has performed publicly in many venues with an expanded choirs made up of folks who just want to get out and sing in a communal kind of way.

The song shown here is Hallelujah from Leonard Cohen, a magnificent song that has been interpreted by many artists–I think that the late Tim Buckley’s version is extraordinary.  This particular version is filmed in a decommisoned power plant with an assembled choir of 1500 people with Rufus Wainwright singing the lead.

Just a lovely version of the song and not a bad way to kick off a Tuesday morning.

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GC Myers- Until the Sea Shall Free ThemAll the Men will be sailors then, until the sea shall free them…

Leonard Cohen, Suzanne

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I call this new painting, a 7″ by 5″ piece on paper, Until the Sea Shall Free Them, which is taken from the lines of the Leonard Cohen song Suzanne.  The song’s sound, pace and feeling really jibe well with what I see in this piece so I felt taking the title from one of its lines was very fitting.

This is one of those pieces that has a composition that I connect with on an emotional level before it actually says anything to me on an conscious or intellectual level.  In other words, I like it before I can figure out why.  And there is something very satisfying in that.

And mystifying.  I generally want to know the why behind something.  But sometimes it is just better to enjoy the now and forget the why.  And that is what I am doing with this painting.

Here’s Suzanne from Cohen.

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 GC Myers- Brighter Days Ahead sm

GC Myers- Brighter Days Ahead

It’s New Year’s eve tonight and we’ll shake off the dust  of yet another year and move into the next, all clean and shiny with that new year smell.  Well, that’s the popular belief.  We are, of course, who we are and no amount of calendar voodoo will alter that.

But that’s okay.  We should be okay with ourselves and just ride along on the tides of time.  Good and bad things happen along the way and both can be tolerated if we just can understand and accept who we are.

I think that’s why I chose this painting at the top and the song below to end 2014.  The painting is titled Brighter Days Ahead and has a brightness and optimism that jibes well with its title.  But the darkness underneath gives it some balance that keeps it from being too giddily gleeful.

Yes, there are brighter days ahead but there are some darker ones as well.  But having a belief in who we are, believing that we have the balance and strength to withstand troubles and accept the good with grace makes this brightness seem more tangible and less wishful thinking.

The song, New Year’s Prayer, is from the late Jeff Buckley who in his short life left us a remarkable version of the Leonard Cohen song, Hallelujah, and much more.  This song has a mantra-like feel to it with the phrase … feel no shame for what you are… as a refrain.  It doesn’t look forward or back with any hope or regret– it is just in the moment.  And that’s how I feel about the turning of this year.

Wishing you all a good New Year with the hope that feel no shame for what you are.

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9914-152 Purifying Light smWell, the work for my  fifteenth show, Traveler, at the Principle Gallery has been delivered and now there is some time to exhale a bit before the opening this coming Friday, June 6.  It was a good trip yesterday with no complications during the drive , stunning weather and a really nice time at the gallery–  such a warm and upbeat group of  people there. While there, a  friend  popped in for a good visit and I also  met a few other  interesting folks, including one who also had a family connection to the early logging trade in the Adirondacks.  There is a good possibility that our great-grandfathers knew one another in those days of the late 19th century when that part of the mountains was abuzz with lumbermen.  But that is a story for another time.

Delivering the show brought the usual feeling of relief that comes with completing a task but without the anxiety that often accompanies it as I wait to see if the show will be successful.  I suppose I have enough experience with this scenario to know that things always work out if I have put in the effort.  And I have.  This show was very satisfying, during the process when I was the creator and in the aftermath when I became an observer.  There were pieces that came from hard fought struggles and some that seemed to fall from the hand with no effort, each ultimately achieving that life of their own to which I often refer.  In the end, it all seemed to come together very well.  I will be eager to see how it hangs in the space.  I hope that if you are in the area, you can stop in and see the show.

It’s a Sunday morning , which means it’s time for a little music and I thought today I would feature something from Leonard Cohen.  I chose the song Anthem simply because of the chorus that goes  Ring the bells that still can ring/ Forget your perfect offering/There is a crack, a crack in everything/ That’s how the light gets in .  That has long been a theme in my work.  My second show at the Principle Gallery was titled Seeking Imperfection because I felt it was the imperfection  in the work that made it brought it to life, that gave evidence of the imperfect person behind it.  To me, perfection was cold and sterile concept, far from the human experience.  I wanted the blood and heat of humanity in my work.  Maybe that’s why red has been such a vital color in my visual vocabulary.  Perhaps the piece shown at the top is a good example of this.  Purifying Light, a 20″ by 60″ canvas, is part of the show.

Anyway, here is Anthem from Leonard Cohen.  Have a great Sunday!

 

 

 

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Louis Jordan Caldonia Lobby CardThis past week the Library of Congress announced this year’s 25 entries into its National Recording Registry, which is a preserved collection of songs (and other recordings including spoken word) that are considered culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”  It’s always interesting to read through to see what they consider significant and, for the most part, I generally agree.  There are always the obvious choices but it’s the lesser known choices that always interest me most.

Among the musical highlights from this year was the late Jeff Buckley’s luminous and haunting cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, Cathy’s Clown from the Everly Brothers, Fortunate Son from Creedence Clearwater Revival and the entire Joshua Tree album from U2 as well the Isaac Hayes album  , Shaft.

Among non-musical selections were the vast Presidential recordings of LBJ (Nearly 850 hours of them!), recorded interviews with baseball pioneers of the late 19th and early 20th century and The First Family, a hugely popular comedy album from Vaughan Meader  that spoofed President Kennedy and his family.  It was pulled from the shelves after JFK’s assasination.

There are plenty more to check out on this list but the one that caught my eye and made me smile was the song Caldonia from the great Louis Jordan.  Jordan was one of the most successful African-American artists of all time yet his name probably doesn’t mean much to many folks today.  But his swinging sound and showmanship made him a crossover hit in the late 30’s and 40’s and set the table for the coming age of rock and roll.  He was massive influence on the early rockers and many of songs  and moves were covered by them.  Jordan deserves to be well known today and its wonderful that the Library of Congress chose one of his  songs for the registry.  It’s  a move in the right direction.

Here’s a rockin’  1946 version of Caldonia to start your Sunday morning off with a bang.  Have a great day!

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It’s always a little disconcerting to come across someone, a performer or artist, that is well on their way to a brilliant career yet remains completely off your own radar. That’s how I felt the other day when I saw a segment on the CBS Sunday Morning show, where a reporter, Bill Flanagan,  was talking about music to give this holiday season.  He talked about the new box sets from the big names then he talked for a brief moment about a 21 year-old British singer/songwriter named Laura Marling who he said, “ Is not only wiser than her years – she’s wiser than MY years.”

He also said that older listeners would hear echoes of Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen and that young listeners would hear the voice of a new generation coming into its own.

Pretty high praise.  I decided I had better check out this person.

Wow.

I was knocked out.  There were tons of videos out there and going through several, I couldn’t find one that wasn’t verging on brilliant from this very young looking girl with a sad, detached blankness on her face.  You could hear traces of the artists he mentioned in the easy phrasing of her lovely voice which made it somewhat familiar but there was indeed something new in her synthesis of what she had absorbed in  her very young life.  Something well beyond her years.  It was all just wonderful, even the music from her earliest album released just days after she turned 18.  I couldn’t believe I hadn’t stumbled across a talent this big before now.

But thankfully, I have.  As I said, there is a great number of her  songs out there online and I have yet to find a clunker.  Here’s a newer song called Sophia.  I was captured by the line from its chorus–… I am wounded by dust… 

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Well,  the auction to raise some funds for the relief effort in Haiti has ended and $5000 was raised, which will be dispersed in the next day or so.  In relative terms, it’s a small amount but it was the result of the donations of a handful of regular people, not Wall Street financiers .  If this is happening all over the country, all over the world, it becomes a massive amount.  An amount that can bring a suffering nation back to its feet.  I think  the thing that can be taken from this is that when small actions are tied together, great things can be achieved.  It’s about creating an atmosphere of optimistic effort.

I wanted to write about how we could use this as a starting point to battle our natural tendencies towards cynicism, selfish greed and so many other negative traits that hinder us as a people.  Intolerance.  Schadenfreude.  The negative region of our identity that is the playground for perennial negativists like Limbaugh and his ilk, whose incredible wealth is supported by keeping the masses apart.  The last thing people like that want is any type of unity of spirit.

Their pessimism is an easy tonic to sell.  Unfortunately.  And all too many of us are ready to take a swig of this terrible tonic.

But I ‘ve already deleted two paragraphs.  It’s too easy when examining such a subject to be sucked into the vortex of negativity these people espouse.   All I will say is that nothing great has ever been achieved by such negative thinkers throughout history.  Every great achievement has been accomplished despite these pessimists by people with vision and optimism, people who focused on broadening human possibility.

Hallelujah.

That being said, here’s one of my favorite versions of Leonard Cohen‘s wonderful composition, Hallelujah.  It’s from the late Jeff Buckley.  Powerful tonic…

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GC Myers 2001Running a little late this morning, getting work ready to be delivered next week, and I check the stats for this blog to find that it’s hit and passed the 500,000 hits mark for this year alone.  I’m kind of stunned because when I started this blog last year I was struggling to get 100 hits in a day and the idea of a half million views seemed kind of ridiculous.

Now, I realize that all of these hits are not real readers.  I do submit, on a daily basis, to a blog-surfing engine, Alphainventions, that generates tremendous traffic from all over the world.  Many of these folks have never heard of my work or blog and simply stop because they are attracted to the images at the top of the post, which is a good thing for someone whose work is based on visual imagery.  Many will only stop once or twice but many become regular readers.

So, what does it mean, this 500,000 number?  I don’t really know.  I guess there is a certain validation of the power of the visual image.  I can get a pretty good idea of the reactive power of a painting by how many people respond to it on the blog, so in that way it’s useful to me.

But beyond that, it’s probably just another number, albeit a fairly large one.  I’m going to think about this today while I plug along in the studio but first I think I’ll listen to a little Leonard Cohen.  Here’s his Tower of Song

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