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Posts Tagged ‘Little Gems’

Just a little heads up that tonight is the opening reception for the annual Little Gems show at the West End GalleryThis year’s show is the 25th such show at the longstanding Corning gallery and in that time it has transformed into one of their most popular shows each year, for both collectors and the gallery artists. The art is smaller and affordably priced plus, for the artists, it’s a chance to work in a smaller scale than what might be their normal work  and they can play a little.

Just a fun show.

It has been mentioned here many times in the past that I have a soft spot for this show as it was the first time I ever showed my work, back in 1995. I can sincerely say I don’t know where I might be right now without that opportunity those many years back. So, even when I have a lot going on while getting ready for my upcoming shows, I always make time for this show.

The reception is open to the public, of course, and runs from 5-7:30 at the gallery on Corning’s historic Market Street. Hope you can make it out tonight. You can preview the show by clicking here.

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Not much to say today, feeling a little rundown. Looking for a spark in some way, something to get the engines running at higher rpm’s, but can’t find anything in the music I’ve been listening to this morning that does the job. So I’ll resign myself to just holding on until that livelier spirit comes again.

The song that seems to jibe best with that feeling is the old Creedence song, Long As I Can See the Light. Here’s a nice version from the late Ted Hawkins, a name most likely unknown to most of us. He was one of those incredibly gifted artists who was always just short of meeting Lady Luck. Oh, he saw her a few times but it was just in passing as she gave him a flirting glance.

Here in the States, he was primarily a street performer who was “found” a number of times by record producers who could never quite put it all together for him. He gained much more recognition headlining shows in Europe, moving at one point to the UK. He was deported back to USA and reverted to being simply a street busker. He finally achieved a bit of a breakthrough when Geffen Records signed him and produced what might have been his breakthrough record, The Next Hundred Years. I say might have been because Hawkins died from a stroke at the age of 58 in 1995, only months after the release of the album.

Lady Luck is a fickle flirt, indeed.

But here’s his powerful version of the CCR classic. Enjoy.

The painting above is a new piece, Prodigal, that is included in the Little Gems show at the West End Gallery that opens this coming Friday, February 8.

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Been working on a few new small pieces for the upcoming Little Gems show at the West End Gallery, which opens February 8. As I’ve noted here before, the annual Little Gems show has special meaning for me. It was the first show in which I ever participated and served as a springboard to a career as an artist that I never anticipated. Without that first show, I have no idea what I might otherwise be doing at this time. Pretty sure it wouldn’t be writing this blog.

I usually try out some new things for this show or at least try to show some small oddities, pieces with themes or looks that may not find their way into my regular visual vocabulary. Such is the piece at the top, a 6″ by 6″ painting on panel that is called Midnight Rider, based on and using the lyrics from the classic Allman Brothers song from 1970. Little piece of trivia: This was the A side of a single with another classic, Whipping Post, as the B side.

I really enjoy working on these sort of pieces. It’s a different mindset from my normal painting and it has the effect of cleansing the palate. Or maybe it’s palette in this case. These pieces have been fun and freeing. How they fit into my regular body of work, I can’t say. Guess it doesn’t really matter because even though I will show these pieces, they are actually done mainly for myself.

For this Sunday morning music, the song is–surprise,surprise!- Midnight Rider. I am showing two versions. The first is from the late Sharon Jones and her Dap-Kings. It was produced for a Lincoln Mercury ad but that doesn’t take away from the strength of the performance. The second is from a performance from the also now-deceased Gregg Allman on the Cher variety TV show in 1975. It features a vintage dance performance from Cher, the kind of thing that was a regularly seen on the variety shows of that time. You don’t see much of this kind of stuff anymore– maybe for good reason. But it’s fun, in a weird kind of way.

Take a look and enjoy your Sunday.

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“If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.” 

~ Rev. Henry Ward Beecher

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The new painting shown here on the right is titled Memory of the Crow and is included in the Little Gems show at the West End Gallery which has its opening this evening.

I’ve always felt there was something special about crows, especially in regard to their intelligence. I couldn’t agree any more than I do with the words above from Henry Ward Beecher.  Especially about the cleverness of men.

But the intelligence of crows is obvious to anyone who watches them for any amount of time. This was evident to the Native Americans who held these birds and their wisdom in high esteem as part of their belief system and their mythology.

Maybe because they are always near, always in close proximity to man as they live off the refuse he creates, the crops he plants and the vermin he attracts. This omnipresence gives the crow a sense of being a constant, unblinking witness to all that happens. And maybe this constant watching breeds that sense of wisdom that some of us see in them.

It makes me wonder what the crow sometimes thinks or remembers.  How do they perceive us and what is their awareness of us? Are our good and bad times their good and bad times as well? When we  abandon a place do they feel sense of loss? Do they attach themselves in any way to us?

Or do they see it as a passing of time with us as ephemeral visitors passing through their eternal world?

Those are the kind of  questions that rise for me in this piece. Makes me wish I could talk with the crow…

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Here’s a link to a post and update from a number of years back about a crow that lived around my studio.  It also includes a version of Joni Mitchell’s Black Crow from Diana Krall– good listening on a Friday morning.

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Truly, it is in darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us.

Meister Eckhart (1260-1328)

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In the last few days I finished a small group of paintings to add to the several I had already submitted for the West End Gallery‘s annual Little Gems show that opens on Friday. I hadn’t been planning on doing these additional pieces as I have other work that needs to be started. But there was something in the original pieces that I took out last week that lit that spark that I had been futilely searching for in the first month of the year. So, I thought I had been stick with it for a bit to see where it goes.

This piece, which I call Sorrow’s Companion, is one of the new paintings to emerge. Since it’s been done, I keep coming back to this one to just peer at it, all the while trying to discern what I am seeing and feeling in it.

There’s something very sorrowful in it’s imagery. The dark clouds in the sky. The empty chair. The dead tree with the lone crow on a branch. The empty horizon. It all point to the sorrow of loss of someone or something.

Yet, despite the sense of sorrow there is dull sunlight peeking through the gray in the sky. As the 14th century German theologian Meister Eckhart pointed out in his words at the top of the page, light is found in the darkness and is always nearest in our sorrow.

The light is sorrow’s companion.

So, I see this piece as having an air of melancholy but it is an optimistic melancholy, if there can be such a thing. Maybe this comes from understanding that true sorrow comes from knowing the feeling of true love. And there is a certain joy in just having experienced that feeling that lingers through the sorrow.

Sorrow doesn’t come without joy…

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Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.

 Marcel Proust

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A few days back I featured a new small painting that is headed to the West End Gallery for next week’s opening of their annual Little Gems show. That piece, and never looked back…, was a stark image in tones of black and gray that was about the idea of being forced from your home, never to return. It’s a depiction of that moment of leaving and the sense of loss and abandonment that remains.

The new painting above, also headed to the Little Gems show, is another take on the idea of abandoning one’s home. This piece, One Last Look, speaks to the nostalgia that appears after time, as memories of bad times and the accompanying anxieties have faded and singular moments of happiness have grown to fill all the moments of that time.  Time has smoothed away the rough edges and we begin to think that that time, that place, was much more idyllic than it ever was in actuality.

To me, this painting speaks to that nostalgia and its idealized sense of home and youth. With nostalgia, the past seems more vivid and vibrant.

The grass was greener then, I guess.

I am reminded of a post I wrote back in 2009 where a large poll taken at that time throughout Russia named Joseph Stalin as the third greatest Russian of all time. I wrote: Despite the many millions, yes, millions of Russian citizens who were put to death by Stalin, despite the political purges and gulags and Soviet policies that caused a type of artificial famine that killed far more citizens than any natural famine more than once, the current populace said that this Man of Steel was their guy.

Some of those polled had lived through the Stalin era but time, and a little more food and comfort now, had eroded the memory of the hardship, the famines and the purges. In fact, Putin had began extolling the virtues of Stalin about that time and many of these people felt the country needed that type of autocratic leader again. In Putin, they– and, unfortunately, we as well– may have found him.

We all often fall prey to this sort of nostalgia, our memories holding onto a few events of happy triumph here and there through time and discarding the much more numerous days and weeks and months of chaos or drudgery that many of us live through.

Nostalgia is like a beautiful double-edged sword– both wonderful and terrible. Such things should be handled with care.

 

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This new small painting is titled and never looked back… and is headed to the annual Little Gems show at the West End Gallery. It’s a piece that reminds me of the Depression era and the Dust Bowl refugees who forced from their homes by a hostile environment and a pitiless economy, leaving all they ever knew behind. I can only imagine the feelings of loss, the anxiety, the confusion and the anger that must have been constantly running through these people’s minds.

To have to leave one’s home– and never look back.

I know this is hardly a happy subject to face on a Sunday morning but I worry that we will someday soon face the same sort of situation. It has happened in one instance recently, if you consider the many people of Puerto Rico who have lost everything in the past year and how they have been forced to leave their island home. They are the current modern day Okies.

You may say this an unfounded worry, given the strength of our economy. And you’re probably right, at least for the short term.  But with the deregulation taking place in the financial sector, the shredding of the social safety net and unparalleled wealth inequality– a mere 6 people have more wealth than the bottom 50% of the global population, 3.7 billion people– we are setting the stage for a huge economic crash when the economy eventually sputters, as it will given its cyclical nature.

I know that I sound like a bummer filled with gloom and doom. I don’t mean it that way. I am just sending out a cautionary note that if we continue to ignore the lessons of the past, we will relive them. Not necessarily in the same way. We may not be Okies jammed into old trucks, heading out west to pick fruit. I don’t have the imagination to think what our lives might be in the next critical situation that comes our way. But I do know that it won’t be good unless we begin working now to avert the worst of it.

Okay, enough. Today’s Sunday morning music is a classic Dust Bowl era song from Woody Guthrie that was in my mind when I was finishing up this painting. It’s title is I Ain’t Got No Home in This World Anymore.

In the 1950’s, Guthrie lived in public housing in Brooklyn that was built with public funds by a NY developer by the name of Fred Trump – yeah, that guy’s father. Guthrie noticed the fact that people of color were not allowed in that development and later wrote new verses for this song that called out the racism of Old Man Trump, as he called him. This discrimination throughout Trump’s network of developments persisted for nearly 25 years until a Civil Rights lawsuit was brought by the Federal authorities and was settled in the late 70’s. Here’s a link to an article outlining more of the details.

Like I said, we relive the past.

Give a listen and have a good Sunday.

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