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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

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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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GC Myers- Moses ( I Supposes)Sometimes when I am walking over to the studio in the morning I will have a song stuck in my head.  Sometimes it is one that I recently heard, something from the radio.  But sometimes it’s one that just springs deeply from the past, something I haven’t thought of in some time.   That’s how it was this morning.  And thinking of that song linked me to a small painting that I did many years ago.

They just fit together in my mind for some reason.

The song was It Ain’t Necessarily So, the great song sung by the slick drug dealing Sporting Life in George and Ira Gershwin‘s Porgy and Bess.  Just a fantastic mix of sound and wordplay.

For some unknown reason, when I hear this song this old piece from over 20 years ago always comes to mind.  It’s a piece that I did very quickly, not really knowing what I was trying to paint.  It just sort of popped out and  I remember calling it Moses( I Supposes).  There was something about this piece that I have always liked. Maybe it’s the I-don’t-give-a-damn way way everything in it is painted, from the giant hands down to the giant feet.

It’s just a personal favorite that somehow always springs to mind when I think of this song.  Maybe because Moses is mentioned in a verse in the song–

Lil’ Moses was found in a stream
Lil’ Moses was found in a stream
He floated on water
‘Til Ole’ Pharaoh’s daughter
She fished him, she says from dat stream.
I don’t know for sure but I enjoy the combination.  Here is one of my favorite versions of the song, the one from the Simon Rattle directed version from the Glyndbourne Festival with Damon Evans as Sporting Life.  Have a great day and remember– not everything isn’t necessarily as it seems to be.

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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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Exiles--QuartetWe all carry within us our places of exile, our crimes, and our ravages. But our task is not to unleash them on the world; it is to fight them in ourselves and in others.

Albert Camus

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I have written about and showed a number of the pieces from my early Exiles series here on this blog.  It was a very important group of work for me in that it was the first real break towards forming my own voice, creating and displaying work that was emotional for myself.  It was also the work that spawned my first solo show in early 1997.

The inspiration for this work was mainly drawn from the experience of watching my mother suffer and die from lung cancer over a short five or six month period in 1995.  Her short and awful struggle was hard to witness, leaving me with a deep sense of helplessness as I could only wish that there was a way in which I could somehow alleviate her pain.  Most of the work deals with figures who are in some form of retrospection or prayer, wishing for an end to their own suffering.

But another part of this work was drawn from my own feelings of emotional exile, a feeling of estrangement in almost every situation.  I had spent the better part of my life to that point  as though I didn’t belong anywhere,  always on the outside viewing the world around me as a stranger in a strange land,  to borrow the words of that most famous biblical exile, Moses.  These figures were manifestations of that sense of inner exile that I carried with me.

Little did I know that these very figures would help me find a way out of this exile.  With their creation came a sense of confidence and trust in the power of my self-revelation.  I could now see that the path from the hinterlands of my exile was not in drawing my emotions more and more inward, allowing no one to see.  No, the path to a reunion with the world was through pouring this emotion onto the surface of paper or canvas for all to see.

This is hard to write and I am struggling with it as I sit here this morning.  I started writing this because I had been reconsidering revisiting this series, creating a new generation of Exiles.  But in pondering this idea I realized that the biggest obstacle was in the fact that I no longer felt so much a stranger in a strange land.  I no longer felt like the Exile, no longer lived every moment with these figures.  It turned out that they were guides for me, leading me back to the world to which I now feel somewhat connected, thanks to my work.

If there is to be a new series, they will most likely not be Exiles.

The piece shown here, Quartet,  is one of my favorites, a grouping of four figures.  You may not see it in these figures but the visual influence for this work were the carvings found on Mayan ruins of Mexico and Central America.  I myself see this mainly in the figure at the bottom right.

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I can’t believe I failed to mention the birthday of Elvis Presley, who would have turned 75 a  few days back.  It’s not that I was the hugest of Elvis fans although I was an admirer of many of his songs and performances and recognized the attraction his talent had for many.  It’s just that in death he has become this cultural phenomenon, an icon that has taken on almost mythic and mystical qualities for his ardent fans.

That’s kind of what I saw when I painted this small piece a few years back.  It’s called Elvis in the Wilderness which recalls Moses‘ exile to the wilderness.  I may do a follow-up where Elvis leads the exodus from Eygpt.

Or maybe Elvis healing lepers.  Or perhaps traveling through time, battling various injustices throughout history.  Elvis in hand to hand combat with the tag team of Hitler and Mussolini.  Elvis at Valley Forge.

TCB, baby.  Just like the 3 letters on his huge belt buckle indicate.  Taking care of business.

It could be anything, anywhere.  That’s the beauty of Elvis as a mythic character, a superhero.  He fits easily into any time and setting with the powers imbued on him by his fans and as a result, never really dies.

Here’s a performance that I really love if only for the iconic stance in his white suit before the huge ELVIS sign.  Great visual.

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Well, it’s the day after Christmas and today I’m starting a five day stint, filling in for owner Linda Gardner at the West End Gallery.  It’s something I haven’t done for well over a decade and as the day has approached I’ve become more and more nervous at the prospect.  I’m afraid my people skills will have deteriorated a bit during those years spent in the studio when the only contact with people in a gallery was confined to an hour or two a few times a year at my openings.

I’m hoping they return.  Quickly.

Over this time at the gallery, I will be bringing out a few pieces from the studio that haven’t been shown in a number of years.  One such painting is the one shown above, Stranger (In a Strange Land), which has been a favorite of mine for a long time.  This 12″ by 36″ piece is considered one of my “dark” pieces, very densely colored over a black ground.  I never saw many of the pieces that are considered “dark” as being truly dark but this particular painting fits the billing.  It has a deep, dark background and there is a palpable sense of being adrift in an alien landscape throughout the scene.   Everything looks somewhat familiar but there’s a dimension beyond the norm, one that lifts the veil and reveals something unrecognizable, something that can’t be deciphered.  Like hearing the clicking language of African tribes for the first time.

I suppose this sense of alienation is what brought me to the title.  Whether you know the phrase from the popular sci-fi novel of the same name from Robert Heinlein or from the biblical quote of Moses, it is a most evocative group of words.

Anyway, this piece and more will be at the West End Gallery in Corning today and for the next five.  Stop in and take a look.

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the-ten-commandments-1956-movie-05Well, it’s the day before Easter which can only mean one thing:  the annual showing of The Ten Commandments, the 1956 epic film from Cecille B. DeMille.  

I always look forward to watching this movie not so much from any admiration of its quality as great cinema (though it is great moviemaking with its beautiful cinematography and color and the great musical score) but more so for the treasure trove of kitsch it bears.  I love the clumsy, stilted lines of dialogue.  The stylized overacting- Anne Baxter’s Nefretiri and John Derek’s Joshua are right out of the earliest, clumsiest silent films.  The boo-hiss quality of Yul Brynner’s Rameses.  And how can you not love Edward G. Robinson playing Dathan, snarling, “Where’s your Moses now?”  in that oft imitated voice straight out of Little Caesar.

But the star is Moses.  Love him or hate him, Charlton Heston was the perfect specimen for this or any epic movie.  Don’t get me started on Ben Hur. His physical stature, his deep voice and his ability to deliver the most wooden lines with complete commitment make his portrayal a complete pleasure to watch.  A tour de force.

Modern moviemakers always try to remake these epic type movies with full attention to every detail, trying to bring realism and authenticity to the story.  But while there may be realism there is no entertainment quality and they never measure up to the very films that some of these people mock.  This is is real entertainment.

So if you get a chance tonight, look in for a while (because it is a very lonnnng movie) and enjoy…


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