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Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Running around this morning, trying to get some things tied up but thought I’d share an interesting version of the Jimi Hendrix classic Hey Joe as performed the Joscho Stephan Trio. Stephan is a German guitarist who primarily plays in the gypsy jazz style, as you might deduce from the beautiful guitar he plays. This is a fun and energetic twist on the song, a shot of ear caffeine to get the week off on and running.

I thought I’d throw in this old doodle, an oddity from twenty years or so back.  Done very quickly with a Sharpie and embellished with a little watercolor,  the figure is a simplified and stylized representation of the way in which the figures from my early Exiles series were painted, composed from blocks of color.  It was never meant to be seen outside my studio but I like this for some reason. He looks like he could be playing Hey Joe.

Give a listen and get your motor running.

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 I was looking for something to play this morning and put on this album, Blues Twilight, from jazz trumpet player Richard Boulger. I’ve played a couple of tracks from this album here over the years.

While the title track was playing I went over to over to a painting that hangs in my studio, the one shown above. It’s an experiment titled October Sky from a few years back that is a real favorite of mine. I showed it for only a short time before deciding that I wanted it hanging in the studio. I never really worked any further in the direction this piece was taking me. Part of that decision to not go further was purely selfish, wanting to keep something solely for myself, something that wasn’t subject to other people’s opinions.

A strictly personal piece. A part of the prism that doesn’t show.

I look at it every day but generally it is from a distance, taking it in as a whole. But his morning, while the album’s title track played I went  and really looked hard at it, up close so that every bump and smear was obvious. And I liked what I was seeing, so much so that I grabbed my phone and began snapping little up close chunks of it.

It all very much felt like the music, like captured phrases or verses.  Each had their own nuance, color and texture and they somehow blended into a harmonic coherence that made the piece feel complete.

It’s funny but sometimes when I am working hard and in a groove that takes over from conscious thought, I almost forget about those things that I myself like in my work because I don’t have to think about them in the process of creating the work. Looking at this painting this close made me appreciate the painting even more, made me think about it in a different way than the manner in which I now used to seeing it.

Guess it’s a good thing to stop every now and then and look at what you’ve done, up close and personal.

Here’s Blues Twilight from Richard Boulger. Enjoy the music and take a look at the snips, if you so wish. But definitely have a good day.


GC Myers- October Sky detail
GC Myers- October Sky detail GC Myers- October Sky detail GC Myers- October Sky detail GC Myers- October Sky detail GC Myers- October Sky detailGC Myers- October Sky detail

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Slovakian Resurrection Icon circa 1640

Slovakian Resurrection Icon circa 1640

It’s Easter Sunday.

The day of the Resurrection.

I’ve said it before here, I am not a religious person. I wasn’t raised with religion and much of my knowledge of it as a kid came from a local church lady, Nellie Beidelman, who used to come to our little elementary school on a regular basis. We would assemble in the cafe-a-gym-a-torium (a space that served all three functions) to hear her tell Bible stories with the aid of a felt board with beautifully painted cut-out figures.

I know it’s not something that could ever take place today in a public school. But she was a very warm, gentle person and a fine storyteller without being preachy. I always found the stories interesting as they introduced me to the classic tales of the Old and New Testament and still vividly remember her telling of the Resurrection. It didn’t make me feel any more inclined toward religion but at least I knew the stories and the lessons that they contained.

I just never had that certainty of belief. I admired it in others and sometimes wished I had it, wondering why I didn’t. But that same certainty made me uneasy. What would someone do in the name of their belief, that thing that seemed so certain to them and so distant to me? The news is filled with horrors perpetrated by those with this certainty firmly in place, whether it’s ISIS inspired suicide bombers or radical Fundamentalists killing physicians who have performed abortions.

And reading history doesn’t make this uneasiness with certainty go away. How many of millions have perished at the hands of those who were certain in their beliefs, however misguided and wrong they may seem to us now? Even in doing my genealogy I have come across so many atrocities done by my ancestors in the name of their beliefs that it makes me question the decision to look into the past at all.

That being said, I still sometimes envy those with that certainty and the comfort they seem to find in it. My own beliefs, as they are, are always subject to questioning, always filled tinged with a bit of uncertainty. But they still offer a degree of comfort. Sometimes stopping as I walk and feeling the sun on my skin and gazing into the blue of the sky fills me with a feeling that seems transcendentally reverent in that moment. The outer world fades for a brief second and I seem connected with something greater than this time and place.

That moment is my certainty, that thing on to which I hold as proof of something greater. And that moment once in a great while is all I ask of it.

So, with or without that certainty, whether you observe Easter or any other religion’s activity today, I wish you a great day. But stop once in a while and just feel the sun on your skin and notice the color of the blue in the sky. For this week’s music, here’s a great cover of a Bob Dylan song, Times Have Changed, from the great soul singer Bettye Lavette, who recently did an album of her interpretations of Dylan songs. This song won an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2001 for it’s use in the movie Wonder Boys.

Enjoy Bettye’s take on it and have a great day.

 

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Things are as they are. Looking out into it the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.

Alan Watts

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I wasn’t planning on showing this newer painting for a while. But I came across this lovely piece of music and this painting seemed to pair perfectly with it, at least to my eyes and ears.

The painting is an 18″ by 36′ canvas that I call Starmap and is part of my annual show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria which opens June 1.

I have been working on a series of paintings like this, with blocks of color making up the sky and stars as points of light showing at the intersections of these blocks. I love working on these pieces. They require an emptying of the mind with a focus solely on what is before you. There’s this interesting sense of constant problem solving that bounces from making each form correctly and balancing that form within the whole composition. I continually go back and forth from tight focus to wide focus.

I probably can’t properly explain it but for me, it is an exhilarating process as each added form and layer of color, each poke of light from the stars, subtly transforms the piece into something more than I was expecting. It feels more complete and full than the first thoughts and brushstrokes that initiated the painting, leaving me with a giddy kind of satisfaction. I know that this has been the case thus far with each of the paintings in this series.

Now for this Sunday morning music, I thought this wonderful piece, Nocturne, from young Hungarian guitarist Zsófia Boros paired up beautifully with the feeling that this piece creates for myself. I’ve listened to it several times this morning and it just seems right.

Give a listen and have a great Sunday.

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Another St. Patrick’s Day, that celebration of all things Irish– parades, pints and more Kelly green than the mind can fully process. They say that well over 30 million Americans claim to have Irish roots.

Growing up, I always believed we did as well because my grandmother was an O’dell, which certainly seems Irish. But doing genealogy over the last decade I have discovered that the O’dell was changed through the years from Odell and before that from Odle and, most likely, before that from Woddell, It turns out that it was not Irish at all.

No, it was British. And for the Irish that is a big distinction.

But I also discovered that my father’s great-grandparents were Irish immigrants during the Great Migration of the middle of the 19th century. It was something I wasn’t sure of before I started my genealogy work. I still haven’t found where they originally came from in Ireland.

Icon: Mary T.

Their’s was a pretty stock story. The father, Michael Patrick Tobin, worked on building the railroads in central New York, ultimately settling in the Binghamton area, where most of his family worked for the next several decades in the tobacco industry there. Most were tobacco strippers or cigar makers.

I am not positive that his wife was actually born in Ireland. There are conflicting accounts but her parents definitely were. She was the subject of one of my Icon paintings from a couple of year’s back shown here on the right. Her story is an interesting one, one that I wrote about on this blog. You can read it by clicking here.

So, it turns out I am one of those 30-some million with a bit of Irish blood, about 16% according to the DNA tests. I don’t give it much thought except on this particular day and even then I realize that these folks were little different than most of my other ancestors from other countries who left the hardships of their homelands for what they hoped would be a better life in America. I can’t say they all found wonderful lives but perhaps they were a bit better off than they might have been had they stayed put.

Okay, here a bit of Irish music for the day, a nice reel, The Glen Road to Carrick, from a contemporary Irish group, FullSet. I like the feel of this- it has a fresh edge that makes me want to drive too fast. By the way, the painting at the top is from a late Irish painter, Paul Henry, who painted primarily in the first half of the 20th century. I am a fan of his work and featured it here a couple of years back.

Have yourself a good day.

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Lost time is never found again.

–Benjamin Franklin
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The clocks moved ahead by an hour this morning despite my protests. Even though I have wasted more than my fair share of time in my life, I am at an age where I hate to see an hour just taken from me. That feeling on waking to find that it’s an hour later than I was expecting makes me rush out of bed and my morning begins on a frazzled note.

So this morning–what’s left of it–has found me searching for something to play for this week’s musical selection that would stave off my lost hour panic. Something that would slow me down so that it feels like that hour is still there, somehow.

My search takes me down dead end streets on YouTube with songs that just felt wrong which only served to aggravate me more. But somehow– and don’t ask me how– I spotted this song by a group of musicians unknown to me, a French group called the Tarkovsky Quartet.  It was a composition titled Nuit Blanche (White Night) and, as I listened to it play, felt that it was the right song for this wrong morning.

So, give a listen. Most likely the idea that time springs ahead doesn’t bother you. But if it does, this song is a lovely way to spend a few minutes of time without feeling you’re wasting it.

Have a good day.

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I came across this post below from back in 2012 about my first encounter with the artist LS Lowry. Since then I’ve looked at a lot more of his work and read more on his life, all of which has made me realize how much I was missing before then. He was an interesting figure, providing me with one of my favorite responses when once asked what he was doing when he wasn’t painting: Thinking about painting.  I know all too well what he was saying.

Anyway, I thought I’d repost this if only to once again play the song about the distinct figures that populate his world, Matchstick Men. Take a look and give a listen.

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I feel sort of embarrassed to admit this but I had never heard of L.S. Lowry until I stumbled across him the other day.  I am most likely not alone in this but would have thought he would have crossed my radar screen at some point, especially given his prominence in the British art world and in British culture. Not that I know a lot about British art or pop culture. But this is a beloved painter there who has sold many works in the multi-million dollar range, one selling for a record $9+ million last last year [2011].  This is not an anonymous artist.

I am still discovering more about this  painter  with a most individual style but here is a very short summation.

He was born in the north of England in 1887 and died in 1976, having spent most of his life as a rent collector for a property company.   Although he is often referred to as a self-taught artist, through much of his working life he studied art in the evenings at various schools. He used this study and the environment around him to find the distinctive style that marked his work, one that is populated with matchstick figures walking through   urban scenes, often heavily filled with images of  the English industrial landscape.

His work has permeated British popular culture as well. His matchstick figures were the basis for a 1967 rock song, Pictures of Matchstick Men, from Status Quo that was later became a hit  here in the States when covered by Camper Van Beethoven in the 80’s. And more recently, the British group Oasis had a video, The Masterplan, featuring the band members as matchstick men walking through animated scenes from Lowry’s paintings. In fact, Noel Gallagher, one of the leaders of  Oasis, has joined a growing chorus of fervent Lowry fans in Britain who have been calling for greater displays and recognition of the late painter’s work there.  As a result, the Tate is mounting a major retrospective of Lowry’s work for 2013.

There’s a lot for me to like about Lowry which makes just finding him now more puzzling. But I have found him and will continue to learn more.  For now, here is the both the Status Quo song and the Oasis video.

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