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Posts Tagged ‘Outlaws’

I wasn’t going to make Mother’s Day the subject of today’s blog but walking over to the studio in the gray,cool drizzle put me in a slightly sad and wistful mood, one that made me think of my own mother on this day. I’ve posted the bit of writing below a couple of times over the years and thought it was worth doing so again this morning.  I ran this post before with an old Eddy Arnold song that I knew Mom liked very much but today I am running it with one she most likely never heard, Helpless, from Neil Young. It’s one of my favorites and one that certainly aligns with the tone of this morning here. Have a good day.

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GC Myers- A Hard PastIt’s Mother’s Day again. You might think the image I am showing today is an odd selection for this day. It’s a small painting called A Hard Past that is from my 2008 Outlaws series. It’s one of a few pieces that I deeply regret ever letting go as it holds great personal meaning for me. I just didn’t realize it at the time.

I know that this may not seem like a flattering thing to say but every time I look at this image I see my Mom’s face. At least, a certain look she had when she was sitting by herself in silence at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of tea and smoking her ever-present Camel cigarettes, those unfiltered beauties that no doubt contributed to the lung cancer that took her life at age 63.

She would sit in stillness for a long period time at that table with a distant and hardened gaze on her face. I always wondered what she was thinking or where she was in that moment. But when you’re a kid you just move through the kitchen without a word or a question.

Oh, the things we leave unsaid and the questions that go unasked.

More’s the pity…

The title, A Hard Past, came from this memory of her. She had a pretty hard life- her mother died when she was three, no school beyond ninth grade, years of toiling in a factory and a long, turbulent and angry marriage to my father. It gave her a hard edge, a toughness that several people commented on after her death back in 1995.

But they also commented on her humor, generosity and willingness to help others who might need a hand– those qualities that I also saw in her. Those qualities that I so miss.

So while this painting may not seem like a flattering tribute, just seeing my Mom in this piece means so much to me, reminding me of all she was to me.

Have a pleasant Mother’s Day…

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7rQvJgTQ9U

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“This is the most immediate fruit of exile, of uprooting: the prevalence of the unreal over the real. Everyone dreamed past and future dreams, of slavery and redemption, of improbable paradises, of equally mythical and improbable enemies; cosmic enemies, perverse and subtle, who pervade everything like the air.”

Primo Levi, If This Is a Man / The Truce

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This small painting has been propped up on a bookshelf, unframed, here in the studio for over a decade. I have walked by it thousands of times, to the point that I barely even recognize that it is there. It was from the Outlaws series in 2008 and was one of the pieces that didn’t make it out of the studio. I just didn’t feel as strongly about it as the others in the series at the time, didn’t feel it carried the same emotional messaging.

But the other day I took it from the shelf and spent some time really looking at it and , all these years later, see much more in it now. It has its own story that I didn’t perceive before, maybe because it seems more like the characters from my Exiles series from 1995 than the Outlaws series of 2008. The Exiles were paintings that focused on loss and grief, of a looking back in time at what has been lost. The Outlaws, on the other hand, were about fear and vulnerability, the characters haunted by unseen pursuers.

The character in this painting seems like a hybrid of the two series, a person who has suffered loss and grief and is haunted by all that they have seen.

I originally saw this character as a male figure but looking at it now, I see it as being more female, one with close cropped dark hair, like it has been roughly shorn. I began seeing this as a survivor of atrocity, perhaps of a concentration camp. Someone who has seen horror and can never quite get far away from that memory.

The past for this person is like a ball that is thrown in the air, seemingly moving quickly away only to always coming rushing back down upon them.

The window here represents the past and the figure seems destined to always peer out at it.

It’s funny how the perception of a piece that I have basically ignored for a decade can change with one closer inspection. What seemed like a lesser piece at one point now seems much more powerful, more laden with meaning and emotion.

I think that when I painted this piece I was aiming for something other than what emerged and, as a result, I always viewed it from the perspective of my preconception. Now I am just viewing it as it is.

And my judgement of it is much different. I will never look at it with that indifference that existed for the past ten years. It now has meaning for me. I’ve even gave it a title: Window to the Past.

Glad I took the time to look again.

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I only have time enough this morning to throw this song out for this week’s Sunday morning music. The song is At My Window Sad and Lonely with lyrics by Woody Guthrie. The band Wilco and singer Billy Bragg put music to these lyrics along with a number of other Guthrie songs in the Mermaid Avenue albums. The version below is an acoustic version from Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy. Nice stuff.

The image to the right is from my Outlaws series from back in 2006. This piece is called Followed. It was chosen because I think this person might be sad and lonely.

Give a listen and enjoy your Sunday…

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Another Sunday morning which means it’s time for a little music.  I thought that for this week’s choice I would go with something a little further off the beaten track, going all the way up to Regina, Saskatchewan to grab this tune from the group The Dead South.

The song, In Hell I’ll Be In Good Company, is a song that I stumbled across awhile ago.  I thought it was catchy and found the video engaging and fun.  I’ve listened to it several times since and thought it would be a good song for today.

The accompanying painting is titled Confession and is from my Outlaws series.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a decade since that group was painted.  It was a relatively small and short lived series but I find myself going back to this group on a regular basis.  Sometimes it’s just to look at the imagery and other times it’s to see how the narrative that I see in the image has changed over time.

There are pieces in the group where the narrative remains constant and others like this piece are a bit more ambiguous and open to new interpretations. This little painting always make me think.

Anyway, take look, give a listen and don’t worry if you think you’re going to Hell– there will be plenty of good company. Have a good day.

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GC Myers- Waiting on the Light 2006Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering.

 
Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

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I was looking at this older painting from years ago this morning.  It was a late entry into my Outlaws series back in 2006 and I think I only showed it for a very short time in one gallery.  It has floated around the studio for the past decade, never really finding a place of its own in which to dwell.

I wouldn’t call it a great piece.  Maybe not even a good piece but it has a lot of meaning for me.  Every so often I pick it up and find myself captured in the moments that I see in it.

I see myself in it, those early mornings when I find myself wide awake at 4 AM with the wheels in my minds spinning furiously.  Sometimes it is a good thing with something positive and creative emerging from this pent up energy.  Other times, it is sheer angst and I find myself much like the figure in this painting, staring out the window waiting for the dark to recede and be replaced by the first dim light of dawn.

On the good days that light is full of high hopes for what is coming.  It’s exciting.  On the not so  good days it is just a painful wait for what seems to be nothing but the possibility of having enough light to wash away the darkness and maybe spark something to move ahead on.  It is a dull and drab ache, a suffering that I am reminded of in the words at the top from author Paulo Coelho.

So you can see that this painting, though it may not be among the finest of my work, has real meaning for me.  So perhaps in a small way, even in a way that only applies to me, it is somehow a good piece.

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GC Myers- A Hard PastIt’s Mother’s Day again. You might think the image I am showing today is an odd selection for this day. It’s a small painting called A Hard Past that is from my 2008 Outlaws series.  It’s one of a few pieces that I deeply regret ever letting go as it holds personal meaning for me.  I just didn’t realize this at the time.

I know that this may not seem like a flattering thing to say but every time I look at this image I see my Mom’s face.  At least,  a certain look she had when she was sitting by herself in silence at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of tea and smoking her ever-present Camel cigarettes, those unfiltered beauties that no doubt contributed to the lung cancer that took her life at age 63.

She would sit in stillness for a long period time at that table with a distant and hardened gaze on her face.  I always wondered what she was thinking or where she was in that moment.  But when you’re a kid you just move through the kitchen without a word or a question.

More’s the pity…

The title, A Hard Past, came from this memory of her.  She had a pretty hard life- her mother died when she was three,  no school beyond ninth grade, years of toiling in a factory and a long, turbulent and angry marriage to my father.  It gave her a hard edge, a toughness that several people commented on after her death back in 1995.  But they also commented on her humor, generosity and willingness to help others who might need a hand– those qualities that I also saw in her.  Those qualities that I so miss.

So while it may not seem like a flattering tribute, just seeing my Mom in this piece means so much to me.

For today’s music, I’m going with her favorite, Eddy Arnold, and a song that she probably felt fit her like a glove, You Don’t Know Me.  It’s a classic song that Arnold is credited with co-writing along with songwriter Cindy Walker in 1955.

Have  great Mother’s Day…

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GC Myers- Outlaw's VigilAt last weekend’s Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery I was asked if there was work that I do for myself alone and I replied that there is, that I sometimes do small pieces in moments of frustration or anger that I won’t share with the outside world.  I feel that even a person living the most transparent of lives should not share every waking thought.  And I probably share more than I should as it is.

This question led to a short description of the work from my earlier Exiles and Outlaws series, both of which I have written here a number of times in the past.  The Outlaws series probably was closer as an answer to the question posed to me that day, consisting of images that examined the darker aspects that make up the prism of our personality.  The central characters in these pieces were often armed with handguns and were definitely haunted by their past actions, existing in a state of fear.

At least, that is how I saw them.  Some others saw them as predatory stalkers who might be lurking outside their own windows.  It was an interpretation that I wasn’t initially expecting when I painted this work. But it might make sense, given the fear and sometimes paranoia that feeds our obsession with guns.

The piece above, Outlaw’s Vigil, is from that series and hangs in my studio now.  It is a prime example of the differing perceptions of the work.  Many have seen him as a potential danger, a symbol of imminent evil, while I see him as a person filled with absolute fear, always looking over his shoulder to see what is coming upon him from behind, from his past.  He is forever frozen in this instance of terror.  There is no looking ahead, no future.

Odd as it might seem, this small painting is inspirational to me.  It serves as an object lesson, an example of how I do not want to exist in this world.  I do not want to live in fear of the past or so fearful of others that I cling to a gun in my own home, peeking out my windows.  This piece lets me know that I want to live a fearless life.  It may ultimately be a fool’s mission but it makes this odd little painting priceless to me.

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