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GC Myers- Standing Proud  2021



I find I am much prouder of the victory I obtain over myself, when, in the very ardor of dispute, I make myself submit to my adversary’s force of reason, than I am pleased with the victory I obtain over him through his weakness.

― Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) The Complete Essays



At the top is Standing Proud, a new painting that is included in my solo show, Between Here and There, at the Principle Gallery that opened this past Friday.

I hesitated in using the word proud in the title for this painting. The word itself has connotations of boastfulness and certainty for me. I am not a fan of either. I see both as being more on the vanity end of the pride spectrum, more about caring what other people think or how they affect others.

Like the thought above from Montaigne, the 16th century French philosopher, I see the more desirable form of pride as coming more from overcoming conflicts and barriers that exist within ourselves. Triumph that comes from being what and who we truly know we are without caring what others think. Or without trying to place ourselves above any others in any way.

For me, pride often accompanies perseverance. Staying true to yourself over time, overcoming the obstacles that arise naturally, and resisting the temptation to abandon principles and beliefs– these are some of the building blocks of authentic pride.

Of course, these are just words and thoughts. We all wish ourselves to be the best us we can be. But life provides us with great challenges and we sometimes come up short. But maybe pride can be found in recognizing that momentary shortcoming and our will to overcome it.

Pride is ultimately the triumph of our self.

Well, that’s my two cents worth of muddled Monday morning philosophy. At two cents, it might be overpriced…

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GC Myers-  Symphony of Silence  2021



Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.

― Rumi, 13th century Persian poet



The new painting at the top, titled Symphony of Silence, is an 18″ by 36″ canvas. This weekend, it is headed down to the Principle Gallery as part of my solo show, Between Here and There, which opens June 4th.

I have written in the past about what I see as the connection between painting and music, how I see some of my pieces as simple songs and others as more intricate compositions. Perhaps symphonies or concertos.

This, in my eyes, is one that seems simple at a first glance. It is sparse and without great details. But the more I look at it, the more I see in it. How each element and color plays off the next and how they are fortified by each. It feels like there are rhythms and melodies running through it, from side to side as the terrain flows and up and down with rise of the moon.  There is inward and outward movement with the light of the stars and the undulation of the trail. The blocks that make up the night sky seem to swirl and rotate in all directions. The far mountains appear almost as sound waves. 

There is seemingly constant movement throughout the landscape and the skyscape. Almost a cacophony.

Almost.

It is silence.

Somehow the movements, the rhythms, and contrasts all run together at some point.

Harmony. Made up of the stars in motion countless lightyears away and the ancient wisdom contained in the stillness of the land and water. Always there but in silence. 

It is a simple piece but one that constantly shares something more than it lets on with a mere glance.

Here’s a piece of music to accompany it, a longtime favorite of mine and one that has played a large part in how I came to view my own work. It’s from composer Arvo Pärt and his composition Tabula Rasa. This is the second movement, fittingly titled Silentium. It feels right with this painting.



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GC Myers- Harmonia Aeternam



There are seconds, they come only five or six at a time, and you suddenly feel the presence of eternal harmony, fully achieved. It is nothing earthly; not that it’s heavenly, but man cannot endure it in his earthly state. One must change physically or die. The feeling is clear and indisputable. As if you suddenly sense the whole of nature and suddenly say: yes, this is true. God, when he was creating the world, said at the end of each day of creation: ‘Yes, this is true, this is good.’ This . . . this is not tenderheartedness, but simply joy. You don’t forgive anything, because there is no longer anything to forgive. You don’t really love — oh, what is here is higher than love! What’s most frightening is that it’s so terribly clear, and there’s such joy. If it were longer than five seconds — the soul couldn’t endure it and would vanish. In those five seconds I live my life through, and for them I would give my whole life, because it’s worth it. To endure ten seconds one would have to change physically . . . .

― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Demons



I think I understand what Dostoyevsky was describing in the words above. I imagine –well, hope– that most of you have experienced those fleeting seconds where the harmony of everything suddenly becomes evident to you.

All the things that make up the world, the universe, all the planes of existence, and yourself in that rare moment seem to be just where they should be in relation to all other things. It is as though everything is comprised of floating, constantly shifting plates that periodically find themselves in a position where the perfection of eternity is achieved and revealed to the watchful few.

For a few glorious seconds.

Then the plates resume their shifting and harmony seems, at best, just out of reach. Or, in the case of the other extreme, nowhere to be found as the plates shift to a point of chaos and dangerous imbalance.

Maybe that rare moment of eternal harmony –as I know it– is what I am seeing in this new painting that is headed to the Principle Gallery for my annual solo show, Between Here and There, which opens June 4. It has a feeling of great harmony for me, of things being in alignment, in place. And of the Red Tree as a central figure being aware of the unity of time and place in which it finds itself.

I believe I have experienced episodes of those four or five seconds of clarity and I see it in this piece. I am calling this new 24″ by 36″ painting Harmonia Aeternam. I chose the Latin translation for Eternal Harmony because I felt this piece deserved a weightier title.

It’s strong enough to handle it.

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GC Myers- Hiding in Plain Sight

“Hiding in Plain Sight”- Bid for it on the SPCA Fundraiser



What makes a hero? Courage, strength, morality, withstanding adversity? Are these the traits that truly show and create a hero? Is the light truly the source of darkness or vice versa? Is the soul a source of hope or despair? Who are these so called heroes and where do they come from? Are their origins in obscurity or in plain sight?

– Fyodor Dostoevsky



I want to let everyone out there know that the painting above, Hiding in Plain Sight, is currently part of the online auction to benefit our local Chemung County SPCA. This painting is 10″ by 14″ on paper which is matted in a 16″ by 20″ frame. It is valued at $1500 and the current high bid is $1050. It is Auction Item #14.

This virtual fundraising event which takes place tomorrow, Saturday, May 1, runs from 4-7 PM on Facebook Live with the auction for all items ending at 7 PM. It also has a variety of entertaining musical performances though out the event. You can check out or bid on this painting or any of the many donated items by  clicking on this link for its Facebook page, SPCA Virtual Facebook Fundraiser and scrolling down through the items. As I said, this painting is Auction Item #14.

I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to help out a worthy organization, our SPCA, and perhaps take home an original painting.

For me, this painting has message that aligns well with what Dostoevsky questions above. What makes a hero? What is beauty? What are we seeking? Is it beyond us or is it in plain sight?

My guess is that all that we seek and all that we are or need is always right before us, in plain sight.

So, come out of the shadows and stake your claim to heroism by helping the SPCA continue to help out the animals here in Chemung County. Like so many other things, those in need are often in plain sight, waiting for a helping hand.

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GC Myers- From Here to There sm



Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself.

It is not far, it is within reach,
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,
Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.

–Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, Section 46



 

I thought some lines from Uncle Walt might fit well with the new painting above. It is titled From Here to There and is part of my annual solo show that opens this year on June 4th at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria.

This show, titled Between Here and There, concerns itself primarily with the concept of the journey.   It could be as simple as an actual physical journey from one spot to another or it could be more metaphorical, symbolizing our journey through life, from birth to death.  

Beginnings and endings. Origins and final destinations. We all start and finish the journey.  

But the totality of the journey is never fully expressed in the start and end points. No, between here and there are all sorts of roads to follow, obstacles to conquer, bodies of water to cross, creatures to love, and things to be learned.

And dreams to be dreamed. Hopes to be hoped.  

In this journey, do we ever truly feel the satisfaction of reaching our destiny? There are other numerous destinations within the two endpoints of our life’s journey and sometimes we may reach a goal that we once thought was well beyond our grasp. It may produce a momentary feeling of euphoria that we take for satisfaction but eventually we yearn to be on our way once more. As Whitman points out later in this section:

This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look’d at the crowded heaven,
And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of those
orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of every thing in
them, shall we be fill’d and satisfied then?

And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and continue beyond.

Maybe we are destined to be always going forward, to always have a gnawing inside us to move, to learn and do and feel more.

To fill the space between here and there.

Here’s the whole of the section from Song of Myself:



I know I have the best of time and space, and was never measured and never will be measured.

 

I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!)

My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the woods,

No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair,

I have no chair, no church, no philosophy,

I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange,

But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,

My left hand hooking you round the waist,

My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public road.

 

Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,

You must travel it for yourself.

 

It is not far, it is within reach,

Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,

Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.

Shoulder your duds dear son, and I will mine, and let us hasten forth,

Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go.

 

If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff of your hand on my hip,

And in due time you shall repay the same service to me,

For after we start we never lie by again.

 

This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look’d at the crowded heaven,

And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of those
          orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of every thing in
          them, shall we be fill’d and satisfied then?

And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and continue
          beyond.

 

You are also asking me questions and I hear you,

I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out for yourself.

Sit a while dear son,

Here are biscuits to eat and here is milk to drink,

But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in sweet clothes, I kiss you with a good-by kiss and open the gate for your egress hence.

 

Long enough have you dream’d contemptible dreams,

Now I wash the gum from your eyes,

You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.

 

Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,

Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,

To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout, and laughingly dash with your hair




 

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pollock-blue-poles-1953-jpeg



It doesn’t make much difference how the paint is put on as long as something has been said. Technique is just a means of arriving at a statement.

–Jackson Pollock



I am sure there are plenty of artists who would argue this point made by Jackson Pollock. Like religion, many would most likely defend their chosen means of expression as the best.

But I think he is saying there is no one right way, no one technique that ranks above all others in putting forth an artist’s voice and statement. Each artist’s individual voice comes through their own chosen technique. Their statement–their truth or belief, if you will– arrives via that technique.

I know that’s been my experience when I am looking at art. I am generally looking for a statement of some sort from an artist in their work, something that displays their own truth regardless of how it is expressed. It doesn’t have to be a world shaking or any sort of grand statement. Just something that tells me about this artist’s situation in the world, how they see and feel it. I am mainly looking for something that makes me feel the need to look at it, to engage with it.

It can be in any style, stretching from the most refined painting created by a classically schooled artist down to an untrained folk artist who uses their local mud as their painting medium because that is all that is at hand. So long as each is earnestly created (and that is an important distinction) and provokes a true emotional response, any and all technique is valid.

To bring it back to the religious analogy, the earnest belief of the lone person sitting in a decrepit hut somewhere may be as valid as that of a priest in the grandest cathedral.

Art, like religion, is diminished when we fail to see the validity of all other voices.



This ran several years ago. Maybe it’s my own attempt to validate my own work which doesn’t fully fall in any traditional category. I like to think it’s more about validating anyone who has the need to express but feels like their lack of training or materials diminishes in some way. Honest expression always rules the day.

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theodore rousseau-underthebirches1842-43

Theodore Rousseau- Under The Birches 1842



It is better in art to be honest than clever.

–Theodore Rousseau



Theodore Rousseau (1812-1867) was part of the Barbizon school of painters, an art movement in 19th century France that was instrumental in moving away from from the traditional formalism that was prevalent in art up to that point and towards naturalism and artistic expression of emotion. It was very influential on many of the painters who later created the Impressionist movement.

Rousseau and Jean-Francois Millet, best known for his peasant scenes, were the two artists from this school whose work really spoke to me, seeming to have honest emotional content in them. Perhaps that is why his short quote resonated so strongly with me. That and the fact that I have found myself less impressed with cleverness than honest expression through the years. I have always believed that art comes from tapping into the subconscious, something other than the part of our brain that produces conscious thought.

I guess I just don’t think we are that smart. Or clever.

I know I am not.

My work is at its best when it comes from a place of honesty and real emotion, when it is made with more intuition than forethought. When it is too thought out and directed it begins to feel stilted and contrived, losing its naturalness and rhythm and becoming heavy-handed.

That is probably the reason I tell young or beginning painters to focus not so much on the actual idea or subject of a painting but more on things like paint handling and color quality, those things that make up the surface of a painting and convey the real meaning of the painting.

And I think that is what Rousseau was probably getting at in his terse quote.

But maybe not. Like I said, I am not that clever.



This post ran about six years ago and like they say, some things never change. I certainly haven’t gained any cleverness and I still believe that honest emotion is the basis of all impactful art. But what do I know?

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GC Myers- After PartyTurn out the lights, the party’s over
They say that, ‘All good things must end’
Let’s call it a night, the party’s over
And tomorrow starts the same old thing again

–Willie Nelson, The Party’s Over



 

This is a new small painting that is going to be part of my annual solo show at the Principle Gallery in  Alexandria, VA. This year’s show is called Between Here and There and opens Friday, June 4th.

This might be an odd choice to be the first piece shown from this year’s show. It’s called After Party and is one of those pieces I often do mainly for myself. Actually, most of the work I do is for myself first.

But this and others like it might be even more so. They just really satisfy some need inside of me, something that wants to come out.

Plus, they usually make me smile or sigh. I know that this one did both.

I am not going to get into what I see in this for myself. I would rather you have your own interpretation on this one.

I will say that I immediately thought of the old Willie Nelson song, The Party’s Over, that he wrote way back in the 1950’s. A lot of us remember Dandy Don Meredith wailing it during the early years of Monday Night Football ( with Howard Cosell) when the game’s results seemed inevitable. I have been listening to a remake of this old classic as done by the Atlanta-based group Manchester Orchestra. They employ the basic structure and chorus of the song but add a bit to the song. Some may not like the idea of toying with another’s song but I think it works well here and I kind of like it for this painting.

Give a listen, if you like.



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GC Myers- Rest Stop sm

“Rest Stop” – Currently at the West End Gallery



A man must find time for himself. Time is what we spend our lives with. If we are not careful we find others spending it for us. . . . It is necessary now and then for a man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; to sit on a rock in the forest and to ask of himself, ‘Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going?’ . . . If one is not careful, one allows diversions to take up one’s time—the stuff of life

― Carl Sandburg



This painting, Rest Stop, which is at the West End Gallery in Corning, is a favorite of mine. It might be in the colors or textures, those elements that often reach out to me, but it’s more likely because it’s message speaks clearly to me.

We all need to periodically stop the busyness of our lives, if only for a few moments. A short spell to pause everything and appreciate where we are in the present, to ponder how we came to be there, and to imagine where the future will take us.

An interlude to see how the past, present and future exist within us.

That’s the message I get from this painting. Now, doing such a thing is another animal altogether. For many of us, just stopping everything seems an impossibility. Or many may think such a thing is simple foolishness with no real purpose. Or some might feel that the prospect of actually thinking about anything, especially anything to do with their own life, is too tall a task.

But for some of us, these moments of ponderance are a necessity. They simply make life bearable. They create reason and meaning in a world that often seems to lack both. Those are the moments that define purpose at times when we need to know there is indeed purpose.

I get all of this with a glance at this painting. And I think that’s why I place so much stock in this piece– it speaks volumes with a so little effort. That’s the opposite of my writing or any form of expression with words.

Even this short re-examination of this painting is a form of pausing, of reflecting on what is now, what was then and what will will be. And maybe that’s the purpose of this piece and of art, in general.

Got to think about that…

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GC Myers- Far Away Eyes



Seems like a recurring theme lately with me starting most posts by saying that I am busy and eager to get to work. That’s actually a good thing for me. That eagerness to get to it is something that is not just there. It is cultivated, a result of previous actions. It usually means I am doing the right things (at least, for me) in my creative process.

So, while I wish I were willing to spend more time writing this morning’s post I am glad to want to get to my work.

But I wanted to share the painting above, Far Away Eyes, that is currently at the West End Gallery. I wrote about this piece last July and rereading that post reminded me of the struggle that I had with it. It was one of the first pieces I worked on during the early days of the pandemic. I had no momentum, no energy, little inspiration nor any eagerness to be at work. My mind was wholly distracted.

This piece though fought with me and made me work. Made me shut out the outer world for a time so that I could focus my mind on it, to become part of it.

To put it plainly, it didn’t come easy. That’s probably why this piece resonates so strongly with me. I think we all appreciate those things that make us struggle, that make us be at our best. We might be frustrated and demoralized during the battle but the result, the overcoming, makes us forget that. I know that the struggle in this piece had slipped my mind until I read the post that was written soon after this painting was completed, when the battle was still fresh in mind.

I now appreciate it for what it is, the force it possesses and not for what it provided in its creation.

As it should be.

The title for this song  was borrowed from an old Rolling Stones song from their 1978 Some Girls album. I didn’t mention it in the original post about the painting because I didn’t think the song itself fully lined up with the piece but its title did. But now, I’m not so sure.

Give a listen and you decide.



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