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Posts Tagged ‘Principle Gallery’

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There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.

Jean-Paul Sartre

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This is a new painting, a large canvas measuring 30″ high by 48″ wide, that is scheduled for my annual show at the Principle Gallery, this year called Social Distancing,which is tentatively scheduled to open on June 5.

I call it And Dusk Dissolves.

It’s a very soothing painting here in the studio, with a lot of warmth and light in its colors. I believe that is because it needed to be that in this moment.

I was trying to ease my mind in some way.

Trying to push away anger and fear, to push away anxiety and despair. To find a place in which I could rest my mind, if only for a brief moment.

And I think I find that place in this piece. In it, the Red Tree feels safe and at peace.

Yet at the same time, there is a somber wistfulness in it, as though the Red Tree is already missing the day that is still just leaving, regretting what little it has done with that precious time. As the Sartre words above attest, the day is a gift that is given to us each dawn and taken away each dusk.

This day’s gift is nearly gone.

The next dawn will bring a new gift but before that sunrise arrives there is a long dark night to be endured. Lately, it is filled with restless sleep and dreams with nightmarish imagery and intense feelings of alienation and betrayal.

Though the dawn brings a sense of joy and potential that comes with it as a gift, the ever lengthening nights begin to slowly diminish this optimistic outlook.

Maybe that’s the strength of this piece, that tension between its gratitude for the gift of the day that has passed, its peaceful acceptance of the present  moment, and its apprehension of what the new day may bring.

The current time often informs and defines my own readings of my work. Sometimes the piece translates differently over time and sometimes they emote in the same way, tell me the same story. I can’t tell on this painting right now. It’s still too close, too deeply embedded.

But I have a feeling that years from now — if that turns out to be the case– I will look on this piece and remember the comfort and reassurance it offered in a terrible time.

And that will comfort me then, as well.

Have a good day. Remember, it’s a gift.

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I do a one-man show every June at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA and have done so since the year 2000. This year’s show, my 21st such show, is slated to open June 5. I am keeping hope alive that the current situation will have subsided to some degree and that the show can go on by that time but the experts’ projections, based on what little data they can obtain from our inadequate testing, make it look a little shaky.

But I am continuing to work on this show on the premise that the show will go on.

It’s what I do. All I can do.

That being said, I have determined that this year’s show should reflect this time. At least, my take on it. To that end I am calling the show Social Distancing. It’s a term that, while it has really taken hold in this world in recent times, I don’t think I have encountered much before now.

I have practiced it and painted it in many ways but just didn’t know to call it that.

From my earliest days, much of my work has dealt with the duality that runs along that line between solitude and alienation. The yin and yang, the joy and the sorrow, that comes from being apart from others. Many of my series have focused on this separation, the Exiles and Outlaws series jumping to mind.

But even my most used archetype, the Red Tree, usually concerns itself with distancing.  It almost always is alone or at least apart from other trees. Most of the time, it is about finding strength in recognizing those things which makes us unique individuals but occasionally it is about feeling alienated from the rest of the world.

Some find empowerment in their solitude. I believe that’s been the case for myself as I have seldom felt loneliness, especially in my adult years. But for many, that line between simply being alone and lonely is a thin one.

Solitude and silence can be frightening to those unaccustomed to it.

This being the case, there will be a pretty substantial nod to my earlier work, such as the painting at the top. It’s a 14″ by 24″ piece on paper that I call Social Distancing: Approaching Storm. I guess it’s a timely title.

For me, this return to that earlier method which focuses on sparse landscapes and big blocks of transparent color is like comfort food to me. The more I immerse myself in this work the more I understand what its appeal was to myself and those folks who were drawn to it in the early days. Working on this group over the past week or so has been steadying in the face of the great uncertainty we face.

I could say more but I think I want to stop. Hopefully, the show will go on, at least in some form.

I am going back to the solitude of my work now.

It’s what I do. It’s all I can do.

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Social Distancing, this year’s edition of my annual show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria opens June 5.

Stay tuned for further details.

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One of the benefits that come from writing this blog for nearly 12 years now is that on those days when I am super busy and have to get to work early, I can go into the archives and pull out a favorite. Below is a such a favorite from back in 2013, made doubly so in that it is in itself a reposting of an even earlier entry from 2009. Give a look ( and a listen) if you have a few minutes.

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farmer[2013]– Yesterday, I checked my blog with a search to see if I had ever written here before about that day’s subject, Long John Baldry. I found that I had only mentioned him once in a post from back in 2009. I read the older blog and it made me chuckle. It was titled You Can’t Judge a Book… from a song that Baldry had once covered and had to do with how our preconceptions are often wrong about people. It immediately brought to mind something that had happened over the weekend here at the studio.

My niece, Sarah, brought a friend and her husband to visit the studio from their NYC home. Sarah didn’t share much about her friend outside of saying that they danced together and that she was a filmmaker for one of the large big-name auction houses in NYC.  I had no idea about what her husband did for a living. That was the extent of my knowledge outside of knowing they had been married the year before in New Orleans.

But they arrived and we had a wonderful visit. Both were charming and inquisitive, asking real questions and relating their own experiences in response to my answers. They were easy to speak with and made me feel comfortable in describing my work and process, not something that a lot of people can do easily. We visited for a couple of hours and they headed back to the city.

During our visit we learned a bit about the friend’s husband, whose name I won’t use out of respect for their privacy.  He was in the music business in some fashion, performing as a DJ, and had spent a lot of time touring here and abroad. He also was working on soundtracks for films. When I asked what sort of music he worked in, he said, in an almost apologetic way, that it was mainly rap and hip-hop. The manner of his response struck me in a curious way. He went on to explain that it was the music of when and where he grew up, in the neighborhoods of NYC. Again, this was said in an apologetic manner.

I didn’t think much about it until after they left and I decided to see if I could find out more about his music.  Googling him, I discovered that he had a prodigious reputation in the rap genre, with over twenty years in the business as a DJ and producer for a pretty big name rapper. He had recently started his own record company and had released an album  of his work only weeks before our meeting. I watched a couple of videos of his work and listened to several songs.

I am not an authority on rap/ hip hop in any form but this was powerful stuff. I was really impressed and thought back to his apologetic description of his work.

I understood it then.

He didn’t want to be judged and was trying to make it easy for me to not judge him. I mean, here I was, a middle-aged white guy with gray hair out in the country— not exactly a prime candidate for a hip-hop connoisseur. He had surely heard the venom directed toward his musical genre before from people who looked like me.

So, he judged me before I could judge him. I understood that.  It’s most likely what I would have done had I been in his place. My only regret is that it robbed me of an opportunity to ask the many questions that I formed in looking up his work after they had left the studio. It would have been fascinating to compare our creative processes, to see how he synthesized his influences. I got the impression from our talk that, though we worked in vastly different environments with disparate influences, we both working on a similar creative rhythm, expressing emotion within the framework of our own personal environments.

Well, the next time we will both know and won’t worry about judging one another. Here’s the original post from back in 2009:

I’ve just put the final details on a couple of paintings that will be part of my solo show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. The show opens June 12th and I’m scheduled to deliver the work to the gallery a week before so I’m in the final stages of preparation. This is my tenth one-man show at the gallery and before that I did two shows as part of a group of painters from the Corning , NY area that was dubbed the Finger Lakes School.  

I particularly remember one moment from the first show with that group. There was a pretty good crowd and several of us from the group mingled, answering questions and such. I had a small break in the conversation and I heard a female voice from behind ask her companion where we were from. Her friend answered that we were from the Finger Lakes region in New York, pointing out that it was a pretty rural area with a lot of wineries and farms.

“Well, you know, they do look like farmers,” she replied.

I think I did a spit take. Over the years I often think back to that lady’s comment and sometimes laugh. Maybe we shouldn’t have all worn our overalls and straw hats that night. It just reminds me how people judge others by that initial glimpse and how often they end up being wrong. Actually, I’ve come to the conclusion that, in the end, I would prefer being mistaken for a farmer than an artist anyhow. Offhand, I can think of more positive attributes for the farmer. So, if you can make it to the opening look for the guy who looks like a farmer…

That brings me to a song, You Can’t Judge a Book, that was originally written by blues great Willie Dixon and made popular by Bo Diddley. This is a personally favorite version from Long John Baldry, one of the pioneers of the British blues/rock movement in the early 60’s and a guy who had real panache. Give a listen and be careful before judging someone, okay?

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exANll1Mk7o

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I breathe a deep sigh of relief this morning.

Another Gallery Talk in the rearview mirror, this one at the Principle Gallery. Many, many thanks to the many folks who came out yesterday to spend an hour with me on perfect end of summer day in the Capital District. It was wonderful to see new faces along with the more familiar faces of the many older friends there who I was able to spend a few minutes catching up with.

This was my 17th Gallery talk there and while it is somewhat easier after all those times, it still is a daunting thing to stand in front of a crowd and talk off the cuff. I wasn’t as smooth yesterday as I had wished and didn’t hit all my intended points. I always fret a bit in the aftermath of these talks about things I have said, worrying that I wasn’t clear or spoke with the wrong attitude for what I was trying to get across.

Or just said something plain dopey.

But I also worry about those things left unsaid. Sometimes there are little anecdotes I mean to tell that get lost in the the brain while I am standing there in front of the group.You would think that in 17 hours of yammering on in these talks over the years, everything would have been said, that everything would have found it way out by now. But I know that’s not the case, that there are still a lot of stories yet to be told and potential secrets to be revealed. I guess I’ll have to start now on getting these things into next year’s Talk which I am aiming to make the best yet.

But this year’s talk ended up as a pretty good talk, even with my own critical take on it. It certainly ended on a high note.

Again, my eternal gratitude to those who came out and especially to the whole staff at the Principle Gallery– my good friends Michele, Clint, Owen, Leigh, Pierre and Josh— for the very hard work done in making it possible. They had a large opening the night before, hosting the 14th annual exhibit of the International Guild of Realism with artists coming from around the country to attend. To turn around in a little over 12 hours and host this event is quite remarkable. I am filled with appreciation and affection for these folks.

So, like I said, mark it down now. Next September– best Gallery Talk ever. Promise.

Here’s this Sunday’s music. I thought I’d show one more piece that went down to the talk yesterday, Eyes of Night, shown above. This song lines up nicely with this piece for me. It’s Field of Diamonds, one of Johnny Cash‘s works from his final years. It was period of great expression and artfulness at the end of his time here on earth. It’s an interesting chapter for an artist with a very long and memorable career.

He saw his career in the future rather than in the past. Wished I had said that yesterday.

Have a good Sunday.

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Okay, last notice:

WHO: Me ( GC Myers) and hopefully you.

WHAT: GALLERY TALK

WHERE:  Principle Gallery, Alexandria, VA

WHEN: Today, Saturday, September 21, beginning at 1 PM

WHY: The real question is why not?

That Why answer doesn’t work for you? Well, how about for one thing, you could win the painting, Light Emanation, shown shown here?

Does that work?

Or that you could take home something else, perhaps another painting(!!?) or a small token of my gratitude or even something of great value. Like the classic 1969 Chevy Impala shown at the bottom. It needs a little TLC, a little touch up paint and a bit of elbow grease but it’s a peach. I swear.

Seriously, I promise you a fairly good time that goes along with my ironclad claim that it will not be the worst hour of your life. If I am wrong about this, then my life is just sad.

And if that’s the case, you’ll no doubt feel good simply by comparison.

See? Win-win.

Hope to see you at the Principle Gallery today!

 

You Could Win This Classic 1969 Impala ?

PS: I am legally bound to tell you that you can’t win this car. It is simply an example, admittedly a small one, of humor.

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I am tired of tears and laughter,
And men that laugh and weep ;
Of what may come hereafter
For men that sow to reap :
I am weary of days and hours,
Blown buds of barren flowers,
Desires and dreams and powers
And everything but sleep.

Algernon Charles Swinburne, The Garden of Proserpine

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This is the last painting I finished from the group of work that is coming with me on my trip to Alexandria tomorrow, when I will be at the Principle Gallery for my annual Gallery Talk. which begins at 1 PM. I call this painting, which is an 8″ by 24″ canvas, At the End of Time.

This was a trying painting for me. It just never felt right through the whole process and at several points I was ready to trash it. But there was something in it that kept me at it, something that wouldn’t let me just black it out and build anew. It wasn’t until it was 99% complete that it suddenly transformed into a living, breathing piece with its own vitality.

I went from hating this piece to a point where I haven’t been able to look away from it for the last few days.

It seems to have a message and a sense of weary finality. The words of Swinburnes The Garden of Prosperine, an excerpt of which is shown above, mesh beautifully with this image. At least, as I see it.

I am not going to fully describe how I see this now. I don’t want to taint your own impression of this painting, if I haven’t already done so by now.

Maybe if you come to the Gallery Talk tomorrow and ask me, I will tell you the personal meaning behind some of the elements in this piece. We’ll see.

But please feel free to come to the Gallery Talk tomorrow, Saturday, September 21, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. It starts at 1 PM and after about an hour which includes some talking, assorted questions and answers, a few laughs, a couple of feats of strength, a brief operatic solo and a little soft shoe, I will be giving away some stuff, including the painting Light Emanation. Plus there are some what you might call neat parting gifts and there may or may not be an additional painting awarded.

You will have to come to find out. I am not saying for sure.

Wink wink, nudge nudge.

Seriously, hope you can make it. I advise you to get there early to beat the crowd, claim a seat and enter the drawing. We can fill the time with a little pre-Talk chat, if you like.

 

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One third, more or less, of all the sorrow that the person I think I am must endure is unavoidable. It is the sorrow inherent in the human condition, the price we must pay for being sentient and self-conscious organisms, aspirants to liberation, but subject to the laws of nature and under orders to keep on marching, through irreversible time, through a world wholly indifferent to our well-being, toward decrepitude and the certainty of death. The remaining two thirds of all sorrow is homemade and, so far as the universe is concerned, unnecessary.

Aldous Huxley

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The painting at the top is yet another new piece, a 10″ x 30″ canvas that is titled Let It Go. It is part of he group of new work that I am bringing with me on Saturday when I head to the Principle Gallery for my annual Gallery Talk there, which begins at 1 PM.  More details on that later in this post.

The words above from Aldous Huxley are from his book, fittingly titled Island. Little known, it was his final book, written in 1962, and presented a utopian alternative to his Brave New World.

I really don’t know the book myself so I can’t honestly depict what it has to say but the small bit above aligns with my own observations on our lives here. We are all subject to the sorrow of simply being alive. We experience pain and loss of abilities as we age and suffer the loss of others along the way before our own life comes to an end. That is simply part of the deal and is to be expected, unpleasant as that may seem.

But much of what makes life sometimes miserable is, for the most part, avoidable. It is our reaction to the vagaries, missteps, mistreatment and insults that life has in store for us that is the culprit here. We have a choice in how we react to these things. We can choose to hold on to these things, to allow them to make us angry or anxious or fearful, or we can see that they are, in the greater scheme of things, inconsequential.

We don’t have to hold on to these things. They can be let go.

That’s what I see in this painting. I know it sounds funny coming from a guy who regularly displays his own anger, anxiety and fears here on this page. I guess even though you sometimes know what the problem is, it takes practice to overcome it.

And I am trying to release those things that I can’t control. Or let go of those things that only do me harm in my holding on to them. Anger and hatred, regret and fear. Just let it go.

I’m trying.

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Speaking of fear and anxiety, my annual Gallery Talk is this Saturday, September 21, beginning at 1 PM at the Principle Gallery in beautiful Old Town Alexandria. This is my 17th annual Gallery Talk there and I think this could be a good one. There’s a lot to talk about and I have some interesting giveaways including at least one original painting! Plus I may even demonstrate my ability to read minds! Or maybe guess your weight. Who knows?

One thing is guaranteed, as I have pointed out in the past:  It will not be the worst hour of your life.

Good conversation, some prizes and a no pain guarantee. How can you resist an offer like that?

Get there early to grab a seat and maybe we can chat a bit beforehand.

See ya’ there Saturday!

 

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