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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Thompson’


Even if it weren’t Halloween today, there’s plenty enough scary stuff taking place. And, unfortunately, it won’t end with the passing of this day of normal tricks and treats. I am just hoping that there are more treats than tricks in our near future.

But today I am just sticking with Halloween and playing a song that kind of aligns with the day. It’s Season of the Witch from Donovan from way back in 1966. Great sound. One of my favorites, Richard Thompson, does a good cover but I am sharing the Donovan original.

The video that accompanies the song below is from a landmark 1922 Swedish silent film made by Danish filmmaker Benjamin Christensen  titled Häxan which was called Witchcraft Through the Ages in its English release. It has truly remarkable and sometimes disturbing imagery, sometimes seeming as though it were pulled directly from a Hieronymus Bosch painting. I have written here about my admiration of the silent films around this time who were realizing the visual potential of the medium and this is certainly one of those films that come to mind. I have included a trailer for the film below the song’s video.

There was also a rerelease of the film in 1968 which was shortened and featured a narration from author William S. Burroughs and a jazz score featuring violinist Jean Luc Ponty. It’s interesting but I don’t think it has the same impact as the original.

Anyway, have a safe Halloween. Be careful because, as we are seeing, there are a lot of witches and devils out there. Hoping we can exorcise some of these demons on Tuesday. Have a good day.


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Sad, deserted shore, your fickle friends are leaving
Ah, but then you know it’s time for them to go
But I will still be here, I have no thought of leaving
I do not count the time
For who knows where the time goes?
Who knows where the time goes?

–Who Knows Where the Time Goes, Sandy Denny

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Kind of a convergence of things today. I was looking at some work form 2002, from the period after 9/11. My work at that time went primarily from transparent bright colors painted on a white ground to deeper saturated colors painted on a black ground, which became known as my Dark Work. There was a group of paintings in this series that featured interior scenes with with windows and an occasional open door along with a single red chair.

While these pieces were still being shown in galleries, I began hoarding them a bit, wanting to hold on to them. It felt like there was something personal in them that I didn’t want to share. at that time. Too close to the bone. I have several of these paintings and they are among the untouchables, those pieces that aren’t for sale.

The feeling in them had rhythm and feel that spoke to the bleaker days of this current isolation– a mix of sadness, resignation and longing. A lot of introspection and stillness in them.

At the same time, a friend sent me an email asking if I had heard of a singer named Eva Cassidy. I had heard her name and knew a little about her from years before but hadn’t found the time to listen to her work. She was a gifted singer/songwriter who, while well known in the DC area, never achieved wider recognition before succumbing to melanoma at the tender age of 33 in 1996. After her death, her work took off in the UK and the rest of Europe. Her recording released after her death have sold over ten million copies and have went to the top of the British charts 3 times.

Her music, or rather her voice, often has that same mixture of sadness, resignation, longing and stillness that I see in this group of paintings.

I am playing one of her recordings today, a cover of a Sandy Denny song called Who Knows Where the Time Goes? There is a bit of a convergence in her having recorded this song. Sandy Denny, for those of you who don’t know the name, was a tremendously talented British singer/songwriter, who is hailed as being “the pre-eminent British folk rock singer.” She fronted Fairport Convention for a while, alongside Richard Thompson, and was the only guest singer to ever appear on a Led Zeppelin recording, The Battle of Evermore. 

But she had bouts of depression along with alcohol and drug issues that often caused her physical injury. In late March of 1978, she suffered a fall where she banged her head on concrete. Soon after, she began to experience severe headaches. On April 1, she made her last public appearance with Who Knows Where the Time Goes? being the last song she ever sang in public.

She died on April 21, 1978 from a brain hemorrhage at the age of 31.

Like Eva Cassidy, her renown only grew after her death, with multiple posthumous releases of her work.

Two tragic lives that ended at much too early an age, bonded by this song. Both do haunting versions of it. I think I will listen to it again while I look at the painting at the top.

Have a good day and be thankful for the life that you have.

 

 

 

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It seems a little silly to write about my work while what is happening in the outer world beyond my studio goes on. I would prefer to give air to my anger at the gross incompetence and irresponsibility displayed by our government in its handling of the current crisis. Or to voice my anxiety for the health of my family and friends, as well as my own. Or my fears about the almost certain loss of the better part of my livelihood for at least the near future. And maybe well beyond.

Who knows how this ultimately shakes out?

So, writing about painting seems grossly insignificant, even trivial, at the moment.

But it’s what I do.

I am painting diligently now with the hopes that soon there will be a return to normalcy.

It’s what I do.

It also keeps me from thinking too much about the current situation, keeps me as sane as I can be. Now, where that falls on the sane to insane spectrum, I can’t tell you. But while it provides me with an escape route, the outer world often finds its way in.

Take the piece at the top, a new painting on paper that’s 18″ by 24″. It’s a real throwback to my earlier work with transparent color washes with hard edges and a sparseness of detail. Painting it was a joy, like meeting an old best friend once more and recognizing all those things that made that person important to you at one time. There was an inherent comfort in it for me, one that allowed me to forge ahead, finding focus even though my mind was still partially distracted.

The sky in these works always seem to dominate whatever element I choose to serve as the central character in the composition, here the house and the adjacent Red Tree. This domination provides evidence for me of our frailty, our relative smallness in the greater scheme of things in this world, in this universe. But at the same time it provides affirmation of my own existence, standing alone under the dome of the sky.

It just felt good. Feels good. The image above is not perfect, needs a little tweaking as I just noticed a shadow on the foreground. But for the moment, it’s good enough. But even though it, for the most part, takes me away from the now, the current situation always seems to creep back in. When I was finishing this piece the idea of social distancing as a way of mitigating exposure to the virus was on my mind. This piece, like much of my work, has a sense of isolation.

I decided to call it Keep Your Distance, the title taken from a Richard Thompson song from one of my favorite albums, Rumor and Sigh.

Here’s the song. Give a listen and keep your distance, okay?

 

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There’s a lot I would like to write about this painting as it hits so many notes for me personally. Titled Night Gem Rising, it’s a 12″ by 36″ painting on canvas that is one of those pieces that goes past any expectations that were gathered at its beginning. It feels like so much more than anything I put into it  or the sum of my own parts.

It’s funny but it is sometimes harder to write about these pieces that hit so closely on a personal level. Maybe it’s because they get so close to the core. Too close to conceal one’s own tears, fears, desires and doubts.

So, I am just showing it with that little explanation today. It is included in my annual show at the West End Gallery,this year called The Rising. The show is now hung in the Market Street gallery for previews and the opening reception takes place this coming Friday, July 13, running from 5-7:30. Please stop in and take a look.

For this Sunday morning music I thought I’d pick a version of a favorite of mine from singer/songwriter Richard Thompson. It’s Dimming of the Day and it fits perfectly for my feelings on this painting. This is one of those songs that will no doubt go down as a modern classic if it isn’t already thought of as such, considering the long list of artists who have covered it. There are so many great versions but I still prefer Thompson’s performances of it. This is a recent live version from an NPR radio broadcast.

Enjoy and have a good Sunday.

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If I cease searching, then, woe is me, I am lost. That is how I look at it – keep going, keep going come what may.

― Vincent van GoghThe Letters of Vincent van Gogh

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Like many of my paintings, this new piece, Reaching Out, a canvas measuring 36″ by 18″, is concerned with the Search.

The search for something that we think is missing or that we need.

Love. Friendship. Knowledge. Wisdom. Fame. Fortune. Peace. Acceptance. Truth. God.

Answers to those needs and questions that never rest within us. Those things that define us as who we truly are and what place we occupy in this universe.

I think that this searching will always be with us, that we shall never find all of the answers we seek. I know that I will never find all of the answers that I desire. But finding just a few answers, even if only a glimpse of an answer, satisfies me for a time, giving me a prod to continue scanning the horizon even when I am most content in my life as it is.

So, I maintain my own personal search.

As, I am sure, you do as well.

For this Sunday morning music, I have chose a song that meshes nicely with the idea of the Search, written by one of my favorites, Richard Thompson. Titled  She Never Could Resist a Winding Road, this version is a duet between Joan Baez and Thompson. It’s a lovely song and nice way to begin your own seeking this morning.

Have a great day.

Oh! The painting above, Reaching Out, is part of my solo show, Self Determination, that opens at the West End Gallery this coming Friday, July 14.
 

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9913217-fragments-sm“All there is, is fragments, because a man, even the loneliest of the species, is divided among several persons, animals, worlds. To know a man more than slightly it would be necessary to gather him together from all those quarters, each last scrap of him, and this done after he is safely dead.”
Coleman Dowell, Island People

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It’s been hard finding footing lately in the studio.  It’s been hard to just get started on most days.  There are plenty of factors that play in to this, some external and some internal, some that I can control and some I cannot.  But the end result is the same: I am left feeling fragmented, broken into shards that don’t want to reassemble easily in the form of my work.

I am not worried however.  This is not the first time I’ve felt so fragmented nor will it be the last.  I know that I come apart at times and have to bide my time, just continuing to try to put myself back together so that I may uncover what I know is waiting there for me.

It’s there. It may seem an awfully long way away but I can see it and I know that while it may take time and much effort, I shall be together with it again.

The painting above is a piece that has been with me for a while now.  One of the orphans that come home to reside for a bit.  I wrote about it last year when I thought I might change its name to Dimming of the Day but it still remains under its original title, Fragments, in my mind.  And I suspect it will stay that way.

This painting is based very much on this feeling that I am experiencing at this moment and when this feeling emerges, I often think of this painting.  There is darkness and distance here.  The space between the Red Chair and the house has a certain weight that makes me feel as though there is something more than physical distance at play here. The sky, a confetti-like blend of thousands of little fragments of brushstrokes that gave the painting its title originally,  represents, for me at least in this piece, the world falling out of harmony.

Dark, distant and coming apart.

Yet despite that I find this painting very comforting.  I think that goes back to what I said above, that I know this place well from past experience .  I know how to navigate it and know that the distance is not so great nor the darkness too deep.  And I know that the parts are still in place to come together again in the future if I simply exercise patience and don’t give in.

It’s funny how that works.  I walk by this painting several times a day in the studio and it’s often without a thought as my mind is preoccupied with something else.  But every so often I stop before it and suddenly all of these feelings flood back on me when I look closer.  I’m glad it works that way, actually.

Here’s a nice version of the Richard Thompson song whose title, Dimming of the Day,  I was thinking about renaming this painting.  It’s a strong yet tender version from Tom Jones.  Have a good day…

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GC Myers The Anticipation  2003Sunday morning quiet…

It’s always one of my favorite times, bringing back memories as a kid when I would get up before everybody else and have the house basically to myself.  Nothing expected and nothing to be said.  Go out to the road to get the paper and read the comics.  Maybe have some hot chocolate to dunk my toast in. Safe in my home with my parents sleeping nearby…

A child’s tranquility, seemingly so easy and natural.  We add and absorb so many things that change us from that easy and natural state.  You can spend your whole life trying to recapture that feeling, that momentary bliss, but unfortunately it is as elusive as the fog.  But every so often we experience a flash of moments that seem reminiscent of those times before everything didn’t seem like old news, before everything had been seen or heard–that feeling of newness and wonder that only a kid can truly feel.

Man, is that a good feeling.  It can sustain you for days and days until the memory of it dissolves and is forever lost.

Hope to find it again soon.

This Sunday I thought I’d share a performance from one of my favorites, Richard Thompson.  This is him performing his Sunset Song at the Goldmark Gallery, an art gallery in Uppingham, England, that often hosts musical performances for small groups. It’s a great version of a lovely song.  I chose the painting at the top, a piece called The Anticipation from back in 2003, to go with this song.  It’s a painting that always catches my eye.

Enjoy and have a great Sunday…

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GC Myers-Dimming of the DaySometimes on a Sunday morning I find myself surfing around on YouTube trying to find a song that strikes me just right, something that wants  to be shared  as my Sunday morning music.  Today it started in one spot that had me listening to 60’s music then the blues and prison songs from the 1920’s and 30’s that influenced them then back to other newer versions.  Then I somehow found myself listening to funk and acid jazz— actually, a term I had never heard before so I couldn’t resist at least a short listen.  It wasn’t for me so I moved on and before I knew it I was back at one of my favorites, Richard Thompson.

I chose one of his classics, Dimming of the Day, a song that has been covered many times by a multitude of artists.  Just a beautiful song.  This version is from its original incarnation when he was still recording with his then wife Linda Thompson.

But looking for an image to accompany the post my eyes fell on the painting shown at the top.  Originally titled Fragments, it was back in the studio after a few years making the rounds of the galleries.  It’s one of the pieces that I feel strongly about  but doesn’t find a home quickly.  There have been a few of these through the years and this one always made me wonder what it was about it that kept it from finding that home.  But looking at it while this song played made me realize that it needed a different title, one that perhaps fit it a bit better.  And Dimming of the Day seemed so right for it, both in tone and meaning.  Why not?  So I changed the title this morning and this painting is now  the same as the song.

And it feels complete  to me now.

Here’s the song from Richard and Linda Thompson. The track finishes with a beautiful instrumental track, Dargai.  Enjoy and have a great day.

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GC Myers- Shadowsong smWell, it is Sunday morning and time for some music once again.  I thought I’d take this opportunity to show how it is not always the what but the how that is important.  Take for instance the song Oops!… I Did It Again, perhaps one of the best known pop songs of the last fifteen or twenty years, performed by Britney Spears.  Like her or not, you probably have found yourself at some point with that tune in your head.

Myself, I have tried to avoid it in any way possible.

But back in 2003, one of my favorites, Richard Thompson,  did a live album called 1000 Years of Popular Music, where he attempts to summarize the last millennium through musical selections from different eras through that time.  He begins  with Sumer Is Icumen In from the 11th century (this debatable with some saying it is later but for the sake of making the album title work let’s go along with the 11th century) and moves through all forms of traditional and popular music all arranged for his single guitar and  percussion, when needed.  It ends with 2000’s Oops!… I Did It Again.

In Thompson’s hands, the song becomes something quite different.  In painting terms, it would be like two vastly different painters doing the same scene.  Let’s say a simple country cottage painted by Thomas Kinkade and Vincent Van Gogh.  They might be the same whats but the resulting hows would be worlds apart.

Give a listen and see for yourself.  And have a great Sunday…

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Save the BabyI spent this entire past week fighting a fatiguing  flu that just doesn’t want to say good-bye  yet somehow find myself at another Sunday morning, this one marking Mother’s Day for this year.  I am reminded of the old school cures my mom would administer when we kids were sick.  There was always a can of Cloverine Salve and a bottle of Save The Baby on hand.  It was a small glass bottle filled cloudy, camphor-based product that she would heat then dole out in a tablespoon along with a little sugar.  The grainy sweetness of the sugar couldn’t hide the pungent camphor taste but  acted as enough of a distraction to make it bearable.  Plus, there always seemed to be some sort of relief from the coughing afterwards.  You can’t buy this product now as camphor has been banned for internal use by the FDA but it will always have a place in my heart as a symbol for the care Mom offered when we were feeling under the weather.  Miss you, Mom.

Being Sunday morning, I usually offer some music and this week I have chosen a somewhat topical song.  It’s called Mother Knows Best and is from one of my favorite albums, Rumor and Sigh, from the great Richard Thompson.  Enjoy your Mother’s Day.

 

Cloverine Salve

 

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