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Posts Tagged ‘Self Determination’

Tonight marks the opening reception for Self Determination, an exhibit of my new work at the West End Gallery in Corning. It runs from 5 until 7:30 and there will be refreshments, food, music from guitarist William Groome and work– both mine and the great work of the other artists there whose work is on display upstairs– that I hope you will find to your liking.

I saw the show in the gallery yesterday and think it has an impressive look in place. Jesse and Lin always do a fantastic job arranging and hanging the show so that it shows to its best advantage and this show is a great example of their skill.

The West End was the first gallery ( or for that matter, the first people outside my family) to see anything in my work and they set me on this life in art that I have so enjoyed back in early 1995. They have graciously hosted my solo shows — this is my 16th there– over the years and I try to do my very best for them out of a sense of gratitude for the many things they have done for me.

I hope this show lives up to that obligation I feel. I think it does but my opinion is mine alone. You will have to be the judge.

I will be on hand tonight and will be available for all your questions or comments. If you can make it tonight, please don’t be shy. If you want to talk and I am engaged with someone else, just catch my eye and I will get to you as soon as possible. Or listen in and join the conversation. That’s something I always forget to point out because I have had so many people tell me they were at an opening and didn’t speak with me because I was busy with other people. If you make the effort to get to the gallery I will make time for you.

Also, just a reminder that if you can’t make the show, there will be a Gallery Talk at the West End on Saturday, August 5.  Should be fun so I hope you can make it then.

So, if your date book isn’t full, please stop in tonight at the West End Gallery. We look forward to seeing you.

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Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future. 
― Hermann HesseSiddhartha

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The painting above is a 30″ by 30″ canvas titled River Angel and is part of my show, Self Determination, that opens tomorrow night at the West End Gallery.

This painting is a continuation on a theme that I have been working in recently, based on the negative space that makes up the river and sky forming a silhouette that reminds me of that of the shape of a stylized flying angel. I did a rough crop of the piece, shown here on the right, that I hope displays what I am talking about. It may not be so evident to you but my eye reads that shape immediately in that way.

Now, as I have stated in past, I don’t know much about angels and can’t attest to their existence or even my own belief in them. I would like to believe that they look over us and that they guide us in some way. There have been days when I could swear they exist, that I have come in touch with them at some moment when I really needed them, but the skeptical part of me tells me it was only coincidence.

But what I do believe is that if there are angels, they would be drawn to the eternal flow of the river, the convergence of the river with the sea and the land and the sky. This great trinity of elements– sea, land and sky– has an inherent grace that just reeks of angels. Well, maybe reeks isn’t the right word but I’m sticking with it for now.

But it is that power and grace that I see in this painting, in the way the three elements come together to create a harmony that calls out to me. Maybe the moon here acts as a halo. Or maybe the Red Tree is the symbolic representation of that River Angel.

Or perhaps the flow of the river into the sea represents the transition from human to the elemental and onto the spirit.

I can’t really say.

But I do sense a place and moment of grace and harmony here, one that, if angels do exist, would be right at home to them.

 

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Sweet Seclusion

Well, the work is all in place for my show, Self Determination, at the West End Gallery. I know that I put in the needed work for this show and feel that it comes through in the paintings, individually and as a group. It’s a selection of work of which I am proud. Hope you’ll agree.

The opening reception is set for this Friday beginning at 5 PM so if you’re in the Corning area, please stop in for a look. Maybe a glass of wine, a bite to eat, a little conversation and some great guitar music provided by my friend, William Groome, as well.

Hope to see you there.

Here’s a video preview I threw together just this morning. Take a look.

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The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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The painting above, a 24″ by 18″ canvas, shares its title with that of my solo show, Self Determination, which opens this Friday, July 14, at the West End Gallery in Corning.

That title, Self Determination, refers to a thought that came to me some years ago. It was that we have a choice in deciding what kind of person we want to be. While we can’t always change circumstance, we have the ability to change our course, our outlook, our reactions and so many other things that pertain to how we are defined.

It’s not an original idea, as Emerson’s concise words above attest. I’m sure I could dig around and come up with the same idea from the time of Socrates or Plato.

No, it’s a universal truth. But it is one that, while seeming  self evident, is overlooked by the majority of people. We often live our lives with little consideration given to our actions and reactions as we stumble through our precious time in this world.

We just accept who and what we are as a given, even when we are less than pleased by what we see.

I know that was the case for me for much of my earlier life. Not that I didn’t think about my choices. No, I just never thought about what my decisions might be if I were the person I wanted to be. Instead I often opted for short-sighted and expedient answers, usually those that required little effort or sacrifice on my part.

I didn’t often like or respect the person I was at those times.

But once I realized I could decide what type of person I wished to be, I began to ask myself conscious questions that set a new course for myself. Gradually, I began to move toward the person I chose to be. Oh, I am still quite a distance from that destination and I still find myself disliking the person I am at times. But I know now that I am headed in a direction that is of my design and not simply living life in a default setting, letting circumstances and the desires of other people dictate my actions.

And maybe that is why I am so drawn to the painting above. I feel it is a great example of what I have been trying to express with my work– that we have an ability to move beyond expectations and circumstances to become better versions of ourselves.

For me, I want to be that Red Tree, simply satisfied with its place in the world.

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“You are not the oil, you are not the air—merely the point of combustion, the flash-point where the light is born. You are merely the lens in the beam. You can only receive, give, and possess the light as the lens does. If you seek yourself, you rob the lens of its transparency. You will know life and be acknowledged by it according to your degree of transparency—your capacity, that is, to vanish as an end and remain purely as a means.” 
― Dag HammarskjöldMarkings

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Transparency is an issue that has had a lot of buzz in public discussion lately. I am not going to get into that today.

But I do have to say that it troubles me as I am someone who has become ever more transparent, more honest, through the past few decades. I used to view such openness and honesty as a weakness, as a vulnerability that would allow myself to be exploited in some way. But at a point about twenty five years back, I came to the realization that I wanted to live an open and transparent life, one with nothing to hide.

It meant admitting weaknesses and vulnerabilities, taking responsibility for my many shortcomings.

It’s a scary thing and I wasn’t sure that it was the right thing for me. But I felt it was my only option if I were going to proceed through the reminder of my life.

And it was perhaps the best decision I ever made. Sparing you all the details, I have to say that that the transparency, the vulnerability that I chose at that point, has transformed my life. It has not always been easy or perfect but it is certainly better.

The effect of that transparency is what I was seeing in the painting at the top of the page, With Nothing to Hide.  A 15″ by 11″ painting on paper, it is part of my show, Self Determination, that opens Friday at the West End Gallery.

It expresses the willingness to make oneself vulnerable, to allow the world to see how you see and react to the world. I think that might be the quality that made my career as an artist possible. In fact, I think that is the quality that many incredibly talented artists suppress, which sometimes keeps them from meshing that transparency of emotional feeling with their physical talent. Which means they often don’t reach the potential that might lay within them.

For me, I was lucky in having my painting assist me with my transparency and, in turn, that desire for vulnerability aided me in my painting. It was hand-in-hand. I didn’t know it at the time but looking back I realize how fortunate I was.

And I mean that honestly.

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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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Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.

–John Milton, Paradise Lost
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Here’s another piece from my show, Self Determination, which opens next Friday at the West End Gallery. This 8″ by 8″ painting on panel, titled The Gratitude, is one of those pieces that just seemed to flow out on its own with little thought or effort from me.

I just had to hold the brush and make sure I didn’t drop it.

Those paintings, rare enough that they are a true delight when they do appear, seem to be in the end about transcendent moments, about coming to peace with one’s place in the world and being thankful for it.

It seems it’s as though during the process I am able to clear away everything –my fears, my trivial concerns, my inner biases and all those pesky things that haunt my waking mind — for that short period of time when I am at work on the painting. And the gratitude I feel for being rid of those things, if only for that short time, comes through in the painting.

And while I would like that feeling to stay with me for a longer time, I treasure that short moment of gratitude.

 

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