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Posts Tagged ‘Show’

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“Our worst misfortunes never happen, and most miseries lie in anticipation.”

― Honoré de Balzac

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This quote from Balzac has been paraphrased and changed over the years by others to the more tidy phrase: Our worst fears lie in anticipation.

I usually don’t agree when writer’s words are changed or used to express something decidedly different from their original intention. But maybe speakers over the years have decided that our worst misfortunes sometimes do happen.

Balzac died in 1850, years before the horrors of the American Civil War, World War I and WW II, which carries its own separate list of atrocities that easily live up to the expectations of being our worst misfortunes. We have witnessed concentration camps, the slaughter of innocents in attempted genocides on several continents, extreme racial and ethnic hatred and so many other black blotches on our collective history.

And I am most likely skimming over a multitude of other examples, such as the 1918 Flu Pandemic.

Yeah, in the 170 years since Balzac’s death, we have seen ample evidence that our worst misfortunes do indeed happen.

But even so, there is truth in saying that most miseries lie in anticipation. Because for all the evidence we have of our ability to inflict the worst on each other, most times we come out on the other side without seeing the worst come to fruition.

That brings me to the new painting at the top of the page, an 18″ by 24″ canvas that is part of my upcoming solo show, From a Distance, that opens next week at the West End Gallery. The title of this piece is The Anticipation.

A lot of the work from this show is a result of my reaction to these times but this painting might best sum that feeling of queasiness and dull fear that comes in waiting for the next shoe to drop. It seems to be its own separate symptom of the pandemic, one that even those who are not yet infected experience.

It’s that feeling that you know there is a beginning and an end and, that even while we are in the midst of this thing, it will someday be over and in the past. That is the light at the end of tunnel. But you know you have to go through the rest of that tunnel, have to absorb all the worst it has to offer, in order to get to that endpoint.

So, you trudge and trudge, each step filled with a dark foreboding anticipation. In every dark shadow along your way you see a new imagined demon, one that threatens you with some awful painful fate. The light barely seems to get closer with each day’s journey and your fears grow with your uncertainty as to when– or if– you will finally emerge from the darkness.

The fear of what might happen eclipses your imaginings of hope.

That sounds dire. But remember, even with our rampant thoughts of the worst that could happen, we are still moving forward toward the light in the future and our actions as we move along can diminish or even eradicate those imagined worst outcomes.

In the waiting, our imagination may only see the worst but perhaps it is so we can act to avoid it ever coming to be.

That’s what I am seeing in this painting. There is foreboding but there is the possibility of hope in our own reaction.

So, while our worst misfortunes do sometimes happen, we do not have to willingly accept them as our fate. We have the opportunity to stand against them, to infuse light into the darkness that comes in our anticipation.

Here’s to that light…

 

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I was going to write something altogether different this morning, something angry and sharply pointed. But I found that the prospect of doing so just made me angrier with the realization of the probable futility of it. Seems like just more words to be thrown on the heap of the web’s virtual Tower of Babel, too many to be heard with any clarity or understanding. Maybe that’s the problem– though we basically engage in the same written language, many of us speak in contexts and understandings so different from one another that it makes us seem as though we are talking to each other in wildly different tongues.

And that brings me to my standard stock answer: I don’t know.

So, I am going to play a song that came on yesterday and piqued my interest while I was matting the painting shown here, one I call The Coming Together. It is headed to the Principle Gallery for my 21st annual solo show there, which opens next Friday, June 5. This year’s show is called Social Distancing.

The song that played yesterday was Cross of Flowers from singer/songwriter Jeffrey Foucault. I was very much in the same state of mind as I am this morning, a little world weary and a little down in spirit. This song, in the moment, seemed to both capture that feeling and relieve it just a bit. A small iota of catharsis, enough to lighten the load for a few moments.

It also seemed to capture the feeling I get from this painting. It’s a nod to a handful of similar pieces I did early in my career, with woven plant stems and flowers cutting through the picture plane like pole with colors radiating out from the sides of the painting’s central core.

These works are more about the forms and the color than the reality of the plants. There’s no basis in reality for the botanical aspects of the plants or flowers so don’t ask me. I just paint them in a way that please me, one that satisfies what I want to see in that moment. Though imaginary, it has its own organic growth.

I think that’s why I enjoy painting these pieces. They just become what they are. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Makes me wonder why I didn’t paint more of these. Maybe the scarcity keeps the wonder of painting them fresh?

Again, I don’t know.

For god’s sake, don’t ask me any questions this morning. I am going to give a listen again to the song and look a little bit longer at this painting. Sip my coffee and chill for a few minutes. I suggest you do the same.

It’ll do you good.

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“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.

Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but
for the heart to conquer it.”

― Rabindranath Tagore

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This is another new painting headed to the Principle Gallery for my Social Distancing show there, opening June 5. It is 22″ by 28″ on canvas and is titled She Glides Through the Fractured Night.

Though the theme for this show concerns itself with the social distancing and isolation that we have experienced in recent months, it is also about perseverance and the will to endure. And that is what I see in this piece.

I hadn’t intended to do this type of piece for the show, with the single figure paddling a longboat under a broken sky. But I really felt a compulsion, a need for this painting, and once I set out on it, it fell into place easily, almost without effort. At every step in the process, it felt complete and ready to send out its message. It didn’t have the highs and lows that normally come in painting a piece. By that, I mean in most paintings there are phases where the piece dulls and flattens out, muddying up the destination that I had began to see in it.

No, this was an incredibly satisfying piece to paint. It just had to be done.

I think the history of what we are going through will tell two different stories: those who did what they must to endure and those felt they shouldn’t have to do anything differently in a world that has presented us with a new way of existence, at least for the short term.

Those that adapt easily to change will glide through this to the other side of this fractured night. They will endure.

I can’t say what will happen to those whose minds remain inflexible and unwilling to adapt to a new of being. Only their actions and time will write that history.

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“True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written, in writing what deserves to be read, and in so living as to make the world happier and better for our living in it.”

― Pliny the Elder

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A couple of days ago I showed a painting in progress, at a point where I believe it had taken on its life force. Even though it was far from complete, it was already exuding some sort of energy.

I can’t speak for other artists but for me, that’s always a great feeling. It energizes the process, makes me eager to see it through, to discover what its final phase will reveal. There’s a sense of gliding. It feels easy and smooth with little resistance, nothing to stop you from soaring forward.

Believe me when I say this is not normally the case. No, it’s not always gliding through a cool sky. Sometimes the process is a slow trudging march forward in the pouring rain. There are multiple periods in the process where  everything goes flat and dull, including my own enthusiasm for continuing, and there seems to be no satisfying end in sight.

But the strange thing is that often both of these paths– the soaring as well as the slogging– come to the same final point. Both often result in a piece that speaks on its own, that has its own life, its own energy.

They just get there via different routes.

The beauty in both ways is that both are energizing for me. The easy way, such as this painting followed, excites me and inspires me, throwing me instantly into my next work.

It’s joyful.

The slog, on the other hand, reinforces me. It builds the confidence that I can go deep within myself and get past the next obstacle I face. To just keep moving ahead.

It’s satisfying.

This piece was, as I said, easy. It excited me and inspired me from its very beginning. There’s a cleanness in its energy, its colors and forms clear and easily read. Graceful. The inspiration I felt in painting it hangs to it still. As does its joyful feeling.

It’s what I hope for in all my work.

I call this piece In Gaudium Mundi.

The joy in the world.

It’s an 18″ by 36″ canvas that will be part of my Social Distancing show at the Principle Gallery that opens in June at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.

Have a great day.

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GC Myers-Refuge of the Heart smMy solo show, Into the Common Ground, has been delivered and is now at the Kada Gallery in advance of its opening next Friday, December 5th.  This painting, Refuge of the Heart, a 10″ by 30″ canvas, is one of the last pieces to be completed for this show and has the same sort of warmth in its color that runs through the entire show, a warmth that permeates the scene with a feeling of confidence and security.

And that is the feeling that I think we all desire for ourselves and our own hearts.  We want to be safe and sure in our lives, to be needed and vital to other lives.

And there is something in this piece that holds that feeling for me.  It could be the color.  Or maybe it’s the light over the horizon or the rolling field rows or some other aspect that I can’t quite put my finger on.

Maybe its the shape of the small island on which the Red Tree grows that looks like a semi-submerged heart.  It was seeing this shape that triggered the title, after all.

It could be any number of things but whatever the case, it is a piece that feels like a perfect place in which to let my own heart dwell.

 

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GC Myers- Chaos and Order smIn its simplest terms, this painting is about all that we don’t know, individually and collectively.

I call this 20″ by 24″ canvas Chaos and Order.  In it, the Red Tree dwells in a land that is apparently in order, a clean landscape of neat rows in the fields and a clear path that takes one through it.  It is seemingly the master of its domain, possessing knowledge of all things within its reach.

Yet, by merely looking into the night sky and seeing the great patterns of chaos written upon it, the Red Tree realizes the limits and boundaries of its knowledge.  It tries to make it fit into some sort of orderliness, something that it can understand on its limited terms but the patterns are too great and come at it like the cacophony of a thousand different languages being spoken at once.

What is the message here?  That we are small and weak before the power of the universe?

Yes and No.  Yes, without knowledge, with only a fear of what lays in that chaos, we are weak and small.  But I don’t think that is the message I see here.   It is that we are merely searchers, still learning the secrets and languages hidden right before our eyes.   The great chaos we see before us might be daunting but we will always try to make order from it in order to find our place within it.  That is simply who we are.

This is another painting that will be at my show, Into the Common Ground, at the Kada Gallery in Erie, PA,  opening December 5.

 

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GC Myers Early Work 1994As I’ve pointed out in the past, I almost always feel a bit out of sorts in the aftermath of  a show.  It doesn’t matter  how the show itself fared.  There is always an awkward, nervous lull that takes place in the days afterward, a feeling of uncertainty marked by a questioning of my direction and my purpose.  The certainty and confidence that builds in the weeks leading up to a show fades quickly away as the “What next?” questions jump to the forefront.   The relative emptiness of the studio which felt so liberating and filled with potential after the show was delivered now seems like a cold void and sends me scurrying, looking for something familiar that will fill this void.

If I were to make an analogy, it would be that I am driving along and have suddenly knocked the gearshift into the neutral position.  The engine races and the momentum going forward begins to decrease quickly.  Or maybe I have even knocked the shifter into reverse because at these points I often turn to going through my old files, taking in images of older work, much of it done before I was showing publicly.

A lot of it is rough but some shows the hints of possibility that I know fed my appetite at the time.   I find it very comforting to revisit this work, marveling at both how far and how I little I have come in the years since.  The things that excited me in the work then  do the same for me now.   We evolve but  basically remain the same at the core.

The piece at the top always catches my eye and makes me pause over it.  I remember the struggle at that time to find a voice and the searching that went with it.  I thought that this might be the direction of my work at the time.  It was liquid and loose and the face emerged from a puddle of pigments almost on its own.  It was one of the first times I felt as though I were divining rather than painting, letting the paint dictate the direction.  I felt like I was only along for the ride, helping facilitate the whole thing.  It’s a difficult thing to describe but it was a vivid moment, one that is right there when I look at this image now.

Maybe that is why I revisit these piece at these times, trying to recapture that sense of wonder that was always at the surface in that early work.  The excitement I feel in the studio now is as powerful but it is a different type of excitement.  Those early moments were giddy with the  possibility of entering an unknown realm whereas now I am simply excited to be tapped into a vein that I realize is there.

As I say, it’s hard to describe.  But it has become part of my process, a way of moving from stage to stage.

Okay, back to my therapy.  I can’t move on until I go back a little more…

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Visible HopeThe show for the Haen Gallery is complete and now I begin to think of what I might say at the gallery about what I do, about the process and about the work in general.  It has become much more difficult to do so as the years have passed.  When I first began to do this it was easy.  I was still in contact with the public in my regular job and everything about creating my work was still forming and being thought out, still fresh in my brain.  But as time passed and my way of working became ingrained, less thought out and more instinctual,  words to express what I do and I feel about it became increasingly hard to find.  When I’m alone in the studio there is no need for words.  It’s all instinct and intuition.  Quite honestly, I usually don’t even begin to try to read anything into a painting until it is done.

But I do want to be able to talk about the work because I think it is primarily about communication, about expressing an emotion to the world.  Reaching out. 

So I try to come up with words that describe this.  But ideally, the words are moot and the work speaks for itself and people make their own connections to the paintings and see something in them that is more than I could have ever intended.  Their own hopes and dreams and lives.  To me, this is miraculous and perhaps the best part of what I do as an artist.

So I will be prepared to say a few words but hopefully the work will do all the talking.

And All Is Revealed

The show is title Now… and will be opening at the Haen Gallery in downtown Asheville, NC on November 22.  The show opens with a brief gallery talk at 5 PM and runs until 8:30 PM. 

 


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     Well, I got home yesterday from attending the opening of my show at the Kada Gallery in Erie.  It went very well which kind of surprised me given the state of the economy and the tense mood that seems to grip our country.  Perhaps people were looking for a little respite from the chaos…

     As always, the highlight for me is meeting the people who turn out, learning how they feel about the work, and getting to hear a bit about their lives although the problem with this kind of event is that I don’t get to spend more than a few moments with anyone. This, as I note in the last posting, always makes me worry that I might cut someone off or appear rude.  I hope that was not the case.  

It was good to see folks who were my last exhibit at the Kada in 2006 and catch up a bit.  I also met many people for the first time such as Anne Z. from Cape Cod who flew in for the show.  I am always blown away by such actions on the behalf of my work and extend to her and many others a great deal of gratitude.  Again, I wish I had more time at these openings to spend more time with such folks as Anne.

I also had a chance to meet Jessica and Scott Allen from the Cleveland area.  It was such a real pleasure speaking with them for a time.  Scott shared a poem from Rumi that he thought described what he felt in the work.  He sent it to me in the comment from the last posting but I will pass it on here:

All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
And I intend to end up there.

— Rumi, thirteenth-century poet

Thanks, Scott. I feel extremely fortunate to get to meet folks like this.  Also, I want to send out my warmest thanks to Kathy and Joe DeAngelo of the Kada Gallery.  Their warmth and friendship is a treasure for me.  Thank you both for a great time…

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