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Posts Tagged ‘Simon and Garfunkel’

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Living in isolation has never been a great challenge for me in normal times. I thought I was a distant island that only needed a visitor every once in a while for those few things I couldn’t provide for myself. But these are not normal times and the impingement from the outer world pushes hard into my space now, disrupting the solitude that I thought was impenetrable.

Listening to the words that the great leader*** spoke yesterday, where he basically admitted that he wanted the states’ governors to bend the knee before him and had instructed the VP to not call and offer assistance to those that didn’t, made me realize that we are all islanders now.

50+ sovereign states, all fending for themselves, with a hope that exceeds reality that the unified power of the central government will offer much needed aid, will somehow favor them above the others in their time of need. We are in trouble and call out for aid to those who have a sworn duty to serve us.

Much as Puerto Rico did not so long ago in the aftermath of the historic hurricanes that ravaged that island.

We are all Puerto Rico now.

We probably should have taken the treatment Puerto Rico received, a few rolls of paper towel dismissively thrown at them along with conditioned promises of aid that were never fully realized, as an omen. We all are about to receive that same treatment and the storm that approaches this time is even larger and deadlier.

Anyway, I came across a post written for a 2013 show at the West End Gallery that featured the above painting, Islander, as its title piece. I thought the words were pertinent to this time. Its a painting that really resonates deeply with me on a personal level and one that, inexplicably at least for me, has never found a home. It still resides at the Just Looking Gallery in California, waiting patiently for someone to see what I see in it.

Along with the post below, I have included a version of Simon and Garfunkel‘s classic I Am a Rock. This video features the lyrics which is a way I have been listening to a lot of music lately. Times of crisis make me look harder for connecting threads of meaning. Whether they are there is another thing.

Give a look and have a good day on your little islands.

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I am an islander.

But I don’t live on an island. Never have and probably never will.

No, my island is a metaphorical place, one that exists in the creative ether of my mind. An island that is completely apart from and immune to the outer world that exists across the deep surrounding waters. Self-sustaining and self-ruled, a blank slate on which I can create my own reality.

It’s a place free from the ire and pettiness of others. Free of strife and injustice. and filled with the quiet of solitude. Filled with color, warmth and emotion.

An island of creation and peace.

But there is a paradox in being an islander. While trying to remain separate, it becomes abundantly clear that we can never really exist as totally independent from the outer world. Actually, to the islander those bonds to the outside world become even more apparent and important. The isolation only serves to heighten our recognition of our inclusion and connection to the world. You begin to recognize them as lifelines, bringing those things to the island that you cannot create in yourself.

Try as one might, one can never live in isolation from their own humanity. I think the best you can do is to create an island that you can visit periodically to revitalize yourself. And that’s what I believe I see in the work for this show– paintings that take me away for a short while from the outer world and place me on that peaceful island.

For that short time, I am truly an islander.

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No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

–John Donne, Meditation XVII, 1624

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I am not feeling celebratory on this Fourth of July.  I have strong feelings about the ideals of this nation and the recent events here challenge my belief that those ideals can prevail or even merely hold on. There is just a bit too much irony in today celebrating our independence from what we viewed as the grip of cruel tyranny in 1776. We are weakening our country when we accept cruelty and selfishness as an aspect of our governance and national character. And make no mistake about what I am saying, selfish cruelty is weakness and we are witness to that currently. Here’s a post from several years back that I run every now and then on this day, speaking to our better ideals. Enjoy your 4th.

Jasper Johns “Flag”

Another Fourth of July.

Parades. Picnics. Fireworks. Red, white and blue. That’s the shorthand version of this day. The actual meaning of this day is much harder to capture, probably more so for Americans than for those from other countries who view us from a distance. I think we sometimes lose sight of the idea and ideal of America in our day to day struggle to maintain our own lives. But even that struggle is symptomatic of the basis of our nation, reminding us that anything worth preserving requires work and maintenance.

For me,  America is not a static ideal, a credo written in granite that will always be there. It is vaporous and always changing, like a dense fog. But it is an inviting fog, one that is warm on the skin and invites you in with hazy promises of possibility.

And maybe that is all America ever was and will be– the promise of possibility.

Maybe it is the sheer potential of a better and safer life, the possibility of remaking one’s self, that defines our ideal America. We are at our best when we are open and inviting, offering our opportunity and empathy to all. We are a long way from our ideal when we close our doors and try to capture the vapor that is America all for ourselves. It is not ours to hold– we are simply caretakers of an ideal, one that brought most of our ancestors here.

Maybe this doesn’t make any sense. Since it is such a hazy thing, this amorphous fog that is our ideal, we all see it in different ways. This is just how I see it.

Here’s a video of the song America from Simon and Garfunkel, as performed by David Bowie. This is not a flag waving, chest thumping anthem but it speaks as much to the meaning of the American ideal in that simple chorus — all gone to look for America— as the very best Sousa march.

Have a good day.

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bridge_over_troubled_water_by_aethyrdSeptember 11.  I don’t want to dwell too much on this date.

That day has already taken so much from us that to dwell on it gives it too much power over us, keeping us tied to a moment that is becoming more and more distant.

No, I will never forget that day or this date but it must be as a memory of the departed and not as a source of fear or anger for that moment.  We can not remain in that past.  The world moves on and we must go with it.

I thought that for today I would share a song that is synonymous with unity and coming to the comfort of others, Bridge Over Troubled Water.  There are so many great versions of this song, from original by Simon and Garfunkel to the powerful Aretha Franklin and earthy Johnny Cash covers, that it was hard to choose one.  But this version from Roberta Flack is so delicately powerful and soulful that it sometimes seems like a different song when I hear it.  Just a lovely performance of a great song.

Have  a good day.

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2016 Principle Gallery Wall shot aHad a very nice visit in Alexandria.  On Friday the weather always seemed on the verge of a huge thunderstorm, which had me a little apprehensive– even more than I normally be on the day of a show– about prospects for the opening reception of this year’s show, Part of the Pattern,  at the Principle Gallery on that evening.  However the storm never really hit with much force and the reception turned out well.

It was a really nice evening with a great crowd that kept me completely engaged throughout.  It was good catching up with folks who have been coming to the shows for many years now as well as greeting many new faces.  I can’t say “Thank You” enough to those who were able to come out on Friday and to our friends at the Principle Gallery–Michele, Clint, Pam, Haley, Pierre and Megan— who made it all possible. Oh, and special thanks to my canine friends at the gallery, Asher and Chase.

Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali and Bill Russell

Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali and Bill Russell

Word came out during our time there that Muhammad Ali had passed away.  Ali was a huge hero of mine when I was a child, part of what I consider the Holy Quartet of Heroes– Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Bill Russell and Bob Gibson– who had much in common.  They were all dominant legends in their respective sports, the greatest winners of their times.

They were all strong and smart black men who were not afraid to go against the grain, to take a stand outside the world world of sports and say things that were not always popular nor politically correct.  They seemed to understand that that their sports were secondary to the state of the world.  They all transcended their sports and became cultural heroes and symbols, something more than mere performers on the athletic stage.

Ali was certainly a standout in that last category.  He was arguably the most widely recognized person on earth, a sports figure whose image was widely known throughout the world  decades after his time as an athlete had ended.  I remember reading, I think it was in Wilfrid Sheed‘s biography of Ali, about Ali’s picture hanging in mud huts in Africa.

He was so  much more than a boxer.   I have a hard time watching boxing today but I watched a lot of it when I was a kid and it was mainly because of Ali.  It was no less brutal a sport then but Ali made it seem like there was an air of poetry and gracefulness in it.  In my mind, I can still see his seemingly effortless movements around the ring, dancing lightly on the toes of his white shoes around plodding opponents.  It was a thing of beauty to see this big man move like he was being carried by the breeze as the other man would dive at him, often flailing away at a target that was there then gone in a flash.

He was the rarest of birds.  Style and substance.

Sorry to see him go.

Well, this song doesn’t have a lot to say about Ali but it is about a boxer and it is a beautiful song.  Below is a version of the great Simon and Garfunkel song as perfomed by Alison Krauss, Shawn Colvin and dobro-master Jerry Douglas.

Thanks for stopping in today and have a great Sunday.

PS:  TODAY IS THE LAST FULL DAY — this event ends MONDAY, June 6, promptly at 12 noon–to take part in the event to raise funds for the Soarway Foundation‘s efforts in Nepal.   Your donation, which will help immensely, also gets you a chance at winning a painting of mine valued at $5000 plus a signed poster.  What more can you ask?  You get the pleasure from helping others, a tax deduction and a chance to win something fairly valuable.

 

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GC Myers- Homeward BoundI finished this smaller painting yesterday, a 4″ by 7″ image on paper that is going to the Principle Gallery in a week or so for my upcoming show, Traveler, which opens on June 6.  I  have a  group of  paintings with small figures– guitarists and boatmen– in them where the relationship of the figure to the space in the picture is the most important element for me.  I think that is evident in this piece, called Homeward Bound, where the sense of space in the sky gives this piece a sense of distance and remoteness while at the same time having a warmth that indicates an imminent return or at least the memory of home for the figure.

Home is a powerful concept and word, that thing that we all seek on some level.  It may be found in the terrain or in the people or simply in a state of mind, a sense of comfort and belonging.  I think its this sense of belonging that most drives us in our quest for home, that place or state of  mind where we dwell naturally as we really are at our core.   Some people seem to carry a sense of home with them, always feeling naturally in place wherever they might be.  Others, like myself, more often feel out of place wherever they are and this idea of home as a haven becomes more important.  And that’s kind of the idea of this simple piece, that place where our song is most true and pure, a song of our heart.

The title is, of course, derived from the great Simon and Garfunkel song.  Those opening chords best sum up the feel of this piece.

 

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Fourth of July Parade of ScoutsAnother Fourth of July.

Parades.  Picnics. Fireworks. Red, white and blue.  That’s the shorthand version of this day.  The actual meaning of this day is much harder to capture, probably more so for Americans than for those from other countries who view us from a distance.  I think we sometimes lose sight of the idea and ideal of America in our day to day struggle to maintain our own lives.  But even that struggle is symptomatic of the basis of our nation, reminding us that anything worth preserving requires work and maintenance.

For me,  America is not a static ideal, a credo written in granite that will always be there.  It is vaporous and ever changing, like a dense fog.  But it is an inviting fog, one that is warm on the skin and invites you in with hazy promises of possibility.  And maybe all America is– possibility.

Maybe it is the sheer potential of a better and safer life, the possibility of remaking one’s self, that defines our ideal America.  We are at our best when we are open and inviting,  offering our possibility and empathy to all .  We are a long way from our ideal when we close our doors and try to capture the vapor  that is  America all for ourselves.  It is not ours to hold– we are simply caretakers of an ideal, one that brought most of our ancestors here.

Maybe this doesn’t make any sense.  Since it is such a hazy ideal, we all see it in different ways.  This is just how I see it.

Here’s a video of the song America from Simon and Garfunkel, as performed by David Bowie during the Concert For New York City in the aftermath of 9/11.  This is not a flag waving , chest thumping anthem but it speaks as much to the ideal of  the American ideal in that simple chorus — all gone to look for America— as the very best Sousa march.

Have a great Fourth!

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I’ve been working on a group of new work that will be going to a gallery in the Indianapolis area that is new to me.  I’ve been working on pieces that I feel are very representative of my voice, knowing that  it will be a first view of my work for most of the people who may see it there.  I’ve focused on imagery, forms and colors that feel almost ingrained in my body of work wanting to give the viewer  a quick insight into what I try to do with it.

As I’ve been working away, I keep coming back to the idea of these as internal landscapes, meaning that they are attempts at creating an inner harmony.  Harmony is the key word here, the concept of separate parts working  together to create a unified whole.  I think we often feel fragmented and unsteady in our external lives, never fully feeling in harmony with the world around us.  Perhaps I make a mistake in using the term we here when I mean I, not really knowing what the rest of you feel in your own relationship with the world.  But I do know that I have often felt this way, out of sorts with the world in many ways and that it really is an unsteady feeling and that I turn inward to try to find an inner rhythm, a harmony within that can steady me.  Something to allow me to function outwardly.

Like many things, this a difficult thing to explain.  Perhaps I should just point out this new painting, a smaller canvas, 12″ by 16″, that I call Rooted In Harmony, and let it speak for me.  This piece probably says more about what I am trying to describe in a single glance than I can with all the struggling words and sentences I could possibly write.  I find great pacification in this painting, a feeling of relaxed ease forming inside.  It tempers my confusion, calms my angers and slows the turning wheels of my inner self.  My outer self is better for it.  And maybe that is what I hope for with the title of this piece, that by finding an inner peace, the root here, it will spill outward in a harmonious attitude.

Okay, I have to stop the words.  For another example of harmony, a great example of musical harmony, here’s a little classic Simon and Garfunkel from a 1966 performance on Dutch television.  It’s I Am a Rock.

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