Posts Tagged ‘The Beatles’

“Memory and Return”- At the West End Gallery

It was odd getting up this morning and not staggering out the door to climb on my tractor to plow. It was almost becoming habit. Not having to do so felt liberating and it was nice to relax as I walked over to the studio under a still hanging half-moon that made the icy surface of the deep snow sparkle.

It was nice image. It made me wonder if these sort of images linger in our subconscious, becoming enmeshed and part of who we are.

They say that your life flashes in an instant in your mind’s eye just before you die. Would these be one of those images that would flash before my eyes when my time comes? Would they be random moments that didn’t even register in our conscious mind, hidden clues to who we are that lay deep in our brains waiting for the final moment to reveal themselves?

Or would they be those moments and faces and places that we do remember consciously, that we have already placed in our memory as being important?

I find myself often wondering about what sort of imagery, if any, would be there. Sometimes I will stop in the woods on those seemingly perfect days when the temperatures are pleasant and the sky peeking through the trees is that rich color of placid blue. Looking up, I will think to myself that if this were the last image in the final flash of my life, I would be okay with that.

And if not, it’s a perfect moment of calm in the present moment. Win-win as they say.

I guess I won’t know the answer to my questions until that last moment so I most likely won’t be able to write about them here. I just hope I am satisfied with what I am shown.

It would be awful if I were to end up like the Albert Brooks character in his film Defending Your Life who has to make the case after his death, using flashbacks to vital points in his life, that his time on Earth was well spent and that he was worthy to move on to the next world. His flashbacks focused, to great comedic effect, on his many fears and his weaknesses. 

I was hoping for something a little more zen, perhaps even answers to what the meaning might be for this particular life on this strange spinning planet.

But you get what you get, I suppose. We most likely have to do our own editing now, while we have the opportunity, if we want to be pleased when that flash comes before our eyes. 

That brings me to the painting at the top, an 8″ by 8″ piece called Memory and Return that is part of the West End Gallery’s annual Little Gems show of new small work, that opens next Friday, February 12. This piece has that feel of an image that might flash in my mind during that final slideshow of my life.

I don’t exactly know why.

While I am hoping the rest of the film will reveal the answer, I am mainly hoping I don’t see this film for some time to come. 

Here’s a lovely rendition of a favorite song that continues this theme. The song is In My Life from the Beatles and this version is from Diana Krall.

Give a listen, then go work on your own film and have a good day.


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View of California Wildfires From Above the Clouds

“In all your years and all your travels,” I asked, “what do you think is the most important thing you’ve learned about life?”

He paused a moment, then with the twinkle sparkling under those brambly eyebrows he replied: “In three words, I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on. In all the confusions of today, with all our troubles . . . with politicians and people slinging the word fear around, all of us become discouraged . . . tempted to say this is the end, the finish. But life — it goes on. It always has. It always will. Don’t forget that.”

–Robert Frost , on his 80th birthday, speaking to journalist Ray Josephs, 1954

What a time it is.

Much of the imagery you see these days is downright terrifying and disheartening, from the apocalyptic fire scenes from the west coast to the images of clashes in the streets between protesters and police to the scenes of armed white supremacists being given virtual carte blanche treatment as they move about the country to the ugly, hateful stupidity displayed so publicly now by the president’s red hatted followers as they gather to piss and moan about “their country” being taken from them.

Oh, what a time it is.

I wish I could quote Dickens and say that it was the best of times, it was worst of times but quite honestly, where is the best of times to be found these days?

I saw the photo at the top of the California wildfires as seen from above the clouds and at first glimpse thought it was a closeup of the coronavirus. It wouldn’t surprise me if they had somehow sprang from the same Pandora’s Box and ultimately resembled one another. The destructive effect of the two on the lives of those involved is much the same, that’s for sure.

I guess I can only look to the words of Robert Frost and many others who have told us that life will go on. Even though they seem wise enough that I want to trust that they somehow know this to be true, these days I find myself doubting them. But for today, I am going to trust their judgement.

Life goes on.

Here’s the Beatles with their Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da which uses that phrase as a refrain. Keep it in mind as you hopefully have a good Sunday.

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GC Myers-Family Path smYesterday’s Gallery Talk at the Kada Gallery went really well.  Many,many, many thanks to Kathy, Joe and Morgan at the gallery for providing a comfortable setting and the many folks in attendance for taking time out on a rare sunny Saturday afternoon to spend it with me.  They were an absolutely wonderful group –attentive and inquisitive–which made my task much easier, making me feel very welcomed and at ease in front of them.

Hopefully not so much that I over-talked  or came across as too full of myself.  I always worry about things like that on the ride back home, agonizing over things I said or didn’t say.  It comes easy because at that point I am pretty tired of hearing my own voice, tired of pretty much being the public me at that moment.

One thing I forgot to mention which bothered me as I was on my way home was that it was the input that I get from the encouragement and stories shared by the folks that attend these events are such a huge inspiration and the motor that drives my work.  I work untold hours alone in my studio and it is their reaction to the work and the fact that they allow me to glimpse briefly into their lives that make them seem almost present at times in my studio.  Distant eyes looking over my shoulder.

I shared one recent inspirational story that took place very recently right there at the Kada Gallery.  A week or so ago, they received an email inquiry from a lady in Switzerland about a large painting, titled Family Lines with the Red Tree with a Red Chair in its branches.  It turns out that she had recently lost her husband to Alzheimer’s and one of their final exchanges was about that very painting, obviously seeing it in online.  Her husband said that he was the Red Tree and she was the Red Chair.  I have to admit to being made teary-eyed by that.  How can something like not stick with me, not find its way into my thoughts when I am alone in the studio?

That story, like so many others shared with me over the years, brings a sense of purpose to the sometimes abstract and introverted act of painting.  I can never fully thank these people for the gift in their sharing.

991126 Color RisingOne of the ways I do try thank folks at these talks is by having several giveaways, including an original painting.  We had a very good time with it yesterday and the group was so receptive that I thought they deserved another.  I had a painting, Color Rising, from a few years back that won by a young lady in her 90’s which leads me to this week’s Sunday music selection.  The painting, shown left, was a monochromatic piece, shades of back and gray with just a dash of color.  I explained that I do these paintings periodically to just more less refresh my color palette in the period between working on shows and that seeing one of my compositions with the color removed was a bit like hearing a song that you’ve heard a thousand times before done by one person done by somebody else.  The song has the same notes, chords, melody and lyrics but it is somehow different, somehow changed.

That brings me to this musical example, a version of the Beatles‘ song In My Life from 1965‘s Rubber Soul album.  My god, I can’t believe this song is fifty years old!  This version is from the American recordings of Johnny Cash, done in the final months of his life.  His age and ailments changed his delivery and imbued the songs with real heart-felt emotion and purity.  A powerful group of music.  This version of the Beatles’ song is not so different but it has  his own personal meaning which makes it his own.

Again, so many thanks to everyone who came yesterday.  It was my great pleasure to spend the day with you all.  Hope your Sunday is a good one…


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Beatles with Ed SullivanIt was on a Sunday evening on this date  fifty years ago that a touchstone event took place here in the States, one that dramatically altered pop and rock music as well as popular culture.  If you watch television or read newspapers, it has been hard recently to avoid seeing something about this 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on this date back in 1964.  For some, especially those later generations, this is probably a puzzlement as they have no context to put this event in any sort of historical context.  They have no idea what a big moment this was or how it dramatically affected music and popular culture.

It’s always hard to describe something to someone who has only known the resulting change.  I used to try to convince those nay-sayers, usually people born in the aftermath of the Beatles’ reign which would be post-1970, of the importance of the Beatles emergence and their music but it became too tiring.  So now I just enjoy the music and marvel at their evolution over their short lifespan as a band.  What an arc of creativity!

Their listeners might have mourned when they disbanded in 1970 but, realistically, they had completed their journey together, had strung together album after album of memorable and constantly evolving and growing sounds.  They were at a peak with nothing more in front of them.  Each went on to highly successful solo careers but none matched the true power of their combined efforts as the Beatles.

The legacy of their music has been so evident in the past few weeks.  I’ve seen a number of lists from critics and other musicians of their favorite Beatles songs and each is so different from another.  There is no consensus of which are their best songs and each list is truly valid as each contains a group, usually ten, of songs that are quite memorable.  Even the list of the top ten underrated Beatles songs would qualify as someone’s best of the Beatles list.   I sat down and tried to make a list of my Top Ten Beatles songs and had such a hard time.  Just when I thought I had it I would remember another and couldn’t imagine it not being on the list.  It is remarkable that they had so many songs that bound themselves so deeply into the fabric of ourselves.

Here’s what I came up with for my Top Ten, in no particular order:

A Day In the Life

Paperback Writer

Day Tripper

In My Life

Hello Goodbye

Norwegian Wood


Tomorrow Never Knows

You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away

Baby You’re a Rich Man

Sitting here now, I can think of twenty ( or forty or fifty) other songs that would fit seamlessly into this list, all songs that are my favorites when I am listening to them.  Oh, well, there are no hard and fast rules here and this is not a very terrible problem to consider so I’ll just put lists aside and enjoy.  Here’s one of my faves from the Fab Four.

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Eric Burdon- 'Til Your River Runs DryGrowing up,  I was always kind of fascinated by Eric Burdon, then lead singer for the Animals, the British rock band who always seemed just in the shadow of the Beatles and the Stones.  But they were different than the other bands of that early British Invasion.  They seemed rougher, more closely connected to American blues.  Their songs were not mere love ditties.  They were angrier, more defiant and fatalistic.

And it was all captured in the face of Eric Burdon.  He was not a pretty boy, not the smiling cute one that even moms found charming.  He was sleepy eyed with  pock marked skin and an almost surly demeanor that never broke into a toothy smile.  I might be mistaken, but I think he even had a broken tooth.   But he sang those songs that still resonate today–House of the Rising Sun, Boom Boom, Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, Don’t Bring Me Down, Sky Pilot,  We Gotta Get Out of this Place.  

It’s my life and I’ll do what I want…

He has had a long career, starting the band War, best known for Spill the Wine, Cisco Kid and Low Rider.  Today. he lives in the desert of Southern California and, at age 71, has a new CD, ‘Til Your River Runs Dry,  out on the market.  I am including a song from it today, Water, that deals with the ever growing problem with maintaining the availability of  safe and potable water now and in the future.   Water is that thing that we all need– more than oil, more than gas, more than any precious metals.  Water is the cause of the current battle over hydro-fracking and might be the thing that nations battle over  in the future.  Give a listen…

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Richard lindner Double PortraitI’ve been going through some books on my shelves that I haven’t looked at for some time and came across a smallish book on the work of Richard Lindner, who was  a German born  (1901)  painter who moved to New York during World War II.  He taught at the Pratt Institute then later at Yale before his death in 1978.

His work was obviously a big influence on the Pop Art movement of the 60’s.  If you remember the artwork for the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine film,  you can easily see how Lindner’s work Richard Lindner The Coupleguided the hand of the film’s  artist who most people think was Peter Max.  However, the artist was Heinz Edelman .  This misconception probably shows Lindner’s influence on Max as well.   I also can see Lindner in some of Terry Gilliam‘s animations for Monty Python.  The Beatles  paid tribute to Lindner  by inserting his image  in the group of figures on the cover of their classic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.  He’s  between Laurel and Hardy in the second row.

I am really attracted to Lindner’s colors and use of forms.  His colors have gradations and complexities that give his work added dimension.  His shapes and lines are strong and sure.  It’ demands an immediate response, even if it’s negative, and I really respect that.

Richard Lindner  FBI On East 69th StreetOne of my favorites is shown to the left here,  FBI On East 69th Street.  I have no idea whether he was influenced by Lindner’s work (although I wouldn’t be surprised), but when I look at this painting I can only think of  David Bowie, especially in the early 70’s in the Glam era.  Again, the strength of the color and shape,s as well as how his figures fill the picture frame, excite me.  How I might take this excitement and make it work within my own work is something that remains to be seen.  It may not be discernible but seeing work that makes your own internal wheels spin will show up in some manner.  We’ll have to see if this comes through in the near future.

Richard Lindner The Meeting

Richard Lindner Rock-RockRichard Lindner Telephone

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I wrote yesterday that the future is never as bad as we fear and that the past is never as good as we remember.  Well. there are exceptions, of course.  The Beatles, for instance, fall into the as good as we remember category.  Actually, I sometimes think they were better than our memories will allow us to believe. 

 However, their cartoon show was every bit as bad as I remember.  Bad animation and amateurish writing to get to the featured song in each cartoon made these hard to watch.  But the strength of the Beatles’ music kept this show on the air for four years.

We’re on our way to Alexandria for tomorrow night’s opening for my show at the Principle Gallery and I thought this cartoon choice would be a good one for a little travelling music.  I get to feel a bit like Ed Sullivan here. So without further ado:  Ladies and gentleman– the Beatles!

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