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Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Merton’

I was not sure where I was going, and I could not see what I would do when I got there. But you saw further and clearer than I, and you opened the seas before my ship, whose track led me across the waters to a place I had never dreamed of, and which you were even then preparing to be my rescue and my shelter and my home.

― Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

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Well, my annual show at the West End Gallery comes down in just a few days. This year’s edition is called The Rising and Thursday is the last day to see the show.

It is a show in which I feel a real sense of pride. When I am prepping for a show, my goals for it are often vague and undefined. I feel that I want certain things for it and from it but when I try to verbalize these goals, the words evade me. I find myself like the sailor in the Thomas Merton quote above: I was not sure where I was going, and I could not see what I would do when I got there. 

I knew it was going somewhere. I just didn’t know where. I let intuition and reaction guide me and it often worked out fine.

But this show, much like my June show at the Principle Gallery, felt more preordained and focused and less haphazard in it’s final edited version, the one that hit the walls of the galleries. I still allowed for the role of intuition and the unconscious in the process of painting each piece. That is a necessity.

But where I could make conscious decisions, I did just that. I chose to simplify forms and chop out the fussiness of detail. Deepened colors. As much as I like them and appreciate their popularity, I reduced the number of small paintings and went with works that were a bit larger. It streamlined the look of the show on the wall, made it feel less cluttered, and gave each piece a bit more room in which to expand.

They weren’t big things but enough to make the work in the exhibit to be presented with fuller impact. I felt like this and the Principle Gallery show were my most mature and complete exhibits to date.

The response to the show has been great which is gratifying on many levels. A number of the original paintings from the show have flown the coop to their new homes but there are a few replacements that I feel fill the void they leave behind. One new piece is shown above. It’s Star Navigator, a 24″ by 8″ canvas that feels very much like it jibes with the words of Merton at the top.

I hope you can make it out to the West End Gallery in the next few days, if you haven’t had a chance to see The Rising.

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What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.

Thomas Merton

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Tonight is the opening for my new show at the Kada Gallery. The piece above, The Night Run, is part of the show and a piece that really connected with me as I was painting it.

Part of that connection comes from the juxtaposition of color and contrast in it and the visceral response those elements bring in myself.

But part , perhaps the biggest part, of this connection comes from the symbolism of the sailboat cutting through waves and darkness, trying to find a suitable place to land guided by a source of light that often is obscured or disappears completely. But when this light breaks through, the destination becomes clear and apparent. The journey takes on a purpose.

That is a fitting metaphor for how I see my life as a painter. There are many days when it seems that I am sailing in total darkness and have no idea where I am headed or if I am even moving in any direction at all. I feel small and at the mercy of the deepness of the dark and the power of the waves that push against me.

But on better days, when the light breaks through, I feel strengthened and my sails fill, sending me gliding ahead. It’s so easy and refreshing then and I feel strong, vital. The journey seems to have purpose at that instant.

That speaks my experience but I think it also applies to many of us in all walks of life. I believe very few of us feel as though we are sailing in clear skies and on calm seas on most days. Most of us don’t even have a destination plotted out.

Now, the hard part is at something like an opening when the painting is right there saying all these things and I am standing there, alongside it. These are inner feelings and it’s not always easy speaking to these in a public setting, not knowing sometimes who you are speaking with or if they simply like the colors. Or boats.

But I try to gauge their connection and if they seem truly interested and ask, I will tell them what the work means to me, letting them know that to me they are more than mere scenes made from paint smeared on a surface. No, I view them as a vital part of my journey, a log of where I have been and where I am going.

So, that’s what I am doing this morning before I head out for tonight’s opening– readying myself to speak about such things on whatever level might be needed.

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Hope to see you tonight at the Kada Gallery. The opening reception for the show, Sensing the Unseen, runs from 6-9 PM. The show hangs in the gallery until January 3, 2018.

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Solitude is not something you must hope for in the future. Rather, it is a deepening of the present, and unless you look for it in the present you will never find it.

Thomas Merton
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I am doing my annual Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery next Saturday, September 16.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this will be fifteenth year for this talk at the Principle.  One of the challenges in doing a talk like this year after year is keeping it fresh and interesting so that every version has something new to offer. A new story. A new idea about the work. A new thought on perception and art. Just something new.

It’s sometimes difficult and I have found that some years are more successful than others in accomplishing this goal. It seems that the ones where I am at my most open and honest are the ones that flow and resonate best. And those ones seem to come when I am most at peace with myself, comfortable in my life of solitude.

At the moment, I feel pretty good and expect that to show in the upcoming talk but time has taught me that this inner peace can evaporate in mere moments. But for now, all signs indicate a good talk.

As with all of my talks, there is some conversation,hopefully some laughs and a few prizes at the end. Plus, I generally try to bring a small group of new work and a few hand-picked pieces from the studio that are available only on the day of the talk. Many of these are pieces that I feel have been overlooked and have meaning for me. having them at the talk allows me to talk a bit about them and give a little insight into how I view them. Context, I guess.

One of the new paintings is the small piece at the top, 4″ by 7″ on paper, with a title, Deepen the Present, that is taken from the Thomas Merton quote above. I like the thought behind his words, that solitude is not something that you can plan for in the future, that it must be taken hold of in this present moment.

And why wouldn’t you? The future is a perilous voyage away, with no guarantees. The present is at hand with all you need. Find your solitude now.

Hoping you can get into the Principle Gallery for the talk…

 

 

 

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