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GC Myers- From a Distance  2020

“From a Distance”- At the West End Gallery



Wanted to just share a poem and an animation of it that features it being read by the poet, Gregory Orr. I chose this one because of a line in it — No purpose but what we make— that made me think about the nature of purpose. We often speak of finding purpose in ourselves but is it something to be found? Or might it be something that we create for ourselves, something that we actually choose?

I have to think on that for a bit. In the meantime, please take a look at the short reading of the poem.



This is what was bequeathed us

This is what was bequeathed us:
This earth the beloved left
And, leaving,
Left to us.

No other world
But this one:
Willows and the river
And the factory
With its black smokestacks.

No other shore, only this bank
On which the living gather.

No meaning but what we find here.
No purpose but what we make.

That, and the beloved’s clear instructions:
Turn me into song; sing me awake.

–Gregory Orr (b. 1947)



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GC Myers- Rest Stop sm

“Rest Stop” – Currently at the West End Gallery



A man must find time for himself. Time is what we spend our lives with. If we are not careful we find others spending it for us. . . . It is necessary now and then for a man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; to sit on a rock in the forest and to ask of himself, ‘Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going?’ . . . If one is not careful, one allows diversions to take up one’s time—the stuff of life

― Carl Sandburg



This painting, Rest Stop, which is at the West End Gallery in Corning, is a favorite of mine. It might be in the colors or textures, those elements that often reach out to me, but it’s more likely because it’s message speaks clearly to me.

We all need to periodically stop the busyness of our lives, if only for a few moments. A short spell to pause everything and appreciate where we are in the present, to ponder how we came to be there, and to imagine where the future will take us.

An interlude to see how the past, present and future exist within us.

That’s the message I get from this painting. Now, doing such a thing is another animal altogether. For many of us, just stopping everything seems an impossibility. Or many may think such a thing is simple foolishness with no real purpose. Or some might feel that the prospect of actually thinking about anything, especially anything to do with their own life, is too tall a task.

But for some of us, these moments of ponderance are a necessity. They simply make life bearable. They create reason and meaning in a world that often seems to lack both. Those are the moments that define purpose at times when we need to know there is indeed purpose.

I get all of this with a glance at this painting. And I think that’s why I place so much stock in this piece– it speaks volumes with a so little effort. That’s the opposite of my writing or any form of expression with words.

Even this short re-examination of this painting is a form of pausing, of reflecting on what is now, what was then and what will will be. And maybe that’s the purpose of this piece and of art, in general.

Got to think about that…

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GC Myers- Far Away Eyes



Seems like a recurring theme lately with me starting most posts by saying that I am busy and eager to get to work. That’s actually a good thing for me. That eagerness to get to it is something that is not just there. It is cultivated, a result of previous actions. It usually means I am doing the right things (at least, for me) in my creative process.

So, while I wish I were willing to spend more time writing this morning’s post I am glad to want to get to my work.

But I wanted to share the painting above, Far Away Eyes, that is currently at the West End Gallery. I wrote about this piece last July and rereading that post reminded me of the struggle that I had with it. It was one of the first pieces I worked on during the early days of the pandemic. I had no momentum, no energy, little inspiration nor any eagerness to be at work. My mind was wholly distracted.

This piece though fought with me and made me work. Made me shut out the outer world for a time so that I could focus my mind on it, to become part of it.

To put it plainly, it didn’t come easy. That’s probably why this piece resonates so strongly with me. I think we all appreciate those things that make us struggle, that make us be at our best. We might be frustrated and demoralized during the battle but the result, the overcoming, makes us forget that. I know that the struggle in this piece had slipped my mind until I read the post that was written soon after this painting was completed, when the battle was still fresh in mind.

I now appreciate it for what it is, the force it possesses and not for what it provided in its creation.

As it should be.

The title for this song  was borrowed from an old Rolling Stones song from their 1978 Some Girls album. I didn’t mention it in the original post about the painting because I didn’t think the song itself fully lined up with the piece but its title did. But now, I’m not so sure.

Give a listen and you decide.



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Whenever I go through my oldest work I always stop at this little piece. It’s a goofy small painting on paper that has the title Red Laser Hits the Big City written across the bottom of the small piece of paper on which it is painted, along with the date from November of 1994.

I usually don’t give it much thought beyond the fact that it makes me smile but this morning I stopped a little longer and tried to remember more about it or, at least, try to understand it a bit better. 

It was just an experiment at the time at a time when I was still trying to figure out what I was as a painter. Or if I was even a painter since I wasn’t an exhibiting artist at that point.  This was painted several months before I even began showing my work in public the following year, at the 1995 Little Gems show at the West End Gallery

I remember painting this piece and a similar one with that red line that I called the Red Laser. I believe I actually sold the other piece but wouldn’t swear to that in court. Time has faded that memory but I have a vague recollection of being surprised at it selling  plus I can’t find it so that might well be the case. 

Looking at it now, I find it interesting because it showcased the color blocks more than much of my other work at that time. It’s a technique that I still use extensively in my work to this day, a signature part of my wet work. I think this use of the block makes it feel somewhat more current, even more evolved, than some of the other work from that time.

I remember seeing the laser with its odd offshoot of a leg as a figure walking down a street. Hence, its title. It’s not a great piece but it still has the ability to make me smile. And even though I have always discounted it in my mind, it does have its own feel, its own life. Those are the things I always look for in my work so maybe I have been too harsh on the Red Laser.

My bad. That dude’s always getting a bad rap. Sorry, Red Laser.

Here’s a little song for the Red Laser. It’s the great Jimmy Reed and his Bright Lights, Big City. I think the Red Laser was singing this to itself while it strolled down those big city streets. It has the right kind of swagger.



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“The Fulfillment”- Now at the West End Gallery



To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.

― Robert Louis Stevenson, Familiar Studies of Men and Books



Do you ever come across something, maybe a movie or book or song, that you haven’t thought of in a long, long time? So long that it has become almost new to you when you once again meet up with it. It makes you wonder how it has lost its place in your synapses, makes you marvel that while it has faded into almost nothingness it reignites itself anew with a bright blaze.

I had that feeling yesterday as we were driving in the car as the radio played. It was a little local station that plays an odd collection of oldies from many genres that I think I find appealing because it reminds me of the old AM stations I grew up that played a wide range of music, swinging from Johnny Cash to the Doors to Nat King Cole to Jesus Christ Superstar all within minutes of one another. Those stations represented a far wider swath of the population’s tastes that the niche stations of today. If you didn’t like what was on wait a minute and something more to your taste would surely be there soon.

Anyway, a song came on our little eclectic station and the intro caught my ear. I couldn’t recognize it at all. Usually, a song you know reveals itself within a second or two, those opening chords are so imprinted in your mind. But this lead in didn’t sound familiar at all even though I really liked it and wanted to hear more.

But as soon as the vocals entered I knew what it was. It was like a light went on and something in a closet that had been hidden for 40 years was suddenly rediscovered. Something you didn’t realize you were missing all this time.

It was just great to hear this song once more and it kept playing in my head until I went to sleep last night. I woke up and was humming it as I walked over here in the dark this morning. Maybe it was the song and the simple message attached to it.

And it is simple. Be what you are and celebrate that fact.

So simple that we sometimes forget and try to be people and things we are not. We sometimes desire to be something other than what we are when the fulfillment of this life comes in loving who and what you are.

That’s my lead in to this song. It’s I Shall Sing from Art Garfunkel in 1973. The song was written and recorded by Van Morrison in 1970 but it’s the Garfunkel version that resonates best with me. That happy, celebratory calypso beat just fills the song with an ebullience that adds depth to the meaning behind the song. Glad to have reencountered this song at this moment.

I needed it. Give a listen, if you’re so inclined.



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“What appears to be definite and precise does not belong to any acceptable reality. It is only the experiences, the queer previsions, the fleeting premonitions, that are real. Vague and insubstantial though they may appear to be, compared with anything else in the mists and shifting lights of Time theory, they loom up like mountains of iron ore.”

― J.B. Priestley, Man and Time



This painting is titled Shadow of the Red Eye and is part of the current Little Gems show at the West End Gallery. It’s a painting that really spoke to me when I was working on it, as well as after. It just seemed to have something to say to me the whole time.

It’s been out there in the ether for weeks now and I am still wrestling with its meaning. Some pieces are like that. Some immediately let me know what part of me, what part of my psyche and internal world, they are displaying. Positive emotions usually show themselves quickly.

Others take awhile.

They are usually darker in tone. And while their meanings may not jump out, there is a sense of certainty and reality in them. I may subconsciously try to avoid putting meaning to these pieces, not wanting to face the possible darker realities they may represent.

Maybe realities is not the right word. Or maybe I should include the word possibilities as an accomplice to realities. That would align well with the Priestley quote above which I read as being about how each of our personal realities is not just a timeline of facts and tangible data. It is not black and white. No, our reality is in shades of grays and subtle tones of black and white. It is a compilation of personal emotions and feelings in the present, interpretations and reactions to our past, and premonitions of our future. That is the reality in which we reside.

And that might be where this paintings fits in. It coincides with darker dreams I have been experiencing in my sleep lately, dreams that are a bit uncomfortable and worrisome. I wake in the morning with pangs of anxiety from them, fearful that they are some sort of premonition. Perhaps, a call out to my outer self from my inner self to pay heed to the clues it has taken notice of in the patterns and movements of the outer world. 

I am still taking this piece in so I am not really sure what it means. I hope it is not a pure premonition but is maybe more of a simple reflection of my own worries for the future. But it has a real attraction for me and maybe that comes because it feels real to me, that is has something of true meaning in it for me.

Even with my own personal uncertainty, it seems to have certainty.

Like a mountain of iron ore.

 

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“Memoir” – At the West End Gallery



As machines become more and more efficient and perfect, so it will become clear that imperfection is the greatness of man.

—Ernst Fischer 



I’ve wondered about the concept of perfection for some time, given the way some folks are always going on about it and seeking it.

Not me, of course. Quite some time back, I came to that conclusion that perfection is not a human quality, that we are defined by our imperfections and how we cope with them. How we adapt and compensate for all the area in which we are lacking.

And that’s somewhat what the quote above says, as I read it.

When I read it, it struck me at once but I had never heard of the writer, Ernst Fischer.  Looking him up, I found him to be an Austrian Marxist writer/journalist born in 1899 who waved the banner for Stalinist policies for many years but in his later years– he died in 1972– Fischer came to regret his past. His memoir of his life began with a chapter that was titled Was That Me?, indicating his astonishment at looking back and seeing the many phases and changes he went through in his life.

I think most of us could start our own memoirs with that same first chapter title.

I know I could, even though I feel that I am very much the same at the core now as I was in my earlier days. However, my actions were not always consistent with that core and didn’t really reflect well on me. I did some things that were–how should I put this?— less than perfect. I was then, and am now, a walking exhibition of flaws, imperfections.

As are we all. At least, that applies to everyone I know.

Maybe it’s when we recognize what sort of person we want to be that we begin to alter and align our actions to what we are at our core. Then life becomes somewhat easier to swallow and our imperfections become less evident, not worn on our sleeves for all to see.

I’m not talking about trying to acquire perfection. No, I mean that we just try to recognize the flaws that make up each of us and to accept them. Life is in toleration- of others as well as of ourselves. And in adapting to and overcoming our shortcomings.

Please bear with me here. One of the negative aspects of doing a daily blog is that I often post things as though I were writing them in a journal, unedited and just as they fall out of the mind. They are not always fully realized thoughts or ideas and will soon be questioned in my own mind.

It’s like reading an old journal written when much younger and wondering, “What was I thinking there?” or, echoing Fischer, “Was that me?”

You hope that, as we age and gain experience, that this is a less frequent happening in our lives.  But writing in this public forum, forcing out words each day, it sometimes reappears. One’s imperfections become apparent.

Phew!  I don’t know what I just said here and I don’t really want to reread it so I’ll let it hang out there for now, flawed though it may be. Someday in the near or distant future I just know I’ll read it and ask myself, “Was that me?”



This post first ran back in 2010. Some things never change.

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I too am not a bit tamed,
I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp
over the roofs of the world.

Walt Whitman, Song of Myself




I finished this smaller piece the other day (it is headed to the West End Gallery today) and with the Red Tree appearing to hover above the Red Roofs both near and far, all I could think of were the lines above from Uncle Walt. That’s Walt Whitman, actually, but I always think of him in familial terms not that he was anything at all like my own uncles.

These lines from Song of Myself have rang in my ears for decades and are at the core of my desire to paint and in the formation of my voice as an artist.

Before I even thought of beginning to paint, I tried my hand at wood carving. I did a number of bas-relief carvings that were fairly crude in a folksy kind of way. I was untrained and just went at it, much as I did later on with my painting. I believe that the painting worked out much better but the carving had a part to play for me at the time.

One of the first things I carved was a rough-hewn face with the four lines– poorly executed– from Whitman next to it. It was nothing to write home about, carved as it was from the end of an old 2×12 pine board. I am not particularly proud of it as a piece of art but it has great meaning to me and stays near me in the studio.

I have described what these words have meant to me in the past like this:

…the four lines above have been a guiding beacon for me throughout the past 25 years as I have tried to be an artist. These words instructed me to be only myself, to openly and boldly express my feelings without fear or shame. To not hide my scars, my fears or my weaknesses because they are part of my wholeness and keep me in balance. To not be underestimated or devalued by myself or anyone else. To claim a foothold in this world and bellow out the proof of my existence in my own voice:

Here I am.

There are paintings that I do that are meant to represent this thought, paintings that are meant to be plainly expressions of that Here I am. I consider them icons in my body of work, pieces that fully represent my work and what I want from it. This painting definitely falls in that category. It’s simply put but not a simple expression.

When I look at this painting I personally see myself and all my hopes and aspirations, all that I am or desire to be.

What I hope for this painting is that someone else sees that same here I am in it for themselves, that they see in it those things that make them a whole and perfectly imperfect person with a place in this world and a voice that demands to be heard.

Is that asking too much?

I immediately thought looking at this new painting that it fit into this category, that the Red Tree here represented my own need to let out my barbaric yawp, to announce my existence in this world. I am calling it I Sound My Barbaric Yawp.

It might not be quite as roughly finished as the carving but the yawp is the same.

Sound your own yawp in the world today. Have a good one.

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To live on a day-to-day basis is insufficient for human beings; we need to transcend, transport, escape; we need meaning, understanding, and explanation; we need to see over-all patterns in our lives. We need hope, the sense of a future. And we need freedom (or, at least, the illusion of freedom) to get beyond ourselves, whether with telescopes and microscopes and our ever-burgeoning technology, or in states of mind that allow us to travel to other worlds, to rise above our immediate surroundings.

We may seek, too, a relaxing of inhibitions that makes it easier to bond with each other, or transports that make our consciousness of time and mortality easier to bear. We seek a holiday from our inner and outer restrictions, a more intense sense of the here and now, the beauty and value of the world we live in.

― Oliver Sacks. New Yorker article 2012



I was thinking this morning about how I would describe the painting at the top, Steady As She Goes. It is included in the Little Gems show at the West End Gallery which opens today. 

At first, I was thinking about sailing but I really don’t much about that subject. I can try to imagine the thrill of the open water, the feeling of untiy with the natural world, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the same as the real experience.

I began to wonder what was the underlying appeal of sailing, of open water. All that came to me was the word escape.

That made sense. You’re free from the ties that bind out there, subject, of course, to the whims of Mother Nature. We can never free ourselves from her her apron strings.

Yes, escape. And that representation of escape might be the appeal of these boat paintings even for us non-sailors. 

I searched for  a few words from others to describe that and came across the excerpt from a 2012 article in the New Yorker from the late Oliver Sacks, who wrote about how we need some form of escape from the day-to-day, an outlet where we are free from the restrictions set upon us by others. 

I was torn between the Sacks excerpt and these words from the great Graham Greene:

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.

It seemed a little more pointed at creative types but made great sense to me. My work certainly does provide me with an escape route from the stresses and pains of the real world. 

I wasn’t sure which quote to use but, in the end, I guess I opted for using both.  After all, this is my blog and I can do what I want. I make the rules.

Maybe this is, in itself, a form of escape?

Maybe I should take up sailing. Since it’s about 8° this morning, that seems unlikely anytime soon. So, let’s listen to a favorite song from Lyle Lovett. It’s If I Had a Boat from his epic 1988 album Pontiac. I listened to this album over and over back then and it was a means of escape at times. It still holds up beautifully to this day.

Hope you find your own escape route and have a good day.



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“The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd – The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.”

― Fernando Pessoa



This is another piece from the Little Gems show that opens Friday at the West End Gallery. Its title is What Might Have Been which comes from the feeling of regret or nostalgia or, at least, retrospection that I feel in it. Those are feelings that I think most of have dealt with in some form. Hopefully, they don’t overwhelm our lives in the present.

For all my psychological foibles, glitches and tics, I don’t live with a lot of regrets. I understand that the consequential decisions– good and bad– that I have made in my life were my decisions and were made with the belief that I had the best information available in making those decisions. Of course, I was wrong in some cases, but that doesn’t change the fact that I accept the blame and responsibility for the results that came from my decisions. 

I am here now and that’s all that matters. 

Spending too much time on what ifs and what might have beens seems like a giant waste of time and energy. And the amount of time and energy I wasted early in my life might be the main regret I have when looking back. So why waste more looking back and fretting over it?

But I have to admit that I do look back. It’s not out of remorse or nostalgia. It’s more out of curiosity, to discover the patterns and flows that brought me to this point. To observe and learn the lessons that are undoubtedly there so that I don’t repeat the mistakes and can possibly build on the successes.

And to try to figure out where I came from and who and what I am.

That is, of course, my perspective on the past and on this painting. It’s based on my own life and experiences.

Your own experiences might draw you closer to the past, might fill you with more regrets and remorse for what has taken place in that past. We all deal with the world and our place in it in our own way and if revisiting your past fills your days, it is not my place to tell you to not do that. That is your decision. 

But I would advise you to try to live at least equally in the present time, trying to leave the traumas behind and to glean some lesson from that past to bring forward with you to make your future days more livable. 

Funny how a small painting can open so many gateways to thought. There’s so much more I could write about what I take from this simple little painting based on the cues it engages within me. And, if it is a successful piece that comes to life, it engages the feeling and minds of others.

Maybe that’s the purpose of art, to create a shorthand of emotion that speaks to a wide variety of people and their own distinct experiences without relying on the specificity of language.

I don’t know. I have work to do so I am not going to dwell on it now. 

Have a good day.



The quote at the top is from the great Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa, whose work I have only become aware of and a fan of in the past few years. I have written about him a couple of times here, most notably in reference to my Multitudes series a couple of years back.

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