Sentient in San Francisco – 26 May 2019

Contemporary German Art – Ofir Dor

Below – “The Bride The Groom and The Best Man”; “Three Times Vincent”; “Hotel Bed and two Pictures”; “Butterfly Huntress”; “Gas Station”; “Three Bathers.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 26 May 1954 – Alan Hollinghurst, an award-winning English novelist, short story writer, and translator.

Some quotes from the work of Alan Hollinghurst:

“It was the time of year when the atmosphere streamed with unexpected hints and memories, and a paradoxical sense of renewal.”
“There was the noise itself, which he thought of vaguely as the noise of classical music, sameish and rhetorical, full of feelings people surely never had”
“He was asking for memories, too young himself to know that memories were only memories of memories.”
“The worse they are the more they see beauty in each other.”
“The great wisdom for writers, perhaps for everybody, is to come to understand to be at one with their own tempo.”
“All families are silly in their own way.”


Contemporary Lithuanian Art – Justinas Krasuckas

Below – “Fright. MsThompson with raincoat in non existing light”;  “Dawn.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 26 May 1963 – Simon Armitage, an award-winning English poet, playwright, and novelist. Simon Armitage is the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom.

“The Unaccompanied”
by Simon Armitage

Wandering slowly back after dark one night
above a river, toward a suspension bridge,
a sound concerns him that might be a tune
or might not: noise drifting in, trailing off.

Then concerns him again, now clearly a song
pulsing out from the opposite bank, being sung
by chorusing men, all pewter-haired or bald,
in the function suite of a shabby hotel.
Above their heads a conductor’s hand
draws and casts the notes with a white wand.

Songs about mills and mines and a great war,
about mermaid brides and solid gold hills,
songs from broken hymnbooks and cheesy films.

Then his father’s voice rising out of that choir,
and his father’s father’s voice, and voices
of fathers before, concerning him only,
arcing through charged air and spanning the gorge.
He steps over the cliff edge and walks across.

Contemporary Belgian Art – Hugo Pondz: Part I of II.

Below – “Dreams of a lLate summer Afternoon”; “A Beautiful Day”; “When I’m looking at the flat earth (in blue)”; “Endless Summer”; “The Upcoming Arrival”; “Emma Vettriano’s Bath.”

Musings in Spring: Christopher Paolini

“The sea is emotion incarnate. It loves, hates, and weeps. It defies all attempts to capture it with words and rejects all shackles. No matter what you say about it, there is always that which you can’t.”

Contemporary Belgian Art – Hugo Pondz: Part II of II.

Below – “The Signal”; “The Wide World”; “The Cage”; “One Day Soon”; “The Great Challenge”; “The Bright Moment.”


A Poem for Today

“Girls’ Middle School Orchestra”
by Michael Ryan

They’re all dressed up in carmine
floor-length velvet gowns, their upswirled hair
festooned with matching ribbons:
their fresh hopes and our fond hopes for them
infuse this sort-of-music as if happiness could actually be
each-plays-her-part-and-all-will-take-care-of-itself.
Their hearts unscarred under quartz lights
beam through the darkness in which we sit
to show us why we endured at home
the squeaking and squawking and botched notes
that now in concert are almost beautiful,
almost rendering this heartrending music
composed for an archduke who loved it so much
he spent his fortune for the musicians
who could bring it brilliantly to life.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 25 May 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 25 May 1926 – William Bowyer, an English painter.

Below – “a summer’s day”; “The Beach”; “A Suffolk Hedgerow”; “By a Window”; “Chiswick Winter”; “Over the Dunes.”

A Poem for Today

“Potato Soup”
by Daniel Nyikos

I set up my computer and webcam in the kitchen
so I can ask my mother’s and aunt’s advice
as I cook soup for the first time alone.
My mother is in Utah. My aunt is in Hungary.
I show the onions to my mother with the webcam.
“Cut them smaller,” she advises.
“You only need a taste.”
I chop potatoes as the onions fry in my pan.
When I say I have no paprika to add to the broth,
they argue whether it can be called potato soup.
My mother says it will be white potato soup,
my aunt says potato soup must be red.
When I add sliced peppers, I ask many times
if I should put the water in now,
but they both say to wait until I add the potatoes.
I add Polish sausage because I can’t find Hungarian,
and I cook it so long the potatoes fall apart.
“You’ve made stew,” my mother says
when I hold up the whole pot to the camera.
They laugh and say I must get married soon.
I turn off the computer and eat alone.

This Date in Art History: Died 25 May 1943 – Nils von Dardel, a Swedish painter.

Below – “Portrait of Nita Wallenberg”; “Japanese Woman”; “Waterfall”; “Girl in a Blue Dress”; “Författarinnan Ulla Bjerne omgiven av blomster på terass med svenska flaggan i bakgrunden”;
“Arabiskan.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 25 May 1938 – Raymond Carver, an American short story writer, poet, and five-time recipient of the O. Henry Award: Part I of II.

Some quotes from the work of Raymond Carver:

“There isn’t enough of anything as long as we live. But at intervals a sweetness appears and, given a chance prevails.”
“Life and death matters, yes. And the question of how to behave in this world, how to go in the face of everything. Time is short and the water is rising.”
“It’s possible, in a poem or short story, to write about commonplace things and objects using commonplace but precise language, and to endow those things—a chair, a window curtain, a fork, a stone, a woman’s earring—with immense, even startling power.”
“It ought to make us feel ashamed when we talk like we know what we’re talking about when we talk about love.”
“The places where water comes together with other water. Those places stand out in my mind like holy places.”
“I dressed and went for a walk – determined not to return until I took in what Nature had to offer.”

Contemporary British Art – Marcelina Amelia

Below –  “Sheroe VI.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 25 May 1938 – Raymond Carver, an American short story writer, poet, and five-time recipient of the O. Henry Award: Part II of II.

“For Tess”
by Raymond Carver

Out on the Strait the water is whitecapping
as they say here.  It’s rough, and I’m glad
I’m not out there.  Glad I fished all day
on Morse Creek, casting a red Daredevil back
and forth.  I didn’t catch anything.  No bites
even, not one.  But it was okay.  It was fine!
I carried your dad’s pocketknife and was followed
for a while by a dog its owner called “Dixie.”
At times I felt so happy I had to quit
fishing.  Once I lay on the bank with my eyes closed,
listening to the sound the water made,
and to the wind in the tops of the trees.  The same wind
that blows out on the Strait, but a different wind, too.
For a while I even let myself imagine I had died –
and that was all right, at least for a couple
of minutes, until it really sank in: Dead.
As I was lying there with my eyes closed,
just after I’d imagined what it might be like
if in fact I never got up again, I thought of you.
I opened my eyes then and got right up
and went back to being happy again.
I’m grateful to you, you see.  I wanted to tell you.

Below – Raymond Carver with Tess Gallagher, his second wife.


Contemporary American Art – Sang H Han

Below – “Embrace of Winter”; “The Shadow Bridge”; “Spring Breaks Free”; “Winter’s End”; “Isolation and Reflection.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 25 May 1908 – Theodore Roethke, an American poet, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, and two-time recipient of the National Book Award.

“The Geranium”
by Theodore Rotehke

When I put her out, once, by the garbage pail,
She looked so limp and bedraggled,
So foolish and trusting, like a sick poodle,
Or a wizened aster in late September,
I brought her back in again
For a new routine–
Vitamins, water, and whatever
Sustenance seemed sensible
At the time: she’d lived
So long on gin, bobbie pins, half-smoked cigars, dead beer,
Her shriveled petals falling
On the faded carpet, the stale
Steak grease stuck to her fuzzy leaves.
(Dried-out, she creaked like a tulip.)

The things she endured!–
The dumb dames shrieking half the night
Or the two of us, alone, both seedy,
Me breathing booze at her,
She leaning out of her pot toward the window.

Near the end, she seemed almost to hear me–
And that was scary–
So when that snuffling cretin of a maid
Threw her, pot and all, into the trash-can,
I said nothing.

But I sacked the presumptuous hag the next week,
I was that lonely.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 24 May 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 24 May 1830 – Alexei Savrasov, a Russian painter: Part I of II.

Below – “The Rooks Have Come Back”; “Rustic View”; “Winter Night”; “Sundown over a marsh”; “Winter”; “Spring Day.”

A Poem for Today

“Mockingbird”
by Judith Harris

I can hear him,
now, even in darkness,
a trickster under the moon,
bristling his feathers,
sounding as merry
as a man whistling in a straw hat,
or a squeaky gate
to the playground, left ajar
or the jingling of a star,
having wandered too far
from the pasture.

This Date in Art History: Born 24 May 1830 – Alexei Savrasov, a Russian painter: Part II of II.

Below – “Rainbow”; “Early Spring Thaw”; “Spring. Kitchen Gardens”; “Sea of Mud”; “Early Spring”; “Night on the Sparrow Hills.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 24 May 1940 – Joseph Brodsky, a Russian-American poet, essayist, and recipient of the 1987 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Some quotes from the work of Joseph Brodsky:

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”
“The moment that you place blame somewhere, you undermine your resolve to change anything.”
“Were we to choose our leaders on the basis of their reading experience and not their political programs, there would be much less grief on earth. I believe … that for someone who has read a lot of Dickens to shoot his like in the name of an idea is harder than for someone who has read no Dickens.”
“The surest defense against Evil is extreme individualism, originality of thinking, whimsicality, even – if you will – eccentricity. That is, something that can’t be feigned, faked, imitated; something even a seasoned imposter couldn’t be happy with.”
“By failing to read or listen to poets, society dooms itself to inferior modes of articulation, those of the politician, the salesman, or the charlatan. In other words, it forfeits its own evolutionary potential. For what distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom is precisely the gift of speech. Poetry is not a form of entertainment and in a certain sense not even a form of art, but it is our anthropological, genetic goal. Our evolutionary, linguistic beacon.”
“I do not believe in political movements. I believe in personal movement, that movement of the soul when a man who looks at himself is so ashamed that he tries to make some sort of change – within himself, not on the outside.”
“Life—the way it really is—is a battle not between good and bad, but between bad and worse.”
“For a writer only one form of patriotism exists: his attitude toward language.”
“Poetry is what is gained in translation.”


Contemporary British Art – Elaine Kazimierczuk

Below – “Wild Cherry in Cottage Hedgerow”; “Apple Blossom at Twenty Pound Meadow”; “Buttercup Meadow with Grasses”; “New Tuscany Meadow with Fluorescent Flowers.”

Musings in Spring: Ernest Hemingway

“In the morning there was a big wind blowing and the waves were running high up on the beach and he was awake a long time before he remembered that his heart was broken.”


Contemporary American Art – Don Bishop

Below – “Spring Flower Field”; “Red Field”; “Glowing Sunset”; “Lake Water Reflections”; “Red Poppies and Violet”; “Pond Sunset”; “Red Field With Violet.”

A Poem for Today

“October”
by Don Thompson

I used to think the land
had something to say to us,
back when wildflowers
would come right up to your hand
as if they were tame.

Sooner or later, I thought,
the wind would begin to make sense
if I listened hard
and took notes religiously.
That was spring.

Now I’m not so sure:
the cloudless sky has a flat affect
and the fields plowed down after harvest
seem so expressionless,
keeping their own counsel.

This afternoon, nut tree leaves
blow across them
as if autumn had written us a long letter,
changed its mind,
and tore it into little scraps.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 23 May 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 23 May 1838 – Amaldus Nielsen, a Norwegian painter.

Below – “People on the Beach”; “Coastal Landscape in Moonlight”; “Evening Mood”; “Lonely Place”; “Wind Gust.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 23 May 1891 – Par Lagerkvist, a Swedish novelist, playwright, poet, author of “The Dwarf,” and recipient of the 1951 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Some quotes from the work of Par Lagerkvist:

“Nothing is more foreign than the world of one’s childhood when one has truly left it.”
“And they are deformed though it does not show on the outside. I live only my dwarf life. I never go around tall and smooth-featured. I am ever myself, always the same, I live one life alone. I have no other being inside me. And I recognize everything within me, nothing ever comes up from my inner depths, nothing there is shrouded in mystery. Therefore I do not fear the things which frighten them, the incoherent, the unknown, the mysterious. Such things do not exist for me. There is nothing ‘different’ about me.”
“It is incomprehensible that he should want to have these futile people here, and still more incomprehensible that he should be able to sit and listen to them and their stupid chatter. I can understand that he may occasionally listen to poets reciting their verses; they can be regarded as buffoons such as are always kept at court. They laud the lofty purity of the human soul, great events and heroic feats, and there is nothing to be said against all that, particularly if their songs flatter him. Human beings need flattery; otherwise they do not fulfill their purpose, not even in their own eyes. And both the present and the past contain much that is beautiful and noble which, without due praise, would have been neither noble nor beautiful. Above all, they sing the praises of love, which is quite as it should be, for nothing else is in such need of transformation into something different. The ladies are filled with melancholy and their breasts heave with sighs; the men gaze vaguely and dreamily into space, for they all know what it is really like and realize that this must be an especially beautiful poem.”
“Only the gods have many destinies and need never die. They are filled with everything and experience everything. Everything – except human happiness. That they can never know and therefore they grudge it to men. Nothing makes them so evil and cruel as that men should presume to be happy and forget them for the sake of their earthly happiness.”
“In reality all of them want a war. It implies a simplification which comes as a relief. Everybody thinks that life is too complicated, and so it is as they live it. In itself life is not at all complicated; on the contrary its salient feature is its great simplicity, but they can never understand that. They do not realize that it is best when it is left as it is; they can never leave it in peace, or refrain from using it for a number of strange ends. But all the same they think that it is wonderful to be alive!”


This Date in Art History: Born 23 May 1861 – Jozsef Rippl-Ronai, a Hungarian painter.

Below – “A Park at Night”; “Parisian Woman”; “Woman with Three Girls”; “My garden in Kaposvár”; “Female Portrait”; “Blonde Woman with a Veil.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 23 May 1947 – Jane Kenyon, an American poet and translator: Part I of II.

Some quotes from the work of Jane Kenyon:

“The poet’s job is to put into words those feelings we all have that are so deep, so important, and yet so difficult to name, to tell the truth in such a beautiful way, that people cannot live without it.”
“Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours.”
“If it’s darkness we’re having, let it be extravagant.”
“Everyone longs for love’s tense joys and red delights.”
“The soul’s bliss and suffering are bound together.”
“Otherwise I got out of bed on two strong legs. It might have been otherwise. I ate cereal, sweet milk, ripe, flawless peach. It might have been otherwise. I took the dog uphill to the birch wood. All morning I did the work I love. At noon I lay down with my mate. It might have been otherwise. We ate dinner together at a table with silver candlesticks. It might have been otherwise. I slept in a bed in a room with paintings on the walls, and planned another day just like this day. But one day, I know, it will be otherwise.”


This Dare in Art History: Died 23 May 1949 – Jan Frans De Boever, a Belgian symbolist painter and illustrator.

Below – “Regerende sfinx”; “Flirt – Le suiveur”; “Sisina (Les fleurs du mal)”; “Pegase”; “Sorciere”; “Les Epaves II, Lesbos.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 23 May 1947 – Jane Kenyon, an American poet and translator: Part II of II.

“Happiness”
by Jane Kenyon

There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basket maker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

Contemporary German Art – Vanessa Uher

Below – “The show must go on”; “mountain”; “I love you mist”; “Magic Mountain”; “the perfect moment.”


A Poem for Today

“Woman Feeding Chickens”
by Roy Scheele

Her hand is at the feedbag at her waist,
sunk to the wrist in the rustling grain
that nuzzles her fingertips when laced
around a sifting handful. It’s like rain,
like cupping water in your hand, she thinks,
the cracks between the fingers like a sieve,
except that less escapes you through the chinks
when handling grain. She likes to feel it give
beneath her hand’s slow plummet, and the smell,
so rich a fragrance she has never quite
got used to it, under the seeming spell
of the charm of the commonplace. The white
hens bunch and strut, heads cocked, with tilted eyes,
till her hand sweeps out and the small grain flies.

Below – Vincent van Gogh: “Woman Feeding Chickens”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 22 May 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 22 May 1844 – Mary Cassatt, an American painter: Part I of II.

Below – “The Boating Party”; “Young Woman in a Black and Green Bonnet”; “Tea”; “Summertime”; “Woman Standing Holding a Fan.”

This Day in Literary History: Died 22 May 1972 – Cecil Day-Lewis, an Anglo-Irish poet and the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1968 until 1972.

“Where Art The War Poets?” (1943)
By Cecil Day-Lewis

They who in folly or mere greed
Enslaved religion, markets, laws,
Borrow our language now and bid
Us to speak up in freedom’s cause.

It is the logic of our times,
No subject for immortal verse –
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse

Below – Frank Ernest Halliday: “Cecil Day-Lewis”

This Date in Art History: Born 22 May 1844 – Mary Cassatt, an American painter: Part II of II.

Below – “Young Woman in Green, Outdoors in the Sun”; “Lydia Leaning on Her Arms, Seated in a Loge”; “The Fitting”; “Nurse Reading to a Little Girl.”

A Poem for Today

“Crossing Shoal Creek”
by J. T. Ledbetter

The letter said you died on your tractor
crossing Shoal Creek.
There were no pictures to help the memories fading
like mists off the bottoms that last day on the farm
when I watched you milk the cows,
their sweet breath filling the dark barn as the rain
that wasn’t expected sluiced through the rain gutters.
I waited for you to speak the loud familiar words
about the weather, the failed crops—
I would have talked then, too loud, stroking the Holstein
moving against her stanchion—
but there was only the rain on the tin roof,
and the steady swish-swish of milk into the bright bucket
as I walked past you, so close we could have touched.

Below – James Ward: “Cow in Barn”

This Date in Art History: Born 22 May 1848 – Fritz von Uhde, a German painter.

Below – “Heathland Princess”; “Summer Resort”; “At the Window”; “Sisters in the Sewing Room”; “Winter Landscape”; “In the Garden.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 22 May 1859 – Arthur Conan Doyle, a British author and the creator of Sherlock Holmes.

Some quotes from the work of Arthur Conan Doyle:

“A dog reflects the family life. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs, dangerous people have dangerous ones.”
“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”
“The love of books is among the choicest gifts of the gods.”
“You have a grand gift for silence, Watson. It makes you quite invaluable as a companion.”
“Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons, with the greatest for the last.”
“‘Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?’
‘To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.’
‘The dog did nothing in the night-time.’
‘That was the curious incident,’ remarked Sherlock Holmes.”
“It is a great thing to start life with a small number of really good books which are your very own.”
“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent.”

Contemporary Dutch Art – Hennie van de Lande

Below – “Wild Flowers”; “Ice Fun”; “Large Poppie Field”; “China Town”; “A good place to swim -9-“; “Poppiefield in the morning”; “Pink Flowers.”


A Poem for Today

“Winter Sun”
by Molly Fisk

How valuable it is in these short days,
threading through empty maple branches,
the lacy-needled sugar pines.

Its glint off sheets of ice tells the story
of Death’s brightness, her bitter cold.

We can make do with so little, just the hint
of warmth, the slanted light.

The way we stand there, soaking in it,
mittened fingers reaching.

And how carefully we gather what we can
to offer later, in darkness, one body to another.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 21 May 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 21 May 1844 – Henri Rousseau, a French painter: Part I of II.

Below – “The Dream”; “A Carnival Evening”; “The Sleeping Gypsy”; “The Flamingoes”; “Bouquet of Flowers”; “Self Portrait.”

Musings in Spring: Jeanne Moreau

“To go out with the setting sun on an empty beach is to truly embrace your solitude.”


This Date in Art History: Born 21 May 1844 – Henri Rousseau, a French painter: Part II of II.

Below – “The Snake Charmer”; “The Muse Inspiring the Poet”; “Apes in the Orange Grove”; “Seine and Eiffel Tower in the Sunset”; Jungle with Lion”; “Self-Portrait with a Lamp.”

A Poem for Today

“Bless Their Hearts”
by Richard Newman

At Steak ‘n Shake I learned that if you add
“Bless their hearts” after their names, you can say
whatever you want about them and it’s OK.
‘My son, bless his heart, is an idiot,’ 
she said. ‘He rents storage space for his kids’ 
toys—they’re only one and three years old!’ 
I said, ‘my father, bless his heart, has turned 
into a sentimental old fool. He gets man for
weepy when he hears my daughter’s greeting 
on our voice mail.’ Before our Steakburgers came
someone else blessed her office mate’s heart,
then, as an afterthought, the jealous hearts
of the entire anthropology department.
We bestowed blessings on many a heart
that day. I even blessed my ex-wife’s heart.
Our waiter, bless his heart, would not be getting
much tip, for which, no doubt, he’d bless our hearts.
In a week it would be Thanksgiving,
and we would each sit with our respective
families, counting our blessings and blessing
the hearts of family members as only family
does best. Oh, bless us all, yes, bless us, please
bless us and bless our crummy little hearts.

Below – Eugene de Blaas: “The Friendly Gossips”

Musings in Spring: Aristotle

“Happiness is the settling of the soul into its most appropriate spot.”

Contemporary British Art – Thomas Donaldson

Below – “3-22-19“5-8-19 head study”; “1-10-16 figure study”; “2-19-19 anticipation.”


A Poem for Today

“Believe This”
by Richard Levine

All morning, doing the hard, root-wrestling
work of turning a yard from the wild
to a gardener’s will, I heard a bird singing
from a hidden, though not distant, perch;
a song of swift, syncopated syllables sounding
like, ‘Can you believe this, believe this, believe? 
Can you believe this, believe this, believe?’ 
And all morning, I did believe. All morning,
between break-even bouts with the unwanted,
I wanted to see that bird, and looked up so
I might later recognize it in a guide, and know
and call its name, but even more, I wanted
to join its church. For all morning, and many
a time in my life, I have wondered who, beyond
this plot I work, has called the order of being,
that givers of food are deemed lesser
than are the receivers. All morning,
muscling my will against that of the wild,
to claim a place in the bounty of earth,
seed, root, sun and rain, I offered my labor
as a kind of grace, and gave thanks even
for the aching in my body, which reached
beyond this work and this gift of struggle.

Below – Vincent van Gogh: “Portrait of a Gardener”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 20 May 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 20 May 1898 – Eduard Ole, an Estonian painter.

Below – “Passengers”; “Linnavaade Alpidest”; “Rootsi rennamotiiv”; “Park”; “Pariisi vaade.”

Musings in Spring: Kate Chopin

“The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.”

Below – Edvard Munch: “Young Woman on the Beach”


Contemporary Brazilian Art – Sephora Venites

Below – “The Birth of Venus II”; “CVIII.”

 

A Poem for Today

“Sudden Light”
by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.

You have been mine before,—
How long ago I may not know:
But just when at that swallow’s soar
Your neck turn’d so,
Some veil did fall,—I knew it all of yore.

Has this been thus before?
And shall not thus time’s eddying flight
Still with our lives our love restore
In death’s despite,
And day and night yield one delight once more?

Below – Dante Gabriel Rossetti: “Pia de’ Tolomei”


Contemporary British Art – Yuliya Martynova

Below – “Migration | Celestial Light Aqua”; “Dark Velvet | Blue”; “Migration | Marshmallow”; “Migration | Storm of Sentiments.”

Musings in Spring: Haruki Murakami

“Unclose your mind. You are not a prisoner. You are a bird in flight, searching the skies for dreams.”

Contemporary American Art – Kristen Elizabeth

Below – “Rhodochrosite”; “Sapphire”; “Quartz”; “Audrey”; “Aurum.”

A Poem for Today

“The Cricket in the Sump”
by Catherine Tufariello

He falls abruptly silent when we fling
A basket down or bang the dryer shut,
But soon takes up again where he left off.
Swept by a rainstorm through a narrow trough
Clotted with cobwebs into Lord knows what
Impenetrable murk, he’s undeterred—
You’d think his dauntless solo was a chorus,
This rusty sump, a field or forest spring.
And there is something wondrous and absurd
About the way he does as he is bidden
By instinct, with his gift for staying hidden
While making sure unseen is plainly heard.

All afternoon his tremolo ascends
Clear to the second story, where a girl
Who also has learned blithely to ignore us
Sings to herself behind her bedroom door.
Maybe she moves to her invented score
With a conductor’s flourish, or pretends
She’s a Spanish dancer, lost in stamp and whirl
And waving fan—notes floating, as she plays,
Through the open window where the willow sways
And shimmers, humming to another string.
There is no story where the story ends.
What does a singer live for but to sing?

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Sentient in San Francisco – 19 May 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 19 May 1871 – Walter Russell, an American painter.

Below – “Solitude (Rocky Mountains)”; “The Wave”; Untitled; “Bermuda Cottage.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 19 May 1864 – Nathaniel Hawthorne, an American novelist, short story writer, and author of “The Scarlet Letter.”

Some quotes from the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne:

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”
“Every individual has a place to fill in the world and is important in some respect whether he chooses to be so or not.”
“The thing you set your mind on is the thing you ultimately become.”
“We must not always talk in the market-place of what happens to us in the forest.”
“Oh, for the years I have not lived, but only dreamed of living.”
“Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind.”
“Religion and art spring from the same root and are close kin. Economics and art are strangers.”
“Echo is the voice of a reflection in a mirror.”
“If the truth were to be known, everyone would be wearing a scarlet letter of one form or another.”


This Date in Art History: Born 19 May 1914 – John Vachon, an American photographer who worked as a member of the Farm Security Administration to publicize the conditions of the rural poor in America: Part I of II.

Below – John Dyson, FSA (Farm Security Administration) borrower, playing the accordion. He was born into slavery over eighty years ago. Saint Mary’s County, Maryland 1940; Mildred Irwin, entertainer in saloon at North Platte, Nebraska. She entertained for twenty years in Omaha before coming to North Platte 1938; Shenandoah Valley. The Valley State Employment Service is aiding in the tapping the skilled labor resources of the Valley. These signs have been widely distributed. This one is in the center of Harrisonburg 1941; Resident of shacktown, Dubuque, Iowa 1940; Girl, resident of Sisseton, South Dakota 1939; Farmers waiting for the auction to begin. Oskaloosa, Kansas 1938.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 19 May 1946 – Booth Tarkington, an American novelist, dramatist, author of “The Magnificent Ambersons” and “Alice Adams,” and two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of Booth Tarkington:

“Boyhood is the longest time in life for a boy. The last term of the school-year is made of decades, not of weeks, and living through them is like waiting for the millennium.”
“‘I’m not so sure he’s wrong about automobiles,’ he said, ‘With all their speed forward they may be a step backward for civilization-that is, spiritual civilization … But automobiles have come, and they bring a greater change in our life than most of us expect. They are here, and almost all outward things are going to be different because of what they bring. They are going to alter war, and they are going to alter peace.’”
“Arguments only confirm people in their own opinions.”
“Destiny has a constant passion for the incongruous.”
“It is love in old age, no longer blind, that is true love. For the love’s highest intensity doesn’t necessarily mean it’s highest quality.”
“The things that we have and that we think are so solid – they’re like smoke, and time is like the sky that the smoke disappears into, nothing is left but the sky, and the sky keeps on being just the same forever.”


This Date in Art History: Born 19 May 1914 – John Vachon, an American photographer who worked as a member of the Farm Security Administration to publicize the conditions of the rural poor in America: Part II of II.

Below – Blind beggar, Washington, D.C. 1937; Rainy Day, Indianapolis, Indiana 1942; Ozark children getting mail from RFD box, Missouri 1940; African American boy. Cincinnati, Ohio, 1942 or 1943; Worker at carbon black plant in Sunray, Texas 1942; Negro Family Waiting for Ride into Town, Halifax County, Virginia, 1941.


This Date in Literary History: Died 19 May 1984 – John Betjeman, an English poet and Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1972 – 1984.
Here is my favorite fact about John Betjeman: In his “Who’s Who” entry he described himself as “poet and hack.”

“Slough”
by John Betjeman:

Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!
It isn’t fit for humans now,
There isn’t grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, Death!

Come, bombs and blow to smithereens
Those air -conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans,
Tinned minds, tinned breath.

Mess up the mess they call a town-
A house for ninety-seven down
And once a week a half a crown
For twenty years.

And get that man with double chin
Who’ll always cheat and always win,
Who washes his repulsive skin
In women’s tears:

And smash his desk of polished oak
And smash his hands so used to stroke
And stop his boring dirty joke
And make him yell.

But spare the bald young clerks who add
The profits of the stinking cad;
It’s not their fault that they are mad,
They’ve tasted Hell.

It’s not their fault they do not know
The birdsong from the radio,
It’s not their fault they often go
To Maidenhead

And talk of sport and makes of cars
In various bogus-Tudor bars
And daren’t look up and see the stars
But belch instead.

In labour-saving homes, with care
Their wives frizz out peroxide hair
And dry it in synthetic air
And paint their nails.

Come, friendly bombs and fall on Slough
To get it ready for the plough.
The cabbages are coming now;
The earth exhales.

Below – Slough. (“Slough” was written in 1937. In a dark irony, the Nazis bombed Slough on 30 July 1940.)


This Date in Art History: Died 19 May 1943 – Kristjan Raud, an Estonian painter and illustrator.

Below – “Under the Stars”; “Laundry”; “Trip”; “Rest”; “Kalev Proposing Marriage”; “Witch and Piglets.”


Remembering a Cinematic Genius: Born 1942 – Werner Herzog, a German film director, screen writer, author, actor, and cultural critic.

Some quote from the work of Werner Herzog:

“Dear America: You are waking up, as Germany once did, to the awareness that 1/3 of your people would kill another 1/3, while 1/3 watches.”
“Civilization is like a thin layer of ice upon a deep ocean of chaos and darkness.”
“Facts do not convey truth. That’s a mistake. Facts create norms, but truth creates illumination.”
“The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot.”
“What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.”
“I believe the common denominator of the Universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility and murder.”
“You are confronted with abysses of time that are, in a way, unfathomable. You see a painting in charcoal of raindeer and it was left unfinished and somebody else finished it. But through radio carbon dating we know that the next one completed the painting 5,000 years later. You’re just blown away by the notion of passage of time. We have no relationship to that kind of depth of time.”
“Life in the oceans must be sheer hell. A vast, merciless hell of permanent and immediate danger. So much of a hell that during evolution some species—including man—crawled, fled onto some small continents of solid land, where the Lessons of Darkness continue.”
“Our presence on this planet does not seem to be sustainable. Our technical civilization makes up particularly vulnerable. There is talk all over the scientific community about climate change. Many of them [scientists] agree, the end of human life on earth is assured.”


Contemporary Swedish Art – Thomas Edetun

Below – “Hostel”; “The bridge”; “The sign”; “3 clouds”; “Honored.”

A Poem for Today

“Two Gates”
by Denise Low

I look through glass and see a young woman
of twenty, washing dishes, and the window
turns into a painting. She is myself thirty years ago.
She holds the same blue bowls and brass teapot
I still own. I see her outline against lamplight;
she knows only her side of the pane. The porch
where I stand is empty. Sunlight fades. I hear
water run in the sink as she lowers her head,
blind to the future. She does not imagine I exist.

I step forward for a better look and she dissolves
into lumber and paint. A gate I passed through
to the next life loses shape. Once more I stand
squared into the present, among maple trees
and scissor-tailed birds, in a garden, almost
a mother to that faint, distant woman.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 18 May 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 18 May 1938 – Janet Fish, an American painter: Part I of II.

Below – “Black Bowl and Red Scarf”; “Chili Peppers”; “Orange Pink Green”; “Plastic Boxes”; “Cut Peach, Blue Vase”; “Evian Bottles.”


This Date in Literary History: Died 18 May 1981 – William Saroyan, an American novelist, playwright, short story writer, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of William Saroyan:

“Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”
“In the time of your life, live—so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.”
“Unless a man has pity he is not truly a man. If a man has not wept at the worlds pain he is only half a man, and there will always be pain in the world, knowing this does not mean that a man shall dispair. A good man will seek to take pain out of things. A foolish man will not even notice it, except in himself, and the poor unfortunate evil man will drive pain deeper into things and spread it about wherever he goes.”
“I have always been a Laugher, disturbing people who are not laughers, upsetting whole audiences at theatres… I laugh, that’s all. I love to laugh. Laugher to me is being alive. I have had rotten times, and I have laughed through them. Even in the midst of the very worst times I have laughed.”
“Remember that every man is a variation of yourself.”
“The greatest happiness you can have is knowing that you do not necessarily require happiness.”
“Good people are good because they’ve come to wisdom through failure.”
“My birthplace was California, but I couldn’t forget Armenia, so what is one’s country? Is it land of the earth, in a specific place? Rivers there? Lakes? The sky there? The way the moon comes up there? And the sun? Is one’s country the trees, the vineyards, the grass, the birds, the rocks, the hills and summer and winter? Is it the animal rhythm of the living there? The huts and houses, the streets of cities, the tables and chairs, and the drinking of tea and talking? Is it the peach ripening in summer heat on the bough? Is it the dead in the earth there?”


This Date in Art History: Born 18 May 1938 – Janet Fish, an American painter: Part II of II.

Below – “Kara”; “Peaches and Strawflowers”; “4 Glasses”; “Nasturtiums and Pink Cups”; “Herb Tea”; “Coffee Cake.”

A Poem for Today

“After Disappointment”
by Mark Jarman

To lie in your child’s bed when she is gone
Is calming as anything I know. To fall
Asleep, her books arranged above your head,
Is to admit that you have never been
So tired, so enchanted by the spell
Of your grown body. To feel small instead
Of blocking out the light, to feel alone,
Not knowing what you should or shouldn’t feel,
Is to find out, no matter what you’ve said
About the cramped escapes and obstacles
You plan and face and have to call the world,
That there remain these places, occupied
By children, yours if lucky, like the girl
Who finds you here and lies down by your side.

Contemporary Portuguese Art – Paulo Vilarinho

Below – “Princess Mary”; “Simonetta”; “Summer”; “Anna”; “Canis Lupus Familiaris”; “Marga.”


This Date in Cultural History: Born 18 May 1904 – Shunryu Suzuki, a Japanese Zen Monk, founder of the first Buddhist monastery outside Asia (Tassajara Zen Mountain Center), founder of the San Francisco Zen Center, and author of “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.”

Some quotes from the work of Shunryu Suzuki:

“As soon as you see something, you already start to intellectualize it. As soon as you intellectualize something, it is no longer what you saw.”
“You must be true to your own way until at last you actually come to the point where you see it is necessary to forget all about yourself.”
“Moment after moment everything comes out of nothingness. This is the true joy of life.”
“How much ‘ego’ do you need? Just enough so that you don’t step in front of a bus.”
“Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else.”
“If you can just appreciate each thing, one by one, then you will have pure gratitude. Even though you observe just one flower, that one flower includes everything.”
“Nothing we see or hear is perfect. But right there in the imperfection is perfect reality.”
“Everything is perfect, but there is a lot of room for improvement.”
“The seed has no idea of being some particular plant, but it has its own form and is in perfect harmony with the ground, with its surroundings … and there is no trouble. This is what we mean by naturalness.”
“Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as an enlightened person. There is only enlightened activity.”
“Leave your front door and your back door open.
Allow your thoughts to come and go.
Just don’t serve them tea.”

Contemporary Polish Art – Agata Zychlinska

Below – “Sleeping lady”; “Into My Arms”; “The night”; “Picnic”; “In the middle of nowhere”; “Sitting Lady”; “Playing with fire.”


A Poem for Today

“On A Side Road Near Staunton”
by Stanley Plumly

Some nothing afternoon, no one anywhere,
an early autumn stillness in the air,
the kind of empty day you fill by taking in
the full size of the valley and its layers leading
slowly to the Blue Ridge, the quality of country,
if you stand here long enough, you could stay
for, step into, the way a landscape, even on a wall,
pulls you in, one field at a time, pasture and fall
meadow, high above the harvest, perfect
to the tree line, then spirit clouds and intermittent
sunlit smoky rain riding the tops of the mountains,
though you could walk until it’s dark and not reach those rains—
you could walk the rest of the day into the picture
and not know why, at any given moment, you’re there.

Below – Marisa Jackson: “Blue Ridge Mountain”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 17 May 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 17 May 1923 – Anthony Eyton, an English painter: Part I of II.

Below – “Staircase in the Morning”; “Rocking Chair”; “Studio”; “Brixton Market”; “Self-portrait.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 17 May 1873 – Dorothy Richardson, a British author and journalist.

Some quotes from the work of Dorothy Richardson:

“Life is creation – self and circumstances, the raw material.”
“In the midst of the happiness they brought there was always a lurking shadow. The shadow of incompatibility; of the impossibility of being at once bound and free. The garden breeds a longing for the wild; the wild a homesickness for the garden.”
“Life ought to be lived on a basis of silence, where truth blossoms.”
“A happy childhood is perhaps the most-fortunate gift in life.”
“People are themselves when they are children, and not again till they know they’m dying.”
“If the stars are sublime, why should the earth be therefore petty? It is part of a sublime system. If the earth is to be called petty, then the stars must be called petty too. They may not even be inhabited. Perhaps they mean the movement of the vast system going on for ever, while men die. The indestructibility of matter. But if matter is indestructible, it is not what the people who use the phrase mean by matter. If matter is not conscious, man is more than matter. If a small, no matter how small, conscious thing is called petty in comparison with big, no matter how big, unconscious things, everything is made a question of size, which is absurd.”


This Date in Art History: Born 17 May 1923 – Anthony Eyton, an English painter: Part II of II.

Below – “Portrait of Liesle”; “Wild flowers”; “The water garden”; “Interior with standing model”; “Figures on a beach, Greece”; “The blue necklace.”


Musings in Spring: Haruki Murakami

“But if you knew you might not be able to see it again tomorrow, everything would suddenly become special and precious, wouldn’t it?”


This Date in Art History: Died 17 May 2010 – Walasse Ting, a Chinese-American artist: Part I of II.

Below – “Blue Lady with Parrots”; “I Love Chrysanthemums”; “Ladies with Warermelons”; “Gauguin? Ting?”; “It Is Very Hot Here”; “Goya’s Lover.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 17 May 1939 – Gary Paulsen, an American writer and author of “My Life in Dog Years.”

Some quotes from the work of Gary Paulsen:

“I owe everything I am and everything I will ever be to books.”
“If books could have more, give more, be more, show more, they would still need readers who bring to them sound and smell and light and all the rest that can’t be in books. The book needs you.”
“Words are alive–when I’ve found a story that I love, I read it again and again, like playing a favorite song over and over. Reading isn’t passive–I enter the story with the characters, breathe their air, feel their frustrations, scream at them to stop when they’re about to do something stupid, cry with them, laugh with them. Reading for me, is spending time with a friend. A book is a friend. You can never have too many.”
“We make a mistake in thinking we own pets – the animals open their lives up and make us a part of them.”
“It was as though I had been dying of thirst and the librarian had handed me a five gallon bucket of water. I drank and drank. The only reason I am here and not in prison is because of that woman. I was a loser, but she showed me the power of reading.”
“We don’t like to think of ourselves as prey—it is a lessening thought—but the truth is that in our arrogance and so-called knowledge we forget that we are not unique. We are part of nature as much as other animals, and some animals—sharks, fever-bearing mosquitoes, wolves and bear, to name but a few—perceive us as a food source, a meat supply, and simply did not get the memo about how humans are superior. It can be shocking, humbling, painful, very edifying and sometimes downright fatal to run into such an animal.”
“Name the book that made the biggest impression on you. I bet you read it before you hit puberty. In the time I’ve got left, I intend to write artistic books – for kids – because they’re still open to new ideas.”
“I spent uncounted hours sitting at the bow looking at the water and the sky, studying each wave, different from the last, seeing how it caught the light, the air, the wind; watching patterns, the sweep of it all, and letting it take me. The sea.”
“I tried to contain myself… but I escaped!”


This Date in Art History: Died 17 May 2010 – Walasse Ting, a Chinese-American artist: Part II of II.

Below – “Venus”; “Red Horse, Orange Background”; “Lady in Pink”; “Four Nudes”; “Bare Back Rider”; “Do You Like Cool Breeze?.”


A Poem for Today

“The Art of Being”
by Anne Coray

The fern in the rain breathes the silver message.
Stay, lie low. Play your dark reeds
and relearn the beauty of absorption.
There is nothing beyond the rotten log

covered with leaves and needles.
Forget the light emerging with its golden wick.
Raise your face to the water-laden frond.
A thousand blossoms will fall into your arms.

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