Food for the Spirit and the Soul

Because the diverse parts of human nature need to be nourished in different ways.

Political Science

28 February 2013 – A neuroscientist at Duke University connects the brains of two rats in such a way that when one moves to press a lever, the other one usually does, too.

Disclaimer: The photograph below does not show the rats used in the experiment.
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American Muse: Jim Harrison

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“Barking”

The moon comes up.
The moon goes down.
This is to inform you
that I didn’t die young.
Age swept past me
but I caught up.
Spring has begun here and each day
brings new birds up from Mexico.
Yesterday I got a call from the outside
world but I said no in thunder.
I was a dog on a short chain
and now there’s no chain.
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February Offerings – Part XXVIII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of V: Shellie Lewis-Dambax

Here is the Artist Statement of American painter Shellie Lewis-Dambax: “My work is a direct reflection of my mood and emotional state. I have an obsession to paint. The Act of creating is also a struggle for me that opens a new conversation and awareness within myself. The process of my paintings begin with writing, sketching randomly and rhythmically, applying various marks and splotches of paint, then I apply and remove paint to reveal images, developing them to my liking. This process may take hours or weeks to complete. I paint, construct and explore new means to create works that I desire to be emotional and authentic. Each encounter and creation of art adds meaning to my life and is essential to my sanity. I seek to explore my humanness through my art in hopes to connect to others. My work is a struggle.”
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“Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock.” – Ben Hecht, American screenwriter, director, producer, playwright, and novelist called “the Shakespeare of Hollywood,” who was born 28 February 1893.

Some quotes from the work of Ben Hecht:

“I know that a man who tries to convert me to any cause
is actually at work on his own conversion, unless he is looking for funds under the mask of some fancied nobility.”
“Tell it, Fanny. About the crowds, streets, buildings, lights, about the whirligig of loneliness, about the humpty-dumpty clutter of longings. And then explain about the summer parks and the white snow and the moon window in the sky. Throw in a poignantly ironical dissertation on life, on its uncharted aimlessness, and speak like Sherwood Anderson about the desire that stir in the heart. Speak like Remy de Gourmont and Dostoevsky and Stevie Crane, like Schopenhauer and Dreiser and Isaiah; speak like all the great questioners whose tongues have wagged and whose hearts have burned with questions. He will listen bewilderedly and, perhaps, only perhaps, understand for a moment the dumb pathos of your eyes.”
“A wise man will not trust too much those who admire him, even for his wisdom. He knows that an admirer is never truly satisfied until he can substitute pity for his admiration and disdain for his applause. Our admirers are always on the lookout for evidence of our collapse. They find a solace in the fact that our superiority was transitory and that we end as they do—old and useless.”
“I know that man who shows me his wealth
is like the beggar who shows me his poverty;
they are both looking for alms from me,
the rich man for the alms of my envy,
the poor one for the alms of my guilt.”
“People’s sex habits are as well known in Hollywood as their political opinions, and much less criticized.”
“Prejudice is a raft onto which the shipwrecked mind clambers and paddles to safety.”
“I discovered early in my movie work that a movie is never any better than the stupidest man connected with it. There are times when this distinction may be given to the writer or director. Most often it belongs to the producer.”
“Time is a circus, always packing up and moving away.”
“I noticed early that pompous people have actually less a high opinion of themselves than a desire to create such an opinion in others.”
“In Hollywood a starlet is the name for any woman under thirty who is not actively employed in a brothel. ”
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Painter Ole E. Petterson (born 1944) is a member of the Danish Artist Union.
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From the Music Archives: Mike Smith

Died 28 February 2008 – Mike Smith, and English musician, singer, songwriter, and lead vocalist and keyboard player for The Dave Clark Five.

American Art – Part II of V: Elizabeth Menges

Artist Elizabeth Menges is a graduate of Boston University’s Masters of Fine Arts program in Painting.
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“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” – Henry James, American novelist, essayist, literary critic, biographer, and travel writer, who died 28 February 1916.

Some quotes from the work of Henry James:

“It’s time to start living the life you’ve imagined.”
“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
“I don’t want everyone to like me; I should think less of myself if some people did.”
“We work in the dark – we do what we can – we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.”
“Sorrow comes in great waves…but rolls over us, and though it may almost smother us, it leaves us. And we know that if it is strong, we are stronger, inasmuch as it passes and we remain.”
“Her reputation for reading a great deal hung about her like the cloudy envelope of a goddess in an epic.”
“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
“Live all you can: it’s a mistake not to. It doesn’t matter what you do in particular, so long as you have had your life. If you haven’t had that, what have you had?”
“I call people rich when they’re able to meet the requirements of their imagination.”
“Never say you know the last word about any human heart.”
“Life is, in fact, a battle. Evil is insolent and strong; beauty enchanting, but rare; goodness very apt to be weak; folly very apt to be defiant; wickedness to carry the day; imbeciles to be in great places, people of sense in small, and mankind generally unhappy. But the world as it stands is no narrow illusion, no phantasm, no evil dream of the night; we wake up to it, forever and ever; and we can neither forget it nor deny it nor dispense with it.”
“Obstacles are those frightening things you see when you take you eyes off your goal.”
“Try to be one of those on whom nothing is lost.”
“And remember this, that if you’ve been hated, you’ve also been loved.”
“Don’t mind anything any one tells you about any one else. Judge everyone and everything for yourself.”
“Be not afraid of life believe that life is worth living and your belief will create the fact.”
“Don’t pass it by–the immediate, the real, the only, the yours.”

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The paintings of Mexican artist Carlos Vargas Pons (born 1968) have won numerous awards.
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French Art – Part I of II: Lea Riviere

Here is one writer describing the career and artistry of Lea Riviere: “Born in France, Lea Riviere studied visual arts, drama and dance in Paris. She completed her studies at the Beaux-Arts in Geneva. Starting in 1984, exhibitions, seminar and study tours enriched her pictorial language. She has been living in Québec since 1990.
She started painting at a very young age with her uncle who taught her the essentials of painting. Her training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Geneva gave her a profound understanding of abstraction, technicality and concept. Léa Rivère’s artistic practice has been focusing on painting the female form, as well as horses, an interest that was derived from her earlier experiences of working in horse therapy. Her vast knowledge of anatomy and movement comes from her years of teaching, which enabled her to truly apprehend the true meaning of motion, form and figuration.”

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“To compose our character is our duty, not to compose books, and to win, not battles and provinces, but order and tranquility in our conduct. Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live appropriately. All other things, ruling, hoarding, building, are only little appendages and props, at most.” – Michel de Montaigne, one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance, author of “Essays,” and the father of modern skepticism, who was born 28 February 1533.

Some quotes from the work of Michel de Montaigne:

“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”
“When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts, nothing helps me so much as running to my books. They quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind.”
“If I speak of myself in different ways, that is because I look at myself in different ways.”
“Learned we may be with another man’s learning: we can only be wise with wisdom of our own.”
“A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears.”
“Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it.”
“I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I am in search of.”
“To forbid us anything is to make us have a mind for it.”
“When I play with my cat, who knows if I am not a pastime to her more than she is to me?”
“I am afraid that our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, and that we have more curiosity than understanding. We grasp at everything, but catch nothing except wind.”
“My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.”
“The most certain sign of wisdom is cheerfulness. ”
“In nine lifetimes, you’ll never know as much about your cat as your cat knows about you.”
“I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly.”
“Obsession is the wellspring of genius and madness.”
“Confidence in others’ honesty is no light testimony of one’s own integrity.”
“Lend yourself to others, but give yourself to yourself.”
“Oh senseless man, who cannot possibly make a worm or a flea and yet will create Gods by the dozen!”
“I speak the truth, not so much as I would, but as much as I dare; and I dare a little more as I grow older.”
“My art and profession is to live.”
“To begin depriving death of its greatest advantage over us, let us adopt a way clean contrary to that common one; let us deprive death of its strangeness, let us frequent it, let us get used to it; let us have nothing more often in mind than death… We do not know where death awaits us: so let us wait for it everywhere.”
“The greater part of the world’s troubles are due to questions of grammar.”
“Let us give Nature a chance; she knows her business better than we do.”

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French Art – Part II of II: Claude Sauzet

Here is one writer describing the artistry of Claude Sauzet (born 1941): “Born in the South of France, Claude Sauzet, French painter, studied drawing at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts at Nîmes. He moved to Paris for more than twenty years. It is in his studio that he redraws the sketches executed from the original life. On the bases of a strong outline, colours and light take the foremost place. His colors, always warm, ochres mixed with reds and browns, tinted with a hint of green or blue, recall his Mediterranean origins.”
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Died 28 February 1978 – Philip Ahn, a Korean-American actor and the first Asian-American film actor to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Philip Ahn portrayed Master Kan in the “Kung Fu” television series.

Here is one critic describing the artistry of British painter Tina Spratt (born 1976):
“Attracted to the methods of painters such as Lucian Freud and Rembrandt, Tina’s own approach involves emphasizing light and mood. Her present style has been developed through many years of experimenting with palette, textures and perspectives – although the inclusion of fabric within her compositions has always been an enduring feature.
In the context of profound social and cultural change, artists have employed radical approaches to address the body, as both subject and object, and as a means of exploring themes and individuality. The question of how to represent the human figure has preoccupied artists since the earliest times. Many of the great creative struggles of the modern era can be seen as attempts to move beyond or away from studio conventions to achieve a more authentic relationship with the human subject. Technological advances in photography in the twentieth century have led to its increasingly important and innovative role in artistic expression – be it as the final creation or part of a process. Tina’s choice to photograph her subjects and reconstruct the image in oil does not entirely result in a photographic likeness. Instead, she captures an atmosphere and beautifully reveals private, transitory moments.”

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28 February 2013 – A neuroscientist at Duke University connects the brains of two rats in such a way that when one moves to press a lever, the other one usually does, too.

Disclaimer: The photograph below does not show the rats used in the experiment.
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Here is one critic describing the artistry of Romanian painter Nicolae Maniu (born 1944): “Maniu’s conception of art embraces two aspects: on one hand, the elaboration of a three dimensional composition in a Trompe l’Oeil effect, and on the other, the pushing back of boundaries. He uses a hyperrealist technique to show some surrealist images where the real is mixed with the irrational, the logic with the absurd. The spectator is then astonished by this confusing combination, and enchanted by this mastery in creating such unknown territories. Thus the delight of anyone looking at Maniu’s painting will be complete.”
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Nobel Laureate: Sir Peter B. Medawar

“The alternative to thinking in evolutionary terms is not to think at all.” – Sir Peter B. Medawar, British biologist and co-recipient of the 1960 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for discovery of acquired immunological tolerance,” who was born 28 February 1915.

Medawar was awarded the 1987 Michael Faraday Prize “for the contribution his books had made in presenting to the public, and to scientists themselves, the intellectual nature and the essential humanity of pursuing science at the highest level and the part it played in our modern culture.” I recommend reading his witty and erudite “Pluto’s Republic.”

“The human mind treats a new idea the same way the body treats a strange protein; it rejects it.”
“The lives of scientists, considered as Lives, almost always make dull reading. For one thing, the careers of the famous and the merely ordinary fall into much the same pattern, give or take an honorary degree or two, or (in European countries) an honorific order. It could be hardly otherwise. Academics can only seldom lead lives that are spacious or exciting in a worldly sense. They need laboratories or libraries and the company of other academics. Their work is in no way made deeper or more cogent by privation, distress or worldly buffetings. Their private lives may be unhappy, strangely mixed up or comic, but not in ways that tell us anything special about the nature or direction of their work. Academics lie outside the devastation area of the literary convention according to which the lives of artists and men of letters are intrinsically interesting, a source of cultural insight in themselves. If a scientist were to cut his ear off, no one would take it as evidence of a heightened sensibility; if a historian were to fail (as [John] Ruskin did) to consummate his marriage, we should not suppose that our understanding of historical scholarship had somehow been enriched.”
“How have people come to be taken in by ‘The Phenomenon of Man’? We must not underestimate the size of the market for works of this kind [pseudoscience] for philosophy-fiction. Just as compulsory primary education created a market catered for by cheap dailies and weeklies, so the spread of secondary and latterly tertiary education has created a large population of people, often with well-developed literary and scholarly tastes, who have been educated far beyond their capacity to undertake analytical thought.”
“I cannot give any scientist of any age better advice than this: the intensity of a conviction that a hypothesis is true has no bearing over whether it is true or not.”
“Today the world changes so quickly that in growing up we take leave not just of youth but of the world we were young in.”

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American Art – Part III of V: Camie Davis

Classical painter and founder of the Guild Atelier, Camie Davis lives and works in New York City, where she teaches at the Grand Central Academy of Art.
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American Art – Part IV of V: Mark Dailly

Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Mark Dailly (born 1944): “Dailly has an approach to the process of painting which emphasizes the overall emotional responses and physical activity necessary to create a powerful work of art. Likewise, he views his use of color in broad terms. Each color finds its place with the context of all the other on the canvas, all working to capture accurately the brilliance of natural light no matter what the subject matter.”
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A Poem for Today

American Muse: Lawrence Ferlinghetti

“Bird With Two Right Wings”

And now our government
a bird with two right wings
flies on from zone to zone
while we go on having our little fun & games
at each election
as if it really mattered who the pilot is
of Air Force One
(They’re interchangeable, stupid!)
While this bird with two right wings
flies right on with its corporate flight crew
And this year it’s the Great Movie Cowboy in the cockpit
And next year its the great Bush pilot
And now its the Chameleon Kid
and he keeps changing the logo on his captains cap
and now its a donkey and now an elephant
and now some kind of donkephant
And now we recognize two of the crew
who took out a contract on America
and one is a certain gringo wretch
who’s busy monkeywrenching
crucial parts of the engine
and its life-support systems
and they got a big fat hose
to siphon off the fuel to privatized tanks
And all the while we just sit there
in the passenger seats
without parachutes
listening to all the news that’s fit to air
over the one-way PA system
about how the contract on America
is really good for us etcetera
As all the while the plane lumbers on
into its postmodern
manifest destiny
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American Art – Part V of V: Richard Lorenz

Born on a farm in Voigstaedt, Weimar, Germany, Richard Lorenz (1858-1915) became a painter and illustrator of dramatic scenes in the American West, especially of the Plains Indian culture and the consequences of encounters with the white man’s civilization.
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American Muse: Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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“Bird With Two Right Wings”

And now our government
a bird with two right wings
flies on from zone to zone
while we go on having our little fun & games
at each election
as if it really mattered who the pilot is
of Air Force One
(They’re interchangeable, stupid!)
While this bird with two right wings
flies right on with its corporate flight crew
And this year it’s the Great Movie Cowboy in the cockpit
And next year its the great Bush pilot
And now its the Chameleon Kid
and he keeps changing the logo on his captains cap
and now its a donkey and now an elephant
and now some kind of donkephant
And now we recognize two of the crew
who took out a contract on America
and one is a certain gringo wretch
who’s busy monkeywrenching
crucial parts of the engine
and its life-support systems
and they got a big fat hose
to siphon off the fuel to privatized tanks
And all the while we just sit there
in the passenger seats
without parachutes
listening to all the news that’s fit to air
over the one-way PA system
about how the contract on America
is really good for us etcetera
As all the while the plane lumbers on
into its postmodern
manifest destiny
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February Offerings – Part XXVII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of II: Kimberly Cook

In the words of one writer, “Kimberly Cook is currently an instructor in Beginning and Advanced ceramics at Foothill College, Los Altos Hills, CA. She has been working as an artist, using clay as the primary medium of expression, for ten years. She attended Texas A & M University, College Station, Texas, where she studied Liberal Arts, and in 2008, she completed her MFA in Spatial Art at San Jose State University.”
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James T. Farrell in His Library

“America is so vast that almost everything said about it is likely to be true, and the opposite is probably equally true.” – James T. Farrell, American novelist, short story writer, poet, and author of the “Studs Lonigan” trilogy, who was born 27 February 1904.

Some quotes from the work of James T. Farrell:

“If you let conditions stop you from working, they’ll always stop you.”
“They served the rich, and tried to think that they were rich.”
“He had come to America, haven of peace and liberty, and it, too, was joining the slaughter, fighting for the big capitalists. There was no peace for men, only murder, cruelty, brutality.”
“He was sad because he had grown up, and because the years passed like a river that no man could stop.”

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“The layman’s constitutional view is that what he likes is constitutional and that which he doesn’t like is unconstitutional.” – Hugo Black, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1937 to 1971, who was born 27 February 1886.

Some quotes from Hugo Black:

“A union of government and religion tends to destroy government and degrade religion.”
“Our Constitution was not written in the sands to be washed away by each wave of new judges blown in by each successive political wind.”
“The Framers of the Constitution knew that free speech is the friend of change and revolution. But they also knew that it is always the deadliest enemy of tyranny.”
“It is the paradox of life that the way to miss pleasure is to seek it first. The very first condition of lasting happiness is that a life should be full of purpose, aiming at something outside self.”
“When I was 40, my doctor advised me that a man in his 40s shouldn’t play tennis. I heeded his advice carefully and could hardly wait until I reached 50 to start again.”
“The Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to bare the secrets of government and inform the people.”
“Paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.”

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Italian painter Anna Cionini (born 1941) lives and works in Casentino a Rassina in the province of Arezzo.
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“There are times when parenthood seems nothing more than feeding the hand that bites you.” – Peter de Vries, American editor and novelist known for his satiric wit, who was born 27 February 1910.

Some quotes from the work of Peter de Vries:

“What people believe is a measure of what they suffer.”
“Life is a zoo in a jungle.”
“What baffles me is the comfort people find in the idea that somebody dealt this mess. Blind and meaningless chance seems to me so much more congenial – or at least less horrible. Prove to me that there is a God and I will really begin to despair.”
“Human nature is pretty shabby stuff, as you may know from introspection.”
“He resented such questions as people do who have thought a great deal about them. The superficial and slipshod have ready answers, but those looking this complex life straight in the eye acquire a wealth of perception so composed of delicately balanced contradictions that they dread, or resent, the call to couch any part of it in a bland generalization. The vanity (if not outrage) of trying to cage this dance of atoms in a single definition may give the weariness of age with the cry of youth for answers the appearance of boredom.”
“Who of us is mature enough for offspring before the offspring themselves arrive? The value of [parenthood] is not that adults produce children but that children produce adults.”
“The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination. But the combination is locked up in the safe.”
“My father hated radio and could not wait for television to be invented so he could hate that too. ”
“I made a tentative conclusion. It seemed from all of this that uppermost among human joys is the negative one of restoration: not going to the stars, but learning that one may stay where one is.”
“Why is the awfulness of families such a popular reason for starting another?”
“The murals in restaurants are on par with the food in museums.”
“A suburban mother’s role is to deliver children obstetric-ally once, and by car forever after.”
“We live this life by a kind of conspiracy of grace: the common assumption, or pretense, that human existence is ‘good’ or ‘matters’ or has ‘meaning,’ a glaze of charm or humor by which we conceal from one another and perhaps even ourselves the suspicion that it does not, and our conviction in times of trouble that it is overpriced – something to be endured rather than enjoyed.”
“We are not primarily put on this earth to see through one another, but to see one another through.”
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“The only difference between the Republican and Democratic parties is the velocities with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock on their door.” – Ralph Nader, American political activist, author, lecturer, attorney, humanitarian, environmentalist, consumer protection activist, and five-time candidate for President of the United States, who was born 27 February 1934.

Some quotes from the work of Ralph Nader:

“Ours is a system of corporate socialism, where companies capitalize their profits and socialize their losses…in effect, they tax you for their accidents, bungling, boondoggles, and mismanagement, just like a government. We should be able to deselect them. ”
“The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun.”
“Addiction should never be treated as a crime. It has to be treated as a health problem. We do not send alcoholics to jail in this country. Over 500,000 people are in our jails who are nonviolent drug users.”
“A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity.”
“Since I was a law student, I have been against the death penalty. It does not deter. It is severely discriminatory against minorities, especially since they’re given no competent legal counsel defense in many cases. It’s a system that has to be perfect. You cannot execute one innocent person. No system is perfect. And to top it off, for those of you who are interested in the economics it, it costs more to pursue a capital case toward execution than it does to have full life imprisonment without parole.”
“Your best teacher is your last mistake.”
“There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship.”
“You should not allow yourself the luxuries of discouragement of despair. Bounce back immediately, and welcome the adversity because it produces harder thinking and harder drive to get to the objective.”
“Let it not be said by a future, forlorn generation that we wasted and lost our great potential because our despair was so deep we didn’t even try, or because each of us thought someone else was worrying about our problems.”
“Moral courage is the highest expression of humanity.”
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Russian painter Vadim Chazov (born 1975) spent six years studying in one of the best art schools in the world – The Academy of Fine Art in St. Petersburg.
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Nobel Laureate: John Steinbeck

“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about.” – John Steinbeck, American writer and recipient of both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for “The Grapes of Wrath,” as well as the 1962 Nobel Prize for Literature “for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception,” who was born 27 February 1902.

Some quotes from the work of John Steinbeck:

“All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.”
“Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.”
“I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found.”
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?”
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
“I guess there are never enough books.”
“I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?”
“When a child first catches adults out — when it first walks into his grave little head that adults do not always have divine intelligence, that their judgments are not always wise, their thinking true, their sentences just — his world falls into panic desolation. The gods are fallen and all safety gone. And there is one sure thing about the fall of gods: they do not fall a little; they crash and shatter or sink deeply into green muck. It is a tedious job to build them up again; they never quite shine. And the child’s world is never quite whole again. It is an aching kind of growing.”
“Anything that just costs money is cheap.”
“To be alive at all is to have scars. ”
“It has always seemed strange to me…The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.”
“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”
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Here is the Artist Statement of Ali Kaikaoss Kamal:
“Born in 1965, I studied in Minsk at the art academy where I earned my Master of Art.
I have lived and worked in Germany since 1991 and consider myself a global citizen, for art has no borders. My experiences in various cultures have allowed me to find my own unmistakable style. I am and have been present at many single and group exhibitions in Germany, Belgium, France, the USA, and Belarus.”
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From the Music Archives: Marian Anderson

“As long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you otherwise might.” – Marian Anderson, African-American contralto and one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century, who was born 27 February 1897.

Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Portuguese painter Martinho Dias: “His work moves itself, above all, in a social and political criticism inside a contemporary reality. He unfolds this reality, which is common to us, in a suggestive, implied way. He privileges patterns of information collecting photographs from the mass media, such as newspapers, magazines or images taken from the television. In an intelligent way, he uses these ‘models’ of his for the accomplishment of pictorial compositions, which are the substratum of the representations of figures and bodies of his painting, faced as an inevitability of the daily life.”
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“A city becomes a world when one loves one of its inhabitants.” – Lawrence Durrell, expatriate British novelist, poet, dramatist, and travel writer, who was born 27 February 1912.

Lawrence Durrell is the author of “The Alexandria Quartet” – “Justine,” “Balthazar,” “Mountolive,” and “Clea” – four remarkable novels that are decidedly worth reading. He also wrote “Spirit of Place: Letters and Essays on Travel,” which one critic described thusly: “From one of the last century’s greatest storytellers, Lawrence Durrell, comes a sumptuous collection of essays that describe the author’s unique and cherished approach to life, with its pagan enjoyments as well as its intellectual pursuits. The book contains Durrell’s articles about the Mediterranean and Aegean islands he loved so much, along with passages from his letters. ‘My books are always about living in places,’ Durrell wrote, ‘not just rushing through them.’”
Some quotes from the work of Lawrence Durrell:

“Does not everything depend on our interpretation of the silence around us?”
“I don’t believe one reads to escape reality. A person reads to confirm a reality he knows is there, but which he has not experienced.”
“It is a pity indeed to travel and not get this essential sense of landscape values. You do not need a sixth sense for it. It is there if you just close your eyes and breathe softly through your nose; you will hear the whispered message, for all landscapes ask the same question in the same whisper. ‘I am watching you — are you watching yourself in me?’ Most travelers hurry too much…the great thing is to try and travel with the eyes of the spirit wide open, and not too much factual information. To tune in, without reverence, idly — but with real inward attention. It is to be had for the feeling…you can extract the essence of a place once you know how. If you just get as still as a needle, you’ll be there.”
“All culture corrupts, but French culture corrupts absolutely.”
“We are all hunting for rational reasons for believing in the absurd.”
“There is no pain compared to that of loving a woman who makes her body accessible to one and yet who is incapable of delivering her true self — because she does not know where to find it.”
“Who invented the human heart, I wonder? Tell me, and then show me the place where he was hanged.”
“I am quite alone. I am neither happy nor unhappy; I lie suspended like a hair or a feather in the cloudy mixtures of memory.”
“These are the moments which are not calculable, and cannot be assessed in words; they live on in the solution of memory, like wonderful creatures, unique of their own kind, dredged up from the floors of some unexplored ocean.”
“Odd, isn’t it? He really was the right man for her in a sort of way; but then as you know, it is a law of love that the so-called ‘right’ person always comes too soon or too late.”
“History is an endless repetition of the wrong way of living”
“I had become, with the approach of night, once more aware of loneliness and time – those two companions without whom no journey can yield us anything.”
“Very few people realise that sex is a psychic and not a physical act. The clumsy coupling of human beings is simply a biological paraphrase of this truth – a primitive method of introducing minds to each other, engaging them. But most people are stuck in the physical aspect, unaware of the poetic rapport which it so clumsily tries to teach.”
“The heaviest impact of the work of art is in the guts. Art does not reason. It manhandles you and changes you.”
“Music is only love looking for words.”
“Science is the poetry of the intellect and poetry the science of the heart’s affections.”
“The realisation of one’s own death is the point at which one becomes adult.”
“Art like life is an open secret.”
“A diary is the last place to go if you wish to seek the truth about a person. Nobody dares to make the final confession to themselves on paper: or at least, not about love.”
“Love is like trench warfare – you cannot see the enemy, but you know he is there and that it is wiser to keep your head down.”
“An idea is like a rare bird which cannot be seen. What one sees is the trembling of the branch it has just left.”
“I once found a list of diseases as yet unclassified by medical science, and among these there occurred the word Islomania, which was described as a rare but by no means unknown affliction of spirit. There are people…who find islands somehow irresistible. The mere knowledge that they are on an island, a little world surrounded by the sea, fills them with an indescribable intoxication. These born ‘islomanes’…are direct descendents of the Atlanteans.”
“She took kisses like so many coats of paint … how long and how vainly I searched for excuses which might make her amorality if not palatable at least understandable. I realize now the time I wasted in this way; instead of enjoying her and turning aside from these preoccupations with the thought, ‘She is untrustworthy as she is beautiful. She takes love as plants do water, lightly, thoughtlessly.’”
“Art—the meaning of the pattern of our common actions in reality. The cloth-of-gold that hides behind the sackcloth of reality, forced out by the pain of human memory.”
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Here is one writer describing the artistry of Michael Onona (born in Casablanca in 1967, educated in London): “Michael Onona’s artworks essentially concentrate on the depiction and conveyance of human emotion. Through his personal and unconventional visions of beauty his imagery challenges our perceptions, encourages the viewer to look and interpret these immensely bold visual statements.
Onona’s admiration for the old masters and the Renaissance have in turn created for this self-taught artist a personal quest to achieve a blend of excellence of technique combined with powerful and unnerving imagery.
A constant regeneration of imagery and new themes are created within the mind of this unique artist. Onona’s work deals with the ‘disturbingly normal’ and finds that his own inner peace is achieved by the act of painting and this in turn enables the exorcism from the constant and ever present imagery that resides within his mind.
Onona’s ever changing visions are held together as individual statements by his enormous compositional strengths. His often symbolic imagery and the conveyance of spiritual depth marks this artist out against any other today.”
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From the American History Archives – Part I of III: Wounded Knee, 1973

27 February 1973 – The Wounded Knee incident begins when approximately 200 Oglala Lakota and followers of the American Indian Movement (AIM) occupy the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. In the words of one historian, “The protest followed the failure of an effort of the Oglala Civil Rights Organization (OSCRO) to impeach tribal president Richard Wilson, whom they accused of corruption and abuse of opponents. Additionally, protestors attacked the United States government’s failure to fulfill treaties with Indian peoples and demanded the reopening of treaty negotiations.”

The occupation soon became a conflict that involved federal marshals, the F.B.I. and members of the U.S. military. In the words of one writer, “The equipment maintained by the military while in use during the siege included fifteen armored personnel carriers, clothing, rifles, grenade launchers, flares, and 133,000 rounds of ammunition, for a total cost, including the use of maintenance personnel from the National Guard of five states and pilots and planes for aerial photographs, of over half a million dollars.”

An agreement to disarm was not reached until 5 May, and the siege ended three days later and the town was evacuated after 71 days of occupation. The casualties and losses: American Indian Movement – 2 killed, 13 wounded; U.S. Government Forces – 1 killed, 2 wounded.

Above – Russell Means (seated on the right), one of the AIM leaders, beats a drum at a meeting of the Wounded Knee occupation.
Below – One of the armored personnel carriers deployed by the U.S. Army during the siege; Marlon Brando was an AIM supporter, and so he asked Sacheen Littlefeather, an Apache actress, to speak at the 45th Academy Awards on his behalf, as he had been nominated for his performance in “The Godfather.” In the words of one writer, “She appeared at the ceremony in traditional Apache clothing. When his name was announced as the winner, she said that he declined the award due to the ‘poor treatment of Native Americans in the film industry’ in an improvised speech as she was told she could not give the original speech given to her by Brando and was warned that she would be physically taken off and arrested if she was on stage for more than a minute. Afterwards, she read his original words about Wounded Knee backstage to many of the press. This recaptured the attention of millions in the United States and world media. AIM supporters thought Littlefeather’s speech to be a major victory for their movement.”

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From the American History Archives – Part II of III: Robert Lee Scott, Jr.

Died 27 February 2006 – Robert Lee Scott, Jr., a brigadier general in the United States Air Force, a member of the Flying Tigers in China, and the author of “God Is My Co-Pilot.”

Robert Scott became one of my boyhood heroes when I read “God Is My Co-Pilot” after purchasing a copy for ten cents from the “Weekly Reader” book list while I was in elementary school.
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From the American History Archives – Part III of III: Frank Buckles

Died 27 February 2011 – Frank Buckles (born 1 February 1901), the last surviving American World War I veteran. When asked about the secret of his long life, Buckles replied: “Hope,” adding, “When you start to die … don’t.”

His funeral was on 15 March 2011, at Arlington National Cemetery, with President Barack Obama attending and with full military honors.

Above – Frank Buckles in 1917, at the age of 16. (He lied about his age in order to enlist in the army.)
Below – The young soldier; the old soldier.
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Here is how one writer describes the artistry of Norwegian painter Froydis Aarseth: “(She) has always known what she wanted in life and that was to live a life as a classical painter. Not only to paint paintings that are beautiful to look at, but also to convey a deeper importance that will give the viewer something more than only aesthetics.”
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“This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of old, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.” – The first six lines of “Introduction to Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet, educator, and translator, who was born 27 February 1807.

As part of my Final Examination in seventh grade English, I had to recite the six opening lines from “Evangeline” flawlessly while standing before my classmates, with my teacher Miss Van den Bree sitting at her desk behind me, grade book in hand. I knew that it was altogether possible that a memory lapse might prevent me from moving on to eighth grade. Despite the anxiety that still attends my recollection of this trial, from that day forward the beautiful language of the poem has nourished my imagination.

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Here is part of the Artist Statement of English painter David FeBland: “My work explores the ever-modulating space between aspiration and reality. Its an uncomfortable space for some, that sense of not quite being where or what you think you are – a mental state filled with frisson not unlike the combustible edge of colliding urban neighborhoods, its corporeal equivalent. After depicting just such city spaces for many years, I grew to realize that the concept of an Edge – or more precisely the gap between them – was as much a state of mind as a physical reality and therefore eminently transportable. And so you see before you paintings embracing a variety of settings reflecting my everyday life, my travels grand and mundane, realized and imaginary.”
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A Poem for Today

“To a Dead Lover,
By Louise Bogan

The dark is thrown
Back from the brightness, like hair
Cast over a shoulder.
I am alone,

Four years older;
Like the chairs and the walls
Which I once watched brighten
With you beside me. I was to waken
Never like this, whatever came or was taken.

The stalk grows, the year beats on the wind.
Apples come, and the month for their fall.
The bark spreads, the roots tighten.
Though today be the last
Or tomorrow all,
You will not mind.

That I may not remember
Does not matter.
I shall not be with you again.
What we knew, even now
Must scatter
And be ruined, and blow
Like dust in the rain.

You have been dead a long season
And have less than desire
Who were lover with lover;
And I have life—that old reason
To wait for what comes,
To leave what is over.
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American Art – Part II of II: Mark Miltz

In the words of one writer, “Mark Miltz, a native of Virginia, has been producing and selling paintings since 1974. After earning a fine art degree, he has spent the last 27 years as a commercial artist and illustrator. In recent years, he has returned to his first love, representational painting. Concentrating on the figure, he brings to his work a high level of draftsmanship, combined with an appreciation for the abstract qualities of the paint itself. Miltz attacks his subjects with energetic paint, powerful composition and a strong sense of light. Yet this energy is tempered with profound respect for the great tradition of western figure painting. Though modern in concept, the work pays homage to the masters of the past. Miltz is currently working primarily in oils, which he likes for their versatility, rich color and strong textural qualities. His work is about the tension between the subject portrayed, and the means used to create the illusion of ‘subject’. Tensions and ambiguities within the subject matter itself are at the heart of each piece. He invites you to explore each painting’s many levels with him.”

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American Muse: Louise Bogan

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“To a Dead Lover”

The dark is thrown
Back from the brightness, like hair
Cast over a shoulder.
I am alone,

Four years older;
Like the chairs and the walls
Which I once watched brighten
With you beside me. I was to waken
Never like this, whatever came or was taken.

The stalk grows, the year beats on the wind.
Apples come, and the month for their fall.
The bark spreads, the roots tighten.
Though today be the last
Or tomorrow all,
You will not mind.

That I may not remember
Does not matter.
I shall not be with you again.
What we knew, even now
Must scatter
And be ruined, and blow
Like dust in the rain.

You have been dead a long season
And have less than desire
Who were lover with lover;
And I have life—that old reason
To wait for what comes,
To leave what is over.
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February Offerings – Part XXVI: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of IV: Christina Wyatt

Artist Statement: “Florida is my native home. After growing up in Miami I lived for four wonderful years in Caribou Maine beginning my formal education in fine art at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. I then relocated to Richmond Virginia. It was there where I raised my son while earning my BFA in Painting and Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Fine Art. Later, I returned to South Florida to live and work full time on my art.
My paintings are my poetry. They are inspired by grace found in the natural world and by the reverence inherent in the sanctuary of peace. I take refuge in the making of my art…it’s my intention to create for the viewer a connection to that place ‘Where dreams live and poets speak.’”
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“We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.” – William Ralph Inge, English author, Anglican priest, professor of divinity at Cambridge, and Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, who died 26 February 1954.

Some quotes from the work of William Ralph Inge:

“A nation is a society united by a delusion about its ancestry and a common hatred of its neighbors.”
“It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favor of vegetarianism, while the wolf remains of a different opinion.”
“Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.”
“The proper time to influence the character of a child is about a hundred years before he is born.”
“The whole of nature is a conjugation of the verb to eat, in the active and passive.”
“Many people believe that they are attracted by God, or by Nature, when they are only repelled by man.”
“Whoever marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next. ”
“Events in the past maybe roughly divided into those which and probably never happened and those which do not matter.”
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French Art – Part I of II: Lewis Welden Hawkins

In the words of one historian, “Lewis Welden Hawkins (1849-1910) was born in Germany of English parents, later taking French nationality. He was a detailed Symbolist painter.”
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“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” – Victor Hugo, French poet, novelist, dramatist, and author of “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” and “Les Miserables,” who was born 26 February 1802.

Some quotes from the work of Victor Hugo:

“It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.”
“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved — loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.”
“Not being heard is no reason for silence.”
“Laughter is sunshine, it chases winter from the human face.”
“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”
“People do not lack strength; they lack will.”
“Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.”
“He who opens a school door, closes a prison.”
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French Art – Part II of II: Bruce Krebs

French sculptor Bruce Krebs also creates animated short films.

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From the Music Archives – Part I of V: “Fats” Domino

Born 26 February 1928 – Antoine “Fats” Domino, Jr., American rhythm and blues and rock and roll pianist and singer-songwriter.

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American Art – II of IV: “Tex” Avery

Born 26 February 1908 – Frederick “Tex” Avery, an American animator, cartoonist, voice actor, and director famous for producing animated cartoons during The Golden Age of Hollywood animation. Here is how critic Gary Morris describes Avery’s artistry: “Above all, (Avery) steered the Warner Bros. house style away from Disney-esque sentimentality and made cartoons that appealed equally to adults, who appreciated Avery’s speed, sarcasm, and irony, and to kids, who liked the nonstop action. Disney’s ‘cute and cuddly’ creatures, under Avery’s guidance, were transformed into unflappable wits like Bugs Bunny, endearing buffoons like Porky Pig, or dazzling crazies like Daffy Duck. Even the classic fairy tale, a market that Disney had cornered, was appropriated by Avery, who made innocent heroines like Red Riding Hood into sexy jazz babies, more than a match for any Wolf. Avery also endeared himself to intellectuals by constantly breaking through the artifice of the cartoon, having characters leap out of the end credits, loudly object to the plot of the cartoon they were starring in, or speak directly to the audience.”
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From the Music Archives – Part II of V: Johnny Cash

“Success is having to worry about every damn thing in the world except money.” – Johnny Cash, American singer, songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author, who was born 26 February 1932.

Born 26 February 1906 – Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas, a Greek painter, sculptor, engraver, and writer.

Below (left to right) – “London Roofs”; “Studio in Paris”; “Odysseus and Nausicaa”; “Party by the Sea”; “Wild Garden”; “Christmas Tree.”
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From the Music Archives – Part III of V: Mitch Ryder

Born 26 February 1945 – Mitch Ryder (born William S. Levise, Jr.), an American musician and singer most commonly associated with the group Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels.

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26 February 1984 – Robert Penn Warren is named the first Poet Laureate of the United States. Warren was the recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes: the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel (1946) and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1958, 1979). He is the only person to have won Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and poetry.

“True Love”

In silence the heart raves. It utters words
Meaningless, that never had
A meaning. I was ten, skinny, red-headed,

Freckled. In a big black Buick,
Driven by a big grown boy, with a necktie, she sat
In front of the drugstore, sipping something

Through a straw. There is nothing like
Beauty. It stops your heart. It Thickens your blood. It stops your breath.
It Makes you feel dirty. You need a hot bath.
I leaned against a telephone pole, and watched.
I thought I would die if she saw me.

How could I exist in the same world with that brightness?

Two years later she smiled at me. She
Named my name. I thought I would wake up dead.

Her grown brothers walked with the bent-knee
Swagger of horsemen. They were slick-faced.
Told jokes in the barbershop. Did no work.

Their father was what is called a drunkard.
Whatever he was he stayed on the third floor
Of the big white farmhouse under the maples for twenty-five years.

He never came down. They brought everything up to him.

I did not know what a mortgage was.
His wife was a good, Christian woman, and prayed.

When the daughter got married, the old man came down wearing

An old tail coat, the pleated shirt yellowing.
The sons propped him. I saw the wedding. There were

Engraved invitations, it was so fashionable. I thought
I would cry. I lay in bed that night

And wondered if she would cry when something was done to her.

The mortgage was foreclosed. That last word was whispered.
She never came back. The family
Sort of drifted off. Nobody wears shiny boots like that now.

But I know she is beautiful forever, and lives
In a beautiful house, far away.

She called my name once.

I didn’t even know she knew it

Below – Sheru: “Feeling of Lost True Love.”
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From the Music Archives – Part IV of V: The Beatles

26 February 1970 – The Beatles release the “Beatles Again” album, better known as the “Hey Jude” album.

Here is one critic describing the artistry of Canadian painter David Nicholson (born 1970): “Seeing David Nicholson’s oil paintings in reproduction is like reading the Cliff Notes version of Shakespeare — the themes are lurid enough to be entertaining, but without the extraordinary language the bawdiness and blood can be mistaken for pulp. In the flesh, Nicholson’s theatrically realist pictures evoke comparisons with the deft technique and sensational subject matter of Delacroix, Gros and Gericault.”

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From the Music Archives – Part V of V: Michael Jackson

26 February 1983 – Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album reaches number one on American popular music charts and remains number one for thirty-seven weeks.

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The Pinnacle of World Fashion

Born 26 February 1829 – Levi Strauss, a German-American businessman who created the 501 Blue Jean – the trouser of choice for intellectually astute, aesthetically discriminating, and physically rugged human beings everywhere.

Let me be clear in this matter: Levi’s 501 shrink-to-fit jeans are the only authentic blue jeans. Levi’s 501 pre-shrunk jeans are acceptable, but not quite classic. Any other “jeans” – blue or otherwise – are nothing but fashion frippery, and it is possible, even likely, that a person wearing them possesses an ethically unsound character. Of course, anyone sporting designer jeans, especially those made in Europe, is obviously a moral degenerate and should be kept away from children and pets.
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American Art – Part III of IV: Bev Jozwiak

In the words of one critic, painter Bev Jozwiak “has earned her signature status in the American Watercolor Society, the National Watercolor Society, Watercolor West, and others, too numerous to mention. She is an International Award-winning artist. Born in Vancouver, Washington, Bev still resides there with her husband of 30 plus years. She has two daughters, and two grandchildren. ”
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From the American Old West: “Buffalo Bill” Cody

“I could never resist the call of the trail.” – William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody, American soldier, bison hunter, showman, and recipient of the Medal of Honor in 1972 for service to the U.S. Army as a scout, who was born 26 February 1846.

In the words of one historian, “One of the most colorful figures of the American Old West, Buffalo Bill became famous for the shows he organized with cowboy themes, which he toured in Great Britain and Europe as well as the United States.”

Some quotes from Buffalo Bill Cody:

“But the West of the old times, with its strong characters, its stern battles and its tremendous stretches of loneliness, can never be blotted from my mind.”
“Every Indian outbreak that I have ever known has resulted from broken promises and broken treaties by the government.”
“It was because of my great interest in the West, and my belief that its development would be assisted by the interest I could awaken in others, that I decided to bring the West to the East through the medium of the Wild West Show.”
“I felt only as a man can feel who is roaming over the prairies of the far West, well armed, and mounted on a fleet and gallant steed.”
“The greatest of all the Sioux in my time, or in any time for that matter, was that wonderful old fighting man, Sitting Bull, whose life will some day be written by a historian who can really give him his due.”
“It was my effort, in depicting the West, to depict it as it was.”

Above – Buffalo Bill on horseback.
Below – Rosa Bonheur: “Buffalo Bill.”
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A Poem for Today

“In Defense of Small Towns,”
By Oliver de la Paz

When I look at it, it’s simple, really. I hated life there. September,
once filled with animal deaths and toughened hay. And the smells

of fall were boiled-down beets and potatoes
or the farmhands’ breeches smeared with oil and diesel

as they rode into town, dusty and pissed. The radio station
split time between metal and Tejano, and the only action

happened on Friday nights where the high school football team
gave everyone a chance at forgiveness. The town left no room

for novelty or change. The sheriff knew everyone’s son and despite that,
we’d cruise up and down the avenues, switching between

brake and gearshift. We’d fight and spit chew into Big Gulp cups
and have our hearts broken nightly. In that town I learned

to fire a shotgun at nine and wring a chicken’s neck
with one hand by twirling the bird and whipping it straight like a towel.

But I loved the place once. Everything was blonde and cracked
and the irrigation ditches stretched to the end of the earth. You could

ride on a bicycle and see clearly the outline of every leaf
or catch on the streets each word of a neighbor’s argument.

Nothing could happen there and if I willed it, the place would have me
slipping over its rocks into the river with the sugar plant’s steam

or signing papers at a storefront army desk, buttoned up
with medallions and a crew cut, eyeing the next recruits.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that I could be anywhere,
staring at a hunk of asphalt or listening to the clap of billiard balls

against each other in a bar and hear my name. Indifference now?
Some. I shook loose, but that isn’t the whole story. The fact is

I’m still in love. And when I wake up, I watch my son yawn,
and my mind turns his upswept hair into cornstalks

at the edge of a field. Stillness is an acre, and his body
idles, deep like heavy machinery. I want to take him back there,

to the small town of my youth and hold the book of wildflowers
open for him, and look. I want him to know the colors of horses,

to run with a cattail in his hand and watch as its seeds
fly weightless as though nothing mattered, as though

the little things we tell ourselves about our pasts stay there,
rising slightly and just out of reach.

Below – Sharon Schock: “Eureka South Dakota II.”
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American Art – Part IV of IV: Douglas Hofmann

Artist Statement: “My primary artistic heroes are the realists of the 17th Century, and the impressionists of the 19th and early 20th Century. Early on I was exposed to Jan Vermeer, and for me he has always been the pinnacle figure in painting. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Vermeer’s work always read right for me. That is to say the settings, the props, and the figures depicted, all had an innate believability. Vermeer showed me that an artist could be extremely successful, by placing a normal person in a real room with good or at least interesting lighting, and attempt to paint merely what he saw. On its face a Vermeer painting might seem simplistic, but in truth portraying the complexities of real images correctly is insanely difficult. Vermeer used numerous techniques and short cuts to achieve his artistic goals, and I use them too, along with many others, some of which are even unique to my work. But at the end of the process, when you view the finished painting, all that is left is an image, which hopefully appears as real, as it is beautiful. Less of an inspiration, Vermeer is more like a challenge. In the final result, the work must be as pure and as real as can be.”

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American Muse: Oliver de la Paz

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“In Defense of Small Towns”

When I look at it, it’s simple, really. I hated life there. September,
once filled with animal deaths and toughened hay. And the smells

of fall were boiled-down beets and potatoes
or the farmhands’ breeches smeared with oil and diesel

as they rode into town, dusty and pissed. The radio station
split time between metal and Tejano, and the only action

happened on Friday nights where the high school football team
gave everyone a chance at forgiveness. The town left no room

for novelty or change. The sheriff knew everyone’s son and despite that,
we’d cruise up and down the avenues, switching between

brake and gearshift. We’d fight and spit chew into Big Gulp cups
and have our hearts broken nightly. In that town I learned

to fire a shotgun at nine and wring a chicken’s neck
with one hand by twirling the bird and whipping it straight like a towel.

But I loved the place once. Everything was blonde and cracked
and the irrigation ditches stretched to the end of the earth. You could

ride on a bicycle and see clearly the outline of every leaf
or catch on the streets each word of a neighbor’s argument.

Nothing could happen there and if I willed it, the place would have me
slipping over its rocks into the river with the sugar plant’s steam

or signing papers at a storefront army desk, buttoned up
with medallions and a crew cut, eyeing the next recruits.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that I could be anywhere,
staring at a hunk of asphalt or listening to the clap of billiard balls

against each other in a bar and hear my name. Indifference now?
Some. I shook loose, but that isn’t the whole story. The fact is

I’m still in love. And when I wake up, I watch my son yawn,
and my mind turns his upswept hair into cornstalks

at the edge of a field. Stillness is an acre, and his body
idles, deep like heavy machinery. I want to take him back there,

to the small town of my youth and hold the book of wildflowers
open for him, and look. I want him to know the colors of horses,

to run with a cattail in his hand and watch as its seeds
fly weightless as though nothing mattered, as though

the little things we tell ourselves about our pasts stay there,
rising slightly and just out of reach.

Below – Sharon Schock: “Eureka South Dakota II.”
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February Offerings – Part XXV: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of III: Mark Rothko

“Silence is so accurate.” – Mark Rothko, Latvian-American abstract expressionist painter, who died 25 February 1970.

Below (left to right) – “No. 3/No. 13” (Magenta, Black, Green on Orange); “No. 61” (Rust and Blue); “Four Darks in Red”; untitled (Blue Divided by Blue); untitled; “No. 3, 1949, 85.”
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“What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains.” – Tennessee Williams, American playwright and author of “The Glass Menagerie,” “A Streetcar Named Desire” (for which he won a Pulitzer Prize), and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” who died 25 February 1983.

Some quotes from the work of Tennessee Williams:

“Time is the longest distance between two places.”
“There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all that you will ever be. And then you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking in mirrors.”
“If I got rid of my demons, I’d lose my angels.”
“Time doesn’t take away from friendship, nor does separation.”
“Nobody sees anybody truly but all through the flaws of their own egos. That is the way we all see …each other in life. Vanity, fear, desire, competition– all such distortions within our own egos– condition our vision of those in relation to us. Add to those distortions to our own egos the corresponding distortions in the egos of others, and you see how cloudy the glass must become through which we look at each other. That’s how it is in all living relationships except when there is that rare case of two people who love intensely enough to burn through all those layers of opacity and see each other’s naked hearts.”
“I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don’t tell the truth, I tell what ought to be the truth. And it that’s sinful, then let me be damned for it!”
“There’s a time for departure even when there’s no certain place to go.”
“When so many are lonely as seem to be lonely, it would be inexcusably selfish to be lonely alone.”
“I suppose I have found it easier to identify with the characters who verge upon hysteria, who were frightened of life, who were desperate to reach out to another person. But these seemingly fragile people are the strong people really.”
“Don’t you just love those long rainy afternoons in New Orleans when an hour isn’t just an hour – but a little piece of eternity dropped into your hands – and who knows what to do with it?”
“In memory, everything seems to happen to music.”
“All cruel people describe themselves as paragons of frankness.”
“We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.”
“Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.”
“The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.”
“The scene is memory and is therefore nonrealistic. Memory takes a lot of poetic license. It omits some details; others are exaggerated, according to the emotional value of the articles it touches, for memory is seated predominantly in the heart.”
“Make voyages. Attempt them. There’s nothing else.”
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“To my mind, a picture should be something pleasant, cheerful, and pretty, yes pretty! There are too many unpleasant things in life as it is without creating still more of them.” – Pierre-Auguste Renoir, French impressionist painter, who was born 25 February 1841.

Below – “The Theater Box”; “The Swing”; “Two Sisters”; “Children at the Beach at Guernsey”; “Luncheon of the Boating Party”; “By the Water”; “Diana the Huntress”; “Dance at Moulin de la Galette”; “Three Bathers.”

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“To be left alone is the most precious thing one can ask of the modern world.” – Anthony Burgess, English writer and composer best known as the author of “A Clockwork Orange” and “Earthly Powers,” who was born 25 February 1917.

Some quotes from the work of Anthony Burgess:

“Is it better for a man to have chosen evil than to have good imposed upon him?”
“Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.”
“The important thing is moral choice. Evil has to exist along with good, in order that moral choice may operate. Life is sustained by the grinding opposition of moral entities.”
“I see what is right and approve, but I do what is wrong.”
“Goodness is something chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.”
“It’s funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you watch them on a screen.”
“If you expect the worst from a person you can never be disappointed.”
“The possession of a book becomes a substitute for reading it.”
“It is as inhuman to be totally good as it is to be totally evil.”
“Language exists less to record the actual than to liberate the imagination.”
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Here are some comments English painter Ian Francis (born 1979) made in the course of an interview:
Describe your process of creating a new piece:
“I spend a lot of time watching TV/films, reading books and looking around the internet… I save loads of photos I find interesting from all kinds of different places. I then flick through them, and try to think about how ideas link together, and mock up roughs in photoshop. I like combining different elements of photos of people with abstract sections of old paintings I’ve done. Once I’ve got an idea of what I want to do, I try and figure out how to paint it… sometimes the final piece looks a lot like the rough, sometimes it changes drastically while I’m painting it. When I’m painting, I just switch back and forth between paint, drawing, collage or anything lying around.”
How would you describe your style?
“I normally describe what I do as mixed media painting… the idea is to get different kinds of marks to work off of each other – so sometimes I’ll paint/draw fairly accurately, then work quite loosely on a section, then break up elements of print on another section. At the moment I think a lot of the painting I do is too tight, it should really be looser and more expressive. ”

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From the Music Archives – Part I of III: George Harrison

“I’d rather be a musician than a rock star.” – George Harrison, English musician, singer, songwriter, and member of The Beatles, who was born 25 February 1943.

Here is what one student of Chinese painter Chen Danqing said about his teacher: “Danqing has never been just a painter. He is an intellectual with a social conscience.”
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From the Music Archives – Part II of III: Buddy Holly and the Crickets

25 February 1957 – Buddy Holly and the Crickets record “That’ll Be the Day.”

Here is how critic Simon Von Booy describes the artistry of Turkish painter Eser Afacan (born 1953): “Eser Afacan’s Paintings Examine the Human Condition in all its Terror and Vulnerability.
The figurative realism of Turkish-born painter, Eser Afacan, is a stark and brilliant evocation of the existential despair and passionate longing that often characterize the human experience. Through his works, Afacan explores those grand themes man has wrestled with in the ancient metaphors of holy books and in the writings of significant contributors to western-literature, especially Shakespeare and Freud. Afacan’s human subjects are trapped in the figurative ‘other.’ Places both unrecognizable and terrifyingly familiar the external realization of their own interior landscapes. And Afacan displays an unfailing empathy for his characters in their exile from an incomprehensible existence. Afacan’s style is a seamless melange of classical genres of painting and examines close-up what painters like Pieter Bruegel showed us from afar. In several of Afacan’s paintings, people cling to one another, gazing upward–outside of the canvas into a space shared equally with the viewer. While Afacan’s paintings might seem like bleak interpretations of human life, rather they are rare and beautifully poised glimpses of an inner loneliness within a painfully secular universe. In Eser Afacan’s paintings, humans drift between light and shadows in a world where we are each other’s only hope–irremediably dependent on one another. Afacan’s work casts a net over universal human feelings and presents them with tender and uncompromising humanity.”
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From the Music Archives – Part III of III: The Beatles

25 February 1963 – The Beatles release their first single in the United States – “Please Please Me.”

Indian painter Arun Kumar Samadder (born 1948) has a degree in Visual Art from Rabindra Bharati University in Kolkata.
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From the American History Archives – Part I of III: Samuel Colt

25 February 1836 – The United States Patent Office issues a patent (later numbered 9430X) to Samuel Colt for a “revolving gun” that would be named the Colt Paterson.

Above – Samuel Colt.
Below – A Colt Paterson (from the Paterson Museum).
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Russian Art – Part I of II: Lydia Kozima

Vladivostok-born Russian painter Lydia Kozmina (born 1966) has a degree in Art from Vladivostok Art School, and she took painting classes at the Far East Institute of Arts. Her works are in galleries and private collections in Russia, Japan, the United States, South Korea, China, and Australia.
Lydia Kozmina - Лидии Козьминой
Lydia Kozmina - Лидии Козьминой
Lydia Kozmina - Лидии Козьминой
Lydia Kozmina - Лидии Козьминой
Lydia Kozmina - Лидии Козьминой

From the American History Archives – Part II of III: Hiram Rhodes Revels

25 February 1870 – Hiram Rhodes Revels is sworn in as the first
African-American member of the United States Congress. He served as a Republican Senator from Mississippi.
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Russian Art – Part II of II: Igor Samsonov

Igor Samsonov (born 1963) graduated from the I. E. Repin Institute for Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture in 1996.
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From the American History Archives – Part III of III: Glacier Bay

25 February 1925 – President Calvin Coolidge proclaims the area around Glacier Bay, Alaska a national monument under the Antiquities Act. President Jimmy Carter signed the bill creating Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve on 2 December 1980.
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American Art – Part II of III: Susan Bennerstrom

Artist Statement: “Since the early 1980’s my main theme has been the exploration and depiction of light. I began with landscape as a foil. Gradually, buildings started to enter the compositions, at first far away and tiny, then closer and larger, until the buildings became the main focus and the landscape shrank. Finally, I concentrated on details of the buildings and the objects within them. Always, however, the structures and objects are stage sets for light with its transformative power and ability to affect emotions. I rarely put figures in my paintings, as I find that they tend to take over; I prefer to let light and shadow imply the narrative and carry the emotional weight. In addition to the dearth of human figures, I also choose to paint quite ordinary scenes, and for the same reason: by focusing on the easily ignorable architectural detail, washbasin, household appliance, piece of furniture, or houseplant, I like to explore how a fall of light can turn a humble item into something poignant and worthy of lasting attention.
I don’t think of myself as a realist painter in the currently accepted sense. I work from photographs, which are themselves abstractions – one step removed from reality. I travel further into abstraction by removing details, shifting things around, changing perspective, exaggerating the quality, color, and direction of light, investing the shadows with greater emotional intensity. The paintings wander far afield of straightforward observations of reality, and instead become my own emotional response to the places and objects depicted.”
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“An Abandoned Factory, Detroit,”
By Philip Levine

The gates are chained, the barbed-wire fencing stands,
An iron authority against the snow,
And this grey monument to common sense
Resists the weather. Fears of idle hands,
Of protest, men in league, and of the slow
Corrosion of their minds, still charge this fence.

Beyond, through broken windows one can see
Where the great presses paused between their strokes
And thus remain, in air suspended, caught
In the sure margin of eternity.
The cast-iron wheels have stopped; one counts the spokes
Which movement blurred, the struts inertia fought,

And estimates the loss of human power,
Experienced and slow, the loss of years,
The gradual decay of dignity.
Men lived within these foundries, hour by hour;
Nothing they forged outlived the rusted gears
Which might have served to grind their eulogy.
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American Art – Part III of III: Joseph Michael Todorovitch

In the words of one writer, “Joseph Todorovitch is a young contemporary painter who has developed a reputation for his highly representational figure paintings. Growing up in Southern California, he became interested in traditional drawing and painting at an early age. His training introduced him to many artistic influences including notable ateliers and instructors.
His work is a culmination of these forces with a deep respect for the knowledge and sensitivities of the past. Joseph has been able to sift through the vast amount of information, be selective, and utilize what’s necessary to achieve an impact that speaks about a personal experience with his subjects. His paintings emote, and convey a care and sensitivity that is reminiscent of the naturalist painters of the 19th century. Utilizing subtle value and temperature shifts, fine draughtsmanship, and pure intuition, Joseph weaves a world of breathable air and psychological nuance in his work.”
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American Muse: Philip Levine

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“An Abandoned Factory, Detroit”

The gates are chained, the barbed-wire fencing stands,
An iron authority against the snow,
And this grey monument to common sense
Resists the weather. Fears of idle hands,
Of protest, men in league, and of the slow
Corrosion of their minds, still charge this fence.

Beyond, through broken windows one can see
Where the great presses paused between their strokes
And thus remain, in air suspended, caught
In the sure margin of eternity.
The cast-iron wheels have stopped; one counts the spokes
Which movement blurred, the struts inertia fought,

And estimates the loss of human power,
Experienced and slow, the loss of years,
The gradual decay of dignity.
Men lived within these foundries, hour by hour;
Nothing they forged outlived the rusted gears
Which might have served to grind their eulogy.

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