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”

Posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television, Opinion | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television, Opinion | Leave a comment

Sentient in San Francisco – 16 May 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 16 May 1898 – Tamara de Lempicka, a Polish painter who spent most of her working life in France and the United States.

Below – “Woman with a Mandolin”; “Young Lady with Gloves”;
“Portrait of Romana De La Salle”; “The Mexican”; “Portrait De Madame Boucard”; “Self-portrait, Tamara in a Green Bugati.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 16 May 1929 – Adrienne Rich, an American poet, essayist, and recipient of the National Book Award: Part I of II.

Some quotes from the work of Adrienne Rich:

“Change is not a threat to your life, but an invitation to live.”
“An honorable human relationship- that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word ‘love’ – is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.
It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.
It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.
It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.”
“Courage is not defined by those who fought and did not fall, but by those who fought, fell and rose again.”
“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work.”
“There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep and still be counted as warriors.”
“We need to imagine a world in which every woman is the presiding genius of her own body. In such a world women will truly create new life, bringing forth not only children if and as we choose but the visions, and the thinking, necessary to sustain, console and alter human existence – a new relationship to the universe. Sexuality, politics, intelligence, power, motherhood, work, community, intimacy will develop new meanings; thinking itself will be transformed. This is where we have to begin.”
“Poetry has always mattered, through human history, through all kinds of cultures, all kinds of violence and human desolation, as well as periods of great human affirmation. It’s been associated with the power of the word, with the sacred, with magic and transformation, with the oral narratives that help a people cohere.”
“Art means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of power which holds it hostage.”
“If you are trying to transform a brutalized society into one where people can live in dignity and hope, you begin with the empowering of the most powerless. You build from the ground up.”
“Poetry can open locked chambers of possibility, restore numbed zones to feeling, recharge desire.”
“Behind all art is an element of desire…Love of life, of existence, love of another human being, love of human beings is in some way behind all art — even the most angry, even the darkest, even the most grief-stricken, and even the most embittered art has that element somewhere behind it. Because how could you be so despairing, so embittered, if you had not had something you loved that you lost?”
“My heart is moved by all I cannot save: so much has been destroyed I have to cast my lot with those who age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.”

Contemporary French Art – Claudio Missagia: Part I of II.

Below – “Da qualche parte”; “Altrove”; “Da qualche parte”; “Da qualche parte”; “Da qualche parte”; Untitled.

This Date in Literary History: Born 16 May 1929 – Adrienne Rich, an American poet, essayist, and recipient of the National Book Award: Part II of II.

“Twenty-One Love Poems [Poem III}”
By Adrienne Rich

Since we’re not young, weeks have to do time
for years of missing each other. Yet only this odd warp
in time tells me we’re not young.
Did I ever walk the morning streets at twenty,
my limbs streaming with a purer joy?
did I lean from any window over the city
listening for the future
as I listen here with nerves tuned for your ring?
And you, you move toward me with the same tempo.
Your eyes are everlasting, the green spark
of the blue-eyed grass of early summer,
the green-blue wild cress washed by the spring.
At twenty, yes: we thought we’d live forever.
At forty-five, I want to know even our limits.
I touch you knowing we weren’t born tomorrow,
and somehow, each of us will help the other live,
and somewhere, each of us must help the other die.

Below – Alfred Henry Maurer: “Two Women”

Contemporary French Art – Claudio Missagia: Part II of II.

Below – “Da qualche parte”; “Altrove”; “Butterflies party”; “Floreale”; “Trace”; “Complosizione.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 16 May 1955 – James Agee, an American novelist, journalist, screenwriter, film critic, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the Work of James Agee:

“You’ve got to bear it in mind that nobody that ever lived is specially privileged; the axe can fall at any moment, on any neck, without any warning or any regard for justice. You’ve got to keep your mind off pitying your own rotten luck and setting up any kind of a howl about it. You’ve got to remember that things as bad as this and a hell of a lot worse have happened to millions of people before and that they’ve come through it and that you will too.”
“And a human being whose life is nurtured in an advantage which has accrued from the disadvantage of other human beings, and who prefers that this should remain as it is, is a human being by definition only, having much more in common with the bedbug, the tapeworm, the cancer, and the scavengers of the deep sea.”
“You must be in tune with the times and prepared to break with tradition.”
“For in the immediate world, everything is to be discerned, for him who can discern it, and central and simply, without either dissection into science, or digestion into art, but with the whole of consciousness, seeking to perceive it as it stands: so that the aspect of a street in sunlight can roar in the heart of itself as a symphony, perhaps as no symphony can: and all of consciousness is shifted from the imagined, the revisive, to the effort to perceive simply the cruel radiation of what is.”
“A mother never realizes that her children are no longer children.”
“And somewhat as in blind night, on a mild sea, a sailor may be made aware of an iceberg, fanged and mortal, bearing invisibly near, by the unwarned charm of its breath, nothingness now revealed itself: that permanent night upon which the stars in their expiring generations are less than the glinting of gnats, and nebulae, more trivial than winter breath; that darkness in which eternity lies bent and pale, a dead snake in a jar, and infinity is the sparkling of a wren blown out to sea; that inconceivable chasm of invulnerable silence in which cataclysms of galaxies rave mute as amber.”
“I know the most important faculty to develop is one for hard, continuous and varied work and living; but the difference between knowing this and doing anything consistent about it is often abysmal.”
“Truth lies within a little and certain compass, but error is immense.”
“How far we all come. How far we all come away from ourselves. So far, so much between, you can never go home again. You can go home, it’s good to go home, but you never really get all the way home again in your life. And what’s it all for? All I tried to be, all I ever wanted and went away for, what’s it all for?”

Contemporary Canadian Art – Victoria General

Below – “Her process”; “The village meeting”; “The Innkeeper’s son”; “…and our little life is rounded with a sleep”; “The lull of waves”; “When he rode down the hill to see me again.”

A Poem for Today

“Sometimes, When the Light”
by Lisel Mueller

Sometimes, when the light strikes at odd angles
and pulls you back into childhood

and you are passing a crumbling mansion
completely hidden behind old willows

or an empty convent guarded by hemlocks
and giant firs standing hip to hip,

you know again that behind that wall,
under the uncut hair of the willows

something secret is going on,
so marvelous and dangerous

that if you crawled through and saw,
you would die, or be happy forever.

Below – Faye Anastasopoulou: “The Secret”

Posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television, Opinion | Leave a comment

Sentient in San Francisco – 15 May 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 15 May 1967 – Edward Hopper, an American painter: Part I of II.

Below – “Nighthawks”; “Automat”; “New York Movie”; “Rooms for Tourists”; “Gas”; “Summer Interior.”

Musings in Spring: Sandy Gingras

“At the beach, life is different. Time doesn’t move hour to hour but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides, and follow the sun.”

This Date in Art History: Died 15 May 1967 – Edward Hopper, an American painter: Part II of II.

Below – “Summertime”; “Four Lane Road”; “Cape Cod Evening”; “Office at Night”; “Chop Suey”; “Western Motel.”

A Poem for Today

“Rental Tux”
by Bill Trowbridge

It chafed like some new skin we’d grown,
or feathers, the cummerbund and starched collar
pinching us to show how real this transformation
into princes was, how powerful we’d grown
by getting drivers’ licenses, how tall and total
our new perspective, above that rusty keyhole
parents squinted through. We’d found the key:
that nothing really counts except a romance
bright as Technicolor, wide as Cinerama,
and this could be the night. No lie.

This Date in Art History: Died 15 May 1956 – Austin Osman Spare, an English painter.

Below – “Visualization Steps Out”; “Ann Driver”; “Night Fantasia”; “Portrait of a woman with red hair, ‘Coquette’”; “Introvert and Extrovert”; “Miss Alexis Smith (Hollywood 1943).”

This Date in Literary History: Died 15 May 1886 – Emily Dickinson, an American poet and author.

“Because I could not stop for Death”
by Emily Dickinson

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed us –
The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – ‘tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity –

Contemporary British Art – Andy Shaw

Below – “Death Valley, California”; “L.A. Twilight Zone”; “Grand Canyon, Arizona”; “Tricks – L.A. Skateboarder”; “Modern Home, California.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 15 May 1890 – Katherine Anne Porter, an American short story writer, novelist, essayist, and recipient of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of Katherine Anne Porter:

“The past is never where you think you left it.”
“If we say I love you, it may be received with doubt, for there are times when it is hard to believe. Say I hate you, and the one spoken to believes it instantly, once for all. … Love must be learned, and learned again and again; there is no end to it. Hate needs no instruction, but waits only to be provoked.”
“Perhaps the habit which distinguishes civilized people from others is that of discussion, exchange of opinion and ideas, the ability to differ without quarrelling, to say what you have to say civilly and then to listen civilly to another speaker.”
“All life worth living is difficult, nobody promised us happiness; it is not a commodity you have earned, or shall ever earn. It is a by-product of brave living, and it never comes in the form we expect, or at the season we hoped for, or as the result of our planning for it.
“What we need now is endless courage.”
“Civilization, let me tell you what it is. First the soldier, then the merchant, then the priest, then the lawyer. The merchant hires the soldier and priest to conquer the country for him. First the soldier, he is a murderer; then the priest, he is a liar; then the merchant, he is a thief; and they all bring in the lawyer to make their laws and defend their deeds, and there you have your civilization!”
“I will never again attempt to tell any young person what to do – the really gifted don’t need advice and the others can’t take it.”
“The thing is not to follow a pattern. Follow your own pattern of feeling and thought. The thing is to accept your own life and not try to live someone else’s life. Look, the thumbprint is not like any other, and the thumbprint is what you must go by.”
“Trust your happiness and the richness of your life at this moment. It is as true and as much yours as anything else that ever happened to you.”

Posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television, Opinion | Leave a comment

Sentient in San Francisco – 14 May 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 14 May 1905 – Antonio Berni, an Argentinian painter, illustrator, and engraver.

Below – “Fishermen”; “Ramona en el Moulin Rouge”; “Meditando”; “Niña con jarra”; “Juanito y sus amigos”; “Female Figure.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 14 May 2018 – Tom Wolfe, an American author, journalist, and recipient of the National Book Award.

Some quotes from the work of Tom Wolfe:

“Everybody, everybody everywhere, has his own movie going, his own scenario, and everybody is acting his movie out like mad, only most people don’t know that is what they’re trapped by, their little script.”
“A cult is a religion with no political power.”
“Sherman made the terrible discovery that men make about their fathers sooner or later… that the man before him was not an aging father but a boy, a boy much like himself, a boy who grew up and had a child of his own and, as best he could, out of a sense of duty and, perhaps love, adopted a role called Being a Father so that his child would have something mythical and infinitely important: a Protector, who would keep a lid on all the chaotic and catastrophic possibilities of life.”
“The surest cure for vanity is loneliness.”
“You never realize how much of your background is sewn into the lining of your clothes.”
“Put your good where it will do the most!”

This Date in Art History: Died 14 May 1953 – Yasuo Kuniyoshi, an American painter and photographer.

Below – “Swimmer”; “Strong Woman with Child”; “Festivities Ended”; “Fish Kite”; “Little Joe with Cow”; “Self-Portrait as a Photographer.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 14 May 2015 – Franz Wright, an American poet and translator.

“To Myself”
by Franz Wright

You are riding the bus again
burrowing into the blackness of Interstate 80,
the sole passenger

with an overhead light on.
And I am with you.
I’m the interminable fields you can’t see,

the little lights off in the distance
(in one of those rooms we are
living) and I am the rain

and the others all
around you, and the loneliness you love,
and the universe that loves you specifically, maybe,

and the catastrophic dawn,
the nicotine crawling on your skin—
and when you begin

to cough I won’t cover my face,
and if you vomit this time I will hold you:
everything’s going to be fine

I will whisper.
It won’t always be like this.
I am going to buy you a sandwich.

This Date in Art History: Died 14 May 1957 – Marie Vassilief, a Russian-French painter.

Below – “L’amour”; “Exotic Animal”; “Lovers”; “Still Life with Masks in a Window”; “Mademoiselle Côte d’Azur”; “Nude with Two Masks.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 14 May 2006 – Stanley Kunitz, an American poet and translator: Part I of II.

Some quotes from the work of Stanley Kunitz:

“The universe is a continuous web. Touch it at any point and the whole web quivers.”
“When you look back on a lifetime and think of what has been given to the world by your presence, your fugitive presence, inevitably you think of your art, whatever it may be, as the gift you have made to the world in acknowledgment of the gift you have been given, which is the life itself… That work is not an expression of the desire for praise or recognition, or prizes, but the deepest manifestation of your gratitude for the gift of life.”
“We have to learn how to live with our frailties. The best people I know are inadequate and unashamed.”
“Poetry is ultimately mythology, the telling of stories of the soul. The old myths, the old gods, the old heroes have never died. They are only sleeping at the bottom of our minds, waiting for our call. We have need of them, for in their sum they epitomize the wisdom and experience of the race.”
“I can hardly wait for tomorrow, it means a new life for me each and every day.”

Contemporary Italian Art – Cecchin Liliana

Below – “The red bicycle”; “Gruppo in fugue”; “Duomo 3”; “The ghosts”; “Paris Underground”; “Freccia rossa al binario 12.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 14 May 2006 – Stanley Kunitz, an American poet and translator: Part II of II.

“The Layers”
by Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

Posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television, Opinion | Leave a comment

Sentient in San Francisco – 13 May 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 13 May 1943 – Kurt Trampedach, a Danish painter and sculptor.

Below – “Dancing dog”; “Horse”; “Girl’s portrait”; “Portrait”; “Self-portrait.”

Musings in Spring: Haruki Murakami

“Say it before you run out of time. Say it before it’s too late. Say what you’re feeling. Waiting is a mistake.”

Below – Margaret Drabble: “Faithful Lovers”

This Date in Art History: Died 13 May 1992 – F. E. McWilliam, an Irish Sculptor.

Below – “Reclining Figure”; “Up the Grass Roots”; “Girl on Edge of Bed II”; “Woman in Bomb Blast”; “Women of Belfast IX.”

Musings in Spring: Kate Chopin

“The voice of the sea speaks to the soul.”

Contemporary Israeli Art – Dalit Marom

Below – “My chocolate girl”; “Salvador Dali”; “Marilyn Monroe”; “Tel-Aviv Coastline”; “Frida Kahlo”; “Venus.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 13 May 1947 – Charles Baxter, an American novelist, essayist, and poet.

Some quotes from the work of Charles Baxter:

“Every relationship has at least one really good day. What I mean is, no matter how sour things go, there’s always that day. That day is always in your possession. That’s the day you remember. You get old and you think: well, at least I had that day. It happened once. You think all the variables might just line up again. But they don’t. Not always. I once talked to a woman who said, ‘Yeah, that’s the day we had an angel around.’”
“In February, the overcast sky isn’t gloomy so much as neutral and vague. It’s a significant factor in the common experience of depression among the locals. The snow crunches under your boots and clings to your trousers, to the cuffs, and once you’re inside, the snow clings to you psyche, and eventually you have to go to the doctor. The past soaks into you in this weather because the present is missing almost entirely.”
“When you’re in love you don’t have to do a damn thing. You can just be. You can just stay quiet in the world. You don’t have to move an inch.”
“Forget art. Put your trust in ice cream.”
“In truth, there are only two realities: the one for people who are in love or love each other, and the one for people who are standing outside all that.”
“At its best, fiction is not a diversion but a means of knowing the world.”
“The worst mistakes I’ve made have been the ones directed by sweet-natured hopefulness.”
“Because it is the Midwest, no one really glitters because no one has to, it’s more of a dull shine, like frequently used silverware.”
“What’s agitating about solitude is the inner voice telling you that you should be mated to somebody, that solitude is a mistake. The inner voice doesn’t care about who you find. It just keeps pestering you, tormenting you–if you happen to be me–with homecoming queens first, then girls next door, and finally anybody who might be pleased to see you now and then at the dinner table and in bed on occasion. You look up from reading the newspaper and realize that no one loves you, and no one burns for you.”

Contemporary Austrian Art – Jessie Pitt

Below – “One Half”; “Endure”; “Steadfast.”

A Poem for Today

“I Was Never Able To Pray”
by Edward Hirsch

Wheel me down to the shore
where the lighthouse was abandoned
and the moon tolls in the rafters.

Let me hear the wind paging through the trees
and see the stars flaring out, one by one,
like the forgotten faces of the dead.

I was never able to pray,
but let me inscribe my name
in the book of waves

and then stare into the dome
of a sky that never ends
and see my voice sail into the night.

Posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television, Opinion | Leave a comment

Sentient in San Francisco – 12 May 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 12 May 1828 – Dante Gabriel Rossetti, an English painter and poet.

Below – “Lady Lilith”; “Jane Morris”; “Proserpine”; “Pia de’ Tolomei.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 12 May 1967 – John Masefield, an English poet, writer, and Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1930 until 1967.

“Sea Fever”
by John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

Contemporary Romanian Art – Liviu Mihai

Below – “Talking Friends”; “Old social 1”; “Memories”; “In my mind”; ‘In the wheat field”; “The man with dog.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 12 May 1925 – Amy Lowell, an American poet, critic, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

“The Starling”
by Amy Lowell

“‘I can’t get out’, said the starling.”
Sterne’s ‘Sentimental Journey’.

Forever the impenetrable wall
Of self confines my poor rebellious soul,
I never see the towering white clouds roll
Before a sturdy wind, save through the small
Barred window of my jail. I live a thrall
With all my outer life a clipped, square hole,
Rectangular; a fraction of a scroll
Unwound and winding like a worsted ball.
My thoughts are grown uneager and depressed
Through being always mine, my fancy’s wings
Are moulted and the feathers blown away.
I weary for desires never guessed,
For alien passions, strange imaginings,
To be some other person for a day.

Contemporary Irish Art – Anna Matykiewicz: Part I of II.

Below – “Gold Series I”; “Through Changes”; “Bluetones.”

This Date in Cultural History: Born 12 May 1937 – George Carlin, an American stand-up comedian, actor, author, and social critic.
How badly the world needs him today!

Some quotes from the work of George Carlin:

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”
“Governments don’t want a population capable of critical thinking, they want obedient workers, people just smart enough to run the machines and just dumb enough to passively accept their situation.You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own, and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear.”
“Some people have no idea what they’re doing, and a lot of them are really good at it.”
“In America, anyone can become president. That’s the problem.”
“Don’t just teach your children to read… Teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything.”
“Have you ever noticed that the only metaphor we have in our public discourse for solving problems is to declare war on it? We have the war on crime, the war on cancer, the war on drugs. But did you ever notice that we have no war on homelessness? You know why? Because there’s no money in that problem. No money to be made off of the homeless. If you can find a solution to homelessness where the corporations and politicians can make a few million dollars each, you will see the streets of America begin to clear up pretty damn quick!”
“Your dog thinks you’re a god. Your cat thinks the dog’s an asshole.”
“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”
“A person of good intelligence and of sensitivity cannot exist in this society very long without having some anger about the inequality – and it’s not just a bleeding-heart, knee-jerk, liberal kind of a thing – it is just a normal human reaction to a nonsensical set of values where we have cinnamon flavored dental floss and there are people sleeping in the street.”
“All the media and the politicians ever talk about is things that separate us, things that make us different from one another.”
“There are three kinds of people: those who can count, and those who cannot.”
“If honesty were suddenly introduced into American life, the whole system would collapse.”
“When you’re born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you’re born in America, you get a front row seat.”
“Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.”
“Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breaths away.”

Contemporary Irish Art – Anna Matykiewicz: Part II of II.

Below – “Unchained.”

A Poem for Today

“The New Dentist”
by Jaimee Kuperman

Driving to the new dentist’s office
the slow drive of a new place
with the McDonalds that I don’t go to
on the left, the mall two miles away.
The Courthouse and the Old Courthouse
road signs that break apart, the fork in the road
that looks nothing like a fork or a spoon, in fact
at best, maybe a knife bent in a dishwasher
that leans to one side. And I know the dentist
will ask about my last visit and want to know
in months that I can’t say some time ago
and I know he will ask me about flossing
and saying when I’m in the mood won’t be
the appropriate answer.
He will call out my cavities
as if they were names in a class.
I brush my teeth before going in.
It’s like cleaning before the cleaning person
but I don’t want him to know I keep an untidy
mouth. That I am the type of person who shoves
things in the closet before guests arrive.

Posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television, Opinion | Leave a comment

Sentient in San Francisco – 11 May 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 11 May 1902 – Karl Parsimagi, an Estonian painter.

Below – “Woman in the Living Room”; “Interior”; “Portrait of a Woman”; “Japanese Woman”; “Nude.”

Musings in Spring: John Ruskin

“Mountains are the beginning and the end of all natural scenery.”

Below – The San Juan Mountains, Colorado.

This Date in Art History: Died 11 May 1967 – James E. Brewton, an American painter.

Below – “Portrait of Edgar Allen Poe”; “Portrait of Barbara Holland”; “The American Dream-Girl”; “A Season in Hell”; “Portrait of Charles Baudelaire”; “Homage to Modi[gliani].”

A Poem for Today

“Eight Ball”
by Claudia Emerson

It was fifty cents a game
beneath exhausted ceiling fans,

the smoke’s old spiral. Hooded lights
burned distant, dull. I was tired, but you

insisted on one more, so I chalked
the cue—the bored blue—broke, scratched.

It was always possible
for you to run the table, leave me

nothing. But I recall the easy
shot you missed, and then the way

we both studied, circling—keeping
what you had left me between us.

Contemporary British Art – Robert Owen Bloomfield

Below – “temple”; “alone at night.”

Musings in Spring: T. S. Eliot

“At the beach – time you enjoyed wasting, is not wasted.”

Below – Avery Tillmon: “A Day at the Sea”

Contemporary British Art – Amanda Pellatt

Below – “Lily Pond Light”; “Koyo”; “Peony Rose”; “Spring Bouquet”; “Iris Summer Border”; “Mary How does your garden grow?”

A Poem for Today

by Carol L. Gloor

At the moment of my mother’s death
I am rinsing frozen chicken.
No vision, no rending
of the temple curtain, only
the soft give of meat.
I had not seen her in four days.
I thought her better,
and the hospital did not call,
so I am fresh from
an office Christmas party,
scotch on my breath
as I answer the phone.
And in one moment all my past acts
become irrevocable.

Posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television, Opinion | Leave a comment

Sentient in San Francisco – 10 May 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 10 May 1849 – Katsushika Hokusai, a Japanese painter and printmaker.

Below – “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”; “Yodo River in Moonlight”; “Fly-fishing”; “Shichiri Beach in Sagami Province”; “South Wind, Clear Sky”; “Waterfall and Horse Washing.”

A Poem for Today

“Fish Fry Daughter”
by Sara Ries

Holiday Inn kitchen, the day I am born:
My father is frying fish for a party of seventeen
when the call comes from the hospital. He stays
until the batter is crispy, cold salads scooped
on platters, rye bread buttered.

Dad never told me this story.
He told my boyfriend, one short order cook to another.
Mom doesn’t know why Dad was late
for her screams and sweat on the hospital bed.

Once, when she was angry with him, she told me:
When your father finally got there, the nurse had to tell
him to get upstairs, “Your wife is having that baby now.”

I hope that when Dad first held me,
it was with haddock-scented hands, apron
over his black pants still sprinkled with flour,
forehead oily from standing over the deep fryer,
telling the fish to hurry  ‘hurry’.

This Date in Art History: Died 10 May 1904 – Andrei Ryabushkina, a Russian painter.

Below – “Tea-drinking”; “A Young Man Breaking into the Girls’ Dance, and the Old Women are in Panic”; “Wedding Train in the 17the century Moscow”; “Returning from the fair”; “Visit”; “Waiting.”

This Date in Entertainment History: Born 10 May 1899 – Fred Astaire, an American dancer, actor, and singer.
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: Impossible grace.

This Date in Art History: Died 10 May 1964 – Mikhail Larionov, a Russian painter and illustrator.

Below – “Acacias in Spring”; “Soldier on a Horse”; “Peacock”; “Dancing soldiers”; “Lovers”; “Spring Garden”; “Dance.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 10 May 1990 – Walker Percy, an American novelist, essayist, author of “Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book,” and recipient of the National Book Award.

Some quotes from the work of Walker Percy:

“You live in a deranged age, more deranged than usual because in spite of great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.”
“How did it happen that now he could see everything so clearly. Something had given him leave to live in the present. Not once in his entire life had he come to rest in the quiet center of himself but had forever cast himself from some dark past he could not remember to a future that did not exist. Not once had he been present for his life. So his life had passed like a dream. Is it possible for people to miss their lives the way one can miss a plane?”
“In this world goodness is destined to be defeated. But a man must go down fighting. That is the victory. To do anything less is to be less than a man.”
“In a word, the consumer of mass culture is lonely, not only lonely, but spiritually impoverished.”
“Have you noticed that only in time of illness or disaster or death are people real?”
“The present age is demented. It is possessed by a sense of dislocation, a loss of personal identity, an alternating sentimentality and rage which, in an individual patient, could be characterized as dementia.”
“The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.”
“Lucky is the man who does not secretly believe that every possibility is open to him.”
“I have discovered that most people have no one to talk to, no one, that is, who really wants to listen. When it does at last dawn on a man that you really want to hear about his business, the look that comes over his face is something to see.”

Contemporary Ukrainian Art – Sergey Piskunov

Below – “Girl and nature”; “Rose mask series (2)”; “Yellow flowers on green oil”; “Woman in White mask”; “Tranquility”; “Golden dust.”

A Poem for Today

“Leaving the Hospital”
by Anya Silver

As the doors glide shut behind me,
the world flares back into being—
I exist again, recover myself,
sunlight undimmed by dark panes,
the heat on my arms the earth’s breath.
The wind tongues me to my feet
like a doe licking clean her newborn fawn.
At my back, days measured by vital signs,
my mouth opened and arm extended,
the nighttime cries of a man withered
child-size by cancer, and the bells
of emptied IVs tolling through hallways.
Before me, life—mysterious, ordinary—
holding off pain with its muscular wings.
As I step to the curb, an orange moth
dives into the basket of roses
that lately stood on my sickroom table,
and the petals yield to its persistent
nudge, opening manifold and golden.

Posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television, Opinion | Leave a comment

Sentient in San Francisco – 9 May 2019

Contemporary American Art – Robert Schmid

Below – “Alone Together”; “Starway for a Dreamer”; “The Order of Time”; “Every Second Counts”; “Curved Time”; “Talking to Myself.”

Remembering an American Artist: Chiura Obata (1885-1975) – a Japanese-American painter: Part I of III.

Chiura Obata came to the United States from Japan in 1903, at age 17. Following a summer spent in the Sierra Nevada in 1927, he became a successful painter and was a faculty member in the Art Department of the University of California, Berkeley from 1932 to 1954. His time at Berkeley was interrupted by World War II, during which he spent over a year in internment camps. Despite the many trials that he faced during his lifetime, Obata always maintained a positive outlook about existence, art, and, especially, nature.

Some quotes from the work of Chiura Obata:

“My aim is to create a bowl full of joy
Clear as the sky
Pure as falling cherry petals,
Without worry, without doubt;
Then comes full energy, endless power
And the road to art.”
“The old pine on the Tioga plain has borne avalanches, fought wind, rain, ice, and snow, and has suffered bitter times for several hundred years. Like a warrior at the end of his life, he embraces with his rough roots the young trees growing up and surrounding the fallen parent. When I see this I feel that man should be devoted and struggle hard to follow his own ambition without willful, selfish reasons.”
“I feel that to weep and to be caught in trivial emotions is impure, and I would be ashamed before nature. Now, I have come to Southern California to exhibit my work of the past twenty years to brothers and sisters and young people who are also working hard with similar thoughts in spite of different vocations.”
“Mount Lyell stands majestically, 13,650 feet high, clad in brilliant snow and towering over the high peaks of the Sierra — Tioga Peak, Mount Dana, Ragged Peak, Johnson Peak, Unicorn Peak, and Mount San Joaquin, which surround her.”
“The spotlessly clear blue sky that sweeps high up over the mountains changes in a moment to a furious black color. Clouds call clouds. Pealing thunder shrieks and roars across the black heavens. Man stands awestruck in the face of the great change of wondrous nature.”
“The speed of the universe is surprisingly fast. The uproar of Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight is no comparison to nature… At a place where yesterday I thought the snow was three to four feet high, a type of flower that I had never seen before is already smiling today. Even the sky deepens its blue color every day, adding infinite thoughts to the morning sunlight.”
“I dedicate my paintings, first, to the grand nature of California, which, over the long years, in sad as well as in delightful times, has always given me great lessons, comfort, and nourishment. Second, to the people who share the same thoughts, as though drawing water from one river under one tree.”
“My paintings, created by the humble brush of a mediocre man, are nothing but expressions of my wholehearted praise and gratitude.”

Remembering an American Artist: Chiura Obata (1885-1975) – a Japanese-American painter: Part II of III.

Below –  “Death’s Grove Pass”; “Lake Basin in the High Sierra”; “Mono Crater.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 9 May 1921 – Mona Van Duyn, an American poet.

“Earth Tremors Felt in Missouri”
by Mona Van Duyn

The quake last night was nothing personal,
you told me this morning. I think one always wonders,
unless, of course, something is visible: tremors
that take us, private and willy-nilly, are usual.

But the earth said last night that what I feel,
you feel; what secretly moves you, moves me.
One small, sensuous catastrophe
makes inklings letters, spelled in a worldly tremble.

The earth, with others on it, turns in its course
as we turn toward each other, less than ourselves, gross,
mindless, more than we were. Pebbles, we swell
to planets, nearing the universal roll,
in our conceit even comprehending the sun,
whose bright ordeal leaves cool men woebegone.

Below – Donna Tuten: “Lovers”

Remembering an American Artist: Chiura Obata (1885-1975) – a Japanese-American painter: Part III of III.

Below – “Lake Mary, Inyo National Forest”; “Mount Lyell”; “A Storm Nearing Yosemite Government Center”; “Along Mono Lake”; “Passing Rain.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 9 May 1950 – Jorie Graham, an American poet and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

“Over and Over Stitch”
by Jodie Graham

Late in the season the world digs in, the fat blossoms
hold still for just a moment longer.
Nothing looks satisfied,
but there is no real reason to move on much further:
this isn’t a bad place;
why not pretend

we wished for it?
The bushes have learned to live with their haunches.
The hydrangea is resigned
to its pale and inconclusive utterances.
Towards the end of the season
it is not bad

to have the body. To have experienced joy
as the mere lifting of hunger
is not to have known it
less. The tobacco leaves
don’t mind being removed
to the long racks—all uses are astounding

to the used.
There are moments in our lives which, threaded, give us heaven—
noon, for instance, or all the single victories
of gravity, or the kudzu vine,
most delicate of manias,
which has pressed its luck

this far this season.
It shines a gloating green.
Its edges darken with impatience, a kind of wind.
Nothing again will ever be this easy, lives
being snatched up like dropped stitches, the dry stalks of daylilies
marking a stillness we can’t keep.

Contemporary Spanish Art – Marina Del Pozo: Part I of II.

Below – “Birds and bamboo”; “Maiko”; “Little gheisa 8”; “The writer.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 9 May 1951 – Joy Harjo, an award-winning American poet, author, and musician: Part I of II.

Some quotes from the work of Joy Harjo:

“At least I’ve had to come to that in my life, to realize that this stuff called failure, this stuff, this debris of historical trauma, family trauma, you know, stuff that can kill your spirit, is actually raw material to make things with and to build a bridge. You can use those materials to build a bridge over that which would destroy you.”
“If you do not answer the noise and urgency of your gifts, they will turn on you. Or drag you down with their immense sadness at being abandoned.”
“My generation is now the door to memory. That is why I am remembering.”
“If we cry more tears we will ruin the land with salt; instead let’s praise that which would distract us with despair. Make a song for death, a song for yellow teeth and bad breath.”
“It is memory that provides the heart with impetus, fuels the brain, and propels the corn plant from seed to fruit.”
“I can hear the sizzle of newborn stars, and know anything of meaning, of the fierce magic emerging here. I am witness to flexible eternity, the evolving past, and I know we will live forever, as dust or breath in the face of stars, in the shifting pattern of winds.”
“It’s possible to understand the world from studying a leaf. You can comprehend the laws of aerodynamics, mathematics, poetry and biology through the complex beauty of such a perfect structure.
It’s also possible to travel the whole globe and learn nothing.”
“I could hear my abandoned dreams making a racket in my soul.”
“I know I walk in and out of several worlds each day.”

Contemporary Spanish Art – Marina Del Pozo: Part II of II.

Below – “Little gheisa 12”; “Marina”; “Blue ultramarine gheisa.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 9 May 1951 – Joy Harjo, an award-winning American poet, author, and musician: Part II of II.

“Perhaps the World Ends Here”
by Joy Harjo

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

Below – Vicente Manansala: “Prayer before Meal”

Posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television, Opinion | Leave a comment