Sentient in San Francisco – 20 April 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 20 April 1840 – Odilon Redon, a French symbolist painter and printmaker: Part I of II.

Below – “Flower Clouds”; “Ophelia”; “Chariot of Apollo”; “Portrait of Violette Heymann”; “Pandora”; “The Cyclops.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 20 April 1982 – Archibald MacLeish, an American poet, playwright, recipient of the National Book Award, and three-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

by Archibald MacLeish

And learn O voyager to walk
The roll of earth, the pitch and fall
That swings across these trees those stars:
That swings the sunlight up the wall.

And learn upon these narrow beds
To sleep in spite of sea, in spite
Of sound the rushing planet makes:
And learn to sleep against this ground.

This Date in Art History: Born 20 April 1840 – Odilon Redon, a French symbolist painter and printmaker: Part II of II.

Below – “The Buddha”; “Evocation”; “Coquille”; “Apparition.”

A Poem for Today

“Sledding in Wichita”
by Casey Pycior

As cars pass, laboring through the slush,
a boy, bundled against the stiff wind
in his snow suit, gloves, and scarf,
leans on his upright toboggan,
waiting his turn atop
the snow-packed overpass—
the highest point in town.
First one car exits, and then another,
each creeping down the icy ramp.
The brown grass pokes through
the two grooves carved in the short hill.
As the second car fishtails to a stop at the bottom,
brake lights glowing on the dirty snow,
the boy’s turn comes.
His trip to the bottom is swift—
only a second or two—
and he bails out just before the curb.
It’s not much, but it’s sledding in Wichita.

Below – Joan Applebaum: “The Old Toboggan”

Contemporary Italian Art – Jean-Humbert Savoldelli

Below – “Roundabout”; “Striped Landscape”; “Hanging Mists”; “The Red Line”; “Just Perfect.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 20 April 1960 – Steve Erickson, an award-winning American author and critic.

Some quotes from the work of Steve Erickson:

“A dream is only a memory of the future.”
“‘If I had it to do all over again . . . I wouldn’t change a thing.’. . . the final expression of narcissism, the last gesture of self-congratulation.”
“It wouldn’t have occurred to me that while this old white man, which is to say me, was voting for Hillary Clinton, white women were choosing an overt misogynist [Donald Trump] over the first woman president. Someone will have to explain that one to me someday.”
“In LA, you think you’re making something up, but it’s making you up.”
“I think for the foreseeable future we have to disabuse ourselves of any ideas of unifying, or coming together, or all getting along. I don’t think we’re going to reconcile the America that elected the first African American president with the America that just elected a president avidly endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan – I’m not sure I even want to reconcile the two.”
“I was raised a right-wing Republican and was about eighteen when I had to admit to myself that in regards to the great domestic crucible of the day, civil rights and racial justice, conservatives were on the wrong side historically and morally, and that it took too much intellectual and psychological jujitsu to pretend otherwise. I didn’t want to pretend anymore; I wanted to be on the right side.”
“It became inescapable that as conservatives were wrong about people of color, they were also wrong about women. They were wrong about gay people. The only individual freedoms they seemed to get exercised about were the freedom to make a profit and the freedom to own a gun.”
“I have members of my immediate family, and my wife’s immediate family, who voted for Donald Trump, and now there’s this gulf that I have no interest in bridging however much I love those people. It’s almost like the Civil War.”

Contemporary British Art – Andrew Salgado

Below – “The Astrology Lesson”; “Contemporary Pleasure Island Time Wasters”; “Nights in White Satin”; “When I Grow Up.”

A Poem for Today

“Koi Pond, Oakland Museum”
By Susan Kolodny

Our shadows bring them from the shadows:
a yolk-yellow one with a navy pattern
like a Japanese woodblock print of fish scales.
A fat 18-karat one splashed with gaudy purple
and a patch of gray. One with a gold head,
a body skim-milk-white, trailing ventral fins
like half-folded fans of lace.
A poppy-red, faintly disheveled one,
and one, compact, all indigo in faint green water.
They wear comical whiskers and gather beneath us
as we lean on the cement railing
in indecisive late-December light,
and because we do not feed them, they pass,
then they loop and circle back. Loop and circle. Loop.
“Look,” you say, “beneath them.” Beneath them,
like a subplot or a motive, is a school
of uniformly dark ones, smaller, unadorned,
perhaps another species, living in the shadow
of the gold, purple, yellow, indigo, and white,
seeking the mired roots and dusky grasses,
unliveried, the quieter beneath the quiet.

Below – Koi Pond, Oakland Museum

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Sentient in San Francisco – 19 April 2019

Contemporary Spanish Art – Marina del Pozo

Below – “Maiko 4”; “Mother and daughter”; “Little gheisa 10”; “The secret”; “Siesta”; “Close to spring.”

A Poem for Today

“The Softest Word”
by Andrew Jones

The softest word is ‘leaf ‘
it zigzags
in the air and
falls on the yellow ground

Note: Andrew Jones wrote this poem when he was a first grader in Tacoma, Washington.

Contemporary Australian Art – Sara Roberts: Part I of II.

Below – Untitled; “Now Is Forever Lasting”; “Daylight Dream”; “Clouds Make Me Think of You”; “Late Afternoon Dive”; “Dive in.”

Musings in Spring: Socrates

“Sometimes you have to let go to see if there was anything worth holding onto.”

Contemporary Australian Art – Sara Roberts: Part II of II.

Below – “As Above, So Below”; “Into The Void”; “The Other Day”; “Floating Away”; “Through The Looking Glass”; “Saying Goodbye.”

A Poem for Today

“Up Against It”
by Eamon Grennan

It’s the way they cannot understand the window
they buzz and buzz against, the bees that take
a wrong turn at my door and end up thus
in a drift at first of almost idle curiosity,
cruising the room until they find themselves
smack up against it and they cannot fathom how
the air has hardened and the world they know
with their eyes keeps out of reach as, stuck there
with all they want just in front of them, they must
fling their bodies against the one unalterable law
of things—this fact of glass—and can only go on
making the sound that tethers their electric
fury to what’s impossible, feeling the sting in it.

Contemporary Japanese Art – Ikenaga Yasunari

Below- “Dice, Hikari”; “Chrysanthemum firework”; “Ufufu, Satsuki”; “Makiko”; “Bamboo Blind, Biting”; “Run a Bath, Naomi.”

A Poem for Today

“Einstein’s Happiest Moment”
by Richard M. Berlin

Einstein’s happiest moment
occurred when he realized
a falling man falling
beside a falling apple
could also be described
as an apple and a man at rest
while the world falls around them.

And my happiest moment
occurred when I realized
you were falling for me,
right down to the core, and the rest,
relatively speaking, has flown past
faster than the speed of light.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 18 April 2019

Contemporary British Art – Christos Tsimaris: Part I of II.

Below – “distortion”; “reflection”; “hybrid”; “a film star.”

A Poem for Today

“The Cranes, Texas January”
by Mark Sanders

I call my wife outdoors to have her listen,
to turn her ears upward, beyond the cloud-veiled
sky where the moon dances thin light,
to tell her, “Don’t hear the cars on the freeway—

it’s not the truck-rumble. It is and is not
the sirens.” She stands there, on deck
a rocking boat, wanting to please the captain
who would have her hear the inaudible.

Her eyes, so blue the day sky is envious,
fix blackly on me, her mouth poised on question
like a stone. But, she hears, after all.
January on the Gulf,
warm wind washing over us,
we stand chilled in the winter of those voices.

Contemporary British Art – Christos Tsimaris: Part II of II.

Below – “her story”; “Max with Charlie”; “kaz”; “bulls.”

Musings in Spring: Rachel Carson

“A rainy day is the perfect time for a walk in the woods.”

Contemporary Danish Art – Per Anders

Below – “Baywatch”; “Let’s Harvest Some Gold”; “Living at the Bay”; “Nordic Light”; “Pinot Noir.”

A Poem for Today

by Mark Irwin

Mother came to visit today. We
hadn’t seen each other in years. Why didn’t
you call? I asked. Your windows are filthy, she said. I know,
I know. It’s from the dust and rain. She stood outside.
I stood in, and we cleaned each one that way, staring into each other’s eyes,
rubbing the white towel over our faces, rubbing
away hours, years. This is what it was like
when you were inside me, she said. What? I asked,
though I understood. Afterwards, indoors, she smelled like snow
melting. Holding hands we stood by the picture window,
gazing into the December sun, watching the pines in flame.

Contemporary British Art – Michael Alford

Below – “Victorian Gothic 4”; “Mare Nostrum 2”; “Nude/on White 5”; “Cannaregio, Late Evening”; “Seated Nude/Crimson & Turquoise Fabric 1”; “Law Courts/Winter Evening.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 18 April 1915 – Joy Davidman, an American poet and author.

“Endymion: I Had Prayed to the Distant Goddess”
by Joy Davidman

I had prayed to the distant goddess all that while,
With the mad wish that Deity would bend,
Stoop to the level of a human love.
And that clear distant silver would not heed
Desire, imperious in its rule of me,
But rode the night down with her pack of stars.

And I knew that I dared the undefied,
That this most magic of the mysteries
Was not as fireflies to catch and crush,
Nor even as the mocking light that lures
A vain pursuit, but was beyond pursuit,
A far-seen vision, throned upon a cloud.

Then the moon answered and came down to me.
Oh — I had lain for many nights and sighed
Because she was no nearer, though I knew
The moon was brighter for the distance. Now
She has come down, the years’ dream has come true.
A silver shadow floating above my head,
The cold white moon dissolving in the air,
And dripping liquid silver through the pines,
Till it surrounded me in silver dew,
All of the brightness soft within my arms.

Yet she was magic, high above the pines,
Being divine and unattainable,
And white-serene, while I looked up at her.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 17 April 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 17 April 2011 – Robert Vickrey, an American painter. In the words of one writer, Vickrey “specialized in the ancient medium of egg tempera. His paintings are surreal dreamlike visions of sunset shadows of bicycles, nuns in front of mural-painted brick walls, and children playing.”: Part I of II.

Below – “Diana’s Angels”; “Bubbles”; “Butterfly Net”; “Caroline’s Graffiti”; “The Artist’s Life II”; “Clam’s Eye View.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 17 April 1897 – Thornton Wilder, an American playwright, novelist, recipient of the National Book Award, and three-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of Thornton Wilder:

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
“All that we know about those we have loved and lost is that they would wish us to remember them with a more intensified realization of their reality. What is essential does not die but clarifies. The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.”
“But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. “There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”
“I didn’t marry you because you were perfect. I didn’t even marry you because I loved you. I married you because you gave me a promise. That promise made up for your faults. And the promise I gave you made up for mine. Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage. And when our children were growing up, it wasn’t a house that protected them; and it wasn’t our love that protected them–it was that promise.”
“Ninety-nine percent of the people in the world are fools and the rest of us are in great danger of contagion.”
“I not only bow to the inevitable; I am fortified by it.”
“When you’re safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; when you’re having an adventure you wish you were safe at home.”
“My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it’s on your plate.”
“Life is a fatal adventure. It can only have one end. So why not make it as far-ranging and free as possible.”
“Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it — every, every minute?”

This Date in Art History: Died 17 April 2011 – Robert Vickrey, an American painter. In the words of one writer, Vickrey “specialized in the ancient medium of egg tempera. His paintings are surreal dreamlike visions of sunset shadows of bicycles, nuns in front of mural-painted brick walls, and children playing.”: Part II of II.

Below – “Bubbles”; “Midwinter Dream”; “Delicate Balance”; “Daughters of Charity”; “Rainbow Mural”; “Fear.”

A Poem for Today

“Back Road”
by Bruce Guernsey

Winter mornings
driving past
I’d see these kids
huddled like grouse
in the plowed ruts
in front of their shack
waiting for the bus,
three small children
bunched against the drifts
rising behind them.

This morning
I slowed to wave
and the smallest,
a stick of a kid
draped in a coat,
grinned and raised
his red, raw hand,
the snowball
packed with rock
aimed at my face.

Contemporary Greek Art – Fotini Hamidieli Martou: Part I of II.

Below – “Flight”; “woman resting”; “the dragonfly.”

Musings in Spring: Homer

“Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.”

Contemporary Greek Art – Fotini Hamidieli Martou: Part II of II.

Below – “seeds and pods”; “on the swings”; “cannot find the words”; “the feeding.”

A Poem for Today

“Cement Backyard”
by Lynne Sharon Schwartz

My father had our yard cemented over.
He couldn’t tell a flower from a weed.
The neighbors let their backyards run to clover
and some grew dappled gardens from a seed,

but he preferred cement to rampant green.
Lushness reeked of anarchy’s profusion.
Better to tamp the wildness down, unseen,
than tolerate its careless brash intrusion.

The grass interred, he felt well satisfied:
his first house, and he took an owner’s pride,
surveying the uniform, cemented yard.
Just so, he labored to cement his heart.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 16 April 2019

Contemporary German Art – Blue Moon – Heike Schmidt

Below – “Jungle of Life”; “Longing For The Sea II”; “Dreamworld Blue”; “Morning Mood”; Meditation.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 16 April 1844 – Anatole France, a French novelist, journalist, poet, and recipient of the 1921 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Some quotes from the work of Anatole France:

“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
“Stupidity is far more dangerous than evil, for evil takes a break from time to time, stupidity does not.”
“The first virtue of all really great men is that they are sincere. They eradicate hypocrisy from their hearts.”
“In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.”
“A people living under the perpetual menace of war and invasion is very easy to govern. It demands no social reform. It does not haggle over expenditures for armaments and military equipment. It pays without discussion, it ruins itself, and that is an excellent thing for the syndicates of financiers and manufacturers for whom patriotic terrors are an abundant source of gain.”
“If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.
“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”
“Man is a rational animal. He can think up a reason for anything he wants to believe.”
“Sometimes one day in a difference place gives you more than ten years of a life at home.”
“If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.”

Contemporary British Art – Matt Jukes

Below –  “Through the Clouds”; “Rising.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 16 April 1972 – Yasunari Kawabata, a Japanese novelist, short story writer, and recipient of the 1968 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Some quotes from the work of Yasunari Kawabata:

“Cosmic time is the same for everyone, but human time differs with each person. Time flows in the same way for all human beings; every human being flows through time in a different way.”
“The true joy of a moonlit night is something we no longer understand. Only the men of old, when there were no lights, could understand the true joy of a moonlit night.”
“Now, even more than the evening before, he could think of no one with whom to compare her. She had become absolute, beyond comparison. She had become decision and fate.”
“A child walked by, rolling a metal hoop that made a sound of autumn.”
“The snow on the distant mountains was soft and creamy, as if veiled in a faint smoke.”

Contemporary Brazilian Art – Beatriz Mendonça de Castilho

Below – “Portrait 73”; “Woman face 95”; “Lady Gray Look.”

Remembering a Performer on the Date of His Birth: Born 16 April 1946 – R. Carlos Nakai, a Native American flutist of Navajo/Ute heritage.

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

Below – “Small BIG dreams”; “Portrait in blue.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 16 April 1968 – Edna Ferber, an American novelist, short story writer, playwright, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of Edna Ferber:

“Living the past is a dull and lonely business; looking back strains the neck muscles, causing you to bump into people not going your way.”
“It’s terrible to realize that you don’t learn how to live until you’re ready to die; and, then it’s too late.”
“A closed mind is a dying mind.”
“There is an interesting resemblance in the speeches of dictators, no matter what country they may hail from or what language they may speak.”
“Big doesn’t necessarily mean better. Sunflowers aren’t better than violets.”
“Home isn’t always the place where you were born and bred. Home is the place where your everyday clothes are, and where somebody or something needs you.”
“Spring … made fair false promises which summer was called upon to keep.”
“Funny, isn’t it, how your whole life goes by while you think you’re only planning the way you’re going to live it?”

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

Below – “Bluetones”; “Deep burnt”; “Vision.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 16 April 1922 – Kingsley Amis, an English novelist, poet, and critic.

Some quotes from the work of Kingsley Amis:

“The rewards for being sane may not be very many, but knowing what’s funny is one of them.”
“If you can’t annoy somebody, there is little point in writing.”
“When that ineffable compound of depression, sadness (these two are not the same), anxiety, self-hatred, sense of failure and fear for the future begins to steal over you, start telling yourself that what you have is a hangover. You are not sickening for anything, you have not suffered a minor brain lesion, you are not all that bad at your job, your family and friends are not leagued in a conspiracy of barely maintained silence about what a shit you are, you have not come at last to see life as it really is and there is no use crying over spilt milk.”
“Laziness has become the chief characteristic of journalism, displacing incompetence. ”
“Never despise a drink because it is easy to make and/or uses commercial mixes. Unquestioning devotion to authenticity is, in any department of life, a mark of the naive – or worse.”
“He was of the faith chiefly in the sense that the church he currently did not attend was Catholic.”
“It is natural and harmless in English to use a preposition to end a sentence with.”
“A German wine label is one of the things life’s too short for.”
“Nothing short of physical handicap has ever made anybody turn over a new leaf.”
“Wives and such are constantly filling up any refrigerator they have a claim on, even its ice-compartment, with irrelevant rubbish like food.”
“With some exceptions in science fiction and other genres I have small difficulty in avoiding anything that could be called American literature. I feel it is unnatural, not I think entirely because it uses a language that is not mine, however closely akin to my own.”
“The human race has not devised any way of dissolving barriers, getting to know the other chap fast, breaking the ice, that is one-tenth as handy and efficient as letting you and the other chap, or chaps, cease to be totally sober at about the same rate in agreeable surroundings.”

Contemporary Austrian Art – Petra Kaindel

Below – “…and don’t forget to freeze your eggs”; “Chandelier I”; “Fleeting”; “Clelia at the Tate Britain.”

A Poem for Today

“Living Tree”
by Robert Morgan

It’s said they planted trees by graves
to soak up spirits of the dead
through roots into the growing wood.

The favorite in the burial yards
I knew was common juniper.
One could do worse than pass into
such a species. I like to think
that when I’m gone the chemicals
and yes the spirit that was me
might be searched out by subtle roots
and raised with sap through capillaries
into an upright, fragrant trunk,
and aromatic twigs and bark,
through needles bright as hoarfrost to
the sunlight for a century
or more, in wood repelling rot
and standing tall with monuments
and statues there on the far hill,
erect as truth, a testimony,
in ground that’s dignified by loss,
around a melancholy tree
that’s pointing toward infinity.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 15 April 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 15 April 1877 – Georg Kolbe, a German sculptor.

Below – “Bather”; “Sitter”; “Supplicator”; “The Cathedral”; “Genius”; “Grief.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 15 April 1861 – William Bliss Carman, a Canadian poet.

“A Vagabond Song”
by Bliss Carman

There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood—
Touch of manner, hint of mood;
And my heart is like a rhyme,
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time.

The scarlet of the maples can shake me like a cry
Of bugles going by.
And my lonely spirit thrills
To see the frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills.

There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir;
We must rise and follow her,
When from every hill of flame
She calls and calls each vagabond by name.

This Date in Art History: Born 15 April 1889 – Thomas Hart Benton, an American painter: Part I of II.

Below – “New York, Early Twenties”; “People of Chilmark”; “Achelous and Hercules”; “Cradling Wheat”; “Flood Disaster”; “Persephone.”

This Date in World History: 15 April 1912 – After hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic, the British passenger liner RMS Titanic sinks. Only 710 of 2,227 passengers on board survive.

Below – The last known photograph of the Titanic.

This Date in Art History: Born 15 April 1889 – Thomas Hart Benton, an American painter: Part II of II.

Below – “The Arts of the West”; “Night Firing of Tobacco”; “Trail Riders”; “Spring on the Missouri”; “America Today”; “The Twist.”

“Arts of the West”

This Date in Literary History: Born 15 April 1931 – Tomas Transtromer, a Swedish poet, translator, and recipient of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Three quotes from the work of Tomas Transtromer:

“We always feel younger than we are. I carry inside myself my earlier faces, as a tree contains its rings. The sum of them is me. The mirror sees only my latest face, while I know all my previous ones.”
“It’s always so early in here, before the crossroads, before the irrevocable choices. Thank you for this life! Still I miss the alternatives. The sketches, all of them, want to become real.”
“Tired of all who come with words, words but no language
I went to the snow-covered island.
The wild does not have words.
The unwritten pages spread themselves out in all directions!
I come across the marks of roe-deer’s hooves in the snow.
Language, but no words.”

Contemporary French Art – Marie-Elisabeth Merlin: Part I of II.

Below – “Il était une fois, Le parc”; “Il était une fois, Les ceuilleuses de Lotus et les Loups”; “Il était une fois, Avez-vous entendu?”; “Il était une fois, Solitaire”; “La Petite”; “Pan, Bang, Splach! .”

A poem for Today

“Burning the Book”
by Ron Koertge

“Burning the Book”

The anthology of love poems I bought
for a quarter is brittle, anyway, and comes
apart when I read it.

One at a time, I throw pages on the fire
and watch smoke make its way up
and out.

I’m almost to the index when I hear
a murmuring in the street. My neighbors
are watching it snow.

I put on my blue jacket and join them.
The children stand with their mouths

Contemporary French Art – Marie-Elisabeth Merlin: Part II of II.

Below –  “The Man in Red”; “L’Entremêlée”; “L’Arbre Rouge, ou,Te souviens-tu de ta naissance?”; “Il était Une fois, Poésie du coeur”; “

This Date in Literary History: Died 15 April 1888 – Matthew Arnold, an English poet and critic.

Some quotes from the work of Matthew Arnold:

“Life is not having and getting, but being and becoming
“The freethinking of one age is the common sense of the next.
“Culture, the acquainting ourselves with the best that has been known and said in the world, and thus with the history of the human spirit.”
“Poetry is simply the most beautiful, impressive, and widely effective mode of saying things.”
“The bent of our time is towards science, towards knowing things as they are.”
“This strange disease of modern life,
With its sick hurry, its divided aims.”
“But often, in the world’s most crowded streets,
But often, in the din of strife,
There rises an unspeakable desire
After the knowledge of our buried life,
A thirst to spend our fire and restless force
In tracking out our true, original course;
A longing to inquire
Into the mystery of this heart which beats
So wild, so deep in us, to know
Whence our lives come and where they go.”
“Dover Beach”
The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 14 April 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 14 April 1925 – John Singer Sargent, an American painter: Part I of II.

Below – “Rosina”; “Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a Wood”; “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose”; “Alpine Pool”; “Muddy Alligators.”

Musings in Spring: Rachel Carson

“One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, ‘What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew i would never see it again?’”

This Date in Art History: Died 14 April 1925 – John Singer Sargent, an American painter: Part II of II.

Below – “Autumn Leaves”; “Mountain Fire”; “The Model: Interior with Standing Figure”; “The Old Chair”; “On the Sands”; “Nude Study of an Egyptian Girl.”

A Poem for Today

by Michael McFee

How well its square
fit my palm, my mouth,
a toasty wafer slipped
onto the sick tongue
or into chicken soup,

each crisp saltine a tile
pierced with 13 holes
in rows of 3 and 2,
its edges perforated
like a postage stamp,

one of a shifting stack
sealed in wax paper
whose noisy opening
always signaled snack,
peanut butter or cheese

thick inside Premiums,
the closest we ever got
to serving hors d’oeuvres:
the redneck’s hardtack,
the cracker’s cracker.

Contemporary British Art – Anna Hymas: Part I of II.

Below – “Decorated Vase with Tulips”; “The Edge of the Lily Pond II”; “The Fortune Teller’s Hand”; “Decorative Objects Still Life II”; “Festive Dress V.”

Musings in Spring: Roger Caras

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”

Contemporary British Art – Anna Hymas: Part II of II.

Below – “Beach Life”; “Boats & Lighthouse”; “Bird Jug & Wild Flowers”; “Rooftops Block Painting III”; “Stripey Bowl and Jug Still Life”; “Pot Plant I.”

This Date in Scientific History: Died 14 April 1964 – Rachel Carson, an American marine biologist, writer, conservationist, environmentalist, author of “The Sea Around Us” and “Silent Spring,” and recipient of the National Book Award.

Some quotes from the work of Rachel Carson:

“We still talk in terms of conquest. We still haven’t become mature enough to think of ourselves as only a tiny part of a vast and incredible universe. Man’s attitude toward nature is today critically important simply because we have now acquired a fateful power to alter and destroy nature. But man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself.”
“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”
“The most alarming of all man’s assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials. This pollution is for the most part irrecoverable; the chain of evil it initiates not only in the world that must support life but in living tissues is for the most part irreversible. In this now universal contamination of the environment, chemicals are the sinister and little-recognized partners of radiation in changing the very nature of the world-the very nature of its life.”
“Conservation is a cause that has no end. There is no point at which we will say our work is finished.”
“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”
“The real wealth of the Nation lies in the resources of the earth soil, water, forests, minerals, and wildlife. To utilize them for present needs while insuring their preservation for future generations requires a delicately balanced and continuing program, based on the most extensive research. Their administration is not properly, and cannot be, a matter of politics.”
“We cannot have peace among men whose hearts find delight in killing any living creature.”
“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.”

Contemporary Serbian Art – Endre Penovac

Below – “Together”; “Milky”; “Walking”; “Silk Scarf.”

A Poem for Today

by Patricia Clark

You can have the grackle whistling blackly
from the feeder as it tosses seed,

if I can have the red-tailed hawk perched
imperious as an eagle on the high branch.

You can have the brown shed, the field mice
hiding under the mower, the wasp’s nest on the door,

if I can have the house of the dead oak,
its hollowed center and feather-lined cave.

You can have the deck at midnight, the possum
vacuuming the yard in its white prowl,

if I can have the yard of wild dreaming, pesky
raccoons, and the roaming, occasional bear.

You can have the whole house, window to window,
roof to soffits to hardwood floors,

if I can have the screened porch at dawn,
the Milky Way, any comets in our yard.

Milky Way and pink light at mountains. Night colorful landscape. Starry sky with hills at summer. Beautiful Universe. Space background with galaxy. Travel background

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Sentient in San Francisco – 13 April 2019

Remembering a Talented Artist: Henrietta Emma Ratcliffe Rae (1859-1928). Rae was an English painter of the late Victorian Era who specialized in classical, allegorical, and literary subjects: Part I of II.

Below – “Mariana”; “Zephyr Wooing Flora”; “Azaleas”; “Spring”; “Psyche before the Throne of Venus.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 13 April 1906 – Samuel Barclay Beckett, an Irish novelist, playwright, short story writer, poet, translator, and recipient of the 1969 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Some quotes from the work of Samuel Beckett:

“The creation of the world did not take place once and for all time, but takes place every day.”
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
“Don’t look for meaning in the words. Listen to the silences.”
“Perhaps that’s what I feel, an outside and an inside and me in the middle, perhaps that’s what I am, the thing that divides the world in two, on the one side the outside, on the other the inside, that can be as thin as foil, I’m neither one side nor the other, I’m in the middle, I’m the partition, I’ve two surfaces and no thickness, perhaps that’s what I feel, myself vibrating, I’m the tympanum, on the one hand the mind, on the other the world, I don’t belong to either.”
“You’re on earth. There’s no cure for that.”
“Yes, in my life, since we must call it so, there were three things, the inability to speak, the inability to be silent, and solitude, that’s what I’ve had to make the best of.”
“What are we doing here, that is the question.”
“There’s never an end for the sea.”
“I am still alive then. That may come in useful.”

Remembering a Talented Artist: Henrietta Emma Ratcliffe Rae (1859-1928). Rae was an English painter of the late Victorian Era who specialized in classical, allegorical, and literary subjects: Part II of II.

Below – “Spring’s Awakening”; “Hylas and the Water Nymphs”; “Venus Enthroned”; “The Sirens”; “Song of the Morning”; “Roses of Youth.”

This Date in American History: Born 13 April 1866 – Robert Leroy Parker, better known as Butch Cassidy, an American train robber, bank robber, and leader of a gang of criminal outlaws known as the ‘Wild Bunch’ in the American Old West.

This Date in Art History: Born 13 April 1971 – Danie Mellor, an Australian painter and sculptor.

Below – “The Story Place (A History of Two Worlds)”; “Exotic Lies Sacred Ties”; “The Reality of Myth”; “Paradise Garden (Different Country. Same Story); “Materially Cultured (an allegorical scene of a bastard history)”; “A Reflective Moment.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 13 April 1947 – Rae Armantrout, an American poet and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

by Rae Armantrout

We love our cat
for her self
regard is assiduous
and bland,
for she sits in the small
patch of sun on our rug
and licks her claws
from all angles
and it is far
to ‘balanced reporting’
though, of course,
it is also
the very same thing.

Below – Jo Potocki: “The Cat Who Slept in the Sun on a Red Rug”

Contemporary American Art – Jan-Woo Prensena: Part I of II.

Below (photographs): “Roh Rainforest II”; “Mystery Couch”; “Vernal Falls I”; “The Whole Family”; “Fontelina I”; “First Stop.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 13 April 1909 – Eudora Welty, an American short story writer, novelist, recipient of the National Book Award, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of Eudora Welty:

“My continuing passion is to part a curtain, that invisible veil of indifference that falls between us and that blinds us to each other’s presence, each other’s wonder, each other’s human plight.”
“The excursion is the same when you go looking for your sorrow as when you go looking for your joy.”
“It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass. Yet regardless of where they come from, I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them – with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself. Still illiterate, I was ready for them, committed to all the reading I could give them.”
“it doesn’t matter if it takes a long time getting there; the point is to have a destination.”
“One place understood helps us understand all places better.”
“Insight doesn’t happen often on the click of the moment, like a lucky snapshot, but comes in its own time and more slowly and from nowhere but within.”
“Radio, sewing machine, bookends, ironing board and that great big piano lamp – peace, that’s what I like. Butterbean vines planted all along the front where the strings are.”
“A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.”

Contemporary American Art – Jan-Woo Prensena: Part II of II.

Below – “Pirate’s Cove”; “Riverbed VI”; “Fournineteen”; “Hyde Park”; “Wald”; “Beach Life II.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 13 April 1939 – Seamus Heaney, an Irish poet, playwright, translator, and recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature.

by Seamus Heaney

for Philip Hobsbaum

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.

We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 12 April 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 12 April 1885 – Robert Delaunay, a French painter.

Below – “Paysage au disque”; “Champs de Mars, La Tour rouge”; “Simultaneous Contrasts: Sun and Moon”; “Nature morte au vase de fleurs”; “Nu à la toilette (Nu à la coiffeuse).”

This Date in Literary History: Died 12 April 1998 – Robert Ford, a Canadian poet and translator.

by Robert Ford

The sun will flee again soon, following its divine angle,
to fall beyond the hill, before the cool flow of night arrives.

The last car will leave the village and argue its way back up the road,
its driver tapping out a rhythm of fidgets on the steering wheel,

and all that will linger is the clong, clong, of the bell around the neck
of a goat, beckoning to its partner in the darkness,

and the slow, slow clap of the waves, studded with pebbles,
one by one, eating into the rounded belly of the bay.

Below – Michelle Calkins: “Pebbles on the Beach”

Contemporary American Art – leslie sheryll

Artist Statement (partial): “I appropriate & digitally alter 19th century tintypes, predominantly of women. I name each woman using names common during the 19th century; thus giving each a personal identity.”

Below – “ Abigal, Odelia, Lilah, Libby and Katy”; “ Clare.”

A Poem for Today

by Robin Chapman

My neighbor, 87, rings the doorbell to ask
if I might have seen her clipping shears
that went missing a decade ago,
with a little red paint on their shaft,
or the iron turkey bank and the porcelain
coffee cup that disappeared a while back
when her friend, now dead, called the police
to break in to see if she were ill, and have we
had trouble with our phone line, hers
is dead and her car and driver’s license
are missing though she can drive perfectly
well, just memory problems, and her son
is coming this morning to take her up
to Sheboygan, where she was born
and where the family has its burial lots,
to wait on assisted living space, and she
just wanted to say we’d been good neighbors
all these how many? years, and how lucky
I am to have found such a nice man
and could she borrow a screwdriver,
the door lock to her house is jammed.

Below – Nagkyoo Seong: “Old Woman”

Contemporary French Painting – Diana Iancu

Below – “A dream of Spring”; “Abstract Green.”

Musings in Spring: Tom Robbins

“Our similarities bring us to a common ground; Our differences allow us to be fascinated by each other.”

Below – Peter Worsley: “Rainy Day”

Contemporary American Art – Mark Hobley

Below – “The Birdwatcher”; “Chief Rides Alone”; “It’s Far from the End”; “Global Ideas”; “the general notion of love.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 12 April 1952 – Gary Soto, an American poet, novelist, and memoirist.

“Saturday at the Canal”
by Gary Soto

I was hoping to be happy by seventeen.
School was a sharp check mark in the roll book,
An obnoxious tuba playing at noon because our team
Was going to win at night. The teachers were
Too close to dying to understand. The hallways
Stank of poor grades and unwashed hair. Thus,
A friend and I sat watching the water on Saturday,
Neither of us talking much, just warming ourselves
By hurling large rocks at the dusty ground
And feeling awful because San Francisco was a postcard
On a bedroom wall. We wanted to go there,
Hitchhike under the last migrating birds
And be with people who knew more than three chords
On a guitar. We didn’t drink or smoke,
But our hair was shoulder length, wild when
The wind picked up and the shadows of
This loneliness gripped loose dirt. By bus or car,
By the sway of train over a long bridge,
We wanted to get out. The years froze
As we sat on the bank. Our eyes followed the water,
White-tipped but dark underneath, racing out of town.

Below – Frances Hopkins: “Boys Fishing”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 11 April 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 11 April 1876 – Paul Henry, an Irish painter.

Below – “A Krry Bog”; “Achill”; “Waterville, Co Kerry”; “The Only Tree in the Burren”; “Cottages on a Hill”; “Evening on Killary Bay.”

A Poem for Today

“Little Girl”
by Tami Haaland

She’s with Grandma in front
of Grandma’s house, backed
by a willow tree, gladiola and roses.

Who did she ever want
to please? But Grandma
seems half-pleased and annoyed.

No doubt Mother frowns
behind the lens, wants
to straighten this sassy face.

Maybe laughs, too.
Little girl with her mouth wide,
tongue out, yelling

at the camera. See her little
white purse full of treasure,
her white sandals?

She has things to do,
you can tell. Places to explore
beyond the frame,

and these women picking flowers
and taking pictures.
Why won’t they let her go?

Below – Paula Bullwinkel: “Angry Little Girl”

This Date in Art History: Died 11 April 1858 – Konstantin Yuon, a Russian painter.

Below – “Spring Sunny Day”; “The blue bush”; “Tverskoy Boulevard”; “Soft goods”; “Construction of the house”; “Self-Portrait.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 11 April 1987 – Primo Levi, an Italian Jewish chemist, writer, Holocaust survivor, and author of “The Drowned and the Saved” and “The Periodic Table,” which the Royal Institution of Great Britain named the best science book ever written.

Some quotes from the work of Primo Levi:

“We must be listened to: above and beyond our personal experience, we have collectively witnessed a fundamental unexpected event, fundamental precisely because unexpected, not foreseen by anyone. It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say. It can happen, and it can happen everywhere.”
“Monsters exist, but they are too few in numbers to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are…the functionaries ready to believe and act without asking questions.”
“Auschwitz is outside of us, but it is all around us, in the air. The plague has died away, but the infection still lingers and it would be foolish to deny it. Rejection of human solidarity, obtuse and cynical indifference to the suffering of others, abdication of the intellect and of moral sense to the principle of authority, and above all, at the root of everything, a sweeping tide of cowardice, a colossal cowardice which masks itself as warring virtue, love of country and faith in an idea.”
“We who survived the Camps are not true witnesses. We are those who, through prevarication, skill or luck, never touched bottom. Those who have, and who have seen the face of the Gorgon, did not return, or returned wordless.”
“I am constantly amazed by man’s inhumanity to man.”
“Everybody is somebody’s Jew.”
“A country is considered the more civilised the more the wisdom and efficiency of its laws hinder a weak man from becoming too weak and a powerful one too powerful.”
“It is neither easy nor agreeable to dredge this abyss of viciousness, and yet I think it must be done, because what could be perpetrated yesterday could be attempted again tomorrow, could overwhelm us and our children. One is tempted to turn away with a grimace and close one’s mind: this is a temptation one must resist. In fact, the existence of the death squads had a meaning, a message: ‘We, the master race, are your destroyers, but you are no better than we are; if we so wish, and we do so wish, we can destroy not only your bodies, but also your souls, just as we have destroyed ours.’”
“The future of humanity is uncertain, even in the most prosperous countries, and the quality of life deteriorates; and yet I believe that what is being discovered about the infinitely large and infinitely small is sufficient to absolve this end of the century and millennium. What a very few are acquiring in knowledge of the physical world will perhaps cause this period not to be judged as a pure return of barbarism.”
“Darwin was not afraid to look deeply into the void. His bold view can be seen as either noble and pessimistic or noble and admirable. For people of science, he is a hero. Denying man a privileged place in creation, .. he reaffirms with his own intellectual courage the dignity of man.”
“Man is a centaur, a tangle of flesh and mind, divine inspiration and dust.”
“The aims of life are the best defense against death.”

This Date in Art History: Died 11 April 2014 – Rolf Brem, a Swiss sculptor.

Below – “Giovanna”; “Shepherd and flock”; “Ulla”; “Widder”; “Young Woman in a Deck Chair”; “Susi with Mirror.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 11 April 2007 – Kurt Vonnegut Jr., an American novelist, short story writer, playwright, non-fiction writer, and author of “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “A Man Without a Country.”

Some quotes from the work of Kurt Vonnegut:

“Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”
“For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes (Matthew 5). But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course, that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere. ‘Blessed are the merciful’ in a courtroom? ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ in the Pentagon? Give me a break!”
“You meet saints everywhere. They can be anywhere. They are people behaving decently in an indecent society.”
“I still catch myself feeling sad about things that don’t matter anymore.”
“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”
“Do you realize that all great literature is all about what a bummer it is to be a human being? Isn’t it such a relief to have somebody say that?”
“Doesn’t anything socialistic make you want to throw up? Like great public schools, or health insurance for all?”
“About belief or lack of belief in an afterlife: Some of you may know that I am neither Christian nor Jewish nor Buddhist, nor a conventionally religious person of any sort. I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without any expectation of rewards or punishments after I’m dead.”
“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”
“As stupid and vicious as men are, this is a lovely day.”

Contemporary Spanish Art – Oscar Alvarez

Below – “Romantic 16”; “10 – beach”; “C-20”; “9 – Beach.”

A Poem for Today

“in the Planetarium”
by James Doyle

I read the palms of the other
kids on the field trip to see
which ones would grow up

to be astronauts. The lifeline
on Betty Lou’s beautiful hand
ended the day after tomorrow,

so I told her how the rest
of our lives is vastly over-rated,
even in neighboring galaxies.

When she asked me how I knew
so much, I said I watched
‘War of the Worlds’ six times

and, if she went with me to
the double-feature tomorrow,
I’d finish explaining the universe.

I smiled winningly. The Halley’s Comet
lecture by our teacher whooshed in
my one ear and out the other.

Below – Illustration by Anders Rokkum.

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