Sentient in San Francisco – 24 January 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 24 January 1872 – Konstantin Bogaevsky, a Russian painter.

Below – “Ships, Evening Sun”; “Tropical Landscape”; “Italian landscape”; “Sea Shore”; “Rainbow”; “Cloud.”

Musings in Winter: Helen Keller

“We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.”


This Date in Art History: Born 24 January 1926 – Ruth Asawa, an American sculptor.

Below – Six of Ruth Asawa’s sculptures.

A Poem for Today

“Handspun”
by Floyd Skloot

My wife sits in her swivel chair
ringed by skeins of multicolored yarn
that will become the summer sweater
she has imagined since September.
Her hand rests on the spinning wheel
and her foot pauses on the pedals
as she gazes out into the swollen river.
Light larking between wind and current
will be in this sweater. So will a shade
of red she saw when the sun went down.
When she is at her wheel, time moves
like the tune I almost recognize now
that she begins to hum it, a lulling
melody born from the draft of fiber,
clack of spindle and bobbin, soft
breath as the rhythm takes hold.

Below – Vincent van Gogh: “Woman at the Spinning Wheel”

Contemporary Canadian Art – Mahdi Almasi

Below – “Mountains”; “Lonely”; “Trees”; “Tree and soil”; “prac”; “my land 3.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Birth: Born 24 January 1862 – Edith Wharton, an American novelist, short story writer, and the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature (1921).

Some quotes from the work of Edith Wharton:

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
“One can remain alive … if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity interested in big things and happy in small ways.”
“I believe I know the only cure, which is to make one’s center of life inside of one’s self, not selfishly or excludingly, but with a kind of unassailable serenity—to decorate one’s inner house so richly that one is content there, glad to welcome anyone who wants to come and stay, but happy all the same when one is inevitably alone.”
“But I have sometimes thought that a woman’s nature is like a great house full of rooms: there is the hall, through which everyone passes in going in and out; the drawing-room, where one receives formal visits; the sitting-room, where the members of the family come and go as they list; but beyond that, far beyond, are other rooms, the handles of whose doors perhaps are never turned; no one knows the way to them, no one knows whither they lead; and in the innermost room, the holy of holies, the soul sits alone and waits for a footstep that never comes.”
“The other producer of old age is habit: the deathly process of doing the same thing in the same way at the same hour day after day, first from carelessness, then from inclination, at last from cowardice or inertia. Luckily the inconsequent life is not the only alternative; for caprice is as ruinous as routine. Habit is necessary; it is the habit of having habits, of turning a trail into a rut, that must be incessantly fought against if one is to remain alive.”
“An education is like a crumbling building that needs constant upkeep with repairs and additions.”
“Life is always either; a tight -rope or a feather-bed . — Give me the tightrope.”
“One of the great things about travel is you find out how many good, kind people there are.”
“When a man says he doesn’t understand a woman it’s because he won’t take the trouble.”
“There’s no such thing as old age, there is only sorrow.”
“Our blindest impulses become evidence of perspicacity when they fall in with the course of events.”
“I don’t know that I should care for a man who made life easy; I should want some one who made it interesting.”
“The real marriage of true minds is for any two people to possess a sense of humor or irony pitched in exactly the same key, so that their joint glances on any subject cross like interarching searchlights.
How much longer are we going to think it necessary to be American before (or in contradistinction to) being cultivated, being enlightened, being humane, and having the same intellectual discipline as other civilized countries?”
“Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.”

Contemporary South Korean Art – Ko byung jun

Below – “Blue Spring vol. 125”; “Blue Spring vol. 110”; “Stranger Series vol. 23”; “Blue Spring vol. 122”; “Blue Spring vol. 124”; “Blue Spring vol. 126.”

A Poem for Today

“Deer Fording the Missouri in Early Afternoon”
by Kevin Cole

Perhaps to those familiar with their ways
The sight would not have been so startling:
A deer fording the Missouri in the early afternoon.

Perhaps they would not have worried as much
As I about the fragility of it all:
Her agonizingly slow pace, the tender ears
And beatific face just above the water.

At one point she hit upon a shoal
And appeared to walk upon a mantle,
The light glancing off her thin legs and black hooves.

I thought she might pause for a while to rest,
To gain some bearings, but instead she bound
Back in, mindful I suppose
Of the vulnerability of open water.

When she finally reached the island
And leapt into dark stands
Of cottonwoods and Russian olives,
I swear I almost fell down in prayer.

And now I long to bear witness of such things,
To tell someone in need the story
Of a deer fording the Missouri in the early afternoon.

Below – Pablo Romero: “Female Deer 01”

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

Sentient in San Francisco – 23 January 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 23 January 1832 – Edouard Manet, a French painter: Part I of II.

Below – “Music in the Tuileries”; “The Luncheon on the Grass”; “Berthe Morisot with a Bouquet of Violets”; “The Cafe Concert”; “A Bar at the Folies-Bergere”; “Olympia.”

Musings in Winter: Leonardo da Vinci

“I love those who can smile in trouble.”


This Date in Art History: Born 23 January 1832 – Edouard Manet, a French painter: Part II of II.

Below – “Boating”; “The Reading”; “Young Flautist”; “Woman with Parrot”; “The Guitar Player”; “The surprised nymph.”


A Poem for Today

“Lesson”
by Vanessa Stauffer

To crease a sheet of paper is to change
its memory, says the origami
master: what was a field of snow
folded into flake. A crane, erect,
structured from surface. A tree
emerges from a leaf—each form undone

reveals the seams, pressed
with ruler’s edge. Some figures take
hundreds to be shaped, crossed
& doubled over, the sheet bound
to its making—a web of scars
that maps a body out of space,

how I fashion memory: idling
at an intersection next to Jack Yates High,
an hour past the bell, I saw a girl
fold herself in half to slip beneath
the busted chain-link, books thrust
ahead, splayed on asphalt broiling

in Houston sun. What memory
will she retain? Her cindered palms,
the scraped shin? Braids brushing
the dirt? The white kite of her homework
taking flight? Finding herself
locked out, or being made

to break herself in.


This Date in Art History: Born 23 January 1927 – Fred Williams, an Australian painter.

Below – “Sherbrooke Forest number 1”; “Lai-Lai Falls”; “Forest of gum trees”; “Burnt landscape, Upwey no 1”; “The Metropolitan”; “You Yangs landscape number 1.”

Musings in Winter: Joseph Conrad

“Facing it, always facing it, that’s the way to get through. Face it.”


This Date in Art History: Died 23 January 1989 – Salvador Dali, a Spanish painter and sculptor.

Below – “The Persistence of Memory”; “Leda Atomica”; “Velazquez Painting the Infanta Margarita with the Lights and Shadows of his own Glory”; “My Wife Nude Contemplating Her Own Flesh Becoming Stairs, Three Vertebra of a Column, Sky and Architecture”; “Gala in the Window”; “Figure at a Window.”

A Poem for Today

“Playing His Heart Out”
By Sharon Chmielarz

That day we were trapped
between chartreuse living
room walls and the godly
cleanliness of afghans
saving sofas and chairs.

We were talking about
anything except Uncle Carl—
gone, how we’d miss him—
when Uncle Gus came down
the hall and stood in

the archway, his wiry
body strapped under a black
accordion. “Haven’t played,”
he said, “for a long time.”
So he played a waltz and I

squirmed in my chair under
the slow flow of grief. He
played a polka and I heard
my sister clapping lightly
for the mourner bending over

the keys. His cheek-bones,
red as Heligoland’s
cliffs on the North Sea. Gulls
whirled and screamed around
the black load on his heart.

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

Sentient in San Francisco – 22 January 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 22 January 2012 – Clarence Tillenius, a Canadian artist, environmentalist, and advocate for the protection of wildlife and wilderness.
Tillenius died in Winnipeg on January 22, 2012 at the age of 98. At the artist’s request, his family issued the following text after his death:
“I believe that there is in the universe an underlying rhythm, a stream of life common to all ages; that the work of an artist who could tap into that rhythm would be timeless, it would be understood in any age, since man himself is bound by, and responds to, the same rhythm as the animals.
When that rhythm calls me to a universe other than this one; I ask each of you, who wish to remember me, to look at my paintings or my dioramas. As long as my work is appreciated by the generations that follow, my work will have tapped into that rhythm and will be timeless; even though I have now crossed that great Divide”.

Below – Untitled (Ermine and deer mouse); Untitled (Snowshoe hare); “Ruffed grouse on drumming log”; “Aspens Aflame”; “Creekside Grove”; “Nursery on the Move.”

Musings in Winter: Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.”


Contemporary Spanish Art – Mandy Racine

Below – “Madame P”; “Taffeta”; “Portrait of Cow”; “Big Hair”; “Louis”; “Lovers.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 22 January 1798 – Lord Byron (George Gordon), an English poet and playwright.

“She Walks in Beauty”
by Lord Byron (George Gordon)

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!


Contemporary Uruguayan Art – Olga Armand Ugon

Below – “Le Vin”; Up in the sky”; “The wood”; “Mujer collage china”; “If…..”; “Woman 22.”

A Poem for Today

“Enough Music”
by Dorianne Laux

Sometimes, when we’re on a long drive,
and we’ve talked enough and listened
to enough music and stopped twice,
once to eat, once to see the view,
we fall into this rhythm of silence.
It swings back and forth between us
like a rope over a lake.
Maybe it’s what we don’t say
that saves us.

Below – Roy Lichtenstein: “In the Car”

Contemporary American Art – Sarah Giannobile

Below – “Red City II”; “Flowers for Hawthorne”; “Trance”; “Lucid Dream”; “evening landscape with black dog”; “Tiger Lily.”

A Poem for Today

“This Stranger, My Husband”
by Freya Manfred

The older we get the stranger my husband becomes,
and the less certain I am that I know him.
We used to lie eye to eye, breathing together
in the immensity of each moment.
Lithe and starry-eyed, we could leap fences
even with babies on our backs.

His eyes still dream off
toward something in the distance I can’t see;
but now he gazes more zealously,
and leaps into battle with a more certain voice
over politics, religion, or art,
and some old friends won’t come to dinner.

The molecules of our bodies spiral off into the stars
on winds of change and chance,
as we welcome the unknown, the incalculable,
the spirit and heart of everything we named and knew so well—
and never truly named, or knew,
but only loved, at last.

Below – Mohita Bhatnagar: “Came A Long Way”

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

Sentient in San Francisco – 21 January 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 21 January 1845 – Harriet Becker, a Norwegian painter.

Below – “Evening Interior”; “Pa blekevollen”; “Blatt interior””; “Kone som sir”; “By Lamp Light”; “Drying Clothes.”

Musings in Winter: Robert Frost

“You can’t get too much winter in the winter.”


This Date in Art History – Died 21 January 1914 – Theodor Kittelsen, a Norwegian painter and illustrator.

Below – “Echo”; “Nokken”; “Boy on white horse”; “The Hulder That Disappeared”; “Stooks of Grain in Moonlight”; “The Nix as a white horse.”

A Poem for Today

“The Morning”
by Jo McDougall

As I drove into town
the driver in front of me
runs a stop sign.
A pedestrian pulls down his cap.
A man comes out of his house
to sweep the steps.
Ordinariness
bright as raspberries.

I turn on the radio.
Somebody tells me
the day is sunny and warm.
A woman laughs

and my daughter steps out of the radio.
Grief spreads in my throat like strep.
I had forgotten, I was happy, I maybe
was humming “You Are My Lucky Star,”
a song I may have invented.
Sometimes a red geranium, a dog,
a stone
will carry me away.
But not for long.
Some memory or another of her
catches up with me and stands
like an old nun behind a desk,
ruler in hand.


Contemporary Japanese Art – Rie Kono

Below – “Fortune-telling: The first dream of the year”; “Beyond the rainbow”; “A Spring parade”; “The great news”; “Alphabet sherbet D is dog”; “The garden party.”

Musings in Winter: Pico Iyer

“Like any traveler, I’m always looking for those experiences that are almost unique to any place, and watching films around Alaska of the skies in winter made me want to taste those unworldly showers of light in person.”

Contemporary Hungarian Art – Gyula Szabo

Below – “Little Clown”; “All At Once”; “Girl with Skull (Everlove)”; “Witches”; “Dogma Festival (Garden of Ideologies)”; “Visions.”


A Poem for Today

“Settler’s Creek”
By Patrick Hicks

You’d been gone four months by then,
but we brought you along anyway.

On my back, you rested
riding inside a wooden box.

The idea was to lay you gently
at the water’s surface,

but our clumsy hands spilled you,
and it was hard to tell whether you went head

or feet first, but it didn’t much matter
anyway, I suppose.

You would float on down the creek
until you had reached the next and so on.

My father gave a little wave and joked,
“We’ll see you back on down in Denver, Dad.”

We stood there in silence
listening to you chuckle

under the bridge and over
the first set of riffles downstream.

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

Sentient in San Francisco – 20 January 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 20 January 1875 – Jean-Francois Millet, a French painter.

Below – “The Sheepfold”; “Woman Baking Bread”; “The Sower”; “The Gleaners”; “Shepherdess Seated on a Rock”; “The Goose Girl.”

A Poem for Today

“My Mother Worries About My Hat”
by Richard Jarrette

Every spring my mother says I should buy a straw
hat so I won’t overheat in summer.

I always agree but the valley’s soon cold, and besides
my old Borsalino is nearly rain-proof.

She’s at it again, it’s August, the grapes are sugaring.
I say, ‘Okay’, and pluck a little spider from her hair—

hair so fine it can’t hold even one of her grandmother’s
tortoise shell combs.

This Date in Art History: Born 20 January 1899 – Clarice Cliff, an English ceramic artist.

Below – Six examples of Clarice Cliff’s work.

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Death: Died 20 January 1900 – John Ruskin, an English art critic, essayist, and watercolorist.

Below – Some quotes from the work of John Ruskin:

“Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty.”
“There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey.”
“The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.”
“Kind hearts are the garden, kind thoughts are the roots, kind words are the blossoms, kind deeds are the fruit.”
“I believe the first test of a truly great man is in his humility.”
“When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty small package.”
“The true end of education is not only to make the young learned, but to make them love learning; not only to make them industrious, but to make them love industry; not only to make them virtuous, but to make them love virtue; not only to make them just, but to make them hunger and thirst after justice.”
“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”

Below – John Ruskin, standing at Glenfinlas, painted by the Pre-Raphaelite artist John Everett Millais; John Ruskin: “View of Amalfi.”


Contemporary Romanian Art – Edith Torony

Below – “Junkyard Symphony XX”; “Summer Vacation Postcard”; “Vertical Absorption XIII”; “Nocturne no. 2”; “Playground”; “The Waste Land II.”

A Poem for Today

“The Paper Boy”
by Thomas R. Smith

My route lassos the outskirts,
the reclusive, the elderly, the rural—
the poor who clan in their tarpaper
islands, the old ginseng hunter

Albert Harm, who strings the “crow’s
foot” to dry over his wood stove.
Shy eyes of fenced-in horses
follow me down the rutted dirt road.

At dusk, I pedal past white birches,
breathe the smoke of spring chimneys,
my heart working uphill toward someone
hungry for word from the world.

I am Mercury, bearing news, my wings
a single-speed maroon Schwinn bike.
I sear my bright path through the twilight
to the sick, the housebound, the lonely.

Messages delivered, wire basket empty,
I part the blue darkness toward supper,
confident I’ve earned this day’s appetite,
stronger knowing I’ll be needed tomorrow.

 

Contemporary British Art – Anna Hymas

Below – “Bold Bowl”; “Fruits Still Life”; “Scottish Woodlands Painting I”; “The Edge of the Lily Pond II”; “Wild Garden I”; “Painted Lady III.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Death: Died 20 January 1962 – Robinson Jeffers, an American poet.

“Boats In A Fog”
by Robinson Jeffers
Sports and gallantries, the stage, the arts, the antics of dancers,
The exuberant voices of music,
Have charm for children but lack nobility; it is bitter earnestness
That makes beauty; the mind
Knows, grown adult.
A sudden fog-drift muffled the ocean,
A throbbing of engines moved in it,
At length, a stone’s throw out, between the rocks and the vapor,
One by one moved shadows
Out of the mystery, shadows, fishing-boats, trailing each other
Following the cliff for guidance,
Holding a difficult path between the peril of the sea-fog
And the foam on the shore granite.
One by one, trailing their leader, six crept by me,
Out of the vapor and into it,
The throb of their engines subdued by the fog, patient and
cautious,
Coasting all round the peninsula
Back to the buoys in Monterey harbor. A flight of pelicans
Is nothing lovelier to look at;
The flight of the planets is nothing nobler; all the arts lose virtue
Against the essential reality
Of creatures going about their business among the equally
Earnest elements of nature.

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

Sentient in San Francisco – 19 January 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 19 January 1839 – Paul Cezanne, a French Post-Impressionist painter.

Below – “Woman in a Green Hat”; “The Card Players”; “Les Grandes Baigneuses”; “The Overture to Tannhauser: The Artist’s Mother and Sister”; “The Basket of Apples”; “Madame Cezanne in the Greenhouse.”


Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Death: Died 19 January 1997 – James Dickey, an American poet, novelist, and author of “Deliverance.”

“The Heaven of Animals”
by James Dickey

Here they are. The soft eyes open.
If they have lived in a wood
It is a wood.
If they have lived on plains
It is grass rolling
Under their feet forever.

Having no souls, they have come,
Anyway, beyond their knowing.
Their instincts wholly bloom
And they rise.
The soft eyes open.

To match them, the landscape flowers,
Outdoing, desperately
Outdoing what is required:
The richest wood,
The deepest field.

For some of these,
It could not be the place
It is, without blood.
These hunt, as they have done,
But with claws and teeth grown perfect,

More deadly than they can believe.
They stalk more silently,
And crouch on the limbs of trees,
And their descent
Upon the bright backs of their prey

May take years
In a sovereign floating of joy.
And those that are hunted
Know this as their life,
Their reward: to walk

Under such trees in full knowledge
Of what is in glory above them,
And to feel no fear,
But acceptance, compliance.
Fulfilling themselves without pain

At the cycle’s center,
They tremble, they walk
Under the tree,
They fall, they are torn,
They rise, they walk again.

This Date in Art History: Died 19 January 1981 – Francesca Woodman, an American photographer.

Below – Untitled; “Space”; “A Woman. A Mirror. A Woman is a Mirror for a Man”; “Then at one point I did not need to translate the notes; they went directly to my hands”; Untitled; Untitled.


Remembering a Performer on the Date of Her Birth: Born 19 January 1943 – Janis Joplin, an American singer-songwriter.

Contemporary Irish Art – Therese O’Keeffe

Below – “Misty Green”; “Lavender Wood”; “Connemara Holiday”; “Blue Moon Energy”; “The Autumn Leaves”; “My Sweet Pea.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 19 January 1946 – Julian Barnes, an award-winning English novelist, short story writer, essayist, critic, and author of “The Sense of an Ending.”

Some quotes from the work of Julian Barnes:

“The greatest patriotism is to tell your country when it is behaving dishonorably, foolishly, viciously.”
“Does character develop over time? In novels, of course it does: otherwise there wouldn’t be much of a story. But in life? I sometimes wonder. Our attitudes and opinions change, we develop new habits and eccentricities; but that’s something different, more like decoration. Perhaps character resembles intelligence, except that character peaks a little later: between twenty and thirty, say. And after that, we’re just stuck with what we’ve got. We’re on our own. If so, that would explain a lot of lives, wouldn’t it? And also – if this isn’t too grand a word – our tragedy.”
“Love may not lead where we think or hope, but regardless of outcome it should be a call to seriousness and truth. If it is not that – if it is not moral in its effect – then love is no more than an exaggerated form of pleasure.”
“The more you learn, the less you fear. ‘Learn’ not in the sense of academic study, but in the practical understanding of life.”
“How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but — mainly — to ourselves.”
“We thought we were being mature when we were only being safe. We imagined we were being responsible but were only being cowardly. What we called realism turned out to be a way of avoiding things rather than facing them.”
“When you’re young you prefer the vulgar months, the fullness of the seasons. As you grow older you learn to like the in-between times, the months that can’t make up their minds. Perhaps it’s a way of admitting that things can’t ever bear the same certainty again.”

Contemporary Dutch Art – Roos Van Der Vliet

Below – “Fragments”; “Bluebell”; “Indecis”; “Storytellers XXII.”; “Unknown”; “Storytellers XVII”; “Marlies II.”


Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 19 January 1809 – Edgar Allan Poe, an American poet, short story writer, critic, and author of “The Raven.”

Some quotes from the work of Edgar Allan Poe:

“The scariest monsters are the ones that lurk within our souls.”
“The believer is happy. The doubter is wise.”
“There is no beauty without some strangeness.”
“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.”
“Those who gossip with you will gossip about you.”
“A lie travels round the world while truth is putting her boots on.”
“They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”
“All suffering originates from craving, from attachment, from desire.
“The past is a pebble in my shoe.”
“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”

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

Sentient in San Francisco – 18 January 2019

Contemporary Belgian Art – Pol Ledent: Part I of II

Below – “Snowy Mountain”; “Summer and purple flowers”; “Jupiter in Love”; “Blue still life”; “Life’s struggle”; “Roman nude in Pompeii.”


Musings in Winter: Anton Chekhov

“People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.”

Contemporary Belgian Art – Pol Ledent: Part II of II

Below – “A few aspen trees in winter”; watercolor 060108; “young girl reading”; “Nude 575111”; “red poppies at sunset”; “Old Wagon.”


Remembering a Comic Genius on the Date of His Death: Died 18 January 1952 – Curly Howard, an American vaudevillian actor, film actor, comedian, and member of the Three Stooges comedy team.

Contemporary Hungarian Art – Janos Huszti: Part I of II.

Below – “Who else?”; “She Approached Me On The Street”; “C’est La Vie”; “Lonely Woman In Flower Dress”; “Lipstick”; “Still Shining.”


Remembering a Comic Genius on the Date of His Birth: Born 18 January 1892 – Oliver Hardy, an American film actor, comedian, and member of the Laurel and Hardy comedy team.

Contemporary Hungarian Art – Janos Huszti: Part II of II.

Below – “Green Dream”; “Sideways”; “Pink Ribbon 02”; “Careless Sunbeam”; “Staring At The Wind”; “Blue Eyes.”

A Poem for Today

“The Geranium”
by Theodore Roethke

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

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

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

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

Below – Odilon Redon: “Geraniums in a Pot”

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

Sentient in San Francisco – 17 January 2019

Contemporary American Art – Michael Nauert

Below – “Crystal Cove”; “Rocks III”; “Forest Sketch”; “The Plants I”; “Some Other Kind of Picnic”; “Continuum of Magnetic Sleep.”


Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 17 January 1914 – William Stafford, an American poet: Part I of IV.

“Traveling through the Dark”
by William Stafford

Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.

By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.

My fingers touching her side brought me the reason—
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated.

The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.

I thought hard for us all—my only swerving—,
then pushed her over the edge into the river.

Contemporary Hungarian Art – Beata Balanszky-Demko: Part I of II.

Below – “Lover’s Bridge”; “Where the Sky Is Born”; “Endless Tranquility”; “Journey Through Seasons”; “Inner Light”; “Will you find me on the other shore? II.”


Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 17 January 1914 – William Stafford, an American poet: Part II of IV.

“A Ritual to Read to Each Other”

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider–
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give–yes or no, or maybe–
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

Contemporary Hungarian Art – Beata Balanszky-Demko: Part II of II.

Below – “Dusk by the sea”; “Valley of Dreams”; “Blue Lake by the River”; “Lost in Thought”; “Looking for Mars”; “Houses by the Lake.”


Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 17 January 1914 – William Stafford, an American poet: Part III of IV.

“When I Met My Muse”
by William Stafford

I glanced at her and took my glasses
off–they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. “I am your own
way of looking at things,” she said. “When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation.” And I took her hand.

Below – Alexandre Cabanel: “Poet with Muse”


Contemporary Canadian Art – Victor Tkadenko

Below – “Appolina”; “Stretch”; “Return of Europa”; “Cacti City Limit”; “Hot”; “Mummy.”


Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 17 January 1914 – William Stafford, an American poet: Part IV of IV.

“At the Un-National Monument Along the Canadian Border”
by William Stafford

This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.

Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed – or were killed – on this ground
hallowed by neglect and an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.

Below – A field on the Canada – United States border.

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

Sentient in San Francisco – 16 January 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 16 January 1901 – Arnold Bocklin, a Swiss painter: Part I of II.

Below – “Villa by the Sea”; “Isle of the Dead”; “The island of life”; “Honey Moon”; “Ocean Breakers (The Sound)”; “Venus Anadyomene.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 16 January 1928 – William Kennedy, an American novelist, journalist, author of “Ironweed,” and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of William Kennedy:

“We are only possible as what happened to us yesterday. We all change as well move.”
“. . . and what if I did drink too much? Whose business is that? Who knows how much I didn’t drink?”
“…the only brotherhood they belonged to was the one that asked that enduring question: How do I get through the next twenty minutes? They feared drys, cops, jailers, bosses, moralists, crazies, truth-tellers, and one another. they loved storytellers, liars, whores, fighters, singers, collie dogs that wagged their tails, and generous bandits. Rudy, thought Francis: he’s just a bum, but who ain’t?”
“But after awhile you stand up, wipe the frost out of your ear, go someplace to get warm, bum a nickel for coffee, and then start walkin’ toward somewheres else that ain’t near no bridge.”
“He would not chance arrest by crawling into a corner of one of the old houses on Lower Broadway where the cops swept through periodically with their mindless net. What difference did it make whether four or six or eight lost men slept under a roof and out of the wind in a house with broken stairs and holes in the floors you could fall through to death, a house that for five or maybe ten years had been inhabited only by pigeons? What difference?”
“One never knows the potential within the human breast.”

This Date in Art History: Died 16 January 1901 – Arnold Bocklin, a Swiss painter: Part II of II.

Below – “The Homecoming”; “Campagna Landscape’; “Summer Day”; ‘Lovers”; “Landscape”; ’Playing in the Waves.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 16 January 1874 – Robert W. Service, a British-Canadian poet and writer who has often been called “the Bard of the Yukon.”
I first encountered the poetry of Robert W. Service when I was a boy, and it filled my mind with images of vast Klondike landscapes, dog sleds traversing endless snows, and the Northern Lights ablaze overhead. In fact, it was a combination of reading the poetry of Service and Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild” that fostered my youthful determination to one day visit the Yukon in order to commune with the spirits of both writers. Having spent a night beside the Yukon River in the Robert W. Service Campground in Whitehorse and enjoyed a morning standing in front of the places where both he and London wrote, an important part of me feels profoundly fulfilled, which is generally the case, I suppose, when a person realizes one of his or her dreams.

The first stanza of “The Cremation of Sam McGee”
by Robert W. Service

“There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.”

Below – Ted Harrison (Canadian painter of the Yukon):
“And that very night, as we lay packed
tight in our robes beneath the snow. . .”


This Date in Art History: Died 16 January 2009 – Andrew Wyeth, an American painter: Part I of II.

Below – “Winter”; “Braids”; “Christina’s World”; “Battle Ensign”; “French Twist”; “Snow Hill.”

Musings in Winter: Frederick Lenz

“It is always easier to capture eternity in the falling snow or along the coast where the waves crash and in solitary and lonely places. It is the quiet places where it is easiest to feel eternity.”

This Date in Art History: Died 16 January 2009 – Andrew Wyeth, an American painter: Part II of II.

Below – “Day Dream”; “The Carry”; “Maga’s Daughter”; “Little Caldwells Island”; “Geraniums”; “Night Sleeper.”

A Poem for Today

“Deer Descending”
by Philip Terman

Perhaps she came down for the apples,
or was flushed out by the saws powering
the far woods, or was simply lost,
or was crossing one open space for another.

She was a figure approaching, a presence
outside a kitchen window, framed
by the leafless apple trees, the stiff blueberry bushes,
the after-harvest corn, the just-before-rain sky,

a shape only narrow bones could hold,
turning its full face upward, head tilted to one side, as if to speak.

I want my life back.

Morning settles around her like a silver coat.
Rustling branches, hooves in flight.

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

Sentient in San Francisco – 15 January 2019

Remembering an Important Photographer on the Date of His Death: Died 15 January 1896 – Mathew Brady, an American photographer and journalist best known for his scenes of the Civil War. Mathew Brady is widely regarded as the father of photojournalism.

Below – “Abraham Lincoln”; “Ulysses S. Grant”; “General Robert E. Lee”; A group of soldiers in front of Brady’s mobile darkroom”; “Antietam Dead”; “War Dead – The Battle of Gettysburg.”

Musings in Winter: Andy Goldsworthy

“Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood.”

Below – Peter Shostak: “Where There Is Snow, There Are Children Playing”

This Date in Art History: Died 15 January 1929 – George Cope, an American painter.

Below – “Delaware Water gap landscape with cattle” (1909); “Grubbs Mill” (1922); “Brandywine River landscape” (1913); “Still life with watermelon”; “Portrait of a Pig”; Untitled (1874).

A Poem for Today

“Mornings”
by Susan Aizenberg

Before the train screamed him through tunnels
to his windowless office, the idiots
he had to “sir,” my father needed a space
without us, so in a crack of light from the bathroom,
he dressed, held his shoes by two fingers,
and left us sleeping. That walk

to the diner, the last stars fading out,
the sky lightening from black to blue to white,
was his time. He walked in all weather,
let each season touch him all over,
lifted his face to rain and sun. He liked
to watch the old houses stir awake
and nod to the woman in her slippers on 27th,
smoking as she strolled her little mutt.
To step back, smooth as Fred Astaire,
from the paperboy’s wild toss.

Milk bottles sweated on doorsteps,
sweet cream on top, and once, he lifted a quart
from its wire basket, drank it down
beneath our neighbor’s winking porch light,
and left the empty on the stoop.

Contemporary Polish Art – Grazyna Smalej: Part I of II.

Below – “Milky Way II”; “Giraffe”; “Bees, Garden Variation IV”: “The ship of fools”; “Great mysteries”; “Multifloral Pollination.”


Musings in Winter: Roger Ebert

“The very fact of snow is such an amazement.”


Contemporary Polish Art – Grazyna Smalej: Part II of II.

Below – “Avalanche I”; “Peacock”; “The Climber on Everest”; “Avalanche II”; “Soloist II”; “Avalanche V.”


A Poem for Today
by Kim Dower

“I Wore This Dress Today for You, Mom,”

breezy, floral, dancing with color
soft, silky, flows as I walk
Easter Sunday and you always liked

to get dressed, go for brunch, “maybe
there’s a good movie playing somewhere?”
Wrong religion, we were not church-goers,

but New Yorkers who understood the value
of a parade down 5th Avenue, bonnets
in lavender, powder blues, pinks, hues

of spring, the hope it would bring.
We had no religion but we did have
noodle kugel, grandparents, dads

who could fix fans, reach the china
on the top shelf, carve the turkey.
That time has passed. You were the last

to go, mom, and I still feel bad I never
got dressed up for you like you wanted me to.
I had things, things to do. But today in L.A.—

hot the way you liked it—those little birds
you loved to see flitting from tree to tree—
just saw one, a twig in its mouth, preparing

a bed for its baby—might still be an egg,
I wish you were here. I’ve got a closet filled
with dresses I need to show you.

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