Died 4 July 1970 – Barnett Newman, an American painter and a major figure in abstract expressionism.
Below – “Onement 1”; “Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue?”; “Voice of Fire”; “Dionysius”; “Ulysses.”
American Art – Part II of VII: Bill Watterson
Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.” – Bill Watterson, American cartoonist and creator of “Calvin and Hobbes,” who was born 5 July 1951.
American Art – Part III of VII: Chuck Close
Born 5 July 1940 – Chuck Close, an American painter and photographer who achieved fame as a photorealist through his massive-scale portraits. In the words of one writer, “Though a catastrophic spinal artery collapse in 1988 left him severely paralyzed, he has continued to paint and produce work that remains sought after by museums and collectors.”
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Robbie Robertson
“Music should never be harmless.” – Robbie Robertson, Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist best known for his work with The Band, who was born 5 July 1944.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Polish-born painter Ewelina Koszykowska: “(She) was born a caul bearer; a highly rare condition, where a baby is born with a veil of skin over its face. People born under the caul are often gifted with exceptional talents and are believed to possess psychic abilities. Cauls are extremely sought after objects, and people have been collecting them as talismans since the Middle Ages.
In 2012, Koszykowska began work on a series of paintings which explore the relationship between the nude and the veil. Drifting like smoke across the canvas, the veil possesses a metamorphic quality affecting all it comes into contact with. As it obscures and reveals the figures, it draws our focus to the translucent and invites us to make our own conclusions on the immateriality of the material.
Koszykowska’s work creates a visual séance, opening up a dialogue with traditional depictions of the veil as a decorative object and responding to its religious connotations throughout the history of art.”
Ewelina Koszykowska lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Here is the Artist Statement of British sculptor Mary E. Kershaw: “Sculpture in stoneware and porcelain. In creating my own combination of fine art and sculpture, I use carefully developed blends of different clays to achieve my objective. Much of my inspiration comes from elements of mythology and a keen sense of history. Combining these factors, I incorporate in my work a sense of timelessness in an imaginary parallel world. The fragmented representations of times past can now exist in a contemporary state of flux, and the viewer can feel at ease with his or her own interpretation of each piece.”
Born 5 July 1885 – Andre Lhote, a French painter and sculptor.
Below – “Under Trees 1”; “The Sailor’s Meal”; “Sitting Woman”; “Gypsy Bar”; “Two Friends.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Marc Cohn
Born 5 July 1959 – Marc Cohn, a Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and musician.
Here is one critic describing the background of Canadian artist Randy Hann: “Randy was born in 1961 in Twillingate, Newfoundland. During his early teen years he moved with his family to Toronto, Ontario. After several years of living and working in Toronto, he met and married his wife Tracey. They eventually moved back to Newfoundland with their two children.
Randy can always remember being able to draw, even as a child, but he didn’t really take his ability seriously until years later. Being entirely self-taught, Randy has taken many years developing and refining his technique and style. His inspiration is found in his own family life and in the picturesque place where he lives. Both play a very important part in his work and are evident in many of his drawings and paintings.
He has interest in a wide variety of subject matter including people, wildlife, scenery, and portraits. Randy’s work has been exhibited in several solo and group shows, and on many occasions he has supported special charitable organizations by donating his work for sale or auction. His work can be found in many private collections across Canada and around the world. Randy now lives and works in Carter’s Cove, Newfoundland , where he shares his love for life, art, music, and nature with his family.”
Syrian artist Maysa Mohammed graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Damascus, Syria in 1984. In the words of one writer, “She brings with her the ethos of human endeavor and the constant search which is not hers alone.”
“Life is a horizontal fall.” – Jean Cocteau, French poet, novelist, dramatist, playwright, artist, and filmmaker best known for his novel “Les Enfants Terribles” (1929) and his movie “The Blood of a Poet,” who was born 5 July 1889.
Some quotes from Jean Cocteau:
“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.”
“Art produces ugly things which frequently become more beautiful with time. Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which always become ugly with time.”
“Mirrors should think longer before they reflect.”
“Art is science made clear.”
“The day of my birth, my death began its walk. It is walking toward me, without hurrying.”
“An artist cannot speak about his art anymore than a plant can discuss horticulture.”
“All spiritual journeys are martyrdoms.”
“One of the characteristics of the dream is that nothing surprises us in it. With no regret, we agree to live in it with strangers, completely cut off from our habits and friends.”
“It is excruciating to be an unbeliever with a spirit that is deeply religious.”
“Art is a marriage of the conscious and the unconscious.”
“At all costs the true world of childhood must prevail, must be restored; that world whose momentous, heroic, mysterious quality is fed on airy nothings, whose substance is so ill-fitted to withstand the brutal touch of adult inquisition.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Irish painter Eileen Healy: “Eileen Healy is mainly a figurative artist who works from life. A strong believer in the practice of drawing she believes its this practice of working from life that keeps her work fresh and alive.
She uses models as her source of inspiration working with various lighting, investigating the effects of light and shadow on the body and face both with nudes and portraits.
Her finished pieces mostly show the figure in isolation, She rarely uses props or themes as the main focus is mainly on the person seated or lying in front of her.”
Died 5 July 1920 – Max Klinger, a German painter and sculptor.
Below – “Portrait of a Roman Woman on a Flat Roof”; “The Judgment of Paris”; “The Evening”; “Work, Prosperity, Beauty”; “Mural at the Albers Villa.”
Died 4 July 1916 – Alan Seeger, an American poet. Seeger was killed in World War I during the Battle of the Somme while serving with the French Foreign Legion. He is best known for having written “I Have A Rendezvous with Death,” a favorite poem of President John F. Kennedy.
“I Have a Rendezvous with Death”
I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air—
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.
It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath—
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.
God knows ’twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where Love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear…
But I’ve a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.
Below – Alan Seeger in his French Foreign Legion uniform.
Argentinean artist Hugo Urlacher (born 1958) has devoted much of his career to painting the human figure, and he has received considerable international praise for his portraits.
Painter Roland Delcol (born 1942) was one of the first artists in Belgium to employ the techniques of hyperrealism.
“Nothing in the universe can travel at the speed of light, they say, forgetful of the shadow’s speed.” – Howard Nemerov, American poet and recipient of the National Book Award for Poetry, the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and the Bollingen Prize, who died 5 July 1991.
“Walking the Dog”
Two universes mosey down the street
Connected by love and a leash and nothing else.
Mostly I look at lamplight through the leaves
While he mooches along with tail up and snout down,
Getting a secret knowledge through the nose
Almost entirely hidden from my sight.
We stand while he’s enraptured by a bush
Till I can’t stand our standing any more
And haul him off; for our relationship
Is patience balancing to this side tug
And that side drag; a pair of symbionts
Contented not to think each other’s thoughts.
What else we have in common’s what he taught,
Our interest in shit. We know its every state
From steaming fresh through stink to nature’s way
Of sluicing it downstreet dissolved in rain
Or drying it to dust that blows away.
We move along the street inspecting shit.
His sense of it is keener far than mine,
And only when he finds the place precise
He signifies by sniffing urgently
And circles thrice about, and squats, and shits,
Whereon we both with dignity walk home
And just to show who’s master I write the poem.
Chinese painter Liu Gui Jun (born 1964) graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing in 1988.
American Art – Part IV of VII: Ronald Bowen
Artist Statement: “Transcendental Realism: It is my intention to present to the viewer an image that is on the one hand concrete and close to life, yet so filtered, strange and bordering on the abstract that he may be led into a state of contemplation and meditation. There is a minimum of anecdote in my painting in order to allow the viewer space to create his own story, to discover his own mystery.”
American Art – Part V of VII: Robin Purcell
Robin Purcell is a plein air and studio painter living in California and a member of the California Art Club.
American Art – Part VI of VII: Adam Caldwell
Artist Statement: “My paintings and drawings juxtapose elements of abstract expressionism and classical figuration. During my training at the California College of Arts and Crafts, I began to create collage drawings that layered disparate images on top of one another; I now use oil paint in a similar way, starting with an abstract background and then adding more photorealistic details, allowing the work to dictate its own construction. The resulting palimpsest of figures and abstract shapes represents the conflicted and paradoxical emotions that underlie my work. My paintings evoke the tensions between mind and body, self and other, present and past. They also raise questions about the nature of identity, particularly concerning issues of gender and sexuality. I am deeply concerned about the world around me, and my work reflects my reactions to social issues such as war and consumerism by contrasting images from American advertisements and popular culture with images of rituals from around the world.”
A Poem for Today
“Here in Katmandu,”
By Donald Justice
We have climbed the mountain.
There’s nothing more to do.
It is terrible to come down
To the valley
Where, amidst many flowers,
One thinks of snow,
As formerly, amidst snow,
Climbing the mountain,
One thought of flowers,
Tremulous, ruddy with dew,
In the valley.
One caught their scent coming down.
It is difficult to adjust, once down,
To the absense of snow.
Clear days, from the valley,
One looks up at the mountain.
What else is there to do?
Prayer wheels, flowers!
Let the flowers
Fade, the prayer wheels run down.
What have they to do
With us who have stood atop the snow
Atop the mountain,
Flags seen from the valley?
It might be possible to live in the valley,
To bury oneself among flowers,
If one could forget the mountain,
How, never once looking down,
Stiff, blinded with snow,
One knew what to do.
Meanwhile it is not easy here in Katmandu,
Especially when to the valley
That wind which means snow
Elsewhere, but here means flowers,
As soon it must, from the mountain.
Below – Blossoms in Katmandu; Mount Everest, Tibet side; both photographs were taken by my former student and friend Elliot Smith.
American Art – Part VII of VII: James “Kingneon” Gucwa
In the words of one critic, “James ‘Kingneon’ Guçwa is no unfamiliar name in the Southwest. A long time photo-real/hyper-real painter of the American Roadside, his famous neon paintings brought him both local and international fame. He has had scores of one man gallery exhibitions throughout the years and is in many prestigious collections.”
4 July 1776 – The United States Congress proclaims the Declaration of Independence, and America ceases to be a colony of Great Britain: “We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
Art for Independence Day – John Trumbull: “The Signing of the Declaration of Independence”
Died 4 July 1826 – Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States of America (1801-1809): “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
Art for Independence Day – Childe Hassam: “The Fourth of July 1916”
Died 4 July 1826 – John Adams, second President of the United States of America (1797-1801): “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
Art for Independence Day – Jasper Johns: “Three Flags”
Died 4 July 1831 – James Monroe, fifth President of the United States of America (1817-1825): “Preparation for war is a constant stimulus to suspicion and ill will.”
Art for Independence Day – Bart DeCeglie: “Fourth of July”
Born 4 July 1872 – Calvin Coolidge, thirtieth President of the United States of America (1923-1929): “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
American Art – Part I of V: Jane Fisher
Artist Statement: “The ideas for my paintings emerge as emotions. My task is to turn those emotions into images. I do this by playing on the viewer’s empathy, sympathy, curiosity and sense of humor. My paintings are figurative, presenting people in varying degrees of self-awareness. I am interested in how people behave alone as well as how they present themselves to others when they want to make a specific impression. These are the two main contexts I have used in exploring this; presenting people in moments of isolation, and presenting them in performance.
Ultimately, the figures are the metaphors for psychological states. Their body language conveys feelings of discomfort and vulnerability, anticipation and trepidation, solitude and melancholy. I seek out the right actors to portray these themes. In this way my work is collaborative. I rely on other people to express my ideas. In the end, however, it is my emotions that I want to convey through them.
My use of paint is at once loose and precise so as to be visually satisfying without intruding upon the image. The medium and surface work to convey a sense that what is on display is frozen in significance. The element of craft implies authorship but the lack of stylization suggests they are neutral documents. As the artist, my role is to step back to let the painting take the stage and let the viewer have the experience.”
From the American Music Archives – Part I of III: “America”
4 July 1831 – “America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee)” is sung for the first time in Boston.
From the American Music Archives – Part II of III: “America the Beautiful”
4 July 1895 – Katherine Lee Bates publishes “America the Beautiful.”
From the American Music Archives – Part III of III: The Beach Boys
4 July 1964 – “I Get Around,” by the Beach Boys, reaches the number one position on the “Billboard Hot 100.”
American Art – Part II of V: Bob Ross
Died 4 July 1995 – Bob Ross, a painter, art instructor, and host of the popular PBS series “The Joy of Painting”: “Any way you want it to be, that’s just right.”
4 July 1855 – In Brooklyn, New York, the first edition of “Leaves of Grass,” by Walt Whitman, the quintessentially American poet, is published:
From “Song of Myself”
I Celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loaf and invite my soul,
I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and
their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.
Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.
Below – Walt Whitman (1819-1892), age 37, on the frontispiece to “Leaves of Grass,” Fulton St., Brooklyn, N.Y., 1855, steel engraving by Samuel Hollyer from a lost daguerreotype by Gabriel Harrison.
Died 4 July 1997 – Charles Kuralt, an American journalist best known for his “On the Road” segments on “The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite”: “The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.”
From the American Old West: Buffalo Bill Cody
4 July 1883 – Buffalo Bill Cody presents his first Wild West Show in North Platte, Nebraska: “But the West of the old times, with its strong characters, its stern battles and its tremendous stretches of loneliness, can never be blotted from my mind.”
Below – Buffalo Bill Cody in 1875; Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull in 1885;
“Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and Congress of Rough Riders of the World” – a circus poster showing cowboys rounding up cattle and a portrait of Colonel W.F. Cody on horseback, circa 1899.
From the American History Archives – Part I of IV: The Statue of Liberty
4 July 1884 – At a ceremony in Paris, the citizens of France present the Statue of Liberty, designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, to the people of the United States of America.
Below – “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper,” June 1885, showing woodcuts of the completed statue in Paris, Bartholdi, and the statue’s interior structure;
“Unveiling of the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World” (1886), by Edward Moran;
“How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest
The seagull’s wings shall dip and pivot him,
Shedding white rings of tumult, building high
Over the chained bay waters Liberty—“ – Hart Crane
From the American History Archives – Part II of IV: Lafayette
4 July 1917 – Making their first public display of World War I, American troops march through the streets of Paris to the grave of the Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the American Revolutionary War. By his own request, Lafayette had been buried in soil brought from America. To the cheers of Parisian onlookers in front of the tomb, the American officer Colonel Charles Stanton famously declared, “Lafayette, we are here!”
Below – American General John Pershing saluting Lafayette’s tomb in Paris on 4 July 1917.
From the American History Archives – Part III of IV: The Freedom of Information Act
4 July 1966 – President Lyndon B. Johnson signs into law the Freedom of Information Act that allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States government.
From the American History Archives – Part IV of IV: Discovery
4 July 2006 – Propelled spaceward by “the rockets’ red glare,” the Space Shuttle Discovery launches on a two-week mission.
American Art – Part III of V: Leo Garel
Died 4 July 1999 – Leo Garel, an artist and illustrator: “My earliest memories are of drawing, way before I started school. As a boy, drawing was an obsession, and I was constantly with a pad and pencil.”
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Independence Day Poetry: Shirley Geok-Lin Lim
“Learning to Love America”
because it has no pure products
because the Pacific Ocean sweeps along the coastline
because the water of the ocean is cold
and because land is better than ocean
because I say we rather than they
because I live in California
I have eaten fresh artichokes
and jacaranda bloom in April and May
because my senses have caught up with my body
my breath with the air it swallows
my hunger with my mouth
because I walk barefoot in my house
because I have nursed my son at my breast
because he is a strong American boy
because I have seen his eyes redden when he is asked who he is
because he answers I don’t know
because to have a son is to have a country
because my son will bury me here
because countries are in our blood and we bleed them
because it is late and too late to change my mind
because it is time.
Independence Day Poetry: John Haines
“Fourth of July at Santa Ynez”
Under the makeshift arbor of leaves
a hot wind blowing smoke and laughter.
Music out of the renegade west,
too harsh and loud, many dark faces
moved among the sweating whites.
Wandering apart from the others,
I found an old Indian seated alone
on a bench in the flickering shade.
He was holding a dented bucket;
three crayfish, lifting themselves
from the muddy water, stirred
and scraped against the greasy metal.
The old man stared from his wrinkled
darkness across the celebration,
unblinking, as one might see
in the hooded sleep of turtles.
A smile out of the ages of gold
and carbon flashed upon his face
and vanished, called away
by the sound and the glare around him,
by the lost voice of a child
piercing that thronged solitude.
The afternoon gathered distance
and depth, divided in the shadows
that broke and moved upon us . . .
Slowly, too slowly, as if returned
from a long and difficult journey,
the old man lifted his bucket
and walked away into the sunlit crowd.
Independence Day Poetry: Walt Whitman
“I Hear America Singing”
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
Independence Day Poetry: Louis Simpson
“Lines Written Near San Francisco”
I wake and feel the city trembling.
Yes, there is something unsettled in the air
And the earth is uncertain.
And so it was for the tenor Caruso.
He couldn’t sleep—you know how the ovation
Rings in your ears, and you re-sing your part.
And then the ceiling trembled
And the floor moved. He ran into the street.
Never had Naples given him such a reception!
The air was darker than Vesuvius.
“O mamma mia,”
He cried, “I’ve lost my voice!”
At that moment the hideous voice of Culture,
Hysterical woman, thrashing her arms and legs,
Shrieked from the ruins.
At that moment everyone became a performer.
Otello and Don Giovanni
And Figaro strode on the midmost stage.
In the high window of a burning castle
Lucia raved. Black horses
Plunged through fire, dragging the wild bells.
The curtains were wrapped in smoke. Tin swords
Were melting; masks and ruffs
Burned—and the costumes of the peasants’ chorus.
Night fell. The white moon rose
And sank in the Pacific. The tremors
Passed under the waves. And Death rested.
Now, as we stand idle,
Watching the silent, bowler-hatted man,
The engineer, who writes in the smoking field;
Now as he hands the paper to a boy,
Who takes it and runs to a group of waiting men,
And they disperse and move toward their wagons,
Mules bray and the wagons move—
Wait! Before you start
(Already the wheels are rattling on the stones)
Say, did your fathers cross the dry Sierras
To build another London?
Do Americans always have to be second-rate?
Wait! For there are spirits
In the earth itself, or the air, or sea.
Where are the aboriginal American devils?
Cloud shadows, pine shadows
Falling across the bright Pacific bay …
(Already they have nailed rough boards together)
Wait only for the wind
That rustles in the eucalyptus tree.
Wait only for the light
That trembles on the petals of a rose.
(The mortar sets—banks are the first to stand)
Wait for a rose, and you may wait forever.
The silent man mops his head and drinks
Cold lemonade. “San Francisco
Is a city second only to Paris.”
Every night, at the end of America
We taste our wine, looking at the Pacific.
How sad it is, the end of America!
While we were waiting for the land
They’d finished it—with gas drums
On the hilltops, cheap housing in the valleys
Where lives are mean and wretched.
But the banks thrive and the realtors
Rejoice—they have their America.
Still, there is something unsettled in the air.
Out there on the Pacific
There’s no America but the Marines.
Whitman was wrong about the People,
But right about himself. The land is within.
At the end of the open road we come to ourselves.
Though mad Columbus follows the sun
Into the sea, we cannot follow.
We must remain, to serve the returning sun,
And to set tables for death.
For we are the colonists of Death—
Not, as some think, of the English.
And we are preparing thrones for him to sit,
Poems to read, and beds
In which it may please him to rest.
This is the land
The pioneers looked for, shading their eyes
Against the sun—a murmur of serious life.
American Art – Part IV of V: Eyvind Earle
In the words of one writer, “Eyvind Earle (born in New York City in 1916) enjoyed a prolific career spanning 60 years. From the time of his first one-man show in France when Earle was just fourteen, the artist’s fame steadily grew. The Metropolitan Museum of Art purchased one of Eyvind Earles’ paintings for their permanent collection. In 1951 Eyvind Earle joined Walt Disney Studios and was responsible for the styling, background and color for Sleeping Beauty. Eyvind Earle’s painting successively synthesizes incongruent aspects into a distinctive style.”
Below – “Ocean Cliffs 1991”; “Blue Big Sur”; “Seven White Horses”; “Stardust Blue PP”; “Spring”; “Above the Sea”; “Quiet Pasture”; “The Wave.”
Independence Day Poetry: Tony Hoagland
Then one of the students with blue hair and a tongue stud
Says that America is for him a maximum-security prison
Whose walls are made of Radio Shacks and Burger Kings, and MTV episodes
Where you can’t tell the show from the commercials,
And as I consider how to express how full of shit I think he is,
He says that even when he’s driving to the mall in his Isuzu
Trooper with a gang of his friends, letting rap music pour over them
Like a boiling Jacuzzi full of ballpeen hammers, even then he feels
Buried alive, captured and suffocated in the folds
Of the thick satin quilt of America
And I wonder if this is a legitimate category of pain,
or whether he is just spin doctoring a better grade,
And then I remember that when I stabbed my father in the dream last night,
It was not blood but money
That gushed out of him, bright green hundred-dollar bills
Spilling from his wounds, and—this is the weird part—,
He gasped “Thank god—those Ben Franklins were
Clogging up my heart—
And so I perish happily,
Freed from that which kept me from my liberty”—
Which was when I knew it was a dream, since my dad
Would never speak in rhymed couplets,
And I look at the student with his acne and cell phone and phony ghetto clothes
And I think, “I am asleep in America too,
And I don’t know how to wake myself either,”
And I remember what Marx said near the end of his life:
“I was listening to the cries of the past,
When I should have been listening to the cries of the future.”
But how could he have imagined 100 channels of 24-hour cable
Or what kind of nightmare it might be
When each day you watch rivers of bright merchandise run past you
And you are floating in your pleasure boat upon this river
Even while others are drowning underneath you
And you see their faces twisting in the surface of the waters
And yet it seems to be your own hand
Which turns the volume higher?
Independence Day Poetry: Miller Williams
“Of History and Hope”
We have memorized America,
how it was born and who we have been and where.
In ceremonies and silence we say the words,
telling the stories, singing the old songs.
We like the places they take us. Mostly we do.
The great and all the anonymous dead are there.
We know the sound of all the sounds we brought.
The rich taste of it is on our tongues.
But where are we going to be, and why, and who?
The disenfranchised dead want to know.
We mean to be the people we meant to be,
to keep on going where we meant to go.
But how do we fashion the future? Who can say how
except in the minds of those who will call it Now?
The children. The children. And how does our garden grow?
With waving hands—oh, rarely in a row—
and flowering faces. And brambles, that we can no longer allow.
Who were many people coming together
cannot become one people falling apart.
Who dreamed for every child an even chance
cannot let luck alone turn doorknobs or not.
Whose law was never so much of the hand as the head
cannot let chaos make its way to the heart.
Who have seen learning struggle from teacher to child
cannot let ignorance spread itself like rot.
We know what we have done and what we have said,
and how we have grown, degree by slow degree,
believing ourselves toward all we have tried to become—
just and compassionate, equal, able, and free.
All this in the hands of children, eyes already set
on a land we never can visit—it isn’t there yet—
but looking through their eyes, we can see
what our long gift to them may come to be.
If we can truly remember, they will not forget.
Independence Day Poetry: Lawrence Ferlinghetti
“I Am Waiting”
I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder
I am waiting for the Second Coming
and I am waiting
for a religious revival
to sweep thru the state of Arizona
and I am waiting
for the Grapes of Wrath to be stored
and I am waiting
for them to prove
that God is really American
and I am waiting
to see God on television
piped onto church altars
if only they can find
the right channel
to tune in on
and I am waiting
for the Last Supper to be served again
with a strange new appetizer
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder
I am waiting for my number to be called
and I am waiting
for the Salvation Army to take over
and I am waiting
for the meek to be blessed
and inherit the earth
and I am waiting
for forests and animals
to reclaim the earth as theirs
and I am waiting
for a way to be devised
to destroy all nationalisms
without killing anybody
and I am waiting
for linnets and planets to fall like rain
and I am waiting for lovers and weepers
to lie down together again
in a new rebirth of wonder
I am waiting for the Great Divide to be crossed
and I am anxiously waiting
for the secret of eternal life to be discovered
by an obscure general practitioner
and I am waiting
for the storms of life
to be over
and I am waiting
to set sail for happiness
and I am waiting
for a reconstructed Mayflower
to reach America
with its picture story and tv rights
sold in advance to the natives
and I am waiting
for the lost music to sound again
in the Lost Continent
in a new rebirth of wonder
I am waiting for the day
that maketh all things clear
and I am awaiting retribution
for what America did
to Tom Sawyer
and I am waiting
for Alice in Wonderland
to retransmit to me
her total dream of innocence
and I am waiting
for Childe Roland to come
to the final darkest tower
and I am waiting
to grow live arms
at a final disarmament conference
in a new rebirth of wonder
I am waiting
to get some intimations
by recollecting my early childhood
and I am waiting
for the green mornings to come again
youth’s dumb green fields come back again
and I am waiting
for some strains of unpremeditated art
to shake my typewriter
and I am waiting to write
the great indelible poem
and I am waiting
for the last long careless rapture
and I am perpetually waiting
for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn
to catch each other up at last
and I am awaiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder
Independence Day Poetry: Jim Harrison
“Poem #25,” from “After Ikkyu”
Talked to the God of Hosts about the Native American
situation and he said everything’s a matter of time,
and though it’s small comfort the ghosts have already
nearly destroyed us with the ugliness we’ve become,
that in a few hidden glades in North America
half-human bears still dance in imperfect circles.
American Art – Part V of V: Russell Chatham
In the words of one writer, “Russell Chatham was born in San Francisco on October 27, 1939. He lived in the city until 1949 when his family moved to San Anselmo, where he spent the next twelve years. For the following eleven years, he worked and lived in Marshall, San Rafael, San Anselmo, Black Point, Bolinas, and Nicasio, earning his living as a sign painter and cabinetmaker slash carpenter. In the spring of 1972 he moved to Livingston, Montana. As a painter and author, Chatham is self-taught. He is the grandson of the great landscape painter Gottardo Piazzoni. He began exhibiting formally in 1958, and since then has had nearly four hundred one man shows at museums, art centers, private galleries, schools, colleges and universities not only throughout the west in places like Sun Valley, Aspen, Santa Fe and Denver, but also in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, San Francisco and Los Angeles. His work has also been exhibited in Europe and Asia. Chatham began printmaking in 1980, and today is regarded as one of the world’s foremost lithographers. Because of his work in lithography, which he developed in order to have something for those of ordinary means, it is estimated Chatham’s original prints are in the hands of at least thirty thousand individuals.”
Below – “Snow Flurries”; “Spring Morning”; “Suce Creek”; “Winter Moonrise”; “Pond in Fading Light”; “Colorado Suite”; Spring Hayfield”; “Winter Light.”
4 July 1845 – In a ringing affirmation of Independence Day, Henry David Thoreau moves into the cabin he built near Walden Pond: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”
In honor of the literary, philosophical, and spiritual journey that Henry David Thoreau began on this date 170 years ago, I am asking readers to join me in designating today “Walden Day.” I do this not merely to honor one of America’s greatest writers but also to invite everyone to follow Thoreau’s example and make the determination to live more deliberately. By way of encouragement, consider this quote from “Walden”: “I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
I dunno yer highfalutin’ words, but here’s th’ way it seems
When I’m peekin’ out th’ winder o’ my little House o Dreams;
I’ve been lookin’ ‘roun’ this big ol’ world, as bizzy as a hive,
An’ I want t’ tell ye, neighbor mine, it’s good t’ be alive.
I’ve ben settin’ here, a-thinkin’ hard, an’ say, it seems t’ me
That this big ol’ world is jest about as good as it kin be,
With its starvin’ little babies, an’ its battles, an’ its strikes,
An’ its profiteers, an’ hold-up men—th’ dawggone little tykes!
An’ its hungry men that fought fer us, that nobody employs.
An’ I think, “Why, shucks, we’re jest a lot o’ grown-up little boys!”
An’ I settle back, an’ light my pipe, an’ reach fer Mother’s hand,
An’ I wouldn’t swap my peace o’ mind fer nothin’ in the land;
Fer this world uv ours, that jest was made fer folks like me an’ you
Is a purty good ol’ place t’ live—say, neighbor, ain’t it true?
Artist Statement: “I create large scale figure paintings of LGBTQ-identified women, most recently focusing on those who have impacted my life in some way. My work toys with the concept of glorification vs. objectification vs. modification. I incorporate various facets of nature in to my work in order to comment on the mutability of life, gender and beauty. I have come to focus on painting as a medium because of its primarily masculine history in the western art canon.
I am dedicated to my studio practice and intend to continue making art throughout the course of my life, no matter what path my career may take. In the future, I see my artwork marking a sexually fluid presence and stimulating dialogue in both the feminist and mainstream art worlds.”
“A piano store looks like a funeral parlor for music.” – Ramon Gomez de la Serna, a Spanish writer and dramatist, who was born 3 July 1888.
In the words of one critic, “Ramón Gómez de la Serna was especially known for ‘Greguerias’ – a short form of poetry that roughly corresponds to the one-liner in comedy. The Gregueria is especially able to grant a new and often humorous perspective.”
Some of Ramon Gomez de la Serna’s Greguerias:
“Garlic practically drops onto amateur chefs.”
“How strange life is! Always, the brush is left, but the glue is gone.”
“To prepare a bath carefully is like brewing good tea.”
“The violin bow sews, like needle and thread, notes and souls, souls and notes.”
“The spine is the cane we swallow at birth.”
“‘Ditto’ is a good pseudonym for plagiarism.”
“That unique, passionate fruit, the pomegranate, holds life ajar so we can see it.”
“The train seems like the firecracker of the landscape.”
“The moon of the skyscrapers is not the same as the moon of the horizon.”
“Photographs plant us in the most unnatural poses, while pretending that they are the most natural.”
“Plumes of grain tickle the wind.”
“The moon is a little mirror in which the nearby playful and impertinent sun reflects as he peeps over the balcony.”
“The spade is the ultimate friend of man: at first in the sandbox, at last in the grave.”
“Haikus are poetic telegrams.”
“An orator is a wind instrument that one plays solo.”
“Dogs anxiously search for a dream they had in a past life.”
“The moon is the bank of ruined metaphors.”
“The moon is the eye of an ox on the boat of the night.”
“The accordion juices musical lemons.”
“Nostalgia: neuralgia of the memories.”
“The edges of the fog are rags.”
Mexican painter Marco Zamudio (born 1973) lives and works in Mexico City.
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Brian Jones
“We just sort of provided the right thing at the right time. We came along with a very raw sort of music where everything was rather sweet.” – Brian Jones, English musician and the founder and original bandleader of the Rolling Stones, who died 3 July 1969.
Here is a comment on Jones by original Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman: “He formed the band. He chose the members. He named the band. He chose the music we played. He got us gigs. … Very influential, very important, and then slowly lost it – highly intelligent – and just kind of wasted it and blew it all away.”
Here is one critic describing the backbround of Dutch painter Inge Koetzier Van Hooff: “Having lived in Groet (Bergen, Holland) on the Dutch coast – famous for its bright light as even Picasso came to paint here\ – Inge exchanged Holland for a nomadic life in a camper van with her husband and their three children.
Her travels have provided the perfect background for the expression of her twin passions, people & art. Inge studied at the Utrecht Art School and she studied Cultural Anthropology at the Amsterdam University. Travelling around she is always training the eye, observing, and concentrating on people in their various environments.
Inge sees something remarkable in everyone. She knows how to show the characteristics of a person by painting just the necessary essential elements and letting the model, the hands and feet, posture, or movement of the body speak for itself.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Jim Morrison
“I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activity that seems to have no meaning.” – Jim Morrison, American singer-songwriter, poet, and lead singer of The Doors, who died 3 July 1971.
Spanish painter Enrique Santana (born 1947) studied at the Circle of Fine Arts in Madrid.
“We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered.” – Tom Stoppard, Czech-born British playwright and author of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” who was born 3 July 1937.
Some quotes from the work of Tom Stoppard:
“Because children grow up, we think a child’s purpose is to grow up. But a child’s purpose is to be a child. Nature doesn’t disdain what lives only for a day. It pours the whole of itself into the each moment. We don’t value the lily less for not being made of flint and built to last. Life’s bounty is in its flow, later is too late. Where is the song when it’s been sung? The dance when it’s been danced? It’s only we humans who want to own the future, too. We persuade ourselves that the universe is modestly employed in unfolding our destination. We note the haphazard chaos of history by the day, by the hour, but there is something wrong with the picture. Where is the unity, the meaning, of nature’s highest creation? Surely those millions of little streams of accident and willfulness have their correction in the vast underground river which, without a doubt, is carrying us to the place where we’re expected! But there is no such place, that’s why it’s called utopia. The death of a child has no more meaning than the death of armies, of nations. Was the child happy while he lived? That is a proper question, the only question. If we can’t arrange our own happiness, it’s a conceit beyond vulgarity to arrange the happiness of those who come after us.”
“Look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.”
“It is a defect of God’s humor that he directs our hearts everywhere but to those who have a right to them.”
“I mean, if Beethoven had been killed in a plane crash at twenty-two, the history of music would have been very different. As would the history of aviation, of course.”
“Life is a gamble, at terrible odds. If it were a bet you wouldn’t take it.”
“Whatever became of the moment when one first knew about death? There must have been one, a moment, in childhood, when it first occurred to you that you don’t go on forever. It must have been shattering, stamped into one’s memory. And yet I can’t remember it. It never occurred to me at all. We must be born with an intuition of mortality. Before we know the word for it, before we know that there are words, out we come, bloodied and squalling…with the knowledge that for all the points of the compass, there’s only one direction and time is its only measure.”
In the words of one critic, “Oswaldo Guayasamín (1919 -1999), an Ecuadorian master painter and sculptor, was born in Quito July 6th, 1919 to a native father and Mestiza mother. His family was poor and his father worked as a carpenter for most of his life. He was the first child of ten children in his family. From a young age he showed a love of art and enjoyed drawing caricatures of his teachers and the children with whom he played.
Guayasamin attended the School of Fine Arts in Quito as a painter and sculptor. While there, Guayasamin’s best friend died during a demonstration in Quito. This devastating incident helped form his vision about the people with whom he lived and the society in which he lived.”
Died 3 July 1974 – John Crowe Ransom, an American poet and teacher.
“Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter”
There was such speed in her little body,
And such lightness in her footfall,
It is no wonder her brown study
Astonishes us all.
Her wars were bruited in our high window.
We looked among orchard trees and beyond
Where she took arms against her shadow,
Or harried unto the pond
The lazy geese, like a snow cloud
Dripping their snow on the green grass,
Tricking and stopping, sleepy and proud,
Who cried in goose, Alas,
For the tireless heart within the little
Lady with rod that made them rise
From their noon apple-dreams and scuttle
Goose-fashion under the skies!
But now go the bells, and we are ready,
In one house we are sternly stopped
To say we are vexed at her brown study,
Lying so primly propped.
Below – Camille Pissarro: “Little Goose Girl”
Died 3 July 1994 – Felix Kelly, a New Zealand-born painter, graphic designer, and illustrator who lived the majority of his life in the United Kingdom.
British Art – Part I of III: William Mills
Born 3 July 1923 – William Mills, an English painter.
From the American Old West: The James-Younger Gang
3 July 1871 – Four members of the James-Younger gang rob a bank in Cordyon, Iowa, escaping with between $6,000 and $10,000. In the words of one historian, “The four men were Jesse and Frank James, Cole Younger, and newcomer Clell Miller, a former Bloody Bill guerrilla and trusted friend of the James and Younger brothers. The four rode up to the Ocobock Brothers’ Bank. All four robbers entered the bank and left their horses tied up outside. Once inside, they found only the cashier in the building. All four robbers drew their pistols and aimed them at the cashier. One of the robbers handed the cashier a wheat sack. The cashier was ordered to put all the money in the bank into the sack. The cashier did as he was told. After they had their money, the robbers bound and gagged the cashier. The four robbers went outside and mounted their horses. The rode down the street to the local church. Jesse James yelled to the congregation that he and his friends had just robbed the Ocobock Brothers’ Bank. Most of the congregation thought they were goofing around. The four robbers then left the town. A while later, someone entered the bank and found the cashier. He was untied. After this, for the first of many times, the Pinkerton Detective Agency was hired to capture the gang.
Below – The Ocobock Brothers’ Bank in 1871.
British Art – Part II of III: Diarmuid Kelley
In the words of one writer, “Born in Stirling in 1972, Diarmuid Kelley grew up in the north of England. He studied Fine Art at Newcastle University, graduating in 1995. He was the youngest artist ever to win the prestigious Nat West Art Prize at the age of 23, in the same year, he graduated from Newcastle. He went on to study for a Masters degree at Chelsea College of Art and Design.”
British Art – Part III of III: Gerard M. Burns
Here is the Artist Statement of Scottish painter Gerard M. Burns: “I believe that there is a thirst out there for an art that people can relate to. They are tired of being embarrassed by feeling they don’t understand art. The fact is that most people do have an intuitive feel for what is “good and bad” in art. The problem is that most of what is now called contemporary art is so self indulgent and trivial that it is of no consequence to anyone other than to the artist who created it. In my work, I think people see something which they can relate to – instantly. Only then, once the viewer’s imagination has been captured, is there any hope that one can convey or communicate any underlying theme or message.”
From the American History Archives – Part I of II: Little Crow
3 July 1863 – Little Crow (whose name Taoyateduta actually means “His Red Nation”), a Santee Sioux Chief, is shot and killed by a settler. In the words of one historian, “Little Crow is notable for his role in the negotiation of the Treaties of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota of 1851, in which he agreed to the movement of his band of the Dakota to a reservation near the Minnesota River in exchange for goods and certain other rights. However, the government reneged on its promises to provide food and annuities to the tribe, and Little Crow was forced to support the decision of a Dakota war council in 1862 to pursue war to drive out the whites from Minnesota. Little Crow participated in the Dakota War of 1862, but retreated in September 1862 before the war’s conclusion in December 1862.”
Below – Taoyateduta
Here is one critic describing the artistry of sculptor Kylo Yu Chua: “A modernist abstract sculptor from the Philippines, Chua was born into a Chinese family in Richmond, British Columbia in 1988- a year considered within Chinese circles to belong to the Dragon zodiac. The interplay of Chinese traditions and western influences in the Philippines cultivated an aesthetic hybridity in Kylo Chua’s cast sculptures during his college years. In 2006, while studying at the Ateneo de Manila University under a Bachelor of Fine Arts Program, Chua began creating elegant pieces that resembled a continuous flow of liquid white. There exists a purity and sensuality in his artistry that permeates the visual appreciation of his patrons.”
From the American History Archives – Part II of II: The Gettysburg Reunion
3 July 1913 – The Gettysburg Reunion, an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, takes place on 29 June – 4 July 1913 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. On 3 July, Confederate veterans reenacted Pickett’s Charge, and upon reaching the point of their highest advance on Cemetery Ridge, they were greeted with handshakes by a group of Union survivors of the battle. In the words of President Woodrow Wilson, “We have found one another again as brothers and comrades in arms, enemies no longer, generous friends rather, our battles long past, the quarrel forgotten—except that we shall not forget the splendid valor.”
Below – Pennsylvania and Virginia veterans shake hands at the reunion.
American Art – Part II of III: Tor Lundvall
Artist Statement: “My paintings are centered around three basic elements – the landscape, memory and imagination. I usually start a painting from some event in nature. Once a basic surface is established, my creative instincts kick in and a new direction is taken. Nothing is ever planned in advance. Once the paint hits the canvas, figures and landscapes are gradually pulled out of the crude mess until there is finally a sense of resolution. I never paint from photographs which I consider to be a pointless and obvious method.”
A Poem for Today
“A Blessing for Wedding,”
By Jane Hirshfield
Today when persimmons ripen
Today when fox-kits come out of their den into snow
Today when the spotted egg releases its wren song
Today when the maple sets down its red leaves
Today when windows keep their promise to open
Today when fire keeps its promise to warm
Today when someone you love has died
or someone you never met has died
Today when someone you love has been born
or someone you will not meet has been born
Today when rain leaps to the waiting of roots in their dryness
Today when starlight bends to the roofs of the hungry and tired
Today when someone sits long inside his last sorrow
Today when someone steps into the heat of her first embrace
Today, let this light bless you
With these friends let it bless you
With snow-scent and lavender bless you
Let the vow of this day keep itself wildly and wholly
Spoken and silent, surprise you inside your ears
Sleeping and waking, unfold itself inside your eyes
Let its fierceness and tenderness hold you
Let its vastness be undisguised in all your days
Below – Lavender Field in Woodinville, Washington, near the site of my son’s recent wedding.
American Art – Part III of III: Vassia Alaykova
Artist Statement: “I try to find a correlation between the present day and history, between reality and imagination, simplicity and complexity, order and chaos, science and art. On the canvas inside of the story, geometric shapes dance with organic ones creating a chaotic harmony. Simplicity turns complex on the other hand complexity morphs into an infinite simplicity thus reaching an ultimate sophistication. Creativity is the process of discovering and connecting to the dark side of one’s spirit, where there is a constant struggle to find the light hidden behind the idea of life. Life as a metaphor for happiness. One can only express the complexity and deepness of human emotions and feelings through color, that’s why I use a lot of it. Color is like music, like poetry, it get’s into your soul, washing away the monotony of every day life.”
Susanne Schireson has a B.F.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.F.A from Indiana University.
From the Music Archives: Paul Williams
Born 2 July 1939 – Paul Williams, American vocalist and one of the founding members and original lead singer of The Temptations.
Italian Art – Part I of II: Giuseppi Celi
In the words of one writer, Italian painter Giuseppe Celi “started his studies at the Art School of Reggio Calabria and completes them in Catanzaro, where successively he attends the Free School of the Nude by the Academy of Art. He gradually extends his education with new experiences, attending the International Courses of Lithography at the Institute of Art in Urbino and Courses of Experimental Chalcography “Goetz” at the International School of Grafics in Venice.”
From the Cinema Archives: “Plan 9 from Outer Space”
“Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future. You are interested in the unknown… the mysterious. The unexplainable. That is why you are here. And now, for the first time, we are bringing to you, the full story of what happened on that fateful day. We are bringing you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimony, of the miserable souls, who survived this terrifying ordeal. The incidents, the places. My friend, we cannot keep this a secret any longer. Let us punish the guilty. Let us reward the innocent. My friend, can your heart stand the shocking facts of grave robbers from outer space?” – From “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” a science fiction movie released on 2 July 1959 that was written and directed by Ed Wood and which is one of the worst films in the history of cinema. Want proof? Just click on the link below.
Italian Art – Part II of II: Francesca Strino
Here is one critic describing the background of Italian artist Francesca Strino: “Francesca was born in 1979 in Naples, Italy. Francesca Strino’s powerful paintings reflect the influence of her father, Maestro Gianni Strino. She graduated from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Napoli with specialisation in sculpture and portraiture. Her potential as an artist was soon recognised and she was invited to submit her work for an exhibition held in 2002 celebrating the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Accademia di Belle Arti di Napoli.”
From the American History Archives: Jack Dempsey
2 July 1921 – Jack Dempsey knocks out Georges Carpentier in the fourth round to retain his Heavyweight Champion title. The fight was the first million dollar gate boxing match.
Here is one critic describing the background of Spanish painter Alvar Sunol Munoz-Ramos: “(He) was born on January 20, 1935 in Montgat, a Catalan fishing village on the outskirts of Barcelona, Spain. Sunol Alvar grew up on the sunny Mediterranean coast with his father Tomas, mother Antonia and his older brother and sister, Jordi and Amadea. Showing a great artistic talent as a youth, he attended the prestigious Sant Jordi Art School in Barcelona at age 16.
At age 18, Alvar won the Alhambra de Granada grant, a summer scholarship that allowed him to travel and paint throughout Spain. This was the birth of Alvar’s style and the laying of the technical foundation that would accompany him over the following years. Alvar returned home and entered a painting in competition for the Young Painter’s Prize sponsored by the City of Barcelona. He won the Grand Prize and the painting was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in Barcelona for its permanent collection.”
Nobel Laureate – Part I of III: Hermann Hesse
“Whoever wants music instead of noise, joy instead of pleasure, soul instead of gold, creative work instead of business, passion instead of foolery, finds no home in this trivial world of ours.” – Hermann Hesse, German poet, novelist, author of “Steppenwolf,” painter, and recipient of the 1946 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his inspired writings which, while growing in boldness and penetration, exemplify the classical humanitarian ideals and high qualities of style,” who was born 2 July 1887.
Some quotes from the work of Hermann Hesse:
“Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, be fortified by it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”
“Learn what is to be taken seriously and laugh at the rest.”
“Our mind is capable of passing beyond the dividing line we have drawn for it. Beyond the pairs of opposites of which the world consists, other, new insights begin.”
“There’s no reality except the one contained within us. That’s why many people live an unreal life. They take images outside them for reality and never allow the world within them to assert itself.”
“I believe that for all its patent absurdities life nevertheless has a meaning. I resign myself to being unable to find this ultimate meaning with my reason, but I am prepared to serve it even if it means sacrificing myself.
Such faith cannot be commanded; we cannot force it on ourselves. We can only experience it. Those who cannot do so seek faith in the church or in science or in patriotism or socialism, in some quarter where there are ready-made moralities, programs and prescriptions.”
“Like art and poetry, the religions and myths are an attempt on the part of mankind to express in images the ineffable, which you are trying in vain to translate into shallow rationality.” ”
“Freedom from conventions is not synonymous with inner freedom. For the higher type of men, life in the world without rigidly formulated faith is not easier, but far more difficult because they themselves must create and choose the obligations that would govern their lives.”
“We shall lose nothing by leaving the manuals, surveys, and histories of philosophies unread; any work by an original thinker gives us more, for it compels us to think for ourselves, trains and enhances our consciousness.”
Below – A few paintings by Hermann Hesse: “Casa Bodmer”; “View to Italy”; “Certenego”; “Sunflowers in Montagnola”; “Mountain Village in Ticino.”
The paintings of Chilean artist Daniel Alejandro Rojas Espinoza have won many awards.
Nobel Laureate – Part II of III: Ernest Hemingway
“But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” – Ernest Hemingway, American writer, journalist, author of “In Our Time” and “The Sun Also Rises,” and recipient of the 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in ‘The Old Man and the Sea,’ and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style,” who died 2 July 1961.
Some quotes from the work of Ernest Hemingway:
“Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.”
“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”
“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”
“All thinking men are atheists.”
“I drink to make other people more interesting.”
“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”
“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”
“Never confuse movement with action.”
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
Russian painter Andrei Belichenko was born in Kazakhstan in 1974.
Nobel Laureate – Part III of III: Wislawa Szymborska
“I like being near the top of a mountain. One can’t get lost here.” – Wislawa Szymborska, Polish poet known as “the Mozart of Poetry,” essayist, translator, and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality,” who was born 2 July 1923.
Despite the geologists’ knowledge and craft,
mocking magnets, graphs, and maps—
in a split second the dream
piles before us mountains as stony
as real life.
And since mountains, then valleys, plains
with perfect infrastructures.
Without engineers, contractors, workers,
bulldozers, diggers, or supplies—
raging highways, instant bridges,
thickly populated pop-up cities.
Without directors, megaphones, and cameramen—
crowds knowing exactly when to frighten us
and when to vanish.
Without architects deft in their craft,
without carpenters, bricklayers, concrete pourers—
on the path a sudden house just like a toy,
and in it vast halls that echo with our steps
and walls constructed out of solid air.
Not just the scale, it’s also the precision—
a specific watch, an entire fly,
on the table a cloth with cross-stitched flowers,
a bitten apple with teeth marks.
And we—unlike circus acrobats,
conjurers, wizards, and hypnotists—
can fly unfledged,
we light dark tunnels with our eyes,
we wax eloquent in unknown tongues,
talking not with just anyone, but with the dead.
And as a bonus, despite our own freedom,
the choices of our heart, our tastes,
we’re swept away
by amorous yearnings for—
and the alarm clock rings.
So what can they tell us, the writers of dream books,
the scholars of oneiric signs and omens,
the doctors with couches for analyses—
if anything fits,
and for one reason only,
that in our dreamings,
in their shadowings and gleamings,
in their multiplings, inconceivablings,
in their haphazardings and widescatterings
at times even a clear-cut meaning
may slip through.
Below – Harry Jacques: “Haitian Dreams”
Born 2 July 1904 – Gerarda “Meik” Rueter, a Dutch sculptor.
Below – “Water Nymph with Young Man”; “Mother and Child”; “Angel Musician.”
British Art – Part I of IV: Andrew Talbot
Here is part of the Artist Statement of English painter Andrew Talbot (born 1972): “(I have) a passion for paint and an obsession with light. All of my paintings, I hope, are tied together by my continued passion for the effect of light has on a subject. I strive to depict the beauty and reality of everyday objects, people and those special places we know. My aim is to depict subjects which people want to reach out and grab or to step inside and feel the sunlight on their face. It is the goal of trying to master this reality with a brush and a dozen or so oil pigments, that is the challenge of painting to me.”
“Everyone has ocean’s to fly, if they have the heart to do it. Is it reckless? Maybe. But what do dreams know of boundaries?” – Amelia Earhart, American aviation pioneer and author, who went missing 2 July 1937. She was declared deceased 5 January 1939.
In the words of one historian, “Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She received the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for this record. She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences, and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots. Earhart joined the faculty of the Purdue University aviation department in 1935 as a visiting faculty member to counsel women on careers and help inspire others with her love for aviation.
During an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937 in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10 Electra, Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island. Fascination with her life, career and disappearance continues to this day.”
Some quotes from the work of Amelia Earhart:
“Experiment! Meet new people. That’s better than any college education . . . By adventuring; about, you become accustomed to the unexpected. The unexpected then becomes what it really is . . . the inevitable.”
“No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.”
“Never interrupt someone doing what you said could not be done.”
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”
“Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace,
The soul that knows it not, knows no release,
From little things;
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear
Nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear
The sound of wings.”
British Art – Part II of IV: Aron Meynell
Here is one critic describing the artistry of British painter Aron Meynell: “Aron Meynell’s work portrays the quiet and uncertain world of abandoned figures in insecure eerie environments, alongside the discovery of beauty and comfort within them. Meynell uses sleep and hibernation as a place for his characters to process discomforts, and to discover treasures left behind from their decayed and neglected existence. The characters in Aron’s narratives are no longer concerned with their exposed skin or the feelings that isolation can bring; they are instead released from their impurities, finding freedom in the unknown. ”
Meynell was born in Birmingham, England, but was raised in Detroit, Michigan. He received his bachelors in fine art at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. Aron continued his education at the Academy of Art San Francisco where he received his masters in fine art.”
“He went and came
And asked each thing
Its name.” – “Coral,” by Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, Portuguese poet and writer, who died 2 July 2004. “Coral” was her cat.
The pines moan when the wind passes
The sun beats on the earth and the stones burn.
Fantastic sea gods stroll at the edge of the world
Crusted with salt and brilliant as fishes.
Sudden wild birds hurled
Against the light into the sky like stones
Mount and die vertically
Their bodies taken by space.
The waves butt as if to smash the light
Their brows ornate with columns.
And an ancient nostalgia of being a mast
Sways in the pines.
British Art – Part III of IV: Lesley Humphrey
Here is the Artist Statement of British painter Lesley Humphrey, who lives and works in Texas: “It is my belief that we can all learn to paint, but it is in the silent, authentic, beautiful recesses of our minds and souls where the masterpiece is born. True artistic skill, the courage to interpret the images of that place, and bringing them into the world for you to experience, is my highest intention.”
A Poem for Today
“Comings and Goings,”
By Glenna Luschei
when a university student
she might leave her desk
and a chair, a bookcase outside her cave
with a sign, “Take me.”
And who could resist
heat radiating over furniture
like a mirage? You hoist
an old Victrola into your pickup
and ratchet up a new song.
You start that life in the West,
invent a past, and when that tune
winds down, it’s okay to put out,
What do we have in life
but comings and goings?
Below – Todd Baxter: “Patina”
British Art – Part IV of IV: Paul Hedley
Here is one critic describing the background of British artist Paul Hedley: “Born in 1947, Paul Hedley was brought up in Chatham, Kent. He attended Medway College of Art from 1966-68, and Maidstone College of Art 1968-71, and was awarded the Diploma in Art and Design. He received a David Murray Landscape Scholarship in the summer of 1971, and was a prizewinner in the 1976 Camden Painting Competition.
Paul Hedley has been painting ever since he can remember, although his style has changed and developed over the years. He was fortunate to have studied at Medway and Maidstone Art Colleges, where he received a thorough grounding in traditional techniques of drawing and painting. With life and art inextricably linked, Paul paints with compulsion, subtly influenced by his environment and daily experiences. He has always admired the work of the great French painters Edgar Degas and Édouard Vuillard and their influence can be detected, to some extent, in his current subject matter of figures in interiors. Paul is technically masterful as a painter and draughtsman; he works with a limited palette of colours thereby allowing him to emphasis tonal values and relationships within the painting. His paintings are emotionally uncomplicated and unpretentious; they are a distillation of a moment in time.
Paul likes to work in natural light, from sketches and photos often listening to classical music. He starts by creating numerous preliminary sketches and when he is happy he starts to lay in tone and colour, generally working in acrylic on canvas. His drawings are produced in a “classical” manner on a toned ground in chalks often combined with watercolour and gouache.”
American Art – Part II of II: Alexa Meade
Here is one critic describing the artistry of American painter Alexa Meade (born 1986): “Alexa Meade has innovated a Trompe-L’Oeil painting technique that can perceptually compress three-dimensional space into a two-dimensional plane. Her work is a fusion of installation, painting, performance, photography, and video art.
Rather than painting a representational picture on a flat canvas, Meade paints her representational image directly on top of her three-dimensional subjects. The subject and its representation become one and the same. Essentially, her art imitates life on top of life.
Meade’s approach to portraiture questions our understanding of the body and identity. Meade coats her models with a mask of paint, obscuring the body while intimately exposing it, creating an unflinchingly raw account of the person. The painted second skin perceptually dissolves the body into a 2D caricature. The subjects become art objects as they are transformed into re-interpretations of themselves. In turn, the models’ identities become altered by their new skin, embodying Meade’s dictated definition of their image to the viewer.
Meade’s project plays on the tensions between being and permanence. The physical painting exists only for mere hours and is obliterated when the model sheds its metaphorical skin. What endures is an artifact of the performance, a 2D photograph extracted from the 3D scene. The photographic presentations create a tension between the smoothness of the physical photographs and the tactility of the painted installations captured within them, blurring the lines between what is depicted and depiction itself.”
Notes from the American West: Beautiful horses in Bozeman, Montana.
Notes from the Left Coast: The Oregon coastline is filled with breathtaking vistas.