Food for the Spirit and the Soul

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

From the Pacific Northwest – Part LXVII

Musings in Winter: Jenna Butler

“I won’t wax poetic about the land in a perfectionist sense: we work hard out here, and things constantly threaten the tiny equilibrium we’ve established in the market garden. Whatever peace we find is often hard won. But I stand firmly with Berry and Kingsolver and so many other writers who possess a deep need to step outside the city to find a place of calm. I don’t like the word ‘authentic’; at best, it’s divisive and antagonistic, implying one way of being is intrinsically better than another. But I do very much favour the notion of ‘alignment’. I’m convinced that at the heart of the matter lies a desire to draw what we do into alignment with how we live. Some of us aren’t in a place where we can live consistently on the land that holds our hearts, but come mishaps or miracles, we’re bound and determined to make that land as much a part of who we are as humanly possible.”

Below – Jenna Butler. In the words of one writer, “Jenna Butler makes her home in Red Deer, Alberta, where she teaches Creative Writing and Ecocriticism at Red Deer College.”

Art For Winter – Part I of III: Sergei Kiselev (Russian, contemporary)

Below – “Mountain View II”

A Poem for Today

“Meeting and Passing”
By Robert Frost

As I went down the hill along the wall
There was a gate I had leaned at for the view
And had just turned from when I first saw you
As you came up the hill. We met. But all
We did that day was mingle great and small
Footprints in summer dust as if we drew
The figure of our being less than two
But more than one as yet. Your parasol
Pointed the decimal off with one deep thrust.
And all the time we talked you seemed to see
Something down there to smile at in the dust.
(Oh, it was without prejudice to me!)
Afterward I went past what you had passed
Before we met, and you what I had passed.

Art For Winter – Part II of III: Dina Bogusonova (Russian, contemporary)

Below – “Yin Yang”

Musings in Winter: Diego Rivera

“From sunrise to sunset, I was in the forest, sometimes far from the house, with my goat who watched me as a mother does a child. All the animals in the forest became my friends, even dangerous and poisonous ones. Thanks to my goat-mother and my Indian nurse, I have always enjoyed the trust of animals–a precious gift. I still love animals infinitely more than human beings.”

Below – Diego Rivera: “Head of a Goat”

Art For Winter – Part III of III: Alexander Oligerov (Russian, contemporary)

Below – “Night Watch”

Musings in Winter: Buck Brannaman

“When you first get started, you’re the only one with a vision. When you become creative and use your imagination, pretty soon the things you imagined, you can get done. If you got a taste of it, if you got a taste of what I’m talking about, you’d rather do that than eat. You couldn’t get enough of it. You’ll hunger for it the rest of your life.”

A Second Poem for Today

By David Lehman

Claude Debussy was born.
I remember where I was and what I was doing
one hundred years and two months later:
elementary algebra, trombone practice,
‘Julius Caesar’ on the record player
with Brando as Antony, simple
buttonhook patterns in football,
the French subjunctive, and the use
of “quarantine” rather than “blockade”
during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
It was considered the less belligerent word.
Much was made of it in 1962,
centenary of Debussy’s birth.
And if today I play his ‘Rhapsody
for Saxophone and Orchestra’
for the ten minutes it requires of
my undivided attention, who will attack me for
living in Paris in 1908 instead of now?
Let them. I’ll take my stand,
my music stand, with the composer
of my favorite ‘Danse Tarantelle.’

Spanish Art – Alvar Sunol

Alvar Sunol (born 1935) is a painter, sculptor, and lithographer.

Below – “Estudi Amb Vistes”; “De Cezanne a Picasso”; “Pintor Y Midelos”; “Figure Studies”; “A Matisse”; “Interior con Pintor.”

Musings in Winter: Cormac McCarthy

“Whales have been evolving for thirty million years. To our one million. A sperm whale’s brain is seven times the size of mine… The great size of his body has little to do with the great size of his brain, other than as a place to keep it. I have What If fantasies… What if the catalyst or the key to understanding creation lay somewhere in the immense mind of the whale? … Some species go for months without eating anything. Just completely idle.. So they have this incredible mental apparatus and no one has the least notion what they do with it. Lilly says that the most logical supposition, based on physiological and ecological evidence, is that they contemplate the universe… Suppose God came back from wherever it is he’s been and asked us smilingly if we’d figure it out yet. Suppose he wanted to know if it had finally occurred to us to ask the whale. And then he sort of looked around and he said, ‘By the way, where are the whales?’”

Contemporary Russian Art – Part I of III: Vladimir Comelfo

In the words of one writer, “Being an opponent of the radical artists thirsty for excess, scandal, provocation, and media, Comelfo is interested in existential dialogue, extending the line of traditions, preservation of classical forms and life-giving catharsis. Line is a ghost of a point in motion. It’s not the point, the utmost incorporeal determinancy, that can be seized, but its material phantom track. Perhaps this is why we come to such exhibitions — in order to see the invisible, to penetrate into idea, to meet the predecessors, to find the original, to step back in disbelief, to give a smile to a visual joke, and to get a designer catalogue.”

Below – “Hot”; “Fervent”; “Strange”; “Beloved”; “Alchemist”; “Self-Portrait.”

A Third Poem for Today

“Manifest Destiny”
By Cynthia Lowen

The god I’d left behind sent one last email
before returning to his people.

That summer was sixty-five degrees and fluorescent.
I was working at a law firm.

The logical mind thinks,
You’ll be paid for your suffering.

‘Paradise is of this earth
and it is yours,’
said the copy-machine.

The impenetrable old growth of paper on my desk
begged to be made

When I took off my skirt-suit I felt like my mother, or myself

done pretending
to be my mother.

I stood at the edge
of a New World.

I stared up the long rocky coast.

Whichever way was something to bump against
I pressed on in that direction.

It was like a sickness.
It was like the uncontrollable urge
to eat dirt.

Contemporary Russian Art – Part II of III: Andrey Mamaev – Part I of II

In the words of one writer, “Andrey Mamaev was born on 26th February, 1965 in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). He graduated from the Leningrad Art School named after V. A. Serov. The first exhibition of the artist’s works took place in Leningrad in 1986. In 1987-1988 the artist lived in Georgia, where he studied in the Sukhumi Art School, and repeatedly displayed his paintings at local city and regional art exhibitions. The unique realistic style of the artist had matured by that time. Landscape became the chief topic for Mamaev. He first painted from nature and then carefully reproduced the details so that the energy of true Nature could be captured in full.”

Below – “The Last Warrior”; “Winter Fairy Tale”; “The Wish Tree”; “Northwest Night”; “Twilight”; “The Challenge.”

Musings in Winter: Source Unknown

“Horses lend us the wings we lack.”

A Fourth Poem for Today

By Hazel Hall

I have known hours built like cities,
House on grey house, with streets between
That lead to straggling roads and trail off,
Forgotten in a field of green;

Hours made like mountains lifting
White crests out of the fog and rain,
And woven of forbidden music—
Hours eternal in their pain.

Life is a tapestry of hours
Forever mellowing in tone,
Where all things blend, even the longing
For hours I have never known.

Contemporary Russian Art – Part III of III: Andrey Mamaev – Part II of II

In the words of one writer, “The artist traveled a lot in search of subjects for his works in different regions both in Russia (Gorny Altai, the Polar Urals, the Far East, central Russia and the Crimea) and in other countries (the Caucasus, the Alps, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Red Sea).”

Below – “First Leaf” ; “Falling Asleep Forest”; “Old Pond”; “Solden”; “Overgrown Park”; “Snowy Fog.”

Musings in Winter: Olga Grushin

“The night embraces me, cool and endless, and above me the stars are tiny holes in the darkness through which the light of eternity is pouring out. I can almost sense primordial stardust flowing through my veins. People are forever telling me that stars make them feel small, and I always nod noncommittally and wonder at the stuffy confinement of their minds. Stars make me feel vast.”

American Art – Michi Susan

In the words of one writer, “Given a name that means ‘beauty’ when she was born in 1935, in Tokyo, Michi Susan has pursued art and beauty since the age of six. She attended the demanding Japan Women’s University in Tokyo, studying fine art and child psychology. When she married an American serviceman in 1965, at the age of 30, Michi moved to Shreveport, Louisiana and set up a studio with four other women. Fifteen years later she moved to Oklahoma, where she has lived and worked to this day, producing paintings and collages evocative of calligraphy and landscape, expressing her many years of study of haiku, sculpture, and ancient Chinese and Japanese symbols. Michi repeatedly twists, layers, sews, and weaves a myriad of colored papers and yarn to create wildly colorful and textured collages, the results of which are occasionally reminiscent of a flat piñata. The overall aesthetic of Michi’s collages, the vibrant springtime pinks and blues of some, the rusts, browns, blacks, and the ghostly autumn whites of others, alludes to an old Japanese custom of tying wishes written on rice paper to the bamboo trees at Shinto shrines: the colors and textures mixing to form a collage of Japanese wishes. The peacefulness and harmony of color and form in Michi’s pieces are inspired, in part, by her early morning golf games in the rolling hills near her home. The quiet of those early mornings can be found in the harmonious and careful balance of color and form in her work, and in the patience clearly needed to complete one of her collages. ‘When I was young, I thought of trying to convey a message through my work – what my life meant in art. But I don’t do that anymore. I express myself through my paper [and canvas], and I hope people enjoy my work.’”

Below – “Wildflowers 101-04”; “Wildflowers 113-05”; “Kimono Landscape 402-06”; “Landscape”; “Through the Window 317”; “Poem 427-98”; “Poem 139.”

Readers: I will not be posting for the next ten days, since I will be visiting my youngest son in San Francisco. While there, if I encounter anything that is particularly interesting or especially beautiful, I’ll share it with you.

Below – Amy Giacomelli: “Golden Gate Bridge”

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From the Pacific Northwest – Part LXVI

Musings in Winter: M. P. Zarrella

“Nature is cheaper than therapy.”

Art for Winter – Part I of III: Bruce Cheever (American, contemporary)

Below – “Autumn, Clear Creek Falls”

Musings in Winter: Buck Brannaman

“Think of the horse as your partner, and it’s all one great dance.
That’s not to say it’s always going to be easy or you won’t have to work through issues.
But when a horse is troubled or uncomfortable in our world, rather than show contempt for him, you must demonstrate empathy and work to convince him that you mean him no harm.
You have some things that you’d like him to do ‘with you’, as opposed to ‘for you’- and the best way to do that is as partners.”

Art for Winter – Part II of III: Steve Clement (American, contemporary)

Below – “Why I Love The West”

A Poem for Today

“Darkening, Then Brightening”
By Kim Addonizio

The sky keeps lying to the farmhouse,
lining up its heavy clouds
above the blue table umbrella,
then launching them over the river. 
And the day feels hopeless
until it notices a few trees
dropping delicately their white petals
on the grass beside the birdhouse
perched on its wooden post,
the blinking fledglings stuffed inside
like clothes in a tiny suitcase. At first
you wandered lonely through the yard
and it was no help knowing Wordsworth
felt the same, but then Whitman
comforted you a little, and you saw
the grass as uncut hair, yearning
for the product to make it shine.
Now you lie on the couch beneath the skylight,
the sky starting to come clean,
mixing its cocktail of sadness and dazzle,
a deluge and then a digging out
and then enough time for one more
dance or kiss before it starts again,
darkening, then brightening.
You listen to the tall wooden clock
in the kitchen: its pendulum clicks
back and forth all day, and it chimes
with a pure sound, every hour on the hour,
though it always mistakes the hour.

Musings in Winter: Peter Rees

“History will see this as the residential commodification era, in which housing provision seemed to lose all contact between supply and demand of housing as a utility and simply focused on supply and demand of investment — and that is worrying.
Investment is good for the economy, but the investment you want is investment that goes into creating homes, workplaces and infrastructure, not investing in owning them and inflating asset prices.”

Art for Winter – Part III of III: Michael Coleman (American, contemporary)

Below – “Indian in Winter”

Musings in Winter: Richard Adams

“I dislike this whole business of experimentation on animals, unless there’s some very good and altogether exceptional reason to this very case. The thing that gets me is that it’s not possible for the animals to understand why they are being called upon to suffer. They don’t suffer for their own good or benefit at all, and I often wonder how far it’s for anyone’s. They’re given no choice, and there is no central authority responsible for deciding whether what’s done is morally justifiable. These experiment animals are just sentient objects; they’re useful because they are able to react; sometimes precisely because they’re able to feel fear and pain. And they’re used as if they were electric light bulbs or boots. What it comes to is that whereas there used to be human and animal slaves, now there are just animal slaves. They have no legal rights or choices in the matter.”

Contemporary Russian Art – Part I of II: Sorin Sorin

In the words of one writer, “Academically trained at the Repin National Art Academy, Sorin developed his eloquent European realistic style of painting. Along with being a successful artist, his talents are called upon by the country’s museums as a professional restorer.”

Below – “Stormy Tide”; “Venice Modern”; “Afterglow”; “Illuminated Bistro”; “Early Morning Serenity”; “Saint Jean Baptiste de Belleville.”

A Second Poem for Today

“Time Passes”
By Joy Ladin

Time too is afraid of passing, is riddled with holes
through which time feels itself leaking.
Time sweats in the middle of the night
when all the other dimensions are sleeping.
Time has lost every picture of itself as a child.
Now time is old, leathery and slow.
Can’t sneak up on anyone anymore,
Can’t hide in the grass, can’t run, can’t catch.
Can’t figure out how not to trample
what it means to bless.

Musings in Winter: Tom Spanhauer

“For the most part, I’d say if you crossed a cat with a smart dog, made him a matriarchal vegetarian, gave him sleek beauty, a mass of muscle, and the desire to run, then what you’d have is a horse.”

Contemporary Russian Art – Part II of II: Marina Federova

In the words of one writer, “Fedorova has firmly established herself both nationally and internationally as an emerging young Russian artist. Consequently to graduating from the Stirliz Fine Art School in St. Petersburg in 1996, Fedorova, simultaneously to participating in numerous solo and group exhibitions continued to pursue artistic study at a further fine art academy, N. K Rerich. This allowed her to specifically focus her study on design and graphics, as the Rerich Academy is nationally known for its design department, from which the alumni is exceptional.”

Below – “Clothes”; “Attraction #2”; “Sunday Morning”; “Reflection”; “Kids”; “Morning”; “Girl With No Shadow.”

A Third Poem for Today

“Recall the Carousel”
By Laura Kasischke

Recall the carousel. Its round and round.
Its pink lights blinking off and on.
The children’s faces painted garish colors against
an institutional wall. And the genetics. The
‘We won’t be here too long  …    Do not step off  …’
The carousel? Do you recall? As if
we were our own young parents suffering again
after so many hundreds of hours of bliss.
And even the startling fact that
what had always been feared might come to pass:
A familiar sweater in a garbage can.
A surgeon bent over our baby, wearing a mask.
But surely you recall
how happily and for how long
we watched our pretty hostages go round.
They waved at us too many times to count.
Their dancing foals. Their lacquered mares. Even
a blue-eyed hunting hound
was still allowed back then.

Musings in Winter: Keith Miller

“He went to sleep as soon as they’d gone, waking in the middle of the night and walking outside into a sky whose stars hung so low he felt he strolled among them and he could see indeed, so clear the air, the very flames of their inner workings.”

American Art – Part I of II: Walt Curlee

Artist Statement: “Born into a military family, I am the oldest of five boys. I started drawing at an early age. Due to my obsession with doodling, I had a tendency to neglect my school work. After 4 years in the Marine Corps, I acquired my art education at the Art Institute’s of Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta. I work from my home studio and enjoy living the country life in rural Alabama, with my wife Vicki.”

Below – “Rocky Mountain Spring Meadow With Wildflowers”; “Buffalo on the Plains”; “Butterfly and Wildflowers Floral – 2”; “1950 Studebaker Champion”; “Egret”; “Two Cats Staring.”

Musings in Winter: Jenna Butler

“If I lived anywhere else for the sheer love of it, it would only be farther and farther north, chasing the boreal up to the Yukon or the Northwest Territories. There’s something about living beside a great stretch of forest, both as participant and as witness, that is endlessly absorbing, at once enchanting and distressing. The former because there are vistas and qualities of light in the spaces of the everyday that are otherworldly, requiring an absolute halting of all activity and an undivided attention to just ‘that ‘light at ‘that’ time. The latter because there is an incredible amount to learn to feel as though you have some small right to be here, holding fast on the patch of ground you stand on.”

American Art – Part II of II: Troy Collins

In the words of one writer, “A native of Montana, Troy Collins called Idaho home for twelve years during an intensive painting apprenticeship in the studio of master artist, Robert Moore. ‘I have spent many hours studying and painting with Robert on location and in the studio, and it is this wealth of knowledge and experience that forms my landscape oil paintings today.’
Residing in Hamilton, Montana, Troy creates canvases with energy and insight from his studio nestled in the middle of the Bitterroot Mountain Range. As a nationally renowned artist, Troy’s paintings now grace the halls of the Pentagon, the US Ambassador to the UK’s home, as well as many other locations throughout the United States.”

Below – “Azul”; “Good Moon on the Rise”; “Mountain Daydream”; “Winter Calm”; “Summer Grove”; “Untitled Winter.”

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From the Pacific Northwest – Part LXV

Musings in Winter: Christie Purifoy

“As humans, we roam the entire world. We even venture beyond it not space. The whole planet is ours, but the whole planet is not our home. Instead, home is the ground we measure with our own two feet. And home is the place that measures us. Home is the place that names us and the place we, in turn, name. It feeds us, body and soul, and if we are living well, we feed it too.
Home is the place we cultivate with our love.”

Art for Winter – Part I of III: Evgeny Zaremba (Russian, contemporary)

Below “Wolf”

Musings in Winter: Linda Bender

“The animals feel that this urgency is mutual. Their own suffering has made them aware of human suffering. More frequent contact with us has sensitized them to what troubles us. They feel our anxiety and our confusion and, most of all, our loneliness. The pain of being disconnected from the Earth, from each other, from our fellow creatures, and from the Source of all life is the worst pain they can imagine, and they are concerned about us. They understand even better than we do that the suffering we inflict on them is an expression of our own suffering, and that their physical situation cannot get better unless the human spiritual condition gets better. They want to help.”

Art for Winter – Part II of III: Thomas Buechner (American, 1926-2010)

Below – “Begonias in a Box”

A Poem for Today

“A Well Runs Out of Thirst”
By Jane Hirshfield

A well runs out of thirst
the way time runs out of a week,
the way a country runs out of its alphabet
or a tree runs out of its height.
The way a brown pelican
runs out of anchovy-glitter at darkfall.

A strange collusion,
the way a year runs out of its days
but turns into another,
the way a cotton towel’s compact
with pot and plate seems to run out of dryness
but in a few minutes finds more.

A person comes into the kitchen
to dry the hands, the face,
to stand on the lip of a question.

Around the face, the hands,
behind the shoulders,
yeasts, mountains, mosses multiply answers.

There are questions that never run out of questions,
answers that don’t exhaust answer.

Take this question the person stands asking:
a gate rusting open.
‘Yes’ stands on its left, ‘no’ on its right,
two big planets of unpainted silence.

Art for Winter – Part III of III: Gerald Cassidy (American, 1879-1934)

Below – “Corpus Christi Procession”

Musings in Winter: Buck Brannaman

“When you find that the horse is compelled and interested in you, something in you changes. That can be healing or move you deeply.”

A Second Poem for Today

“Fragments from an Abandoned Ode”
By Paul Carroll

The Sicilian bees     They move inside the mind
Our souls are as big as Rome
Her body like a mirror
A statue made of words
The dwarf of love
Bring the wine that heals the summer’s wounds
A wife of freshly fallen snow
The first night of the world—its stars and
     moons still move inside our arteries
Who is the one who carries the horizon in his eyes?
A honeycomb of lies
He writes a letter to his death at 24
10,000 yesterdays gathered on the shelves of
     the library
Leave a photo of yourself behind

Contemporary Russian Art – Part I of II: Anna Krasnaya

In the words of one writer, “In this new series (‘Unveil’), Anna made a brand new aesthetic, where in the paintings, there is nothing that surrounds the modern girl. Instead of focusing on the background, the artist puts her focus on showing the beauty of a bent body and thrown up hands, which aims to reflect the inner vision of the models.  Like how beauty was reflected in the era of the late Renaissance and Baroque.
It does not merely record the beautiful models’ features, however, it says something about who she is, offering a vivid sense of a real person’s presence.”

Below – “Morning”; “Tattoo”; “Bubble”; “Pink”; Nude”; “Deep in Thoughts.”

Musings in Winter: Ted Kerasote

“And so what do dogs want? They want what they want when they want it. Just like us.”

Contemporary Russian Art – Part II of II: Viktor Yamshchikov

Painter Viktor Yamshchikov graduated from the Saint Petersburg State Academy of Art in 1991.

Below – “A Bunch of Flowers”; “Foothills of Mount Elbrus”; “Wild Poppies”; “Southern Day”; “Red Roofs”; “Griboyedov Canal.”

Musings in Winter: Cormac McCarthy

“The boy who rode on slightly before him sat a horse not only as if he’d been born to it which he was but as if were he begot by malice or mischance into some queer land where horses never were he would have found them anyway. Would have known that there was something missing for the world to be right or he right in it and would have set forth to wander wherever it was needed for as long as it took until he came upon one and he would have known that that was what he sought and it would have been.”

Below – Bruce Green: “Father and Son”

A Third Poem for Today

“Twentieth Century”
By Maggie Smith

I must have missed the last train out of this gray city.
I’m scrolling the radio through ‘shhhhh’. The streetlamps

fill with light, right on time, but no one is pouring it in.
Twentieth Century, you’re gone. You’re tucked into

a sleeping car, rolling to god-knows-where, and I’m
lonely for you. I know it’s naïve. But your horrors

were far away, and I thought I could stand them.
Twentieth Century, we had a good life more or less,

didn’t we? You made me. You wove the long braid
down my back. You kissed me in the snowy street

with everyone watching. You opened your mouth a little
and it scared me. Twentieth Century, it’s me, it’s me.

You said that to me once, as if I’d forgotten your face.
You strung me out until trees seemed to breathe,

expanding and contracting. You played “American Girl”
and turned it up loud. You said I was untouchable.

Do you remember the nights at Alum Creek, the lit
windows painting yellow Rothkos on the water?

Are they still there, or did you take them with you?
Say something. I’m here, waiting, scrolling the radio.

On every frequency, someone hushes me. Is it you?
Twentieth Century, are you there? I thought you were

a simpler time. I thought we’d live on a mountain
together, drinking melted snow, carving hawk totems

from downed pines. We’d never come back. Twentieth
Century, I was in so deep, I couldn’t see an end to you.

Musings in Winter: Clare Balding

“I believe that horses bring out the best in us. They judge us not by how we look, what we’re wearing or how powerful or rich we are, they judge us in terms of sensitivity, consistency, and patience. They demand standards of behavior and levels of kindness that we, as humans, then strive to maintain.”

American Art – Part I of II: Nancy Chaboun

In the words of one writer, “Chaboun (born 1954) paints her figurative works quickly with broad brush strokes that define and juxtapose the figure and the background. Her still lifes of finely rendered treasured objects have a different tone all together. In her quest to give her oils eternal life, her fruits and vegetables best emote through her superb attention to texture.
Educated at Arizona State University and Instituto Allende of Mexico, Nancy Chaboun has been distinguished in one museum show, and many one-person shows. Although any subject is fair target, she feels most inspired by people, painting small, intimate ‘portraits’ of thoughts and emotions. Nancy recently won the Best of Show at the 1996 Scottsdale Artist School juried show. Her works are in collections throughout the United States, Europe and the Middle East.”

Below – “Pansies, Poppies and Pots”; “Tangerine Dreams”; “Purple Haze”; “Turkish Vase and Money Plant”; “Petal Poetry”; “Feel My Love.”

A Fourth Poem for Today

“What I Mean When I Say Farmhouse”
By Geffrey Davis

             Time’s going has ebbed the moorings
to the memories that make this city-kid

             part farm-boy. Until a smell close enough to
the sweet-musk of horse tunes my ears back

             to tree frogs blossoming after a country rain.
I’m back among snakes like slugs wedged

             in ankle-high grass, back inside that small
eternity spent searching for soft ground, straining

             not to spill the water-logged heft of a drowned
barn cat carried in the shallow scoop of a shovel.

             And my brother, large on the stairs, crying.
Each shift in the winds of remembering renders me

             immediate again, like ancient valleys reignited
by more lightning. If only I could settle on

             the porch of waiting and listening,
near the big maple bent by children and heat,

             just before the sweeping threat of summer
thunderstorms. We have our places for

             loneliness—that loaded asking of the body.
my mother stands beside the kitchen window, her hands

             no longer in constant motion. And my father
walks along the tired fence, watching horses

             and clouds roll down against the dying light—
I know he wants to become one or the other.

             I want to jar the tenderness of seasons,
to crawl deep into the moment. I’ve come

             to write less fear into the boy running
through the half-dark. I’ve come for the boy.

Musings in Winter: Cristiane Serruya

“You know what I’ve learned? Most people are like a leaf, letting themselves drift and turn in the air. Eventually, they fall to the ground. But, others— very few others— are like stars. They have light within themselves to be their own guide. Sometimes, we look at the sky and don’t see the stars, because there is too much light bedimming them. To find the stars again, we have to go to a dark place.”

American Art – Part II of II: John Stephens

Painter John Stephens was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania in 1945.

Below – “Reaching Back in Time”; “Our Lady of the Foam”; “Reflections in a Mountain Lake II”; “The Adventure”; “On the Threshold”; “Elysian Fountain.”

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From the Pacific Northwest – Part LXV

Musings in Winter: A. G. Roemmers

“If you feel alone, and if your heart is pure and your eyes still shine with the wonder of a child’s, perhaps as you read these pages you’ll find that the stars are smiling on you once more, that you can hear them as though they were five hundred million little bells.”

Art for Winter – Part I of IV: Evgeny Zaremba (Russian, contemporary)

Below – “Earth,” from the “Vessels” series.

Musings in Winter: Bryant McGill

“People on corporate conveyor belts, like animals in slaughter-chutes are all part of the same big massacre of joy.”

Art for Winter – Part II of IV: Alexander Kabin (Russian, contemporary)

Below – “Halo”

A Poem for Today

“Poet of an Ordinary Heartbreak”
By Chris Abani

Who hasn’t been tempted by the sharp edge of a knife?
An ordinary knife cutting ordinary tomatoes on
an ordinary slab of wood on an ordinary Wednesday.
The knife nicks, like a bite to the soul. A reminder
that what is contemplated is as real as the blood
sprouting from a finger. As real as a bruised eye.
Instead turn back to the meat stewing on the stove.
Scrape pulpy red flesh into the heat and turn.
Say: even this is a prayer. Even this.

Art for Winter – Part III of IV: Aleksandr Zagoskin (Russian, contemporary)

Below – “Druids. The dream”

Musings in Winter: Ann Wroe

“It was generally believed, said Theophilus, that Orpheus learned his music from the birds. His small voice, piping after theirs, filled with all the secret stories of the earth.”

Art for Winter – Part IV of IV: Carl Oscar Borg (American, 1879-1947)

Below – “Cooking Supper”

A Second Poem for Today

“Alexandr Blok”
By David St. John

One snowy night I was smiled upon by Russian gods
          & found myself at dinner opposite

The Moscow scholars a married couple—he only
          the world’s authority on Pasternak

& she the final word on her beloved Alexandr Blok
          & as we talked the evening gathered 

Along the length of the white table & I could only keep
          drinking the conversation in so deeply

I felt myself reaching back into the dark century & at last
          I got up to leave in my black cashmere

Overcoat I’d found hanging on the back rack of a Venice
          thrift store & became just another shadow

About to slide wordlessly into the night & yes it’s true
          it was snowing just in upstate New York
Not Moscow or St. Petersburg nor in any ancient page 
          yet to anyone who saw me walking

I imagined myself as the most lyrical shadow alive

Musings in Winter: Walter Farley

“Yet when books have been read and reread, it boils down to the horse, his human companion, and what goes on between them.”

Russian Art – Part I of II: Yulia Zaretskaya

In the words of one writer, “The artist was born in 1965 in Leningrad. From her early childhood she showed a gift in drawing. Her studying was always easy: after graduating from the Art School at the Academy of Fine Arts, she decided to continue education at the Graphic Department of the Academy (studio of Vladimir Vetrogonsky). The choice was well considered: the Graphic Department, unlike the Department of Easel Painting, seemed more artistic and free-spirited. There she got into lithography , a spectacular technique that allows creating both subtle graphic and gray-scale images. In 1989 she received her Diploma and joined the Union of Artists.
Now, her main criterion for an art work quality is its fullness and completeness of expression, and absence of a self-contained story and literariness. The genre of landscape as no other allows her to reveal the image without any verbal interpretations. Perhaps that is why her works are filled with abstract and pensive melancholy and deep personal mood.”

Below – “Roof”; “Street in the Evening”; “Still Life”; “Landscape with a Tower”; “Evening Landscape.”

Musings in Winter: Buck Brannaman

“The horse is a great equalizer, he doesn’t care how good looking you are, or how rich you are or how powerful you are– he takes you for how you make him feel.”

Russian Art – Part II of II: Sergey Yashin

In the words of one writer, “Sergey Yashin was born on October 22, 1963 in Krasnodar. In 1983 he graduated from Krasnodar Art College. He has been an active member of the Russian Union of Artists since 1991. He later became a management member of the Krasnodar organization of the Russian Union of Artists and vice-chairman of the Russian Union of Artists for exhibitions from 1996 to 1998. He won several awards from 2008 to 2011: in 2008 a silver medal from the Russian Academy of Arts, in 2011 a medal named after Shuvalov of The Russian Academy of Arts, and in 2012 he received a diploma of the 10th Interregional Professional Fine Art Contest “Biennial-2011”, winner of the 1st prize named after Cay in the regional modern art contest.”

Below – “Back”; “Aphrodite”; “Still Life with Horse”; “Old Samurai”; “Olga”; “Tsarvsch Iva, and He is the Wolf.”

A Third Poem for Today

“My Doubt”
By Jane Hirshfield

I wake, doubt, beside you,
like a curtain half-open.

I dress doubting,
like a cup 
undecided if it has been dropped.

I eat doubting,
work doubting,
go out to a dubious cafe with skeptical friends.

I go to sleep doubting myself,
as a herd of goats
sleep in a suddenly gone-quiet truck.

I dream you, doubt,
for what is the meaning of dreaming
if not that all we are while inside it
is transient, amorphous, in question?

Left hand and right hand,
doubt, you are in me,
throwing a basketball, guiding my knife and my fork.
Left knee and right knee,
we run for a bus,
for a meeting that surely will end before we arrive.

I would like
to grow content in you, doubt,
as a double-hung window
settles obedient into its hidden pulleys and ropes.

I doubt I can do so:
your own counterweight governs my nights and my days.

As the knob of hung lead holds steady
the open mouth of a window,
you hold me,
my kneeling before you resistant, stubborn,
offering these furious praises
I can’t help but doubt you will ever be able to hear.

Musings in Winter: Cormac McCarthy

“I had no say in the matter. Every moment in your life is a turning and every one a choosing. Somewhere you made a choice. All followed to this. The accounting is scrupulous. The shape is drawn. No line can be erased. I had no belief in your ability to move a coin to your bidding. How could you? A person’s path through the world seldom changes and even more seldom will it change abruptly. And the shape of your path was visible from the beginning.”

American Art – Part I of III: Edward Borein

In the words of one writer, “Edward J. Borein b. 1872 California d. 1945 Santa Barbara, CA. Raised in San Leandro, a western cow town, he began sketching at the age of 5 and continued drawing as a working cowboy from age 17-19.
Later he became friends with Charlie Russell, Will Rogers and President Teddy Roosevelt. By 1907, leaving his illustration career in San Francisco, he studied etching at the Art Student’s League and opened a studio in New York City.
Never feeling at home in NY, he moved with his wife to Santa Barbara in 1921, where he also had a studio; and taught art at the Santa Barbara School of Art. Borein is highly regarded because he painted and drew what he saw accurately and not romanticized.”

Below – “Mexican Charro” (etching); “Mexican Cowboy” (watercolor); “Rearing Back” (etching).

Musings in Winter: Attributed to Crowfoot (ca. 1830-1890), Chief of the Canadian Blackfoot tribe.

“What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across
the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”

American Art – Part II of III: Alexander Selytin

In the words of one writer, “Alexander ‘Sasha’ Selytin was born in the small Russian town of Zolotuchino. His father loved art and encouraged his son to pursue an artistic career. Selytin was fascinated with painting from an early age. He left his first masterpieces on fences, the walls of his parents’ apartment, and the pages of his schoolbooks. In 1978 he entered the Art School in Zeleznogorsk, Russia. After years of training he graduated with an art teacher’s diploma with honors. Beginning his professional career as a teacher, Selytin also worked for various institutions as a commissioned painter. He was then accepted to the most prestigious art school in Russia, The Academy of Fine Arts, entering at the top of his class in 1989. During this time, he had several paintings selected for student exhibitions in Moscow and New York. in 1990, Selytin moved to the western United States. He was motivated by the Native American culture and in his unique way he started working on related subjects. Still life images of Indian moccasins, Indian headdress and Anasazi pottery have been his main interest. Selytin’s work can be found in many private collections across the nation as well as the permanent collection of Springville Museum of Art and the Huntsman’s Medical Center.”

Below – “The Ancient Ones”; “Blue Horse”; “War and Peace”; “Red Rock”; “Mystery of the Medicine Man”; “Four Pairs.”

Musings in Winter: Sindiwe Magona

“As far back as I can remember, there has always been a place to which I belonged with a certainty that nothing has been able to take from me. When I say place, that means less a geographical locality and more a group of people with whom I am connected and to whom I belong.”

Below – Standing by the sea with my youngest son and two of our dogs in Mendocino, California.

American Art – Part II of III: Alexander Selytin

In the words of one writer, “Alexander ‘Sasha’ Selytin was born in the small Russian town of Zolotuchino. His father loved art and encouraged his son to pursue an artistic career. Selytin was fascinated with painting from an early age. He left his first masterpieces on fences, the walls of his parents’ apartment, and the pages of his schoolbooks. In 1978 he entered the Art School in Zeleznogorsk, Russia. After years of training he graduated with an art teacher’s diploma with honors. Beginning his professional career as a teacher, Selytin also worked for various institutions as a commissioned painter. He was then accepted to the most prestigious art school in Russia, The Academy of Fine Arts, entering at the top of his class in 1989. During this time, he had several paintings selected for student exhibitions in Moscow and New York. in 1990, Selytin moved to the western United States. He was motivated by the Native American culture and in his unique way he started working on related subjects. Still life images of Indian moccasins, Indian headdress and Anasazi pottery have been his main interest. Selytin’s work can be found in many private collections across the nation as well as the permanent collection of Springville Museum of Art and the Huntsman’s Medical Center.”

Below – “The Ancient Ones”; “Blue Horse”; “War and Peace”; “Red Rock”; “Mystery of the Medicine Man”; “Four Pairs.”

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From the Pacific Northwest – Part LXIV

Musings in Winter: Albert Schweitzer

“Very little of the great cruelty shown by men can really be attributed to cruel instinct. Most of it comes from thoughtlessness or inherited habit. The roots of cruelty, therefore, are not so much strong as widespread. But the time must come when inhumanity protected by custom and thoughtlessness will succumb before humanity championed by thought. Let us work that this time may come.”

Below – Albert Schweitzer

Art for Winter – Part I of IV: Danja Akulin (Russian, contemporary)

Below – “Untitled no. 14” (charcoal on canvas)

A Poem for Today

“August Morning, Upper Broadway”
By Alicia Ostriker

As the body of the beloved is a window
through which we behold the blackness and vastness of space
pulsing with stars, and as the man

on the corner with his fruit stand is a window,
and the cherries, blackberries, raspberries
avocados and carrots are a rose window

like the one in Chartres, yes, or the one in Paris
through which light floods from the other world, the pure one
stabbing tourists with malicious abundant joy

though the man is tired in the summer heat
and reads his newspaper listlessly, without passion
and people pass his stand buying nothing

let us call this scene a window looking out
not at a paradise but as a paradise
might be, if we had eyes to see

the women in their swaying dresses, the season’s fruit
the babies in their strollers infinitely soft: clear window
after clear window

Art for Winter – Part II of IV: Alexander Kabin (Russian, contemporary)

Below – “Ring” (From the series “Private life”)

Musings in Winter: Bryn Hammond

“For a few heady weeks of the year the steppe in a binge throws out a wilderness of flowers that tangle your hooves and confuse your horse.”

Art for Winter – Part III of IV: Tony Saladino (American, contemporary)

Below – “This Is Not a Test”

A Second Poem for Today

“Blue with Collapse”
By Thomas Lux

The devil’s in my neck.
Everything I hear is overviolined,
even the wind, even the wind.
It’s like walking in nurdles up to my chest,
squeaky and slow.
It’s spring, the blooming branches
nearly hide the many dead ones.
A squirrel, digging for a nut, upends my frail
tomato plant and fails
to replant it, even though he has the tools.
I find this kind of squirrely oblivion everywhere.
I was a man filled to the top
of my spine, filled to the lump
on the back of my head, with hope.
Then I read a few thousand history books.
Little, and nothing, perturbs me now.
Even the beheadings, even the giant meat hooks
in the sky, more frequent each day,
bother me not
a tittle, not a jot.

Art for Winter – Part IV of IV: Igor Samsonov (Russian, contemporary)

Below – “Chess Mates”

Musings in Winter: Alexander McCall Smith

“A traditional house smelled of wood smoke, the earth, and of thatch; all good smells, the smell of life itself.”

Contemporary Russian Art – Part I of II: Pavel Brat

In the words of one writer, “Brat creates collages like no other, achieving an illusion of deconstructed depth through clever manipulation of imagery from the worlds of fashion, design and advertising. Brat’s canvases respond to the oppressive nature of advertising and material excess in our everyday lives. Brat creates an abstract tonic, referencing Renaissance paintings and tonal configurations that to the naive eye create intense and mesmerizing abstract landscapes and strong colour palletes from glossy magazines.”

Below – “Zeppelin”; “Blood”; “Coast 1”; “Falling”; “Night”; “Paradosis #1.”

A Third Poem for Today

“The Philosopher Did Not Say”
By Jennifer Franklin

What secret had Nietzsche discovered
when he walked the Turin streets
before he flung his arms around
a horse being beaten and collapsed
into a decade-long coma? Clinging
to the cowering brown beast, he said
Mother, I am stupid. Wild hair and a three-
piece tweed suit constrained the body
that held the mind that knew too much.
Why am I mining dead men for answers
when they were all as mad as I am?
The horse, his eyes hollow as those
of the Burmese elephant that Orwell shot
decades later, had the look of every
betrayed creature. Perhaps Nietzsche
saw the shock in the animal’s eyes—
how every human contains the capacity
to inflict cruelty. The look that turns
to recognition, to resignation, to an eye
reflecting a field full of fallen horses.

Below – Below – Robberto: “Nietzsche”

Contemporary Russian Art – Part II of II: Maria Tregubenko

Painter Maria Tregubenko (born 1962) earned an MFA from the State Pedagogical University, Department of Artistic Drawing.

Below – “Love”; “Nerves”; “Evening”; “Breath In – Breath Out”; “Moika’s Embankment”; “Evening”; “30 km from.”

A Fourth Poem for Today

“What Is the Grass?”
By Mark Doty

On the margin
in the used text
I’ve purchased without opening

—pale green dutiful vessel—

some unconvinced student has written,
in a clear, looping hand,
‘Isn’t it grass?’

How could I answer the child?
I do not exaggerate,
I think of her question for years.

And while first I imagine her the very type
of the incurious, revealing the difference
between a mind at rest and one that cannot,

later I come to imagine that she
had faith in language,
that was the difference: she believed

that the word settled things,
the matter need not be looked into again.

And he who’d written his book over and over, nearly ruining it,
so enchanted by what had first compelled him
—for him the word settled nothing at all.

Musings in Winter: Polly Horvath

“All summers take me back to the sea. There in the long eelgrass, like birds’ eggs waiting to be hatched, my brothers and sister and I sit, grasses higher than our heads, arms and legs like thicker versions of the grass waving in the wind, looking up at the blue sky. My mother is gathering food for dinner: clams and mussels and the sharply salty greens that grow by the shore. It is warm enough to lie here in the little silty puddles like bathwater left in the tub after the plug has been pulled. It is the beginning of July and we have two months to live out the long, nurturing days, watching the geese and the saltwater swans and the tides as they are today, slipping out, out, out as the moon pulls the other three seasons far away wherever it takes things. Out past the planets, far away from Uranus and the edge of our solar system, into the brilliantly lit dark where the things we don’t know about yet reside. Out past my childhood, out past the ghosts, out past the breakwater of the stars. Like the silvery lace curtains of my bedroom being drawn from my window, letting in light, so the moon gently pulls back the layers of the year, leaving the best part open and free. So summer comes to me.”

American Art – Part I of II: Jeff Segler

In the words of one writer, “Born in 1956, Jeff grew up in Alabama watching Gene Autry, The Lone Ranger, The Rifleman, and Flipper. He always wanted to be a cowboy (or dolphin wrangler) as a kid. In 1977 he got the opportunity, sort of. Jeff took a job as a cowboy in a living history program on a large ranch in Northern New Mexico teaching thousands of young people and adults about the history of the cattle industry in the 1880s American West. That living history program was 24/7, teaching about everyday working cowboys, cattle barons and all characters in between. He worked the job for seven years and learned a lot about the details of everyday life of an 1880’s Northern New Mexico cowboy. That experience was the real foundation for Jeff’s passion for cowboy art.”

“Carment and Dmitry, Cheyenne Swimming Hole 1898”; “Buffalo & Sky”; “Shooting the Cheyenne”; “Chief Bald Eagle – A Hero”; “Heading for Summer Pastures”; “The Creak of Leather.”

Musings in Winter: Buck Brannaman

“The road may bend out of sight at times, but I know what lies ahead: the faraway horses.”

American Art – Part II of II: Claudia Brookes

In the words of one writer, “For Claudia L. Brookes, art emerged as a second career after many years in the medical publishing business. Although she cannot remember a time when she could not draw and paint with some competence, and always had exposure to art materials and museums thanks to her amateur artist father, she waited until later in life to develop a career as a fine artist. She has pursued a path she calls ‘selective education,’ carefully targeting the classes, instructors, and workshops that would yield the most benefit to her development as an artist. Her primary influences include the Cape Ann (MA), New Hope (PA), and the California plein air panters of the early 20th Century.”

Below – “Blue Gate II”; “East from Gunnison”; “Last Glow at Taylor’s Landing”; “Night Cathedral, San Miguel de Allende”; “Quiet Running River”; “Water, Water.”

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From the Pacific Northwest – Part LXIII

Musings in Winter: Stephanie Perkins

“I mean . . . I don’t know. I don’t know what I want to do, or who I want to be, or where I want to live. I don’t know. I like reading about adventure, sure, but I also like doing it from the safety of home. But what is home, besides a quilt-covered bed? Where is it?”

Art for Winter – Part I of III: Pavel Belyayev (Russian, contemporary)

Below – “Autumn Light”

A Poem for Today

“The Telephone”
By Robert Frost

“When I was just as far as I could walk
From here to-day,
There was an hour
All still
When leaning with my head against a flower
I heard you talk.
Don’t say I didn’t, for I heard you say—
You spoke from that flower on the window sill—
Do you remember what it was you said?”

“First tell me what it was you thought you heard.”

“Having found the flower and driven a bee away,
I leaned my head,
And holding by the stalk,
I listened and I thought I caught the word—
What was it? Did you call me by my name?
Or did you say—
‘Someone’ said ‘Come’—I heard it as I bowed.”

“I may have thought as much, but not aloud.”

“Well, so I came.’

Art for Winter – Part II of III: KGB (Russian, Contemporary)

Below – “Girl in Blue”

Musings in Winter: Bill Watterson

“I wish people were more like animals. Animals don’t try to change you or make you fit in. They just enjoy the pleasure of your company. Animals aren’t conditional about friendships. Animals like you just the way you are. They listen to your problems, they comfort you when you’re sad, and all they ask in return is a little kindness.”

Art for Winter – Part III of III: Joe Bohler (American, contemporary)

Below – “Old Glory”

Musings in Winter: Naveed Khan

“We call it ‘back home’
knowing full well
that the majority of us
may never go back.
That we may spend
but a handful of weeks
in the tropic heat
and relentless traffic,
tolerating family members
we may have convinced
ourselves to have missed,
but very few will submit
to that final pull to return.
We know our land, our soil
as back home, but for many of us
it is only the home we left back,
the one we left so far behind
to be thrust into a lifelong search
of another, of another, of another.”

Contemporary Russian Art – Part I of II: Aleksandr Kosenkov

In the words of one writer, “Born in the Amur region in 1959, Kosenkov first studied at the Ivanovo State Technical University in Novosibirsk. In 1984 Kosenkov began studying at the studio of Natalia Chizhik and remained one of her students until 1998.
Inspired by everyday objects, Kosenkov imbues shapes with such vibrancy that they appear to burst from the canvas. His paintings are a visual refection of the landscape of his mind, made up of street scenes, landscapes, interiors, figures and architecture. He is fascinated by the mixture of archaic elements and powerfully coloured shapes, while simultaneously using patterns to symbolize the nexus between the natural reality of the figure and the colorful world he creates.”

Below – “Botanic Gardens”; “Absinthe Drinker”; “Flower in Red Vase”; “The Beach”; “The Butterflies”; “Giraffe.”

A Second Poem for Today

By Claude McKay

There was a time when in late afternoon
    The four-o’clocks would fold up at day’s close
Pink-white in prayer, and ’neath the floating moon
    I lay with them in calm and sweet repose.
And in the open spaces I could sleep,
    Half-naked to the shining worlds above;
Peace came with sleep and sleep was long and deep,
    Gained without effort, sweet like early love.
But now no balm—nor drug nor weed nor wine—
    Can bring true rest to cool my body’s fever,
Nor sweeten in my mouth the acid brine,
    That salts my choicest drink and will forever.

Below – Claude McKay (American, 1889-1948)

Musings in Winter: Chris Kurtz

“The stars were extra bright tonight, and they shone and glimmered as if each one had something it wanted to say.”

Contemporary Russian Art – Part II of II: Gennady Zubkov

In the words of one writer, “Gennady Zubkov was born in 1940 in Perm, Russia.  In 1968 Zubkov graduated from the Painting and Graphic Department of the Hertzen State Pedagogical University in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), where he continues to live and work.”

Below – “On the Outer Bank of Ruhr”; “Female Torso”; “Early Spring”; “Landscape No. 2 with White House”; “Still Life with a Wooden Saltcellar”; “Flower.”

Musings in Winter: Valerie Ormond

“First, no other animals have the same mirroring effect as horses, meaning they will mirror humans’ emotions. Second, they are not judgmental or biased. And third, they live within a social structure, heir herds, much the same as we do.”

A Third Poem for Today

“The Map”
By Marie Howe

The failure of love might account for most of the suffering in the         world.
The girl was going over her global studies homework   
in the air where she drew the map with her finger 

touching the Gobi desert,
the Plateau of Tibet in front of her,

and looking through her transparent map backwards
I did suddenly see,
how her left is my right, and for a moment I understood.

Contemporary British Art – Irina Starkova

In the words of one writer, “Born in Moscow, 1987, Irina currently resides between London and Monaco. From an early age, Irina became interested in photography and the art of processing and developing film. Her oil on canvas work is largely figurative, with inspiration from Chuck Close and Lucian Freud.
Birds and insects preserve well – their feathers and gentle wings remain beautifully intact, though lifeless. Starkova wanted to convey these ephemeral moments of stillness, usually only captured by the most skillful of wildlife photographers, through various mediums present in the exhibition.
Irina Starkova’s search for the understanding of this chapter of existence led her to push the boundaries of her interest in nature photography. There is a fascinating dichotomy in the specimens she was able to view. Majestic Golden Eagles, rainbow-like parrots and gentle butterflies, all seemingly alive, yet frozen in a momentary beauty – notions of the transient nature of time and manifested conclusion of death become intertwined, brought to life by the antique art of taxidermy.”

Below – “Fight or Flight”; “Aviary”; “Golden Eagle with Halo (red and blue)”; “Ad infinitum”; “In Full Flight”; “Face in the Sand.”

Musings in Winter: Virginia Alison

“What am I searching for? Maybe its the beliefs I had as a child, that the world is a nice place, that people are genuinely who they say they are, that life is not simply what it is, where the sun shines and the stars glitter for me. Where am I going? I do not know but maybe I am just searching for those beliefs that lead to a happy ending.”

A Fourth Poem for Today

“Spring Day [Bath]”
By Amy Lowell

The day is fresh-washed and fair, and there is a smell of tulips and narcissus in the air.
The sunshine pours in at the bath-room window and bores through the water in the bath-tub in lathes and planes of greenish-white. It cleaves the water into flaws like a jewel, and cracks it to bright light.
Little spots of sunshine lie on the surface of the water and dance, dance, and their reflections wobble deliciously over the ceiling; a stir of my finger sets them whirring, reeling. I move a foot and the planes of light in the water jar. I lie back and laugh, and let the green-white water, the sun-flawed beryl water, flow over me. The day is almost too bright to bear, the green water covers me from the too bright day. I will lie here awhile and play with the water and the sun spots.
The sky is blue and high. A crow flaps by the window, and there is a whiff of tulips and narcissus in the air.

Below – Everett Shinn (American, 1876-1953): “Girl in Bathtub”

Musings in Winter: Cormac McCarthy

“His origins are become remote as is his destiny and not again in all the world’s turnings will there be terrains so wild and barbarous to try whether the stuff of creation may be shaped to man’s will or whether his own heart is not another kind of clay.”

Below – Albert Bierstadt (American, 1830-1902): “Rocky Mountain Landscape” (1870)

American Art – Part I of II: Joseph Bonomo

Artist Statement: “People will always be a major focal point of my art. It is what makes our time here so interesting, life and the people who live it. It is in everyday moments that people have the greatest impact on one another. A portrait painting must be a realization of the model; it must capture the essence of the person’s presence.”

Below – “Bank of Lake”; “Girl in Garden”; “Country Road”; “Quiet Moment”; “The Copyist”; “Pears.”

A Fifth Poem for Today

By Marilyn Nelson

What if to taste and see, to notice things,
to stand each is up against emptiness
for a moment or an eternity—
images collected in consciousness
like a tree alone on the horizon—
is the main reason we’re on the planet.
The food’s here of the first crow to arrive,
numbers two and three at a safe distance,
then approaching the hand-created taste
of leftover coconut macaroons.
The instant sparks in the earth’s awareness.

Musings in Winter: Jack Kerouac

“At night in this part of the West the stars, as I had seen them in Wyoming, were as big as Roman Candles and as lonely as the Prince who’s lost his ancestral home and journeys across the spaces trying to find it again, and knows he never will.”

American Art – Part II of II: Don Sahli

In the words of one writer, “Don’s journey to become a professional artist began at an early age. During high school, he was honored as a gold key finalist at the National Scholastic Art Competition for an unprecedented four consecutive years. At age 16 he was exhibiting and selling his work at galleries in Taos, New Mexico and in Texas. As a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin, he made the Dean’s list and his work was selected for the student faculty show. In 1982 he met Sergei Bongart, the famous Russian colorist. ‘I attended a painting demonstration by Sergei Bongart at his summer workshop in Rexburg, Idaho. There I saw Bongart use color, paint and confident brush strokes like I had never seen before. At that moment I knew I wanted to be a painter in this colorful tradition of the Russian School. My life was changed forever in an instant.’”

Below – “Dead Horse Point”; “Passion of Piney Lake”; “In Grandmother’s Vase”; “Makena Beach Sunset”; “Sahli Garden”; “Cherry Red Barn, Lookout Mountain.”

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From the Pacific Northwest – Part LXII

Musings in Winter: Bill Bryson

“Whatever happens in the world – whatever is discovered or created or bitterly fought over – eventually ends up, in one way or another, in your house. Wars, famine, the Industrial Revolution, the Enlightenment – they are all there in your sofas and chests of drawers, tucked into the folds of your curtains, in the downy softness of your pillows, in the paint on your walls and the water in your pipes. So the history of household life isn’t just a history of beds and sofas and kitchen stoves … but of scurvy and guano and the Eiffel Tower and bedbugs and body-snatching and just about everything else that has ever happened. Houses aren’t refuges from history. They are where history ends up.”

Art for Winter – Part I of IV: Denis Prasolov (Russian, contemporary)

Below – “Fire” (sculpture)

Musings in Winter: Boria Sax

“We poetically construct our identity as human beings, together with our values, largely through reciprocal relationships with animals. They provide us with essential points of reference, as well as illustrations of the qualities that we may choose to emulate or avoid in ourselves. Any major change in our relationships with animals, individual or collective, reverberates profoundly in our character as human beings, in ways that go far beyond immediately pragmatic concerns. When a species becomes extinct, something perishes in the human soul as well.”

Art for Winter – Part II of IV: Don Oelze (American, contemporary)

Below – “Bitter Cold”

A Poem for Today

“The Hand”
By Mary Ruefle

The teacher asks a question.
You know the answer, you suspect
you are the only one in the classroom
who knows the answer, because the person
in question is yourself, and on that
you are the greatest living authority,
but you don’t raise your hand.
You raise the top of your desk
and take out an apple.
You look out the window.
You don’t raise your hand and there is
some essential beauty in your fingers,
which aren’t even drumming, but lie
flat and peaceful.
The teacher repeats the question.
Outside the window, on an overhanging branch,
a robin is ruffling its feathers
and spring is in the air.

Art for Winter – Part III of IV: Valery Barykin (Russian, contemporary)

Below – “Do Not Distract Driver’s Attention From Motorway”

Musings in Winter: Harley King

“I climb aboard my tricycle and pedal my heart to the stars.”

Art for Winter – Part IV of IV: Sheila Beecham (American, contemporary)

Below- “The Opportunist” (bronze)

A Second Poem for Today

“Like Any Good American”
By Brynn Saito

I bathe my television    in total attention    I give it my corneas
I give it my eardrums    I give it my longing
In return I get pictures      of girls fighting    and men flying
and women in big houses    with tight faces    blotting down tears
with tiny knuckles    Sometimes my mother calls
and I don’t answer      Sometimes a siren     sings past the window
and summer air     pushes in     dripping with the scent
of human sweat       But what do I care      I’ve given my skin
to the TV     I’ve given it my tastes     In return    it gives me so many
different sounds     to fill the silence   where the secrets
of my life     flash by like ad space     for the coming season

Contemporary Russian Art – Part I of II: Alexei Lantsev

In the words of one writer, “Lantsev was born in the city of Krasnodar in 1970. After graduated from V. Surikov Art Institute in Moscow (The Russian Art Academy) in 1996, Lantsev has participated in different solo exhibitions and group exhibitions.”

Below – “Self Discipline”; “Michelangelo’s Girlfriend”; “Physical Training iii”; “Feelings”; “Meditation 2.”

Musings in Winter: Cormac McCarthy

“It’s a life’s work to see yourself for what you really are and even then you might be wrong. And that is something I don’t want to be wrong about.”

Contemporary Russian Art – Part II of II: Dmitry Shorin

In the words of one writer, “Dmitry Shorin’s paintings are immediately recognizable – influenced by photography and referencing mass media images, he paints beautiful young girls almost exclusively. Frequently placing his fragile and ephemeral heroines in the heavens paired with airplanes, his paintings are uncanny. Matte and somewhat drained of colour, Shorin’s images are rife with unease created by a repressed yet ever present psychological eroticism. The girls he paints are constantly observed, their images created for and consumed by consumer society, but Shorin’s presentation of them is them is that of the voyeur, the unseen observer.”

Below – “Analog”; “Mars”; “Nymphea”; “Ornithopter”; “Stripe”; “He Has a Train in an Hour.”

A Third Poem for Today

By T. R. Hummer

After the explosion, no one knew what to do
For the boy who’d stood closest to the abandoned leather briefcase.
By some miracle, he was the only one injured. It erupted
In an incense of sulfur and nails as he made his way
To steal it. Holiness has an aura, everyone knows that,
But why would terrorists bother to murder a thief?
The ethics of this question paralyzed everyone in sight
While the boy, unable to breathe, watched God wandering
The station in a business suit, asking occasional strangers
‘Have you seen my briefcase? There was something urgent in it’.

Musings in Winter: Joy Harjo

“She had horses who were the blue air of the sky.”

Below – John Nieto: “Reflecting Indian”

American Art – Part I of II: Rob Rohm

In the words of one writer, “Bob Rohm has been drawing and painting most of his life. He was first introduced to the power of art at the age of ten when a favorite aunt took him to an exhibition of the French Impressionists. In the years that followed his graduation from the York Academy of Arts, he began a career in the film and video production business. Starting as a camera assistant, he quickly advanced to director, then producer and eventually ran his own production company. The long hours and demands of the business became his priority and eventually forced him to stop painting for nearly ten years. Born and raised in the northeast, Rohm’s return to painting was triggered in the early 1980s when he moved to Texas; the broad vistas and vast sky of the southwest opened up before him. There he found a landscape of stark simplicity and solitary beauty. Rohm began to cut back his production business in order to paint part time, and in a few short years became a full-time artist. Rohm’s style reflects his discovery of the southwestern terrain. Each painting goes beyond mere subject matter and is able to take the viewer on that same journey, a little out of the realm of reality. While not all of his paintings have a southwestern theme, they speak the language of his particular style which evolved with his realization of the southwestern image: razor sharp contrasts and vivid colors.”

Below – “Forgotten Gate”; “All That Glitters”; “Afternoon on Cows”; “Open Range”; “At the Water’s Edge”; “Train Bridge.”

A Fourth Poem for Today

“The Not-Yet Child”
By Joshua Weiner

‘Why won’t you make me now who wants a life
Inside your life’?

I fear you as a thief

Stealing about the orchards of my future,
Green fruit glistening above a starving creature.

‘To increase the coin buried inside yourself’
You need exchange it for an alien wealth.

Wealth being you? I need to spend my hoard
On public conquests of a private world:
Take drugs and chances, love recklessly, and build.

‘I promise I’m your most famous bright adventure.’
My stanzas will collapse, mere rooms in nature. . . .

‘I understand: you dwell on agony,
But there you’ll shape your strongest poem, me’.

Your cry will play the tune ending my work
As health plays boss over the art I serve.

‘Not always helpless, some day I’ll help you,
And you’ll be grateful for what I give to you’.

Fever, high blood pressure, and sleeplessness?
I’ve my beloved to cause me such distress,

And in my distress I find again denial–
If I’m the father how can I stay the child?

‘Make me, and as your face grows old
You’ll find in my face your face taking hold’.

That’s vanity you call posterity.
‘Afraid the future bears what you want to see’?

Of what I could become but might not be.

Musings in Winter: Paulette Jiles

“Above and behind them the Dipper turned on its great handle as if to pour night itself out onto the dreaming continent and each of its seven stars gleamed from between the fitful clouds.”

American Art – Part II of II: Ovanes Berberian

In the words of one writer, “Born in Russian Armenia, Berberian received his primary art education under the guidance of his father who was an important Russian artist, a member of the Armenian Artists’ Society, as well as a theatrical set designer and college art professor.
It was in this environment, studying at his father’s art school, Ovanes achieved a significant portion of his art education. In the summer of 1977, following his father’s death, the young Berberian and his three brothers and mother immigrated to the United States, settling in California.
In Idaho near Bongart, Berberian built his home and studio from which he conducts workshops in the summer. His painting style is easily recognizable by his confident blend of color and brush work as depicted in his dramatic landscapes and still lifes. “One of the shining stars in American art, Ovanes is a nationally renowned teacher and plein aire artist who has been at the forefront of the American art scene for many years.”

Below – “Cabin in the Woods”; “Last Light by the Pond”; “The Old Pier”; “Midday at the Lake”; “Hidden Sun”; “Sunset.”

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From the Pacific Northwest – Part LXI

Musings in Winter: Osho

“It is not the truth which has to be sought, it is you who have to be brought home.”

Art for Winter – Part I of III: Gary Lee Price (American, contemporary)

Below – “Shakespeare” (bronze)

A Poem for Today

“Every Dog’s Story”
By Mary Oliver

I have a bed, my very own.
It’s just my size.
And sometimes I like to sleep alone
with dreams inside my eyes.

But sometimes dreams are dark and wild and creepy
and I wake and am afraid, though I don’t know why.
But I’m no longer sleepy
and too slowly the hours go by.

So I climb on the bed where the light of the moon
is shining on your face
and I know it will be morning soon.

Everybody needs a safe place.

Art for Winter – Part II of III: Marianne Coroselli (American, contemporary)

Below – “Wild Spirit” (bronze)

Musings in Winter: Gretel Ehrlich

“Animals hold us to what is present: to who we are at the time, not who we’ve been or how are bank accounts describe us. What’s obvious to an animal is not the embellishment that fattens our emotional resumes but what’s bedrock and current in us: aggression, fear, insecurity, happiness, or equanimity. Because they have the ability to read our involuntary ticks and scents, we’re transparent to them and thus exposed—we’re finally ourselves.”

Art for Winter – Part III of III: Harold Kraus (American, contemporary)

Below – “Hydrangeas”

A Second Poem for Today

By Joy Harjo

 for Audre Lorde

This city is made of stone, of blood, and fish.
There are Chugatch Mountains to the east
and whale and seal to the west.
It hasn’t always been this way, because glaciers
who are ice ghosts create oceans, carve earth
and shape this city here, by the sound.
They swim backwards in time.

Once a storm of boiling earth cracked open
the streets, threw open the town.
It’s quiet now, but underneath the concrete
is the cooking earth,
                                 and above that, air
which is another ocean, where spirits we can’t see
are dancing                joking                   getting full
on roasted caribou, and the praying
goes on, extends out.

Nora and I go walking down 4th Avenue
and know it is all happening.
On a park bench we see someone’s Athabascan
grandmother, folded up, smelling like 200 years
of blood and piss, her eyes closed against some
unimagined darkness, where she is buried in an ache
in which nothing makes

We keep on breathing, walking, but softer now,
the clouds whirling in the air above us.
What can we say that would make us understand
better than we do already?
Except to speak of her home and claim her
as our own history, and know that our dreams
don’t end here, two blocks away from the ocean
where our hearts still batter away at the muddy shore.

And I think of the 6th Avenue jail, of mostly Native
and Black men, where Henry told about being shot at
eight times outside a liquor store in L.A., but when
the car sped away he was surprised he was alive,
no bullet holes, man, and eight cartridges strewn
on the sidewalk
                        all around him.

Everyone laughed at the impossibility of it,
but also the truth. Because who would believe
the fantastic and terrible story of all of our survival
those who were never meant
                                                to survive?

Contemporary Russian Art – Part I of III: Mikhail Golubev

In the words of one writer, “The young Russian artist Mikhail Golubev lives and works in St. Petersburg. His work consists of ‘thought paintings,’ fantasy paintings, and philosophical reflections. He is an extremely interesting artist with a view of the world that is unique, yet feels very familiar.”

Below – “Four Ages of Man”; “Good Morning”; “Peaceful Day”; “Russians Do Not Surrender.”

Musings in Winter: Ogden Nash

“I would not engage the wombat
In any form of mortal combat.”

Contemporary Russian Art – Part II of III: Serge Marshennikov

In the words of one writer, “These are not photographs, but paintings by the Russian realist painter Serge Marshennikov. Many of his most famous paintings depict the artist’s wife and muse, Natalia. The couple has been together for many years, and is raising a 10-year-old daughter. Meanwhile, the whole world admires this artist’s sensual and tender work.”

Below – untitled; untitled; untitled; untitled.

A Third Poem for Today

By Alicia Ostriker

My neighbor’s daughter has created a city
you cannot see
on an island to which you cannot swim
ruled by a noble princess and her athletic consort
all the buildings are glass so that lies are impossible
beneath the city they have buried certain words
which can never be spoken again
chiefly the word divorce which is eaten by maggots
when it rains you hear chimes
rabbits race through its suburbs
the name of the city is one you can almost pronounce

Contemporary Russian Art – Part III of III: Alexander Vinogradov and Vladimir Dubossarsky

In the words of one writer, “Vinogradov and Dubossarsky are the great, raunchy delinquents of contemporary Russian painting. The creative duo formed in the mid-1990s, and has already gained worldwide fame. It was for good reason that writer Victor Pelevin used works of Dubossarsky and Vinogradov as illustrations for one of his novels.”

Below – “Hot Summer”; “Underwater World”; “Natasha”; “New Russian Troika.”

A Fourth Poem for Today

“There Will Be Stars”
By Sara Teasdale

There will be stars over the place forever;
Though the house we loved and the street we loved are lost,
Every time the earth circles her orbit
On the night the autumn equinox is crossed,
Two stars we knew, poised on the peak of midnight
Will reach their zenith; stillness will be deep;
There will be stars over the place forever,
There will be stars forever, while we sleep.

Musings in Winter: Louise Erdrich

“She was a horse lover and she and Whitey kept a mean old paint, a fancy quarter horse/Arabian mix, a roan Appaloosa with one ghost eye named Spook, and a pony. So along with the whiskey and perfume and smoke, she often exuded faint undertones of hay, dust, and the fragrance of horse, which once you smell it you always miss it. Humans were meant to live with the horse.”

South African Art – Neil Rodger

In the words of one writer, “Neil Rodger was born in 1941 in Mowbray, Cape Town. He now lives and works in the Eastern Cape, where he thrives on the austerity and solitude of the region. It seems that this environment is conducive to the enigmatic silence so characteristic of his finest work.”

Artist Statement: “I believe that pictures rarely benefit from commentary by the artist. In general I would say that while most good art has been extremely difficult and taxing in the making, it is a prerequisite of great art that this is not evident – that it appears effortless or even inevitable.”

Musings in Winter: Maud Hart Lovelace

“The wastes of snow on the hill were ghostly in the moonlight. The stars were piercingly bright.”

American Art – Part I of II: Gerald G. Balciar

In the words of one writer, “Born in northern Wisconsin on August 28, 1942, Gerald Balciar had an early interest in art beginning back in grade school. His art is noted for its readily identifiable artistic style which is grounded in an in-depth knowledge of animals. For reference he works from his extensive library of wildlife material which includes photos, magazine clippings, books, and numerous study casts and measurements. He also uses live models as an invaluable aid in his sculptures and receives excellent cooperation from zoologists and wildlife organizations.
Balciar is involved in the creative process of bronze making from the beginning to end. He works his original sculpture in wax or clay and then personally makes his own molds and chases his own waxes. Once the bronze is cast at the foundry, he does the welding and metal chasing and then applies the patina and finishing touches to each bronze.”

Below – “Beaver Lodge”; “Alpine Pikas”; “Canyon King”; “Flyover”; “Hollyhocks and Hummers”; “Leaders of the Pack.”

A Fifth Poem for Today

“On Falling (Blue Spruce)”
By Joanna Klink

Dusk fell every night. Things
fall. Why should I
have been surprised. 

Before it was possible
to imagine my life
without it, the winds

arrived, shattering air
and pulling the tree
so far back its roots,

ninety years, ripped
and sprung. I think
as it fell it became

unknowable. Every day
of my life now I cannot
understand. The force

of dual winds lifting
ninety years of stillness
as if it were nothing,

as if it hadn’t held every
crow and fog, emptying
night from its branches. 

The needles fell. The pinecones
dropped every hour
on my porch, a constant

irritation. It is enough
that we crave objects,
that we are always

looking for a way
out of pain. What is beyond
task and future sits right

before us, endlessly
worthy. I have planted
a linden, with its delicate

clean angles, on a plot
one tenth the size. Some change
is too great. 

Somewhere there is a field,
white and quiet, where a tree
like this one stands,

made entirely of
hovering. Nothing will
hold me up like that again.

Musings in Winter: Cormac McCarthy

“They watched storms out there so distant they could not be heard, the silent lightning flaring sheetwise and the thin black spine of the mountain chain fluttering and sucked away again in the dark. They saw wild horses racing on the plain, pounding their shadows down the night and- leaving in the moonlight a vaporous dust like the palest stain of their passing.”

American Art – Part II of II: Marty Ricks

Artist Statement: “I grew up in Southeastern Idaho, surrounded by rivers, mountains, and artists.  
My father Don Ricks, and all three of my brothers, were–at one time oranother–professional artists.  I was the only one who had resisted the urge to paint,until just after September 11th, 2001. The New York attacks nearly swamped the business which I had built.  In response, I decided to become an artist.” 

Below – “Snake River Sunset”; “First Snow”; “Indian Summer”; “Clark Fork”; “Canyon at Last Light”; “Spring Lilacs.”

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From the Pacific Northwest – Part LX

Musings in Winter: Bella DePaulo

“Home, to many of the people I interviewed, is a good, comfortable feeling about the place where they live, and a sense that their place is going to be theirs for a while….Home is any place, any experience that feeds his soul in some positive way.”

Art for Winter – Part I of III: Lee Alban (American, contemporary)

Below – “Chiffon”

A Poem for Today

“Small Talk”
By Eleanor Lerman

It is a mild day in the suburbs
Windy, a little gray. If there is
sunlight, it enters through the
kitchen window and spreads
itself, thin as a napkin, beside
the coffee cup, pie on a plate

What am I describing?
I am describing a dream
in which nobody has died

These are our mothers:
your mother and mine
It is an empty day; everyone
else is gone. Our mothers
are sitting in red chairs
that look like metal hearts
and they are smoking
Your mother is wearing
sandals and a skirt. My
mother is thinking about
dinner. The bread, the meat

Later, there will be
no reason to remember
this, so remember it
now: a safe day. Time
passes into dim history.

And we are their babies
sleeping in the folds of
the wind. Whatever our
chances, these are the
women. Such small talk
before life begins

Art for Winter – Part II of III: Tony Bass (American, contemporary)

Below – “Something”

Musings in Winter: Bill Nye

“People love dogs. This is, I hope, the least surprising sentence you will read in this book. I myself have had long discussions with my dog friends, and by that I mean my friends who are dogs.”

Art for Winter – Part III of III: Gene Brown (American, contemporary)

Below – “Chili Field”

A Second Poem for Today

“I Know You Think I’ve Forgotten”
By Jane Hirshfield

but today
in rain

without coat     without hat

Contemporary Russian Art – Part I of II: Vasily Shulzhenko

In the words of one writer, “It is impossible to feel indifferent toward the work of artist Vasily Shulzhenko. He is either loved or hated, praised for understanding the Russian soul or accused of hating it. The Russia his paintings depict is harsh, uncensored and grotesque beyond compare, complete with alcohol, debauchery, and stagnation.”

Below – “Ambulance”; “Fallen”; “Riding the Centaur”; “Public Toilet.”

Musings in Winter: Chloe Thurlow

“There is a moment after riding when you stop and listen. What you hear is your heartbeat in perfect rhythm with the beat of your horse’s heart. It is a moment of pure magic.”

Contemporary Russian Art – Part II of II: Arush Votsmush

In the words of one writer, “Under the pseudonym Arush Votsmush hides Alexander Shumtsov, a talented artist from Sevastopol.”
Artists Statement: “The word ‘conflict’ refers to that moment when you see something surprising, and it forces your inner wheels turn in the right direction. A good conflict is exciting, it gives you goose bumps. And you can get goose bumps from anything: cold water, a holiday, something that suddenly brings you back to your childhood, when a feeling first surprised you and took hold of you… I never try to prove anything to anyone with my work. What I do, above all, is enjoy myself. It’s the ‘clean’ high of creativity. Or a clean life, without drugs. Just miracles.”

Below – “Good Company”; “I Go to Sleep; the World Goes to Work”; “The Eighth Day, Resurrection”; “Olive Ground.”

A Third Poem for Today

By Michael Blumenthal

Conformity caught here, nobody catches it,
Lawns groomed in prose, with hardly a stutter.
Lloyd hits the ball, and Lorraine fetches it.

Mom hangs the laundry, Fred, Jr., watches it,
Shirts in the clichéd air, all aflutter.
Conformity caught here, nobody catches it.

A dog drops a bone, another dog snatches it.
I dreamed of this life once, Now I shudder
As Lloyd hits the ball and Lorraine fetches it.

A doldrum of leaky roofs, a roofer who patches it,
Lloyd prowls the streets, still clutching his putter.
Conformity caught here, nobody catches it.

The tediumed rake, the retiree who matches it,
The fall air gone dead with the pure drone of motors
While Lloyd hits the ball, and Lorraine just fetches it.

The door is ajar, then somebody latches it.
Through the hissing of barbecues poets mutter
Of conformity caught here, where nobody catches it.
Lloyd hits the ball. And damned Lorraine fetches it.

Musings in Winter: Cormac McCarthy

“Life is brief and to have to spend every day of it doing what somebody else wants you to do is not the way to live it.”

American Art – Part I of II: Dix Baines

In the words of one writer, “Once known best for his close-up paintings of fish, avid fly fisherman, Dix Baines, paints a range of subjects in his expressive, light-infused style. Characterized by his bold brushwork and dramatic use of light and color, his paintings depict landscapes, villages, adobe buildings, fishing scenes and the river environment as a whole.
Baines was born in 1961 in Denver, Colorado and from childhood expressed a love and talent for drawing. After high school, he attended Brigham Young University where he enrolled in painting classes. Having shown impressive skill for realism, Baines was encouraged by his professor to enter the Interior Design Department. He graduated from BYU expert at producing quick, accurate, beautiful design drafts. Over the following 10 years Baines developed an accomplished career as an architectural interior designer in Denver. However, his devotion to the fine arts went unsatisfied during much of this time. He enrolled in the Art Students League of Denver where he studied with Quang Ho and Kim English.
In 1996, he submitted his first work to the Arts for the Parks competition, an oil painting of a cutthroat trout. Baines was awarded a seven thousand dollar prize and the piece became part of the Yellowstone National Park’s permanent collection. Encouraged by this recognition and the support of his wife, Kathlyn, Dix decided to leave his career and paint full time. He set up a studio in his home in 1997 and since then has received much recognition.”

Below – “Colorado Morning”; “Green River Light”; “Sangre Sunrise”; “Snow Canyon Light”; “Song of the Gunnison”; “Western Water.”

A Fourth Poem for Today

“Carmel Point”
By Robinson Jeffers

The extraordinary patience of things!
This beautiful place defaced with a crop of suburban houses—
How beautiful when we first beheld it,
Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;
No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,
Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop rockheads—
Now the spoiler has come: does it care?
Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide
That swells and in time will ebb, and all
Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine beauty
Lives in the very grain of the granite,
Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff.—As for us:
We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.

Musings in Winter: Jeannette Walls

“Those shining stars, he liked to point out, were one of the special treats for people like us who lived out in the wilderness. Rich city folks, he’d say, lived in fancy apartments, but their air was so polluted they couldn’t even see the stars. We’d have to be out of our minds to want to trade places with any of them.”

American Art – Part II of II: John Pototschnik

In the words of one writer, “John Pototschnik (Poe-toe-sh-nick) was born in St. Ives, Cornwall, England but grew up in Wichita, Kansas. He received his art training at Wichita State University in advertising design, followed by instruction in illustration and design at Art Center College in Los Angeles. Most recently he has studied human anatomy at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Connecticut.”

Below – “Road to Somewhere”; “Monterey Bay”; “New England Morning”; “House in the Woods”; “Colorado Valley” Plein Air Study; “Remnants of ’57”; “Heartland of America”; “Evening on the Beach.”

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From the Pacific Northwest – Part LIX

Musings in Winter: Mara Dabrishus

“If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that horses do listen to you. They may not have a clue what you’re saying, but they know the tone in which you say it. I’ll sing to horses so hooked on their own nerves they’re ready to climb into the sky, and sometimes it’s one of the only things that keep them on the ground.”

Below – Frederic Remington: “Cowpuncher’s Lullaby” (In the permanent collection of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.)

Art for Winter – Part I of IV: Kuan Tao-sheng (Chinese, 1262-1319)

Below – “Bamboo and Stone”

Musings in Winter: Bryn Greenwood

“Mr. Arsenikos said if you knew the constellations you would never get lost. You could always find your way home.”

Art for Winter – Part II of IV: Andrew Winter (American, 1892-1958)

Below – “Pulpit Rock, Monhegan”; “Picnic at Marshall Point Light.”

A Poem for Today

“The Falling Star”
By Sara Teasdale

I saw a star slide down the sky,
Blinding the north as it went by,
Too burning and too quick to hold,
Too lovely to be bought or sold,
Good only to make wishes on
And then forever to be gone.

Art for Winter – Part III of IV: Mabel May Woodward (American, 1877-1945)

Below – “Ogunquit Bathers”; “Trellis and Lane.”

Musings in Winter: Chloe Thurlow

“When you take care of your horse, your horse takes care of you. You can say that about no other creature on the planet.”

Art for Winter – Part IV of IV: Jamie Wyeth (American, contemporary)

Below – “Yolk and the Wicker Chair”

Musings in Winter: David Almond

“It was great to see the owls,” I said.
She smiled.
“Yes. They’re wild things, of course. Killers, savages. They’re wonderful.”

A Second Poem for Today

“Buddha with a Cell Phone”
By David Romtvedt

The dark sky opens and it starts to rain. I go outside
to stand in the stream, the longed-for gift of water
where it hasn’t rained for so long. I shout and dance
with the dog, who puts his ears back and licks my nose.
When we come back in, he shakes and I do too,
a few drops flying off my hair. I notice the Buddha
sitting on my desk. He’s a rubber Buddha
in a yellow robe. If you squeeze him he squeaks.
He’s got a radiant smile on his face, his eyebrows
happy half-moons over his eyes. As I stare at him
my wife walks by and with a cheery Buddha-like glint says,
“It’s raining.” In his right hand the Buddha’s got a cappuccino
and in his left a cell phone pressed to his ear.
His lips are closed so I know he’s listening, not talking.
One more thing—I pick up a little kaleidoscope
lying next to the Buddha and lift it to my eye to look outside.
I thought it would make the raindrops glitter
through the autumn-dry corn but instead what I see
looks like the ceiling of a great cathedral.
I whirl around and am presented with the image
of a thousand rubber Buddhas, each one
a drop of rain, falling, ready to hit the ground.

Contemporary Russian Art – Part I of II: Nikolai Blokin

In the words of one writer, “This contemporary Russian artist, centuries from now, will no doubt rank among the world’s great painters. Nikolai Blokhin is known above all as a portrait painter, although he also paints landscapes, still lifes, and genre paintings. But it is in his portraits that his talent is most strikingly apparent.”

Below – “The Gypsy”; “Profile”; “Anna”; “Anya.”

Musings in Winter: Mark Spragg

“I am fond of the sound of horses in the night. The lifting of feet. Stamping. The clicking of their iron shoes against rock. They mouth one another’s withers and rear and squeal and whirl and shuffle and cough and stand and snort. There is the combined rumblings of each individual gut. They sound larger than they are. The air tastes of horses, ripples as though come alive with their good-hearted strength and stamina.”

A Third Poem for Today

By William Meredith

Going abruptly into a starry night
It is ignorance we blink from, dark, unhoused;
There is a gaze of animal delight
Before the human vision. Then, aroused
To nebulous danger, we may look for easy stars,
Orion and the Dipper; but they are not ours,

These learned fields. Dark and ignorant,
Unable to see here what our forebears saw,
We keep some fear of random firmament
Vestigial in us. And we think, Ah,
If I had lived then, when these stories were made up, I
Could have found more likely pictures in haphazard sky.

But this is not so. Indeed, we have proved fools
When it comes to myths and images. A few
Old bestiaries, pantheons and tools
Translated to the heavens years ago—
Scales and hunter, goat and horologe—are all
That save us when, time and again, our systems fall.

And what would we do, given a fresh sky
And our dearth of image? Our fears, our few beliefs
Do not have shapes. They are like that astral way
We have called milky, vague stars and star-reefs
That were shapeless even to the fecund eye of myth—
Surely these are no forms to start a zodiac with.

To keep the sky free of luxurious shapes
Is an occupation for most of us, the mind
Free of luxurious thoughts. If we choose to escape,
What venial constellations will unwind
Around a point of light, and then cannot be found
Another night or by another man or from other ground.

As for me, I would find faces there,
Or perhaps one face I have long taken for guide;
Far-fetched, maybe, like Cygnus, but as fair,
And a constellation anyone could read
Once it was pointed out; an enlightenment of night,
The way the pronoun ‘you’ will turn dark verses bright.

Contemporary Russian Art – Part II of II: Dmitri Annenkov

In the words of one writer, “Looking at the hyperrealist still lifes of this Russian artist makes you want to reach out your hand and touch, or take right from the canvas, whatever they depict. They are just that real and alive. The artist Dmitri Annenkov lives in Moscow and works in various genres. He is remarkably talented in all of them.”

Below – “Rain in the Tavern, Norway”; “Motion”; “Little Igor’s Summer”; “Autumn.”

Musings in Winter: Cormac McCarthy

“By early evening all the sky to the north had darkened and the spare terrain they trod had turned a neuter gray as far as the eye could see. They grouped in the road at the top of a rise and looked back. The storm front towered above them and the wind was cool on their sweating faces. They slumped bleary-eyed in their saddles and looked at one another. Shrouded in the black thunderheads the distant lightning glowed mutely like welding seen through foundry smoke. As if repairs were under way at some flawed place in the iron dark of the world.”

American Art – Part I of III: Charles H. Woodbury

In the words of one writer, “A native of Lynn, Massachusetts, Charles H. Woodbury (1864-1940) showed an aptitude for the arts at an early age and joined the Lynn Beach Painters when only sixteen.  Although a junior member of the group in terms of age, Woodbury was in many ways its leader, having exhibited the first Lynn Beach painting at the Boston Art Club in 1882.  He had already become the youngest elected member of the club when only seventeen, and Woodbury continued to have further success exhibiting and teaching throughout his career, even becoming a full National Academician in 1907.”

Below – “Spindrift”; “Bathing Pool, Green Girl, Narrow Cove, Ogunquit”; “Windswept Seas”; “Three Hills – Winter”; “Mid-ocean Swells.”

Musings in Winter: Source Unknown

“Horses exist so that we can run away faster.”

A Fourth Poem for Today

“Screech Owl”
By Ted Kooser

All night each reedy whinny
From a bird no bigger than a heart
Flies out of a tall black pine
And, in a breath, is taken away
By the stars. Yet, with small hope
From the center of darkness
It calls out again and again.

American Art – Part II: Carol Alleman: Part I of II

In the words of one writer, “In late 2001, Carol Alleman expanded her artistic visions in clay to include the lost wax casting in bronze. Embracing the alchemistic nature of this ageless material and highly crafted process, she created her first bronze vessel, Miracles. Thus began the mystical and organic Tree of Life and Nature VesselSeries. This transition mirrored, to her, the longevity and ever changing character of nature as the bronze material holds inherent longevity and the patinas are ever, if softly, changing. Her signature, museum-quality work encompasses highly evolved, intricate patinas within the ancient vessel form. The infinity of the circular form, while open to receive and pour forth is a powerful essence for her. Companion Writings accompany each bronze – sharing the inspiration of each piece as she received it and typically includes a poem. She hopes and expects each piece to continue to speak to its caretaker, with a Voice that changes within each new season of their life. The companion writings are an integral part of the piece – a marriage in spirit. Combining the written word with her growing forest of bronze vessels, Carol additionally inspires audiences through her presentations and poetry readings. She is a Gardener of the Soul.”

Below – “Aries Maple”; “Gratitude”; “In Vino Veritas”; “Mighty Oak”; “Raven”; “Seeds of Harmony.”

Musings in Winter: Veronika Jensen

“Even the most
of the stars
are taken
for granted
night after

American Art – Part III: Carol Alleman: Part II of II

In the words of one writer, “Born in rural Pennsylvania, Carol Alleman obtained her degree in Art Education from the Pennsylvania State University (PA/USA) and continued graduate studies at the Lancaster Theological Seminary (PA/USA). Most recently, she has completed studies with various contemporary artists at the Scottsdale Artist School, Scottsdale, Arizona. She is an elected Signature Member of American Women Artists, a member of Allied Artists of America and a member of Artists for Conservation. She has completed numerous commissions, exhibits widely across North America including various museums and has earned awards in many juried shows, while appreciating an international collector base.”

Below – “Serenity”; “Transitions II”; “Trillium”; “Twilight Stars”; “Seasons”; “Ruby Promises.”

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