Sentient in San Francisco – 20 February 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 20 February 1902 – Ansel Adams, an American photographer.

Below – “Moon and Half Dome”; “Oak Tree, Snowstorm”; “Jeffrey Pine, Sentinel Dome”; “Afternoon Sun”; “Northern California Coast Redwoods”; “Sierra Nevada, Winter Evening.”

A Poem for Today

“In the Dark”
by Penny Carter

At bedtime, my grandson’s breath
rasps in and out of fragile lungs.
Holding the nebulizer mask
over his nose and mouth,
I rock him on my lap and hum
a lullaby to comfort him.

The nebulizer hisses as steroids
stream into his struggling chest,
and suddenly he also starts to hum,
his infant voice rising and falling
on the same few notes—some hymn
he must have learned while in the womb
or carried here from where he was before—
a kind of plainsong, holy and hypnotic
in the dark.


This Date in Art History: Died 20 February 1992 – A. J. Casson, a Canadian painter.

Below – “High Water”; “Approaching Storm, Lake Superior”; “White Village”;”White Pine”; “Little Island”; “Cloche Hills.”

Musings in Winter: William Bolitho

“Adventure must start with running away from home.”

Contemporary Polish Art – Wojtek Babski: Part I of II.

Below – “Face 33”; “Hush”; “Face 31”; “Face 28”; “Face 36”; “Face 29.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 20 February 2005 – Hunter S. Thompson, an American journalist, writer, and author of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

Some quotes from the work of Hunter S. Thompson:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’”
“The main problem in any democracy is that crowd-pleasers are generally brainless swine who can go out on a stage & whup their supporters into an orgiastic frenzy – then go back to the office & sell every one of the poor bastards down the tube for a nickel apiece. Probably the rarest form of life in American politics is the man who can turn on a crowd & still keep his head straight – assuming it was straight in the first place.”
“Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.”
“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and — in spite of True Romance magazines — we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely — at least, not all the time — but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”
“Hope rises and dreams flicker and die. Love plans for tomorrow and loneliness thinks of yesterday. Life is beautiful and living is pain.”
“Let us toast to animal pleasures, to escapism, to rain on the roof and instant coffee, to unemployment insurance and library cards, to absinthe and good-hearted landlords, to music and warm bodies and contraceptives… and to the ‘good life,’ whatever it is and wherever it happens to be.”
“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
“Sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whisky and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind but falling in love and not getting arrested.”
“We are living in dangerously weird times now. Smart people just shrug and admit they’re dazed and confused. The only ones left with any confidence at all are the New Dumb. It is the beginning of the end of our world as we knew it. Doom is the operative ethic.”
“Beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life.”


Contemporary Polish Art – Wojtek Babski: Part II of II.

Below – “Face 30”; “Face 32”; “Confused”; “Reverie”; “The Wall 6”; “Face 35.”

A Poem for Today

“Love Poem”
by Melissa Balmain

The afternoon we left our first apartment,
we scrubbed it down from ceiling to parquet.
Who knew the place could smell like lemon muffins?
It suddenly seemed nuts to move away.

The morning someone bought our station wagon,
it gleamed with wax and every piston purred.
That car looked like a centerfold in Hot Rod!
Too late, we saw that selling was absurd.

And then there was the freshly tuned piano
we passed along to neighbors with a wince.
We told ourselves we’d find one even better;
instead we’ve missed its timbre ever since.

So if, God help us, we are ever tempted
to ditch our marriage when it’s lost its glow,
let’s give the thing our finest spit and polish—
and, having learned our lesson, not let go.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 19 February 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 17 February 1876 – Constantin Brancusi, a Romanian sculptor, painter, and photographer who made his career in France.

Below – “Bird in Space”; “Muse”; “Sleeping Muse”; “Portrait of a Woman”; “The Kiss”; “Portrait of a Woman.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 19 February 1902 – Kay Boyle, an award-winning American novelist, short story writer, political activist, and victim of 1950s McCarthyism.

Some quotes from the work of Kay Boyle:

“There is only one history of any importance, and it is the history of what you once believed in, and the history of what you came to believe in.”
“The decision to speak out is the vocation and lifelong peril by which the intellectual must live.”
“Drink was the most fearsome of deceivers … for it promised one thing and came through with quite another.”
“Ah, trouble, trouble, there are the two different kinds … there’s the one you give and the other you take.”
“You can reconstruct the picture from chaos and memory’s ruins.”
“Springtime is a season we tend to forget as we grow older, and yet far back in our memories, like the landscape of a country visited long ago, it’s always there.”

This Date in Art History: Born 19 February 1877 – Gabriele Munter, a German painter.

Below – “The Yellow House”; “Blauer Kegelberg”; “Anna Rosalind”; “Staffelsee”; “Landschaft am Meer”; “Breakfast of the Birds.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 19 February 2016 – Harper Lee, an American novelist, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of Harper Lee:

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”
“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.”
“Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of another… There are just some kind of men who – who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.”
“As you grow up, always tell the truth, do no harm to others, and don’t think you are the most important being on earth. Rich or poor, you then can look anyone in the eye and say, ‘I’m probably no better than you, but I’m certainly your equal.’”
“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”
“It’s better to be silent than to be a fool.”
“Things are always better in the morning.”
“Now, 75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods, and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books. Instant information is not for me. I prefer to search library stacks because when I work to learn something, I remember it. And, Oprah, can you imagine curling up in bed to read a computer? Weeping for Anna Karenina and being terrified by Hannibal Lecter, entering the heart of darkness with Mistah Kurtz, having Holden Caulfield ring you up — some things should happen on soft pages, not cold metal.”
“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”


Contemporary German Art – Jo Fober

Below – “tour Eifel #2”; “Death Valley #2”; “Staircase Mollien”; “Chicago Tree-of-life”; “Champs-Elysee #1, before sunrise”; “Le Defense-Reflections 01.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 19 February 1926 – Frederick Seidel, an American poet.

“Snow”
by Frederick Seidel

Snow is what it does.
It falls and it stays and it goes.
It melts and it is here somewhere.
We all will get there.


Contemporary Australian Art – Loui Jover: Part I of II.

Below – “Dynasty”; “no doubt about it”; “twenty-four”; “pride”; “opiate”; “whilst.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 19 February 1917 – Carson McCullers, an American novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist, and author of “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.
Some quotes from the work of Carson McCullers:

“We are torn between nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.”
“Falling in love is the easiest thing in the world. It’s standing in love that matters.”
“To know who you are, you have to have a place to come from.
How can the dead be truly dead when they still live in the souls of those who are left behind?”
“I must go home periodically to renew my sense of horror.”
“We wander, question. But the answer waits in each separate heart – the answer of our own identity and the way by which we can master loneliness and feel that at last we belong.”
“There is no stillness like the quiet of the first cold nights in the fall.”
“Love is the bridge that leads from the I sense to the We, and there is a paradox about personal love. Love of another individual opens a new relation between the personality and the world. The lover responds in a new way to nature and may even write poetry. Love is affirmation; it motivates the yes responses and the sense of wider communication. Love casts out fear, and in the security of this togetherness we find contentment, courage. We no longer fear the age-old haunting questions: ‘Who am I?’ ‘Why am I?’ ‘Where am I going?’ – and having cast out fear, we can be honest and charitable.”
“The Heart is a lonely hunter with only one desire! To find some lasting comfort in the arms of another’s fire…driven by a desperate hunger to the arms of a neon light, the heart is a lonely hunter when there’s no sign of love in sight!”

Contemporary Australian Art – Loui Jover: Part II of II.

Below – “haze”; “right”; “I guess that’s why”; “keystones”; “ask my why”; “my intelligence.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 19 February 1952 – Amy Tan, an American novelist, essayist, short story writer, and author of “The Joy Luck Club.”

Some quotes from the work of Amy Tan:

“How can you blame a person for his fears and weaknesses unless you have felt the same and done differently?”
“I was six when my mother taught me the art of invisible strength…’strongest wind cannot be seen.’”
“No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality. The worlds in which different societies live are distinct worlds, not merely the same world with different labels attached.”
“You should think about your character. Know where you are changing, how you will be changed, what cannot be changed back again.”
“We dream to give ourselves hope. To stop dreaming – well, that’s like saying you can never change your fate.”
“How do I create something out of nothing? And how do I create my own life? I think it is by questioning, and saying to myself that there are no absolute truths.”
“I take a few quick sips. ‘This is really good.’ And I mean it. I have never tasted tea like this. It is smooth, pungent, and instantly addicting. ‘This is from Grand Auntie,’ my mother explains. ‘She told me “If I buy the cheap tea, then I am saying that my whole life has not been worth something better.” A few years ago she bought it for herself. One hundred dollars a pound.’ ‘You’re kidding.’ I take another sip. It tastes even better.”
“I hid my deepest feelings so well I forgot where I placed them.”
“And then it occurs to me. They are frightened. In me, they see their own daughters, just as ignorant, just as unmindful of all the truths and hopes they have brought to America. They see daughters who grow impatient when their mothers talk in Chinese, who think they are stupid when they explain things in fractured English. They see that joy and luck do not mean the same to their daughters, that to these closed American-born minds ‘joy luck’ is not a word, it does not exist. They see daughters who will bear grandchildren born without any connecting hope passed from generation to generation.”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 18 February 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 18 February 1860 – Anders Zorn, a Swedish artist.

Below – “Castles in the Air”; “Reveil (Awakening), the artist’s wife”; “Omnibus I”; “Sommarnöje”; “En premiar”: “Self Portrait with Faun and Nymph.”

A Poem for Today

“Husbands”
by Pauletta Hansel

My mother likes a man who works. She likes
my husband’s muddy knees, grass stains on the cuffs.
She loved my father, though when weekends came
he’d sleep till nine and would not lift
his eyes up from the page to move the feet
she’d vacuum under. On Saturdays my husband
digs the holes for her new roses,
softening the clay with peat and compost.
He changes bulbs she can no longer reach
and understands the inside of her toaster.
My father’s feet would carry him from chair
to bookshelf, back again till Monday came.
My mother likes to tell my husband
sit down in this chair and put your feet up.

Below – Vincent van Gogh: “Gardener”


Contemporary British Art – Bridget Davies: Part I of II.

Below – “Big Bow”; “She was sure it was the same gentleman!”; “Gloria In Her Gloves”; “Party Time”; “Cutlery Spin 8”; “Should Have Brought a Coat.”

Remembering a Nobel Laureate on the Date of Her Birth: Born 18 February 1931 – Toni Morrison, an American novelist, essayist, editor, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, and recipient of the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Some quotes from the work of Toni Morrison:

“If you want to fly, you have to give up the things that weigh you down.”
“How exquisitely human was the wish for permanent happiness, and how thin human imagination became trying to achieve it.”
“There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”
“There is no such thing as race. None. There is just a human race – scientifically, anthropologically. Racism is a construct, a social construct… it has a social function, racism.”
“The function of freedom is to free someone else.”
“Freedom is choosing your responsibility. It’s not having no responsibilities; it’s choosing the ones you want.”
“Books ARE a form of political action. Books are knowledge. Books are reflection. Books change your mind.”
“Please don’t settle for happiness. It’s not good enough. Of course you deserve it, but if that’s all you have in mind – happiness – I want to suggest to you that personal success devoid of meaningfulness, free of a steady commitment to social justice – that’s more than a barren life. It’s a trivial one.”
“Your life is already artful – waiting, just waiting, for you to make it art.”

Contemporary British Art – Bridget Davies: Part II of II.

Below – “If the Shoe Fits”; “The Shard at Night”; “London Taxi”; “Jealous no doubt!”; “Let it Snow, Let it Snow!”; “Three Vintage Whisks.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 18 February 1883 – Nikos Kazantzakis, a Greek writer, philosopher, playwright, and author of “Zorba the Greek.”

Some quotes from the work of Nikos Kazantzakis:

“I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else.”
“What is love? It is not simply compassion, not simply kindness. In compassion there are two: the one who suffers and the one who feels compassion. In kindness there are two: the one who gives and the one who receives. But in love there is only one; the two join, unite, become inseparable. The I and the you vanish. To love means to lose oneself in the beloved.”
“My soul comes from better worlds and I have an incurable homesickness of the stars.”
“All my life one of my greatest desires has been to travel – to see and touch unknown countries, to swim in unknown seas, to circle the globe, observing new lands, seas, people, and ideas with insatiable appetite, to see everything for the first time and for the last time, casting a slow, prolonged glance, then to close my eyes and feel the riches deposit themselves inside me calmly or stormily according to their pleasure, until time passes them at last through its fine sieve, straining the quintessence out of all the joys and sorrows.”
“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.”
“Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.”
“Be always restless, unsatisfied, unconforming. Whenever a habit becomes convenient, smash it! The greatest sin of all is satisfaction.
The landscape affects the human psyche – the soul, the body and the innermost contemplations – like music. Every time you feel nature deeper you resonate better with her, finding new elements of balance and freedom.”
“Happy is the man, I thought, who, before dying, has the good fortune to sail the Aegean sea.”
“I am a weak, ephemeral creature made of mud and dream. But I feel all the powers of the universe whirling within me.”
“This is true happiness: to have no ambition and to work like a horse as if you had every ambition. To live far from men, not to need them and yet to love them. To have the stars above, the land to your left and the sea to your right and to realize of a sudden that in your heart, life has accomplished its final miracle: it has become a fairy tale.”


Contemporary American Art – Linda Klein

Below (collages) – “Metamorphic Landscape”; “Coexistence”; “Path of Experience”; “Ascension”; “The Sound if Shapes”; “Washed Clean.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 18 February 1926 – A. R. Ammons, an American poet, critic, and two-time recipient of the National Book Award.

“In View of the Fact”
by A. R. Ammons

The people of my time are passing away: my
wife is baking for a funeral, a 60-year-old who

died suddenly, when the phone rings, and it’s
Ruth we care so much about in intensive care:

it was once weddings that came so thick and
fast, and then, first babies, such a hullabaloo:

now, it’s this that and the other and somebody
else gone or on the brink: well, we never

thought we would live forever (although we did)
and now it looks like we won’t: some of us

are losing a leg to diabetes, some don’t know
what they went downstairs for, some know that

a hired watchful person is around, some like
to touch the cane tip into something steady,

so nice: we have already lost so many,
brushed the loss of ourselves ourselves: our

address books for so long a slow scramble now
are palimpsests, scribbles and scratches: our

index cards for Christmases, birthdays,
Halloweens drop clean away into sympathies:

at the same time we are getting used to so
many leaving, we are hanging on with a grip

to the ones left: we are not giving up on the
congestive heart failure or brain tumors, on

the nice old men left in empty houses or on
the widows who decide to travel a lot: we

think the sun may shine someday when we’ll
drink wine together and think of what used to

be: until we die we will remember every
single thing, recall every word, love every

loss: then we will, as we must, leave it to
others to love, love that can grow brighter

and deeper till the very end, gaining strength
and getting more precious all the way. . . .

Below – Art Scholz: “Memories”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 17 February 2019

Contemporary German Art: Brigette Yoshiko Pruchnow: Part I of II.

Below – “Surrender”; “Going up”; “Female Swimmer No. 5”; “Coffee and Bread”; “Rain No. 4”; “Floating No. 2.”


Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 17 February 1918 – William Bronk, an American poet and recipient of the National Book Award.

“What We Are”
by William Bronk

What we are? We say we want to become
what we are or what we have an intent to be.
We read the possibilities, or try.
We get to some. We think we know how to read.
We recognize a word, here and there,
a syllable: male, it says perhaps,
or female, talent – look what you could do –
or love, it says, love is what we mean.
Being at any cost: in the end, the cost
is terrible but so is the lure to us.
We see it move and shine and swallow it.
We say we are and this is what we are
as to say we should be and this is what to be
and this is how. But, oh, it isn’t so.

Below – Rezan Ozger: “Confused”


Contemporary German Art: Brigette Yoshiko Pruchnow: Part II of II.

Below – “Rain No. 3”; “Light Drops”; “Moon Ski”; “Dream”; “Rain No. 06”; “Rainbow Skin No. 02.”

Remembering an Important Tribal Leader on the Date of His Death: Died 17 February 1909 – Geronimo, a leader and medicine man from the Bedonkohe band of the Apache tribe.

Some quotes from the work of Geronimo:

“It is my land, my home, my father’s land, to which I now ask to be allowed to return. I want to spend my last days there, and be buried among those mountains. If this could be I might die in peace, feeling that my people, placed in their native homes, would increase in numbers, rather than diminish as at present, and that our name would not become extinct.”
“I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures.”
“The song that I will sing is an old song, so old that none knows who made it. It has been handed down through generations and was taught to me when I was but a little lad. It is now my own song. It belongs to me. This is a holy song (medicine-song), and great is its power. The song tells how, as I sing, I go through the air to a holy place where Yusun (The Supreme Being) will give me power to do wonderful things. I am surrounded by little clouds, and as I go through the air I change, becoming spirit only.”
“We had no churches, no religious organizations, no sabbath day, no holidays, and yet we worshiped. Sometimes the whole tribe would assemble to sing and pray; sometimes a smaller number, perhaps only two or three. The songs had a few words, but were not formal. The singer would occasionally put in such words as he wished instead of the usual tone sound. Sometimes we prayed in silence; sometimes each one prayed aloud; sometimes an aged person prayed for all of us. At other times one would rise and speak to us of our duties to each other and to Yusun (The Supreme Being). Our services were short.”
“I should never have surrendered. I should have fought until I was the last man alive.”


Contemporary Hungarian Art – Flora Borsi: Part I of II.

Below (photographs) – “Swan”; “Kitty”; “Ugly Duck”; “Sadness”; “Fisheye”; “Balance.”

Remembering a Nobel Laureate on the Date of His Birth: Born 17 February 1955 – Mo Yan, a Chinese novelist, short story writer, and recipient of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Some quotes from the work of Mo Yan:

“I am also well aware that literature only has a minimal influence on political disputes or economic crises in the world, but its significance to human beings is ancient.”
“Possibly because I’ve lived so much of my life in difficult circumstances, I think I have a more profound understanding of life.”
“The sun, a red wheel, was sinking slowly in the west. Besides being spectacularly beautiful, the early-summer sunset was exceedingly soft and gentle: black mulberry leaves turned as red as roses; pristine white acacia petals shed an enshrouding pale-green aura. Mild evening breezes made both the mulberry leaves and the acacia petals dance and whirl, filling the woods with a soft rustle.”
“People who are strangers to liquor are incapable of talking about literature.”
“All kinds of mysterious phenomena exist in this world, but answers to most of them have come with advances in scientific knowledge.” “Love is the sole holdout-nothing can explain it. A Chinese writer by the name of Ah Cheng wrote that love is just a chemical reaction, an unconventional point of view that seemed quite fresh at the time. But if love can be controlled and initiated by means of chemistry, then novelists would be out of a job. So while he may have had his finger on the truth, I’ll remain a member of the loyal opposition.”
“I’ll continue on the path I’ve been taking, feet on the ground,” describing people’s lives, describing people’s emotions, writing from the standpoint of the ordinary people.”
“When literature exists, perhaps we do not notice how important it is, but when it does not exist, our lives become coarsened and brutal. For this reason, I am proud of my profession, but also aware of its importance.”


Contemporary Hungarian Art – Flora Borsi: Part II of II.

Below (photographs) – “Gnossienne no. V”; “Final Cut”; “Distractions”; “Blind Faith”; “Odessa”; “Flamingo.”

A Poem for Today

“Custodians”
by David Livewell

Retired from other trades, they wore
Work clothes again to mop the johns
And feed the furnace loads of coal.
Their roughened faces matched the bronze

Of the school bell the nun would swing
To start the day. They limped but smiled,
Explored the secret, oldest nooks:
The steeple’s clock, dark attics piled

With inkwell desks, the caves beneath
The stage on Bingo night. The pastor
Bowed to the powers in their hands:
Fuses and fire alarms, the plaster

Smoothing a flaking wall, the keys
To countless locks. They fixed the lights
In the crawl space above the nave
And tolled the bells for funeral rites.

‘Maintain what dead men made.’ Time blurs
Their scripted names and well-waxed floors,
Those keepers winking through the years
And whistling down the corridors.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 16 February 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 16 February 1990 – Keith Haring, an American painter.

Below – “Plate from Andy Mouse Portfolio”; “Best Buddies”; “Red Dog”; “Growing I”; “Pop Shop Quad IV”; “Fertility Suite No. 3.”


A Poem for Today

“Home”
by Glenna Luschei

Dog at my pillow.
Dog at my feet.
My own toothbrush.

Contemporary American Art – Deana Marconi

Below (photographs) – “Connection”; “Bird-watcher”; “Los Angeles 1982”; “Hello”; “In the Moment.”


Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 16 February 1838 – Henry Brooks Adams, an American historian and author of “The Education of Henry Adams,” which won the 1919 Pulitzer Prize.
The Modern Library placed “The Education of Henry Adams” first in its top 100 English-language nonfiction books of the 20th century.

Some quotes from the work of Henry Adams:

“I firmly believe, that before many centuries more, science will be the master of man. The engines he will have invented will be beyond his strength to control. Someday, science shall have the existence of mankind in its power, and the human race commit suicide by blowing up the world.”
“The press is the hired agent of a monied system, and set up for no other purpose than to tell lies where their interests are involved. One can trust nobody and nothing.”
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”
“Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man.”
“Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.”
“There is no such thing as an underestimate of average intelligence.
“My belief is that science is to wreck us, and that we are like monkeys monkeying with a loaded shell; we don’t in the least know or care where our practically infinite energies come from or will bring us to.”
“I would rather starve and rot and keep the privilege of speaking the truth as I see it, than of holding all the offices that capital has to give from the presidency down.”
“The chief wonder of education is that it does not ruin everybody concerned in it, teachers and taught.”
“Power is poison. Its effect on Presidents had always been tragic, chiefly as an almost insane excitement at first, and a worse reaction afterwards.”

Contemporary American Art – Debbie Davidsohn: Part I of II.

Below – “Self-portrait”; “Message in a Bottle”; “Beach Landscape”; “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”; “Teresa Shook – Women’s March 2017”; “Harley Pup”; “Sealed in the Wind.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Birth: Born 16 February 1958 – Natalie Angier, an American nonfiction writer, science journalist, and recipient of the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting.

Some quotes from the work of Natalie Angier:

“Scientists have discovered that the small, brave act of cooperating with another person, of choosing trust over cynicism, generosity over selfishness, makes the brain light up with quiet joy.”
“Science is not a body of facts. Science is a state of mind. It is a way of viewing the world, of facing reality square on but taking nothing on its face. It is about attacking a problem with the most manicured of claws and tearing it down into sensible, edible pieces.”
“I may not believe in life after death, but what a gift it is to be alive now.”
“The surest and most insidious enemy of freedom is not dictatorship, but complacency.”
“Evolution is a tinkerer, an ad-hocker, and a jury-rigger. It works with what it has on hand, not with what it has in mind. Some of its inventions prove elegant, while in others you can see the seams and dried glue.”
“I’m an Atheist. I don’t believe in God, Gods, Godlets or any sort of higher power beyond the universe itself, which seems quite high and powerful enough to me.”
“As [The Nation columnist Katha] Pollitt points out, when one starts looking beneath the surface of things and adding together the out-front atheists with the indifferent nonbelievers, you end up with a much larger group of people than Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Unitarians put together.”
“Nature is a tenacious recycler, every dung heap and fallen redwood tree a bustling community of saprophytes wresting life from the dead and discarded, as though intuitively aware that there is nothing new under the sun. Throughout the physical world, from the cosmic to the subatomic, the same refrain resounds. Conservation: it’s not just a good idea, it’s the law.”
“Among the more irritating consequences of our flagrantly religious society is the special dispensation that mainstream religions receive. We all may talk about religion as a powerful social force, but unlike other similarly powerful institutions, religion is not to be questioned, criticized or mocked.”
“Who needs a handgun when you’ve got a semiautomatic?”
“Astronomy is so easy to love. … Fairly or not, physics is associated with nuclear bombs and nuclear waste, chemistry with pesticides, biology with Frankenfood and designer-gene superbabies. But astronomers are like responsible ecotourists, squinting at the scenery through high-quality optical devices, taking nothing but images that may be computer-enhanced for public distribution, leaving nothing but a few Land Rover footprints on faraway Martian soil, and OK, OK, maybe the Land Rover, too.”
“Eternal love is a myth, but we make our myths, and we love them to death.”
“We are made of stardust; why not take a few moments to look up at the family album?”


Contemporary American Art – Debbie Davidsohn: Part II of II.

Below – “Antoinette”; “Raja”; “Sam”; “Santa’s Wish – Civil Rights Santa Claus”; “Self-Portrait – Women’s Rights are Human Rights”; “Plymouth Rock”; “Queen of May.”


A Poem for Today

“Hospital Parking Lot”
by Terri Kirby Erickson

Headscarf fluttering in the wind,
stockings hanging loose on her vein-roped
legs, an old woman clings to her husband

as if he were the last tree standing in a storm,
though he is not the strong one.

His skin is translucent—more like a window
than a shade. Without a shirt and coat,

we could see his lungs swell and shrink,
his heart skip. But he has offered her his arm,
and for sixty years, she has taken it.

Below – James Coates: “Old Couple”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 15 February 2019

Contemporary American Art – Corey Brazzell: Part I of II.

Below – “Connection”; “Sun Risers”; “Breath”; “Water Ways”; “Floating Universes”; “Gem & I.”

A Poem for Today

“The Sugar Thief”
by Nick Balbo

If it was free, you taught, I ought to grab it
as you did: McDonald’s napkins, pens,
and from the school where you were once employed
as one of two night shift custodians,
the metal imitation wood wastebasket
still under my desk. But it was sugar
that you took most often as, annoyed
on leaving Dunkin’ Donuts, pancake house,
and countless diners, I felt implicated
in your pleasure, crime, and poverty.
I have them still, your Ziploc bags of plunder,
yet I find today, among the loose
change in my pockets, packets crushed or faded—
more proof of your lasting legacy.


Contemporary American Art – Corey Brazzell: Part II of II.

Below – “Now Here”; “Light in the Abyss”; “Reflecting Love”; “Little Wings of Infinity”; “Hallway to the Self”; “Fearless.”

Musings in Winter: Anais Nin

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

Below – Hermann Siebert: “Woman walking in mountains”


Contemporary British Art – Iva Troj: Part I of II.

Below – “What Gives”; “I Turned Them All Into Birds II”; “The General”; “Don’t Worry, Baby, I’m Coming”; “Sleep Quiet”; “What Purpose”; “Embrace Series VI.”

A Poem for Today

“The Wading Pool”
by George Bilgere

The toddlers in their tadpole bodies,
with their squirt guns and snorkels,
their beautiful mommies and inflatable whales,
are still too young to understand
that this is as good as it gets.

Soon they must leave the wading pool
and stand all day at the concession stand
with their hormones and snow cones,
their soul patches and tribal tattoos,
pretending not to notice how beautiful they are,

until they simply can’t stand it
and before you know it
they’re lined up on lawn chairs,
dozing in the noonday sun
with their stretch marks and beer bellies,
their ‘Wall Street Journals’ and SPF 50.


Contemporary British Art – Iva Troj: Part II of II.

Below – “See Me”; “Milk”; “Milk Series – Girls”; “Bride Series Diptych – Sensitive to Light”; “Old Eyes III”; “Sorry to See You Go”; “People in the Grass.”

A Poem for Today

“Strewn”
by Barbara Walker

It’d been a long winter, rags of snow hanging on; then, at the end
of April, an icy nor’easter, powerful as a hurricane. But now
I’ve landed on the coast of Maine, visiting a friend who lives
two blocks from the ocean, and I can’t believe my luck,
out this mild morning, race-walking along the strand.
Every dog within fifty miles is off-leash, running
for the sheer dopey joy of it. No one’s in the water,
but walkers and shellers leave their tracks on the hardpack.
The flat sand shines as if varnished in a painting. Underfoot,
strewn, are broken bits and pieces, deep indigo mussels, whorls
of whelk, chips of purple and white wampum, hinges of quahog,
fragments of sand dollars. Nothing whole, everything
broken, washed up here, stranded. The light pours down, a rinse
of lemon on a cold plate. All of us, broken, some way
or other. All of us dazzling in the brilliant slanting light.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 14 February 2019: Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day

Below – Tivadar Csontvary Kosztka (Hungarian, 1853-1919): “Rendezvous of Lovers” (1902)


Art for Valentine’s Day – Sandro Botticelli: “The Birth of Venus”

Musings on Valentine’s Day: Charles M. Schultz

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

Art for Valentine’s Day – Gustav Klimt: “The Kiss”


A Poem for Valentine’s Day

“since feeling is first”
by E. E. Cummings

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
– the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says

we are for each other; then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

Below – Robert Archibald Graafland: “Young love”

Art for Valentine’s Day – Suzuki Harunobu: “Lovers Walking in the Snow”

Musings on Valentine’s Day: Melanie White

“Remember your Valentine’s card shows you care enough to send the very best, even though you’re too lazy to put it in your own words.”


Art for Valentine’s Day – Venice Clay Artists: “Psyche admiring a sleeping Cupid”


Musings on Valentine’s Day: Lawrence Durrell

“Who invented the human heart, I wonder? Tell me, and then show me the place where he was hanged.”


A Poem for Valentine’s Day

by Doug Ramspeck
“The Marriage We Carried in Our Pockets”

Or sometimes watched drifting with the leaves,
some last confetti of yellow or brown. Or it existed

the way the juncos huddled beneath the thistle
feeder in winter, in the way the clouds spilled water

in May to soak the ground. Once we found it
in the attic in a steamer trunk, and another time

we closed it in a suitcase and drove it across
the countryside to Ohio. And often we imagined that

the years were a locked door against which
we kept knocking to be admitted. And on the dresser

of the new house, I spilled the change of the marriage
into a heap, and later we sat on the back porch and watched

the nuptial clouds on their conveyor belts. And we slept
at night with the breaths of the marriage around us.

Below – Etruscan Wall Relief of a Couple in Vulci, Italy.


Art for Valentine’s Day – Pierre-Auguste Cot: “Spring”


Musings on Valentine’s Day: Richard Jeni

“Honesty is the key to a relationship. If you can fake that, you’re in.”

Art for Valentine’s Day – Bernard Kapfe: “Lovers”

Musings on Valentine’s Day: Will Ferrell

“Before you marry a person, you should first make them use a computer with slow Internet service to see who they really are.”


Art for Valentine’s Day – Frederick Leighton: “The Fisherman and the Syren”


A Poem for Valentine’s Day

“Heart to Heart”
by Rita Dove

It’s neither red
nor sweet.
It doesn’t melt
or turn over,
break or harden,
so it can’t feel
pain,
yearning,
regret.

It doesn’t have
a tip to spin on,
it isn’t even
shapely—
just a thick clutch
of muscle,
lopsided,
mute. Still,
I feel it inside
its cage sounding
a dull tattoo:
“I want, I want”—

but I can’t open it:
there’s no key.
I can’t wear it
on my sleeve,
or tell you from
the bottom of it
how I feel. Here,
it’s all yours, now—
but you’ll have
to take me,
too.

Below – Tatyana Ilieva: “Good Morning”


Art for Valentine’s Day – Antonio Canova: “Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss”


Musings on Valentine’s Day: Henny Youngman

“You can’t buy love, but you can pay heavily for it.”


A Poem for Valentine’s Day

“Heart”
by Sally Bliumis-Dunn

She has painted her lips
hibiscus pink.
The upper lip dips
perfectly in the center

like a Valentine heart.
It makes sense to me—
that the lips, the open

ah of the mouth
is shaped more like a heart
than the actual human heart.
I remember the first time I saw it—

veined and shiny
as the ooze of a snail—
if this were what
we had been taught to draw

how differently we might have
learned to love.

Art for Valentine’s Day – Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: “In Bed, The Kiss”

Musings on Valentine’s Day: Honore de Mirabeau

“Love has the power of making you believe what you would normally treat with the deepest suspicion.”

Below – John William Waterhouse: “The Siren”


A Poem for Valentine’s Day

“Married Love”
by Kuan Tao-sheng

You and I
Have so much love
That it
Burns like a fire,
In which we bake a lump of clay
Molded into a figure of you
And a figure of me.
Then we take both of them,
And break them into pieces,
And mix the pieces with water,
And mold again a figure of you,
And a figure of me.
I am in your clay.
You are in my clay.
In life we share a single quilt.
In death we will share one bed.

Note: In the words of one writer, “Kuan Tao-sheng (1262-1319) was famous not only as a poet, but also as a calligrapher and painter. She was the wife of Chao Meng-fu, one of the most famous calligraphers and painters in Chinese history.”

Art for Valentine’s Day – Theodor Lundborg: “Waves and Rock”


A Poem for Valentine’s Day

“Voyage”
by Mark Irwin

When we could no longer walk or explore, we decided to wear

the maps and would sit talking, pointing to places, sometimes

touching mountains, canyons, deserts on each other’s body,

and that was how we fell in love again, sitting next to

each other in the home that was not our home, writing letters

with crooked words, crooked lines we handed back and forth,

the huge hours and spaces between us growing smaller and smaller.

Below – Auguste Rodin: “The Kiss”

Art for Valentine’s Day – Frank Bernard Dicksee: “The End of the Quest”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 13 February 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 13 February 1906 – Albert Gottschalk, a Danish painter.

Below – “Afternoon in April”; “Ruins in the Campania”; “Evening Landscape in Tisvilde”; “An Old Garden Gate, Kogegaard”; “Portrait of a woman in black”; “Winter in Lyngby.”

Musings in Winter: Hermann Hesse

“Every experience has its element of magic.”

This Date in Art History: Died 13 February 1958 – Georges Rouault, a French painter and illustrator.

Below – “Carlotta”; “The Old King”; “Face a face”; “Dame au chapeau à plume”; “Paysage anime”; “La Route.”

A Poem for Today

“Nightmare”
by Melissa Balmain

Your TV cable’s on the fritz.
Your Xbox is corroded.
Your iPod sits in useless bits.
Your Game Boy just imploded.

Your cell phone? Static’s off the scale.
Your land line? Disconnected.
You’ve got no mail—E, junk or snail.
Your hard drive is infected.

So here you idle, dumb and blue,
with children, spouse and mother—
and wish you knew what people do
to entertain each other.


This Date in Art History: Born 13 February 1930 – Ernst Fuchs, an Austrian painter, sculptor, and illustrator.

Below – “Blooms”; “Comme Maman”; “Schlafender Engel”; Untitled; “Achilles”; “Frau Lot.”

Remembering a Composer on the Date of His Death: Died 13 February 1883 – Richard Wagner, a German composer, theater director, and conductor.

Contemporary American Art – Markenzy Cesar

Below – “Chute D’eau (waterfall)”; “Le Mur (the wall); “male dancer”; “Girl on Fire”; “Sur la Plage (on the beach)”; “La petite danceuse noir.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Death: Died 13 February 2010 – Lucille Clifton, an American poet.

“blessing the boats”
by Lucille Clifton

(at St. Mary’s)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

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Sentient in San Francisco – 12 February 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 12 February 1819 – William Wetmore Story, an American sculptor.

Below – “The Libyan Sibyl”; “Medea”; “Sappho”; “Cleopatra”; “Delilah” (This sculpture is part of the de Young Museum of San Francisco’s permanent collection; it is my good fortune to have viewed it on several occasions.).


Musings in Winter: Abraham Lincoln (born 12 February 1809)

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country… corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”

This Date in Art History: Born 12 February 1837 – Thomas Moran, a British-American painter and printmake of the Hudson River School.

Below – “Grand Canyon of the Colorado River”; “The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone”; “Under the Trees”; “The Golden Hour”; “Shoshone Falls on the Snake River”; “Sunset at Sea.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 12 February 1828 – George Meredith, an English novelist and poet.

“To a Skylark”
by George Meredith

O skylark! I see thee and call thee joy!
Thy wings bear thee up to the breast of the dawn;
I see thee no more, but thy song is still
The tongue of the heavens to me!

Thus are the days when I was a boy;
Sweet while I lived in them, dear now they’re gone:
I feel them no longer, but still, O still
They tell of the heavens to me.

This Date in Art History: Born 12 February 1884 – Marie Vassilief, a Russian-French painter.

Below – “In the Cafe”; “Cup of Tea”; “The Dance”; “Young Girl with Cat”; “Femme Assise.”


12 February 2019 is Darwin Day

In the words of one writer, “Darwin Day is a celebration to commemorate the birthday of Charles Darwin on 12 February 1809. The day is used to highlight Darwin’s contributions to science and to promote science in general. Darwin Day is celebrated around the world.”

This Date in Art History – Born 12 February 1909 – Zoran Music, a Slovenian-born Italian painter and illustrator.

Below – “Dalmatian Scene”; “Le Bac”; “Motivo Dalmata”; Untitled; “Self-portrait.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Death: Died 12 February 1980 – Muriel Rukeyser, an American poet.

“”Waiting for Icarus”
by Muriel Rukeyser

He said he would be back and we’d drink wine together
He said that everything would be better than before
He said we were on the edge of a new relation
He said he would never again cringe before his father
He said that he was going to invent full-time
He said he loved me that going into me
He said was going into the world and the sky
He said all the buckles were very firm
He said the wax was the best wax
He said Wait for me here on the beach
He said Just don’t cry

I remember the gulls and the waves
I remember the islands going dark on the sea
I remember the girls laughing
I remember they said he only wanted to get away from me
I remember mother saying: Inventors are like poets, a trashy lot
I remember she told me those who try out inventions are worse
I remember she added: Women who love such are the worst of all
I have been waiting all day, or perhaps longer.
I would have liked to try those wings myself.
It would have been better than this.

Below – Frank Richards: “Girl on the Beach”

This Date in Art History – Died 12 February 1942 – Grant Wood, an American painter.

Below – “American Gothic”; “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”; “Near Sundown”; “Iowa Cornfield”; “Stone City, Iowa”; “Self1portrait.”

A Poem for Today

“The Flower Press”
by Chelsea Woodard

It was the sort of thing given to little girls:
sturdy and small, round edged, wooden and light.
I stalked the pasture’s rough and waist-high grass
for worthy specimens: the belle amid the mass,
the star shaming the clouds of slighter,
ordinary blooms. The asters curled

inside my sweat-damp palms, as if in sleep. Crushed
in the parlor’s stifling heat, I pried
each shrinking petal back, and turned the screws.
But flowers bear no ugly bruise,
and even now fall from the brittle page, dried
prettily, plucked from memory’s hush.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 11 February 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 11 February 1855, Died 11 February 1940 – Ellen Day Hale, an American painter.

Below – “Morning News”; “The Dragonfly”; “June”; “Lilies”; “Summer Place”; “Self-Portrait.”


Musings in Winter: Albert Einstein

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”

This Date in Art History: Born 11 February 1930 – Roy De Forest, an American painter.

Below – “Country Dog Gentlemen”; “Birdland”; “Big Foot #1”; “Cat”; “The Horse”; “North of Patagonia.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Death: Died 11 February 1963 – Sylvia Plath, an American poet, novelist, and short story writer.

Some quotes from the work of Sylvia Plath:

“It’s a hell of a responsibility to be yourself. It’s much easier to be somebody else or nobody at all.”
“Go out and do something. It isn’t your room that’s a prison, it’s yourself.”
“Love life day by day, color by color, touch by touch.
“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.”
“I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am.”
“Hour by hour, day by day, life becomes possible.”

Contemporary American Art – Kim Curtis

Below – “Thirtyseven: Ten”; “Reconfigured: Seven”; “Reconfigured: Ten”; “Reconfigured: Twelve”; “Thirtyseven: Four”; “Reconfigured: Sixteen.”

A Poem for Today

“Motor Lodge”
by John Drury

“So this is it, experience,” I thought,
lugging tin buckets from the ice machines
to rooms of real adults with cigarettes,
mixed drinks in plastic cups, and proffered coins.

I reached out for their blessings, but the tips
were nothing next to rumpled, unmade beds
at four in the afternoon, women in slips
and men in t-shirts while the TV played.

Down in the laundry room, I counted sheets,
stunned by the musk that vanished in the wash,
and balled up soggy towels that down the chutes
exploded in bins. Before the evening rush,

avid and timid for what I glimpsed at work,
I left, hanging my gold vest on a hook.

Contemporary British Art – Nadia Attura

In the words of one writer, “Nadia collects photographed details made on location which are then layered in camera or at the studio. These form a tableaux of collected scenes within a scene, together they convey a sense of place and time. She uses washes, paints, chalk and ink which she layers digitally onto the final image. Often the original photograph disappears from documentary single imagery toward a more painterly poetic interpreted view of the world.”

Below – “Desert Flight”; “Dandelion Heart”; “Pink Desert”; “The Crawling”; “The Fire”; “Overture.”

A Poem for Today

“The Guitar”
by Patrick Phillips

It came with those scratches
from all their belt buckles,

palm-dark with their sweat
like the stock of a gun:

an arc of pickmarks cut
clear through the lacquer

where all the players before me
once strummed—once

thumbed these same latches
where it sleeps in green velvet.

Once sang, as I sing, the old songs.
There’s no end, there’s no end

to this world, everlasting.
We crumble to dust in its arms.

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