Food for the Spirit and the Soul

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

American Muse: William Stafford

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“A Message from the Wanderer”

Today outside your prison I stand
and rattle my walking stick: Prisoners, listen;
you have relatives outside. And there are
thousands of ways to escape.

Years ago I bent my skill to keep my
cell locked, had chains smuggled to me in pies,
and shouted my plans to jailers;
but always new plans occured to me,
or the new heavy locks bent hinges off,
or some stupid jailer would forget
and leave the keys.

Inside, I dreamed of constellations—
those feeding creatures outlined by stars,
their skeletons a darkness between jewels,
heroes that exist only where they are not.

Thus freedom always came nibbling my thought,
just as—often, in light, on the open hills—
you can pass an antelope and not know
and look back, and then—even before you see—
there is something wrong about the grass.
And then you see.

That’s the way everything in the world is waiting.

Now—these few more words, and then I’m
gone: Tell everyone just to remember
their names, and remind others, later, when we
find each other. Tell the little ones
to cry and then go to sleep, curled up
where they can. And if any of us get lost,
if any of us cannot come all the way—
remember: there will come a time when
all we have said and all we have hoped
will be all right.

There will be that form in the grass.
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April Offerings – Part XXVI: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of VI: Gaela Erwin

Artist Statement: “Self-portraits are a recurrent theme in my work. This motif allows me the luxury of working from life without the worry of mounting model bills and the ease of working whenever and however long I feel without scheduling conflicts. After all, I am always available to model. Self-portraits also afford the possibilities not only of mirroring my own physical characteristics and psychology but, if the painting is truly successful, also a glimpse of the interior landscape of the viewer’s own psyche.”
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"Self Portrait with Portable Horse"

From the Music Archives – Part I of V: Ma Rainey

“You don’t sing to feel better. You sing ’cause that’s a way of understanding life.” – Ma Rainey (born Gertrude Pridgett), one of the earliest known American professional blues singers, who was born 26 April 1886.

Ma Rainey was billed as “The Mother of the Blues.”

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American Art – Part II of VI: John James Audubon

“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.” –
John James Audubon, French-American ornithologist, naturalist, painter, and author of “The Birds of America” (1827-1839), who was born 26 April 1785.

Above – John James Audubon.
Below – Audubon’s great book; four of Audubon’s remarkable illustrations.
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AMERICAN MASTERS - John James Audubon: Drawn From Nature
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From the Music Archives – Part II of V: Count Basie

“I decided that I would be one of the biggest new names; and I actually had some little fancy business cards printed up to announce it, ‘Count Basie. Beware, the Count is Here.'” – William James “Count” Basie, American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer, who died 26 April 1984.

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American Art – Part III of VI: Frederick Law Olmsted

“The possession of arbitrary power has always, the world over, tended irresistibly to destroy humane sensibility, magnanimity, and truth.” – Frederick Law Olmsted, journalist, social critic, public administrator, one of the fathers of American landscape architecture, and, with his partner Calvert Vaux, the designer of New York City’s Central Park, who was born 26 April 1822.

Above – “Frederick Law Olmstead” (1895), by John Singer Sargent.
Below – “Early Spring Afternoon – Central Park” (1911), by Willard Leroy Metcalf; Central Park in 2007.
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From the Music Archives – Part III of V: Bobby Rydell

Born 26 April 1942 – Bobby Rydell, an American singer and, in the early 1960s, a teen idol.

British Art – Part I of II: Charles Hazelwood Shannon

Born 26 April 1863 – Charles Hazelwood Shannon, an English artist.

Below – “Hermes and the Infant Bacchus”; “Lady in a Black Shawl”; “The Apple Gatherers”; “The Birth of Venus”; “Self-Portrait.”

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From the Music Archives – Part IV of V: Gary Wright

Born 26 April 1943 – Gary Wright, an American singer, songwriter, and musician who is credited with helping establish the synthesizer as an instrument in popular music.

British Art – Part II of II: Raymond Leech

Here is one critic describing the background of British painter Raymond Leech (born 1949): “While he took a course in fine art and graphics at a local college of art, Raymond Leech considers himself mainly to be a self-taught artist. Originally he made his living in graphic design, but demand for his original art, prints and posters grew so great that he eventually made the decision to take up painting full time. He works in watercolour, oil and pastel, and his motivation as an artist is best illustrated by his affection for the figure-work of the Cornish Newlyn School of artists, which at the turn of the twentieth century included Stanhope Forbes and Dame Laura Knight. He admires their work because it provided ‘a breath of fresh air’ and Raymond Leech believes that a successful painting is not just a picture, but one that captures the air around the subject and the atmosphere as well.”
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From the Music Archives – Part V of V: Roger Taylor

Born 26 April 1960 – Roger Taylor, an English musician best known as the drummer for the band Duran Duran.

“Nature is a dictionary; one draws words from it.” – Eugene Delacroix, a French Romantic painter, who was born 26 April 1798.

Below – “Massacre at Chios”; “Liberty Leading the People”; “The Barque of Dante”; “The Natchez”; “A Jewish Wedding in Morocco”; “Hamlet with Horatio”; “The Last Words of Emperor Marcus Aurelius”; “Portrait of George Sand”; “Self-Portrait.”
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26 April 1937 – The German Luftwaffe destroys Guernica, a Basque town in Spain. In the words of one historian, “The bombing is considered one of the first raids on a defenseless civilian population by a modern air force.”

Pablo Picasso responds:
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Polish painter Marzena Slusarczyk (born 1976) is a graduate of the Academy of Arts in Gdansk.

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Waxing Philosophical – Part I of III: Marcus Aurelius

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor, philosophical stoic, and author of “Meditations,” who was born 26 April 121.

Some quotes from Marcus Aurelius:

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.”
“The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.”
“Confine yourself to the present.”
“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”
“A noble man compares and estimates himself by an idea which is higher than himself; and a mean man, by one lower than himself. The one produces aspiration; the other ambition, which is the way in which a vulgar man aspires.”
“The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing.”
“I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinions of himself than on the opinions of others.”
“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”
“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”
“How much time he saves who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks.”
“Adapt yourself to the things among which your lot has been cast and love sincerely the fellow creatures with whom destiny has ordained that you shall live.”
“Do every act of your life as if it were your last.”
“Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also.”
“How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.”
“Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.”
“He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.”
“Poverty is the mother of crime.”
“If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.”
“We ought to do good to others as simply as a horse runs, or a bee makes honey, or a vine bears grapes season after season without thinking of the grapes it has borne.”
“Death is a release from the impressions of the senses, and from desires that make us their puppets, and from the vagaries of the mind, and from the hard service of the flesh.”
“Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too.”
“Let men see, let them know, a real man, who lives as he was meant to live.”
“Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.”
“A man should be upright, not be kept upright.”
“Such as are your habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of your mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts.”
“Life is neither good nor evil, but only a place for good and evil.”
“Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.”
“Forward, as occasion offers. Never look round to see whether any shall note it.” “Be satisfied with success in even the smallest matter, and think that even such a result is no trifle.”
“We are too much accustomed to attribute to a single cause that which is the product of several, and the majority of our controversies come from that.”
“Each day provides its own gifts.”
“The only wealth which you will keep forever is the wealth you have given away.”
“To understand the true quality of people, you must look into their minds, and examine their pursuits and aversions.”
“Men exist for the sake of one another.”
“Begin – to begin is half the work, let half still remain; again begin this, and thou wilt have finished.”
“To refrain from imitation is the best revenge.”
“Everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be.”
“The universal order and the personal order are nothing but different expressions and manifestations of a common underlying principle.”
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Spanish painter Angel Benito Gastanaga (born 1962) is a member of the Spanish Association of Painters and Sculptors.
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Waxing Philosophical – Part II of III: David Hume

“A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.” – David Hume, Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist known for his empiricism and skepticism, who was born 26 April 1711 (Old System).

Some quotes from the work of David Hume:

“Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous.”
“He is happy whose circumstances suit his temper, but he is more excellent who can suit his temper to his circumstance.”
“When men are most sure and arrogant they are commonly most mistaken, giving views to passion without that proper deliberation which alone can secure them from the grossest absurdities.”
“Epicurus’s old questions are still unanswered: Is he (God) willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence evil?”
“The life of man is of no greater importance to the universe than that of an oyster.”
“Liberty of any kind is never lost all at once.”
“Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them”
“It is an absurdity to believe that the Deity has human passions, and one of the lowest of human passions, a restless appetite for applause”
“The life of man is of no greater importance to the universe than that of an oyster.”
“When anyone tells me that he saw a dead man restored to life, I immediately consider with myself whether it be more probable that this person should either deceive or be deceived or that the fact which he relates should really have happened. I weigh the one miracle against the other and according to the superiority which I discover, I pronounce my decision. Always I reject the greater miracle. If the falsehood of his testimony would be more miraculous than the event which he relates, then and not till then, can he pretend to command my belief or opinion.”

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Belarusian artist Andrei Ostashov (born 1970) is a graduate of the Belarusian State Academy of Arts, Department of Sculpture.
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Waxing Philosophical – Part III of III: Ludwig Wittgenstein

“If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian-English philosopher, who was born 26 April 1889.

Some quotes from the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein:

“Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.”
“A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.”
“If people did not sometimes do silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done.”
“The real question of life after death isn’t whether or not it exists, but even if it does what problem this really solves.”
“Don’t for heaven’s sake, be afraid of talking nonsense! But you must pay attention to your nonsense.”
“The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for.”
“A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that’s unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.”
“The problems are solved, not by giving new information, but by arranging what we have known since long.”
“Never stay up on the barren heights of cleverness, but come down into the green valleys of silliness.”
“If you and I are to live religious lives, it mustn’t be that we talk a lot about religion, but that our manner of life is different. It is my belief that only if you try to be helpful to other people will you in the end find your way to God.”
“How small a thought it takes to fill a life.”
“Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.”
“Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”
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Canadian painter Judith Geher earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Toronto. In the words of one writer, “Her practice includes drawing, painting, and sculpture, as well as designing thoughtful and considered architecture.”
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“It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us in trouble. It’s the things we know that ain’t so.” – Charles Farrar Browne, better known by his pen name, Artemus Ward, American humorist, who was born 26 April 1834.

Artemus Ward was one of Mark Twain’s good friends, and he was President Abraham Lincoln’s favorite author.

Some quotes from the work of Artemus Ward:

“Let us all be happy and live within our means, Even if we have to borrow money to do it with.”
“I am not a politician, and my other habits are good, also.”
“The Puritans nobly fled from a land of despotism to a land of freedom, where they could not only enjoy their own religion, but could prevent everybody else from enjoying his.”
“I am happiest when I am idle. I could live for months without performing any kind of labor, and at the expiration of that time I should feel fresh and vigorous enough to go right on in the same way for numerous more months.”
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Here is one critic describing the artistry of Italian symbolist painter Renzo Verdone (born 1939): “The dramatic violence of his figures told the desperation and anger of a generation. Those eyes lost, tired and empty. And those hands, those awful gnarled hands that are an essential part in his paintings. His painting, digging in the soul reveals that unconsciously we hid the infinite thirst for light.”
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“Without heroes, we are all plain people and don’t know how far we can go.” – Bernard Malamud, American novelist, short story writer, and author of “The Magic Barrel” (which won the National Book Award), “The Fixer” (which won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize), and “The Natural,” who was born 26 April 1914.

Some quotes from the work of Bernard Malamud:

“There comes a time in a man’s life when to get where he has to go – if there are no doors or windows he walks through a wall.”
“We have two lives – the one we learn with and the life we live after that.”
“Life is a tragedy full of joy.”
“Where to look if you’ve lost your mind?”
“The purpose of a writer is to keep civilisation from destroying itself.”
“The wild begins where you least expect it, one step off your normal course.”
“A man is an island in the only sense that matters, not an easy way to be. We live in mystery, a cosmos of separate lonely bodies, men, insects, stars. It is all loneliness and men know it best.”
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Here is one writer describing the artistry of Indian painter Basudeb Pal Majumder (born 1970): “Basudeb, as a part of his work and also for his wildlife photography, spends a lot of time in remote places, tribal villages & forests just to get in touch with another world. He has always been inspired by the sensuous beauty of life & living entities which provoke the visual philosophy of his canvases with images that are juxtaposed to the web of enigma illustrated by fragments of memory, visual humors & impressions of subconscious mind. In his words, ‘Living in a busy metro city, I always play a game of hiding in the inexplicable; find myself in the unknown, lost in canvas.’”
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A Poem for Today

“For a Coming Extinction,”
By W. S. Merwin

Gray whale
Now that we are sending you to The End
That great god
Tell him
That we who follow you invented forgiveness
And forgive nothing

I write as though you could understand
And I could say it
One must always pretend something
Among the dying
When you have left the seas nodding on their stalks
Empty of you
Tell him that we were made
On another day

The bewilderment will diminish like an echo
Winding along your inner mountains
Unheard by us
And find its way out
Leaving behind it the future
Dead
And ours

When you will not see again
The whale calves trying the light
Consider what you will find in the black garden
And its court
The sea cows the Great Auks the gorillas
The irreplaceable hosts ranged countless
And fore-ordaining as stars
Our sacrifices

Join your word to theirs
Tell him
That it is we who are important
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American Art – Part IV of VI: Piotr Antonow

Here is one critic describing the artistry of Polish-born painter Piotr Antonow (born 1965): “Known for his nudes but also creates portraits, still lifes and landscapes. After starting with more or less traditional drawing; I’m chasing after the abstract compositional elements that result. I’m very interested in human eye’s various ways of perception of the depth; and the ways of representing it in the three-dimensional medium.”
Antonow lives and works in Chicago.
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A Second Poem for Today

“Climbing along the River,”
By William Stafford

Willows never forget how it feels
to be young.

Do you remember where you came from?
Gravel remembers.

Even the upper end of the river
believes in the ocean.

Exactly at midnight
yesterday sighs away.

What I believe is,
all animals have one soul.

Over the land they love
they crisscross forever.
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American Art – Part V of VI: Emil Robinson

Artist Statement: “My paintings are an attempt to glean spiritual resonance from even the most mundane aspects of my life. I believe in the power of painting to communicate something mysterious. As a representational painter there are nameable things in my paintings. However, I am invested in the unnamable as my primary subject. I think a carefully made painting is a perfect answer to the information inundation in contemporary society.”
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A Third Poem for Today

“A Ritual to Read to Each Other,”
By William Stafford

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

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

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

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

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

Artist Statement: “I am a painter completely devoted to my work. I am primarily a self-taught artist and began drawing early on. In the beginning, dinosaurs and anthropomorphic creatures were my favorite subjects. In my teens, I became interested in special effects, frequently making Super-8 horror films, which eventually led to my enrollment in the Industrial Design Technology program at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. At school, I was introduced to a myriad of artistic disciplines and ultimately became obsessed with developing and nurturing my fascination with realistic figurative oil painting. Utilizing my immediate surroundings and friends as fodder for imagery, while incorporating strong emotional undercurrents, my work has culminated into a nexus of finely wrought, phantasmagorical sequences. My aim is to envelop the viewer into an unfolding narrative in a vivid cinematic context, similar to a movie still.
I live with my wife in Chicago.”

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American Muse: W. S. Merwin

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“For a Coming Extinction”

Gray whale
Now that we are sending you to The End
That great god
Tell him
That we who follow you invented forgiveness
And forgive nothing

I write as though you could understand
And I could say it
One must always pretend something
Among the dying
When you have left the seas nodding on their stalks
Empty of you
Tell him that we were made
On another day

The bewilderment will diminish like an echo
Winding along your inner mountains
Unheard by us
And find its way out
Leaving behind it the future
Dead
And ours

When you will not see again
The whale calves trying the light
Consider what you will find in the black garden
And its court
The sea cows the Great Auks the gorillas
The irreplaceable hosts ranged countless
And fore-ordaining as stars
Our sacrifices

Join your word to theirs
Tell him
That it is we who are important
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Add a comment

April Offerings – Part XXV: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of III: Justin Balliet

In the words of one critic, “Justin Balliet is a realist artist based out of Northeast Pennsylvania and a former apprentice of the Waichulis Studio. Balliet seeks to push his realism as far as possible, resulting in some of the most technically proficient work available today.”
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From the American History Archives: Cripple Creek

25 April 1896 – A fight in the Central Dance Hall in Cripple Creek, Colorado results in a fire that destroys the building. I mention this incident in order to have an excuse to post this:

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“At every step the child should be allowed to meet the real experience of life; the thorns should never be plucked from his roses.” – Ellen Key, Swedish feminist, suffragist, and writer on the subjects of family life, ethics, and education, who died 25 April 1926.

Some quotes from the work of Ellen Key:

“Education can give you a skill, but a liberal education can give you dignity.”
“When one paints an ideal, one does not need to limit one’s imagination.”
“The more horrifying this world becomes, the more art becomes abstract.”
“Everything, everything in war is barbaric… But the worst barbarity of war is that it forces men collectively to commit acts against which individually they would revolt with their whole being.”
“The educator must above all understand how to wait; to reckon all effects in the light of the future, not of the present.”
“Art, that great undogmatized church.”
“The emancipation of women is practically the greatest egoistic movement of the nineteenth century, and the most intense affirmation of the right of the self that history has yet seen.”

Ukrainian Art – Part I of II: Inga Loyeva

In the words of one writer, painter Inga Loyeva “strives to put forth beauty and project a positive undercurrent into everything she creates.”
Loyeva lives and works in Florence, where she teaches drawing and artistic anatomy at the Angel Academy of Art and works on creative projects in her studio.
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From the Music Archives – Part I of VI: Ella Fitzgerald

“The only thing better than singing is more singing.” – Ella Fitzgerald, American jazz vocalist known as the “First Lady of Song,” who was born 25 April 1917.

Ukrainian Art – Part II of II: Alexander Pavlenko

Painter Alexander Pavlenko (born 1974) is a graduate of the Faculty of Fine Art at Izmail State University.
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“A lost but happy dream may shed its light upon our waking hours, and the whole day may be infected with the gloom of a dreary or sorrowful one; yet of neither may we be able to recover a trace.” – Walter de la Mare, English poet, short story writer, and novelist, who was born 25 April 1873.

Another quote from Walter de la Mare: “All day long the door of the sub-conscious remains just ajar; we slip through to the other side, and return again, as easily and secretly as a cat.”

And his most famous poem:

“The Listeners”

‘Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses
Of the forest’s ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller’s head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
‘Is there anybody there?’ he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller’s call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
’Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:—
‘Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word,’ he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.

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From the Music Archives – Part II of VI: Michael Brown

Born 25 April 1949 – Michael Brown, an American keyboardist, songwriter, and member of the group The Left Banke.

This is one of the hit songs Brown wrote for The Left Banke:

From the Music Archives – Part III of VI: Freda Payne

25 April 1970 – Freda Payne releases “Band of Gold.”

Turkish painter Fatih Karkas (born 1975) is a graduate of Istanbul Mimar Sinan University.
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From the Music Archives – Part IV of VI: Melanie

25 April 1970 – Melanie releases “Lay Down.”

From the Music Archives – Part V of VI: Stu Ulvaeus

Born 25 April 1945 – Stu Ulvaeus, a Swedish songwriter, composer, musician, writer, producer, and former member of ABBA, the greatest semi-hard rock group in music history.

I am dedicating this song to my sons, who for some inexplicable reason really like it.

In the words of one critic, Dutch artist Ton Schulten (born 25 April 1938) “mainly paints landscapes using bright blocks of color.”
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From the Music Archives – Part VI of VI: Stu Cook

Born 25 April 1945 – Stu Cook, an American bass guitarist best known for his work with Creedence Clearwater Revival.

British artist Claerwen James (born 1970) specializes in portraiture, especially of young people, based on photographs.
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“Law cannot stand aside from the social changes around it.” – William J. Brennan, Jr., Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1956 to 1990, who was born 25 April 1906.

Some quotes from the work of Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.:

“If the right to privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion.”
“Death is not only an unusually severe punishment, unusual in its pain, in its finality and in its enormity, but is serves no penal purpose more effectively than a less severe punishment.”
“Religious conflict can be the bloodiest and cruelest conflicts that turn people into fanatics.”
“The quest for freedom, dignity, and the rights of man will never end.”
“We do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so, we dilute the freedom this cherished emblem represents.”

German painter Steffi Weigel (born 1975) lives and works in Berlin.
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“As humans we look at things and think about what we’ve looked at. We treasure it in a kind of private art gallery.” – Tom Gunn, Anglo-American poet, who died 25 April 2004.

In the words of one writer, “(Gunn) was praised both for his early verses in England, where he was associated with The Movement and his later poetry in America, even after moving toward a looser, free-verse style. After relocating from England to San Francisco, Gunn, who became openly gay, wrote about gay-related topics—particularly in his most famous work, ‘The Man With Night Sweats’ in 1992—as well as drug use, sex, and topics related to his bohemian lifestyle. He won numerous major literary awards.”

“The Man with Night Sweats”

I wake up cold, I who
Prospered through dreams of heat
Wake to their residue,
Sweat, and a clinging sheet.

My flesh was its own shield:
Where it was gashed, it healed.

I grew as I explored
The body I could trust
Even while I adored
The risk that made robust,

A world of wonders in
Each challenge to the skin.

I cannot but be sorry
The given shield was cracked,
My mind reduced to hurry,
My flesh reduced and wrecked.

I have to change the bed,
But catch myself instead

Stopped upright where I am
Hugging my body to me
As if to shield it from
The pains that will go through me,

As if hands were enough
To hold an avalanche off.
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“A Map of the City”

I stand upon a hill and see

A luminous country under me, 

Through which at two the drunk sailor must weave; 

The transient’s pause, the sailor’s leave.

I notice, looking down the hill, 

Arms braced upon a window sill; 

And on the web of fire escapes

Move the potential, the grey shapes.



I hold the city here, complete; 

And every shape defined by light

Is mine, or corresponds to mine, 

Some flickering or some steady shine.

This map is ground of my delight.

Between the limits, night by night, 

I watch a malady’s advance, 

I recognize my love of chance.



By the recurrent lights I see

Endless potentiality, 

The crowded, broken, and unfinished! 

I would not have the risk diminished.
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Here is the Artist Statement of Japanese painter Aya Kato (born 1982): “I want to wake up the souls that are sleeping in the innermost recesses of the human heart by using my imagination.”
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“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.” – Edward R. Murrow, American broadcast journalist, who was born 25 April 1908.

Murrow’s greatest moment – and one of America’s, as well – came when he publicly denounced the hideous Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Some quotes from the work of Edward R. Murrow:

“Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.”
“We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.”
“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.”
“Anyone who isn’t confused really doesn’t understand the situation.”
“A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices.”
“Our major obligation is not to mistake slogans for solutions.”
“Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices–just recognize them.”
“No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices.”
“Most truths are so naked that people feel sorry for them and cover them up, at least a little bit.”
“We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late. ”
“Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.”
“The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue.”
“The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.”
“We are in the same tent as the clowns and the freaks-that’s show business.”
“People say conversation is a lost art; how often I have wished it were.”
“When the politicians complain that TV turns the proceedings into a circus, it should be made clear that the circus was already there, and that TV has merely demonstrated that not all the performers are well trained.”
“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men – not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.”

American Art – Part II of III: Steven Lang

Artist Statement (partial): “I love to paint the Old West. I derive great satisfaction from creating images that stir the imagination and express the truths of the way it used to be. From the beginning of western expansion and Lewis & Clark to the early decades of the 1900s, America experienced a period of unparalleled adventures, hardships, triumphs and tragedies…I endeavor to depict all that was and is the legacy of the Western Frontier.”

Below – “Home on the Range”; “New Sun Rising”; “Drifting Through the Sage”; “Over the Lolo Pass”; “Pine Ridge Cowboys”; “Indian Summer.”

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“Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like his.” – “Flying at Night,” byTed Kooser, American poet and Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004 to 2006, who was born 25 April 1939.

“A Letter in October”

Dawn comes later and later now,
and I, who only a month ago
could sit with coffee every morning
watching the light walk down the hill
to the edge of the pond and place
a doe there, shyly drinking,

then see the light step out upon
the water, sowing reflections
to either side—a garden
of trees that grew as if by magic—
now see no more than my face,
mirrored by darkness, pale and odd,

startled by time. While I slept,
night in its thick winter jacket
bridled the doe with a twist
of wet leaves and led her away,
then brought its black horse with harness
that creaked like a cricket, and turned

the water garden under. I woke,
and at the waiting window found
the curtains open to my open face;
beyond me, darkness. And I,
who only wished to keep looking out,
must now keep looking in.
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Italian Art – Part I of II: Mario Tozzi

Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Mario Tozzi (1895-1979): “His compositions are characterized by strong, monumental, geometric volumes and mythical implications.”
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From the Great Plains: Wright Morris

“There’s little to see, but things leave an impression. It’s a matter of time and repetition. As something old wears thin or out, something new wears in. The handle on the pump, the crank on the churn, the dipper floating in the bucket, the latch on the screen, the door on the privy, the fender on the stove, the knees of the pants and the seat of the chair, the handle of the brush and the lid to the pot exist in time but outside taste; they wear in more than they wear out. It can’t be helped. It’s neither good nor bad. It’s the nature of life.” – Wright Morris, American novelist, essayist, photographer, and two-time winner of the National Book Award for Fiction (for “The Field of Vision” [1956] and “Plains Song: For Female Voices” [1980]), best known for his portrayals of the people and artifacts of the Great Plains in words and pictures, who died 25 April 1998.
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A few quotes from the work of Wright Morris, whose words, like his photographs, often capture a poignant sense of this fleeting world:

“After many months of writing, it occured to me that it might be possible to photograph, in the flesh, what I was attempting to capture in words. I bought a Rolleiflex camera and began to take pictures of objects or structures that were used and abused by human hands.”
“Cats don’t belong to people. They belong to places.”
“The imagination made us human, but being human, becoming more human, is a greater burden than we imagined. We have no choice but to imagine ourselves more human than we are.”

Below – “Panama” (Nebraska); “Door Between Buildings”; “Uncle Harry”; “Farmhouse with Snowbank”; “Clothing on Hooks”; “Cupboard”; “Barber Pole and Hydrant”; “Fallen Out House”; “Second Bed (Ed’s Place).”
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Italian Art – Part II of II: Vita di Milano

Here is artist Vita di Milano describing his “Women and Wheels” series of paintings: “”In an ideal world there would only be bicycles, roads smooth as silk and the wind always at your back. (Note: The first painting posted below is called “Against the Wind.”)
‘Women and Wheels’ is a tribute to women’s freedom from the dogmas and the doctrines of religion as imposed by misogynous men.”
Here is one critic writing about Milano’s work: “While Vita’s detailed and bluntly-honest figurative paintings may recall a narrative common to classic art, the intent imbedded in each of his works far exceeds what could be mistaken as an exercise in technique.
In his compositions the painter expresses his concerns about misconceptions and prejudice while elaborating on those socio/humanistic perspectives which are often masked by the veils of hypocrisy.”
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A Poem for Today

“Venus Transiens,”
By Amy Lowell

Tell me,
Was Venus more beautiful
Than you are,
When she topped
The crinkled waves,
Drifting shoreward
On her plaited shell?
Was Botticelli’s vision
Fairer than mine;
And were the painted rosebuds
He tossed his lady
Of better worth
Than the words I blow about you
To cover your too great loveliness
As with a gauze
Of misted silver?

For me,
You stand poised
In the blue and buoyant air,
Cinctured by bright winds,
Treading the sunlight.
And the waves which precede you
Ripple and stir
The sands at my feet.

Below – Sandro Botticelli: “The Birth of Venus”
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American Art – Part III of III: Donna Reibslager

Artist Statement (partial): “I create art because I am compelled to do so. For many years, it was a fragmented process, pursued in a garage, on a back porch, or elsewhere, between work and family demands. Since 2002, I have had a dedicated studio space in which I can work every day, which has allowed me to establish continuity and to more fully develop ideas.”

Below – “Coyote and Crow”; “Evening”; “Free Spirit III”; “Spirit on the Water”; “Waiting for the Parade”; “Pumping Station”; “La Curandera”; “La Luna”; “Red Rock”; “Falcon.”

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American Muse: Amy Lowell

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“Venus Transiens”

Tell me,
Was Venus more beautiful
Than you are,
When she topped
The crinkled waves,
Drifting shoreward
On her plaited shell?
Was Botticelli’s vision
Fairer than mine;
And were the painted rosebuds
He tossed his lady
Of better worth
Than the words I blow about you
To cover your too great loveliness
As with a gauze
Of misted silver?

For me,
You stand poised
In the blue and buoyant air,
Cinctured by bright winds,
Treading the sunlight.
And the waves which precede you
Ripple and stir
The sands at my feet.

Below – Sandro Botticelli: “The Birth of Venus”
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April Offerings – Part XXIV: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of IV: George Grey Barnard

Died 24 April 1938 – George Grey Barnard, an American sculptor.

Below (left to right) – “The Prodigal”; “Refugee”; “Statue of a Girl”; “The Struggle of Two Natures in Man.”
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American Art – Part II of IV: Mark Tobey

Died 24 April 1976 – Mark Tobey, an American painter whose work was often inspired by Asian calligraphy.

Below – “Canticle”; “Thanksgiving Leaf”; “Broadway”; “Child’s Fantasy”; “Night Flight.”
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24 April 1792 – Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle composes “La Marseillaise.” In the words of one historian, “The French National Convention adopted it as the Republic’s anthem in 1795. It acquired its nickname after being sung in Paris by volunteers from Marseille marching on the capital.”

Here’s a stirring rendition of the anthem:

Polish painter Ewa Zochowska (born 1976) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Lodz.
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“I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.” – Willa Cather, American writer and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize (for “One of Ours”), who died 24 April 1947.

In the words of one critic, Cather “achieved recognition for her novels of frontier life on the Great Plains, in works such as “O Pioneers!,” “My Ántonia,” and “The Song of the Lark.”

Some quotes from the work of Willa Cather:

“The earth was warm under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers…I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.”
“I wanted to walk straight on through the red grass and over the edge of the world, which could not be very far away. The light and air abot me told me that the world ended here: only the ground and sun and sky were left, and if one went a little farther there would only be sun and sky, and one would float off into them, like the tawny hawks which sailed over our heads making slow shadows on the grass.”
“Winter lies too long in country towns; hangs on until it is stale and shabby, old and sullen.”
“While the train flashed through never-ending miles of ripe wheat, by country towns and bright-flowered pastures and oak groves wilting in the sun, we sat in the observation car, where the woodwork was hot to the touch and red dust lay deep over everything. The dust and heat, the burning wind, reminded us of many things. We were talking about what it is like to spend one’s childhood in little towns like these, buried in wheat and corn, under stimulating extremes of climate: burning summers when the world lies green and billowy beneath a brilliant sky, when one is fairly stifled in vegetation, in the color and smell of strong weeds and heavy harvests; blustery winters with little snow, when the whole country is stripped bare and gray as sheet-iron. We agreed that no one who had not grown up in a little prairie town could know anything about it. It was a kind of freemasonry, we said.”
“I slept that night in the room I used to have when I was a little boy, with the summer wind blowing in at the windows, bringing the smell of the ripe fields. I lay awake and watched the moonlight shining over the barn and the stacks and the pond, and the windmill making its old dark shadow against the blue sky.”
“Trees were so rare in that country, and they had to make such a hard fight to grow, that we used to feel anxious about them, and visit them as if they were persons.”
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Oleg Zhivetin was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in 1964 to a family of Russian painters. He is a graduate of the prestigious Surikov Art Institute. In his words, “I show in my paintings what people cannot see in real life. I show individuality, the intelligence, dreams and emotions, that every human being is different and because of that they are beautiful.”
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“For West is where we all plan to go some day. It is where you go when the land gives out and the old-field pines encroach. It is where you go when you get the letter saying: Flee, all is discovered. It is where you go when you look down at the blade in your hand and the blood on it. It is where you go when you are told that you are a bubble on the tide of empire. It is where you go when you hear that thar’s gold in them-thar hills. It is where you go to grow up with the country. It is where you go to spend your old age. Or it is just where you go.” – Robert Penn Warren, American poet, novelist, literary critic, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel (for “All the King’s Men”) and two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, who was born 24 April 1905. Warren is the only person to have won Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and poetry.

“Evening Hawk”

From plane of light to plane, wings dipping through
Geometries and orchids that the sunset builds,
Out of the peak’s black angularity of shadow, riding
The last tumultuous avalanche of
Light above pines and the guttural gorge,
The hawk comes.
His wing
Scythes down another day, his motion
Is that of the honed steel-edge, we hear
The crashless fall of stalks of Time.

The head of each stalk is heavy with the gold of our error.

Look! Look! he is climbing the last light
Who knows neither Time nor error, and under
Whose eye, unforgiving, the world, unforgiven, swings
Into shadow.

Long now,
The last thrush is still, the last bat
Now cruises in his sharp hieroglyphics. His wisdom
Is ancient, too, and immense. The star
Is steady, like Plato, over the mountain.

If there were no wind we might, we think, hear
The earth grind on its axis, or history
Drip in darkness like a leaking pipe in the cellar.
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Korean painter Hi Kyung earned a BFA from Honik University.
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24 April 1895 – Joshua Slocum, the first person to sail single-handedly around the world, sets sail from Boston, Massachusetts aboard the sloop “Spray.”
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Here is the Artist Statement of painter Krassimir Kolev: “I was born in Bulgaria, but now I live in Uppsala, Sweden with my wife Lena and our daughter Matilda. My paintings are realistic with a hyper-realistic touch. They are often emotional and expressive. The figures in my paintings express more presence than action.”
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“Humor is the spiciest condiment in the feast of existence. Laugh at your mistakes but learn from them, joke over your troubles but gather strength from them, make a jest of your difficulties but overcome them.” – Lucy Maud Montgomery, Canadian author best known for a series of novels beginning with “Anne of Green Gables,” who died 24 April 1942.

Some quotes from the work of Lucy Maud Montgomery:

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”
“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
“Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music, perhaps . . . perhaps . . . love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath.”
“Life is worth living as long as there’s a laugh in it.”
“It’s not what the world holds for you. It’s what you bring to it.”
“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”
“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive–it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there?”
“Look at that sea, girls–all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn’t enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.”
“There are so many unpleasant things in the world already that there is no use in imagining any more.”
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American Art – Part III of IV: Willem de Kooning

“I don’t paint to live; I live to paint.” – Willem de Kooning, Dutch-American abstract expressionist artist, who was born 24 April 1904.

Below – “Seated Woman” (1940); “Woman V” (1952-1953); “Woman and Bicycle” (1953); “Marilyn Monroe” (1954); “A Tree in Naples” (1960); ‘North Atlantic Light” (1977).

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From the American Old West: Annie Oakley

24 April 1885 – Nate Salsbury hires sharpshooter Annie Oakley to be part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West.
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Here is one critic describing the artistry of Norwegian painter Christer Karlstad (born 1974): “In Karlstad’s constructed, ambiguous scenarios he freely engages in myths, symbols and archetypes, as this is how he sees and understands the world. When confronted by one of his paintings, wondering if somebody is dead or only sleeping, whether it’s good or evil, comforting or disturbing, the answers are actually to be found in the questions.
In his visual world of ‘staged mysticism’ the ordinary time perspective ceases to exist. Depictions of realistic situations give way to another agenda. Compositions revolve around scenarios where normality is challenged, replaced or consumed by something else, something unknown.”
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A Poem for Today

“A Workman to the Gods,”
By Edwin Markham

Once Phidias stood, with hammer in his hand,
Carving Minerva from the breathing stone,
Tracing with love the winding of a hair,
A single hair upon her head, whereon
A youth of Athens cried, “O Phidias,
Why do you dally on a hidden hair?
When she is lifted to the lofty front
Of the Parthenon, no human eye will see.”
And Phidias thundered on him: “Silence, slave:
Men will not see, but the Immortals will!”

Below – “Minerva,” Roman herm, copy after Greek original from the school of Phidias.
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German painter Susanne Kuhn has a Master of Art Degree in Painting and Graphic Art. She lives and works in Freiburg.
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A Second Poem for Today

“Sun Storm,”
By Tsering Wangmo Dhompa

(Note: Tsering Wangmo Dhompa is the first Tibetan female poet to be published in English. She lives in Santa Cruz, California.)

Like brides behind veils, my people peep from drawn curtains and feel the air with their fingers. They do not see any use for heat and are not hospitable to it. Electric fans focus on bare shoulder blades and erect nipples.

Mosquitoes persist. Hands do not move fast enough.

On arrival, my people were instructed to throw away their black clothes, then taught to distract the sun. In crisp white pajamas and khadi shirts, they walked the camp till it paled to a canvas of gathering spirits.

Night led them to the edge of the stream. Feet in water, they talked about what they had left to lose.

Some afternoons, old stories were translated into Tibetan. ‘You are blessed,’ strangers said. ‘God has delivered you. Such is his bountiful nature.’

Sparrows tattooed the air. Prayer beads clicked as mantras circulated above the parable of a son who erred and was forgiven. The story teller’s lips bent with crystals of sweat.

‘Jesus loves you.’ For years, F thought Jesus was the president of a country. He thought he was a rich old man.

He told one story-telling woman she was wrong. Jesus had nothing to do with it. It was all fate.
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American Art – Part IV of IV: Steve Hawley

Painter Steve Hawley (born 1950) received his diploma and graduate diploma from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
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American Muse: Edwin Markham

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“A Workman to the Gods”

Once Phidias stood, with hammer in his hand,
Carving Minerva from the breathing stone,
Tracing with love the winding of a hair,
A single hair upon her head, whereon
A youth of Athens cried, “O Phidias,
Why do you dally on a hidden hair?
When she is lifted to the lofty front
Of the Parthenon, no human eye will see.”
And Phidias thundered on him: “Silence, slave:
Men will not see, but the Immortals will!”

Below – “Minerva,” Roman herm, copy after Greek original from the school of Phidias.
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April Offerings – Part XXIII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of V: Joseph Pennell

Died 23 April 1926 – Joseph Pennell, an American artist.

Below – “East and West Ham”; “Steam Shovel at Work in the Culebra Cut”; “An Afternoon Call”; “London Street, Limehouse”; “In the Land of Temples”; “A Bookcase in the Music Room.”
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Born 23 April 1775 – J.M.W. Turner, an English landscape painter, watercolorist, and printmaker.

Below – “Ivy Bridge”; “Rain, Steam, and Speed – The Great Western Railway”; “Snow Storm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps”; “Heaving in Coals by Moonlight”; “Paestrum in the Storm”; “Self-Portrait.”
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Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps exhibited 1812 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851
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Literary Genius – Part I of II: Miguel de Cervantes

“It’s up to brave hearts, sir, to be patient when things are going badly, as well as being happy when they’re going well … For I’ve heard that what they call fortune is a flighty woman who drinks too much, and, what’s more, she’s blind, so she can’t see what she’s doing, and she doesn’t know who she’s knocking over or who she’s raising up.” – Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish novelist, poet, playwright, and author of “Don Quixote,” one of the major works of Western literature, who died 23 April 1616.

Some quotes from “Don Quixote”:

“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
“All I know is that while I’m asleep, I’m never afraid, and I have no hopes, no struggles, no glories — and bless the man who invented sleep, a cloak over all human thought, food that drives away hunger, water that banishes thirst, fire that heats up cold, chill that moderates passion, and, finally, universal currency with which all things can be bought, weight and balance that brings the shepherd and the king, the fool and the wise, to the same level. There’s only one bad thing about sleep, as far as I’ve ever heard, and that is that it resembles death, since there’s very little difference between a sleeping man and a corpse”
“Time ripens all things; no man is born wise.”
“Remember that there are two kinds of beauty: one of the soul and the other of the body. That of the soul displays its radiance in intelligence, in chastity, in good conduct, in generosity, and in good breeding, and all these qualities may exist in an ugly man. And when we focus our attention upon that beauty, not upon the physical, love generally arises with great violence and intensity. I am well aware that I am not handsome, but I also know that I am not deformed, and it is enough for a man of worth not to be a monster for him to be dearly loved, provided he has those spiritual endowments I have spoken of.”
“Virtue is persecuted by the wicked more than it is loved by the good.”
“Drink moderately, for drunkenness neither keeps a secret, nor observes a promise.”
“Make it thy business to know thyself, which is the most difficult lesson in the world”
“‘Destiny guides our fortunes more favorably than we could have expected. Look there, Sancho Panza, my friend, and see those thirty or so wild giants, with whom I intend to do battle and kill each and all of them, so with their stolen booty we can begin to enrich ourselves. This is noble, righteous warfare, for it is wonderfully useful to God to have such an evil race wiped from the face of the earth.’
‘What giants?’ Asked Sancho Panza.
‘The ones you can see over there,’ answered his master, ‘with the huge arms, some of which are very nearly two leagues long.’
‘Now look, your grace,’ said Sancho, ‘what you see over there aren’t giants, but windmills, and what seems to be arms are just their sails, that go around in the wind and turn the millstone.’
‘Obviously,’ replied Don Quijote, ‘you don’t know much about adventures.’”

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Italian painter Giuseppe Pecoraro (born 1947) lives and works in Favara, Sicily.
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Literary Genius – Part II of II: William Shakespeare

“Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage.” – William Shakespeare, English poet, playwright, actor, and both the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist, who died 23 April 1616.

Some quotes from the work of William Shakespeare:

“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”
“I would challenge you to a battle of wits, but I see you are unarmed!”
“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”
“We know what we are, but not what we may be.”
“Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find.”
“To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.”
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.”

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Latvian painter Laura Ozola (born 1981) earned a degree in textile design from the Riga College of Applied Arts.
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In the words of one art historian, “The artwork of Gabriel Bonmati (1928-2005) is a mixture of choice ingredients inspired by his travels around the world. It all started in Morocco in 1928, when he was born into a French/Spanish household. He began his studies in French, which eventually lead him to the Paris School of Fine Arts. From 1952-1965 he taught at a girls’ high school in Casablanca. At that time, he was also painting and began to exhibit his work in 1965. The same year he was appointed head of the Educational Documentation Center at the Nice Academy by the French ministry of Education. Although he had a successful career, he continued to paint and exhibit in Menton, Monte Carlo and Nice.
Growing up in Morocco, educated in France, and inspired by Quebec, Gabriel Bonmati dismisses nothing he was exposed to. His romantic paintings are an accumulation of his travels and experiences. He often paints women of nobility that are adorned with bejeweled headdresses in a middle-eastern décor, seemingly set in the mountains of Charlevoix. Every so often, he incorporates symbolic royal elements like kings and horses into his pieces. Most striking are his delicate female figures that seem to invite the viewer into the Bonmati world. In this imaginary world, they are the queens and we are their subordinates.”
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Nobel Laureate: Halldor Laxness

“Whoever doesn’t live in poetry cannot survive here on earth.” – Halldor Laxness, Icelandic writer, author of “Independent People,” and recipient of the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his vivid epic power which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland,” who was born 23 April 1902.

Some quotes from the work of Halldor Laxness:

“Human beings, in point of fact, are lonely by nature, and one should feel sorry for them and love them and mourn with them. It is certain that people would understand one another better and love one another more if they would admit to one another how lonely they were, how sad they were in their tormented, anxious longings and feeble hopes.”
“Shortly afterwards it started raining, very innocently at first, but the sky was packed tight with cloud and gradually the drops grew bigger and heavier, until it was autumn’s dismal rain that was falling—rain that seemed to fill the entire world with its leaden beat, rain suggestive in its dreariness of everlasting waterfalls between the planets, rain that thatched the heavens with drabness and brooded oppressively over the whole countryside, like a disease, strong in the power of its flat, unvarying monotony, its smothering heaviness, its cold, unrelenting cruelty. Smoothly, smoothly it fell, over the whole shire, over the fallen marsh grass, over the troubled lake, the iron-grey gravel flats, the sombre mountain above the croft, smudging out every prospect. And the heavy, hopeless, interminable beat wormed its way into every crevice in the house, lay like a pad of cotton wool over the ears, and embraced everything, both near and far, in its compass, like an unromantic story from life itself that has no rhythm and no crescendo, no climax, but which is nevertheless overwhelming in its scope, terrifying in its significance. And at the bottom of this unfathomed ocean of teeming rain sat the little house and its one neurotic woman.”
“This was the first time that he has ever looked into the labyrinth of the human soul. He was very far from understanding what he saw. But what was of more value, he felt and suffered with her. In years that were yet to come, he relived this memory in song, in the most beautiful song this world has known. For the understanding of the soul’s defenselessness, of the conflict between the two poles, is not the source of the greatest song. The source of the greatest song is sympathy.”
“One boy’s footprints are not long in being lost in the snow, in the steadily falling snow of the shortest day, the longest night; they are lost as soon as they are made. And once again the heath is clothed in drifting white. And there is no ghost, save the one ghost that lives in the heart of a motherless boy, till his footprints disappear.”
“But he could not help it. No one can help it. One is a realist. One has put up with it all ever since childhood; one has had the courage to look it full in the eye, possibly courage enough to look it in the eye all one’s life long. Then one day the distances beckon with their floating possibilities, and in one’s hands are the admission tickets, two slips of blue paper. One is a realist no longer. One has finished putting up with it all, one no longer has the courage to look it in the eye, one is in the power of beckoning hospitable distances, floating possibilities, perhaps forever afterwards. Perhaps one’s life is over.”
“Strange though it may seem, people rarely show such enthusiasm as when they are seeking the proof of a ghost story—the soul gathers all this sort of thing to its hungry bosom.”
“The tyranny of mankind; it was like the obstinate drip of water falling on a stone and hollowing it little by little; and this drip continued, falling obstinately, falling without pause on the souls of the children.”
“And when the spring breezes blow up the valley; when the spring sun shines on last year’s withered grass on the river banks; and on the lake; and on the lake’s two white swans; and coaxes the new grass out of the spongy soil in the marshes – who could believe on such a day that this peaceful, grassy valley brooded over the story of our past; and over its spectres?”
“The farm brook ran down from the mountain in a straight line for the fold then swerved to the west to go its way down into the marshes. There were two knee-high falls in it and two pools, knee-deep. At the bottom there was shingle, pebbles and sand. It ran in many curves. Each curve had its own tone, but not one of them was dull; the brook was merry and music-loving, like youth, but yet with various strings, and it played its music without thought of any audience and did not care though no one heard for a hundred years, like the true poet.”
is of more account than the height of a roof beam. I ought to know; mine cost me eighteen years’ slavery. The man who lives on his own land is an independent man. He is his own master. If I can keep my sheep alive through winter and can pay what has been stipulated from year to year – then I pay what has been stipulated; and I have kept my sheep alive. No, it is freedom that we are all after, Titla. He who pays his way is a king. He who keeps his sheep alive through the winter lives in a palace.”
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Polish painter Grażyna Smalej earned her MFA degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow.
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Here is the terse Artist Statement of painter Fiona Vermeeren: “I’m an artist, illustrator, and muralist working in Melbourne, Australia.”
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“The thing that is incredible is life itself. Why should we be here in this sun-illuminated universe? Why should there be green earth under our feet?” – Edwin Markham, American poet, who was born 23 April 1852.

“The Man with the Hoe”

Written after seeing Millet’s World-Famous Painting 

God made man in His own image, 
in the image of God made He him. —Genesis.

Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground,
The emptiness of ages in his face,
And on his back the burden of the world.
Who made him dead to rapture and despair,
A thing that grieves not and that never hopes,
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw?
Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow?
Whose breath blew out the light within this brain?
Is this the Thing the Lord God made and gave
To have dominion over sea and land;
To trace the stars and search the heavens for power;
To feel the passion of Eternity?
Is this the Dream He dreamed who shaped the suns
And marked their ways upon the ancient deep?
Down all the stretch of Hell to its last gulf
There is no shape more terrible than this—
More tongued with censure of the world’s blind greed—
More filled with signs and portents for the soul—
More fraught with danger to the universe.

What gulfs between him and the seraphim!
Slave of the wheel of labor, what to him
Are Plato and the swing of Pleiades?
What the long reaches of the peaks of song,
The rift of dawn, the reddening of the rose?
Through this dread shape the suffering ages look;
Time’s tragedy is in that aching stoop;
Through this dread shape humanity betrayed,
Plundered, profaned and disinherited,
Cries protest to the Judges of the World,
A protest that is also prophecy.

O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
is this the handiwork you give to God,
This monstrous thing distorted and soul-quenched ?
How will you ever straighten up this shape;
Touch it again with immortality;
Give back the upward looking and the light;
Rebuild in it the music and the dream;
Make right the immemorial infamies,
Perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes?

O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
How will the Future reckon with this Man?
How answer his brute question in that hour
When whirlwinds of rebellion shake the world?
How will it be with kingdoms and with kings—
With those who shaped him to the thing he is—
When this dumb Terror shall reply to God
After the silence of the centuries?

Below – Jean-Francois Millet: “The Man with the Hoe”
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Spanish Art – Part I of III: Goyo Dominguez

Here is one critic describing the artistry of Spanish painter Goyo Dominguez (born 1960): “Goyo is one of those very few, enviable characters who very early in life realize that haste and noise are the principal enemies of happiness. He soon chose, both in his life and in his art, the road of wisdom; taking him far away from sterile competition and useless ambition, from false gods and passing glory. This is the way he found the peace and quiet that stimulate his soul.”
And from a second critic: “It is from within this state of peace that Goyo Dominguez composes his festive, alluring paintings, using his brilliant draftsmanship from several years in art school, his distinct mixture of dulled and bright colors, and his fascinating juxtaposition of detailed countenances and blurred backgrounds to transcend reality entirely. Goyo’s faith in and dependence on his paintings is clearly evident: he speaks through his subjects, and pleadingly gazes back at the viewer through his figures’ eyes.”

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Spanish Art –Part II of III: Matias Quetglas

Painter Matias Quetglas (born 1946) is a graduate of the School of Fine Arts in Madrid.
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“Fish say, they have their Stream and Pond;
But is there anything Beyond?” – Rupert Brooke, English poet and soldier, who died 23 April 1915.

“The Soldier”

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Above – Rupert Brooke.
Below – Brooke’s grave on the Greek Island of Skyros – “some corner of a foreign field/That is for ever England.”

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Spanish Art – Part III of III: Josep Moncada Juaneda

Artist Josep Moncada Juaneda (born 1967) trained as a painter at both the Massana and the Llotja Schools of Art in Barcelona.
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From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Sergei Prokofiev

Born 23 April 1891 – Sergei Prokofiev, a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor.

American Art – Part II of V: Darrell Hill

Painter Darrell Hill (born 1941) received formal art instruction at the College of the Sequoias, Fresno State University, and Brooks Institute School of Fine Art in Santa Barbara.”
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From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Roy Orbison

“Love hurts, love scars, love wounds, and mars.” – Roy Orbison, American singer-songwriter dubbed by one critic “the Caruso of Rock,” who was born 23 April 1936.

American Art – Part III of V: Daniel Sprick

Painter Daniel Sprick (born 1953, in Little Rock, Arkansas) is a graduate of the National Academy of Design in New York City. He lives and works in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
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23 April 1907 – Jack London and his wife Charmian set sail from San Francisco on the Snark. London had the forty-three-foot-long boat built in anticipation of a seven-year, around-the-world cruise. Unfortunately, while in the Solomon Islands London became sick with what he feared was leprosy (it proved to be a bad case of psoriasis), and after he was forced to spend five weeks in a Sydney hospital recovering, doctors in Australia convinced him to forsake the rest of his journey and return to California.

Above – The Snark.
Below – Jack and Charmian London on board Snark; the book in which Jack London chronicled their adventures in the South Seas; the book in which Charmian London recorded the details of their voyage.

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American Art – Part IV of V: Julio Reyes

Artist Statement: “Beyond my parents, there exists an incredible family saga, transmitted to me around dinner tables and fireplaces one story at a time. Through those experiences, I learned that I come from a long line of Indians, witch doctors, and bootleggers, a lineage that stretches out across Mexico, and the American Southwest. I suppose it was there with my family that I got what I really needed to be an artist. It was in family and hearth that I discovered what it meant to feel deeply about things – the ability to move and be moved by others. At that dinner table, my soul was built up and made larger with noble thoughts. I learned that there were sacred things in life, and that I should devote myself to knowing them.
Very simply, I want to create art for the rest of my life according to my highest calling and fullest abilities — all else stems from this really. If I can transmit, through my work, even the smallest semblance of the love and awe that I have for life – I will have truly done something… I want to look back on a life of meaningful and serious works of art. Art that stands against the growing nihilism of our time, and with fixed purpose celebrates the beauty and immensity of life.”
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A Poem for Today

“Memory,”
By Lawson Fusao Inada

Memory is an old Mexican woman
sweeping her yard with a broom.
She has grown even smaller now,
residing at that vanishing point
decades after one dies,
but at some times, given
the right conditions—
an ordinary dream, or practically
anything in particular—
she absolutely looms,
assuming the stature
she had in the neighborhood.

This was the Great Valley,
and we had swept in
to do the grooming.
We were on the move, tending
what was essentially
someone else’s garden.
Memory’s yard was all that
in miniature, in microcosm:
rivers for irrigation,
certain plants, certain trees
ascertained by season.
Without formal acknowledgment,
she was most certainly
the head of a community, American.

Memory had been there forever.
We settled in around her;
we brought the electricity
of blues and baptized gospel,
ancient adaptations of icons,
spices, teas, fireworks, trestles,
newly acquired techniques
of conflict and healing, common
concepts of collective survival. . .

Memory was there all the while.
Her house, her shed, her skin,
were all the same— weathered—
and she didn’t do anything, especially,
except hum as she moved;
Memory, in essence, was unmemorable.

Yet, ask any of us who have long since left,
who have all but forgotten that adulterated place
paved over and parceled out by the powers that be,
and what we remember, without even choosing to,
is an old woman humming, sweeping, smoothing her yard: Memory.

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American Art – Part V of V: Gregory Calibey

Painter Gregory Calibey (born 19159) studied fine art at Wesleyan University and the University of North Carolina. Among the artists who have influenced him, he cites Degas, Sargent, and Rodin.
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American Muse: Lawson Fusao Inada

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“Memory”

Memory is an old Mexican woman
sweeping her yard with a broom.
She has grown even smaller now,
residing at that vanishing point
decades after one dies,
but at some times, given
the right conditions—
an ordinary dream, or practically
anything in particular—
she absolutely looms,
assuming the stature
she had in the neighborhood.

This was the Great Valley,
and we had swept in
to do the grooming.
We were on the move, tending
what was essentially
someone else’s garden.
Memory’s yard was all that
in miniature, in microcosm:
rivers for irrigation,
certain plants, certain trees
ascertained by season.
Without formal acknowledgment,
she was most certainly
the head of a community, American.

Memory had been there forever.
We settled in around her;
we brought the electricity
of blues and baptized gospel,
ancient adaptations of icons,
spices, teas, fireworks, trestles,
newly acquired techniques
of conflict and healing, common
concepts of collective survival. . .

Memory was there all the while.
Her house, her shed, her skin,
were all the same— weathered—
and she didn’t do anything, especially,
except hum as she moved;
Memory, in essence, was unmemorable.

Yet, ask any of us who have long since left,
who have all but forgotten that adulterated place
paved over and parceled out by the powers that be,
and what we remember, without even choosing to,
is an old woman humming, sweeping, smoothing her yard:
Memory.

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April Offerings – Part XXII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of VI: Dominic Avant

Artist Statement: “I mainly work in oils on figurative and landscape subjects. Because of my passion for plein air painting, I use a strong play of light and color to create drama. This impressionistic use of color and light set on my foundation of academic drawing builds a nice marriage between Impressionism and Realism.
I have become increasingly intrigued with catching the figure in natural moments. In my painting of my son Dean I was struck by a child’s fascination and peaceful innocence as he played with a green bucket in the water and sand oblivious of time. It is just this type of moment that I strive for in my figurative work. I have been doing commissions now for several years.
Whether I am doing landscape or figurative works I strive to capture the essence and the true beauty of the subject. I believe nature is our greatest teacher.”
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Died 22 April 1957 – Roy Campbell, a South African poet and satirist.

“Reflection”

My thought has learned the lucid art

By which the willows lave their limbs

Whose form upon the water swims

Though in the air they rise apart.

For when with my delight I lie, 

By purest reason unreproved, 

Psyche usurps the outward eye

To trace her inward sculpture grooved

In one melodious line, whose flow

With eddying circle now invests

The rippled silver of her breasts, 

Now shaves a flank of rose-lit snow, 

Or rounds a cheek where sunset dies

in the black starlight of her eyes.

Below – Mary Garman, wife of Roy Campbell.
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Spanish artist Joseph Comes Busquets (born 1924) is one of the world’s most accomplished hyperrealist painters.
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“Fashion is the science of appearance, and it inspires one with the desire to seem rather than to be.” – Henry Fielding, English novelist, dramatist, and author of “Tom Jones,” who was born 22 April 1707.

Some quotes from “Tom Jones”:

“There are a set of religious, or rather moral writers, who teach that virtue is the certain road to happiness, and vice to misery, in this world. A very wholesome and comfortable doctrine, and to which we have but one objection, namely, that it is not true.”
“Wisdom, in short, whose lessons have been represented as so hard to learn by those who never were at her school, only teaches us to extend a simple maxim universally known and followed even in the lowest life, a little farther than that life carries it. And this is, not to buy at too dear a price. Now, whoever takes this maxim abroad with him into the grand market of the world, and constantly applies it to honours, to riches, to pleasures, and to every other commodity which that market affords, is, I will venture to affirm, a wise man.”
“I look upon the vulgar observation, ‘That the devil often deserts his friends, and leaves them in the lurch,’ to be a great abuse on that gentleman’s character. Perhaps he may sometimes desert those who are only his cup acquaintance; or who, at most, are but half his; but he generally stands by those who are thoroughly his servants, and helps them off in all extremities, till their bargain expires.”
“It is much easier to make good men wise, than to make bad men good.”
“Nothing can be more reasonable, than that slaves and flatterers should exact the same taxes on all below them, which they themselves pay to all above them.”
“One of the maxims which the devil, in a late visit upon earth, left to his disciples, is, when once you are got up, to kick the stool from under you. In plain English, when you have made your fortune by the good offices of a friend, you are advised to discard him as soon as you can.”
“Men are strangely inclined to worship what they do not understand. A grand secret, upon which several imposers on mankind have totally relied for the success of their frauds.”

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Cuban-born painter Miguel Padura (born 1957) lives and works in Miami.
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From the “Too Good Not to Quote Department”:

“Sure there are dishonest men in local government. But there are dishonest men in national government too.” – Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the United States and shamelessly dishonest man, who died 22 April 1994.

Here is one critic describing the artistry of Chinese-born painter Zhaoming Wu (born 1955): “Wu focuses on figurative work, using live models, mainly women draped in cloth, although his repertoire includes landscapes and portraits. The curves of the body and folds in cloth remind Wu of nature, such as mountains, water, and sunrise and sunset. Wu’s style is impressionistic and moody. It has evolved from initially painting ‘quickly and spontaneously’ with exaggerated values and colors to growing more logical and conscious, according to Wu.”
Zhaoming Wu lives and works in San Francisco.
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Died 22 April 1930 – Jeppe Aakjaer, a Danish poet and novelist.

“Evening”

Still, my heart, now sets the sun,
While the moor is resting,
Herds now homeward are begun,
And the stork is nesting.
Still, my heart, now sets the sun.

O’er the moor-path silence falls
As on roads so winding.
A late bumblebee is all
Keenest ears are finding.
Still, my heart, now sets the sun.

Briefly now the lapwing flies
O’er the bog-pond’s blushes,
Ere it folds its wings and lies
’Neath a roof of rushes.
Still, my heart, now sets the sun.

Eastern window-panes afar
Flare up in the gloaming,
Moorland ponds like tiny stars
Catch the sunset’s homing.
Still, my heart, now sets the sun!

Below – Per Ekstrom: “Winter Landscape”
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Here is one critic describing the artistry of Moldovan painter Vladimir Sorin (born 1966): “Sorin has developed a personal style that allows him to depict his subject with photorealistic clarity using traditional painting techniques combined with soft light and warm colors to create a romantic realism that is more like a dream-like ‘ultra memory.’
Sorin is an avid photographer and gets many of his ideas while cycling or hiking in the countryside with his camera. His poetic landscapes have become a part of personal collections throughout Europe and America.”
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“All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” – Ellen Glasgow, American novelist and recipient of the 1942 Pulitzer Prize for the Novel (for “In This Our Life”), who was born 22 April 1873.

Some quotes from the work of Ellen Glasgow:

“The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions.”
“He knows so little and knows it so fluently.”
“To teach one’s self is to be forced to learn twice.”
“Mediocrity would always win by force of numbers, but it would win only more mediocrity.”
“There wouldn’t be half as much fun in the world if it weren’t for children and men, and there ain’t a mite of difference between them under the skins.”
“No idea is so antiquated that it was not once modern. No idea is so modern that it will not someday be antiquated.”
“No matter how vital experience might be while you lived it, no sooner was it ended and dead than it became as lifeless as the piles of dry dust in a school history book.”
“Nothing is more consuming, or more illogical, than the desire for remembrance.”
“Violence commands both literature and life, and violence is always crude and distorted.”
“What happens is not as important as how you react to what happens.”
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The paintings of British artist Jennifer McRae have won numerous awards.
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“He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” – Immanuel Kant, German philosopher, who was born 22 April 1724.

“Immaturity is the incapacity to use one’s intelligence without the guidance of another.”
“Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play.”
“Live your life as though your every act were to become a universal law.”
“Two things awe me most: the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.”
“All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.”
“Morality is not the doctrine of how we may make ourselves happy, but how we may make ourselves worthy of happiness.”
“Always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end.”
“Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them.”
“Happiness is not an ideal of reason, but of imagination.”
“To be is to do.”
“Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.”
“If man makes himself a worm he must not complain when he is trodden on.”
“Even philosophers will praise war as ennobling mankind, forgetting the Greek who said: ‘War is bad in that it begets more evil than it kills.’”
“Nothing is divine but what is agreeable to reason.”
“From such crooked wood as that which man is made of, nothing straight can be fashioned.”

American Art – Part II of VI: Michelle Dunaway

Artist Statement: “My mother was always doing something creative, whether painting, wood carving, or stained glass… there were always art books around the house and she encouraged me to do charcoal drawings at around the age of seven. I think growing up in Alaska gave me a love of color and also, growing up in such an untamed wilderness made me aware of all the beauty that is in the everyday. My Father and I always went on adventure hikes in the wilderness, taking the ‘path less traveled.’ I think that really gave me a joy of the process of discovery that translates into the creation of art. For me, the most profound stories are found in the simplest moments. That is something I aspire to convey in my paintings.”
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“The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.” – Vladimir Nabokov, Russian-American novelist, lepidopterist, and author of “Lolita” and “Pale Fire,” who was born 22 April 1899.

Some quotes from the work of Vladimir Nabokov:

“Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man.”
“Revelation can be more perilous than Revolution.”
“Complacency is a state of mind that exists only in retrospective: it has to be shattered before being ascertained.”
“Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it.”
“There is nothing in the world that I loathe more than group activity, that communal bath where the hairy and slippery mix in a multiplication of mediocrity.”
“My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.”
“A work of art has no importance whatever to society. It is only important to the individual.”
“Existence is a series of footnotes to a vast, obscure, unfinished masterpiece.”
“I think it is all a matter of love: the more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is.”
“To play safe, I prefer to accept only one type of power: the power of art over trash, the triumph of magic over the brute.”
“Life is a great sunrise. I do not see why death should not be an even greater one.”
“I confess, I do not believe in time.”
“I cannot conceive how anybody in his right mind should go to a psychoanalyst.”
“Poetry involves the mysteries of the irrational perceived through rational words.”
“It is hard, I submit, to loathe bloodshed, including war, more than I do, but it is still harder to exceed my loathing of the very nature of totalitarian states in which massacre is only an administrative detail.”
“Some people, and I am one of them, hate happy ends. We feel cheated. Harm is the norm.”
“Nothing is more exhilarating than philistine vulgarity.”
“Satire is a lesson, parody is a game.”
“The good, the admirable reader identifies himself not with the boy or the girl in the book, but with the mind that conceived and composed that book.”
“The breaking of a wave cannot explain the whole sea.”
“Let all of life be an unfettered howl. Like the crowd greeting the gladiator. Don’t stop to think, don’t interrupt the scream, exhale, release life’s rapture.”
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American Art – Part III of VI: Craig Nelson

Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Craig Nelson: “For over 30 years, Craig Nelson has been depicting figures landscapes and various environments in rich vibrant oils. His passion for the subjects relates directly to his brushwork, weaving mood and emotion into each work of art.”
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“We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory.” –
Louise Gluck, American poet and 12th U.S. Poet Laureate, who was born 22 April 1943.

“A Summer Garden”

Several weeks ago I discovered a photograph of my mother
sitting in the sun, her face flushed as with achievement or triumph.
The sun was shining. The dogs
were sleeping at her feet where time was also sleeping,
calm and unmoving as in all photographs.

I wiped the dust from my mother’s face.
Indeed, dust covered everything; it seemed to me the persistent
haze of nostalgia that protects all relics of childhood.
In the background, an assortment of park furniture, trees and shrubbery.

The sun moved lower in the sky, the shadows lengthened and darkened.
The more dust I removed, the more these shadows grew.
Summer arrived. The children
leaned over the rose border, their shadows
merging with the shadows of the roses.

A word came into my head, referring
to this shifting and changing, these erasures
that were now obvious—

it appeared, and as quickly vanished.
Was it blindness or darkness, peril, confusion?

Summer arrived, then autumn. The leaves turning,
the children bright spots in a mash of bronze and sienna.

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When I had recovered somewhat from these events,
I replaced the photograph as I had found it
between the pages of an ancient paperback,
many parts of which had been
annotated in the margins, sometimes in words but more often
in spirited questions and exclamations
meaning “I agree” or “I’m unsure, puzzled—”

The ink was faded. Here and there I couldn’t tell
what thoughts occurred to the reader
but through the bruise-like blotches I could sense
urgency, as though tears had fallen.

I held the book awhile.
It was ‘Death in Venice’ (in translation);
I had noted the page in case, as Freud believed,
nothing is an accident.

Thus the little photograph
was buried again, as the past is buried in the future.
In the margin there were two words,
linked by an arrow: “sterility” and, down the page, “oblivion”—

“And it seemed to him the pale and lovely
summoner out there smiled at him and beckoned…”

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How quiet the garden is;
no breeze ruffles the Cornelian cherry.
Summer has come.

How quiet it is
now that life has triumphed. The rough

pillars of the sycamores
support the immobile
shelves of the foliage,

the lawn beneath
lush, iridescent—

And in the middle of the sky,
the immodest god.

Things are, he says. They are, they do not change;
response does not change.

How hushed it is, the stage
as well as the audience; it seems
breathing is an intrusion.

He must be very close,
the grass is shadowless.

How quiet it is, how silent,
like an afternoon in Pompeii.

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Beatrice took the children to the park in Cedarhurst.
The sun was shining. Airplanes
passed back and forth overhead, peaceful because the war was over.

It was the world of her imagination:
true and false were of no importance.

Freshly polished and glittering—
that was the world. Dust
had not yet erupted on the surface of things.

The planes passed back and forth, bound
for Rome and Paris—you couldn’t get there
unless you flew over the park. Everything
must pass through, nothing can stop—

The children held hands, leaning
to smell the roses.
They were five and seven.

Infinite, infinite—that
was her perception of time.

She sat on a bench, somewhat hidden by oak trees.
Far away, fear approached and departed;
from the train station came the sound it made.

The sky was pink and orange, older because the day was over.

There was no wind. The summer day
cast oak-shaped shadows on the green grass.
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From the Movie Archives: Jack Nicholson

Born 22 April 1937 – Jack Nicholson, an American actor, film director, producer, and writer. In the words of one movie historian, “ With twelve Academy Award nominations (eight for Best Actor and four for Best Supporting Actor), Nicholson is the most nominated male actor in Academy Awards history.”

A scene from one of Jack Nicholson’s Academy Award-winning performances (Will Sampson, portraying Chief Bromden in this clip, also deserved at least an Academy Award nomination.):

American Art – Part IV of VI: John Randall Younger

Artist John Randall Younger studied sculpture and life drawing at the Portland School of Fine Arts in Portland, Maine. He is a self-taught painter.
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From the Music Archives: Richie Havens

Died 22 April 2013 – Richie Havens, an American guitarist and singer-songwriter.

American Art – Part V of VI: William Whitaker

In the words of one writer, “The only son of an artist father, William Whitaker (born 1943), American painter, grew up in the special world of the working artist. He had access to the finest art materials and was painting in watercolor and oil at the age of six. His fondest early memories are of the sights sounds and smells of the art studio.
Whitaker loves to paint from life in an old fashioned studio. No matter what direction his art takes him, he always comes back to the model in the studio, the form bathed in the beautiful quiet cool light coming down from a high north window. He refers to this kind of seeing and painting as the Old Testament of art and feels there is enough magic to engage him there for the rest of his life.
He believes the value of painting is to be found in its spiritual power. Having been told all his life that the kind of painting he enjoys is dead, he takes quiet comfort in lovingly attempting to capture something the camera cannot see. He is also delighted that there are so many wonderfully talented young artists who are not bound or inhibited by contemporary art world conventions and who are out to paint beautifully crafted pictures without apology. He has been a professional artist since 1965, during which time he has conducted workshops and been a university art professor. He continues to work with one or two advanced student artists for fun. He paints about three or four hours every day ands spends the rest of the time trying not to ruin any good work he’s done.”
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A Poem for Today

“Twilight: After Haying,”
By Jane Kenyon

Yes, long shadows go out
from the bales; and yes, the soul
must part from the body:
what else could it do?

The men sprawl near the baler,
too tired to leave the field.
They talk and smoke,
and the tips of their cigarettes
blaze like small roses
in the night air. (It arrived
and settled among them
before they were aware.)

The moon comes
to count the bales,
and the dispossessed–
‘Whip-poor-will, Whip-poor-will’
–sings from the dusty stubble.

These things happen. . .the soul’s bliss
and suffering are bound together
like the grasses. . .

The last, sweet exhalations
of timothy and vetch
go out with the song of the bird;
the ravaged field
grows wet with dew.

Below – Marc Bohne: “Twilight Hay Bales”

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American Art – Part VI of VI: Ansel Adams

“It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.” AND “A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.” – Ansel Adams, visionary American photographer and environmentalist, who died 22 April 1984.

Below – “The Tetons and the Snake River”; “Moon and Half Dome”; “Close-up of Leaves in Glacier National Park”; “Clearing Winter Storm – Yosemite Valley”; “Moonrise”; “Rose and Driftwood”; “Mountains”; “Jeffry Pine”; “Poplar Trees”; “Trees with Snow on Branches.”

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Loving Our Mother: Earth Day 2015

22 April 1970 – Earth Day, founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, is first observed, though the idea for such a day had been suggested a year earlier. In the words of one historian, “In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be celebrated on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. This day of nature’s equipoise was later sanctioned in a Proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations.”

Some appropriate quotes for Earth Day (particularly the final one):

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” —Theodore Roosevelt
“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.” —John James Audubon
“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” —Henry David Thoreau
“Perhaps a creature of so much ingenuity and deep memory is almost bound to grow alienated from his world, his fellows, and the objects around him. He suffers from a nostalgia for which there is no remedy upon earth except as it is to be found in the enlightenment of the spirit–some ability to have a perceptive rather than an exploitive relationship with his fellow creatures.” – Loren Eiseley
“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” —John Muir
“The good man is the friend of all living things.” — Mahatma Gandhi
“We need the tonic of wildness … At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplainable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” —Henry David Thoreau
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together … all things connect.” —Chief Seattle
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” —Jane Goodall
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” – Carl Sagan

Above – The Earth Day Flag.
Below – John McConnell (1915-2012); Gaylord Nelson (1916-2005); the “Pale Blue Dot” – a photograph of the Earth taken from about six billion miles away by the Voyager 1 space probe.

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