Sentient in San Francisco – 17 June 2019

Contemporary French Art – Sabine Danze

Below – “The Dancer 17”; “Monsieur de Paris 3”; “Haute Couture 7”; “Descabello 10”; “The Dancer 4”; “Skyline 3.”

A Poem for Today

“Eating Them As He Came”

by Christopher Todd Matthews

Dark by five, the day gives up and so do I, 

stalled at the top of the stairs I forget what for, 

adrift in a scrap of dream that’s not a dream 

exactly but a stupor, unrefined. I go astray 

in old routines, I dare myself to reconstruct 

the rules of old invented games—that one 

of throwing snowballs at the roof, to watch them 

shrink as they rolled down, spinning to their pits, 

to see the force that made them briefly a thing 

so neatly undone. Today an old friend’s tiny boy 

lobbied me to pitch some snowballs at him. I bowed 

to his dense little will. But planned to miss. 

As I packed and flung each one to its unpacking, 

he hunted down the humble bits and crumbs 

of every impact, as they ran from him along 

the icy slope, and gathered and carried them 

back to me at the top. Eating them as he came. 

So that’s how you get to the marrow of breakdown. 

I forgot. That you could put what’s left to your lips.

Below – Amber Walden: “Boy Eating Snow”

Contemporary American Art – Leslie Dannenberg: Part I of III.

Below – “Rooftop Views”; “Residence of Doors”; “Interior with Patio Door”; “Three Lives Bookstore”; “Monument Valley Utah”; “Aspen Trees Autumn.”

Musings in Spring: David Brower

“Sometimes luck is with you, and sometimes not, but the important thing is to take the dare. Those who climb mountains or raft rivers understand this.”

Contemporary American Art – Leslie Dannenberg: Part II of III.

Below – “Red Pagoda Guests”; “Track 28”; “Tanager Pair on Birch Tree”; “Blue Porcelain”; “Aspen Eyes”; “Woodpeckers on Sweet Gum Tree.”

A Poem for Today

“At the Office Holiday Party”

by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

I can now confirm that I am not just fatter 

than everyone I work with, but I’m also fatter 

than all their spouses. Even the heavily bearded 

bear in accounting has a little otter-like boyfriend.

 

When my co-workers brightly introduce me 

as “the funny one in the office,” their spouses 

give them a look which translates to, Well, duh, 

then they both wait for me to say something funny.

 

A gaggle of models comes shrieking into the bar 

to further punctuate why I sometimes hate living 

in this city. They glitter, a shiny gang of scissors. 

I don’t know how to look like I’m not struggling.

 

Sometimes on the subway back to Queens, 

I can tell who’s staying on past the Lexington stop 

because I have bought their shoes before at Payless. 

They are shoes that fool absolutely no one.

 

Everyone wore their special holiday party outfits. 

It wasn’t until I arrived at the bar that I realized 

my special holiday party outfit was exactly the same 

as the outfits worn by the restaurant’s busboys.

 

While I’m standing in line for the bathroom, 

another patron asks if I’m there to clean it.

Contemporary American Art – Leslie Dannenberg: Part III of III.

Below – “Early Morning Parking”; “Anchor Island Lighthouse”; “Shopping”; “Rodgers and Astaire”; “The Study”; “Autumn in a Small Town.”

Musings in Spring: Joe Queenan

“The world is changing, but I am not changing with it. There is no e-reader or Kindle in my future. My philosophy is simple: Certain things are perfect the way they are. The sky, the Pacific Ocean, procreation and the Goldberg Variations all fit this bill, and so do books. Books are sublimely visceral, emotionally evocative objects that constitute a perfect delivery system. Books that we can touch; books that we can smell; books that we can depend on. Books that make us believe, for however short a time, that we shall all live happily ever after.”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 16 June 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 16 June 1878 – Kikuchi Yosai, a Japanese painter.

Below – “Self-Portrait”; “Mount Fuji”; “Shoki – Demon Queller”; “Taira no Atsumori.”

This Date in Literary History: 16 June 1904 – In the words of one writer, on this day “Irish author James Joyce begins a relationship with Nora Barnacle and subsequently uses the date to set the actions for his novel ‘Ulysses‘; this date is now traditionally called ‘Bloomsday‘.”

Below – Nora Barnacle and James Joyce on their wedding day in 1931; the great “Bloomsday Book.”

This Date in Art History: Born 16 June 1917 – Irving Penn, an American photographer.

Below – “Pablo Picasso at La Californie, Cannes, 1957”;  “Marlene Dietrich, New York, 1948”; “Cuzco Children, 1948”; “Tribesman with nose disc, New Guinea, 1970”; “Girl Drinking (Mary Jane Russell, New York, 1949.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 16 June 1938 – Joyce Carol Oates, an American novelist, short story writer, critic, poet, and recipient of the National Book Award: Part I of II.

Some quotes from the work of Joyce Carol Oates: 

“How lovely this world is, really: one simply has to look.”

“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.”

“And this is the forbidden truth, the unspeakable taboo – that evil is not always repellent but frequently attractive; that it has the power to make of us not simply victims, as nature and accident do, but active accomplices.”

“Read widely, and without apology. Read what you want to read, not what someone tells you you should read.”

“It’s where we go, and what we do when we get there, that tells us who we really are.”

“Keep a light, hopeful heart. But ­expect the worst.”

“The strangeness of Time. Not in its passing, which can seem infinite, like a tunnel whose end you can’t see, whose beginning you’ve forgotten, but in the sudden realization that something finite, has passed, and is irretrievable.”

“Tragedy is the highest form of art.”

“Homo sapiens is the species that invents symbols in which to invest passion and authority, then forgets that symbols are inventions.”

“The mere passage of time makes us all exiles.”

“The heavenly light you admire is fossil-light, it’s the unfathomably distant past you gaze into, stars long extinct.”

Contemporary Israeli Art – Lior Patel

Below (photographs) – “Night over ice cream car”; Of Elephant and Man”; “Gently”; “Skin”; “Order! (Urban obsession)”; “Husky Power.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 16 June 1938 – Joyce Carol Oates, an American novelist, short story writer, critic, poet, and recipient of the National Book Award: Part II of II.

“Women Whose Lives are Food, Men Whose Lives are Money”

by Joyce Carol Oates

Mid-morning Monday she is staring

peaceful as the rain in that shallow back yard

she wears flannel bedroom slippers

she is sipping coffee

she is thinking—

—gazing at the weedy bumpy yard

at the faces beginning to take shape

in the wavy mud

in the linoleum

where floorboards assert themselves

 

Women whose lives are food

breaking eggs with care

scraping garbage from the plates

unpacking groceries hand over hand

 

Wednesday evening: he takes the cans out front

tough plastic with detachable lids

Thursday morning: the garbage truck whining at 7

Friday the shopping mall open till 9

bags of groceries unpacked

hand over certain hand

 

Men whose lives are money

time-and-a-half Saturdays

the lunchbag folded with care and brought back home

unfolded Monday morning

 

Women whose lives are food

because they are not punch-carded

because they are unclocked

sighing glad to be alone

staring into the yard, mid-morning

mid-week

by mid-afternoon everything is forgotten

 

There are long evenings

panel discussions on abortions, fashions, meaningful work

there are love scenes where people mouth passions

sprightly, handsome, silly, manic

in close-ups revealed ageless

the women whose lives are food

the men whose lives are money

fidget as these strangers embrace and weep and mis-

understand and forgive and die and weep and embrace

and the viewers stare and fidget and sigh and

begin yawning around 10:30

never made it past midnight, even on Saturdays,

watching their braven selves perform

 

Where are the promised revelations?

Why have they been shown so many times?

Long-limbed children a thousand miles to the west

hitch-hiking in spring, burnt bronze in summer

thumbs nagging

eyes pleading

“Give us a ride, huh? Give us a ride?”

 

and when they return nothing is changed

the linoleum looks older

the Hawaiian Chicken is new

the girls wash their hair more often

the boys skip over the puddles

in the GM parking lot

no one eyes them with envy

 

their mothers stoop

the oven doors settle with a thump

the dishes are rinsed and stacked and

by mid-morning the house is quiet

it is raining out back

or not raining

the relief of emptiness rains

simple, terrible, routine

at peace 

Contemporary Russian Art – Gleb Krukov

Below (sculpture) – ‘Intuition”; “River Horse ‘Hippopotamus’”; “Kensei ‘Sacred Sword”; “Top-Tiroir. High Society.”

A Poem for Today

“Hunter’s Moon”

by Molly Fisk

Early December, dusk, and the sky 

slips down the rungs of its blue ladder 

into indigo. A late-quarter moon hangs 

in the air above the ridge like a broken plate 

and shines on us all, on the new deputy 

almost asleep in his four-by-four, 

lulled by the crackling song of the dispatcher, 

on the bartender, slowly wiping a glass 

and racking it, one eye checking the game. 

It shines down on the fox’s red and grey life, 

as he stills, a shadow beside someone’s gate, 

listening to winter. Its pale gaze caresses 

the lovers, curled together under a quilt, 

dreaming alone, and shines on the scattered 

ashes of terrible fires, on the owl’s black flight, 

on the whelks, on the murmuring kelp, 

on the whale that washed up six weeks ago 

at the base of the dunes, and it shines 

on the backhoe that buried her.

Below – Image by Jim Kaler.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 15 June 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 15 June 1858 – Ary Scheffer, a Dutch-French painter.  

Below – “Portrait of Katarzyna Potocka“; “Charles Dickens”; “Julie Salis Schwabe”; “Portrait of a Child”; “Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta Appraised by Dante and Virgil”; “Self-Portrait.”

A Poem for Today

“Tomato Pies, 25 Cents”

by Grace Cavalieri

Tomato pies are what we called them, those days,

before Pizza came in, 

at my Grandmother’s restaurant, 

in Trenton New Jersey.

My grandfather is rolling meatballs 

in the back. He studied to be a priest in Sicily but 

saved his sister Maggie from marrying a bad guy 

by coming to America. 

Uncle Joey is rolling dough and spooning sauce. 

Uncle Joey, is always scrubbed clean, 

sobered up, in a white starched shirt, after 

cops delivered him home just hours before. 

The waitresses are helping 

themselves to handfuls of cash out of the drawer, 

playing the numbers with Moon Mullin 

and Shad, sent in from Broad Street. 1942, 

tomato pies with cheese, 25 cents. 

With anchovies, large, 50 cents. 

A whole dinner is 60 cents (before 6 pm). 

How the soldiers, bussed in from Fort Dix, 

would stand outside all the way down Warren Street, 

waiting for this new taste treat, 

young guys in uniform, 

lined up and laughing, learning Italian, 

before being shipped out to fight the last great war.

Below – A Trenton-style tomato pie.

This Date in Art History: Died 15 June 1951 – Vance A. Larson, an American painter.

Below – “Flight”; “Blue Hearted Swan”; “Alsalfisar”; “Born Into Spirit”; “Running As Free As The Wind”; “Nude.”

Musings in Spring: John Lubbock

“Earth and Sky, Woods and Fields, Lakes and Rivers, the Mountain and the Sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.”

Contemporary Dutch Art – Rome van Rijckevorsel

Below – “The Viking”; “Drummer boy”; “Bird in a cage”; “The wedding”; “Sugar Babe.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 15 June 1763 – Kobayashi Issa, a Japanese poet.

Haiku

by Issa 

On a branch

floating downriver

a cricket, singing.

Contemporary American Art – Linda Olsen

Below – “Moonlit Stroll III”; “Island Bar Coral”; “Island Life.”

A Poem for Today

“The Great Blue Heron”

by T. Alan Broughton

I drive past him each day in the swamp where he stands 

on one leg, hunched as if dreaming of his own form 

the surface reflects. Often I nearly forget to turn left, 

buy fish and wine, be home in time to cook and chill. 

Today the bird stays with me, as if I am moving through 

the heron’s dream to share his sky or water—places

he will rise into on slow flapping wings or where 

his long bill darts to catch unwary frogs. I’ve seen 

his slate blue feathers lift him as dangling legs 

fold back, I’ve seen him fly through the dying sun 

and out again, entering night, entering my own sleep. 

I only know this bird by a name we’ve wrapped him in, 

and when I stand on my porch, fish in the broiler,

wine glass sweating against my palm, glint of sailboats 

tacking home on dusky water, I try to imagine him

slowly descending to his nest, wise as he was 

or ever will be, filling each moment with that moment’s 

act or silence, and the evening folds itself around me.

Below – James Williamson: “Great Blue Heron Splendor”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 14 June 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 14 June 1904 – Margaret Bourke-White, an American photographer and documentary photographer.

Below – “Flood Victim Paddling a Boat Made of Washtubs, Louisville, KY”; “Statue of Liberty, New York City”; “Gandhi, India, 1948”; “Approaching Storm, Hartman, Colorado, 1954”; “Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico, 1935”; “Gold Miners, Johannesburg, 1950.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 14 June 1986 – Jorge Luis Borges, an Argentine short story writer, essayist, poet, and translator.

Some quotes from the work of Jorge Luis Borges:

“So plant your own gardens and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.”

“Dictatorships foster oppression, dictatorships foster servitude, dictatorships foster cruelty; more abominable is the fact that they foster idiocy.”

“Don’t talk unless you can improve the silence.”

“Being with you and not being with you is the only way I have to measure time.”

“Any life, however long and complicated it may be, actually consists of a single moment — the moment when a man knows forever more who he is.”

“Nothing is built on stone; all is built on sand, but we must build as if the sand were stone.”

“What you really value is what you miss, not what you have.”

“Of all man’s instruments, the most wondrous, no doubt, is the book. The other instruments are extensions of his body. The microscope, the telescope, are extensions of his sight; the telephone is the extension of his voice; then we have the plow and the sword, extensions of the arm. But the book is something else altogether: the book is an extension of memory and imagination.”

“Doubt is one of the names of intelligence.”

“Time is the substance from which I am made. Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire.”

“I am not sure that I exist, actually. I am all the writers that I have read, all the people that I have met, all the women that I have loved, all the cities I have visited.”

This Date in Art History: Died 14 June 2005 – Mimi Parent, a Canadian surrealist artist.

Below – “Au Lion d’or”; “La Porte de la sorcière”; “figuration feminine”; “Le Passage du mervillon”; “Le Labyrinthe.”

This Date in American Cultural History: Died 14 June 2015 – Anne Nicol Gaylor, an American reproductive rights activist, author, atheist, co-founder of the Freedom from Religion Foundation (a freethought association safeguarding the constitutional principle of separation between church and state), and recipient of the American Humanist Association’s Humanist Heroine Award.

Some quotes from the work of Anne Nicol Gaylor: 

“There were many groups working for women’s rights, but none of them dealt with the root cause of women’s oppression – religion.”

“For a fact, the Christians stole Christmas. We don’t mind sharing it with them, but we don’t like this pretense of theirs that it is the birthday of Jesus. It is the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun-Dies Natalis Invicti Solis. Christmas is a relic of sun worship.”

“There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

“The words ‘In God WE trust’ are not only unconstitutional, they aren’t even accurate.”

Contemporary Finnish Art – Svetlana Brezitskaya

Below – “On a winter day. Saint Petersburg”; “An evening walk”; “Winter in Helsinki”; “The Helsinki Christmas Market in Helsinki Senate Square. Finland”; “A winter day walk along Aura river in Turku. Finland”; “An evening walk in Galina Starovoitova Square. Saint Petersburg.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 14 June 1968 – Salvatore Quasimodo, a Sicilian novelist, poet, and recipient of the 1959 Nobel Prize in Literature.

“Street in Agrigentum”

by Salvatore Quasimodo

There a wind remains that I recall afire

within the manes of horses as they slanted

their way across the planes, a chafing wind

that eats at the sandstone, erodes the hearts

of derelict caryatids cast down

Onto the grass. Soul of antiquity

Gone gray with age and rage, turn back and lean

into that wind, breathe of the delicate moss

clothing those giants tumbled out of heaven.

How lonely what is left to you must be!

And worse: to break your heart to hear once more

that sound resound and dwindle out to sea

where Hesperus already streaks the dawn:

a sad jew’s-harp reverberating through

the throat of that lone cartman as he slowly 

ascends his moon-cleansed hill again through dark

murmurings of the Moorish olive trees.

Below – Valley of the Temples in Agrigentum. 

Contemporary Russian Art – Alexander Ilichev

Below – “Havana”; “Veil”; “Yellow Portrait”; “Red Hat”; “Troubles”; “Contre-Jour”; “Almonds.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 13 June 1939 – Colin Thubron, an English journalist, novelist, travel writer, and author of “The Lost Heart of Asia” and “Shadow of the Silk Road.”

Some quotes from the work of Colin Thubron:

“A nation is bound not only by the real past, but the stories it tells itself: by what it remembers, and what it forgets.” 

“Siberia: it fills one twelfth of the land-mass of the whole Earth, yet this is all it leaves for certain in the mind. A bleak beauty, and an indelible fear.” 

“I am travelling with this mystique myself, I know. It has grown out of childhood, and adolescent reading. This looking-glass Tibet is a realm of ancient learning lost to the rest of the world, ruled by a lineage of monks who are reincarnations of divinity. Recessed beyond the greatest mountain barrier on earth, in plateaux of cold purity, it floats in its own time. It is a land forbidden to intruders not by human agency but by some mystical interdiction. So it resonates like the memory of something lost, a survival from a purer time, less a country than a region in the mind. Perhaps it holds the keys to the afterlife.”

“A journey is not a cure. It brings an illusion, only, of change, and becomes at best a spartan comfort.” 

“Sometimes I feel it is best to experience as little as possible. I have become so accustomed to the sight of blood that this afternoon I witnessed the execution of two soldiers for cowardice. All that occurred to me was that their severed heads went rolling about just like dice. This only goes to show what I have always held: that horrors do not sharpen but blunt the senses. An old friend once set above his vestibule door the blood-soaked cuirass in which his father was killed. He put it there, he said, as a perpetual reminder of the horror of violence. And was he reminded? The first time he passed the vestibule, yes. The second time, maybe. The third time not at all, and thereafter he grew used to it, and was later killed in an amphitheatre riot with his fingers on another man’s throat.” 

“Sometimes, you feel yourself weightless, thinned. You draw back the curtains (if there are any) on a rectangle of wasteland at dawn, and realise that you are cast adrift from everything that gave you identity. Thousands of miles from anyone who knows you, you have the illusion that your past is lighter, scarcely yours at all. Even your ties of love have been attenuated (the emergency satellite phone is in my rucksack and nobody calls). Dangerously, you may come to feel invulnerable.” 

“From time to time we see hearthrugs moving over the slopes. With quaintly hunched shoulders and bushy culottes, these are yaks. In their darkly dripping coats they stand out like rocks against the bleached grass where they graze.” 

“Trekkers at high altitudes sometimes sense a person walking a few paces behind them, just out of sight. Often this person is dead. I never feel this, but once or twice I imagine someone walking a little ahead of me.” 

“To follow the Silk Road is to follow a ghost. It flows through the heart of Asia, but it has officially vanished leaving behind the pattern of its restlessness: counterfeit boarders, unmapped peoples. The road forks and wanders wherever you are. It is not a single way, but many: a web of choices.” 

“Sometimes journeys begin long before their first step is taken.”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 13 June 2019

Contemporary British Art – Robert McPartland

Below – “Ocean 1”; “Red table”; “Morning”; “Orange Table”; “Quinces”; “Chamomile Tea.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 113 June 1958 – Edwin Keppel Bennett, an English poet and writer.

“The Stranger”

by Edwin Keppel Bennett

The room grows silent, and the dead return:

Whispering faintly in the corridor,

They try the latch and steal across the floor

Towards my chair; and in the hush I turn

Eagerly to the shadows, and discern

The ghosts of friends whom I shall see no more,

Come back, come back from some Lethean shore

To the old kindly life for which they yearn.

How still they are! O, wherefore can I see

No sign of recognition in the eyes

That gaze in mine? Have they forgotten me

Who was their friend? They fade into the gloom;

And on my heart their plaintive murmur dies:

“A stranger now, a stranger fills his room.”

Below – Robin Kenneth Pulda: “Ghosts of Friends”

Contemporary French Art – Eva Falka

Below – “What?”; “Mystic Kittens”; “Black and Black”; “Window”; “Cats in Winter”; “Light and Shadow.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 13 June 1865 – William Butler Yeats, an Irish poet, playwright, and recipient of the 1923 Nobel Prize in Literature: Part I of III.

“Sailing to Byzantium”

by William Butler Yeats

I

That is no country for old men. The young

In one another’s arms, birds in the trees,

—Those dying generations—at their song,

The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,

Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long

Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.

Caught in that sensual music all neglect

Monuments of unageing intellect.

II

An aged man is but a paltry thing,

A tattered coat upon a stick, unless

Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing

For every tatter in its mortal dress,

Nor is there singing school but studying

Monuments of its own magnificence;

And therefore I have sailed the seas and come

To the holy city of Byzantium.

III

O sages standing in God’s holy fire

As in the gold mosaic of a wall,

Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,

And be the singing-masters of my soul.

Consume my heart away; sick with desire

And fastened to a dying animal

It knows not what it is; and gather me

Into the artifice of eternity.

IV

Once out of nature I shall never take

My bodily form from any natural thing,

But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make

Of hammered gold and gold enamelling

To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;

Or set upon a golden bough to sing

To lords and ladies of Byzantium

Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

Contemporary Dutch Art – Karin Vermeer: Part I of II.

Below – “frida kahlo”; “Marilyn Monroe versus Aegje Hasselaer (orignal Michiel Jansz van Mierevelt 1640)”; “Lady Gaga”; “Grace Kelly”; “Anvy – 02.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 13 June 1865 – William Butler Yeats, an Irish poet, playwright, and recipient of the 1923 Nobel Prize in Literature: Part II of III.

“The Lake Isle of Innisfree”

by William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;

Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,

I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Contemporary Dutch Art – Karin Vermeer: Part II of II.

Below – “Aqua”; “Sorrow”; “Brouillard”; “Lady Gaga Vanity Fair”; “Naomi Campbell Vogue.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 13 June 1865 – William Butler Yeats, an Irish poet, playwright, and recipient of the 1923 Nobel Prize in Literature: Part III of III.

“Leda and the Swan”

by William Butler Yeats

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still

Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed

By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,

He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push

The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?

And how can body, laid in that white rush,

But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there

The broken wall, the burning roof and tower

And Agamemnon dead. Being so caught up,

So mastered by the brute blood of the air,

Did she put on his knowledge with his power

Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

Below – Giovanni Boldini (1842 – 1931): “Leda and the Swan”

Below – Augustus John: “Portrait of William Butler Yeats”;William Butler Yeats (13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939) – His epitaph:

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Sentient in San Francisco – 12 June 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 12 June 1890 – Egon Schiele, an Austrian painter.

Below – “Edith Schiele”; “Living room in Neulengbach”; “Four Trees”; “House with Shingles”; “Self-Portrait with Physalis.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 12 June 1892 – Djuna Barnes, an American novelist, journalist, playwright, and author of “Nightwood.”

Some quotes from the work of Djuna Barnes: 

“Destiny and history are untidy.”

“I talk too much because I have been made so miserable by what you are keeping hushed.”

“A man is whole only when he takes into account his shadow as well as himself – and what is a man’s shadow but his upright astonishment?”

“‘I have been loved,’ she said, ‘by something strange, and it has forgotten me.’”

“There is always more surface to a shattered object than a whole.”

Contemporary American Art – Elizabeth Becker: Part I of II.

Below – “Starling”; “Deeper”; “Cherry Blossom No. 5”; “Hellebore No. 7”; “Branch Study No. 13.”

This Date in American History: Born 12 June 1806 – John Augustus Roebling, a German-born American civil engineer who designed and built suspension bridges, in particular the Brooklyn Bridge.

“To Brooklyn Bridge”

by Hart Crane

How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest

The seagull’s wings shall dip and pivot him,

Shedding white rings of tumult, building high

Over the chained bay waters Liberty—

 

Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes   

As apparitional as sails that cross

Some page of figures to be filed away;

—Till elevators drop us from our day …

 

I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights

With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene

Never disclosed, but hastened to again,

Foretold to other eyes on the same screen;

 

And Thee, across the harbor, silver paced

As though the sun took step of thee yet left

Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,—

Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!

 

Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft

A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,

Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,

A jest falls from the speechless caravan.

 

Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,

A rip-tooth of the sky’s acetylene;

All afternoon the cloud flown derricks turn …

Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.

 

And obscure as that heaven of the Jews,

Thy guerdon … Accolade thou dost bestow

Of anonymity time cannot raise:

Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show.

 

O harp and altar, of the fury fused,

(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)

Terrific threshold of the prophet’s pledge,

Prayer of pariah, and the lover’s cry,

 

Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift

Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,

Beading thy path—condense eternity:

And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.

 

Under thy shadow by the piers I waited

Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.

The City’s fiery parcels all undone,

Already snow submerges an iron year …

 

O Sleepless as the river under thee,

Vaulting the sea, the prairies’ dreaming sod,         

Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend

And of the curveship lend a myth to God.

 

Below – John Augustus Roebling; Hart Crane with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background; the Brooklyn Bridge at night.

Contemporary American Art – Elizabeth Becker: Part II of II.

Below – “Iris No. 70”; “Touch No. 5”; “Iris No. 66”; “Aura.”

Musings in Spring: Edward Abbey

“I choose to listen to the river for a while, thinking river thoughts, before joining the night and the stars.”

Contemporary German Art – Uwe Wenzel

Below – “Mono lake”; “four at the edge of woods”; “treasure seekers”; “ramp”; “wondercup 4.”

A Poem for Today

“For My Wife Cutting My Hair”

by Bruce Guernsey

You move around me expertly like the good, round 

Italian barber I went to in Florence, 

years before we met, his scissors 

a razor he sharpened on a belt.

 

But at first when you were learning, I feared 

for my neck, saw my ears like sliced fruit 

on the newspapered floor. Taking us back in time, 

you cleverly clipped my head in a flat-top.

 

The years in between were styles no one had ever seen, 

or should see again: when the wind rose 

half my hair floated off in feathers, 

the other half bristling, brief as a brush.

 

In the chair, almost asleep, I hear the bright 

scissors dancing. Hear you hum, full-breasted as Aida, 

carefully trimming the white from my temples, 

so no one, not even I, will know.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 11 June 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 11 June 1852 – Karl Bryuliov, a Russian painter.

Below – “The Dream of a Girl Before a Sunrise”; “Girl gathering grapes in the vicinity of Naples”; “Italian Morning”; “Italian Midday”; “Portrait of Sophia Andreevna Bobrinskya (Shuvalova)”; “The Last Day of Pompeii.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 11 June 1925 – William Styron, an American novelist, essayist, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of William Styron:

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.”

“Depression is a disorder of mood, so mysteriously painful and elusive in the way it becomes known to the self — to the mediating intellect– as to verge close to being beyond description. It thus remains nearly incomprehensible to those who have not experienced it in its extreme mode.”

“What this country needs… what this great land of ours needs is something to happen to it. Something ferocious and tragic, like what happened to Jericho or the cities of the plain – something terrible I mean, son, so that when the people have been through hellfire and the crucible, and have suffered agony enough and grief, they’ll be people again, human beings, not a bunch of smug contented cows rooting at the trough.”

“We each devise our means of escape from the intolerable.”

“It is hopelessness even more than pain that crushes the soul.”

“In Vineyard Haven, on Martha’s Vineyard, mostly I love the soft collision here of harbor and shore, the subtly haunting briny quality that all small towns have when they are situated on the sea.”

“Reading – the best state yet to keep absolute loneliness at bay.”

“Which is worse, past or future? Neither. I will fold up my mind like a leaf and drift on this stream over the brink.”

Contemporary American Art – Brian Adgate

Below – ‘Landscape with two Red Hills”; “Deep Canyon Landscape”; “Flower Dance in a Costa Rican Jungle”; “Bright Flowers Dark Hills”; “Ascending Moon Descending Orchids – Night Garden Series”; “Morning and Evening Glories – Night Garden Series.”

A Poem for Today

“Picasso”

by Tim Nolan

How can we believe he did it— 

every day—for all those years?

We remember how the musicians 

gathered for him—and the prostitutes

arranged themselves the way he wanted— 

and even the helmeted monkeys

with their little toy car cerebella— 

posed—and the fish on the plate—

remained after he ate the fish— 

Bones—What do we do with this

life?—except announce: Joy. 

Joy. Joy’—from the lead—‘

to the oil—to the stretch of bright 

canvas—stretched—to the end of it all.

Below – Pablo Picasso: “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”

Contemporary Ukrainian Painting: Tetiana Yabloed: Part I of II. 

Below – “Say my name and everything just start”; “Metamorphosis”;“The amber gold”; “Solo.”

Musings in Spring: A. A. Milne

“Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.”

Below – Kaneyoshi Tabuchi: “A bridge over a fast flowing river”

Contemporary Ukrainian Painting: Tetiana Yabloed: Part II of II. 

Below – “Braveheart”; “Break Free”; “Miracles inside”;  “Chasing Stars.”

A Poem for Today

“Remaking a Neglected Orchard”

by Nathaniel Perry

It was a good idea, cutting away

the vines and ivy, trimming back 

the chest-high thicket lazy years 

had let grow here. Though it wasn’t for lack

of love for the trees, I’d like to point out. 

Years love trees in a way we can’t 

imagine. They just don’t use the fruit 

like us; they want instead the slant

of sun through narrow branches, the buckshot 

of rain on these old cherries. And we, 

now that I think on it, want those 

things too, we just always and desperately

want the sugar of the fruit, the best 

we’ll get from this irascible land: 

sweetness we can gather for years, 

new stains staining the stains on our hands.

Below – Michael Durst: “The Cherry Orchard”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 10 June 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 10 June 1907 – Fairfield Porter, an American painter: Part I of II.

Below – “Under the Elms”; “Girl in a Landscape”; “Anne in a Striped Dress”; “July”; “Late Afternoon Snow”; “July Interior.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 10 June 1925 – James Salter, an award-winning American novelist and short story writer. 

Some quotes from the work of James Salter:

“To write? Because all this is going to vanish. The only thing left will be the prose and poems, the books, what is written down. Man was very fortunate to have invented the book. Without it the past would completely vanish, and we would be left with nothing, we would be naked on earth.”

“There comes a time when you realize that everything is a dream, and only those things preserved in writing have any possibility of being real.”

“Certain things I remember exactly as they were. They are merely discolored a bit by time, like coins in the pocket of a forgotten suit. Most of the details, though, have long since been transformed or rearranged to bring others of them forward. Some, in fact, are obviously counterfeit; they are no less important. One alters the past to form the future.”

This Date in Art History: Born 10 June 1907 – Fairfield Porter, an American painter: Part II of II.

Below – “The Mirror”; “Iced Coffee”; “Wild Roses”; “Still Life with Stapler”; “Apple Blossoms II”; “Self-Portrait.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 10 June 1973 – William Inge, an American novelist, playwright, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of William Inge: 

“Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.”

“We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.”

“Nobody is bored when he is trying to make something that is beautiful or to discover something that is true.”

“A nation is a society united by a delusion about its ancestry and by common hatred of its neighbors.”

“Joy is the triumph of life; it is the sign that we are living our true life as spiritual beings.”

“Don’t break the silence unless you can improve on it.”

“Bereavement is the deepest initiation into the mysteries of human life, an initiation more searching and profound than even happy love.”

“Experience is a good teacher, but her fees are very high.”

This Date in Art History: Born 10 June 1953 – Eileen Cooper, an English painter and printmaker.

Below – “Interval”; “Hear the Wind Cry I”; “Pause”; “Source”; “Clio.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 10 June 1958 – Angelina Weld Grimke, an American poet, journalist, and playwright who came to prominence during the Harlem Renaissance.

“The Eyes of My Regret”

by Angelina Weld Grimke

Always at dusk, the same tearless experience,

The same dragging of feet up the same well-worn path

To the same well-worn rock;

The same crimson or gold dropping away of the sun

The same tints, – rose, saffron, violet, lavender, grey

Meeting, mingling, mixing mistily;

Before me the same blue black cedar rising jaggedly to 

a point;

Over it, the same slow unlidding of twin stars,

Two eyes, unfathomable, soul-searing,

Watching, watching, watching me;

The same two eyes that draw me forth, against my will

dusk after dusk;

The same two eyes that keep me sitting late into the

night, chin on knees

Keep me there lonely, rigid, tearless, numbly

miserable –

The eyes of my Regret. 

 

Contemporary American Art – Nina Hunter

Below – “That summer feeling”; “Golden Flowers”; “Harvey Nichols window display”; “Flowers. Still Life.”

A Poem for Today

“Brief Eden”

by Lois Beebe Hayna

For part of one strange year we lived 

in a small house at the edge of a wood. 

No neighbors, which suited us. Nobody 

to ask questions. Except 

for the one big question we went on 

asking ourselves.

That spring 

myriads of birds stopped over

briefly. Birds we’d never seen before, drawn 

to our leafy quiet and our brook and because, 

as we later learned, the place lay beneath 

a flyway. Flocks appeared overnight—birds 

brilliant or dull, with sharp beaks

or crossed bills, birds small 

and enormous, all of them pausing 

to gorge at the feeder, to rest their wings, 

and disappear. Each flock seemed surer than we 

of a destination. By the time we’d watched them 

wing north in spring, then make 

an anxious autumn return, 

we too had pulled it together and we too moved 

into what seemed to be our lives.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 9 June 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 9 June 1984 – Helen Hardin, a Native American painter: Part I of II.

Below – “Robes”; “Petroglyph”; “Pause For Refreshment”; Heartline Deer”; “Red Man In Journey”; Untitled early work.


A Poem for Today

“The Aunts”
by Joyce Sutphen

I like it when they get together
and talk in voices that sound
like apple trees and grape vines,

and some of them wear hats
and go to Arizona in the winter,
and they all like to play cards.

They will always be the ones
who say “It is time to go now,”
even as we linger at the door,

or stand by the waiting cars, they
remember someone—an uncle we
never knew—and sigh, all

of them together, like wind
in the oak trees behind the farm
where they grew up—a place

I remember—especially
the hen house and the soft
clucking that filled the sunlit yard.

Below – Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: “The Three Old Women”

This Date in Art History: Died 9 June 1984 – Helen Hardin, a Native American painter: Part II of II.

Below – “Messenger From The Sun”; “Kachina”; “Metamorphosis”; “Medicine Woman”; Zia Bird; “Arrival of the Cloud People.”

Musings in Spring: Barry Lopez

“To put your hands in a river is to feel the chords that bind the earth together.”

Below – Kris Friesen: “Edmonton River Valley”


Contemporary British Art – Natalie Maquet

Below – “Flow 3”; “Paradis”; “Fete 4”; “Fete 5”; “Entrelacee 4”; “Paysage 2.”

Born 9 June 1842 – Hazard Stevens, an American military officer, politician, writer, and mountaineer. On 17 August 1870 Hazard Stevens and P. B. Van Trump completed the first documented ascent of Mount Rainier in Washington. One hundred and seven years later, in May of 1977, I followed the path they forged all the way to the summit of this beautiful and dangerous mountain.

Below – Hazard Stevens; Mount Rainier; a view from Rainier’s summit.

Contemporary Austrian Art – Geza Ricz

Below – “At the barrel”; “Cabin III”; “Interior with armchair”; “The housework”; “The instructor.”

A Poem for Today

“Mysterious Neighbors”
by Connie Wanek

Country people rise early
as their distant lights testify.
They don’t hold water in common. Each house
has a personal source, like a bank account,
a stone vault. Some share eggs,
some share expertise,
and some won’t even wave.
A walk for the mail elevates the heart rate.
Last November I saw a woman down the road
walk out to her mailbox dressed in blaze orange
cap to boot, a cautious soul.
Bullets can’t read her No Trespassing sign.
Strange to think they’re in the air
like lead bees with a fatal sting.
Our neighbor across the road sits in his kitchen
with his rifle handy and the window open.
You never know when. Once
he shot a trophy with his barrel resting on the sill.
He’s in his seventies, born here, joined the Navy,
came back. Hard work never hurt a man
until suddenly he was another broken tool.
His silhouette against the dawn
droops as though drought-stricken, each step
deliberate, down the driveway to his black mailbox,
prying it open. Checking a trap.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 8 June 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 8 June 1829 – John Everett Millais, an English painter and illustrator: Part I of II.

Below – “Ophelia”; “Mariana”; “The Eve of Saint Agnes”; “Chill October”; “The Grey Lady”; “The Vale of Rest.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 8 June 1889 – Gerard Manley Hopkins, an English poet.

“Spring and Fall”
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

to a young child

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

This Date in Art History: Born 8 June 1829 – John Everett Millais, an English painter and illustrator: Part II of II.

Below – “The Bridesmaid”; “Dew Drenched Furze”; “Apple Blossoms”; “Autumn Leaves”; “Red Riding Hood”; “Glen Birnam.”


Musings in Spring: J. R. R. Tolkien

“Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars, not if you care for such things.”

Below – Tony Storino: “Night Sky In The Forest”


Contemporary American Art – John Smither

Below – “Wilderness Peak Trail – Winter Solstice”; “Ms. Raven”; “Ms. Raven’s Movie Night.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 8 June 1920 – Gwen Harwood, an Australian poet and playwright.

“The Wound”
by Gwen Harwood

The tenth day, and they give
my mirror back. Who knows
how to drink pain, and live?
I look, and the glass shows
the truth, fine as a hair,
of the scalpel’s wounding care.

A round reproach to all
that’s warped, uncertain, clouded,
the sun climbs. On the wall,
by the racked body shrouded
in pain, is a shadow thrown;
simple, unchanged, my own.

Body, on whom the claims
of spirit fall to inspire
and terrify, there flames
at your least breath a fire
of anguish, not for this pain,
but that scars will remain.

You will be loved no less.
Spirit can build, make shift
with what there is, and press
pain to its mould; will lift
from your crucible of night
a form dripping with light.

Felix culpa. The sun
lights in my flesh the great
wound of the world. What’s done
is done. In man’s estate
let my flawed wholeness prove
the art and scope of love.

Below – Zoe Taylor: “Gwen Harwood”


Contemporary Serbian Art – Nela Radomirovic

Below – “Village Road”; “Cherries”; “Coffee Grinder and Apple”; “Sunny Winter Day”; “Grapes”; “Clay Vase.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 8 June 1937 – Gillian Clarke, a Welsh poet and playwright.

“Polar”
by Gillian Clarke

Snowlight and sunlight, the lake glacial.
Too bright to open my eyes
in the dazzle and doze
of a distant January afternoon.

It’s long ago and the house naps in the plush silence
of a house asleep, like absence,
I’m dreaming on the white bear’s shoulder,
paddling the slow hours, my fingers in his fur.

His eyes are glass, each hair a needle of light.
He’s pegged by his claws to the floor like a shirt on the line.
He is a soul. He is what death is. He is transparency,
a loosening floe on the sea.

But I want him alive.
I want him fierce
with belly and breath and growl and beating heart,
I want him dangerous,

I want to follow him over the snows
between the immaculate earth and now,
between the silence and the shot that rang
over the ice at the top of the globe,

when the map of the earth was something we knew by heart,
and they had not shot the bear,
had not loosed the ice,
had not, had not . . .

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