American Art – Part I of VI: William Seccomb
Artist Statement: ”Honesty and confidence. This is what I’ve come to discover is perhaps the most riveting and important factor in deciding a painting’s greatness. I have discovered that though mastering technical skill in painting is important, it is these two elements which help to forge the connection between an artist and his audience. We may bring to light such works from Repin or Sargent, and though widely varying, they are successful as to their willingness to listen to their own intuitions. There is not one way to paint, but a thousand ways. If I have been true to myself, I will have been true to my audience. However, it takes searching and a willingness to let g0. It is in the spontaneity of a brush stroke, the boldness of a color choice, and the freedom to paint from within to discover the artist’s true voice.
However, I believe that contemporary art is lacking substance and often depth. It seems rushed and generally uneducated. It overlooks the value of academic painting in its haste to produce artwork. A good painting should require patience and skill. It should not after all be easy. It is my hope and vision that representational art will again be at the forefront of the contemporary art movement and secure it’s place in history once more.
Great works of art comfort, challenge, or urge the viewer to think. I believe an artist’s role is to teach and to bring to light the essential facts in observation and thus the truth in all things. I want my work to depict the perfection of the human figure and the simple beauty that radiates from it. I am determined to convey a sense of life and energy in my subjects and thus an intimacy in my models. It is a journey of exploration of my environment and the human experience. My work derives a sense of comfort and of warmth while employing elemental accents such as patterning and props. I strive to offer a glimpse into the world as I see it. I believe that through this approach I will have achieved a universal sensibility that can be translated across time and cultures and that when I have been most sincere to myself I will have found success.”
A Poet for This Day – Tom McGrath: Part I of VI
“Route Song and Epitaph”
American Art – Part II of VI: Brandon Flye
In the words of one critic, “Brandon has received training in the classical techniques of the Old Masters at Zoll Studio, School of Fine Arts. He has learned each aspect of this tradition, including making his own medium, grinding his paints and preparing his art panels. Brandon’s paintings often convey a mood of drama or peacefulness. They frequently explore interactions of light and form, and what happens to light when it bends through liquid or glass, how it reflects, sparkles or refracts into its spectrum. The high level of detail typical of his work often garners comments from other students or buyers. A photographic depiction of the objects in his still life is different, he claims, than capturing their essence. He always strives for the latter.”
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Mickey Hart
“In the beginning there was noise. Noise begat rhythm, and rhythm begat everything else.” – Mickey Hart, born Michael Steven Hartman, American percussionist best known as one of the two drummers of the Grateful Dead, who was born 11 September 1943.
“Against the False Magicians”
for Don Gordon
The poem must not charm us like a film:
See, in the war-torn city, that reckless, gallant
Handsome lieutenant turn to the wet-lipped blonde
(Our childhood fixation) for one sweet desperate kiss
In the broken room, in blue cinematic moonlight —
Bombers across that moon, and the bombs falling,
The last train leaving, the regiment departing —
And their lips lock, saluting themselves and death:
And then the screen goes dead and all go home…
Ritual of the false imagination.
The poem must not charm us like the fact:
A warship can sink a circus at forty miles,
And art, love’s lonely counterfeit, has small dominion
Over those nightmares that move in the actual sunlight.
The blonde will not be faithful, nor her lover ever return
Nor the note be found in the hollow tree of childhood —
This dazzle of the facts would have us weeping
The orphaned fantasies of easier days.
It is the charm which the potential has
That is the proper aura for the poem.
Though ceremony fail, though each of your grey hairs
Help string a harp in the landlord’s heaven,
And every battle, every augury,
Argue defeat, and if defeat itself
Bring all the darkness level with our eyes —
It is the poem provides the proper charm,
Spelling resistance and the living will,
To bring to dance a stony field of fact
And set against terror exile or despair
The rituals of our humanity.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Austrian ceramicist Gundi Dietz: “Every one of these porcelain women has a presence that quietly but forcefully calls out for space and attention. Whether their gaze is turned inward or looking straight ahead, their fundamental mood is one of calm. They touch us through the way they are. The costly and technically demanding material in which they are made – porcelain – seems to be symbolic of the wondrous humanity that is the subject of Gundi Dietz’s art. What material could better convey the uniqueness of the feelings made present in these figures?
They immediately evoke associations with East Asia: China, the cradle of porcelain-making, and Japan with its reductionist aesthetic. Soft skin in polished unglazed porcelain bears scratches and markings that seem to be the scars of life itself. Nothing is superfluous, nothing is de trop. A white face with few features well applied. Coloured lines conjure up a character that is compelling because it is reduced to essentials. Here and there traces of pale glaze suggest hair, a garment or red lipstick. Skimpy textile elements are worked in and Silvie, Zillie and Pauline become tangible. Sometimes, however, incisions inflicted on the polished matt skin are clearly painful wounds. This experimental approach to porcelain is another link with the East Asian tradition. Something new can be created through unconventional variations on the elaborate procedures of porcelain manufacture or through measures taken at a risky moment in production. Even thousands of years ago this rough way of working was familiar to Chinese porcelain-makers, who when necessary were not afraid to treat their beloved porcelain coarsely. Gundi Dietz has been following the figurative path for decades, untiringly exploring porcelain’s potential for bold and frank sensuality.
What is it about them that reminds us of Chinese monks rapt in meditation or of serenely smiling deities in blanc de Chine? Is it the eyes so often closed, the skin’s white tint, or the evident felicity of souls in a state of repose? What gave Pauline her distinctive form and character? What is going on inside her? Once Gundi Dietz has given her porcelain figures their basic cast and smooth surface, she works on them until an authentic woman emerges, radiating a distinctive personality forged out of a sensual body and a soul that is lost to the world.”
11 September 1857 – The Mountain Meadows Massacre takes place in Southern Utah. Mormons dressed as Indians murder 120 men, women, and children. In the words of one historian, “In early 1857, several groups of emigrants from the northwestern Arkansas region started their trek to California, joining up on the way to form a group known as the Baker–Fancher party. The groups were mostly from Marion, Crawford, Carroll, and Johnson counties in Arkansas, and had assembled into a wagon train at Beller’s Stand, south of Harrison, to emigrate to southern California.
The Mountain Meadows massacre was a series of attacks on the Baker–Fancher emigrant wagon train at Mountain Meadows in southern Utah. The attacks culminated on September 11, 1857, with the mass slaughter of most in the emigrant party by members of the Utah Territorial Militia from the Iron County district, together with some Paiute Native Americans.
The militia, officially called the Nauvoo Legion, was composed of Utah’s Mormon settlers (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or LDS Church). Intending to give the appearance of Native American aggression, their plan was to arm some Southern Paiute Native Americans and persuade them to join with a larger party of their own militiamen—disguised as Native Americans—in an attack. During the militia’s first assault on the wagon train, the emigrants fought back and a five-day siege ensued. Eventually fear spread among the militia’s leaders that some emigrants had caught sight of white men and had likely discovered the identity of their attackers. As a result militia commander William H. Dame ordered his forces to kill the emigrants.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Russian painter Voldovia Popov: “Volodia Popov is the artist for whom there are no stylistic borders. Having absorbed rich traditions of masterful Mukhina Art-Industrial Academy in St.Petersburg, he feels comfortable creating both monumental art and paintings. The unique character of his symbolical, brightly decorative, deeply philosophical canvases is a grand scope of creative solutions in respect to forms and colours. His works are executed in a stylistic manner that appeals to the spectator with the refined aesthetic taste and a very personalized perception of life.”
“All people dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their mind, wake in the morning to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous people, For they dream their dreams with open eyes, And make them come true.” – David Herbert Lawrence, an English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, literary critic, painter, and author of “Studies in Classic American Literature” (which every American should read), who was born 11 September 1885. In the words of one critic, “His collected works, among other things, represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanising effects of modernity and industrialisation. In them, some of the issues Lawrence explores are emotional health, vitality, spontaneity and instinct.”
Some quotes from the work of D. H. Lawrence:
“It’s no good trying to get rid of your own aloneness. You’ve got to stick to it all your life. Only at times, at times, the gap will be filled in. At times! But you have to wait for the times. Accept your own aloneness and stick to it, all your life. And then accept the times when the gap is filled in, when they come. But they’ve got to come. You can’t force them.”
“Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”
“No form of love is wrong, so long as it is love, and you yourself honour what you are doing. Love has an extraordinary variety of forms! And that is all there is in life, it seems to me. But I grant you, if you deny the variety of love you deny love altogether. If you try to specialize love into one set of accepted feelings, you wound the very soul of love. Love must be multi-form, else it is just tyranny, just death.”
“Life is ours to be spent, not to be saved.”
“It is a fine thing to establish one’s own religion in one’s heart, not to be dependent on tradition and second-hand ideals. Life will seem to you, later, not a lesser, but a greater thing.”
“I want to live my life so that my nights are not full of regrets.”
“This is what I believe: That I am I. That my soul is a dark forest. That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest. That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back. That I must have the courage to let them come and go. That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognize and submit to the gods in me and the gods in other men and women. There is my creed.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Moby
“I like tea and yoga, but I don’t do yoga.” – Moby, the stage name of Richard Melville Hall, American singer, songwriter, musician, DJ, photographer, and animal rights activist, who was born 11 September 1965.
American Art – Part III of VI: Troy Crisswell
Artist Statement: “I’m a figure drawing fan, so a lot of figures show up in my pictures – family members and people I know most often.
“With watercolors I’m thinking tight drawing, loose painting.
Oil paintings are done on Masonite board or canvas, I normally use a transparent glazing technique.”
In the words of one critic, “Troy creates a sort of mood in his paintings by using realistic and surrealistic elements. He has won many awards in the shows around the Southeast in which he participates.”
“Gone Away Blues”
Sirs, when you are in your last extremity,
When your admirals are drowning in the grass-green sea,
When your generals are preparing the total catastrophe—
I just want you to know how you can not count on me.
I have ridden to hounds through my ancestral halls,
I have picked the eternal crocus on the ultimate hill,
I have fallen through the window of the highest room,
But don’t ask me to help you ’cause I never will.
Sirs, when you move that map-pin how many souls must dance?
I don’t think all those soldiers have died by happenstance.
The inscrutable look on your scrutable face I can read at a glance—
And I’m cutting out of here at the first chance.
I have been wounded climbing the second stair,
I have crossed the ocean in the hull of a live wire,
I have eaten the asphodel of the dark side of the moon,
But you can call me all day and I just won’t hear.
O patriotic mister with your big ear to the ground,
Sweet old curly scientist wiring the birds for sound,
O lady with the Steuben glass heart and your heels so rich and round—
I’ll sent you a picture postcard from somewhere I can’t be found.
I have discovered the grammar of the Public Good,
I have invented a language that can be understood,
I have found the map of where the body is hid,
And I won’t be caught dead in your neighborhood.
O hygienic inventor of the bomb that’s so clean,
O lily white Senator from East Turnip Green,
O celestial mechanic of the money machine—
I’m going someplace where nobody makes your scene.
American Art – Part IV of VI: Tina Newberry
Artist Statement: “I live in South Philly and used to be young, sporty, and lively. Now I’m old, decrepit, and complain a lot.
I got an art education at various places and wound up in South Philly. I teach at local schools and shop at the Acme. I paint in my spare time while watching TV.
After an expensive and extensive art education, I became a cleaning lady. This helped me hone my skills with sweeping strokes. None of which are actually in my paintings. It’s the thought that counts.
My inspiration to become a painter rose out of voracious jealousy and covetousness of other people’s artistic achievements. Actually, the same can be said for my inspiration in all other aspects of my life. In my paintings, I can live a very vibrant, satisfying life, finally becoming a PGA champion or a Venus. This is also a life of no shame, where plaids don’t clash and who cares about the flab pushing up and over the waistband, elastic or otherwise.”
A Poet for This Day – Tom McGrath: Part IV of VI
I don’t belong in this century—who does?
In my time, summer came someplace in June—
The cutbanks blazing with roses, the birds brazen, and the astonished
Pastures frisking with young calves . . .
That was in the country—
I don’t mean another country, I mean in the country:
And the country is lost. I don’t mean just lost to me,
Nor in the way of metaphorical loss—it’s lost that way too—
No; nor in no sort of special case: I mean
Now, down below, in the fire and stench, the city
Is building its shell: elaborate levels of emptiness
Like some sea-animal building toward its extinction.
And the citizens, unserious and full of virtue,
Are hunting for bread, or money, or a prayer,
And I behold them, and this season of man, without love.
If it were not a joke, it would be proper to laugh.
—Curious how that rat’s nest holds together—
Distracting . . .
Without it there might be, still,
The gold wheel and the silver, the sun and the moon,
The season’s ancient assurance under the unstable stars
Our fiery companions . . .
And trees, perhaps, and the sound
Of the wild and living water hurrying out of the hills.
Without these, I have you for my talisman:
Sun, moon, the four seasons,
The true voice of the mountains. Now be
(The city revolving in its empty shell,
The night moving in from the East)
—Be thou these things.
Died 11 September 1999 – Belkis Ayon Manso, a Cuban artist and lithographer. In the words of one critic, “Her work was based on Afro-Cuban religion, combining the myth of Sikan and the traditions of the Abakuá, a men’s secret society, though her work was often thought to reflect her personal issues as well.”
“A bunch of the boys were whooping it up
in the Malamute saloon;
The kid that handles the music-box
was hitting a jag-time tune;
Back of the bar, in a solo game,
sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,
And watching his luck was his light-o’-love,
the lady that’s known as Lou.” – From “The Shooting of Dan McGrew,” by Robert W. Service, Canadian writer and poet called “The Bard of the Yukon,” who died 11 September 1958. In the words of one literary historian, “His vivid descriptions of the Yukon and its people made it seem that he was a veteran of the Klondike gold rush, instead of the late-arriving bank clerk he actually was. ‘These humorous tales in verse were considered doggerel by the literary set, yet remain extremely popular to this day.’”
To hell with the “literary set.” Read the following lines, look at the photographs below, close your eyes, and imagine . . .
From “The Cremation of Sam McGee”
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.
Here is the Artist Statement of English painter Peter Rocklin:
“In common with all artists I am constantly searching for new ways of representing and translating the things I see and their effects on me. I do not wish to slavishly copy photographs in paint. Every picture starts as a completely new project . Using my own photographs and drawings for reference, I set about making the painting using traditional techniques in a modern idiom and constantly experimenting with new methods of capturing and creating ‘illusions’ of reality.”
A Poet for This Day – Tom McGrath: Part V of VI
Sixty years at hard labor
In the stony fields of his country.
I think of buffalo bones,
Broken hame straps,
Tractors rusting beside the abandoned farmhouse.
A Poet for This Day – Tom McGrath: Part VI of VI
“A Coal Fire in Winter”
Something old and tyrannical burning there,
(Not like a wood fire which is only
The end of summer, or a life)
But something of darkness, heat
From the time before there was fire
And I have come here
To warn that blackness into forms of light,
To set free a captive prince
From the sunken kingdom of the father coal.
A warming company of the cold-blooded–
These carbon serpents of bituminous gardens,
These inflammable tunnels of dead song from the black pit,
This sparkling end of the great beasts, these blazing
Stone flowers diamond fire incandescent fruit.
And out of all that death, now,
At midnight, my love and I are riding
Down the old high roads of inexhaustible light.
American Art – Part VI of VI: Nona Hyytinen
Artist Statement: “Growing up, I entertained myself by illustrating stories and characters from books, and as an adult, I still do. I naturally became a figurative artist for that reason. I continue to be inspired by literature and history, myth, my Finnish heritage and love of dogs and horses.”