American Art – Part I of IV: Lori Nelson
Artist Statement: “One humid day in the summer of 2008, as I was painting in my studio in Brooklyn, the Emergency Alert System kicked in. A stuttering, belching alarm cut into the afternoon radio programming and I froze at the easel while my two kids started up from their reading/gaming on the sofa. I turned up the radio; a funnel cloud had been spotted over Manhattan and we were being instructed to go underground. Electrified, we grabbed our backpacks, shut off the power, and locked up. The air was yellow and thick in Brooklyn, bruised over the East River, charcoal over Manhattan and going into the subway was our best guess as to how to do this emergency. We headed down into the York St. station, a fairly deep subway stop. My children and I took shelter in the subway for about ten minutes and then decided to just go on home. We guessed we should watch the TV.
No tornado touched down in New York City that day, only a vindictive rain, but as we had clambered down into the subway for safety, I thought about how like animals we are in a crisis, burrowing underground.”
“Man has gone out to explore other worlds and other civilizations without having explored his own labyrinth of dark passages and secret chambers, and without finding what lies behind doorways that he himself has sealed.” – Stanislaw Lem, Polish writer of science fiction, philosophy, and satire and author of “Solaris,” who was born 12 September 1921.
Some quotes from the work of Stanislaw Lem:
“When smashing monuments, save the pedestals—they always come in handy.”
“We take off into the cosmos, ready for anything: for solitude, for hardship, for exhaustion, death. Modesty forbids us to say so, but there are times when we think pretty well of ourselves. And yet, if we examine it more closely, our enthusiasm turns out to be all a sham. We don’t want to conquer the cosmos, we simply want to extend the boundaries of Earth to the frontiers of the cosmos. For us, such and such a planet is as arid as the Sahara, another as frozen as the North Pole, yet another as lush as the Amazon basin. We are humanitarian and chivalrous; we don’t want to enslave other races, we simply want to bequeath them our values and take over their heritage in exchange. We think of ourselves as the Knights of the Holy Contact. This is another lie. We are only seeking Man. We have no need of other worlds. A single world, our own, suffices us; but we can’t accept it for what it is. We are searching for an ideal image of our own world: we go in quest of a planet, a civilization superior to our own but developed on the basis of a prototype of our primeval past. At the same time, there is something inside us which we don’t like to face up to, from which we try to protect ourselves, but which nevertheless remains, since we don’t leave Earth in a state of primal innocence. We arrive here as we are in reality, and when the page is turned and that reality is revealed to us – that part of our reality which we would prefer to pass over in silence – then we don’t like it anymore.”
“How do you expect to communicate with the ocean, when you can’t even understand one another?”
“Each of us is aware he’s a material being, subject to the laws of physiology and physics, and that the strength of all our emotions combined cannot counteract those laws. It can only hate them. The eternal belief of lovers and poets in the power of love which is more enduring that death, the finis vitae sed non amoris that has pursued us through the centuries is a lie. But this lie is not ridiculous, it’s simply futile. To be a clock on the other hand, measuring the passage of time, one that is smashed and rebuilt over and again, one in whose mechanism despair and love are set in motion by the watchmaker along with the first movements of the cogs. To know one is a repeater of suffering felt ever more deeply as it becomes increasingly comical through a multiple repetitions. To replay human existence – fine. But to replay it in the way a drunk replays a corny tune pushing coins over and over into the jukebox?”
Here is one critic describing the background of Australian artist Damien Kamholtz: “Damien is a prolific painter with a strong interest and focus on art and its relationship to the landscape. Through travel around our ancient land, he has discovered and sought to express the parallels between indigenous cultures in a traditional and contemporary sense. His art is an attempt to communicate to the heart and spirit, rather than our intellect – painterly images comprising of subtle and suggestive combinations of nature’s organised and abstract shapes, entwined in universal and personal symbolism that incorporate suggested faces, figures and totemic animals.”
“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” – Henry Louis “H. L.” Mencken, American journalist, essayist, editor, cultural critic, scholar of American English, and author of “The American Language,” who was born 12 September 1880.
Some quotes from the work of H. L. Mencken:
“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”
“Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant.”
“We must respect the other person’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.”
“An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it makes a better soup.”
“In the present case it is a little inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible to any public office of trust or profit in the Republic. But I do not repine, for I am a subject of it only by force of arms.”
“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable…”
“Happiness is the china shop; love is the bull.”
“Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”
“Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.”
“The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.”
“You can’t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth.”
American Art – Part II of IV: Jeanie Tomanek
Artist Statement: ”Throughout my adult life I have always painted—sometimes only one painting a year. Several years ago I escaped corporate life. Since then I have concentrated on developing my style and voice in my work.
I paint to explore the significance of ideas, memories, events, feelings, dreams and images that seem to demand my closer attention. Some of the themes I investigate come first in poems I write. Literature, folktales and myths often inspire my exploration of the feminine archetype. My figures often bear the scars and imperfections that, to me, characterize the struggle to become.
In my work I use oils, acrylic, pencil and thin glazes to create a multi-layered surface that may be scratched through, written on or painted over to reveal and excavate the images that feel right for the work.
In reclaiming and reconstructing areas of the canvas, the process of painting becomes analogous to having a second chance at your life, this time a little closer to the heart’s desire.”
“If youth is a defect, it is one we outgrow too soon.” – Robert Lowell, American poet, recipient of the National Book Award, recipient of the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, who died 12 September 1977.
“Children of Light”
Our fathers wrung their bread from stocks and stones
And fenced their gardens with the Redmen’s bones;
Embarking from the Nether Land of Holland,
Pilgrims unhouseled by Geneva’s night,
They planted here the Serpent’s seeds of light;
And here the pivoting searchlights probe to shock
The riotous glass houses built on rock,
And candles gutter by an empty altar,
And light is where the landless blood of Cain
Is burning, burning the unburied grain.
Those blessèd structures, plot and rhyme—
why are they no help to me now
I want to make
something imagined, not recalled?
I hear the noise of my own voice:
The painter’s vision is not a lens,
it trembles to caress the light.
But sometimes everything I write
with the threadbare art of my eye
seems a snapshot,
lurid, rapid, garish, grouped,
heightened from life,
yet paralyzed by fact.
Yet why not say what happened?
Pray for the grace of accuracy
Vermeer gave to the sun’s illumination
stealing like the tide across a map
to his girl solid with yearning.
We are poor passing facts,
warned by that to give
each figure in the photograph
his living name.
Born 12 September 1829 – Anselm Feuerbach, a German classicist painter.
12 September 1964 – The U.S. Congress creates Canyonlands National Park.
Below – The Island in the Sky mesa, as seen from the Needles district; Looking over the Green River from Island in the Sky; Windgate Sandstone Cliffs; the White Rim Sandstone; Mesa Arch at sunrise; Canyonlands at daybreak.
Here is the Artist Statement of Canadian painter Yvette Moore: “I want my art to do so many things, but most importantly I want my art to be a document – a document of where we came from and where we are going. I find much of the simpler things in life no longer exist. By painting what I am most familiar with – children, the prairies and architecture – I can combine authenticity and a consistent integrity in all my works.”
Yvette Moore lives and works in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, where she runs the Yvette Moore Gallery.
“The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.
World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.
And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes–
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of your hands–
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses” – “Rose,” by Frederick Louis MacNeice, Irish poet and playwright, who was born 12 September 1907.
“The Sunlight on the Garden”
The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold,
When all is told
We cannot beg for pardon.
Our freedom as free lances
Advances towards its end;
The earth compels, upon it
Sonnets and birds descend;
And soon, my friend,
We shall have no time for dances.
The sky was good for flying
Defying the church bells
And every evil iron
Siren and what it tells:
The earth compels,
We are dying, Egypt, dying
And not expecting pardon,
Hardened in heart anew,
But glad to have sat under
Thunder and rain with you,
And grateful too
For sunlight on the garden.
“Cradle Song for Eleanor”
Sleep, my darling, sleep;
The pity of it all
Is all we compass if
We watch disaster fall.
Put off your twenty-odd
Encumbered years and creep
Into the only heaven,
The robbers’ cave of sleep.
The wild grass will whisper,
Lights of passing cars
Will streak across your dreams
And fumble at the stars;
Life will tap the window
Only too soon again,
Life will have her answer –
Do not ask her when.
When the winsome bubble
Shivers, when the bough
Breaks, will be the moment
But not here or now.
Sleep and, asleep, forget
The watchers on the wall
Awake all night who know
The pity of it all.
“Prayer before Birth”
I am not yet born; O hear me.
Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the
club-footed ghoul come near me.
I am not yet born, console me.
I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me,
with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me,
on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me.
I am not yet born; provide me
With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk
to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light
in the back of my mind to guide me.
I am not yet born; forgive me
For the sins that in me the world shall commit, my words
when they speak me, my thoughts when they think me,
my treason engendered by traitors beyond me,
my life when they murder by means of my
hands, my death when they live me.
I am not yet born; rehearse me
In the parts I must play and the cues I must take when
old men lecture me, bureaucrats hector me, mountains
frown at me, lovers laugh at me, the white
waves call me to folly and the desert calls
me to doom and the beggar refuses
my gift and my children curse me.
I am not yet born; O hear me,
Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God
come near me.
I am not yet born; O fill me
With strength against those who would freeze my
humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton,
would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with
one face, a thing, and against all those
who would dissipate my entirety, would
blow me like thistledown hither and
thither or hither and thither
like water held in the
hands would spill me.
American Art – Part III of IV: Lisa Gloria
In the words of one writer, “Lisa Gloria graduated from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora, IL, in 1989. She studied art briefly at the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana, and teaches painting and drawing workshops near her home in Aurora, IL.
A mother of 5 daughters, Lisa’s work is at once feminine and timeless, with aspects of realism, impressionism and expressionism. She seeks to create compelling images that engage the viewer on personal level, drawing the gaze into the picture plane, as though this moment was captured solely for you.”
A Poem for Today
By Derek Walcott
Half my friends are dead.
I will make you new ones, said earth
No, give me them back, as they were, instead,
with faults and all, I cried.
Tonight I can snatch their talk
from the faint surf’s drone
through the canes, but I cannot walk
on the moonlit leaves of ocean
down that white road alone,
or float with the dreaming motion
of owls leaving earth’s load.
O earth, the number of friends you keep
exceeds those left to be loved.
The sea-canes by the cliff flash green and silver;
they were the seraph lances of my faith,
but out of what is lost grows something stronger
that has the rational radiance of stone,
enduring moonlight, further than despair,
strong as the wind, that through dividing canes
brings those we love before us, as they were,
with faults and all, not nobler, just there.
American Art – Part IV of IV: Christopher Mir
In the words of one critic, “Christopher Mir’s paintings present a world populated by mythic figures, creatures, machines, and fragments of ambiguous forms. These elements are often positioned within idealized landscapes in dream-like circumstances. Mir’s paintings invite us to experience a series of paradoxical relationships and unsettling juxtapositions. His figures and landscapes are drawn from specific sources yet remain anonymous; his painting style is relatively tight and refined, but his works are emotionally evocative and resonant. Mir’s narratives are equally complex and replete with provocative dichotomies such as, the mystical versus the physical, the spiritual versus the secular, and the primal versus the futuristic.”