American Art – Part I of V: Stacy Brown
In the words of one critic, “Santa Fe artist Stacy Brown presents a group of work that leaves giddiness in its wake.
The works in oil and in drypoint, are mostly intimate in scale and instigate a patient viewing. Subjects are chosen somewhat arbitrarily from the artist’s immediate circle of family and friends. Mainly she’ll start off painting their portraits from life or from photos and she will render them in a classical style of portraiture originating from the classical era of European painting. From there she’ll inject important quirky details-mainly of dress- that give us a great array of sight gags. Most recurrent are depictions of solemn-looking young men and women who wear carefully arranged crowns or hats of none other than men’s white jockey shorts. Behind the figures, on [a vague wall-like space are scratchy or graffiti-like diagrams of either hieratic symbols or schematic or carefully spontaneous renditions of childlike faces, toys or animals. The latter may or may not hold an obvious relationship to the figure(s)in the foreground. In spite of the patiently, lovingly painted fleshtones & facial correctness of the human subjects, the overall effect is comedic and above all, it is playful. After our initial sense of bafflement facing these ridiculous ‘realistic’ setups comes the question of why the artist chooses to present this human or inanimate toy-like landscape in this way. The sensual delight of looking at these paintings is pretty great, so that in itself dispels the need to decisively answer the latter question. What comes from the work, after some viewing, is the sense that a playful approach and a sense of the absurd can be made to live happily with an academic approach. Two of the whackiest and most tightly painted panels are also some of the most powerful in their combination of the comedic and academic.”
“It isn’t ever delicate to live.” – Kay Ryan, American poet and recipient of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for “The Best of It: New and Selected Poems,” who was born 21 September 1945.
“The Best of It”
However carved up
or pared down we get,
we keep on making
the best of it as though
it doesn’t matter that
our acre’s down to
a square foot. As
though our garden
could be one bean
and we’d rejoice if
it flourishes, as
though one bean
could nourish us.
“A Certain Kind of Eden”
It seems like you could, but
you can’t go back and pull
the roots and runners and replant.
It’s all too deep for that.
You’ve overprized intention,
have mistaken any bent you’re given
for control. You thought you chose
the bean and chose the soil.
You even thought you abandoned
one or two gardens. But those things
keep growing where we put them—
if we put them at all.
A certain kind of Eden holds us thrall.
Even the one vine that tendrils out alone
in time turns on its own impulse,
twisting back down its upward course
a strong and then a stronger rope,
the greenest saddest strongest
kind of hope.
”Nothing is as difficult as to achieve results in this world if one is filled full of great tolerance and the milk of human kindness. The person who achieves must generally be a one-ideaed individual, concentrated entirely on that one idea, and ruthless in his aspect toward other men and other ideas.” – Corinne Roosevelt Robinson, American poet, writer, lecturer, public speaker and younger sister of Theodore Roosevelt, who was born 27 September 1861.
“The Path That Leads to Nowhere”
There’s a path that leads to Nowhere
In a meadow that I know,
Where an inland island rises
And the stream is still and slow;
There it wanders under willows
And beneath the silver green
Of the birches’ silent shadows
Where the early violets lean.
Other pathways lead to Somewhere,
But the one I love so well
Had no end and no beginning —
Just the beauty of the dell,
Just the windflowers and the lilies
Yellow striped as adder’s tongue,
Seem to satisfy my pathway
As it winds their sweets among.
There I go to meet the Springtime,
When the meadow is aglow,
Marigolds amid the marshes, —
And the stream is still and slow. —
There I find my fair oasis,
And with care-free feet I tread
For the pathway leads to Nowhere,
And the blue is overhead!
All the ways that lead to Somewhere
Echo with the hurrying feet
Of the Struggling and the Striving,
But the way I find so sweet
Bids me dream and bids me linger,
Joy and Beauty are its goal, —
On the path that leads to Nowhere
I have sometimes found my soul!
American Art – Part II of V: Timothy Nimmo
Artist Statement: “My sculptures are a synthesis between my love of nature and my respect of the great artists who have come before. As an avid hiker, hunter, and I have never lost my sense of wonder about the beauty of a leaping deer, the power of bull elk fighting, or the grace of antelope running. As a student of the process of creation and art history I have never lost my sense of wonder at great art to communicate to me and move me to greater levels of awareness. Whether it be individual artists like Brancusi, Manship, Marini, Moore, Van Gogh, or the art of antiquity like Scythian, Celtic, Oriental, Egyptian, African; I am always amazed at the number of ways our species has come up with to see, interpret and convey their views of life and the nature of it. I find these voices resonate with me and my sense of wonderment of my world; both my inner world and the universe with out. I seek out and embrace these influences, and consciously draw on them for the base substances of my sculpting. As a sculptor friend once said to me, ‘Those who claim their art is truly original simply can not remember where they saw the source of their inspiration.’ I hope only to credit my sources properly and remain open to their wisdom.
If I was pressed to explain my current work in one word, I would say it is about “transition”. The concept of transition was inspired directly by ancient Scythian tattoos; which some believe are depictions of creation myths. The twisting Birth of the Sacred Stag sculpture is depicting the 1st stag at the moment of creation when he is transitioning from the spirit world into physical world. The style is one of smooth transitions of form and line to augment the concept. This is a reflection of my belief that good sculpture generally is a marriage of concept, style, and execution.”
“When life attains a crisis, man’s focus narrows. The world becomes a stage of immediate concern, swept free of illusion.” – Jim Thompson, an American novelist, pulp fiction writer, screenwriter, and author of “The Killer Inside Me,” who was born 27 September 1906.
Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick called “The Killer Inside Me,” “probably the most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered.” The novel has twice been adapted into a film of the same title: a 1976 version directed by Burt Kennedy and starring Stacy Keach, and a 2010 version directed by Michael Winterbottom and starring Casey Affleck and Jessica Alba.
Some quotes from the hard-boiled Jim Thompson:
“Life is a bucket of shit with a barbed wire handle.”
“There are things that have to be forgotten if you want to go on living.”
“I told her the world was full of nice people. I’d have hated to try to prove it to her, but I said it, anyway.”
“You’ve got forever; and somehow you can’t do much with it. You’ve got forever; and it’s a mile wide and an inch deep and full of alligators.”
“What smells good in the store may stink in the stewpot.”
“I kissed her, a long hard kiss. Because baby didn’t know it, but baby was dead, and in a way I couldn’t have loved her more.”
“I ain’t saying you’re a liar, because that wouldn’t be polite. But I’ll tell you this, ma’am. If I loved liars, I’d hug you to death.”
“We’re living in a funny world kid, a peculiar civilization. The police are playing crooks in it, and the crooks are doing police duty. The politicians are preachers, and the preachers are politicians. The tax collectors collect for themselves. The Bad People want us to have more dough, and the good people are fighting to keep it from us. It’s not good for us, know what I mean? If we had all we wanted to eat, we’d eat too much. We’d have inflation in the toilet paper industry. That’s the way I understand it. That’s about the size of some of the arguments I’ve heard.”
“Flight is many things. Something clean and swift, like a bird skimming across the sky. Or something filthy and crawling; a series of crablike movements through figurative and literal slime, a process of creeping ahead, jumping sideways, running backward.
It is sleeping in fields and river bottoms. It is bellying for miles along an irrigation ditch. It is back roads, spur railroad lines, the tailgate of a wildcat truck, a stolen car and a dead couple in lovers’ lane. It is food pilfered from freight cars, garments taken from clotheslines; robbery and murder, sweat and blood. The complex made simple by the alchemy of necessity.”
“Then he laughed and she laughed. And quivering with the movement of the train, the dead man seemed to laugh too.”
“I finished the ale, started to order a third one, and decided against it. I’d had enough. More than enough. Or I never would have. You take just so much from a bottle, and then you stop taking. From then on you’re putting.”
“I just learned two things there at that college, Mr. Ford, that was ever of any use to me. One was that I couldn’t do any worse than the people that were in the saddle, so maybe I’d better try pulling ’em down and riding myself. The other was a definition I got out of the agronomy book, and I reckon it was even more important than the first. It did more to revise my thinking, if I’d really done any thinking up until that time. Before that I’d seen everything in black and white, good and bad. But after I was set straight I saw that the name you put to a thing depended on where you stood and where it stood. And…and here’s the definition, right out of the agronomy books: ‘A weed is a plant out of place.’ Let me repeat that. ‘A weed is a plant out of place.’ I find a hollyhock in my cornfield, and it’s a weed. I find it in my yard, and it’s a flower.”
American Art – Part III of V: Tommy Wayne Cannon
Born 27 September 1946 – Tommy Wayne Cannon, a Native American (Kiowa) artist.
“I have gone to war too. I am going to fight capitalism even if it kills me. It is wrong that people like you should be comfortable and well fed while all around you people are starving.” – Sylvia Pankhurst, English social activist and campaigner for the suffragist movement in the United Kingdom, who died 27 September 1960.
“I couldn’t take it any longer
Lord I was crazed
And when the feeling came upon me
Like a tidal wave
I started swearing to my god
And on my mother’s grave
That I would love you to the end of time
I swore I would love you to the end of time
So now I’m praying for the end of time
To hurry up and arrive
‘Cause if I gotta spend another minute with you
I don’t think that I can really survive
I’ll never break my promise or forget my vow
But God only knows what I can do right now
I’m praying for the end of time
So I can end my time with you.” – From “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” by Meat Loaf (born Michael Lee Aday), American musician, singer, and actor, who was born 27 September 1947.
“To live fully is to live with an awareness of the rumble of terror that underlies everything.” – Ernest Becker, American cultural anthropologist and author of “The Denial of Death” (which won the 1974 Pulitzer Prize), who was born 27 September 1924.
“The Denial of Death” is a masterpiece of synthesis and insight that will profoundly change the way most of its readers understand themselves and the world.
Some quotes from the work of Ernest Becker:
“When we are young we are often puzzled by the fact that each person we admire seems to have a different version of what life ought to be, what a good man is, how to live, and so on. If we are especially sensitive it seems more than puzzling, it is disheartening. What most people usually do is to follow one person’s ideas and then another’s depending on who looms largest on one’s horizon at the time. The one with the deepest voice, the strongest appearance, the most authority and success, is usually the one who gets our momentary allegiance; and we try to pattern our ideals after him. But as life goes on we get a perspective on this and all these different versions of truth become a little pathetic. Each person thinks that he has the formula for triumphing over life’s limitations and knows with authority what it means to be a man, and he usually tries to win a following for his particular patent. Today we know that people try so hard to win converts for their point of view because it is more than merely an outlook on life: it is an immortality formula.”
“The irony of man’s condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation; but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we must shrink from being fully alive.”
“Yet, at the same time, as the Eastern sages also knew, man is a worm and food for worms. This is the paradox: he is out of nature and hopelessly in it; he is dual, up in the stars and yet housed in a heart-pumping, breath-gasping body that once belonged to a fish and still carries the gill-marks to prove it. His body is a material fleshy casing that is alien to him in many ways—the strangest and most repugnant way being that it aches and bleeds and will decay and die. Man is literally split in two: he has an awareness of his own splendid uniqueness in that he sticks out of nature with a towering majesty, and yet he goes back into the ground a few feet in order to blindly and dumbly rot and disappear forever. It is a terrifying dilemma to be in and to have to live with. The lower animals are, of course, spared this painful contradiction, as they lack a symbolic identity and the self-consciousness that goes with it. They merely act and move reflexively as they are driven by their instincts. If they pause at all, it is only a physical pause; inside they are anonymous, and even their faces have no name. They live in a world without time, pulsating, as it were, in a state of dumb being. This is what has made it so simple to shoot down whole herds of buffalo or elephants. The animals don’t know that death is happening and continue grazing placidly while others drop alongside them. The knowledge of death is reflective and conceptual, and animals are spared it. They live and they disappear with the same thoughtlessness: a few minutes of fear, a few seconds of anguish, and it is over. But to live a whole lifetime with the fate of death haunting one’s dreams and even the most sun-filled days—that’s something else.”
“Modern man is drinking and drugging himself out of awareness, or he spends his time shopping, which is the same thing. As awareness calls for types of heroic dedication that his culture no longer provides for him, society contrives to help him forget. In the mysterious way in which life is given to us in evolution on this planet, it pushes in the direction of its own expansion. We don’t understand it simply because we don’t know the purpose of creation; we only feel life straining in ourselves and see it thrashing others about as they devour each other. Life seeks to expand in an unknown direction for unknown reasons.
What are we to make of creation in which routine activity is for organisms to be tearing others apart with teeth of all types – biting, grinding flesh, plant stalks, bones between molars, pushing the pulp greedily down the gullet with delight, incorporating its essence into one’s own organization, and then excreting with foul stench and gasses residue. Everyone reaching out to incorporate others who are edible to him. The mosquitoes bloating themselves on blood, the maggots, the killer-bees attacking with a fury and a demonism, sharks continuing to tear and swallow while their own innards are being torn out – not to mention the daily dismemberment and slaughter in ‘natural’ accidents of all types: an earthquake buries alive 70 thousand bodies in Peru, a tidal wave washes over a quarter of a million in the Indian Ocean. Creation is a nightmare spectacular taking place on a planet that has been soaked for hundreds of millions of years in the blood of all creatures. The soberest conclusion that we could make about what has actually been taking place on the planet about three billion years is that it is being turned into a vast pit of fertilizer. But the sun distracts our attention, always baking the blood dry, making things grow over it, and with its warmth giving the hope that comes with the organism’s comfort and expansiveness.”
“‘Civilized’ society is a hopeful belief and protest that science, money and goods make man count for more than any other animal. In this sense everything that man does is religious and heroic, and yet in danger of being fictitious and fallible.”
“Guilt results from unused life, from the unlived in us.”
“Obviously, all religions fall far short of their own ideals.”
“The great boon of repression is that it makes it possible to live decisively in an overwhelmingly miraculous and incomprehensible world, a world so full of beauty, majesty, and terror that if animals perceived it all they would be paralyzed to act. … What would the average man do with a full consciousness of absurdity? He has fashioned his character for the precise purpose of putting it between himself and the facts of life; it is his special tour-de-force that allows him to ignore incongruities, to nourish himself on impossibilities, to thrive on blindness. He accomplishes thereby a peculiarly human victory: the ability to be smug about terror.”
“By the time we grow up we become masters at dissimulation, at cultivating a self that the world cannot probe. But we pay a price. After years of turning people away, of protecting our inner self, of cultivating it by living in a different world, of furnishing this world with our fantasies and dreams—lo and behold we find that we are hopelessly separated from everyone else. We have become victims of our own art. We touch people on the outsides of their bodies, and they us, but we cannot get at their insides and cannot reveal our insides to them. This is one of the great tragedies of our interiority—it is utterly personal and unrevealable. Often we want to say something unusually intimate to a spouse, a parent, a friend, communicate something of how we are really feeling about a sunset, who we really feel we are—only to fall strangely and miserably flat. Once in a great while we succeed, sometimes more with one person, less or never with others. But the occasional break-through only proves the rule. You reach out with a disclosure, fail, and fall back bitterly into yourself. We emit huge globs of love to our parents and spouses, and the glob slithers away in exchange of words that are somehow beside the point of what we are trying to say. People seem to keep bumping up against each other with their exteriors and falling away from each other. The cartoonist Jules Feiffer is the modern master of this aspect of the human tragedy. Take even the sexual act—the most intimate merger given to organisms. For most people, even for their entire lives, it is simply a joining of exteriors. The insides melt only in the moment of orgasm, but even this is brief, and a melting is not a communication. It is a physical overcoming of separateness, not a symbolic revelation and justification of one’s interior. many people pursue sex precisely because it is a mystique of the overcoming of the separateness of the inner world, and they go from one partner to another because they can never quite achieve “it.” So the endless interrogations: ‘What are you thinking about right now—me? Do you feel what I feel? Do you love me?’”
“What is the ideal for mental health, then? A lived, compelling illusion that does not lie about life, death, and reality; one honest enough to follow its own commandments: I mean, not to kill, not to take the lives of others to justify itself.”
American Art – Part IV of V: Terry Wise
Artist Statement: “My paintings hover somewhere between reality and fantasy.
Still life remains my favorite, though not only, genre. My love of textiles, and training as a textile designer, is often apparent, especially in my use of block printed repeat patterns throughout my paintings as a means of creating texture and warmth and depth of color.
There is so much in our contemporary world to make us feel terrible, and yet there is so much beauty, as well. I want my paintings to make me and all viewers feel some joy.”
A Poem for Today
By Paul Zimmer
Amongst dogs are listeners and singers.
My big dog sang with me so purely,
puckering her ruffled lips into an O,
beginning with small, swallowing sounds
like Coltrane musing, then rising to power
and resonance, gulping air to continue—
her passion and sense of flawless form—
singing not with me, but for the art of dogs.
We joined in many fine songs—”Stardust,”
“Naima,” “The Trout,” “My Rosary,” “Perdido.”
She was a great master and died young,
leaving me with unrelieved grief,
her talents known to only a few.
Now I have a small dog who does not sing,
but listens with discernment, requiring
skill and spirit in my falsetto voice.
I sing her name and words of love
andante, con brio, vivace, adagio.
Sometimes she is so moved she turns
to place a paw across her snout,
closes her eyes, sighing like a girl
I held and danced with years ago.
But I am a pretender to dog music.
The true strains rise only from
the rich, red chambers of a canine heart,
these melodies best when the moon is up,
listeners and singers together or
apart, beyond friendship and anger,
far from any human imposter—
ballads of long nights lifting
to starlight, songs of bones, turds,
conquests, hunts, smells, rankings,
things settled long before our birth.
American Art – Part V of V: Rose Frantzen
In the words of one critic, “Born and raised in Maquoketa, Iowa, Rose Frantzen attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago. While making a living through art fairs and portrait commissions, Rose stayed in Chicago and further pursued her study of painting at the Palette & Chisel Academy. For a year and a half she worked under the mentorship of Richard Schmid, gaining first hand knowledge of the representational approach that Schmid presents in his influential book, ‘Alla Prima.’ In 1993, Rose continued her education with a semester of anatomy and sculpture at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Connecticut.
In the early 90’s, Rose traveled extensively, taking painting tours of Australia, Mexico, Guatemala, Russia, and throughout Europe. Her paintings of people and places in the U.S. and abroad went to galleries in Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, Illinois, Utah, and California. In 1991, with her parents, Rose purchased the former city hall in Maquoketa, opening Old City Hall Gallery on the first floor, using the second floor council chambers as a studio. She began to focus on paintings of small town and rural Iowa, painting subjects from life in the studio, around town, and in the surrounding countryside.
Over time, Rose’s paintings have taken on an allegorical quality in which an abstract or surreal setting presents the subject as an archetypal character seen on his or her own internal stage. For these multi-dimensional works, she incorporates diverse stylistic elements along with gilding, stained glass, and mosaic. All of her paintings are presented in handcrafted frames that play an integral part in the piece.”