American Art – Part I of IV: Susan Crouch
Artist Statement: “I work primarily in transparent watercolor because its character allows for a wonderful blending of spontaneity and control. As a result, my paintings are a fusion of realistic and interpretive elements. Most projects begin with preliminary sketches to determine composition, value pattern, and colors. Once these initial decisions are in place, I follow where the watercolor leads me.
I enjoy painting a variety of subjects including flowers, figures, wildlife, and landscapes. My primary focus is always on the light and its ability to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. But the longer I paint, the more I realize – it’s all pretty extraordinary.”
Born 18 October 1894 – Harold Lenoir Davis, an American novelist, poet, and recipient of the 1936 Pulitzer Prize for the Novel for “Honey in the Horn.” In the words of one critic, “‘Honey in the Horn’ is a novel about life in the homesteading days of Oregon, 1906-1908. It is about the coming of age of an orphan boy named Clay Calvert, but it is also the about the trials of the pioneers who came to Oregon following the American Dream. Through the characters that Clay meets along the way, the author introduces the readers to the various occupations of the settlers of that era.”
“Stalks of Wild Hay”
I can shake the wild hay, and wet seed sticks to my hand.
The white lower stalks seem solid. Yellow flowers
Grow in the sun, with dog fennel, near apple trees.
White petals carry to this water. So plants breed.
But I, the man who would have put up his life
Against less pleasure than yours, against your black hair
And your deep mouth, ask that no man my friend
Find me in this wild hay now or tonight
To remind me how worthless this was which was so dear.
It is late for me to see grass-stalks my first time,
And for this trouble of spirit to come to an end.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Ukrainian painter Katya Gridneva (born 1965): “Katya Gridneva works mainly in oils, pastels and charcoal, focusing on figurative subjects. Her very skillful, characterful and attractive compositions are painted from life. Her work not only captures the flow of light across her subjects, but also exhibits her in-depth knowledge of the anatomical structure of the human body. She takes a special delight in painting the working bodies of dancers, capturing their grace and elegance.”
“The idea of the future, pregnant with an infinity of possibilities, is thus more fruitful than the future itself, and this is why we find more charm in hope than in possession, in dreams than in reality.” – Henri Bergson, French philosopher, author of “Creative Evolution,” and recipient of the 1927 Nobel Prize in Literature “in recognition of his rich and vitalizing ideas and the brilliant skill with which they have been presented,” who was born 18 October 1865.
Some quotes from the work of Henri Bergson:
“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.”
“Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought.”
“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.”
“The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth all sensation is already memory.”
“But, then, I cannot escape the objection that there is no state of mind, however simple, which does not change every moment, since there is no consciousness without memory, and no continuation of a state without the addition, to the present feeling, of the memory of past moments. It is this which constitutes duration. Inner duration is the continuous life of a memory which prolongs the past into the present, the present either containing within it in a distinct form the ceaselessly growing image of the past, or, more profoundly, showing by its continual change of quality the heavier and still heavier load we drag behind us as we grow older. Without this survival of the past into the present there would be no duration, but only instantaneity.”
“Europe is overpopulated, the world will soon be in the same condition, and if the self-reproduction of man is not rationalized… we shall have war.”
“Fortunately, some are born with spiritual immune systems that sooner or later give rejection to the illusory worldview grafted upon them from birth through social conditioning. They begin sensing that something is amiss, and start looking for answers. Inner knowledge and anomalous outer experiences show them a side of reality others are oblivious to, and so begins their journey of awakening. Each step of the journey is made by following the heart instead of following the crowd and by choosing knowledge over the veils of ignorance.”
“Laughter is the corrective force which prevents us from becoming cranks.”
“Life is a series of collisions with the future; it is not the sum of what we have been, but what we yearn to be.” – Jose Ortega y Gasset, Spanish philosopher, essayist, and author of “The Revolt of the Masses,” who died 18 October 1955.
Some quotes from the work of Ortega y Gasset:
“Romantic poses aside, let us recognize that ‘falling in love’ is an inferior state of mind, a form of transitory imbecility.”
“Tell me what you pay attention to and I will tell you who you are.”
“Living is a constant process of deciding what we are going to do.”
“Our firmest convictions are apt to be the most suspect; they mark our limitations and our bounds. Life is a petty thing unless it is moved by the indomitable urge to extend its boundaries. ”
“We do not live to think, but, on the contrary, we think in order that we may succeed in surviving.”
“In their choice of lovers both the male and the female reveal their essential nature. The type of human being we prefer reveals the contours of our heart. Love is an impulse which springs from the most profound depths of our beings, and upon reaching the visible surface of life carries with it an alluvium of shells and seaweed from the inner abyss. A skilled naturalist, by filing these materials, can reconstruct the oceanic depths from which they have been uprooted.”
“The metaphor is probably the most fertile power possessed by man.”
“The characteristic note of our time is the dire truth that, the mediocre soul, the commonplace mind, knowing itself to be mediocre, has the gall to assert its right to mediocrity, and goes on to impose itself where it can.”
“Thinking is the desire to gain reality by means of ideas.”
“Every life is, more or less, a ruin among whose debris we have to discover what the person ought to have been.”
“Tragedy in the theater opens our eyes so that we can discover and appreciate the heroic in reality.”
“Just because of its promise of unlimited possibilities, technology is an empty form like the most formalistic logic and is unable to determine the content of life. That is why our time, being the most intensely technical, is also the emptiest in all human history.”
“There are, above all, times in which the human reality, always mobile, accelerates, and bursts into vertiginous speeds. Our time is such a one, for it is made of descent and fall. ”
“Persistent ill-humour is all too clear an indication that someone is living contrary to his intended purpose.”
“To remain in the past means to be dead.”
“To be surprised, to wonder, is to begin to understand.”
American Art – Part II of IV: Christina Wyatt
Artist Statement: “Florida is my native home. After growing up in Miami I lived for four wonderful years in Caribou Maine beginning my formal education in fine art at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. I then relocated to Richmond Virginia. It was there where I raised my son while earning my BFA in Painting and Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Fine Art. Later,I returned to South Florida to live and work full time on my art.
My paintings are my poetry. They are inspired by grace found in the natural world and by the reverence inherent in the sanctuary of peace. I take refuge in the making of my art…it’s my intention to create for the viewer a connection to that place ‘Where dreams live and poets speak.’”
“Perhaps all our loves are merely hints and symbols; vagabond-language scrawled on gate-posts and paving-stones along the weary road that others have tramped before us; perhaps you and I are types and this sadness which sometimes falls between us springs from disappointment in our search, each straining through and beyond the other, snatching a glimpse now and then of the shadow which turns the corner always a pace or two ahead of us.” – Evelyn Waugh, English writer of novels, biographies, letters, and travel books, and author of “Brideshead Revisited” and “The Loved One,” who was born 18 October 1903.
Some quotes from the work of Evelyn Waugh:
“Punctuality is the virtue of the bored.”
“I should like to bury something precious in every place where I’ve been happy and then, when I’m old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig it up and remember.”
“Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there’s no room for the present at all.”
“The trouble with modern education is you never know how ignorant people are. With anyone over fifty you can be fairly confident what’s been taught and what’s been left out. But these young people have such an intelligent, knowledgeable surface, and then the crust suddenly breaks and you look down into depths of confusion you didn’t know existed.”
“I felt that I was leaving part of myself behind, and that wherever I went afterwards I should feel the lack of it, and search for it hopelessly, as ghosts are said to do, frequenting the spots where they buried material treasures without which they cannot pay their way to the nether world.”
“For in that city [New York] there is neurosis in the air which the inhabitants mistake for energy.”
“My theme is memory, that winged host that soared about me one grey morning of war-time. These memories, which are my life—for we possess nothing certainly except the past—were always with me. Like the pigeons of St. Mark’s, they were everywhere, under my feet, singly, in pairs, in little honey-voiced congregations, nodding, strutting, winking, rolling the tender feathers of their necks, perching sometimes, if I stood still, on my shoulder or pecking a broken biscuit from between my lips; until, suddenly, the noon gun boomed and in a moment, with a flutter and sweep of wings, the pavement was bare and the whole sky above dark with a tumult of fowl. Thus it was that morning.”
“All this fuss about sleeping together. For physical pleasure I’d sooner go to my dentist any day.”
“[Change is] the only evidence of life.”
“Oxford, in those days, was still a city of aquatint. In her spacious and quiet streets men walked and spoke as they had done in Newman’s day; her autumnal mists, her grey springtime, and the rare glory of her summer days – such as that day – when the chestnut was in flower and the bells rang out high and clear over her gables and cupolas, exhaled the soft airs of centuries of youth. It was this cloistral hush which gave our laughter its resonance, and carried it still, joyously, over the intervening clamour.”
“I did not know it was possible to be so miserable and live but I am told that this is a common experience.”
“Where can we hide in fair weather, we orphans of the storm?”
“My unhealthy affection for my second daughter has waned. Now I despise all my seven children equally.”
“But I was in search of love in those days, and I went full of curiosity and the faint, unrecognized apprehension that here, at last, I should find that low door in the wall, which others, I knew, had found before me, which opened on an enclosed and enchanted garden, which was somewhere, not overlooked by any window, in the heart of that grey city.”
“When we argue for our limitations, we get to keep them.”
“Instead of this absurd division into sexes they ought to class people as static and dynamic.”
“The langour of Youth – how unique and quintessential it is! How quickly, how irrecoverably, lost! The zest, the generous affections, the illusions, the despair, all the traditional attributes of Youth – all save this come and go with us through life…These things are a part of life itself; but languor – the relaxation of yet unwearied sinews, the mind sequestered and self-regarding, the sun standing still in the heavens and the earth throbbing to our own pulse – that belongs to Youth alone and dies with it.”
“Evelyn Waugh: How do you get your main pleasure in life, Sir William?
Sir William Beveridge: I get mine trying to leave the world a better place than I found it.
Waugh: I get mine spreading alarm and despondency and I get more satisfaction than you do.”
“You spend the first term at Oxford meeting interesting and exciting people and the rest of your time there avoiding them.”
“Her heart was broken perhaps, but it was a small inexpensive organ of local manufacture. In a wider and grander way she felt things had been simplified.”
“The human soul enjoys these rare, classical periods, but, apart from them, we are seldom single or unique; we keep company in this world with a hoard of abstractions and reflections and counterfeits of ourselves – the sensual man, the economic man, the man of reason, the beast, the machine and the sleepwalker, and heaven knows what besides, all in our own image, indistinguishable from ourselves to the outside eye. We get borne along, out of sight in the press, unresisting, till we get the chance to drop behind unnoticed, or to dodge down a side street, pause, breathe freely and take our bearings, or to push ahead, outdistance our shadows, lead them a dance, so that when at length they catch up with us, they look at one another askance, knowing we have a secret we shall never share.”
German Art – Part I of II: Peter Handel
“When traveling is made too easy and comfortable, its spiritual meaning is lost. This may be called sentimentalism, but a certain sense of loneliness engendered by traveling leads one to reflect upon the meaning of life, for life is after all a travelling from one unknown to another unknown.” – Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki, Japanese scholar, writer, and author of “An Introduction to Zen Buddhism,” who was born 18 October 1870. In the words of one historian, “(Suzuki’s) books and essays on Buddhism, Zen and Shin were instrumental in spreading interest in both Zen and Shin (and Far Eastern philosophy in general) to the West. Suzuki was also a prolific translator of Chinese, Japanese, and Sanskrit literature. Suzuki spent several lengthy stretches teaching or lecturing at Western universities, and devoted many years to a professorship at Otani University, a Japanese Buddhist school.”
Some quotes from the work of D. T. Suzuki:
“The right art is purposeless, aimless! The more obstinately you try to learn how to shoot the arrow for the sake of hitting the goal, the less you will succeed in the one and the further the other will recede.”
“The truth of Zen, just a little bit of it, is what turns one’s hum drum life, a life of monotonous, uninspiring commonplaceness, into one of art, full of genuine inner creativity.”
“Technical knowledge is not enough. One must transcend techniques so that the art becomes an artless art, growing out of the unconscious.”
“Copying is slavery. The letter must never be followed, only the spirit is to be grasped. Higher affirmations live in the spirit. And where is the spirit? Seek it in your everyday experience, and therein lies abundance of proof for all you need.”
“Zen Makes use, to a great extent, of poetical expressions; Zen is wedded to poetry.”
“The intuitive recognition of the instant, thus reality… is the highest act of wisdom.”
“When mountain-climbing is made too easy, the spiritual effect the mountain exercises vanishes into the air.”
“We teach ourselves; Zen merely points the way.”
“Modern life seems to recede further and further away from nature, and closely connected with this fact we seem to be losing the feeling of reverence towards nature. It is probably inevitable when science and machinery, capitalism and materialism go hand in hand so far in a most remarkably successful manner. Mysticism, which is the life of religion in whatever sense we understand it, has come to be relegated altogether in the background. Without a certain amount of mysticism there is no appreciation for the feeling of reverence, and, along with it, for the spiritual significance of humility. Science and scientific technique have done a great deal for humanity; but as far as our spiritual welfare is concerned we have not made any advances over that attained by our forefathers. In fact we are suffering at present the worst kind of unrest all over the world.”
German Art – Part II of II: Dirk Dzimirsky
Artist Statement: “I want to capture and describe a person’s presence and specific inner self. Similar to what a detailed writer might employ in their analysis of an individual, I portray not only the physical attributes, but more importantly the subject’s inner presence of life. It’s not too obvious as my work appears most detailed, but I understand my approach as both representational and lyrical, using marks like words and textured areas like paragraphs, all parts of a whole, telling a story about a human being. I choose drawing over painting as this allows me to create many layers over layers of lines and dots which react to each other in order to create a vibrant texture with directions and movement. Personally, I view the practice of drawing as reminiscent of scratching on a surface to observe what’s hidden underneath, whereas the nature of painting projects more the inverse, covering and hiding details and forms that might have contributed to a sensuality of a work. I use photos as references for my drawings but I am not after a perfect reproduction at all. I use a photo very loosely once the proportions are established.”
“For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.” – Edwin Way Teale, American naturalist, photographer, writer, and author of “North With The Spring: A Naturalist’s Record of a 17,000 Mile Journey with the North American Spring” and “Wandering Through Winter: A Naturalist’s Record of a 20,000 Mile Journey Through the North American Winter” (which won the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction), who died 18 October 1980.
Some quotes from the work of Edwin Way Teale:
“Our minds, as well as our bodies, have need of the out-of-doors. Our spirits, too, need simple things, elemental things, the sun and the wind and the rain, moonlight and starlight, sunrise and mist and mossy forest trails, the perfumes of dawn and the smell of fresh-turned earth and the ancient music of wind among the trees.”
“It is morally as bad not to care whether a thing is true or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to care how you got your money as long as you have got it.”
“Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life and the labors of life reduce themselves.”
“Those who wish to pet and baby wild animals ‘love’ them. But those who respect their natures and wish to let them live normal lives, love them more.”
“How strangely inaccurate it is to measure length of living by length of life! The space between your birth and death is often far from a true measure of your days of living.”
“Nature is shy and noncommittal in a crowd. To learn her secrets, visit her alone or with a single friend, at most. Everything evades you, everything hides, even your thoughts escape you, when you walk in a crowd.”
“It is those who have compassion for all life who will best safeguard the life of man. Those who become aroused only when man is endangered become aroused too late. We cannot make the world uninhabitable for other forms of life and have it habitable for ourselves. It is the conservationist who is concerned with the welfare of all the land and life of the country, who, in the end, will do most to maintain the world as a fit place for human existence.”
“The long fight to save wild beauty represents democracy at its best. It requires citizens to practice the hardest of virtues–self-restraint. Why cannot I take as many trout as I want from a stream? Why cannot I bring home from the woods a rare wildflower? Because if I do, everybody in this democracy should be able to do the same. My act will be multiplied endlessly. To provide protection for wildlife and wild beauty, everyone has to deny himself proportionately. Special privilege and conservation are ever at odds.”
In the words of one critic, “John Meyer is one of South Africa’s leading contemporary realists. Born 1942, Meyer has put his indelible stamp on the genres of landscape, portraiture and narrative art. Meyer became a professional painter in 1972. Since then he has travelled extensively, painting landscapes from Nevada to Norway. He has exhibited consistently in the United States, Europe and South Africa, developing an international profile that few South African artists have achieved.”
Happy Alaska Day
In the words of one historian, “Alaska Day is a legal holiday in the U.S. state of Alaska, observed on October 18. It is the anniversary of the formal transfer of the Territory of Alaska from Russia to the United States which occurred on Friday, October 18, 1867.”
Below – Aurora Borealis in Fairbanks; Anchorage; Hope; Denali;
Matanuska Glacier; the State Dog – the Alaskan Malamute; the Forget-me-not is the state’s official flower that has the same blue and gold coloring as the state flag; the Flag of Alaska.
American Art – Part III of IV: James Brooks
Born 18 October 1906 – James Brooks, an American painter.
A Poem for Today
“Now that You Too Must Shortly Go,”
By Eleanor Farjeon
Now that you too must shortly go the way
Which in these bloodshot years uncounted men
Have gone in vanishing armies day by day,
And in their numbers will not come again:
I must not strain the moments of our meeting
Striving for each look, each accent, not to miss,
Or question of our parting and our greeting,
Is this the last of all? is this—or this?
Last sight of all it may be with these eyes,
Last touch, last hearing, since eyes, hands, and ears,
Even serving love, are our mortalities,
And cling to what they own in mortal fears:—
But oh, let end what will, I hold you fast
By immortal love, which has no first or last.
American Art – Part IV of IV: Jennifer Meanley
Artist Statement: “The characters within my paintings often appear to be captured in moments of intimate self disclosure. In this way, they live the suspended existence of people held in that mental space in which the sensation of making discoveries is born or forms. This constitutes the objective ‘seeing’ of the self in relation to the subjective context.”