American Art – Part I of VI: Thomas Sully
Died 5 November 1872 – Thomas Sully, an English-born painter, mostly of portraits.
Remember, remember, the 5th of November: Happy Guy Fawkes Day
In the words of one historian, “Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night and Firework Night, is an annual commemoration observed on 5 November, primarily in Great Britain. Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure.”
American Art – Part II of VI: Dalton Jamieson
Artist Statement: “I have been pursuing oil painting seriously for the past eleven years. I paint in a realistic manner from photographs, life settings, and the imagination. My technique is based on careful observation and detail. My process involves building up thin layers of paint, with each layer becoming more refined gradually until the final image is realized. My aim is to paint familiar, everyday images that elicit some sort of emotional power.”
Here is the Artist Statement of Irish painter Bairbre Duggan: “My trajectory to becoming an artist has been a circuitous one – initially disillusioned by what the art schools had to offer, I became an art historian, an interaction designer, an editor and a yoga teacher, before finally coming full circle and pursuing my initial ambition which was to make images with paint. Having moved to the Netherlands, I found the school that could teach me what I wanted to learn, and some other stuff of course that I needed to learn. I graduated from the Ruudt Wackers Academie in 2009, under the mentorship of Sam Drukker.”
“The poet’s business is not to save the soul of man but to make it worth saving.” – James Elroy Flecker, English poet, novelist, and playwright, who was born on 5 November 1884.
This is James Elroy Flecker’s best-known poem:
“To A Poet A Thousand Years Hence”
WHO am dead a thousand years,
And wrote this sweet archaic song,
Send you my words for messengers
The way I shall not pass along.
I care not if you bridge the seas,
Or ride secure the cruel sky,
Or build consummate palaces
Of metal or of masonry.
But have you wine and music still,
And statues and a bright-eyed love,
And foolish thoughts of good and ill,
And prayers to them who sit above?
How shall we conquer? Like a wind
That falls at eve our fancies blow,
And old Mæonides the blind
Said it three thousand years ago.
O friend unseen, unborn, unknown,
Student of our sweet English tongue,
Read out my words at night, alone:
I was a poet, I was young.
Here is one writer describing the background of South African painter Ryan Hewett: “Ryan was born in Kwa-Zulu Natal (Durban) 1979. Ryan excelled in art throughout school before studying graphic design at the Natal Technikon.
He moved to Cape Town after his studies and that is where he found a passion for oil on canvas and portraiture as a subject.
Ryan has been painting professionally for 6 years and is self taught. He started off exclusively with a gallery in Franschoek and since then he has been approached by numerous galleries. He has sold work to international corporate companies and private collectors as well as local collectors.”
“A poor original is better than a good imitation.” – Ella Wheeler Wilcox, American poet, writer, and author of “Poems of Passion,” who was born 5 November 1850.
“The Way of the World”
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air;
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.
Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go;
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all,—
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.
Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a large and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.
“Friendship After Love”
After the fierce midsummer all ablaze
Has burned itself to ashes, and expires
In the intensity of its own fires,
There come the mellow, mild, St. Martin days
Crowned with the calm of peace, but sad with haze.
So after Love has led us, till he tires
Of his own throes, and torments, and desires,
Comes large-eyed friendship: with a restful gaze,
He beckons us to follow, and across
Cool verdant vales we wander free from care.
Is it a touch of frost lies in the air?
Why are we haunted with a sense of loss?
We do not wish the pain back, or the heat;
And yet, and yet, these days are incomplete.
Died 5 November 1955 – Maurice Utrillo, a French painter who specialized in cityscapes.
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Billy Guy
Died 5 November 2002 – Billy Guy, an American vocalist best known as the lead singer of the Coasters.
American Art – Part III of VI: Leigh Behnke
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Art Garfunkel
Born 5 November 1941 – Art Garfunkel, American singer, musician, poet, and actor best known for his partnership with Paul Simon in the folk duo Simon & Garfunkel.
American Art – Part IV of VI: Maggie Siner
In the words of one writer, “Maggie Siner’s is a quiet voice in the contemporary art world yet her paintings are held dear for their enduring qualities: the perfect sense of the fleeting moment, exquisite clarity of light, bold gestural brushwork, delicately balanced structure, fine craftsmanship, and the captured moment of absolute recognition. Her subject matter ranges from the intimate (a handful of cherries), to the monumental (earth and sky), to whimsical combinations of objects, always evoking surprise and beauty.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Siner began her studies at the Art Students League of New York in 1968, graduated from Boston University (BFA) and American University (MFA) and has lived for extended periods in France, China and Italy. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums for over 30 years and is in hundreds of private collections around the world.”
“I knew I’d been living in Berkeley too long when I saw a sign that said ‘Free firewood’ and my first thought was ‘Who was Firewood and what did he do?'” – John Berger, English art critic, novelist, poet, painter, and author, who was born 5 November 1926.
John Berger is the author of “Ways of Seeing,” which was written as an accompaniment to a BBC series and begins with these words: “Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.” This insistence on the fundamental importance of seeing runs through the book, as does the notion that our ways of seeing are socially conditioned and that in the case of the visual arts our perceptions are subject to what Berger calls “learned assumptions” that mediate what we see in artistic works. Naturally, this mediation has political implications, since dominant groups in any society greatly influence what is “seen” in art. “Ways of Seeing” is an extended attempt to liberate human beings from these largely hidden prejudices and thereby see both art and society clearly without the distortions of cultural bias.
Some quotes from the work of John Berger:
“The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich.”
“Compassion has no place in the natural order of the world which operates on the basis of necessity. Compassion opposes this order and is therefore best thought of as being in some way supernatural.”
“That we find a crystal or a poppy beautiful means that we are less alone, that we are more deeply inserted into existence than the course of a single life would lead us to believe.”
“What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time.”
“Publicity is the life of this culture – in so far as without publicity capitalism could not survive – and at the same time publicity is its dream.”
“Autobiography begins with a sense of being alone. It is an orphan form.”
“Emigration, forced or chosen, across national frontiers or from village to metropolis, is the quintessential experience of our time.”
“Glamour cannot exist without personal social envy being a common and widespread emotion.”
“Modern thought has transferred the spectral character of Death to the notion of time itself. Time has become Death triumphant over all.”
“Nothing in the nature around us is evil. This needs to be repeated since one of the human ways of talking oneself into inhuman acts is to cite the supposed cruelty of nature.”
“One can say of language that it is potentially the only human home, the only dwelling place that cannot be hostile to man.”
“Ours is the century of enforced travel of disappearances. The century of people helplessly seeing others, who were close to them, disappear over the horizon.”
“Post-modernism has cut off the present from all futures. The daily media add to this by cutting off the past. Which means that critical opinion is often orphaned in the present.”
“The camera relieves us of the burden of memory. It surveys us like God, and it surveys for us. Yet no other god has been so cynical, for the camera records in order to forget.”
“The human imagination… has great difficulty in living strictly within the confines of a materialist practice or philosophy. It dreams, like a dog in its basket, of hares in the open.”
“The past grows gradually around one, like a placenta for dying.”
“Unlike any other visual image, a photograph is not a rendering, an imitation or an interpretation of its subject, but actually a trace of it. No painting or drawing, however naturalist, belongs to its subject in the way that a photograph does.”
“When we read a story, we inhabit it. The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls. What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story. And this is possible because the story’s voice makes everything its own.”
“You can plan events, but if they go according to your plan they are not events”.
American Art – Part V of VI: Gary Ruddell
Artist Statement: ”Growing up in Northern California, I spent all my time drawing and painting. Bay Area figurative painting made a major impact on my work, heightening my attraction to surface and materials, as well as the sensuality of objects, and ultimately leading me to paint things that interested me because of their genuineness.
For me, the act of painting is a way of knowing a process, of seeing. I like to think of my paintings as stills in a film, suspended moments, a private glimpse into the human condition. I paint figures as I see myself interacting with objects, almost as if it is a play in progress. I find more soul in the human condition, not from a sentimentalized point of view, but in a daily reality. What I am after are images of man’s relationship to his environment and his system of life in a ritualized role.”
A Poem for Today
“The Unknown Citizen,”
By W. H. Auden
(To JS/07 M 378
This Marble Monument
Is Erected by the State)
He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
One against whom there was no official complaint,
And all the reports on his conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a saint,
For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
Except for the War till the day he retired
He worked in a factory and never got fired,
But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
Yet he wasn’t a scab or odd in his views,
For his Union reports that he paid his dues,
(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)
And our Social Psychology workers found
That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day
And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
And his Health-card shows he was once in a hospital but left it cured.
Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Installment Plan
And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his generation.
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their education.
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.
American Art – Part VI of VI: Leah Giberson
Artist Statement: “My current body of work falls somewhere between the worlds of photography, painting and collage. I begin with photographs of seemingly ordinary and mundane scenes, which I then paint directly upon to distill and reveal the visually poignant moments that exist all around us, but are often overlooked.
There is a quiet anxiety and loneliness in these images of isolated houses, empty chairs, abandoned pools and vacant streets. Shadows loom from unknown/unseen sources, horizon lines become uncomfortably close, people are absent and geographic clues are obscured. Despite all this uneasiness, there is also a sense of bravery or at least a blind and determined optimism.”