American Art – Part I of IV: Sharon Knettell
Artist Statement: “I was born rather late in the day, January 20th 1943, in the middle of World War Two, in Shelton Connecticut. My father was an advertising executive and my mother was a nurse. I was followed by three lovely sisters, with who I am still on speaking terms.
I had an idyllic childhood. My first memory is wheeling about on a tricycle in a yard flanked by a field dotted with sheep on one side and a snake den on the other. My first significant piece of art was a picture of a Coca-Cola bottle, entitled ‘Soda Not Being Drunk’ at age four.
Grade school was equally memorable except for two unfortunate incidences. The first occurred when I caught my dress on the top of a slide and descended without the skirt. The second was when I was called into the principal’s office for brawling on school grounds. Needless to report I was always called on for school murals and art projects of all kinds.
High School was made infinitely exciting by my ability to decorate the margins of my textbooks. My Headmistress told my mother years later, that the Latin textbook was the most special.
In High School I was fortunate to have Sanford Lowe as my art instructor. He was the director of the New Britain Museum of Art and a fine painter himself. He was responsible for helping to create its magnificent collection of American art including Andrew Wyeth and the wonderful American impressionists such as Childe Hassam and Frederick Frieseke. This was what I thought art was supposed to be and what I wanted to emulate. I have not changed my opinion.”
“Freedom is not worth fighting for if it means no more than license for everyone to get as much as he can for himself.” – Dorothy Canfield Fisher, American educational reformer, social activist, writer, author of “Understood Betsy,” and champion of women’s rights, racial equality, and lifelong education, who died 9 November 1958.
Some quotes from the work of Dorothy Canfield Fisher:
“If we would give, just once, the same amount of reflection to what we want out of life that we give to the question of what to do with a two weeks’ vacation, we would be startled at our false standards and the aimless procession of our busy days.”
“A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.”
“There are two ways to meet life; you may refuse to care until indifference becomes a habit, a defensive armor, and you are safe – but bored. Or you can care greatly, live greatly, until life breaks you on its wheel.”
“It is not good for all our wishes to be filled; through sickness we recognize the value of health; through evil, the value of good; through hunger, the value of food; through exertion, the value of rest.”
“One of the many things nobody ever tells you about middle age is that it’s such a nice change from being young.”
American Art – Part II of IV: Maggie Hasbrouck
In the words of one writer, “Southern artist Maggie Hasbrouck creates provocative, playful, and imaginative images, most typically of children, in a unique medium she personally developed – photoencaustic.” This term is explained by a second crtitic: “By mixing dry pigments into wax and then applying them over a photograph, Hasbrouck achieves a texture and depth rarely captured by a printed image. She then layers varnishes over the surface, causing her pieces to almost glow.”
“Certainties are arrived at only on foot.” – Antonio Porchia, Argentinean poet and author of “Voices,” who died 9 November 1968.
“Voices” is a collection of aphorisms, many of which are reminiscent of haiku, and the book had an influence on many famous writers, including Andre Breton, Jorge Luis Borges, and Henry Miller.
Some quotes from the work of Antonio Porchia:
“One lives in the hope of becoming a memory.”
“We become aware of the void as we fill it.”
“Set out from any point. They are all alike. They all lead to a point of departure.”
“When the superficial wearies me, it wearies me so much that I need an abyss in order to rest.”
“They will say you are on the wrong road, if it is your own.”
“He who does not fill his world with phantoms remains alone.”
“Following straight lines shortens distances, and also life.”
“Everything is a little bit of darkness, even the light.”
“I have come one step away from everything.
And here I stay, far from everything,
one step away.”
“The shadows: some hide, others reveal.”
“You are sad because they abandon you and you have not fallen.”
“When I am asleep I dream what I dream. When I am awake, it’s a continuous dream.”
“Even the smallest of creatures carries the sun in its eyes.”
“He who holds me by a thread is not strong; the thread is strong.”
“I would go to heaven, but I would take my hell; I would not go alone”
“When everything is finished, the mornings are sad.”
“He who has seen everything empty itself is close
to knowing what everything is filled with.”
“My poverty is not complete: it lacks me.”
“Would there be this eternal seeking if the found existed?”
“Night is a world lit by itself”
“Some things become such a part of us that we forget them.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of French painter Karin Jeanne (born 1968): “In Karin Jeanne´s pictures, the viewer is taken on a journey through the mysterious world of childhood. Animals and dolls become the protagonists in her works. She quite literally develops her images playfully, by applying flecks of colour and smudges that appear almost accidental. Karin Jeanne´s pictures seem to contain a mysterious magic. The figures are imbedded in profuse foliage, which both protects them and at the same time, separates them from the real world. This allows a microcosm, or another world, to develop in her pictures.”
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Mary Travers
Born 9 November 1936 – Mary Travers, an American singer-songwriter and member of the folk music group Peter, Paul, and Mary.
Here is one writer describing the background of British artist Crawfurd Adamson: “Though born in Edinburgh in 1953, Crawfurd Adamson moved to Hastings in 1987 where he has lived and worked ever since. He has devoted most of his working practice to the study and development of life drawing not only through his own work but also through the practical establishment of workshops, attended by artists with similar considerations. He has exhibited widely throughout the UK, Europe and USA in both solo and group exhibitions since the early 1980’s and his work is held in numerous private, corporate and institutional collections worldwide including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and The Fleming Collection, London.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Tom Fogerty
Born 9 November 1941 – Tom Fogerty, an American musician best known as both the rhythm guitarist in Creedence Clearwater Revival and the older brother of John Fogerty, lead singer and lead guitarist in that band.
Here is part of the Artist Statement of Spanish painter Juan Hernandez (born 1963): “(My exhibition) ‘I’VE CLOSED MY EYES TO SEE’ it shows my admiration for the feminine world in general as a wide representation of our human nature, attractive and complicated as few. An inner, deep, absent and concentrated look, which would be able to reflect our own ego, which makes us deepen in the work and may cause a disturbing feeling, an uneasiness, but at the same time it helps us as a daydreaming and causes us to the observation as an exercise which leads to different interpretations.
This time I leave the canvas and choose the wood that with its streaks emulate, without much difficulty, the character’s people’s skin texture which interests me. I take back, with the crayons the passion I lived with them during my childhood, sharing its simple role with the intensity the acrylic gives them, without forgetting other options such as work in pastels, the charcoal or the collage.”
“Looking at the sky last night and the moon in the first fresh dark, just a few stars, bright with their cold flares, I had a little crumpled thought, ‘Oh well, the moon. It’s just another place like California.’ One’s imagination drags its feet as we are inexorably hauled into the future.” – James Schuyler, American poet and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (for “The Morning of the Poem”), who was born 9 November 1923.
“A Stone Knife”
December 26, 1969
What a pearl
of a letter knife. It’s just
the thing I needed, something
to rest my eyes on, and always
wanted, which is to say
it’s that of which I
felt the lack but
didn’t know of, of no
real use and yet
essential as a button
box, or maps, green
morning skies, islands and
canals in oatmeal, the steam
off oyster stew. Brown
agate, veined as a woods
by smoke that has to it
the watery twist of eel grass
in a quick, rust-discolored
cove. Undulating lines of
northern evening—a Munch
without the angst—a
hint of almost amber:
to the nose, a resinous
thought, to the eye, a
lacquered needle green
where no green is, a
Sleek as an ax, bare
and elegant as a tarn,
manly as a lingam,
November weather petrified,
it is just the thing
to do what with? To
open letters? No, it
is just the thing, an
object, dark, fierce
and beautiful in which
the surprise is that
the surprise, once
past, is always there:
which to enjoy is
not to consume. The un-
in a brown world
made out of wood,
snow streaked, storm epi-
center still in stone.
Died 9 November 1948 – Edgar Kennedy, an American comedic actor known as “Slow Burn” for the exasperated facial expression he displayed in most of his films. While Kennedy appeared in many movies, he is probably best known today for his appearances in Hal Roach features, including those starring Laurel and Hardy, and his small but memorable role as a lemonade vendor in the Marx Brothers film “Duck Soup.”
Here is the Artist Statement of Australian painter Roz McQuillan: “I live in Melbourne Australia, and work as a full-time artist. I developed a love of drawing as a child, when I first drew my aging auntie in the bath. I have always been fascinated by people, their character and the individuality of their faces, which has led to my passionate interest in portraits and figurative work. My nudes are real people, not generic or idealized. I try to capture the essence of a person, their unique beauty, their mood, and the way they express themselves in their body. My other fascination is with the drama of light, and the way it shapes and changes objects, enhances composition and creates mood. I work in a number of mediums, including pastel, charcoal and conte, pen and ink, gouache, watercolour, pencil, acrylics, photography, and mixed media, and currently, oils. I find that changing and experimenting with mediums keeps me fresh and open to learning.”
“You just sit there and tolerate it, the same way everything in this country is tolerated. Every deception, every lie, every bullet in the brains. Just as you are already tolerating bullets in the brains that will be implemented only after the bullet is put in your brains.” – Imre Kertesz, Hungarian writer, author of “Fatelessness,” Holocaust concentration camp survivor, and recipient of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Literature “for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history,” who was born 9 November 1929.
Some quotes from the work of Imre Kertesz:
“Man, when reduced to nothing, or in other words a survivor, is not tragic but comic, because he has no fate.”
“As we pass one step, and as we recognize it as being behind us, the next one already rises up before us. By the time we learn everything, we slowly come to understand it. And while you come to understand everything gradually, you don’t remain idle at any moment: you are already attending to your new business; you live, you act, you move, you fulfill the new requirements of every new step of development. If, on the other hand, there were no schedule, no gradual enlightenment, if all the knowledge descended on you at once right there in one spot, then it’s possible neither your brains nor your heart could bear it.”
“The West in general should stand up more for its own values. It is not always worthwhile to compromise.”
“Kurti had believed in politics, and politics had deceived him, the way politics deceives everyone.”
(On “Schindler’s List”): “I regard as kitsch any representation of the Holocaust that is incapable of understanding or unwilling to understand the organic connection between our own deformed mode of life and the very possibility of the Holocaust.”
Here is the Artist Statement of Portuguese painter Mariana de Castro: “I was born in 1980 in Porto, Portugal. Since I was a child I have been interested in Art. I just loved to draw, paint and to do every type of art craft. I had my first photography camera – a Polaroid – at the age of ten, and since then I just can´t stop making photography. When I was twelve I joined the Art Studio of Macedónia Freitas Pereira, a Portuguese artist graduated in the Royal College of Art, London. I did my BA (Painting) course at Faculdade de Belas Artes Universidade do Porto , and an ERASMUS for one year at Athens Greece in the Athens School of Fine Arts . I did the Master (Painting) at Wimbledon, College of Art in London, UK.”
“Almost all people have this potential for evil, which would be unleashed only under certain dangerous social circumstances.” – Iris Chang, American historian, journalist, and author of “The Rape of Nanking,” who died 9 November 2004.
Some quotes from the work of Iris Chang:
“As the Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel warned years ago, to forget a holocaust is to kill twice.”
“When you believe you have a future, you think in terms of generations and years. When you do not, you live not just by the day — but by the minute.”
“The spoken word vanished with the wind. Likewise, the unrecorded life disappears as if it never existed.”
“Often, what you see in the media is driven by economic forces.”
“Whatever is not commonly seen is condemned as alien.”
“The Rape of Nanking did not penetrate the world consciousness in the same manner as the Holocaust or Hiroshima because the victims themselves had remained silent.”
American Art – Part III of IV: Kelli Vance
“The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore, we’ve learned most of what we know. Recently, we’ve waded a little way out, maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return, and we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” – Carl Sagan, American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, writer, science communicator, author of “Cosmos,” the book published to accompany the television series “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” recipient of the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction (for “The Dragons of Eden), and creator of the “Sagan Standard” (“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”), who was born 9 November 1934.
Some quotes from the work of Carl Sagan:
“The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species. I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.”
“The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends on how well we know this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.”
“The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.”
“One glance at (a book) and you hear the voice of another person – perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time.”
“Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.”
“We inhabit a universe where atoms are made in the centers of stars; where each second a thousand suns are born; where life is sparked by sunlight and lightning in the airs and waters of youthful planets; where the raw material for biological evolution is sometimes made by the explosion of a star halfway across the Milky Way; where a thing as beautiful as a galaxy is formed a hundred billion times – a Cosmos of quasars and quarks, snowflakes and fireflies, where there may be black holes and other universe and extraterrestrial civilizations whose radio messages are at this moment reaching the Earth. How pallid by comparison are the pretensions of superstition and pseudoscience; how important it is for us to pursue and understand science, that characteristically human endeavor. ”
“If we long for our planet to be important, there is something we can do about it. We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers.”
“Books are like seeds. They can lie dormant for centuries and then flower in the most unpromising soil.”
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge — even to ourselves — that we’ve been so credulous. (So the old bamboozles tend to persist as the new bamboozles rise.)”
“What a marvelous cooperative arrangement – plants and animals each inhaling each other’s exhalations, a kind of planet-wide mutual mouth-to-stoma resuscitation, the entire elegant cycle powered by a star 150 million kilometers away.”
“The Hindu religion is the only one of the world’s great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths.
It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond to those of modern scientific cosmology. Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion years long. Longer than the age of the Earth or the Sun and about half the time since the Big Bang.”
“If I finish a book a week, I will read only a few thousand books in my lifetime, about a tenth of a percent of the contents of the greatest libraries of our time. The trick is to know which books to read.”
“We have begun to contemplate our origins: starstuff pondering the stars; organized assemblages of ten billion billion billion atoms considering the evolution of atoms; tracing the long journey by which, here at least, consciousness arose.”
Here is one writer describing the background of Korean painter Anna Paik: “Born in Seoul, South Korea, Paik studied drawing and painting with the leading figurative American painters, Sidney Goodman and Will Barnet at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Honoured with merit scholarships, Paik also won numerous prestigious prizes including the highly coveted William Cresson European Travelling Prize, Benjamin West Prize and Thomas Eakins Prize among others. Paik had exhibited in New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia before her subsequent move to London in 1997.
Paik’s favourite subject matters are nudes, still-life and portraiture. In pursuit of paintings of depth and timelessness, always experimenting, Paik works to capture the lasting power of life with personal symbolism.”
“Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.” – Anne Sexton, American poet and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (for “Live or Die”), who was born 9 November 1928.
“A Curse Against Elegies”
Oh, love, why do we argue like this?
I am tired of all your pious talk.
Also, I am tired of all the dead.
They refuse to listen,
so leave them alone.
Take your foot out of the graveyard,
they are busy being dead.
Everyone was always to blame:
the last empty fifth of booze,
the rusty nails and chicken feathers
that stuck in the mud on the back doorstep,
the worms that lived under the cat’s ear
and the thin-lipped preacher
who refused to call
except once on a flea-ridden day
when he came scuffing in through the yard
looking for a scapegoat.
I hid in the kitchen under the ragbag.
I refuse to remember the dead.
And the dead are bored with the whole thing.
But you – you go ahead,
go on, go on back down
into the graveyard,
lie down where you think their faces are;
talk back to your old bad dreams.
In the words of one writer, “Alphons William Bernhard Johannes (Fons) Bemelmans (Born in Maastricht, January 8, 1938) is a Dutch artist, best known as sculptor. His work can be described as abstracted figurative with the classic theme of myths and legends caught in dreamy yet powerful shapes.”
A Poem for Today
“A Locked House,”
By W. D. Snodgrass
As we drove back, crossing the hill,
The house still
Hidden in the trees, I always thought—
A fool’s fear—that it might have caught
Fire, someone could have broken in.
As if things must have been
Too good here. Still, we always found
It locked tight, safe and sound.
I mentioned that, once, as a joke;
No doubt we spoke
Of the absurdity
To fear some dour god’s jealousy
Of our good fortune. From the farm
Next door, our neighbors saw no harm
Came to the things we cared for here.
What did we have to fear?
Maybe I should have thought: all
Such things rot, fall—
Barns, houses, furniture.
We two are stronger than we were
Apart; we’ve grown
Together. Everything we own
Can burn; we know what counts—some such
Idea. We said as much.
We’d watched friends driven to betray;
Felt that love drained away
Some self they need.
We’d said love, like a growth, can feed
On hate we turn in and disguise;
We warned ourselves. That you might despise
Me—hate all we both loved best—
None of us ever guessed.
The house still stands, locked, as it stood
Untouched a good
Two years after you went.
Some things passed in the settlement;
Some things slipped away. Enough’s left
That I come back sometimes. The theft
And vandalism were our own.
Maybe we should have known.
A Second Poem for Today
“alternate names for black boys,”
By Danez Smith
1. smoke above the burning bush
2. archnemesis of summer night
3. first son of soil
4. coal awaiting spark & wind
5. guilty until proven dead
6. oil heavy starlight
7. monster until proven ghost
9. phoenix who forgets to un-ash
10. going, going, gone
11. gods of shovels & black veils
12. what once passed for kindling
13. fireworks at dawn
14. brilliant, shadow hued coral
15. (I thought to leave this blank
but who am I to name us nothing?)
16. prayer who learned to bite & sprint
17. a mother’s joy & clutched breath
American Art – Part IV of IV: Scott Burdick
Artist Statement: “I spent a lot of time in hospitals as a child and remember my mother showing me how to transform simple shapes like circles, triangles, and squares into objects like planes, helicopters, and fish. It seemed such a magical thing and made spending so much time in casts and on crutches much more bearable.
What makes a subject attractive to me are the same things that attract us all. The beauty of a young girl, the character of a weathered face, the solitude of a farm at sunset, or even the story itself behind someone or something that makes it interesting.
I see painting as both a way of exploring the world and then as the vehicle of sharing those discoveries with others. I travel to find subjects to paint as much as paint so I can travel and expand my horizons. Through this unique language, one can say things that are impossible with words.”