American Art – Part I of VII: Will Bullas
In the words of one critic, “Born in Ohio and raised in the Southwest, Will Bullas enrolled at Arizona State University and was majoring in fine arts with a minor in dramatic arts when he was drafted. In Vietnam, his first professional pieces were pencil portraits of fellow soldiers, which were sent to loved ones back home. Returning from military duty, he enrolled in the Brooks Institute of Fine Art in Santa Barbara, California and graduated with a degree in oil painting. With the encouragement of his wife, Claudia, he then quit his printing press job—reproducing the work of other artists—and concentrated on his own art.
That was the beginning of a yearlong voyage across the Midwest and Southwest, where Bullas sold his work to many appreciative art lovers. The couple settled in Carmel, California, where Will’s exclusive relationship with galleries resulted in a growing group of dedicated, enthusiastic collectors.”
Vittorio Matteo Corcos (1859-1933) was an Italian painter who gained considerable fame during his lifetime for his beautifully executed portraits.
Born 14 November 1900 – Aaron Copland, an American composer, conductor, and educator. In the words of one historian, “Instrumental in forging a distinctly American style of composition, in his later years he was often referred to as ‘the Dean of American Composers’ and is best known to the public for the works he wrote in the 1930s and 1940s in a deliberately accessible style often referred to as Populist and which the composer labeled his ‘vernacular’ style.”
“Rodeo: Hoe-Down” is one of Aaron Copland’s most enduringly popular and distinctively American compositions.
Born 14 November 1935 – Michael Busselle, an English photographer and author.
Below – “The Somme in Winter”; “Yellow Trees”; “Sunset on the Seashore”; “The Canal Du Midi, Near Capestang, Languedoc Roussillon, France”; “Village of Frigiliana, Malaga Area, Andalucia, Spain”; “Mont Blanc, Haut Savoie, Rhone Alpes.”
American Art – Part II of VII: Michele Mitchell-Ostlund
In the words of one critic, “Mitchell initially attended the University of Illinois only to realize the study of nature was not offered; nor the study of realism accessible.
Expanding her powers in the art of seeing, Mitchell was able to exhibit the highest level of craftsmanship. Her Atelier Lack experience strengthened her picture-making capabilities and deepened her grasp of the rich traditions of the Old Masters. Her work serves as a direct link to the great classical painters predating the 17th century, the French Academic and the Impressionists.
She embarked upon extensive studies in Europe, scrutinizing the Renaissance Masterpieces at such renowned museums as the Ufizzi in Florence, the Louvre in Paris and the Tate in London. She later returned to Florence where she painted for two years, studying the Masters at the Palazzo Pitti and other museums and churches. The traditions she studied and taught are something that transcend time, being held by individuals along the way who aspire to articulate ‘love’ in its purest form.
Mitchell’s artistic passion is color, and she commands her palette with proficiency that unmistakably links her to Titian, Vermeer and Rembrandt. Through trained observation and creative vision, Mitchell fuses Impressionism and Realism into a unified language of the eye.”
“Recollection is the only paradise from which we cannot be turned out.” – Jean Paul Richter, German writer and author of “Titan,” who died on 14 November 1825.
Some quotes from the work of Jean Paul Richter:
“Only actions give life strength; only moderation gives it charm.”
“A timid person is frightened before a danger, a coward during the time, and a courageous person afterwards.”
“A man never discloses his own character so clearly as when he describes another’s.”
“Music is moonlight in the gloomy night of life.”
“I would advise young artists . . . to paint as they can, as long as they can, without being afraid of painting badly . . . If their painting doesn’t improve by itself, it means that nothing can be done—and I wouldn’t do anything!” – Claude Monet, a founder of French Impressionist painting, who was born on 14 November 1840.
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Stephen Bishop
“I feel so Miserable Without You, It’s Almost Like Having You Here.” – Stephen Bishop, American singer, songwriter, actor, and relationship genius, who was born on 14 November 1951.
American Art – Part III of VII: Kathryn Jacobi
In the words of one writer, “Kathryn Jacobi is a multi-talented artist with a keen sense of historical reference. She has been described as a “conceptual realist” for her informed approach to a number of artistic styles, techniques and themes. Her work has variously focused on still life subjects, singers and dancers. A unifying theme is the idea of the “diva” as a metaphor for mankind striving to reach the perfect note.
Jacobi’s imaginary circus images in The Minor Pantheon can be read as metaphors for taking chances and suspended expectations. They were inspired by the surrealist images of artists like Max Ernst and Paul Klee. Her still life compositions are strongly influenced by the Old Masters, particularly those of the Northern Renaissance. Her portraiture is reminiscent of the Spanish and Dutch masters. She is a strong humanist who constantly seeks understanding of the world around us. Her most recent work, a series of DreamDances, showcases her new talents with digital photography.”
“If your understanding of the divine made you kinder, more empathetic, and impelled you to express sympathy in concrete acts of loving-kindness, this was good theology. But if your notion of God made you unkind, belligerent, cruel, of self-righteous, or if it led you to kill in God’s name, it was bad theology.” – Karen Armstrong, English writer, academic, and author of “A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam,” who was born 14 November 1944.
In the words of one writer, “A former Roman Catholic religious sister, (Armstrong) went from a conservative to a more liberal and mystical Christian faith. She attended St Anne’s College while in the convent and majored in English. She would become disillusioned and leave the convent in 1969.Her work focuses on the commonalities of the major religions, such as the importance of compassion and the Golden Rule.”
Some quotes from the work of Karen Armstrong:
“A God who kept tinkering with the universe was absurd; a God
who interfered with human freedom and creativity was a tyrant. If God is seen as a self in a world of his own, an ego that relates to a thought, a cause separate from its effect, he becomes a being, not Being itself. An omnipotent, all‐knowing tyrant is not so different from earthly dictators who make everything and everybody mere cogs in the machine which they controlled. An atheism that rejects such a God is amply justified.”
“If it is not tempered by compassion, and empathy, reason can lead men and women into a moral void.”
“After a time I found that I could almost listen to the silence, which had a dimension all of its own. I started to attend to its strange and beautiful texture, which of course, it was impossible to express in words. I discovered that I felt at home and alive in the silence, which compelled me to enter my interior world and around there. Without the distraction of constant conversation, the words on the page began to speak directly to my inner self. They were no long expressing ideas that were simply interesting intellectually, but were talking directly to my own yearning and perplexity.”
“Religion is not about accepting twenty impossible propositions before breakfast, but about doing things that change you. It is a moral aesthetic, an ethical alchemy. If you behave in a certain way, you will be transformed. The myths and laws of religion are not true because they conform to some metaphysical, scientific or historical reality but because they are life enhancing. They tell you how human nature functions, but you will not discover their truth unless you apply these myths and doctrines to your own life and put them into practice.”
“A personalized God can be a mere idol carved in our own image- a projection of our limited needs, fears, and desires. We can assume that he loves what we love and hates what we hate, endorsing our prejudices instead of compelling us to transcend them. When he seems to fail to prevent a catastrophe or seems even to desire a tragedy, he can seem callous and cruel. A facile belief that a disaster is the will of God can make us accept things that are fundamentally unacceptable. The very fact, as a person, God has a gender is also limiting: It means that the sexuality of half the human race is sacralized at the expense of the female and can lead to neurotic and inadequate imbalance in human sexual mores. A personal God can be dangerous, therefore. Instead of pulling us beyond our limitations, ‘he’ can encourage us to remain complacently within them; ‘he” can make us cruel, callous, self-satisfied and partial as “he’ seems to be. Instead of inspiring the compassion that should characterize all advanced religions, ‘he’ can encourage us to judge, condemn, and marginalize.”
“The only way to show a true respect for God is to act morally while ignoring God’s existence.”
American Art – Part IV of VII: Sangram Majumdar
In the words of one writer, “Sangram Majumdar was born in Calcutta, India and received his BFA at the Rhode Island School of Design and his MFA at Indiana University.
Since 2003, he has been teaching painting and drawing at the Maryland Institute, College of Art. He currently splits his time between Baltimore, MD and Brooklyn, NY.”
“We shall prosper as we learn to do the common things of life in an uncommon way. Let down your buckets where you are.” – Booker T. Washington, American educator, author, orator, advisor to Republican presidents, author of “Up From Slavery,” and the dominant leader of the African-American community in the United States from 1890 to 1915, who died on 14 November 1915.
Some quotes from the work of Booker T. Washington:
“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”
“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed.”
“You can’t hold a man down without staying down with him.”
“Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.”
“I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.”
“There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.”
“Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him.”
“Character, not circumstances, makes the man.”
“If you can’t read, it’s going to be hard to realize dreams.”
“Success in life is founded upon attention to the small things rather than to the large things; to the every day things nearest to us rather than to the things that are remote and uncommon.”
“No greater injury can be done to any youth than to let him feel that because he belongs to this or that race he will be advanced in life regardless of his own merits or efforts.”
According to one writer, Russian painter Vadim A. Chazov (born 1975) “has spent almost his entire life learning about, and creating, fine art.
His schooling includes The College of Fine Art in Ekaterinburg, Russia, and 6 years of studying in one of the best art schools in the world – The Academy of Fine Art in Saint Petersburg (Repin State Academic Institute of Painting Sculpture and Architecture ) . Besides perfecting his own drawing and painting skills, he was doing a serious research of the old masters paintings by copying their masterpieces at The Hermitage. Working at The Hermitage, which one of the largest Art museum in the world, was an essential part of Vadim’s education, and a great privilege as well.”
American Art – Part V of VII: Margaret Wozniak
In the words of one writer, “New York sculptor Margaret Wozniak was born in Poland and studied at the Academy of Fine Art in Krakow. Originally working in bronze, she now devotes her time exclusively to clay, a transition that allows for wider scope, freedom of expression, and the exceptional use of color. Each work is hand-built and meticulously painted with carefully formulated glazes.
Wozniak’s art cannot be easily categorized in terms of style. Her works evoke both a strong reverence for antiquity and serene feelings of the spiritual and mythic realms: choirs of small angels caught in mid-song; the winged steed Pegasus standing proudly in muted shades of pastel; bowls and other lidded vessels that might well have served in ancient religious or ceremonial rites. Animals and trees are also dominant themes; horses (sometimes carrying small children on their backs), birds, deer, dogs, reindeer – many perched atop other figures and vessels, some standing or sitting alone. The more modern pieces include larger angels, as well as figures and busts of men, women, and children, some in quiet repose, others in movement or at play. These vary in color from monochromatic to subtle hues and bold strokes. Beautiful plates and platters carry forward the animal and tree designs in finely executed drawings and carvings, with color again being used from minimum to maximum advantage for each piece.”
The Call to Adventure
The stories of intrepid explorers triumphing over adversity are always inspiring, and they can sometimes provoke us into accepting new challenges in our lives, including and especially travel to distant and unknown places. The Call to Adventure, my friends, is always whispering in the ear of those willing to hear it. Let us ponder the examples of some courageous individuals, both real and fictional, who heeded that Call.
14 November 1889 – American journalist Nelly Bly (the pen name of Elizabeth Jane Cochrane) sets out on her attempt to travel around the world in fewer than 80 days. In the words of one historian, “She was a ground-breaking reporter known for a record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days, in emulation of Jules Verne’s fictional character Phileas Fogg, and an exposé in which she faked insanity to study a mental institution from within. She was a pioneer in her field, and launched a new kind of investigative journalism.”
A Poem for Today
By John Masefield
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking,
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
Above – “John Masefield,” painted by William Strang.
American Art – Part VI of VII: William Bradford
William Bradford (1823-1892) was an American painter, photographer and explorer. In the words of one historian, “He went on several Arctic expeditions with Dr. Isaac Israel Hayes, and was the first American painter to portray the frozen regions of the north.”
“Call me Ishmael.”
14 November 1851 – “Moby Dick” is published, and our National Story, in all its peril and possibility, has never been better or more truthfully told.
“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off – then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”
It has been a cold, damp, drizzly November, and the soul can, in truth, sometimes feel oppressed in such drearily testing circumstances. If we cannot escape seaward, we can at least read “Moby Dick” and set sail imaginatively beyond our mundane preoccupations to parts unknown. But beware and be ready, my shipmates, for every true adventure has trials and consequences unforeseen, some of them potentially dire.
“Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure. Consider also the devilish brilliance and beauty of many of its most remorseless tribes, as the dainty embellished shape of many species of sharks. Consider, once more, the universal cannibalism of the sea; all whose creatures prey upon each other, carrying on eternal war since the world began.
Consider all this; and then turn to the green, gentle, and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half-known life. God keep thee! Push not off from that isle, thou canst never return!”
We have been well and fairly warned, my fellow voyagers, but to those of us who love a distant horizon, the freshening seaward breeze that fills our vessel’s sails quickens the spirit, encouraging us to set aside our doubts, fears, and regrets and sally forth boldly. And let these words serve as our compass: “Queequeg was a native of Kokovoko, an island far away to the West and South. It is not down in any map; true places never are.”
A Second Poem for Today
American Art – Part VII of VII: Zaria Forman
Artist Statement: “The inspiration for my drawings began in early childhood when I traveled with my family throughout several of the world’s most remote landscapes, which were the subject of my mother’s fine art photography. After my formal training at Skidmore college I now exhibit extensively in galleries and venues throughout the United States and overseas.
In August 2012 I led Chasing the Light, an expedition sailing up the NW coast of Greenland, retracing the 1869 journey of American painter William Bradford and documenting the rapidly changing arctic landscape.”