American Art – Part I of III: Lance Hunter
Lance Hunter earned a BFA from Lamar University and an MFA from Stephen F. Austin University. He is an Associate Professor of Art at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma teaching painting and drawing classes.
“After I asked him (a student) what he meant, he replied that freedom consisted of the unimpeded right to get rich, to use his ability, no matter what the cost to others, to win advancement. No decent society can tolerate that definition.” – Norman Thomas, American Presbyterian minister, socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America, who was born 20 November 1884.
Some quotes from the work of Norman Thomas:
“If you want a symbolic gesture, don’t burn the flag, wash it.”
“I always get more applause than votes.”
“We are socialists because we believe this income which we all cooperate in making isn’t divided as it ought to be…We do reward men according to deed. We do reward or give to people according to need. No religion would be possible in which that wasn’t done. There are the young, there are the old, there are many whom we have to reward according to their need. But in spite of improvements that have been made, and especially perhaps by my liberal friends who aren’t just sure how far to go…we still have a society where there’s a great deal of reward not according to deed, not according to need, but according to breed – the choice of your grandfather is very important. And according to the successful greed, which operates not in terms of great contributions to men, but in terms of manipulations of one sort of another.”
“The secret of a good life is to have the right loyalties and hold them in the right scale of values.”
“To us Americans much has been given; of us much is required. With all our faults and mistakes, it is our strength in support of the freedom our forefathers loved which has saved mankind from subjection to totalitarian power.”
The Way of Things
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ― Lao Tzu
Below – A waterfall in Devil’s Den State Park, Arkansas; Scull Creek, Fayetteville, Arkansas; Boulder Creek, Colorado; Tanana River, Fairbanks, Alaska.
Died 20 November 1978 – Giorgio de Chirico, an Italian artist.
“California deserves whatever it gets. Californians invented the concept of life-style. This alone warrants their doom.” – Don DeLillo, American essayist, novelist, short story writer, playwright, and author of “White Noise,” who was born 20 November 1936.
Some quotes from the work of Don DeLillo:
“Writers must oppose systems. It’s important to write against power, corporations, the state, and the whole system of consumption and of debilitating entertainments…I think writers, by nature, must oppose things, oppose whatever power tries to impose on us.”
“The future belongs to crowds.”
“How strange it is. We have these deep terrible lingering fears about ourselves and the people we love. Yet we walk around, talk to people, eat and drink. We manage to function. The feelings are deep and real. Shouldn’t they paralyze us? How is it we can survive them, at least for a little while? We drive a car, we teach a class. How is it no one sees how deeply afraid we were, last night, this morning? Is it something we all hide from each other, by mutual consent? Or do we share the same secret without knowing it? Wear the same disguise?”
“No sense of the irony of human experience, that we are the highest form of life on earth, and yet ineffably sad because we know what no other animal knows, that we must die.”
“Sometimes I see something so moving I know I’m not supposed to linger. See it and leave. If you stay too long, you wear out the wordless shock. Love it and trust it and leave.”
“If you reveal everything, bare every feeling, ask for understanding, you lose something crucial to your sense of yourself. You need to know things that others don’t know. It’s what no one knows about you that allows you to know yourself.”
“The power of the dead is that we think they see us all the time. The dead have a presence. Is there a level of energy composed solely of the dead? They are also in the ground, of course, asleep and crumbling. Perhaps we are what they dream.”
“There are dead stars that still shine because their light is trapped in time. Where do I stand in this light, which does not strictly exist?”
“The family is the cradle of the world’s misinformation. There must be something in family life that generates factual error. Over-closeness, the noise and heat of being. Perhaps even something deeper like the need to survive. Murray says we are fragile creatures surrounded by a world of hostile facts. Facts threaten our happiness and security. The deeper we delve into things, the looser our structure may seem to become. The family process works towards sealing off the world. Small errors grow heads, fictions proliferate. I tell Murray that ignorance and confusion can’t possibly be the driving forces behind family solidarity. What an idea, what a subversion. He asks me why the strongest family units exist in the least developed societies. Not to know is a weapon of survival, he says. Magic and superstition become entrenched as the powerful orthodoxy of the clan. The family is strongest where objective reality is most likely to be misinterpreted. What a heartless theory, I say. But Murray insists it’s true.”
“Facts are lonely things”
“All plots tend to move deathward. This is the nature of plots. ”
“Fear is unnatural. Lightning and thunder are unnatural. Pain, death, reality, these are all unnatural. We can’t bear these things as they are. We know too much. So we resort to repression, compromise and disguise. This is how we survive the universe. This is the natural language of the species.”
“Before pop art, there was such a thing as bad taste. Now there’s kitsch, schlock, camp, and porn.”
“What good is knowledge if it just floats in the air? It goes from computer to computer. It changes and grows every second of every day. But nobody actually knows anything.”
“It was important for him to believe that he’d spent his life among people who kept missing the point.”
“These are the days after. Everything now is measured by after.”
“The greater the scientific advance, the more primitive the fear.”
American Art – Part II of III: Jonathan Jungsuk Ahn
In the words of one art historian, Korean-born American painter Jonathan Jungsuk Ahn (born 1977) “particularly enjoys portraiture and other figurative works. He currently resides in San Francisco, where he divides his time between painting, studying, teaching and doting on his niece, Eloise.”
Nobel Laureates – Part I of II: Selma Lagerlof
“I see the green earth covered with the works of man or with the ruins of men’s work. The pyramids weigh down the earth, the tower of Babel has pierced the sky, the lovely temples and the gray castles have fallen into ruins. But of all those things which hands have built, what hasn’t fallen nor ever will fall? Dear friends, throw away the trowel and mortarboard! Throw your masons’ aprons over your heads and lie down to build dreams! What are temples of stone and clay to the soul? Learn to build eternal mansions of dreams and visions!” – Selma Lagerlof, Swedish writer, author of “The Wonderful Adventures of Nils,” and the recipient of the 1909 Nobel Prize in Literature “in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings,” who was born 20 November 1858.
Some quotes from the work of Selma Lagerlof:
“Have you ever seen a child sitting on its mother’s knee listening to fairy stories? As long as the child is told of cruel giants and of the terrible suffering of beautiful princesses, it holds its head up and its eyes open; but if the mother begins to speak of happiness and sunshine, the little one closes its eyes and falls asleep with its head against her breast. . . . I am a child like that, too. Others may like stories of flowers and sunshine; but I choose the dark nights and sad destinies.”
“‘What Gosta,’ he said to himself, ‘can you no longer endure? You have been hardened in poverty all of your life; you have heard every tree in the forest, every tuft in the meadows preach to you of sacrifice and patience. You, brought up in a country where the winter is severe, and the summer joy is very short, have you forgotten the art of bearing your trials?
‘Oh Gosta, a man must bear all that life gives him with a courageous heart and a smile on his lips, else he is no man. Sorrow as much as you will. If you love your beloved, let your conscience burn and chafe within you, but show yourself a man and a Varmlander. Let your glances beam with joy, and meet your friends with a gay word on your lips! Life and nature are hard. They bring forth courage and joy as a counterweight against their own hardness, or no one could endure them.’”
“We are the poem’s ancient band of twelve that proceeds through the ages. There were twelve of us, when we ruled the world on the cloud-covered top of Olympus, and twelve when we lived as birds in Ygdrasil’s green crown. Wherever poetry went forth, there we followed. Did we not sit, twelve men strong, at King Arthur’s round table, and did twelve paladins not go in Charles the Twelfth’s great army? On of us has been Thor, another Jupiter, as any man should be able to see in us yet today. The divine splendor can be sensed under the rags, the lion’s mane under the donkey hide. Time has treated us badly, but when we are there, the smithy becomes Mount Olympus and the cavalier’s wing a Valhalla.”
Australian Art – Part I of II: Louise Feneley
Louise Feneley studied art in both Adelaide and New York City.
Nobel Laureates – Part II of II: Nadine Gordimer
“Truth isn’t always beauty, but the hunger for it is.” – Nadine Gordimer, South African writer, political activist, author of “July’s People,” and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature as a writer “who through her magnificent epic writing has been of very great benefit to humanity,” who was born 20 November 1923.
Some quotes from the work of Nadine Gordimer:
“With an understanding of Shakespeare there comes a release from the gullibility that makes you prey to the great shopkeeper who runs the world, and would sell you cheap to illusion.”
“What is the purpose of writing? For me personally, it is really to explain the mystery of life, and the mystery of life includes, of course, the personal, the political, the forces that make us what we are while there’s another force from inside battling to make us something else.”
“Books don’t need batteries.”
“The facts are always less than what really happened.”
“Everyone ends up moving alone towards the self.”
“Nothing factual that I write or say will be as truthful as my fiction.”
“My answer is: Recognize yourself in others.”
“It’s easier for the former masters to put aside the masks that hid their humanity than for the former slaves to recognise the faces underneath. Or to trust that this is not a new mask these are wearing.”
“Sincerity is never having an idea of oneself.”
Australian Art – Part II of II: Crispin Akerman
Artist Statement: “Many of the works have as their central focus the flowers and leaves of plant species native to the South West of Western Australia. Other objects in the paintings are historical, sculptural, or organic in form, and are arranged over underlying geometries, with the space between as important as the objects depicted. The work is realistic not photographic. The unresolved sections add drama to the work, and heighten the focus of the paintings – the arrangement of objects and the elements of local history and the natural environment.”
20 November 1969 – Native American activists (Indians of All Tribes – IAT) seize control of Alcatraz Island. The occupation lasted until 11 July 1971, when it was forcibly ended by the U.S. government.
A Poem for Today
“Falling Leaves and Early Snow,”
By Kenneth Rexroth
In the years to come they will say,
“They fell like the leaves
In the autumn of nineteen thirty-nine.”
November has come to the forest,
To the meadows where we picked the cyclamen.
The year fades with the white frost
On the brown sedge in the hazy meadows,
Where the deer tracks were black in the morning.
Ice forms in the shadows;
Disheveled maples hang over the water;
Deep gold sunlight glistens on the shrunken stream.
Somnolent trout move through pillars of brown and gold.
The yellow maple leaves eddy above them,
The glittering leaves of the cottonwood,
The olive, velvety alder leaves,
The scarlet dogwood leaves,
Most poignant of all.
In the afternoon thin blades of cloud
Move over the mountains;
The storm clouds follow them;
Fine rain falls without wind.
The forest is filled with wet resonant silence.
When the rain pauses the clouds
Cling to the cliffs and the waterfalls.
In the evening the wind changes;
Snow falls in the sunset.
We stand in the snowy twilight
And watch the moon rise in a breach of cloud.
Between the black pines lie narrow bands of moonlight,
Glimmering with floating snow.
An owl cries in the sifting darkness.
The moon has a sheen like a glacier.
A Second Poem for Today
“Shoveling Snow With Buddha,”
By Billy Collins
In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
you would never see him doing such a thing,
tossing the dry snow over a mountain
of his bare, round shoulder,
his hair tied in a knot,
a model of concentration.
Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word
for what he does, or does not do.
Even the season is wrong for him.
In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?
Is this not implied by his serene expression,
that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?
But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
one shovelful at a time.
We toss the light powder into the clear air.
We feel the cold mist on our faces.
And with every heave we disappear
and become lost to each other
in these sudden clouds of our own making,
these fountain-bursts of snow.
This is so much better than a sermon in church,
I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
I say, but he is too busy to hear me.
He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
you could back the car down easily
and drive off into the vanities of the world
with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.
All morning long we work side by side,
me with my commentary
and he inside his generous pocket of silence,
until the hour is nearly noon
and the snow is piled high all around us;
then, I hear him speak.
After this, he asks,
can we go inside and play cards?
Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk
and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table
while you shuffle the deck.
and our boots stand dripping by the door.
American Art – Part III of III: Ian Strawn
Artist Statement: ”I am a people watcher. I revel in catching momentary glimpses of old men behind me in the checkout line, or catch sight of the girl with the rather striking eyebrows on the other side of the bookstore. Somewhere in the clockwork of my soul there is a drive to know something of the people around me. Not to talk to them, or approach them, or learn any concrete fact about them, but to read their faces, to catalogue them, to glean what I can from the short moment that I can steal a glance.
Recently, my work has mirrored this same passion. In it, I am describing people as if at that glance. The scene is not wholly realized. Settings, clothes, and objects are often abridged or discarded. But what remains is that which satiates my desire to know them. Something is there that speaks to me of who they are, what they want, and what their relationship is to me. It is what is left when nothing more is wanted.”