American Art – Part I of III: Joyce Cambron
In the words of one writer, “Joyce Cambron states that her figurative paintings are about ‘things I can’t easily talk about – isolation and intimacy. They are often representations of the least public moments, those seen only by family or a lover; waking, stepping into the shower, a dirty kitchen. They both invite intimacy and cause the discomfort of intrusion.’
While interiors and the figure are the subjects that most interest her, she returns to the landscape to experiment with materials and to work more with light and space rather than representation. In these paintings, she often employs irregular surfaces such as hand made paper from India for the inspiration derived from its rustic shape and texture.”
Born 23 November 1888 – Arthur “Harpo” Marx, an American comedian, film star, member of The Marx Brothers Comedy Team, and harpist.
Born 23 November 1861 – Konstantin Korovin, a leading Russian Impressionist painter.
Below – “Hammerfest: Aurora Borealis”; “St. Triphon’s Brook in Pechenga”; “On the Balcony, Spanish Women Leonora and Ampara”; “Twilight in a Room”; “Two Ladies on a Terrace”; “Moonlit Night, Winter”; “Pier in Gurzuf”; “Moonlit Night, Paris.”
From the American Old West: Billy the Kid
Born 23 November 1859 – William H. Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid, a 19th century gunman and outlaw in the American Old West.
In the words of one historian: “Relatively unknown during most of his lifetime, Billy was catapulted into legend in 1881 when New Mexico’s governor, Lew Wallace, placed a price on his head.” Shortly thereafter, Billy the Kid was shot by Sheriff Pat Garrett.
Above – Billy the Kid.
Below – Pat Garrett; the tombstone at Billy the Kid’s grave, Fort Sumner, New Mexico.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of British sculptor Matthew Simmonds: “The sculptures of Matthew Simmonds give us a direct experience of our being in the present, through a love of the past transmitted in marble and light.
From his early childhood, Simmonds was fascinated by stone buildings, an affection that flows into his artworks, where stone architecture is used as a central theme. Particularly the medieval architecture, with its striving to get to a new sophistication of space, comes alive in the marble. Simmonds makes a play of architecture and ornamentation on a small scale, but the spaces created give the same feeling as in the buildings themselves; a place to rest, a place to travel with the eye and maybe find a moment of tranquillity. The marble is opened up, and inside is a space within a building that only exists in the viewer’s mind. What you sense is the significance of space.
To create a sculpture that catches the light and structure of a building and lets the eye wander, to feel that here my eye could live, here a part of me could stay, is a great achievement. The sculptures give the viewer a different perspective on space. They look different from every viewpoint. You long to be in them, and they seem almost more meaningful for that.”
“The poet is at the edge of our consciousness of the world, finding beyond the suspected nothingness which we imagine limits our perception another acre or so of being worth our venturing upon.” – Guy Davenport, American writer, translator, illustrator, painter, teacher, and author of “The Geography of the Imagination: Forty Essays,” who was born 23 November 1927.
Some quotes from the work of Guy Davenport:
“Man was first a hunter, and an artist: his early vestiges tell us that alone. But he must always have dreamed, and recognized and guessed and supposed, all the skills of the imagination. Language itself is a continuously imaginative act. Rational discourse outside our familiar territory of Greek logic sounds to our ears like the wildest imagination. The Dogon, a people of West Africa, will tell you that a white fox named Ogo frequently weaves himself a hat of string bean hulls, puts it on his impudent head, and dances in the okra to insult and infuriate God Almighty, and that there’s nothing we can do about it except abide him in faith and patience.
This is not folklore, or quaint custom, but as serious a matter to the Dogon as a filling station to us Americans. The imagination; that is, the way we shape and use the world, indeed the way we see the world, has geographical boundaries like islands, continents, and countries. These boundaries can be crossed. That Dogon fox and his impudent dance came to live with us, but in a different body, and to serve a different mode of the imagination. We call him Brer Rabbit.”
“In curved Einsteinian space we are at all times, technically, looking at the back of our own head.”
“When Heraclitus said that everything passes steadily along, he was not inciting us to make the best of the moment, an idea unseemly to his placid mind, but to pay attention to the pace of things. Each has its own rhythm: the nap of a dog, the procession of the equinoxes, the dances of Lydia, the majestically slow beat of the drums at Dodona, the swift runners at Olympia.”
“The meaning of the world, said Wittgenstein, is outside the world. Events and values are distinguishable only in relation to others. A totality of events and values, the world itself, requires another.”
“The birds suffer their suffering each in a lifetime, forgetting it as they go.”
“It is worthwhile adding that the power of the poem to teach not only sensibilities and the subtle movements of the spirit but knowledge, real lasting felt knowledge, is going mostly unnoticed among our scholars. The body of knowledge locked into and releasable from poetry can replace practically any university in the Republic. First things first, then: the primal importance of a poem is what it can add to the individual mind.
Poetry is the voice of a poet at its birth, and the voice of a people in its ultimate fulfillment as a successful and useful work of art.”
Here is the Artist Statement of Swedish painter Alexander Klingspor: “My paintings reflect the world around me as I experience it. After all, that is what a painter does. He reflects what he sees. Hopefully my paintings will give the viewer an experience, a window into my world. I listen to the riddles of the night. From the nocturnal winter world of my hometown Stockholm comes my fascination for the night and it’s intriguing mood. I’ve always admired the old masters for their way to depict the relativity between light and dark. Without darkness no light can shine. And according to this universal rule I create my paintings.”
“It has always been a happy thought to me that the creek runs on all night, new every minute, whether I wish it or know it or care, as a closed book on a shelf continues to whisper to itself its own inexhaustible tale.” – “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”
Above – Annie Dillard
Below – Goffle Brook, Hawthorne, New Jersey; Indian Creek, Arkansas; Middle Boulder Creek, Nederland, Colorado; Redwood Creek, California; Bonanza Creek, Alaska.
Musings in Autumn – Part II of II: Edward Abbey
“There are some good things to be said about walking. Not many, but some. Walking takes longer, for example, than any other known form of locomotion except crawling. Thus it stretches time and prolongs life. Life is already too short to waste on speed. I have a friend who’s always in a hurry; he never gets anywhere. Walking makes the world much bigger and thus more interesting. You have time to observe the details. The utopian technologists foresee a future for us in which distance is annihilated. … To be everywhere at once is to be nowhere forever, if you ask me.”
Above – Edward Abbey
Below – Walking with my intrepid students in Tibet (at the top of Tara Pass during the circumambulation of Mount Kailash – 18, 500 feet); in Sikkim, India (at the base of Mount Kanchenjunga); in Ladakh, India (in the Markha Valley); on a pilgrimage route above Lhasa, Tibet; in Nepal (on the Annapurna Circuit, approaching the top of Thorung Pass -17,769 feet).
American Art – Part II of III: John Robert Peck
Artist Statement: “My focus is portraiture. I believe that both drawing and painting are fundamentally about a search for visual truth in nature- in the objects of still life, the landscapes around us and the faces and figures of models. For me, the portrait remains the single most important subject of painting- and I am a student for life in that search to see and record such beauty.”
A Poem for Today
“Sixth Ave. Green with Blue Corner,”
By Elaine Equi
American Art – Part III of III: Joseph Todorovitch
In the words of one writer, “Joseph Todorovitch is a young contemporary painter who has developed a reputation for his highly representational figure paintings. Growing up in Southern California, he became interested in traditional drawing and painting at an early age. His training introduced him to many artistic influences including notable ateliers and instructors.
His work is a culmination of these forces with a deep respect for the knowledge and sensitivities of the past. Joseph has been able to sift through the vast amount of information, be selective, and utilize what’s necessary to achieve an impact that speaks about a personal experience with his subjects. His paintings emote, and convey a care and sensitivity that is reminiscent of the naturalist painters of the 19th century. Utilizing subtle value and temperature shifts, fine draughtsmanship, and pure intuition, Joseph weaves a world of breathable air and psychological nuance in his work.”
Friends: I am going to be away from my computer for a time, enjoying a few days of cultural enrichment and creative quietude in the company of my youngest son and some of my former students. As we all know, it can be an instructive pleasure – and a considerable relief – to visit a place where only a few people know your name. I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.