December Offerings – Part XIX: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of IV: Eastman Johnson

In the words of one art historian, Eastman Johnson (1824–1906) “was a painter and co-founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, with his name inscribed at its entrance. He was best known for his genre paintings, paintings of scenes from everyday life, and his portraits both of everyday people and prominent Americans such as Abraham Lincoln, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His later works often show the influence of the 17th-century Dutch masters, whom he studied in The Hague in the 1850s; he was known as The American Rembrandt in his day.”

Below – “Ojibwe Wigwam at Grand Portage”; “Negro Life at the South”; “The Girl I Left Behind Me”; “The Nantucket School of Philosophy”; “The Young Sweep”;“Benjamin Harrison”; “Nathaniel Hawthorne”; “Ralph Waldo Emerson”; “Self-Portrait.”
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Nobel Laureate: Robert MIllikan

“My idea of an educated person is one who can converse on one subject for more than two minutes.” – Robert Millikan, American scientist and recipient of the 1923 Nobel Prize in Physics, who died on 19 December 1953.
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Here is the Artist Statement of Russian painter Nikos Safronov: ”It has been proven that the human being’s life in the universe lasts but 3 seconds, but thanks to the interspecies communication and travel (including the Internet), a person extends his life-span up to 5-10 seconds. However, when communicating with and through art human being enters the Eternity.
I hope, that those of you who get acquainted with me or know me already will benefit from my art.”
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19 December 1776 – Thomas Paine, American political activist, author, revolutionary, and one of the greatest of our Republic’s Founding Fathers, publishes his first “The American Crisis” essay, which begins thusly:

“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.”
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From the Music Archives – Part I of III: Phil Ochs

Born 19 December 1940 – Phil Ochs, an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist best known for his protest songs. In the words of on music critic, “(Ochs) was known for his sharp wit, sardonic humor, earnest humanism, political activism, insightful and alliterative lyrics, and distinctive voice.”

American Art – Part II of IV: David P. Hettinger

Contemporary painter David P. Hettinger began his formal training at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, where he studied classical realism and the techniques of Flemish, Dutch, and Spanish Masters. In the words of one critic, “Hettinger doesn’t think of his figurative pieces as portraits or paintings of people but rather of relationships and moments in time.”

Below – “Dancing Light”; “Spring’s Gentle Call”; “Jordan Rose”; “Glory”; “Fallen Leaves”; “Dancing with the Wind”; “Yellow Undies”; “Feathered Earrings”; “First Things First”; “Across the Valley.”
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From the Music Archives – Part II of III: Cornell Dupree

Born 19 December 1942 – Cornell Luther Dupree, an American jazz and rhythm & blues guitarist.

Here is the Artist Statement of Iranian painter Vahid Chamani (born 1984): “My work on the whole talks about Iran’s present cultural situation which is disturbed by deep contrasts between tradition and modernism. We have somehow turned away from or traditional culture but at the same time been left behind by modernism. We have distanced ourselves from our beliefs and now stand far from them to be able to join in the global stream of modern cultures but it seems like we have failed in reaching both of them. May be this is because we are doubtful of this liberation and don’t want to separate from our past. This has out us in some kind of cultural gap where we can’t find our true place in western modernism. I try to show this gap in my works, my dark and even colored backgrounds show a theme of having no place and time, where people are doubtful of their identity and worried for their future. Some figures and faces are shown with two different sides which show their stressed minds. Some eyes are blind and some show disappointment with traces of scares they have on their hearts and souls, few have hopes.
In some others I have used ornaments like earrings and necklaces with shiny faces on pretty figures who although have put on a lot of makeup still have their traditional dresses on, a sign of their inner want for returning to past cultures and in spite of that, trying to keep up with new trends of fashion, in order to hide their fear of being called backward. They have made a false identity for themselves and a world of self-deceit. My figures are never who they appear, they are acting all the time, trying to show off and sometimes it looks like they pity themselves and are trying to be self-consoling.”

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Born 19 December 1036 – Su Shi (Su Tung-p’o), Chinese poet, essayist, painter, calligrapher, and traveler who lived during the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

“Remembrance”

To what can our life on earth be likened?
To a flock of geese,
alighting on the snow.
Sometimes leaving a trace of their passage.

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Painter Roberto Liang was born in Chengdu, Sichuan, China in 1964. At age 25, he arrived in Spain, and enrolled first in the College of Applied Arts and Crafts and then in the Department of Fine Arts in Madrid.
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From the Music Archives – Part III of III: Michael Clarke

Died 19 December 1993 – Michael Clarke, an American drummer best known for being a member of The Byrds.

American Art – Part III of IV: John Koch

In the words of one critic, New York-based painter John Koch (1909–1979) “was one of the key American Realists of the 20th Century. When the world seemed to turn its back on the realist tradition, Koch persisted and presented intimate views of his personal world. His paintings are populated with models, musicians, views of his studio, and his New York Apartment. Through it all, Koch was a quiet and understated voice who kept the heartbeat of the realist movement alive and respected.
Koch’s compositions were elegant. His warm tones and colours invited you into his world where, as you investigate the contents, you discover treasures amongst his beautifully observed objects. The objects themselves are chosen with care and a sense of knowledgeable appreciation. In all his work, the intricacies of light permeate and penetrate to create airy spaces into which the viewer enters. John Koch was a well trained artist who delighted in his profession and created an impressive amount of work.”
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A Poem for Today

“I think I should have loved you presently,”
By Edna St. Vincent Millay

I think I should have loved you presently,
And given in earnest words I flung in jest;
And lifted honest eyes for you to see,
And caught your hand against my cheek and breast;
And all my pretty follies flung aside
That won you to me, and beneath your gaze,
Naked of reticence and shorn of pride,
Spread like a chart my little wicked ways.
I, that had been to you, had you remained,
But one more waking from a recurrent dream,
Cherish no less the certain stakes I gained,
And walk your memory’s halls, austere, supreme,
A ghost in marble of a girl you knew
Who would have loved you in a day or two.

Below – “Ghost Girl” (Carrara Marble), by Kevin Francis Gray.
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American Art – Part IV of IV: Warren Chang

Artist Statement: “A common theme in my outdoor subjects is the fieldworkers of Monterey County where I grew up. I started exploring this subject around 2001 when I had recently relocated from New York to Northern California.
These paintings were in part inspired by the writings of John Steinbeck (1902-1968), whose novels I read as a youth. His works examined the lives of working class and migrant workers in the Salinas Valley, California.
In addition, I felt this subject had an historical precedent dating as far back as the 16th century with the paintings by Peter Bruegel the Elder (1525)-1569) known for his peasant scenes and then later on with the work of Francois Millet (1814-1875) and the 19th century Naturalist Movement in general. American artists Winslow Homer (1824-1906) and Eastman Johnson (1824-1906), both painted the fieldworker and later Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) painted the fieldworker in his regional works, so I felt I could pursue this genre with a sense of substance and tradition. My works though inspired by the paintings and subjects of the past are however contemporary records of our times. I depict the farmworker honestly without idealization with an understanding of their plight. In a way I see the farmworker as a tragic figure, a metaphor for the all humanity.”
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