American Art – Part I of IV: Tony Chimento
Artist Statement: “As a young man at college I was encouraged to accept the notion that art could only be valid if it somehow ‘pushed the envelope.’ To be avant-garde and new seemed by far the most important criterion to my professors. However, it seemed to me that once that art-historical time line ended in the late 60’s with the minimal artists and the final blank white canvas, then the whole idea of artists making marks on canvas should have ended along with it. As we all know it didn’t. For me, that began to erode the power that the so called ‘Avant-Garde’ held in my thinking about my validity as a realist painter and opened the door for new ways of thinking about art along with my own self- respect as an artist.
Allowing the work to talk to me, I began to be aware on a conscious level of something which was always there intuitively: that my work is mostly about the exploration if beauty and the space we make for its contemplation. In a world where the ugly and violent seem increasingly more intense, the exploration of beauty and serenity, not as escape…but as antidote, certainly must be as valid a reason for making art as any other.
Earlier on, when I felt that if the finished painting was beautiful and special to me, then I succeeded no matter how difficult the journey might have been. As I learn more about the process of painting, I’m finding the process has its own beauty…. that of becoming, so that painting itself can be seen as a metaphor for what is best about life.”
“Any idiot can face a crisis; it’s this day-to-day living that wears you out.” – Anton Chekhov, Russian physician, dramatist, short story writer, and author of “The Cherry Orchard,” who was born 17 January 1860.
Some quotes from the work of Anton Chekhov:
“The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.”
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
“Wisdom…. comes not from age, but from education and learning.”
“The world is, of course, nothing but our conception of it.”
“Civilized people must, I believe, satisfy the following criteria:
1) They respect human beings as individuals and are therefore always tolerant, gentle, courteous and amenable … They do not create scenes over a hammer or a mislaid eraser; they do not make you feel they are conferring a great benefit on you when they live with you, and they don’t make a scandal when they leave.
2) They have compassion for other people besides beggars and cats. Their hearts suffer the pain of what is hidden to the naked eye.
3) They respect other people’s property, and therefore pay their debts.
4) They are not devious, and they fear lies as they fear fire. They don’t tell lies even in the most trivial matters. To lie to someone is to insult them, and the liar is diminished in the eyes of the person he lies to. Civilized people don’t put on airs; they behave in the street as they would at home, they don’t show off to impress their juniors.
5) They don’t run themselves down in order to provoke the sympathy of others. They don’t play on other people’s heartstrings to be sighed over and cosseted … that sort of thing is just cheap striving for effects, it’s vulgar, old hat and false.
6) They are not vain. They don’t waste time with the fake jewellery of hobnobbing with celebrities, being permitted to shake the hand of a drunken [judicial orator], the exaggerated bonhomie of the first person they meet at the Salon, being the life and soul of the bar … They regard phrases like ‘I am a representative of the Press!!’ — the sort of thing one only hears from [very minor journalists] — as absurd. If they have done a brass farthing’s work they don’t pass it off as if it were 100 roubles by swanking about with their portfolios, and they don’t boast of being able to gain admission to places other people aren’t allowed in (…) True talent always sits in the shade, mingles with the crowd, avoids the limelight … As Krylov said, the empty barrel makes more noise than the full one.
7) If they do possess talent, they value it … They take pride in it … they know they have a responsibility to exert a civilizing influence on [others] rather than aimlessly hanging out with them. And they are fastidious in their habits.
8) They work at developing their aesthetic sensibility … Civilized people don’t simply obey their baser instincts … they require mens sana in corpore sano.
And so on. That’s what civilized people are like … Reading ‘Pickwick’ and learning a speech from ‘Faust’ by heart is not enough if your aim is to become a truly civilized person and not to sink below the level of your surroundings.”
“Perhaps the feelings that we experience when we are in love represent a normal state. Being in love shows a person who he should be.”
“If you are afraid of loneliness, don’t marry.”
“Medicine is my lawful wife, and literature is my mistress. When I get fed up with one, I spend the night with the other”
“A woman can become a man’s friend only in the following stages – first an acquaintance, next a mistress, and only then a friend.”
“These people have learned not from books, but in the fields, in the wood, on the river bank. Their teachers have been the birds themselves, when they sang to them, the sun when it left a glow of crimson behind it at setting, the very trees, and wild herbs.”
“And I despise your books, I despise wisdom and the blessings of this world. It is all worthless, fleeting, illusory, and deceptive, like a mirage. You may be proud, wise, and fine, but death will wipe you off the face of the earth as though you were no more than mice burrowing under the floor, and your posterity, your history, your immortal geniuses will burn or freeze together with the earthly globe.”
“Do you see that tree? It is dead but it still sways in the wind with the others. I think it would be like that with me. That if I died I would still be part of life in one way or another.”
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin, author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, statesman, musician, inventor, civic activist, diplomat, author of “Poor Richard’s Almanack,” and a Founding Father of the United States, who was born 17 January 1706.
Some quotes from the work of Benjamin Franklin:
“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”
“You may delay, but time will not.”
“I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.”
“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.”
“Many people die at twenty five and aren’t buried until they are seventy five.”
“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, His precepts!”
“Hide not your talents, they for use were made,
What’s a sundial in the shade?”
“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
“Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle.”
“The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”
“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.”
“If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.”
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”
“Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”
“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”
17 January 1873 – The Modoc War: A group of Modoc Native American warriors led by Captain Jack defeat the United States Army in the First Battle of the Stronghold.
Here is the Artist Statement of Norwegian ceramicist Toril Redalen: “As an artist I use the material in different state of being in order to challenge and expand people’s perception of their surroundings and belongings. Using different approaches, I visualize the relationship between thought and the material present. Taking interest in spatial issues, I work with exteriors and interiors containing real and fabricated history. The symbolically charged beauty of nature, the expectations of total freedom; I am fascinated by the modern conception of nature and how this can create controversy. I also reflect on the fundamental Romantic feeling of loneliness that seems to be the concern of most contemporary representations of nature.
My work is driven by ‘being in’ the process, with the primary motivation of exploring. My aesthetic hinges upon a minor de-contextualization of a thing or feeling so that it can be used a means for us to re-experience the familiar in a way that lets us see it again for the first time. My fulfilled work will have an introspective supple quality, like the way a mist shrouds and soften a form, giving it potential to slip just before you fully recognize it. I seek creation, with the material being able to embrace more than a faded cast of an action once happened. I am fascinated by the clays ability to be reused and transformed into future forms and ideas, in contrast to its hard and resistant state as ceramics.
In a world that seems to have fallen either apathetic or frenetic in wanting to make a difference, I hope my work is an honest reminder of the importance of the reality of dreams, and the necessity of feeling a little overwhelmed.”
“Standing on a street corner waiting for no one is power.” – Gregory Corso, American poet and a member of the Beat Generation that included Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs, who died 17 January 2001.
“The Mad Yak”
I am watching them churn the last milk they’ll ever get from me.
They are waiting for me to die;
They want to make buttons out of my bones.
Where are my sisters and brothers?
That tall monk there, loading my uncle, he has a new cap.
And that idiot student of his — I never saw that muffler before.
Poor uncle, he lets them load him.
How sad he is, how tired!
I wonder what they’ll do with his bones?
And that beautiful tail!
How many shoelaces will they make of that!
American Art – Part II of IV: Rashida Ua Bakari
Artist Statement: “My spirit vessels are metaphorical representations of bodies as objects of physical, as well as spiritual containment. The emerging and introspective faces on the vessels evoke serenity and bring spiritual peace to my work.”
A Poem for Today
By Walter Clyde Curry
Grieve not that winter masks the yet quick earth,
Nor still that summer walks the hills no more;
That fickle spring has doffed the plaid she wore
To swathe herself in napkins till rebirth.
These buddings, flowerings, are nothing worth;
This ermine cloud stretched firm across the lakes
Will presently be shattered into flakes;
Then, starveling world, be subject to my mirth.
I know that faithful swift mortality
Subscribes to nothing longer than a day;
All beauty signals imminent decay;
And painted wreckage cumbers land and sea.
American Art – Part IV of IV: Timothy John-Luke Smith
In the words of one writer, “Timothy studied in the classical tradition of drawing and painting from the early age of 15. He was accepted into the prestigious High School of Art & Design in New York City. There he studied with the watercolorist, Irwin Greenberg and illustrator and painter, Max Ginsberg. These both talented and well-known artists instilled in him the values of diligent study from life and the study of the old masters.
After graduation with a Regents Art Diploma, in June of 1985, he took art history classes at Long Island University, Southampton, NY. This year of intense study was crucial for his direction. He found the work of the French Neo-Classicists and the French Academic schools to be guiding lights for his technical study of painting and drawing.
His favorite artists are still the oil painters of the Neo-Classical and French Academic schools and his pastel paintings have the look and feel of an oil painting. Timothy is the founder of his own movement he calls, ‘Neo-Meso Americanism.’ This movement is affected by the recent discoveries of whole Mayan cities from the Late Classic Period, as well as the deciphered glyphs from those same cities. These discoveries are all within the last 15 years! Just as the 18th century archaeologists discovered the ancient Roman Cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum from the volcanic ashes of Mount Vesuvius at 79 AD, the jungles of Central America had lifted their veil from the ancient Mayan cities of Palenque, Calakmul and Copan. The 19th century artists painted the ancient Roman world as Timothy, today paints the ancient Mayan world. He is able to read and write ancient Mayan glyphs and they are in his paintings. ‘This gives the work some of the mystery that is The Maya.’ Timothy says.”
Out of the Depths: Quotes from “Moby Dick” – Part I of IV
Out of the Depths: Quotes from “Moby Dick” – Part II of IV
“There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar. ”
Out of the Depths: Quotes from “Moby Dick” – Part III of IV
“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!”
Out of the Depths: Quotes from “Moby Dick” – Part IV of IV
“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.”
Below – “Kokovoko,” by Jennifer Randall.