American Art – Part I of IV: Sarah Takahashi
Artist Statement: “The portrait is one of the most widely recognized forms of visual art- both the simplest and most complex of subjects. As simple as the depiction of the angles of a face or as complex as nature (human or not), the portrait as a theme has remained prevalent throughout art history. The face is the first shape that babies recognize and continues to appeal to us on a visceral level. Faces, therefore, are the medium I use.”
Born 18 February 1860 – Anders Zorn, a Swedish painter, printmaker, etcher, and sculptor.
“In Mexico, an air conditioner is called a ‘politician,’ because it makes a lot of noise but doesn’t work very well.” – Len Deighton, British military historian, novelist, graphic artist, cookery writer, and author of “The IPCRESS File,” who was born 18 February 1929.
A few quotes from the work of Len Deighton:
“Do you ever make silly mistakes? It is one of my very few creative activities.”
“When they ask me to become president of the United States I’m going to say, ‘Except for Washington D.C.’”
“England’s civil war had ended in a consensus as the English discovered that they hated foreigners more than they hated their own countrymen.”
“It doesn’t take much to make the daily round with one’s employer work smoothly. A couple of ‘yessirs’ when you know that ‘not on your life’ is the thing to say. A few expressions of doubt about things you’ve spent your life perfecting. Forgetting to make use of the information that negates his hastily formed but deliciously convenient theories. It doesn’t take much but it takes about 98.5 per cent more than I’ve ever considered giving.”
Born 18 February 1857 – Max Klinger, a German Symbolist painter, sculptor, printmaker, and writer.
Below (left to right) – “Work, Welfare, Beauty”; “Fresco at the Albers Villa”; “Portrait of a Roman Woman on a Flat Roof”; “The Judgment of Paris”; “The Evening”; “A Legation.”
Died 18 February 2001 – Balthasar Klossowski de Rola, better known as Balthus, a Polish-French painter.
“When the flower blooms, the bees come uninvited.” – Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Indian mystic and spiritual teacher, who was born 18 February 1836.
Some quotes from the work of Ramakrishna:
“Different creeds are but different paths to reach the same God.”
“Common men talk bagfuls of religion but do not practice even a grain of it. The wise man speaks a little, even though his whole life is religion expressed in action.”
“Only two kinds of people can attain self-knowledge: those who are not encumbered at all with learning, that is to say, whose minds are not over-crowded with thoughts borrowed from others; and those who, after studying all the scriptures and sciences, have come to realise that they know nothing.”
“One man may read the ‘Bhagavata’ by the light of a lamp, and another may commit a forgery by that very light; but the lamp is unaffected. The sun sheds its light on the wicked as well as on the virtuous.”
“God is in all men, but all men are not in God; that is why we suffer.”
“The winds of God’s grace are always blowing, it is for us to raise our sails.”
“Do not seek illumination unless you seek it as a man whose hair is on fire seeks a pond.”
“The goal of life is not the earning of money, but the service of God.”
“God can be realized through all paths. All religions are true. The important thing is to reach the roof. You can reach it by stone stairs or by wooden stairs or by bamboo steps or by a rope. You can also climb up by a bamboo pole.”
Italian Art – Part I of II
“If people only knew how hard I work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” – Michelangelo Buonarotti, Italian sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer, who died 18 February 1564.
Italian Art – Part II of II: Willy Verginer
Nobel Laureate: Toni Morrison
“Anger … it’s a paralyzing emotion … you can’t get anything done. People sort of think it’s an interesting, passionate, and igniting feeling — I don’t think it’s any of that — it’s helpless … it’s absence of control — and I need all of my skills, all of the control, all of my powers … and anger doesn’t provide any of that — I have no use for it whatsoever.” – Toni Morrison, American novelist, editor, professor, winner of the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 1988 American Book Award (for “Beloved”), and recipient of the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature for being a writer “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality,” who was born 18 February 1931.
Some quotes from the work of Toni Morrison:
“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.”
“I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”
“She was the third beer. Not the first one, which the throat receives with almost tearful gratitude; nor the second, that confirms and extends the pleasure of the first. But the third, the one you drink because it’s there, because it can’t hurt, and because what difference does it make?”
“As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.”
“Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another–physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion.”
“I never asked Tolstoy to write for me, a little colored girl in Lorain, Ohio. I never asked [James] Joyce not to mention Catholicism or the world of Dublin. Never. And I don’t know why I should be asked to explain your life to you. We have splendid writers to do that, but I am not one of them. It is that business of being universal, a word hopelessly stripped of meaning for me. Faulkner wrote what I suppose could be called regional literature and had it published all over the world. That’s what I wish to do. If I tried to write a universal novel, it would be water. Behind this question is the suggestion that to write for black people is somehow to diminish the writing. From my perspective there are only black people. When I say ‘people,’ that’s what I mean.”
American Art – Part II of IV: Brianna Lee
In the words of one writer, “Brianna Lee is a native California artist with a love of beauty and the human form. Born into an artistic family in Visalia, CA, her passion for art was encouraged and nurtured at a young age.
Pursuing a degree in Fine Art, Education and Western Art History, she attended the University of California, Santa Cruz. Ms. Lee later moved to Los Angeles to study contemporary and traditional painting techniques.”
From the Music Archives: George Harrison
18 February 1977 – George Harrison releases “True Love.”
American Art – Part III of IV: Nancy Guzik
In the words of one writer, “For the past twenty-eight years Nancy Guzik has been quietly perfecting not only her skills, but the focus of her work. The result is an engaging warmth and honesty of expression. Her underlying themes are always of faith, and trust, and love.
As Nancy’s technique has matured, her inner search remains as a constant. Her work cannot be described simply in words, because the images she creates are her messages. Nancy seeks to reveal how extraordinary the most ordinary of things are. It is the quiet wisdom of this insight that drives her art.
Nancy studied at The American Academy of Art in Chicago and The Lyme Academy of Fine Art in Old Lyme, Connecticut. However, it was her close association and ensuing relationship with Richard Schmid that brought her painting to its full potential. Nancy and Richard married in April of 1998.”
“I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else.” – Nikos Kazantzakis, Greek writer, philosopher, and author of “Zorba the Greek,” who was born 18 February 1883.
Some quotes from the work of Nikos Kazantzakis:
“This is true happiness: to have no ambition and to work like a horse as if you had every ambition. To live far from men, not to need them and yet to love them. To have the stars above, the land to your left and the sea to your right and to realize of a sudden that in your heart, life has accomplished its final miracle: it has become a fairy tale.”
“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their
“God changes his appearance every second. Blessed is the man who can recognize him in all his disguises.”
“Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.”
“I was happy, I knew that. While experiencing happiness, we have difficulty in being conscious of it. Only when the happiness is past and we look back on it do we suddenly realize – sometimes with astonishment – how happy we had been.”
“I said to the almond tree, ‘Sister, speak to me of God.’ And the almond tree blossomed.”
“You have your brush, you have your colors, you paint the paradise, then in you go.”
“Look, one day I had gone to a little village. An old grandfather of ninety was busy planting an almond tree. ‘What, grandfather!’ I exclaimed. ‘Planting an almond tree?’ And he, bent as he was, turned around and said: ‘My son, I carry on as if I should never die.’ I replied: ‘And I carry on as if I was going to die any minute.’
Which of us was right, boss?”
“Every man has his folly, but the greatest folly of all … is not to have one.”
“Happy is the man, I thought, who, before dying, has the good fortune to sail the Aegean sea.”
“We come from a dark abyss, we end in a dark abyss, and we call the luminous interval life.”
“All those who actually live the mysteries of life haven’t the time to write, and all those who have the time don’t live them! D’you see?”
“When an almond tree became covered with blossoms in the heart of winter, all the trees around it began to jeer. ‘What vanity,’ they screamed, ‘what insolence! Just think, it believes it can bring spring in this way!’ The flowers of the almond tree blushed for shame. ‘Forgive me, my sisters,’ said the tree. ‘I swear I did not want to blossom, but suddenly I felt a warm springtime breeze in my heart.’”
“All my life one of my greatest desires has been to travel-to see and touch unknown countries, to swim in unknown seas, to circle the globe, observing new lands, seas, people, and ideas with insatiable appetite, to see everything for the first time and for the last time, casting a slow, prolonged glance, then to close my eyes and feel the riches deposit themselves inside me calmly or stormily according to their pleasure, until time passes them at last through its fine sieve, straining the quintessence out of all the joys and sorrows.”
“When shall I at last retire into solitude alone, without companions, without joy and without sorrow, with only the sacred certainty that all is a dream? When, in my rags—without desires—shall I retire contented into the mountains? When, seeing that my body is merely sickness and crime, age and death, shall I—free, fearless, and blissful—retire to the forest? When? When, oh when?”
American Literary Genius – Part I of II: Mark Twain
18 February 1885 – Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is published.
Some quotes from “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’:
“Just because you’re taught that something’s right and everyone believes it’s right, it don’t make it right.”
“That is just the way with some people. They get down on a thing when they don’t know nothing about it.”
“Right is right, and wrong is wrong, and a body ain’t got no business doing wrong when he ain’t ignorant and knows better.”
“Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And hain’t that a big enough majority in any town?”
“Stars and shadows ain’t good to see by.”
“We have a criminal jury system which is superior to any in the world and it’s efficiency is only marred by the difficulty of finding twelve men every day who don’t know anything and can’t read.”
“I felt so lonesome I most wished I was dead. The stars were shining, and the leaves rustled in the woods ever so mournful; and I heard an owl, away off, who-whooing about somebody that was dead, and a whippowill and a dog crying about somebody that was going to die.”
“We catched fish, and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness. It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big still river, laying on our backs looking up at the stars, and we didn’t ever feel like talking loud, and it warn’t often that we laughed, only a kind of low chuckle. We had mighty good weather, as a general thing, and nothing ever happened to us at all, that night, nor the next, nor the next.”
HERE IS ONE OF THE MOST GLORIOUS MOMENTS IN THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN LITERATURE ( HEMINGWAY THOUGHT THAT THIS WAS THE “REAL” END OF THE NOVEL.):
“‘Miss Watson, your runaway nigger Jim is down here two mile below Pikesville, and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the reward if you send.
I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn’t do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking–thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me all the time: in the day and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a-floating along, talking and singing and laughing. But somehow I couldn’t seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I’d see him standing my watch on top of his’n, ‘stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him again in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had small-pox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the ONLY one he’s got now; and then I happened to look around and see that paper.
It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:
‘All right, then, I’ll GO to hell’–and tore it up.”
“But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before.”
In Honor of Mark Twain:
Below – “Antioch on the Missississippi,” by contemporary American painter Werner Pipkorn; “Fur Traders Descending the Mississippi” (1845), by George Caleb Bingham; “View on the Mississippi River Steamboats On The Mississippi,” by Ferdinand Reichardt (1819-1895).
American Literary Genius – Part II of II: Wallace Stegner
“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed … We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.” – Wallace Stegner, American historian, novelist, short story writer, environmentalist, recipient of the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (for “Angle of Repose”), recipient of the 1977 National Book Award for Fiction (for “The Spectator Bird”), and generally acclaimed during his lifetime as “The Dean of Western Writers,” who was born 18 February 1909.
Some quotes from the work of Wallace Stegner:
“It should not be denied… that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations, with absolute freedom, and the road has always led West.”
“One cannot be pessimistic about the West. This is the native home of hope. When it fully learns that cooperation, not rugged individualism, is the quality that most characterizes and preserves it, then it will have achieved itself and outlived its origins. Then it has a chance to create a society to match its scenery.”
“Most things break, including hearts. The lessons of life amount not to wisdom, but to scar tissue and callus.”
“Touch. It is touch that is the deadliest enemy of chastity, loyalty, monogamy, gentility with its codes and conventions and restraints. By touch we are betrayed and betray others … an accidental brushing of shoulders or touching of hands … hands laid on shoulders in a gesture of comfort that lies like a thief, that takes, not gives, that wants, not offers, that awakes, not pacifies. When one flesh is waiting, there is electricity in the merest contact.”
“It is something—it can be everything—to have found a fellow bird with whom you can sit among the rafters while the drinking and boasting and reciting and fighting go on below.”
“You can plan all you want to. You can lie in your morning bed and fill whole notebooks with schemes and intentions. But within a single afternoon, within hours or minutes, everything you plan and everything you have fought to make yourself can be undone as a slug is undone when salt is poured on him. And right up to the moment when you find yourself dissolving into foam you can still believe you are doing fine.”
“Home is a notion that only nations of the homeless fully appreciate and only the uprooted comprehend.”
“That old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air … Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes had been wiped clean by summer.”
“Wisdom. . .is knowing what you have to accept.”
“It is an easy mistake to think that non-talkers are non-feelers.”
“It is the beginning of wisdom when you recognize that the best you can do is choose which rules you want to live by, and it’s persistent and aggravated imbecility to pretend you can live without any.”
“There it was, there it is, the place where during the best time of our lives friendship had its home and happiness its headquarters.”
“He used to tell me, ‘Do what you like to do. It’ll probably turn out to be what you do best.’”
“Is that the basis of friendship? Is it as reactive as that? Do we respond only to people who seem to find us interesting?… Do we all buzz or ring or light up when people press our vanity buttons, and only then? Can I think of anyone in my whole life whom I have liked without his first showing signs of liking me?”
“Be proud of every scar on your heart, each one holds a lifetime’s worth of lessons.”
“Towns are like people. Old ones often have character, the new ones are interchangeable.”
“You’ll do what you think you want to do, or what you think you ought to do. If you’re very lucky, luckier than anybody I know, the two will coincide.”
“Youth hasn’t got anything to do with chronological age. It’s times of hope and happiness.”
“Some people, I am told, have memories like computers, nothing to do but punch the button and wait for the print-out. Mine is more like a Japanese library of the old style, without a card file or an indexing system or any systematic shelf plan. Nobody knows where anything is except the old geezer in felt slippers who has been shuffling up and down those stacks for sixty-nine years. When you hand him a problem he doesn’t come back with a cartful and dump it before you, a jackpot of instant retrieval. He finds one thing, which reminds him of another, which leads him off to the annex, which directs him to the east wing, which sends him back two tiers from where he started. Bit by bit he finds you what you want, but like his boss who seems to be under pressure to examine his life, he takes his time.”
“I wonder if ever again Americans can have that experience of returning to a home place so intimately known, profoundly felt, deeply loved, and absolutely submitted to? It is not quite true that you can’t go home again. I have done it, coming back here. But it gets less likely. We have had too many divorces, we have consumed too much transportation, we have lived too shallowly in too many places.”
“[The modern age] knows nothing about isolation and nothing about silence. In our quietest and loneliest hour the automatic ice-maker in the refrigerator will cluck and drop an ice cube, the automatic dishwasher will sigh through its changes, a plane will drone over, the nearest freeway will vibrate the air. Red and white lights will pass in the sky, lights will shine along highways and glance off windows. There is always a radio that can be turned to some all-night station, or a television set to turn artificial moonlight into the flickering images of the late show. We can put on a turntable whatever consolation we most respond to, Mozart or Copland or the Grateful Dead.”
“In a way, it is beautiful to be young and hard up. With the right wife, and I had her, deprivation became a game.”
“Pleasant things to hear, though hearing them from him embarrasses me. I soak up the praise but feel obliged to disparage the gift. I believe that most people have some degree of talent for something–forms, colors, words, sounds. Talent lies around in us like kindling waiting for a match, but some people, just as gifted as others, are less lucky. Fate never drops a match on them. The times are wrong, or their health is poor, or their energy low, or their obligations too many. Something.”
“She has had no role in my life except to keep me sane, fed, housed, amused, and protected from unwanted telephone calls, also to restrain me fairly frequently from making a horse’s ass of myself in public, to force me to attend to books and ideas from which she knows I will learn something; also to mend my wounds when I am misused by the world, to implant ideas in my head and stir the soil around them, to keep me from falling into a comfortable torpor, to agitate my sleeping hours with problems that I would not otherwise attend to; also to remind me constantly (not by precept but by example) how fortunate I have been to live for fifty-three years with a woman that bright, alert, charming, and supportive.”
“Civilizations grow by agreements and accommodations and accretions, not by repudiations. The rebels and the revolutionaries are only eddies, they keep the stream from getting stagnant but they get swept down and absorbed, they’re a side issue. Quiet desperation is another name for the human condition. If revolutionaries would learn that they can’t remodel society by day after tomorrow — haven’t the wisdom to and shouldn’t be permitted to — I’d have more respect for them … Civilizations grow and change and decline — they aren’t remade.”
“If there is such a thing as being conditioned by climate and geography, and I think there is, it is the West that has conditioned me. It has the forms and lights and colors that I respond to in nature and in art. If there is a western speech, I speak it; if there is a western character or personality, I am some variant of it; if there is a western culture in the small-c , anthropological sense, I have not escaped it. It has to have shaped me. I may even have contributed to it in minor ways, for culture is a pyramid to which each of us brings a stone.”
In Honor of Wallace Stegner:
A Poem for Today
By Rachel Hadas
Ida and Isidor Straus sleep side by side
eternally in an Egyptian galley
fronting their Woodlawn mausoleum.
Symbolically they lie. Their boat is small;
nor was her body recovered from the Titanic.
And yet the image of the voyage holds.
Why not embark? A river runs behind me
on the other side of this dark window.
A dream called Night Boat
arranged us side by side in a black craft,
sailing the river of forgetfulness
until the stars went out.
It was poetic license. I didn’t dream that boat.
The boat was dream, and we were passengers
balanced on the slippery cusp of daylight,
unless you had already disembarked
in some shadowy port,
leaving me to sail along alone.
Below – John Sokol: “At the River of Forgetfulness.”
American Art – Part IV of IV: John Henry Twachtman
In the words of one historian, “John Henry Twachtman (August 4, 1853 – August 8, 1902) was an American painter best known for his impressionist landscapes, though his painting style varied widely through his career. Art historians consider Twachtman’s style of American Impressionism to be among the more personal and experimental of his generation.”
Below – “Wild Cherry Tree”; “Landscape, Branchville”; “The White Bridge”;
“Middlebrook Farm”; “Snowbound”; “Enchanted Pool”; “Edge of the Emerald Pool Yellowstone.”