American Art – Part I of VI: Katy Unger
Artist Statement: “My recent paintings are about personal space. They are a window into those intimate moments that from the viewpoint of the observer can only be left to the imagination.
Absorbed in moments of creation and reflection, the individuals exist for themselves, unaware that they are being watched. The subject of my work is not so much the individuals that I paint, but the dialog between themselves and their surroundings.”
Here is the Artist Statement of Australian painter Don Rankin (born 1947):
“Through looking and reading, I am an artist who is constantly researching the artistic traditions of the present and the past, with a particular interest in the art of painting. The ‘looking’ is based on regular first-hand experience of contemplating original paintings in major collections in Britain, France, Italy and Australia. My paintings are informed equally by the transition from High Renaissance Italian painting to the excesses of the Baroque, from the contemplative quietness of the 17th century French artist Chardin to the modernity of the 20th century Italian artist Morandi, not to forget the colour of the post-impressionists and the Fauves at the beginning of the 20th century, or the geometric structure Mondrian. The materiality of the paint is primarily what sets painting apart from other forms of visual representation and it is the key to my artistic practice. There is something about the artifice of brush and paint that leads to an ability to capture a truth incapable of being seen with the naked eye.
My thematic explorations seem on the surface to be literal but the intention is to go much deeper and metaphorically touch upon the universal themes of birth, life and death, without resorting to the obvious symbols such as the skull. In the current series of poppy paintings I am tapping a rich load of references: the ancient genetic code of the poppy as a species, the primordial appearance of the poppy pods, the delicate creased tissue-thin petals. All of these speak of the tenuous life cycle of living things, of their fragility and vulnerability, and, by extension, they act as a metaphor for the morality of human beings. In short, they are mysterious whilst at the same time being familiar.”
20 February 1965 – The Beatles record “That Means a Lot,”
a song with which they were dissatisfied and that was not released until the “Anthology 2” CD in 1996.
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Malaysian painter Tan Wei Kheng: “The artist Tan Wei Kheng is specialized in portraits from the indigenous communities living in the interior of Sarawak. Sarawak is situated along the northeast coast of the island Borneo and is beside Sabah, the second state which belongs to Malaysia. The large expanse of rainforest in Sarawak’s interior is crisscrossed by many winding rivers, which are often the only way to the places where the natural tribes are living.”
In Kheng’s words, “I travel into the dense interior and spend time time with the people of the interior known as the Orang Ulu. I study and photograph them and paint people from the Kayan, Kenyah, Penan, Kelabit und Iban communities.”
Here is the Artist Statement of British Painter Paul Coventry-Brown: ”I’m from Liverpool in the UK and am a self taught artist (when I was eighteen I did a one year pre-diploma course at Liverpool Art College – I didn’t continue to the diploma course, it’s a decision I regretted later but, hey, I was young ;-). I spent 17 years working in Japan before settling down in S. W. France 4 years ago to become a full time artist. I have always been more drawn to the old masters like Vermeer, Caravaggio and Velazquez as far as my painting style goes but I love art in all it’s forms. Art is a never ending journey and although I like to think that I have improved immensely in the last four years I feel as though I am still a beginner with so much to learn.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Buffy Sainte-Marie
“You have to leave room in life to dream.” – Buffy Sainte-Marie, Canadian-American Cree singer-songwriter, musician, composer, visual artist, educator, pacifist, and social activist, who was born 20 February 1941.
American Art – Part II of VI: Christopher Cart
According to one writer, “American painter Christopher Cart studied art and art history at the University of Washington, Seattle and Coker College, South Carolina. Throughout his career he has painted murals, countless watercolors and oils, portraits in both oils and watercolors and illustrations for many books and periodicals.”
From the Cinema Archives: “The African Queen”
20 February 1952 – “The African Queen” opens at the Capitol Theater in New York City.
“The African Queen” won four Academy Awards: Best Actor in a Leading Role – Humphrey Bogart; Best Actress in a Leading Role – Katharine Hepburn; Best Adapted Screenplay – James Agee and John Huston; and Best Director – John Huston.
In the words of one critic, “James Shilaimon is an embodiment of the self-taught artist who is continually searching for ways to express the artistic voice that has been with him his entire life. This inner voice has lead James to develop his artistry in several different mediums. Whether painting in oils or watercolor or sculpting in stone, James is always exploring ways to convey his stylized expression.
Growing up in Greece, the cradle of the Masters, you begin to understand this passion and some of the influence that has shaped as well as guided James and his creations. James is driven by a need to be honest with his creative voice and also to be recognized by his artistic peers for his artistry and his respect for those that came before him. James has spent a considerable amount of his artistic life pursuing commission work while developing his craft.”
American Art – Part III of VI: Ivan Le Lorraine Albright
Born 20 February 1897 – Ivan Le Lorraine Albright, a magical realist painter.
Below (left to right) – “Memories of the Past”; “The Farmer’s Kitchen”; “Self-Portrait in Georgia”; “Ah God, Herrings, the Glittering Sea”; “I Slept with the Starlight on My Face”; “There Were No Flowers Tonight”; “The Rustlers”; “Divided and Divided.”
American Literary Genius: Hunter S. Thompson
“Let us toast to animal pleasures, to escapism, to rain on the roof and instant coffee, to unemployment insurance and library cards, to absinthe and good-hearted landlords, to music and warm bodies and contraceptives… and to the ‘good life,’ whatever it is and wherever it happens to be.” – Hunter S. Thompson, American journalist, writer, and author of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream,” who died 20 February 2005.
Some quotes from the work of Hunter S. Thompson:
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’”
“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”
“A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.”
“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and — in spite of True Romance magazines — we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely — at least, not all the time — but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”
“So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”
“Sex without love is as hollow and ridiculous as love without sex.”
“Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.”
“THE EDGE, there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”
“Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.”
“When the going gets weird, the weird turn professional.”
“If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.”
“In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.”
“I was not proud of what I had learned but I never doubted that it was worth knowing.”
“There are times, however, and this is one of them, when even being right feels wrong. What do you say, for instance, about a generation that has been taught that rain is poison and sex is death? If making love might be fatal and if a cool spring breeze on any summer afternoon can turn a crystal blue lake into a puddle of black poison right in front of your eyes, there is not much left except TV and relentless masturbation. It’s a strange world. Some people get rich and others eat shit and die.”
“Good people drink good beer.”
“Freedom is something that dies unless it’s used.”
“‘All my life, my heart has sought a thing I cannot name.’ – Remembered line from a long-forgotten poem.”
“Like most others, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top. At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles – a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other – that kept me going.”
“Yesterday’s weirdness is tomorrow’s reason why.”
“Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas … with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether.”
THESE ARE SOME OF THE SADDEST AND BEST-WRITTEN LINES IN THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN LETTERS:
“It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era — the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run… but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant…
There was madness in any direction, at any hour. You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning…
And that, I think, was the handle — that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply PREVAIL. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave…
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high water mark — that place where the wave finally broke, and rolled back.”
American Art – Part IV of VI: Ansel Adams
“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” – Ansel Adams, American photographer and environmentalist, who was born 20 February 1902.
Below (left to right) – “Close-up of leaves in Glacier National Park”; “The Tetons and the Snake River”; “Baton practice at the Manzanar War Relocation Center, 1943”; “Jeffrey Pine, Sentinel Dome”; “Moon and Half Dome”; “Church, Taos Pueblo”; “Self-Portrait.”
A Poem for Today
By Amy Lowell
American Art – Part V of VI: Damian Loeb
A Second Poem for Today
By Kathy Fagan
It would have been a fine path for a lizard to cross
but I saw none. Brambles and sweet briar grew
on the town side, poppies and wild grasses on the river.
Too hot for birds, the ducks were out, in water and mud,
and frogs were out, by the hundreds it seemed, saying,
Way, Way, in their deepest voices. It was beautiful there
but I’d seen beauty and its opposite so often
that when warmth broke over my skin I remembered winter,
the way fresh grief undoes you the moment you’re fully awake.
When she turned two, I asked my young friend
what she would serve at her birthday party and she said,
Tofu and cupcakes. When she was three and I was very sad
she called and said, What are you doing? Picking flowers?
She talked in poems like she was dreaming all the time
or very old or Virginia Woolf. More often in the first world
one wakes from not to the nightmare. When I dreamed I lost
my love I willed myself awake because I would not
survive the pain again, even dreaming. Which is responsible
for that mercy, Doktor, the conscious or the un-? I want
the poppies picked and I want the poppies left where they grow.
Like looking through the window of a moving train
at someone walking up a road lined with poplars
and being someone walking up a road lined with poplars.
The train and the trees, a shower of petals and bees,
sun on the glass and the train perpendicular to the road.
Things entirely themselves arriving in the deep
double shadows of the grass and passersby.
American Art – Part VI of VI: Aaron Westerberg
In the words of one writer, “Native Californian Aaron Westerberg grew up in San Diego. It was a class in traditional life drawing that drew him to continue his art training. He studied with Jeff Watts and attended the California Art Institute, where he later taught, and expanded his focus to include the works of nineteenth century American and European Masters. Aaron feels a connection to these great painters of form and light. In his paintings, he strives for elegance and timelessness while striking a balance between classic techniques and contemporary subject matter.”