February Offerings – Part XXV: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of III: Mark Rothko

“Silence is so accurate.” – Mark Rothko, Latvian-American abstract expressionist painter, who died 25 February 1970.

Below (left to right) – “No. 3/No. 13” (Magenta, Black, Green on Orange); “No. 61” (Rust and Blue); “Four Darks in Red”; untitled (Blue Divided by Blue); untitled; “No. 3, 1949, 85.”
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“What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains.” – Tennessee Williams, American playwright and author of “The Glass Menagerie,” “A Streetcar Named Desire” (for which he won a Pulitzer Prize), and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” who died 25 February 1983.

Some quotes from the work of Tennessee Williams:

“Time is the longest distance between two places.”
“There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all that you will ever be. And then you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking in mirrors.”
“If I got rid of my demons, I’d lose my angels.”
“Time doesn’t take away from friendship, nor does separation.”
“Nobody sees anybody truly but all through the flaws of their own egos. That is the way we all see …each other in life. Vanity, fear, desire, competition– all such distortions within our own egos– condition our vision of those in relation to us. Add to those distortions to our own egos the corresponding distortions in the egos of others, and you see how cloudy the glass must become through which we look at each other. That’s how it is in all living relationships except when there is that rare case of two people who love intensely enough to burn through all those layers of opacity and see each other’s naked hearts.”
“I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don’t tell the truth, I tell what ought to be the truth. And it that’s sinful, then let me be damned for it!”
“There’s a time for departure even when there’s no certain place to go.”
“When so many are lonely as seem to be lonely, it would be inexcusably selfish to be lonely alone.”
“I suppose I have found it easier to identify with the characters who verge upon hysteria, who were frightened of life, who were desperate to reach out to another person. But these seemingly fragile people are the strong people really.”
“Don’t you just love those long rainy afternoons in New Orleans when an hour isn’t just an hour – but a little piece of eternity dropped into your hands – and who knows what to do with it?”
“In memory, everything seems to happen to music.”
“All cruel people describe themselves as paragons of frankness.”
“We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.”
“Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.”
“The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.”
“The scene is memory and is therefore nonrealistic. Memory takes a lot of poetic license. It omits some details; others are exaggerated, according to the emotional value of the articles it touches, for memory is seated predominantly in the heart.”
“Make voyages. Attempt them. There’s nothing else.”
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“To my mind, a picture should be something pleasant, cheerful, and pretty, yes pretty! There are too many unpleasant things in life as it is without creating still more of them.” – Pierre-Auguste Renoir, French impressionist painter, who was born 25 February 1841.

Below – “The Theater Box”; “The Swing”; “Two Sisters”; “Children at the Beach at Guernsey”; “Luncheon of the Boating Party”; “By the Water”; “Diana the Huntress”; “Dance at Moulin de la Galette”; “Three Bathers.”

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“To be left alone is the most precious thing one can ask of the modern world.” – Anthony Burgess, English writer and composer best known as the author of “A Clockwork Orange” and “Earthly Powers,” who was born 25 February 1917.

Some quotes from the work of Anthony Burgess:

“Is it better for a man to have chosen evil than to have good imposed upon him?”
“Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.”
“The important thing is moral choice. Evil has to exist along with good, in order that moral choice may operate. Life is sustained by the grinding opposition of moral entities.”
“I see what is right and approve, but I do what is wrong.”
“Goodness is something chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.”
“It’s funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you watch them on a screen.”
“If you expect the worst from a person you can never be disappointed.”
“The possession of a book becomes a substitute for reading it.”
“It is as inhuman to be totally good as it is to be totally evil.”
“Language exists less to record the actual than to liberate the imagination.”
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Here are some comments English painter Ian Francis (born 1979) made in the course of an interview:
Describe your process of creating a new piece:
“I spend a lot of time watching TV/films, reading books and looking around the internet… I save loads of photos I find interesting from all kinds of different places. I then flick through them, and try to think about how ideas link together, and mock up roughs in photoshop. I like combining different elements of photos of people with abstract sections of old paintings I’ve done. Once I’ve got an idea of what I want to do, I try and figure out how to paint it… sometimes the final piece looks a lot like the rough, sometimes it changes drastically while I’m painting it. When I’m painting, I just switch back and forth between paint, drawing, collage or anything lying around.”
How would you describe your style?
“I normally describe what I do as mixed media painting… the idea is to get different kinds of marks to work off of each other – so sometimes I’ll paint/draw fairly accurately, then work quite loosely on a section, then break up elements of print on another section. At the moment I think a lot of the painting I do is too tight, it should really be looser and more expressive. ”

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From the Music Archives – Part I of III: George Harrison

“I’d rather be a musician than a rock star.” – George Harrison, English musician, singer, songwriter, and member of The Beatles, who was born 25 February 1943.

Here is what one student of Chinese painter Chen Danqing said about his teacher: “Danqing has never been just a painter. He is an intellectual with a social conscience.”
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From the Music Archives – Part II of III: Buddy Holly and the Crickets

25 February 1957 – Buddy Holly and the Crickets record “That’ll Be the Day.”

Here is how critic Simon Von Booy describes the artistry of Turkish painter Eser Afacan (born 1953): “Eser Afacan’s Paintings Examine the Human Condition in all its Terror and Vulnerability.
The figurative realism of Turkish-born painter, Eser Afacan, is a stark and brilliant evocation of the existential despair and passionate longing that often characterize the human experience. Through his works, Afacan explores those grand themes man has wrestled with in the ancient metaphors of holy books and in the writings of significant contributors to western-literature, especially Shakespeare and Freud. Afacan’s human subjects are trapped in the figurative ‘other.’ Places both unrecognizable and terrifyingly familiar the external realization of their own interior landscapes. And Afacan displays an unfailing empathy for his characters in their exile from an incomprehensible existence. Afacan’s style is a seamless melange of classical genres of painting and examines close-up what painters like Pieter Bruegel showed us from afar. In several of Afacan’s paintings, people cling to one another, gazing upward–outside of the canvas into a space shared equally with the viewer. While Afacan’s paintings might seem like bleak interpretations of human life, rather they are rare and beautifully poised glimpses of an inner loneliness within a painfully secular universe. In Eser Afacan’s paintings, humans drift between light and shadows in a world where we are each other’s only hope–irremediably dependent on one another. Afacan’s work casts a net over universal human feelings and presents them with tender and uncompromising humanity.”
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From the Music Archives – Part III of III: The Beatles

25 February 1963 – The Beatles release their first single in the United States – “Please Please Me.”

Indian painter Arun Kumar Samadder (born 1948) has a degree in Visual Art from Rabindra Bharati University in Kolkata.
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From the American History Archives – Part I of III: Samuel Colt

25 February 1836 – The United States Patent Office issues a patent (later numbered 9430X) to Samuel Colt for a “revolving gun” that would be named the Colt Paterson.

Above – Samuel Colt.
Below – A Colt Paterson (from the Paterson Museum).
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Russian Art – Part I of II: Lydia Kozima

Vladivostok-born Russian painter Lydia Kozmina (born 1966) has a degree in Art from Vladivostok Art School, and she took painting classes at the Far East Institute of Arts. Her works are in galleries and private collections in Russia, Japan, the United States, South Korea, China, and Australia.
Lydia Kozmina - Лидии Козьминой
Lydia Kozmina - Лидии Козьминой
Lydia Kozmina - Лидии Козьминой
Lydia Kozmina - Лидии Козьминой
Lydia Kozmina - Лидии Козьминой

From the American History Archives – Part II of III: Hiram Rhodes Revels

25 February 1870 – Hiram Rhodes Revels is sworn in as the first
African-American member of the United States Congress. He served as a Republican Senator from Mississippi.
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Russian Art – Part II of II: Igor Samsonov

Igor Samsonov (born 1963) graduated from the I. E. Repin Institute for Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture in 1996.
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From the American History Archives – Part III of III: Glacier Bay

25 February 1925 – President Calvin Coolidge proclaims the area around Glacier Bay, Alaska a national monument under the Antiquities Act. President Jimmy Carter signed the bill creating Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve on 2 December 1980.
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American Art – Part II of III: Susan Bennerstrom

Artist Statement: “Since the early 1980’s my main theme has been the exploration and depiction of light. I began with landscape as a foil. Gradually, buildings started to enter the compositions, at first far away and tiny, then closer and larger, until the buildings became the main focus and the landscape shrank. Finally, I concentrated on details of the buildings and the objects within them. Always, however, the structures and objects are stage sets for light with its transformative power and ability to affect emotions. I rarely put figures in my paintings, as I find that they tend to take over; I prefer to let light and shadow imply the narrative and carry the emotional weight. In addition to the dearth of human figures, I also choose to paint quite ordinary scenes, and for the same reason: by focusing on the easily ignorable architectural detail, washbasin, household appliance, piece of furniture, or houseplant, I like to explore how a fall of light can turn a humble item into something poignant and worthy of lasting attention.
I don’t think of myself as a realist painter in the currently accepted sense. I work from photographs, which are themselves abstractions – one step removed from reality. I travel further into abstraction by removing details, shifting things around, changing perspective, exaggerating the quality, color, and direction of light, investing the shadows with greater emotional intensity. The paintings wander far afield of straightforward observations of reality, and instead become my own emotional response to the places and objects depicted.”
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“An Abandoned Factory, Detroit,”
By Philip Levine

The gates are chained, the barbed-wire fencing stands,
An iron authority against the snow,
And this grey monument to common sense
Resists the weather. Fears of idle hands,
Of protest, men in league, and of the slow
Corrosion of their minds, still charge this fence.

Beyond, through broken windows one can see
Where the great presses paused between their strokes
And thus remain, in air suspended, caught
In the sure margin of eternity.
The cast-iron wheels have stopped; one counts the spokes
Which movement blurred, the struts inertia fought,

And estimates the loss of human power,
Experienced and slow, the loss of years,
The gradual decay of dignity.
Men lived within these foundries, hour by hour;
Nothing they forged outlived the rusted gears
Which might have served to grind their eulogy.
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American Art – Part III of III: Joseph Michael 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.”
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