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

American Art – Part I of IV: Christina Wyatt

Artist Statement: “Florida is my native home. After growing up in Miami I lived for four wonderful years in Caribou Maine beginning my formal education in fine art at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. I then relocated to Richmond Virginia. It was there where I raised my son while earning my BFA in Painting and Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Fine Art. Later, I returned to South Florida to live and work full time on my art.
My paintings are my poetry. They are inspired by grace found in the natural world and by the reverence inherent in the sanctuary of peace. I take refuge in the making of my art…it’s my intention to create for the viewer a connection to that place ‘Where dreams live and poets speak.’”
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“We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.” – William Ralph Inge, English author, Anglican priest, professor of divinity at Cambridge, and Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, who died 26 February 1954.

Some quotes from the work of William Ralph Inge:

“A nation is a society united by a delusion about its ancestry and a common hatred of its neighbors.”
“It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favor of vegetarianism, while the wolf remains of a different opinion.”
“Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.”
“The proper time to influence the character of a child is about a hundred years before he is born.”
“The whole of nature is a conjugation of the verb to eat, in the active and passive.”
“Many people believe that they are attracted by God, or by Nature, when they are only repelled by man.”
“Whoever marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next. ”
“Events in the past maybe roughly divided into those which and probably never happened and those which do not matter.”
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French Art – Part I of II: Lewis Welden Hawkins

In the words of one historian, “Lewis Welden Hawkins (1849-1910) was born in Germany of English parents, later taking French nationality. He was a detailed Symbolist painter.”
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“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” – Victor Hugo, French poet, novelist, dramatist, and author of “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” and “Les Miserables,” who was born 26 February 1802.

Some quotes from the work of Victor Hugo:

“It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.”
“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved — loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.”
“Not being heard is no reason for silence.”
“Laughter is sunshine, it chases winter from the human face.”
“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”
“People do not lack strength; they lack will.”
“Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.”
“He who opens a school door, closes a prison.”
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French Art – Part II of II: Bruce Krebs

French sculptor Bruce Krebs also creates animated short films.

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From the Music Archives – Part I of V: “Fats” Domino

Born 26 February 1928 – Antoine “Fats” Domino, Jr., American rhythm and blues and rock and roll pianist and singer-songwriter.

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American Art – II of IV: “Tex” Avery

Born 26 February 1908 – Frederick “Tex” Avery, an American animator, cartoonist, voice actor, and director famous for producing animated cartoons during The Golden Age of Hollywood animation. Here is how critic Gary Morris describes Avery’s artistry: “Above all, (Avery) steered the Warner Bros. house style away from Disney-esque sentimentality and made cartoons that appealed equally to adults, who appreciated Avery’s speed, sarcasm, and irony, and to kids, who liked the nonstop action. Disney’s ‘cute and cuddly’ creatures, under Avery’s guidance, were transformed into unflappable wits like Bugs Bunny, endearing buffoons like Porky Pig, or dazzling crazies like Daffy Duck. Even the classic fairy tale, a market that Disney had cornered, was appropriated by Avery, who made innocent heroines like Red Riding Hood into sexy jazz babies, more than a match for any Wolf. Avery also endeared himself to intellectuals by constantly breaking through the artifice of the cartoon, having characters leap out of the end credits, loudly object to the plot of the cartoon they were starring in, or speak directly to the audience.”
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From the Music Archives – Part II of V: Johnny Cash

“Success is having to worry about every damn thing in the world except money.” – Johnny Cash, American singer, songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author, who was born 26 February 1932.

Born 26 February 1906 – Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas, a Greek painter, sculptor, engraver, and writer.

Below (left to right) – “London Roofs”; “Studio in Paris”; “Odysseus and Nausicaa”; “Party by the Sea”; “Wild Garden”; “Christmas Tree.”
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From the Music Archives – Part III of V: Mitch Ryder

Born 26 February 1945 – Mitch Ryder (born William S. Levise, Jr.), an American musician and singer most commonly associated with the group Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels.

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26 February 1984 – Robert Penn Warren is named the first Poet Laureate of the United States. Warren was the recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes: the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel (1946) and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1958, 1979). He is the only person to have won Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and poetry.

“True Love”

In silence the heart raves. It utters words
Meaningless, that never had
A meaning. I was ten, skinny, red-headed,

Freckled. In a big black Buick,
Driven by a big grown boy, with a necktie, she sat
In front of the drugstore, sipping something

Through a straw. There is nothing like
Beauty. It stops your heart. It Thickens your blood. It stops your breath.
It Makes you feel dirty. You need a hot bath.
I leaned against a telephone pole, and watched.
I thought I would die if she saw me.

How could I exist in the same world with that brightness?

Two years later she smiled at me. She
Named my name. I thought I would wake up dead.

Her grown brothers walked with the bent-knee
Swagger of horsemen. They were slick-faced.
Told jokes in the barbershop. Did no work.

Their father was what is called a drunkard.
Whatever he was he stayed on the third floor
Of the big white farmhouse under the maples for twenty-five years.

He never came down. They brought everything up to him.

I did not know what a mortgage was.
His wife was a good, Christian woman, and prayed.

When the daughter got married, the old man came down wearing

An old tail coat, the pleated shirt yellowing.
The sons propped him. I saw the wedding. There were

Engraved invitations, it was so fashionable. I thought
I would cry. I lay in bed that night

And wondered if she would cry when something was done to her.

The mortgage was foreclosed. That last word was whispered.
She never came back. The family
Sort of drifted off. Nobody wears shiny boots like that now.

But I know she is beautiful forever, and lives
In a beautiful house, far away.

She called my name once.

I didn’t even know she knew it

Below – Sheru: “Feeling of Lost True Love.”
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From the Music Archives – Part IV of V: The Beatles

26 February 1970 – The Beatles release the “Beatles Again” album, better known as the “Hey Jude” album.

Here is one critic describing the artistry of Canadian painter David Nicholson (born 1970): “Seeing David Nicholson’s oil paintings in reproduction is like reading the Cliff Notes version of Shakespeare — the themes are lurid enough to be entertaining, but without the extraordinary language the bawdiness and blood can be mistaken for pulp. In the flesh, Nicholson’s theatrically realist pictures evoke comparisons with the deft technique and sensational subject matter of Delacroix, Gros and Gericault.”

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From the Music Archives – Part V of V: Michael Jackson

26 February 1983 – Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album reaches number one on American popular music charts and remains number one for thirty-seven weeks.

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The Pinnacle of World Fashion

Born 26 February 1829 – Levi Strauss, a German-American businessman who created the 501 Blue Jean – the trouser of choice for intellectually astute, aesthetically discriminating, and physically rugged human beings everywhere.

Let me be clear in this matter: Levi’s 501 shrink-to-fit jeans are the only authentic blue jeans. Levi’s 501 pre-shrunk jeans are acceptable, but not quite classic. Any other “jeans” – blue or otherwise – are nothing but fashion frippery, and it is possible, even likely, that a person wearing them possesses an ethically unsound character. Of course, anyone sporting designer jeans, especially those made in Europe, is obviously a moral degenerate and should be kept away from children and pets.
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American Art – Part III of IV: Bev Jozwiak

In the words of one critic, painter Bev Jozwiak “has earned her signature status in the American Watercolor Society, the National Watercolor Society, Watercolor West, and others, too numerous to mention. She is an International Award-winning artist. Born in Vancouver, Washington, Bev still resides there with her husband of 30 plus years. She has two daughters, and two grandchildren. ”
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From the American Old West: “Buffalo Bill” Cody

“I could never resist the call of the trail.” – William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody, American soldier, bison hunter, showman, and recipient of the Medal of Honor in 1972 for service to the U.S. Army as a scout, who was born 26 February 1846.

In the words of one historian, “One of the most colorful figures of the American Old West, Buffalo Bill became famous for the shows he organized with cowboy themes, which he toured in Great Britain and Europe as well as the United States.”

Some quotes from Buffalo Bill Cody:

“But the West of the old times, with its strong characters, its stern battles and its tremendous stretches of loneliness, can never be blotted from my mind.”
“Every Indian outbreak that I have ever known has resulted from broken promises and broken treaties by the government.”
“It was because of my great interest in the West, and my belief that its development would be assisted by the interest I could awaken in others, that I decided to bring the West to the East through the medium of the Wild West Show.”
“I felt only as a man can feel who is roaming over the prairies of the far West, well armed, and mounted on a fleet and gallant steed.”
“The greatest of all the Sioux in my time, or in any time for that matter, was that wonderful old fighting man, Sitting Bull, whose life will some day be written by a historian who can really give him his due.”
“It was my effort, in depicting the West, to depict it as it was.”

Above – Buffalo Bill on horseback.
Below – Rosa Bonheur: “Buffalo Bill.”
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A Poem for Today

“In Defense of Small Towns,”
By Oliver de la Paz

When I look at it, it’s simple, really. I hated life there. September,
once filled with animal deaths and toughened hay. And the smells

of fall were boiled-down beets and potatoes
or the farmhands’ breeches smeared with oil and diesel

as they rode into town, dusty and pissed. The radio station
split time between metal and Tejano, and the only action

happened on Friday nights where the high school football team
gave everyone a chance at forgiveness. The town left no room

for novelty or change. The sheriff knew everyone’s son and despite that,
we’d cruise up and down the avenues, switching between

brake and gearshift. We’d fight and spit chew into Big Gulp cups
and have our hearts broken nightly. In that town I learned

to fire a shotgun at nine and wring a chicken’s neck
with one hand by twirling the bird and whipping it straight like a towel.

But I loved the place once. Everything was blonde and cracked
and the irrigation ditches stretched to the end of the earth. You could

ride on a bicycle and see clearly the outline of every leaf
or catch on the streets each word of a neighbor’s argument.

Nothing could happen there and if I willed it, the place would have me
slipping over its rocks into the river with the sugar plant’s steam

or signing papers at a storefront army desk, buttoned up
with medallions and a crew cut, eyeing the next recruits.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that I could be anywhere,
staring at a hunk of asphalt or listening to the clap of billiard balls

against each other in a bar and hear my name. Indifference now?
Some. I shook loose, but that isn’t the whole story. The fact is

I’m still in love. And when I wake up, I watch my son yawn,
and my mind turns his upswept hair into cornstalks

at the edge of a field. Stillness is an acre, and his body
idles, deep like heavy machinery. I want to take him back there,

to the small town of my youth and hold the book of wildflowers
open for him, and look. I want him to know the colors of horses,

to run with a cattail in his hand and watch as its seeds
fly weightless as though nothing mattered, as though

the little things we tell ourselves about our pasts stay there,
rising slightly and just out of reach.

Below – Sharon Schock: “Eureka South Dakota II.”
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American Art – Part IV of IV: Douglas Hofmann

Artist Statement: “My primary artistic heroes are the realists of the 17th Century, and the impressionists of the 19th and early 20th Century. Early on I was exposed to Jan Vermeer, and for me he has always been the pinnacle figure in painting. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Vermeer’s work always read right for me. That is to say the settings, the props, and the figures depicted, all had an innate believability. Vermeer showed me that an artist could be extremely successful, by placing a normal person in a real room with good or at least interesting lighting, and attempt to paint merely what he saw. On its face a Vermeer painting might seem simplistic, but in truth portraying the complexities of real images correctly is insanely difficult. Vermeer used numerous techniques and short cuts to achieve his artistic goals, and I use them too, along with many others, some of which are even unique to my work. But at the end of the process, when you view the finished painting, all that is left is an image, which hopefully appears as real, as it is beautiful. Less of an inspiration, Vermeer is more like a challenge. In the final result, the work must be as pure and as real as can be.”

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