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

American Art – Part I of II: Kimberly Cook

In the words of one writer, “Kimberly Cook is currently an instructor in Beginning and Advanced ceramics at Foothill College, Los Altos Hills, CA. She has been working as an artist, using clay as the primary medium of expression, for ten years. She attended Texas A & M University, College Station, Texas, where she studied Liberal Arts, and in 2008, she completed her MFA in Spatial Art at San Jose State University.”
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James T. Farrell in His Library

“America is so vast that almost everything said about it is likely to be true, and the opposite is probably equally true.” – James T. Farrell, American novelist, short story writer, poet, and author of the “Studs Lonigan” trilogy, who was born 27 February 1904.

Some quotes from the work of James T. Farrell:

“If you let conditions stop you from working, they’ll always stop you.”
“They served the rich, and tried to think that they were rich.”
“He had come to America, haven of peace and liberty, and it, too, was joining the slaughter, fighting for the big capitalists. There was no peace for men, only murder, cruelty, brutality.”
“He was sad because he had grown up, and because the years passed like a river that no man could stop.”

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“The layman’s constitutional view is that what he likes is constitutional and that which he doesn’t like is unconstitutional.” – Hugo Black, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1937 to 1971, who was born 27 February 1886.

Some quotes from Hugo Black:

“A union of government and religion tends to destroy government and degrade religion.”
“Our Constitution was not written in the sands to be washed away by each wave of new judges blown in by each successive political wind.”
“The Framers of the Constitution knew that free speech is the friend of change and revolution. But they also knew that it is always the deadliest enemy of tyranny.”
“It is the paradox of life that the way to miss pleasure is to seek it first. The very first condition of lasting happiness is that a life should be full of purpose, aiming at something outside self.”
“When I was 40, my doctor advised me that a man in his 40s shouldn’t play tennis. I heeded his advice carefully and could hardly wait until I reached 50 to start again.”
“The Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to bare the secrets of government and inform the people.”
“Paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.”

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Italian painter Anna Cionini (born 1941) lives and works in Casentino a Rassina in the province of Arezzo.
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“There are times when parenthood seems nothing more than feeding the hand that bites you.” – Peter de Vries, American editor and novelist known for his satiric wit, who was born 27 February 1910.

Some quotes from the work of Peter de Vries:

“What people believe is a measure of what they suffer.”
“Life is a zoo in a jungle.”
“What baffles me is the comfort people find in the idea that somebody dealt this mess. Blind and meaningless chance seems to me so much more congenial – or at least less horrible. Prove to me that there is a God and I will really begin to despair.”
“Human nature is pretty shabby stuff, as you may know from introspection.”
“He resented such questions as people do who have thought a great deal about them. The superficial and slipshod have ready answers, but those looking this complex life straight in the eye acquire a wealth of perception so composed of delicately balanced contradictions that they dread, or resent, the call to couch any part of it in a bland generalization. The vanity (if not outrage) of trying to cage this dance of atoms in a single definition may give the weariness of age with the cry of youth for answers the appearance of boredom.”
“Who of us is mature enough for offspring before the offspring themselves arrive? The value of [parenthood] is not that adults produce children but that children produce adults.”
“The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination. But the combination is locked up in the safe.”
“My father hated radio and could not wait for television to be invented so he could hate that too. ”
“I made a tentative conclusion. It seemed from all of this that uppermost among human joys is the negative one of restoration: not going to the stars, but learning that one may stay where one is.”
“Why is the awfulness of families such a popular reason for starting another?”
“The murals in restaurants are on par with the food in museums.”
“A suburban mother’s role is to deliver children obstetric-ally once, and by car forever after.”
“We live this life by a kind of conspiracy of grace: the common assumption, or pretense, that human existence is ‘good’ or ‘matters’ or has ‘meaning,’ a glaze of charm or humor by which we conceal from one another and perhaps even ourselves the suspicion that it does not, and our conviction in times of trouble that it is overpriced – something to be endured rather than enjoyed.”
“We are not primarily put on this earth to see through one another, but to see one another through.”
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“The only difference between the Republican and Democratic parties is the velocities with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock on their door.” – Ralph Nader, American political activist, author, lecturer, attorney, humanitarian, environmentalist, consumer protection activist, and five-time candidate for President of the United States, who was born 27 February 1934.

Some quotes from the work of Ralph Nader:

“Ours is a system of corporate socialism, where companies capitalize their profits and socialize their losses…in effect, they tax you for their accidents, bungling, boondoggles, and mismanagement, just like a government. We should be able to deselect them. ”
“The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun.”
“Addiction should never be treated as a crime. It has to be treated as a health problem. We do not send alcoholics to jail in this country. Over 500,000 people are in our jails who are nonviolent drug users.”
“A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity.”
“Since I was a law student, I have been against the death penalty. It does not deter. It is severely discriminatory against minorities, especially since they’re given no competent legal counsel defense in many cases. It’s a system that has to be perfect. You cannot execute one innocent person. No system is perfect. And to top it off, for those of you who are interested in the economics it, it costs more to pursue a capital case toward execution than it does to have full life imprisonment without parole.”
“Your best teacher is your last mistake.”
“There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship.”
“You should not allow yourself the luxuries of discouragement of despair. Bounce back immediately, and welcome the adversity because it produces harder thinking and harder drive to get to the objective.”
“Let it not be said by a future, forlorn generation that we wasted and lost our great potential because our despair was so deep we didn’t even try, or because each of us thought someone else was worrying about our problems.”
“Moral courage is the highest expression of humanity.”
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Russian painter Vadim Chazov (born 1975) spent six years studying in one of the best art schools in the world – The Academy of Fine Art in St. Petersburg.
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Nobel Laureate: John Steinbeck

“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about.” – John Steinbeck, American writer and recipient of both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for “The Grapes of Wrath,” as well as the 1962 Nobel Prize for Literature “for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception,” who was born 27 February 1902.

Some quotes from the work of John Steinbeck:

“All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.”
“Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.”
“I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found.”
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?”
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
“I guess there are never enough books.”
“I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?”
“When a child first catches adults out — when it first walks into his grave little head that adults do not always have divine intelligence, that their judgments are not always wise, their thinking true, their sentences just — his world falls into panic desolation. The gods are fallen and all safety gone. And there is one sure thing about the fall of gods: they do not fall a little; they crash and shatter or sink deeply into green muck. It is a tedious job to build them up again; they never quite shine. And the child’s world is never quite whole again. It is an aching kind of growing.”
“Anything that just costs money is cheap.”
“To be alive at all is to have scars. ”
“It has always seemed strange to me…The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.”
“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”
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Here is the Artist Statement of Ali Kaikaoss Kamal:
“Born in 1965, I studied in Minsk at the art academy where I earned my Master of Art.
I have lived and worked in Germany since 1991 and consider myself a global citizen, for art has no borders. My experiences in various cultures have allowed me to find my own unmistakable style. I am and have been present at many single and group exhibitions in Germany, Belgium, France, the USA, and Belarus.”
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From the Music Archives: Marian Anderson

“As long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you otherwise might.” – Marian Anderson, African-American contralto and one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century, who was born 27 February 1897.

Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Portuguese painter Martinho Dias: “His work moves itself, above all, in a social and political criticism inside a contemporary reality. He unfolds this reality, which is common to us, in a suggestive, implied way. He privileges patterns of information collecting photographs from the mass media, such as newspapers, magazines or images taken from the television. In an intelligent way, he uses these ‘models’ of his for the accomplishment of pictorial compositions, which are the substratum of the representations of figures and bodies of his painting, faced as an inevitability of the daily life.”
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“A city becomes a world when one loves one of its inhabitants.” – Lawrence Durrell, expatriate British novelist, poet, dramatist, and travel writer, who was born 27 February 1912.

Lawrence Durrell is the author of “The Alexandria Quartet” – “Justine,” “Balthazar,” “Mountolive,” and “Clea” – four remarkable novels that are decidedly worth reading. He also wrote “Spirit of Place: Letters and Essays on Travel,” which one critic described thusly: “From one of the last century’s greatest storytellers, Lawrence Durrell, comes a sumptuous collection of essays that describe the author’s unique and cherished approach to life, with its pagan enjoyments as well as its intellectual pursuits. The book contains Durrell’s articles about the Mediterranean and Aegean islands he loved so much, along with passages from his letters. ‘My books are always about living in places,’ Durrell wrote, ‘not just rushing through them.’”
Some quotes from the work of Lawrence Durrell:

“Does not everything depend on our interpretation of the silence around us?”
“I don’t believe one reads to escape reality. A person reads to confirm a reality he knows is there, but which he has not experienced.”
“It is a pity indeed to travel and not get this essential sense of landscape values. You do not need a sixth sense for it. It is there if you just close your eyes and breathe softly through your nose; you will hear the whispered message, for all landscapes ask the same question in the same whisper. ‘I am watching you — are you watching yourself in me?’ Most travelers hurry too much…the great thing is to try and travel with the eyes of the spirit wide open, and not too much factual information. To tune in, without reverence, idly — but with real inward attention. It is to be had for the feeling…you can extract the essence of a place once you know how. If you just get as still as a needle, you’ll be there.”
“All culture corrupts, but French culture corrupts absolutely.”
“We are all hunting for rational reasons for believing in the absurd.”
“There is no pain compared to that of loving a woman who makes her body accessible to one and yet who is incapable of delivering her true self — because she does not know where to find it.”
“Who invented the human heart, I wonder? Tell me, and then show me the place where he was hanged.”
“I am quite alone. I am neither happy nor unhappy; I lie suspended like a hair or a feather in the cloudy mixtures of memory.”
“These are the moments which are not calculable, and cannot be assessed in words; they live on in the solution of memory, like wonderful creatures, unique of their own kind, dredged up from the floors of some unexplored ocean.”
“Odd, isn’t it? He really was the right man for her in a sort of way; but then as you know, it is a law of love that the so-called ‘right’ person always comes too soon or too late.”
“History is an endless repetition of the wrong way of living”
“I had become, with the approach of night, once more aware of loneliness and time – those two companions without whom no journey can yield us anything.”
“Very few people realise that sex is a psychic and not a physical act. The clumsy coupling of human beings is simply a biological paraphrase of this truth – a primitive method of introducing minds to each other, engaging them. But most people are stuck in the physical aspect, unaware of the poetic rapport which it so clumsily tries to teach.”
“The heaviest impact of the work of art is in the guts. Art does not reason. It manhandles you and changes you.”
“Music is only love looking for words.”
“Science is the poetry of the intellect and poetry the science of the heart’s affections.”
“The realisation of one’s own death is the point at which one becomes adult.”
“Art like life is an open secret.”
“A diary is the last place to go if you wish to seek the truth about a person. Nobody dares to make the final confession to themselves on paper: or at least, not about love.”
“Love is like trench warfare – you cannot see the enemy, but you know he is there and that it is wiser to keep your head down.”
“An idea is like a rare bird which cannot be seen. What one sees is the trembling of the branch it has just left.”
“I once found a list of diseases as yet unclassified by medical science, and among these there occurred the word Islomania, which was described as a rare but by no means unknown affliction of spirit. There are people…who find islands somehow irresistible. The mere knowledge that they are on an island, a little world surrounded by the sea, fills them with an indescribable intoxication. These born ‘islomanes’…are direct descendents of the Atlanteans.”
“She took kisses like so many coats of paint … how long and how vainly I searched for excuses which might make her amorality if not palatable at least understandable. I realize now the time I wasted in this way; instead of enjoying her and turning aside from these preoccupations with the thought, ‘She is untrustworthy as she is beautiful. She takes love as plants do water, lightly, thoughtlessly.’”
“Art—the meaning of the pattern of our common actions in reality. The cloth-of-gold that hides behind the sackcloth of reality, forced out by the pain of human memory.”
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Here is one writer describing the artistry of Michael Onona (born in Casablanca in 1967, educated in London): “Michael Onona’s artworks essentially concentrate on the depiction and conveyance of human emotion. Through his personal and unconventional visions of beauty his imagery challenges our perceptions, encourages the viewer to look and interpret these immensely bold visual statements.
Onona’s admiration for the old masters and the Renaissance have in turn created for this self-taught artist a personal quest to achieve a blend of excellence of technique combined with powerful and unnerving imagery.
A constant regeneration of imagery and new themes are created within the mind of this unique artist. Onona’s work deals with the ‘disturbingly normal’ and finds that his own inner peace is achieved by the act of painting and this in turn enables the exorcism from the constant and ever present imagery that resides within his mind.
Onona’s ever changing visions are held together as individual statements by his enormous compositional strengths. His often symbolic imagery and the conveyance of spiritual depth marks this artist out against any other today.”
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From the American History Archives – Part I of III: Wounded Knee, 1973

27 February 1973 – The Wounded Knee incident begins when approximately 200 Oglala Lakota and followers of the American Indian Movement (AIM) occupy the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. In the words of one historian, “The protest followed the failure of an effort of the Oglala Civil Rights Organization (OSCRO) to impeach tribal president Richard Wilson, whom they accused of corruption and abuse of opponents. Additionally, protestors attacked the United States government’s failure to fulfill treaties with Indian peoples and demanded the reopening of treaty negotiations.”

The occupation soon became a conflict that involved federal marshals, the F.B.I. and members of the U.S. military. In the words of one writer, “The equipment maintained by the military while in use during the siege included fifteen armored personnel carriers, clothing, rifles, grenade launchers, flares, and 133,000 rounds of ammunition, for a total cost, including the use of maintenance personnel from the National Guard of five states and pilots and planes for aerial photographs, of over half a million dollars.”

An agreement to disarm was not reached until 5 May, and the siege ended three days later and the town was evacuated after 71 days of occupation. The casualties and losses: American Indian Movement – 2 killed, 13 wounded; U.S. Government Forces – 1 killed, 2 wounded.

Above – Russell Means (seated on the right), one of the AIM leaders, beats a drum at a meeting of the Wounded Knee occupation.
Below – One of the armored personnel carriers deployed by the U.S. Army during the siege; Marlon Brando was an AIM supporter, and so he asked Sacheen Littlefeather, an Apache actress, to speak at the 45th Academy Awards on his behalf, as he had been nominated for his performance in “The Godfather.” In the words of one writer, “She appeared at the ceremony in traditional Apache clothing. When his name was announced as the winner, she said that he declined the award due to the ‘poor treatment of Native Americans in the film industry’ in an improvised speech as she was told she could not give the original speech given to her by Brando and was warned that she would be physically taken off and arrested if she was on stage for more than a minute. Afterwards, she read his original words about Wounded Knee backstage to many of the press. This recaptured the attention of millions in the United States and world media. AIM supporters thought Littlefeather’s speech to be a major victory for their movement.”

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From the American History Archives – Part II of III: Robert Lee Scott, Jr.

Died 27 February 2006 – Robert Lee Scott, Jr., a brigadier general in the United States Air Force, a member of the Flying Tigers in China, and the author of “God Is My Co-Pilot.”

Robert Scott became one of my boyhood heroes when I read “God Is My Co-Pilot” after purchasing a copy for ten cents from the “Weekly Reader” book list while I was in elementary school.
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From the American History Archives – Part III of III: Frank Buckles

Died 27 February 2011 – Frank Buckles (born 1 February 1901), the last surviving American World War I veteran. When asked about the secret of his long life, Buckles replied: “Hope,” adding, “When you start to die … don’t.”

His funeral was on 15 March 2011, at Arlington National Cemetery, with President Barack Obama attending and with full military honors.

Above – Frank Buckles in 1917, at the age of 16. (He lied about his age in order to enlist in the army.)
Below – The young soldier; the old soldier.
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Here is how one writer describes the artistry of Norwegian painter Froydis Aarseth: “(She) has always known what she wanted in life and that was to live a life as a classical painter. Not only to paint paintings that are beautiful to look at, but also to convey a deeper importance that will give the viewer something more than only aesthetics.”
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“This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of old, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.” – The first six lines of “Introduction to Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet, educator, and translator, who was born 27 February 1807.

As part of my Final Examination in seventh grade English, I had to recite the six opening lines from “Evangeline” flawlessly while standing before my classmates, with my teacher Miss Van den Bree sitting at her desk behind me, grade book in hand. I knew that it was altogether possible that a memory lapse might prevent me from moving on to eighth grade. Despite the anxiety that still attends my recollection of this trial, from that day forward the beautiful language of the poem has nourished my imagination.

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Here is part of the Artist Statement of English painter David FeBland: “My work explores the ever-modulating space between aspiration and reality. Its an uncomfortable space for some, that sense of not quite being where or what you think you are – a mental state filled with frisson not unlike the combustible edge of colliding urban neighborhoods, its corporeal equivalent. After depicting just such city spaces for many years, I grew to realize that the concept of an Edge – or more precisely the gap between them – was as much a state of mind as a physical reality and therefore eminently transportable. And so you see before you paintings embracing a variety of settings reflecting my everyday life, my travels grand and mundane, realized and imaginary.”
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A Poem for Today

“To a Dead Lover,
By Louise Bogan

The dark is thrown
Back from the brightness, like hair
Cast over a shoulder.
I am alone,

Four years older;
Like the chairs and the walls
Which I once watched brighten
With you beside me. I was to waken
Never like this, whatever came or was taken.

The stalk grows, the year beats on the wind.
Apples come, and the month for their fall.
The bark spreads, the roots tighten.
Though today be the last
Or tomorrow all,
You will not mind.

That I may not remember
Does not matter.
I shall not be with you again.
What we knew, even now
Must scatter
And be ruined, and blow
Like dust in the rain.

You have been dead a long season
And have less than desire
Who were lover with lover;
And I have life—that old reason
To wait for what comes,
To leave what is over.
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American Art – Part II of II: Mark Miltz

In the words of one writer, “Mark Miltz, a native of Virginia, has been producing and selling paintings since 1974. After earning a fine art degree, he has spent the last 27 years as a commercial artist and illustrator. In recent years, he has returned to his first love, representational painting. Concentrating on the figure, he brings to his work a high level of draftsmanship, combined with an appreciation for the abstract qualities of the paint itself. Miltz attacks his subjects with energetic paint, powerful composition and a strong sense of light. Yet this energy is tempered with profound respect for the great tradition of western figure painting. Though modern in concept, the work pays homage to the masters of the past. Miltz is currently working primarily in oils, which he likes for their versatility, rich color and strong textural qualities. His work is about the tension between the subject portrayed, and the means used to create the illusion of ‘subject’. Tensions and ambiguities within the subject matter itself are at the heart of each piece. He invites you to explore each painting’s many levels with him.”

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