American Art – Part I of IV: Lisa Gloria
Lisa Gloria graduated from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora, IL, in 1989. She studied art briefly at the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana, and teaches painting and drawing workshops near her home in Aurora, IL.
“An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought.” – Simon Cameron, American politician, who was born 8 March 1799.
Here’s another quote from the estimable Mr. Cameron, who, in addition to being a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, was Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War, though he only served a year before resigning amidst a corruption scandal: “I am tired of all this sort of thing called science here… We have spent millions on that sort of thing for the last few years, and it is time it should be stopped.” (on funding the Smithsonian Institution)
In his attitude toward science, Simon Cameron was clearly a Republican “ahead of his time.”
Below – The Smithsonian Institution Building in 1865.
Swedish watercolorist Lars Lerin (born 1954) lives and paints in Karlstad.
“The dog was created specially for children. He is the god of frolic.” – Henry Ward Beecher, American Congregationalist clergyman, social reformer, and abolitionist, who died 8 March 1887.
Some quotes from the work of Henry Ward Beecher:
“Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?”
“We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.”
“A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.”
“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”
“Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself – and be lenient to everybody else.”
“The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.”
“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is, that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.”
“Adversity, if for no other reason, is of benefit, since it is sure to bring a season of sober reflection. People see clearer at such times. Storms purify the atmosphere.”
“A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs, jolted by every pebble in the road.”
“There are more quarrels smothered by just shutting your mouth, and holding it shut, than by all the wisdom in the world.”
“No man is sane who does not know how to be insane on the proper occasions.”
“Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the right use of strength. ”
“If a man harbors any sort of fear, it percolates through all his thinking, damages his personality, makes him landlord to a ghost.”
“A little library, growing every year, is an honorable part of a man’s history. It is a man’s duty to have books.”
Spanish Art – Part I of II: Pedro del Toro
“The habits of our lives makes us presume that things will happen in a certain foreseeable way, that there will be a vague coherence in the world.” – Adolfo Bioy Casares, Argentinean writer, journalist, translator, and author of “The Invention of More!,” who died 8 March 1999.
Some quotes from the work of Adolfo Bioy Casares:
“To be on an island inhabited by artificial ghosts was the most unbearable of nightmares,- to be in love with one of those images was worse than being in love with a ghost (perhaps we always want the person we love to have the existence of a ghost).”
“The sea is endless when you are in a rowboat.”
“The case of the inventor who is duped by his own invention emphasizes our need for circumspection.”
“I do not believe that a dream should necessarily be taken for reality, or reality for madness.”
“Life has now taught me that love for things, like all unrequited love, takes its toll in the long run.”
Spanish Art – Part II of II: Gabriel Portoles
Spanish artist Gabriel Portoles (born 1930) lives and works in Barcelona.
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Mickey Dolenz
“The Monkees are to the Beatles what ‘Star Trek’ is to NASA. They are both totally valid in their contexts.” – Mickey Dolenz, American actor who became the drummer and lead vocalist of the Monkees, who was born 8 March 1945.
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Little Peggy March
Born 8 March 1948 – Little Peggy March (Margaret Battavio), an American singer best remembered for her 1963 hit song “I Will Follow Him.”
Romanian painter Rodica Alecsandra Miller earned a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bucharest. In the words of one critic, “In the late 80s, Rodica was attracted to Metaphysical Painting that enabled her to create unique interpretations of the relationship between mind and matter. Giorgio de Chirico, Paul Delvaux and Rene Magritte were like guides to her own soul searching.”
Artist Jonathan Wateridge was born in Zambia in 1972. He lives and works in London. Here is part of his Artist Statement: “The group series explores ideas of role play, identity and why people choose to commemorate a collective moment. It is a moment that is ‘real’ but also performed and I find that tension interesting to examine.”
“There is no reciprocity. Men love women, women love children, children love hamsters.” – Alice Thomas Ellis, the pen name of Welsh writer Anna Haycraft, who died 8 March 2005, offering a plausible explanation for why the course of both true love and family life never did run smooth.
A few quotes from the work of the uncommonly wise Alice Thomas Ellis:
“Death is the last enemy: once we’ve got past that I think everything will be all right.”
“Men were made for war. Without it they wandered greyly about, getting under the feet of the women, who were trying to organize the really important things of life.”
“Adolescence is usually typified by an unanswerable combination of innocence and insolence.”
Russian Art – Part I of II: Vladimir Kim
“There is something memorable in the experience to be had by going into a fair ground that stands at the edge of a Middle Western town on a night after the annual fair has been held. The sensation is one never to be forgotten. On all sides are ghosts, not of the dead, but of living people. Here, during the day just passed, have come the people from hundreds of little frame houses have gathered within these board walls. Young girls have laughed and men with beards have talked of the affairs of their lives. The place has been filled to overflowing with life. It has itched and squirmed with life and now it is night and the life has all gone away. The silence is almost terrifying. One conceals oneself standing silently beside the trunk of a tree and what there is of a reflective tendency in his nature is intensified. One shudders at the thought of the meaninglessness of life while at the same instant, and if the people of the town are his people, one loves life so intensely that tears come into the eyes.” – From “Winesburg, Ohio,” by Sherwood Anderson, American novelist and short story writer, who died 8 March 1941.
Anderson’s short story cycle “Winesburg, Ohio: A Group of Tales of Ohio Small-Town Life” and his short story “Triumph of the Egg” should be required reading for all Americans.
Some quotes from the work of Sherwood Anderson:
“Dare to be strong and courageous. That is the road. Venture anything.”
“‘Love is like a wind stirring the grass beneath trees on a black night,’ he had said. ‘You must not try to make love definite. It is the divine accident of life. If you try to be definite and sure about it and to live beneath the trees, where soft night winds blow, the long hot day of disappointment comes swiftly and the gritty dust from passing wagons gathers upon lips inflamed and made tender by kisses.’”
“There is a time in the life of every boy when he for the first time takes the backward view of life. Perhaps that is the moment when he crosses the line into manhood. The boy is walking through the street of his town. He is thinking of the future and of the figure he will cut in the world. Ambitions and regrets awake within him. Suddenly something happens; he stops under a tree and waits as for a voice calling his name. Ghosts of old things creep into his consciousness; the voices outside of himself whisper a message concerning the limitations of life. From being quite sure of himself and his future he becomes not at all sure. If he be an imaginative boy a door is torn open and for the first time he looks out upon the world, seeing, as though they marched in procession before him, the countless figures of men who before his time have come out of nothingness into the world, lived their lives and again disappeared into nothingness. The sadness of sophistication has come to the boy. With a little gasp he sees himself as merely a leaf blown by the wind through the streets of his village. He knows that in spite of all the stout talk of his fellows he must live and die in uncertainty, a thing blown by the winds, a thing destined like corn to wilt in the sun.”
“I am a lover and have not found my thing to love. That is a big point if you know enough to realize what I mean. It makes my destruction inevitable, you see. There are few who understand that.”
“The fruition of the year had come and the night should have been fine with a moon in the sky and the crisp sharp promise of frost in the air, but it wasn’t that way. It rained and little puddles of water shone under the street lamps on Main Street. In the woods in the darkness beyond the Fair Ground water dripped from the black trees.”
“There is within every human being a deep well of thinking over which a heavy iron lid is kept clamped.”
“It is no use. I find it impossible to work with security staring me in the face.”
“It was a cold day but the sun was out and the trees were like great bonfires against gray distant fields and hills.”
“He thought about himself and to the young that always brings sadness.”
“Her thoughts ran away to her girlhood with its passionate longing for adventure and she remembered the arms of men that had held her when adventure was a possible thing for her. Particularly she remembered one who had for a time been her lover and who in the moment of his passion had cried out to her more than a hundred times, saying the same words madly over and over: ‘You dear! You dear! You lovely dear!’ The words, she thought, expressed something she would have liked to have achieved in life.”
“People keep on getting married. Evidently hope is eternal in the human breast.”
“The machines men are so intent on making have carried them very far from the old sweet things.”
“All good New Orleanians go to look at the Mississippi at least once a day. At night it is like creeping into a dark bedroom to look at a sleeping child–something of that sort–gives you the same warm nice feeling, I mean.”
“The story of Doctor Reefy and his courtship of the tall dark girl who became his wife and left her money to him is a very curious story. It is delicious, like the twisted little apples that grow in the orchards of Winesburg. In the fall one walks in the orchards and the ground is hard with frost underfoot. The apples have been taken from the trees by the pickers. They have been put in barrels and shipped to the cities where they will be eaten in apartments that are filled with books, magazines, furniture, and people. On the trees are only a few gnarled apples that the pickers have rejected. They look like the knuckles of Doctor Reefy’s hands. One nibbles at them and they are delicious. Into a little round place at the side of the apple has been gathered all of its sweetness. One runs from tree to tree over the frosted ground picking the gnarled, twisted apples and filling his pockets with them. Only the few know the sweetness of the twisted apples.”
“Many people must live and die alone, even in Winesburg.”
Russian Art – Part II of II: Evgeniy Monakhov
Russian painter Evgeniy Monakhov (born 1974) graduated from the Moscow Art College and the Surikov Art Institute in Moscow. In the words of one writer, “Monakhov’s paintings excite the same feelings, as music and poetry do. Metaphors of time, history and personal emotional experience pass before spectators. Delicate colors and refined contours create beautiful musical harmony.”
The Himalayas are the crowning achievement of the Indo-Australian plate. India in the Oligocene crashed head on into Tibet, hit so hard that it not only folded and buckled the plate boundaries but also plowed into the newly created Tibetan plateau and drove the Himalayas five and a half miles into the sky. The mountains are in some trouble. India has not stopped pushing them, and they are still going up. Their height and volume are already so great they are beginning to melt in their own self-generated radioactive heat. When the climbers in 1953 planted their flags on the highest mountain, they set them in snow over the skeletons of creatures that had lived in a warm clear ocean that India, moving north, blanked out. Possibly as much as 20,000 feet below the sea floor, the skeletal remains had turned into rock. This one fact is a treatise in itself on the movements of the surface of the earth. If by some fiat I had to restrict all this writing to one sentence, this is the one I would choose: The summit of Mt. Everest is marine limestone.” – From “Annals of the Former World” (which won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction), by John McPhee, American writer, who was born 8 March 1931.
Some quotes from the work of John McPhee:
“If you free yourself from the conventional reaction to a quantity like a million years, you free yourself a bit from the boundaries of human time. And then in a way you do not live at all, but in another way you live forever.”
“Speaking of libraries: A big open-stack academic or public library is no small pleasure to work in. You’re, say, trying to do a piece on something in Nevada, and you go down to C Floor, deep in the earth, and out to what a miner would call a remote working face. You find 10995.497S just where the card catalog and the online computer thought it would be, but that is only the initial nick. The book you knew about has led you to others you did not know about. To the ceiling the shelves are loaded with books about Nevada. You pull them down, one at a time, and sit on the floor and look them over until you are sitting on a pile five feet high, at which point you are late home for dinner and you get up and walk away. It’s an incomparable boon to research, all that; but it is also a reason why there are almost no large open-stack libraries left in the world.”
“Now, at Suiattle Pass, Brower was still talking about butterflies. He said he had raised them from time to time and had often watched them emerge from the chrysalis–first a crack in the case, then a feeler, and in an hour a butterfly. He said he had felt that he wanted to help, to speed them through the long and awkward procedure; and he had once tried. The butterflies came out with extended abdomens, and their wings were balled together like miniature clenched fists. Nothing happened. They sat there until they died. ‘I have never gotten over that,’ he said. ‘That kind of information is all over in the country, but it’s not in town.’”
“(If you are) going to have an industrial society you must have places that will look terrible. Other places you set aside—to say, ‘This is the way it was.’”
“He said, ‘Americans look upon water as an inexhaustible resource. It’s not, if you’re mining it. Arizona is mining groundwater.’”
“Some miners’ wives take in washing and make more money than their husbands do. In every gold rush from this one to the Klondike, the suppliers and service industries will gather up the dust while ninety-nine per cent of the miners go home with empty pokes.”
“Only once in the historical record has a jump on the San Andreas exceeded the jump of 1906. In 1857, near Tejon Pass outside Los Angeles, the two sides shifted thirty feet.”
“A quarter-horse jockey learns to think of a twenty-second race as if it were occurring across twenty minutes–in distinct parts, spaced in his consciousness. Each nuance of the ride comes to him as he builds his race. If you can do the opposite with deep time, living in it and thinking in it until the large numbers settle into place, you can sense how swiftly the initial earth packed itself together, how swiftly continents have assembled and come apart, how far and rapidly continents travel, how quickly mountains rise and how quickly they disintegrate and disappear.”
American Art – Part II of IV: Melinda Whitmore
Melinda Whitmore received her MFA cum laude in painting from the New York Academy of Art and BA degrees in Art History and Studio Art from Indiana University. In addition to her eleven years of teaching experience in oil painting, life drawing, sculpture and anatomy, she has been a part of numerous exhibitions from New York to Chicago, held an assistant curatorial position in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago, sculpts anatomical figures and models for many of the country’s top anatomical supply companies, and has been featured in ‘American Artist Drawing magazine.’ In 2008, Melinda won the top prize for The National Sculpture Society’s Figure Sculpture Competition and in the summer of 2010, she was awarded the Agop Agopoff Memorial Prize for Classical Sculpture by the National Sculpture Society.
Three decades ago, Neil Postman elaborated the regrettable ways that some technologies were affecting American cultural character. He was considered something of an alarmist, though now he seems more like a prophet.
“We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn’t, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.
But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another – slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World.’ Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in ‘Brave New World Revisited,’ the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny ‘failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.’ ‘In 1984,’ Huxley added, ‘people are controlled by inflicting pain. In ‘Brave New World,’ they are controlled by inflicting pleasure.’ In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.” – From “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business” (1985), by Neil Postman, American writer, media theorist, and cultural critic, who was born 8 March 1931.
Some quotes from the work of Neil Postman:
“Our politics, religion, news, athletics, education and commerce have been transformed into congenial adjuncts of show business, largely without protest or even much popular notice. The result is that we are a people on the verge of amusing ourselves to death.”
“Americans no longer talk to each other, they entertain each other. They do not exchange ideas; they exchange images. They do not argue with propositions; they argue with good looks, celebrities and commercials.”
“What Huxley teaches is that in the age of advanced technology, spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling face than from one whose countenance exudes suspicion and hate. In the Huxleyan prophecy, Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours. There is no need for wardens or gates or Ministries of Truth. When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; a culture-death is a clear possibility.”
“Most of our daily news is inert, consisting of information that gives us something to talk about but cannot lead to any meaningful action.”
“The television commercial is not at all about the character of products to be consumed. It is about the character of the consumers of products.”
“We do not measure a culture by its output of undisguised trivialities but by what it claims as significant.”
“It is not that television is entertaining but that it has made entertainment itself the natural format for the representation of all experience. … The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining.”
“‘The scientific method,’ Thomas Henry Huxley once wrote, ‘is nothing but the normal working of the human mind.’ That is to say, when the mind is working; that is to say further, when it is engaged in correcting its mistakes.
Taking this point of view, we may conclude that science is not physics, biology, or chemistry–is not even a ‘subject’ –but a moral imperative drawn from a larger narrative whose purpose is to give perspective, balance, and humility to learning.”
“At its best, schooling can be about how to make a life, which is quite different from how to make a living.”
“Television is our culture’s principal mode of knowing about itself. Therefore — and this is the critical point — how television stages the world becomes the model for how the world is properly to be staged. It is not merely that on the television screen entertainment is the metaphor for all discourse. It is that off the screen the same metaphor prevails.”
“For in the end, he was trying to tell us what afflicted the people in ‘Brave New World’ was not that they were laughing instead of thinking, but that they did not know what they were laughing about and why they had stopped thinking.”
“But it is much later in the game now, and ignorance of the score is inexcusable. To be unaware that a technology comes equipped with a program for social change, to maintain that technology is neutral, to make the assumption that technology is always a friend to culture is, at this late hour, stupidity plain and simple.”
“Television screens saturated with commercials promoting the utopian and childish idea that all problems have fast, simple, and technological solutions. You must banish from your mind the naive but commonplace notion that commercials are about products. They are about products in the same sense that the story of Jonah is about the anatomy of whales.”
“The reader must come armed, in a serious state of intellectual readiness. This is not easy because he comes to the text alone. In reading, one’s responses are isolated, one’s intellect thrown back on its own resources. To be confronted by the cold abstractions of printed sentences is to look upon language bare, without the assistance of either beauty or community. Thus, reading is by its nature a serious business. It is also, of course, an essentially rational activity.”
“In America, everyone is entitled to an opinion, and it is certainly useful to have a few when a pollster shows up. But these are opinions are quite different rider from eighteenth- or nineteenth-century opinions. It is probably more accurate to call them emotions rather than opinions, which would account for the fact that they change from week to week, as the pollsters tell us. What is happening here is that television is altering the meaning of ‘being informed’ by creating a species of information that might properly be called disinformation. I am using this world almost in the precise sense in which it is used by spies in the CIA or KGB. Disinformation does not mean false information. It means misleading information–misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information–information that creates the illusion of knowing something but which in fact leads one away from knowing. In saying this, I do not mean to imply that television news deliberately aims to deprive Americans of a coherent, contextual understanding of their world. I mean to say that when news is packaged as entertainment, that is the inevitable result. And in saying that the television news show entertains but does not inform, I am saying something far more serious than that we are being deprived of authentic information. I am saying we are losing our sense of what it means to be well informed. Ignorance is always correctable. But what shall we do if we take ignorance to be knowledge?”
“There must be a sequence to learning, that perseverance and a certain measure of perspiration are indispensable, that individual pleasures must frequently be submerged in the interests of group cohesion, and that learning to be critical and to think conceptually and rigorously do not come easily to the young but are hard-fought victories.”
“Technology always has unforeseen consequences, and it is not always clear, at the beginning, who or what will win, and who or what will lose.”
“Remember: in order for a perception to change one must be frustrated in one’s actions or change one’s purpose.”
“Nothing could be more misleading than the idea that computer technology introduced the age of information. The printing press began that age, and we have not been free of it since.”
“Through the computer, the heralds say, we will make education better, religion better, politics better, our minds better — best of all, ourselves better. This is, of course, nonsense, and only the young or the ignorant or the foolish could believe it.”
“Parents embraced ‘Sesame Street’ for several reasons, among them that it assuaged their guilt over the fact that they could not or would not restrict their children’s access to television. ‘Sesame Street’ appeared to justify allowing a four- or five-year-old to sit transfixed in front of a television screen for unnatural periods of time. Parents were eager to hope that television could teach their children something other than which breakfast cereal has the most crackle. At the same time, ‘Sesame Street’ relieved them of the responsibility of teaching their pre-school children how to read—no small matter in a culture where children are apt to be considered a nuisance…. We now know that ‘Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.’ Which is to say, we now know that ‘Sesame Street’ undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.”
“If politics is like show business, then the idea is not to pursue excellence, clarity or honesty but to appear as if you are, which is another matter altogether.”
American Art – Part III of IV: Michael Cole Manley
“An Old-Fashioned Song,”
By John Hollander
(Nous n’irons plus au bois)
No more walks in the wood:
The trees have all been cut
Down, and where once they stood
Not even a wagon rut
Appears along the path
Low brush is taking over.
No more walks in the wood;
This is the aftermath
Of afternoons in the clover
Fields where we once made love
Then wandered home together
Where the trees arched above,
Where we made our own weather
When branches were the sky.
Now they are gone for good,
And you, for ill, and I
Am only a passer-by.
American Art – Part IV of IV: Dina Brodsky
Painter Dina Brodsky was born in Minsk, Belarus in 1981. Her family immigrated to the US in 1990. She was educated at University of Massachusetts Amherst and New York Academy of Art, where she received her MFA. She lives and works in New York City.