American Art – Part I of II: Bob Clyatt
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of sculptor Bob Clyatt : “(He) grew up roaming the countryside of Northern California, ending up studying art at UC Berkeley in the 70s. Absorbing the zeitgeist of that time and place created a desire for fusion in Bob’s work – ancient and contemporary, organic and technological. Using clay as his central medium connects Bob to the
oldest art-making traditions, and he uses a range of vehicles such as assemblage and the introduction of modern materials and gesture to bring about a fusion in the work and give it contemporary voice. Bob spent 8 years in formal study of sculpture, primarily at the Art Students League, and shows his work widely in New York. He lives and has his studio in Rye, NY.”
Born 10 March 1841 – Ina Donna Coolbrith, American poet, writer, librarian, the first California Poet Laureate, and the first poet laureate of any state.
Ina Donna Coolbrith was part of the San Francisco Bay Area literary community. She was acquainted with Bret Harte and Joaquin Miller (whom she helped attain global fame as the “Poet of the Sierras”), and her poetry received positive reviews from Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, and Alfred Lord Tennyson.
Through rifts of cloud the moon’s soft silver slips;
A little rain has fallen with the night,
Which from the emerald under-sky still drips
Where the magnolias open, broad and white.
So near my window I might reach my hand
And touch these milky stars, that to and fro
Wave, odorous. . . .Yet ’t was in another land-
How long ago, my love, how long ago!
Born 10 March 1822 – Willem Roelofs, Dutch painter, watercolorist, etcher, and lithographer.
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” – Harriet Tubman, African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy during the American Civil War, who died 10 March 1913.
Born into slavery, Harriet Tubman escaped to freedom in Philadelphia and soon thereafter helped establish the Underground Railroad. Tubman also assisted John Brown in recruiting men for his raid on Harper’s Ferry, and in the post-war era she campaigned on behalf of women’s suffrage.
Some quotes from Harriet Tubman:
“I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other.”
“If I could have convinced more slaves that they were slaves, I could have freed thousands more.”
“I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.”
“I had crossed the line. I was free; but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land.”
“I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything. The sun came up like gold through the trees, and I felt like I was in heaven.”
“Quakers almost as good as colored. They call themselves friends and you can trust them every time.”
“I grew up like a neglected weed – ignorant of liberty, having no experience of it.”
“If it is true that cowardice is the most grave vice, then the dog, at least, is not guilty of it.” – Mikhail Bulgakov, Russian writer, playwright, and author of the satirical novel “The Master and Margarita,” who died 10 March 1940.
Some quotes from the work of Mikhail Bulgakov:
“But would you kindly ponder this question: What would your good do if evil didn’t exist, and what would the earth look like if all the shadows disappeared? After all, shadows are cast by things and people. Here is the shadow of my sword. But shadows also come from trees and living beings. Do you want to strip the earth of all trees and living things just because of your fantasy of enjoying naked light? You’re stupid.”
“Kindness. The only possible method when dealing with a living creature. You’ll get nowhere with an animal if you use terror, no matter what its level of development may be. That I have maintained, do maintain and always will maintain. People who think you can use terror are quite wrong. No, no, terror is useless, whatever its colour – white, red or even brown! Terror completely paralyses the nervous system.”
“And at midnight there came an apparition in hell. A handsome dark-eyed man with a dagger-like beard, in a tailcoat, stepped onto the veranda and cast a regal glance over his domain. They used to say, the mystics used to say, that there was a time when the handsome man wore not a tailcoat but a wide leather belt with pistol butts sticking out from it, and his raven hair was tied with scarlet silk, and under his command a brig sailed the Caribbean under a black death flag with a skull and crossbones.
But no, no! The seductive mystics are lying, there are no Caribbean Seas in the world, no desperate freebooters to sail them, no corvette chases after them, no cannon smoke drifts across the waves. There is nothing, and there was nothing! There is that sickly linden over there, there is the cast-iron fence, and the boulevard beyond it…And the ice is melting in the bowl, and at the next table you see someone’s bloodshot, bovine eyes, and you’re afraid, afraid…Oh, gods, my gods, poison, bring me poison!”
“Everything passes away – suffering, pain, blood, hunger, pestilence. The sword will pass away too, but the stars will remain when the shadows of our presence and our deeds have vanished from the Earth. There is no man who does not know that. Why, then, will we not turn our eyes toward the stars? Why?”
Born 10 March 1787 – William Etty, an English painter. In the words of one critic, “He was controversial during his lifetime in the early and middle 19th century, and still is.” John Constable, who was Etty’s friend, called “Youth on the Prow, and Pleasure at the Helm” (see below) “a particularly gruesome painting.”
10 March 1831 – King Louis-Philippe establishes the French Foreign Legion, and here is one of the Legion’s finest moments:
Vladimir Dunjic (born 1957) is a Serbian painter whose work has been exhibited throughout Europe and the United States.
“Violence is my last option.” – Chuck Norris, American martial artist, actor, and writer, who was born 10 March 1940.
Though he is undeniably a pop-culture hero, Chuck Norris is nearly always wrong in his social, intellectual, and political views. To cite three examples of his foolish opinions, he is anti-gay, anti-evolution, and pro-Mike Huckabee.
Some “facts” about Chuck Norris:
“The Great Wall of China was originally created to keep Chuck Norris out. It failed miserably.”
“Chuck Norris’ tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried. Ever.
“Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.”
“If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can’t see Chuck Norris, you may be only seconds away from death.”
“Chuck Norris does not hunt because the word hunting implies the probability of failure. Chuck Norris goes killing.”
“In fine print on the last page of the ‘Guinness Book of World Records’ it notes that all world records are held by Chuck Norris, and those listed in the book are simply the closest anyone else has ever gotten.”
“Chuck Norris once roundhouse kicked someone so hard that his foot broke the speed of light, went back in time, and killed Amelia Earhart while she was flying over the Pacific Ocean.”
“Chuck Norris sold his soul to the devil for his rugged good looks and unparalleled martial arts ability. Shortly after the transaction was finalized, Chuck roundhouse-kicked the devil in the face and took his soul back. The devil, who appreciates irony, couldn’t stay mad and admitted he should have seen it coming. They now play poker every second Wednesday of the month.”
“There is no theory of evolution, just a list of creatures Chuck Norris allows to live.”
“Chuck Norris has two speeds: Walk and Kill.”
“Contrary to popular belief, America is not a democracy, it is a Chucktatorship.”
From the Music Archives: E. Power Biggs
Died 10 March 1977 – E. Power Biggs, British-born American concert organist and recording artist. Few organists have played the music of Johann Sebastian Bach as brilliantly as E. Power Biggs.
Polish Art – Part I of II: Paulina Wilk
Polish painter Paulina Wilk (born 1980) graduated with honors from the Faculty of Arts University in Lublin.
“Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.” – Zelda Fitzgerald, American writer, wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and author of “Save Me The Waltz,” who died 10 March 1948.
Writer Ring Lardner once uncharitably described F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, the “golden couple” of the 1920s, thusly: “Mr. Fitzgerald is a novelist and Mrs. Fitzgerald is a novelty.” Their relationship was, to put it mildly, tempestuous, and Zelda was a decidedly troubled individual, albeit a talented one.
The watercolor below is a self-portrait done by Zelda Fitzgerald sometime in the early 1940s.
Some quotes from Zelda Fitzgerald:
“We grew up founding our dreams on the infinite promise of American advertising. I still believe that one can learn to play the piano by mail and that mud will give you a perfect complexion.”
“By the time a person has achieved years adequate for choosing a direction, the die is cast and the moment has long since passed which determined the future.”
“I don’t want to live. I want to love first, and live incidentally.”
“It is the loose ends with which men hang themselves.”
“Youth doesn’t need friends – it only needs crowds.”
Polish Art – Part II of II: Agnieszka Zak-Bielowa
From the American History Archives – Part I of II: Alexander Graham Bell
From the American History Archives – Part II of II: A History of Violence – Sam Steele
10 March 1893 – New Mexico State University cancels its first graduation when authorities discover that the only person scheduled to graduate, Sam Steele, was robbed and killed the night before.
A Poem for Today
By Austin Smith
The factory stands on the train
of your town’s wedding gown,
dirtying it and smoking
unfiltered cigarettes. Embarrassed,
the clouds rush to cover up
the track marks of the stars.
On your way home from the factory
-run theater, it’s too dark to say
hello to the pale-faced people
plummeting past you and your son.
Who knows what bright things
they conceal in their black coats
now that they’ve rationed the rations.
Home before curfew, the iodine
tablets fume in the bedtime
glass of water your son requests.
He sips it as if it were hot tea
while you read to him yet again
that ancient story you three
loved. You stumble over the new
language, but even it is becoming
beautiful. You close the book,
kiss his forehead, stand the flashlight
upright by the fuming glass
and stumble to your bed in the dark.
Your son will wake in the night
and turn on the flashlight
so he can see the water
that he will turn into urine
that you will carry in an armful
of sheets down to the river,
that gray, dappled,
broken thing running
through the dying trees
like an app
-aloosa spooked by gunfire.
Below – Jonas Lie: “American Factory Town.”
Here is how one writer describes painter Claude Jammet: “(She) was born of French parents in Zimbabwe. She grew up and was educated in Kenya, India and Japan and moved to South Africa at the age of 19.”
Here is art dealer and friend Trent Read describing Jammet: “I have never met anyone who treads more lightly on the world, who consumes less resources and who, although gregarious at times, is essentially solitary and lives a fined down life shorn of inessentials. She does not drive a car and she still writes letters and, what is more, with a pen!
I am writing this brief essay in the Karoo – the harsh, beautiful and ancient dry heart of Southern Africa which is where, I believe, Jammet is most at home – walking for hours in the fierce heat or bitter cold amongst the fossils and succulents with her fragile beauty hiding a steel core of toughness – a paradox which is reflected so often in her work.”
A Second Poem for Today
By George Bilgere
When I came to my mother’s house
the day after she had died
it was already a museum of her
unfinished gestures. The mysteries
from the public library, due
in two weeks. The half-eaten square
of lasagna in the fridge.
The half-burned wreckage
of her last cigarette,
and one red swallow
of wine in a lipsticked
glass beside her chair.
American Art – Part II of II: Mary Whyte
Here is how one writer describes the artistry of Mary Whyte: “Watercolor artist Mary Whyte is a teacher and author whose figurative paintings have earned national recognition. A resident of Johns Island, South Carolina, Whyte garners much of her inspiration from the Gullah descendents of coastal Carolina slaves who number among her most prominent subjects. Her portraits are included in numerous corporate, private, and university collections, as well as in the permanent collections of South Carolina’s Greenville County Museum of Art and the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston.”