March Offerings – Part XIV: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of IV: Andrew Ameral

American painter Andrew Ameral (born 1965) has studied at the Florence Academy of Art, where he eventually become the school’s Director of Anatomy and one of its principal drawing instructors.
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Italian Art – Part I of II: Serena Fanara

Italian painter Serena Fanara (born 1974) is a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Palermo, Sicily.
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“There are only two industries that refer to their customers as ‘users.'”- Edward Tufte, American statistician and professor emeritus of political science, statistics, and computer science at Yale University, who was born 14 March 1942.

Edward Tufte is respected both for his writings on information design and for being a pioneer in the field of data visualization. Best of all – and in my opinion it is a ringing endorsement of his character and intelligence – he is deeply skeptical about presentations involving Microsoft PowerPoint.

Some quotes from the work of Edward Tufte:

“PowerPoint is like being trapped in the style of early Egyptian flatland cartoons rather than using the more effective tools of Renaissance visual representation.”
“Design cannot rescue failed content.”
“I hope that I am generous and tolerant, but certainly on the intellectual side I think that there are discoverable truths, and some things that are closer approximations to the truth than others.”
“I do believe that there are some universal cognitive tasks that are deep and profound – indeed, so deep and profound that it is worthwhile to understand them in order to design our displays in accord with those tasks.”
“What about confusing clutter? Information overload? Doesn’t data have to be ‘boiled down’ and ‘simplified’? These common questions miss the point, for the quantity of detail is an issue completely separate from the difficulty of reading. Clutter and confusion are failures of design, not attributes of information.”
“It is not how much empty space there is, but rather how it is used. It is not how much information there is, but rather how effectively it is arranged.”
“Allowing artist-illustrators to control the design and content of statistical graphics is almost like allowing typographers to control the content, style, and editing of prose.”
“Cosmetic decoration, which frequently distorts the data, will never salvage an underlying lack of content.”
“Graphical excellence is that which gives to the viewer the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space.”
“The leading edge in evidence presentation is in science; the leading edge in beauty is in high art.”
“I think it is important for software to avoiding imposing a cognitive style on workers and their work.”
“The commonality between science and art is in trying to see profoundly – to develop strategies of seeing and showing.”

American Art – Part II of IV: Diane Arbus

“A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.” – Diane Arbus, American photographer who specialized in taking pictures of unusual people, who was born 14 March 1923.

Below – Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, New York City; Eddie Carmel, the Jewish Giant, and Parents; Patriotic Young Man with Flag, New York City; Girl in Shiny Dress, New York City; Jack Dracula, the Marked Man; Three Circus Ballerinas.
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Italian Art – Part II of II: Salvatore Alessi

Here is the Artist Statement of Italian painter Salvatore Alessi (born 1974): “I am a figurative painter, and to create my paintings, I use photographs of reality that I transform and reinterpret. I have a painting technique faded and material at the same time that I alternately, in the same painting, to emphasize drama. My paintings tend to seem surreal, but it is not wanted by me! Obviously I instilled in my work what I see in the deep, for me, not surreal but real.”
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“Clothes are inevitable. They are nothing less than the furniture of the mind made visible.” – James Laver, English author, fashion expert, critic, historian, museum curator, and creator of Laver’s Law (“an attempt to compress the complex cycle of fashion change and the general attitude towards any certain style or period into a simple timeline”), who was born 14 March 1899.
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American Art – Part III of IV: Ben Shahn

“The artist is likely to be looked upon with some uneasiness by the more conservative members of society.” – Ben Shahn, American artist and photographer, who died 14 March 1969.

Below – “An old sailor in Jackson Square, New Orleans, 1935”; “Street Musicians, Maynardville, Tennessee, 1935”; “Mrs. Mulhall and Children (1935),” an Ozark family in Arkansas; “Trische Family, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, tenant farmers, 1935”; “Summer 1938, Street Corner, Marysville, Ohio”; “Rehabilitation Clients, Boone County, Arkansas, 1935”; “Three Men with Iron Pilaster, New York, 1934’”; Untitled, circa 1930s.
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Honduran painter Maury Flores was born in Tegucigalpa in 1950.
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“A woman that’s too soft and sweet is like tapioca pudding — fine for them as likes it.” – Osa Johnson, American explorer, filmmaker, naturalist, and author, who was born 14 March 1894.

Osa Johnson and her husband Martin made several documentary films about the wildlife and peoples of East and Central Africa, the South Pacific Islands, and North Borneo. Osa’s autobiography, “I Married Adventure,” was the best-selling non-fiction book of 1940.
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Here is one critic describing the artistry of Belgian painter Nadine Lundahl: “What magic ingredient makes the simplest painting acquire the stature of an icon? What is it that gives an archetypal potency to a painted bottle or jug? Some artists have the ability to invest ordinary subjects with extraordinary meaning – and one is Nadine Lundahl.
Educated at the Royal Academy of Arts in Antwerp, Nadine concentrated more fully on her preferred subject matter by studying the techniques of the 17th century Flemish and Dutch still life painters. Developing her subjects on a relatively small scale, she uses traditional oil painting techniques, working wet in wet on specially prepared panels. Each painting is so complex that it is impossible for her to work on more than one at a time.”

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“No more cars in national parks. Let the people walk. Or ride horses, bicycles, mules, wild pigs–anything–but keep the automobiles and the motorcycles and all their motorized relatives out. We have agreed not to drive our automobiles into cathedrals, concert halls, art museums, legislative assemblies, private bedrooms and the other sanctums of our culture; we should treat our national parks with the same deference, for they, too, are holy places. An increasingly pagan and hedonistic people (thank God!), we are learning finally that the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches. Therefore let us behave accordingly.” – From “Desert Solitaire,” by Edward Abbey, American essayist, environmentalist, anarchist, and author of “The Monkey Wrench Gang,” who died 14 March 1989.

Some quotes from “Desert Solitaire”:

“Men come and go, cities rise and fall, whole civilizations appear and disappear-the earth remains, slightly modified. The earth remains, and the heartbreaking beauty where there are no hearts to break… I sometimes choose to think, no doubt perversely, that man is a dream, thought an illusion, and only rock is real. Rock and sun.”
“An economic system which can only expand or expire must be false to all that is human.”
“There’s another disadvantage to the use of the flashlight: like many other mechanical gadgets it tends to separate a man from the world around him. If I switch it on my eyes adapt to it and I can see only the small pool of light it makes in front of me; I am isolated. Leaving the flashlight in my pocket where it belongs, I remain a part of the environment I walk through and my vision though limited has no sharp or definite boundary.”
“Where all think alike there is little danger of innovation.”
“The fire. The odor of burning juniper is the sweetest fragrance on the face of the earth, in my honest judgment; I doubt if all the smoking censers of Dante’s paradise could equal it. One breath of juniper smoke, like the perfume of sagebrush after rain, evokes in magical catalysis, like certain music, the space and light and clarity and piercing strangeness of the American West. Long may it burn.”
“If industrial man continues to multiply his numbers and expand his operations he will succeed in his apparent intention, to seal himself off from the natural and isolate himself within a synthetic prison of his own making.”
“Paradise is not a garden of bliss and changeless perfection where the lions lie down like lambs (what would they eat?) and the angels and cherubim and seraphim rotate in endless idiotic circles, like clockwork, about an equally inane and ludicrous — however roseate — unmoved mover. That particular painted fantasy of a realm beyond time and space which Aristotle and the church fathers tried to palm off on us has met, in modern times, only neglect and indifference passing on into oblivion it so richly deserved, while the paradise of which I write and wish to praise is with us yet, the here and now, the actual, tangible, dogmatically real earth on which we stand.”
“Most of my wandering in the desert I’ve done alone. Not so much from choice as from necessity – I generally prefer to go into places where no one else wants to go. I find that in contemplating the natural world my pleasure is greater if there are not too many others contemplating it with me, at the same time.”
“Industrial tourism is a threat to the national parks. But the chief victims of the system are the motorized tourists. They are being robbed and robbing themselves. So long as they are unwilling to crawl out of their cars they will not discover the treasures of the national parks and will never escape the stress and turmoil of the urban-suburban complexes which they had hoped, presumably, to leave behind for a while.”
“It will be objected that a constantly increasing population makes resistance and conservation a hopeless battle. This is true. Unless a way is found to stabilize the nation’s population, the parks can not be saved. Or anything else worth a damn. Wilderness preservation, like a hundred other good causes, will be forgotten under the overwhelming pressure of a struggle for mere survival and sanity in a completely urbanized, completely industrialized, ever more crowded environment. For my own part I would rather take my chances in a thermonuclear war than live in such a world.”
“A crude meal, no doubt, but the best of all sauces is hunger.”
“Of all the featherless beasts, only man, chained by his self-imposed slavery to the clock, denies the elemental fire and proceeds as best he can about his business, suffering quietly, martyr to his madness. Much to learn.”
“We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope.”
“To all accusations of excessive development the administrators can reply, as they will if pressed hard enough, that they are giving the public what it wants, that their primary duty is to serve the public, not preserve the wilds. ‘Parks are for people’ is the public relations slogan, which decoded means that the parks are for people – in automobiles. Behind the slogan is the assumption that the majority of Americans, exactly like the managers of the tourist industry, expect and demand to see their national parks from the comfort, security and convenience of their automobiles.
Is this assumption correct? Perhaps. Does that justify the continued and increasing erosion of the parks? It does not.”
“Late in August the lure of the mountains becomes irresistible. Seared by the everlasting sunfire, I want to see running water again, embrace a pine tree, cut my initials in the bark of an aspen, get bit by a mosquito, see a mountain bluebird, find a big blue columbine, get lost in the firs, hike above timberline, sunbathe on snow and eat some ice, climb the rocks and stand in the wind at the top of the world on the peak of Tukuhnikivats.”
“I was accused of being against civilization, against science, against humanity. Naturally, I was flattered and at the same time surprised, hurt, a little shocked. He repeated the charge. But how, I replied, being myself a member of humanity (albeit involuntarily, without prior consultation), could I be against humanity without being against myself, whom I love – though not very much; how can I be against science, when I gratefully admire, as much as I can, Thales, Democritus, Aristarchus, Faustus, Paracelsus, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Darwin and Einstein; and finally, how could I be against civilization when all which I most willingly defend and venerate – including the love of wilderness – is comprehended by the term.”
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Ukrainian painter Kateryna Kosianenko (born 1978) is a graduate of both the T. Shevchenko State School of the Arts and the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture in Kiev.
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“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” – Albert Einstein, German-born theoretical physicist, developer of the general theory of relativity, and recipient of the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect,” who was born 14 March 1879.

Some quotes from the work of Albert Einstein:

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”
“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
“The difference between genius and stupidity is: genius has its limits.”
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
“Creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”
“I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.”
“When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.”
“A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”
“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”
“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”
“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning.”
“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.”
“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
“I am a deeply religious nonbeliever – this is a somewhat new kind of religion.”
“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”
“Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.”
“A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.”
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”
“Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”
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In the words of one art critic, “Scottish Iain Faulkner’s paintings are concerned with the portrayal of strong and powerful images relying on visual impact as there is rarely any narrative. They are about capturing calm and contemplative moments, intimate exchanges, solitude, sometimes melancholy, heightened in their resonance by the use of chiaroscuro.”

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Died 14 March 1933 – Balto, the Siberian Husky sled dog who, in the words of one historian, “led his team of the final leg of the 1925 serum run to Nome, in which diphtheria antitoxin was transported from Anchorage, Alaska, to Nenana, Alaska, by train and then to Nome by dog sled to combat an outbreak of the disease. The run is commemorated by the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.”

Above – Balto with his team.
Below – Balto with driver Gunnar Kaasen; statue of Balto in Central Park, New York City.
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In addition to being a sculptor, Swiss artist Doris Althaus (born 1970) is a ceramics instructor.
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A Poem for Today

“Dawn Chorus,”
By Sasha Dugdale

March 29, 2010

Every morning since the time changed
I have woken to the dawn chorus
And even before it sounded, I dreamed of it
Loud, unbelievably loud, shameless, raucous

And once I rose and twitched the curtains apart
Expecting the birds to be pressing in fright
Against the pane like passengers
But the garden was empty and it was night

Not a slither of light at the horizon
Still the birds were bawling through the mists
Terrible, invisible
A million small evangelists

How they sing: as if each had pecked up a smoldering coal
Their throats singed and swollen with song
In dissonance as befits the dark world
Where only travelers and the sleepless belong
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A Second Poem for Today

“By Subtraction,”
By Oliver de la Paz

The wind shakes the chimes
into the siding, and the dog shakes too
though he doesn’t wake you
as I carry you to the bedroom. Small mouth
sipping breath, you are fish-strange,
bejeweled in the dimness of the microwave’s
nightlight. As I turn my back to the bulb
I make your form in my arms a dark weight
but you are no anchor. Together
we are sloops trailing a tiny wake in the carpet.
In the dark it’s hard to navigate the furniture
so I count distance—five paces
from the tile to the sofa. From the sofa,
twelve to the hall. I’m subtracting
my steps to see what’s left. The things
that burden me, like our lame dog’s shattered nail,
blood on the carpet from his paces
to the food dish, our drafty house, all are outpaced.
There are no barriers, and I step over
the hound’s dozing form as a quick gust cuts
dead branches from the pine and the drifts
lock our cars in. But I’m still counting—
the none-stars in the winter sky,
each hazily wrapped and strobing. The far bell
over the deep waters of your sleep. Two steps to the corner
where there are no animals nor animal danger. Two
to the bed where behind us the shadow of the dog
could be distant hills, where the clouds disassemble,
where your breaths pull the warmth of the room in
and where my face, my eyes are the glint of ore
from a country far away and known only in a language,
light as the syllables of exhalation.

Below – Paul Gauguin: “Young Girl Dreaming (Study of a Child Asleep).”
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American Art – Part IV of IV: Bo Bartlett

In the words of one writer, “Bo Bartlett is an American Realist painter with a modernist vision. His paintings are within the tradition of American Realism as defined by artists such as Thomas Eakins and Andrew Wyeth. Like these artists, Bartlett looks at America’s land and people to describe the beauty he finds in everyday life. His paintings celebrate the underlying epic nature of the commonplace and the personal significance of the extraordinary.”
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