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

American Art – Part I of III: Stone Roberts

Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Stone Roberts:
”The realist paintings of New York-based artist Stone Roberts resemble those of the Old Masters, yet his art is unmistakably contemporary. While his exquisitely detailed canvases—primarily still lifes and figural scenes—exhibit a wealth of narrative complexity and subtlety, it is his ability to inject into his work a mystery and commentary on modern society that sets him apart from other artists of his generation.”
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“What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within the span of his little life by him who interests his heart in everything.” – Laurence Sterne, Anglo-Irish novelist, Anglican clergyman, and author of the delightful “The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman,” who died 18 March 1768.

Some quotes from the work of Laurence Sterne:

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners”
“Learning is the dictionary, but sense the grammar, of science.”
“Human nature is the same in all professions.”
“People who are always taking care of their health are like misers, who are hoarding a treasure which they have never spirit enough to enjoy.”
“I take a simple view of life. It is keep your eyes open and get on with it.”
“In solitude the mind gains strength and learns to lean upon itself.”

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Here is the Artist Statement of Lithuanian painter Ramunas Grikevicius (born 1963): “I am a painter who also creates pastel and computer graphic works in my studio. I’m working as a teacher in the Art School, teaching painting and ceramics. I’ve been a member of the Lithuanian Artists Union since 1997.”
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From the Music Archives – Part I of II: The Beatles

18 March 1967 – The Beatles’ single “Penny Lane” reaches number one on American popular music charts.

From the Music Archives – Part II of II: John Phillips

“If I told you the tragedy parts, we’d all sit here and cry.”- John Phillips, American singer and songwriter, who died 3 March 1981, talking about his vocal group, The Mamas and the Papas.

Spanish painter Antonio Lopez Garcia (born 1936) is a master of realist style. In the words of one writer, “Though López García is devoted to the mundane—he depicts humble people, buildings, plants, and cluttered interiors—his portrayal of these subjects is compelling and beautiful. Starkly lit studies of his studio, bathroom, and the red brick wall in his backyard underscore an interest in prosaic subject matter. His deftness brings attention to these simple forms, encouraging the viewer to re-examine the presence of ordinary objects.”
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“I’m an American, I’m a Jew, and I write for all men.” – Bernard Malamud, American author of novels and short stories, who died 18 March 1986.

Malamud’s short story collection “The Magic Barrel” won the 1959 National Book Award, and his 1966 novel “The Fixer” won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of Bernard Malamud:

“Where to look if you’ve lost your mind?”
“There comes a time in a man’s life when to get where he has to go–if there are no doors or windows–he walks through a wall.”
“Without heroes we’re all plain people and don’t know how far we can go.”
“Of course it would cost something, but he was an expert in cutting corners; and when there were no more corners left he would make circles rounder.”
“The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.”
“A man is an island in the only sense that matters, not an easy way to be. We live in mystery, a cosmos of separate lonely bodies, men, insects, stars. It is all loneliness and men know it best.”
“A meshummed gives up one God for another. I don’t want either. We live in a world where the clock ticks fast while he’s on his timeless mountain staring in space. He doesn’t see us and he doesn’t care. Today I want my piece of bread, not in Paradise.”
“Teach yourself to work in uncertainty.”
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The paintings of Australian artist Bronwyn Hill (born 1989) have garnered several awards.
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“Nationalism is our form of incest, is our idolatry, is our insanity. ‘Patriotism’ is its cult… Just as love for one individual which excludes the love for others is not love, love for one’s country which is not part of one’s love for humanity is not love, but idolatrous worship.” – Erich Fromm, German social psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, humanistic philosopher, democratic socialist, and author of “The Sane Society” and “Escape from Freedom,” who died 18 March 1980.

Some quotes from the work of Erich Fromm:

“One cannot be deeply responsive to the world without being saddened very often.”
“A person who has not been completely alienated, who has remained sensitive and able to feel, who has not lost the sense of dignity, who is not yet ‘for sale,’ who can still suffer over the suffering of others, who has not acquired fully the having mode of existence – briefly, a person who has remained a person and not become a thing – cannot help feeling lonely, powerless, isolated in present-day society. He cannot help doubting himself and his own convictions, if not his sanity. He cannot help suffering, even though he can experience moments of joy and clarity that are absent in the life of his ‘normal’ contemporaries. Not rarely will he suffer from neurosis that results from the situation of a sane man living in an insane society, rather than that of the more conventional neurosis of a sick man trying to adapt himself to a sick society. In the process of going further in his analysis, i.e. of growing to greater independence and productivity, his neurotic symptoms will cure themselves.”
“Modern man thinks he loses something—time—when he does not do things quickly; yet he does not know what to do with the time he gains—except kill it.”
“If other people do not understand our behavior—so what? Their request that we must only do what they understand is an attempt to dictate to us. If this is being ‘asocial’ or ‘irrational’ in their eyes, so be it. Mostly they resent our freedom and our courage to be ourselves. We owe nobody an explanation or an accounting, as long as our acts do not hurt or infringe on them. How many lives have been ruined by this need to ‘explain,’ which usually implies that the explanation be ‘understood,’ i.e. approved. Let your deeds be judged, and from your deeds, your real intentions, but know that a free person owes an explanation only to himself—to his reason and his conscience—and to the few who may have a justified claim for explanation.”
“The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same form of mental pathology does not make these people sane.”
“Modern man has transformed himself into a commodity; he experiences his life energy as an investment with which he should make the highest profit, considering his position and the situation on the personality market. He is alienated from himself, from his fellow men and from nature. His main aim is profitable exchange of his skills, knowledge, and of himself, his ‘personality package’ with others who are equally intent on a fair and profitable exchange. Life has no goal except the one to move, no principle except the one of fair exchange, no satisfaction except the one to consume.
“The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers…Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”
“To die is poignantly bitter, but the idea of having to die without having lived is unbearable.”
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“The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.” – Wilfred Owen, English poet, soldier, and one of the leading poets of the First World War, who was born 18 March 1893.

“The Send-Off”

Down the close, darkening lanes they sang their way
To the siding-shed,
And lined the train with faces grimly gay.

Their breasts were stuck all white with wreath and spray

As men’s are, dead.

Dull porters watched them, and a casual tramp

Stood staring hard,

Sorry to miss them from the upland camp.

Then, unmoved, signals nodded, and a lamp

Winked to the guard.

So secretly, like wrongs hushed-up, they went.

They were not ours:

We never heard to which front these were sent.

Nor there if they yet mock what women meant

Who gave them flowers.

Shall they return to beatings of great bells

In wild trainloads?

A few, a few, too few for drums and yells,

May creep back, silent, to still village wells

Up half-known roads.

“Anthem for Doomed Youth”

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

“Futility”

Move him into the sun —
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds —

Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.

Are limbs so dear-achieved, are sides

Full-nerved, — still warm, — too hard to stir?

Was it for this the clay grew tall?

– O what made fatuous sunbeams toil

to break earth’s sleep at all?
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The paintings of Japanese artist Keita Morimoto (born 1990) have won numerous awards.
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From the American History Archives – Part I of II: Wells, Fargo & Company

18 March 1852 – In response to the gold rush, Henry Wells and William Fargo organize Wells, Fargo & Company, a joint-stock association with an initial capitalization of $300,000, to provide express and banking services to California.

Above – Henry Wells (left) and William Fargo.
Below – A Wells Fargo Stagecoach.
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From the American History Archives – Part II of II: Lake Merritt Wildlife Refuge

18 March 1870 – The California Legislature passes a bill establishing the Lake Merritt Wildlife Refuge in Oakland – the first such refuge in North America.

Below – Looking west across Lake Merritt – a composite of two images taken by Aran Johnson in 2005.
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American Art – Part II of III: Michael Steinagle

Here is how one critic describes the artistry of painter Michael Steinagle: “Moving between left and right brain (form and content), Michael finds pleasure in both worlds. Usually utilizing the figure as his subject, Michael seeks to find a comfortable balance between these two opposing forces, unconsciously letting life events and emotions affect the end result. He finds the painting experience to be a total immersion in a sea of lush paint and color which, hopefully, evolve into a pleasurable and meaningful experience for the viewer.”
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A Poem for Today

“Chain of Women,”
By Annie Finch

These are the seasons Persephone promised
as she turned on her heel—
the ones that darken, till green no longer
bandages what I feel.

Now touches of gold stipple the branches,
promising weeks of time
to fade through, finding the footprints
she left as she turned to climb.

Below – Valetine Cameron Prinsep: “At the First Touch of Winter Summer Fades Away”
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American Art – Part III of III: Michael Fitzpatrick

Artist Statement: “In my paintings I work to express beauty through the orchestration of two-dimensional elements – shape, value and temperature. I infuse randomness whenever possible and at every scale. Random is beauty: There are no ugly clouds.”
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