American Art – Part I of V: Gaston Lachaise
Born 19 March 1882 – Gaston Lachaise, a French-born American sculptor.
“Everything that I did in life that was worthwhile, I caught hell for.” – Earl Warren, American jurist, politician, and the 14th Chief Justice of the United States (1953 – 1969), who was born 19 March 1891.
Some quotes from the work of Earl Warren:
“Many people consider the things government does for them to be social progress but they regard the things government does for others as socialism.”
“The censor’s sword pierces deeply into the heart of free expression.”
“The fantastic advances in the field of electronic communication constitute a greater danger to the privacy of the individual.”
“I always turn to the sports pages first, which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures.”
“I hate banks. They do nothing positive for anybody except take care of themselves. They’re first in with their fees and first out when there’s trouble.”
“In civilized life, law floats in a sea of ethics.”
“It is the spirit and not the form of law that keeps justice alive.”
“The most tragic paradox of our time is to be found in the failure of nation-states to recognize the imperatives of internationalism.”
American Art – Part II of V: Willem de Kooning
“If you pick up some paint with your brush and make somebody’s nose with it, this is rather ridiculous when you think of it, theoretically or philosophically. It’s really absurd to make an image, like a human image, with paint, today.” – Willem de Kooning, Dutch-American abstract expressionist artist, who died 19 March 1997.
“What is lovely never dies,
But passes into other loveliness,
Star-dust, or sea-foam, flower or winged air.” – From “A Shadow of the Night,” by Thomas Bailey Aldrich, American poet, novelist, travel writer, and editor, who died 19 March 1907.
Some quotes from the work of Thomas Bailey Aldrich:
“What is more cheerful, now, in the fall of the year, than an open-wood-fire? Do you hear those little chirps and twitters coming out of that piece of apple-wood? Those are the ghosts of the robins and blue-birds that sang upon the bough when it was in blossom last Spring. In Summer whole flocks of them come fluttering about the fruit-trees under the window: so I have singing birds all the year round.”
“There must be such a thing as a child with average ability, but you can’t find a parent who will admit that it is his child.”
“Civilization is the lamb’s skin in which barbarism masquerades.”
“I like to have a thing suggested rather than told in full. When every detail is given, the mind rests satisfied, and the imagination loses the desire to use its own wings.”
“The man who suspects his own tediousness is yet to be born.”
“The ocean moans over dead men’s bones.”
British Art – Part I of II: Morgan Penn
Here is one writer describing English artist Morgan Penn (born 1967): “Completely self taught, he works tirelessly in his Chelsea studio creating canvases that are seized upon by his growing number of devoted collectors.”
“What passes for wine among us, is not the juice of the grape. It is an adulterous mixture, brewed up of nauseous ingredients, by dunces, who are bunglers in the art of poison-making; and yet we, and our forefathers, are and have been poisoned by this cursed drench, without taste or flavour—The only genuine and wholesome beveridge in England, is London porter, and Dorchester table-beer; but as for your ale and your gin, your cyder and your perry, and all the trashy family of made wines, I detest them as infernal compositions, contrived for the destruction of the human species.” – From “The Expedition of Humphry Clinker,” by Tobias Smollett, Scottish poet and author best known for his picaresque novels, who was born 19 March 1721.
In addition to being a fine novelist (Orwell admired Smollett’s fiction.), Smollett was an excellent travel writer, and anyone who reads his “Travels through France and Italy” will likely be impressed by his insightful comments about people and places, as well as his refreshingly curmudgeonly disposition.
British Art – Part II of II: Alain Choisnet
Here is the Artist Statement of British sculptor Alain Choisnet: “I was born in Britain at the foot of the magnificent castle of Ferns, but it is in a Paris suburb that I grew up. The benches of the school selected me to the call of working life that took me on a power more attractive than the calculation of the hypotenuse! Nevertheless philosophical studies, parallel university course, gave me a solid understanding of the human being. This knowledge helped me tremendously to assert myself as an artist. It is enough to seize a gesture, an emotion, then to set them while preserving the sincerity of moment and the fluidity of the movement.”
“Of the gladdest moments in human life, methinks, is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of Habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many Cares and the slavery of Civilization, man feels once more happy.” – Richard Francis Burton, English geographer, explorer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, spy, linguist, poet, fencer, and diplomat, who was born 19 March 1821.
In the words of one historian, “Burton’s best-known achievements include traveling in disguise to Mecca, an unexpurgated translation of ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ (commonly called ‘The Arabian Nights’ in English after early translations of Antoine Galland’s French version), bringing the ‘Kama Sutra’ to publication in English, and journeying with John Hanning Speke as the first Europeans to visit the Great Lakes of Africa in search of the source of the Nile. Burton’s works and letters extensively criticized colonial policies of the British Empire, to the detriment of his career. He was a prolific and erudite author and wrote numerous books and scholarly articles about subjects including human behaviour, travel, falconry, fencing, sexual practices and ethnography. A characteristic feature of his books is the copious footnotes and appendices containing remarkable observations and information.”
Some quotes from the work of Richard Francis Burton:
“The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself.”
“Home is where the books are.”
“Is not man born with a love of change — an Englishman to be discontented — an Anglo-Indian to grumble?”
“Travellers like poets are mostly an angry race.”
“The dearest ambition of a slave is not liberty but to have a slave of his own.”
Two selections from Burton’s translation of “Kasidah of Haji Abdu El-Yezdi”:
“And still the Weaver plies his loom,
whose warp and woof is wretched Man
Weaving th’ unpattern’d dark design,
so dark we doubt it owns a plan.”
“All faith is False, all Faith is true:
Truth is the shattered mirror strown
In myriad bits; while each believes
his little bit the whole to own.”
Died 19 March 1610 – Hasegawa Tohaku, a Japanese artist and founder of the Hasegawa school of Japanese painting.
Here is part of the Artist Statement of Leone Holzhaus: ”Born 1948, raised in Bussum, Holland, I studied graphic design at Academie Artibus in Utrecht; however, as a painter I am self taught.
Empty chairs are a particular passion of mine, possibly suggesting a void in space and time, something left behind.”
Leone Holzhaus lives and works in Portugal.
From the Music Archives: Ruth Pointer
Born 19 March 1946 – Ruth Pointer, an American singer, songwriter, and member of The Pointer Sisters.
Here is one writer describing the artistry of Iranian painter Parviz Payghamy (born 1961): “(His) paintings depict abstracted landscapes weaving together and creating a simulated motion. The rich tapestry of patterns curve and bend through the picture plane. The landscapes are poetic, which is appropriate as Parviz was dubbed ‘the poet painter’ by his friends, professors, and colleagues at the Tehran University where he studied. His fascination with poetry provides his paintings with the fleeting beauty of life and the melodic quality of color.”
Here is the Artist Statement of Spanish painter Almeriane: ”I was born in Almería, Spain in 1973 and I was raised in France. I started drawing at the age of 3. I tried many techniques like charcoal or pastel, before ending up painting in oil and watercolor primarily.
I travelled to France (because I lived and studied over there), to Spain (the Peninsula and Tenerife), California, and I finally came back to my hometown.
As I fell in love with the beauty of the Andalousian landscapes, I created my own style often described as ‘Art-Nouveau Andaluz.
’ I was also inspired by Poetry and Andalousian tales and Spanish coplas (songs).
Passion leads my brushes, poems inspire my oil paintings and watercolors.”
“Stop worrying about growing old. And think about growing up.” – Philip Roth, American novelist, two-time winner of the National Book Award for Fiction (for “Goodbye, Columbus” and “Sabbath’s Theater”)), two-time winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award (for “The Counterlife” and “Patrimony”), and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize (for “American Pastoral”), who was born 10 March 1993.
Some quotes from the work of Philip Roth:
“The only obsession everyone wants: ‘love.’ People think that in falling in love they make themselves whole? The Platonic union of souls? I think otherwise. I think you’re whole before you begin. And the love fractures you. You’re whole, and then you’re cracked open. ”
“He had learned the worst lesson that life can teach – that it makes no sense.”
“You put too much stock in human intelligence, it doesn’t annihilate human nature.”
“Because that is when you love somebody – when you see them being game in the face of the worst. Not courageous. Not heroic. Just game.”
“Literature takes a habit of mind that has disappeared. It requires silence, some form of isolation, and sustained concentration in the presence of an enigmatic thing.”
“No matter how much you know, no matter how much you think, no matter how much you plot and you connive and you plan, you’re not superior to sex. It’s a very risky game. A man wouldn’t have two-thirds of the problems he has if he didn’t venture off to get fucked. It’s sex that disorders our normally ordered lives.”
“You tasted it. Isn’t that enough? Of what do you ever get more than a taste? That’s all we’re given in life, that’s all we’re given of life. A taste. There is no more.”
“You cannot observe people through an ideology. Your ideology observes for you.”
“All that we don’t know is astonishing. Even more astonishing is what passes for knowing.”
“You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them on with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong. You might as well have the ‘brain’ of a tank. You get them wrong before you meet them, while you’re anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you’re with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again. Since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion empty of all perception, an astonishing farce of misperception. And yet what are we to do about this terribly significant business of ‘other people,’ which gets bled of the significance we think it has and takes on instead a significance that is ludicrous, so ill-equipped are we all to envision one another’s interior workings and invisible aims? Is everyone to go off and lock the door and sit secluded like the lonely writers do, in a soundproof cell, summoning people out of words and then proposing that these word people are closer to the real thing than the real people that we mangle with our ignorance every day? The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It’s getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That’s how we know we’re alive: we’re wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that–well, lucky you.”
“It’s best to give while your hand is still warm.”
“Everyone becomes a part of history whether they like it or not and whether they know it or not.”
“Art is inside us, it’s how we see things, everywhere and always, when we walk, when we look.” – Betty Goodwin, Canadian printmaker, painter, and sculptor, who was born 19 March 1923.
American Art – Part III of V: Ira Upin
Artist Statement: “I was born in Chicago, IL USA in 1948, went to college in Illinois and Maryland and settled in Philadelphia, PA in 1973 and stayed. Over the last 35 years I’ve gone back and forth between working at construction and working in my studio. At age 57 I decided to spend the rest of my time in the studio.
The two constants in my work have been the narrative and the intensity of the visual. I want the viewer to be intoxicated and perplexed by how I make my paintings and intrigued by the stories I’m trying to tell. I’m interested in human dynamics whether they be social, political, or emotional.”
A Poem for Today
By Rafael Campo
Says fifty-four-year-old obese Hispanic
female — I wonder if they mean the one
with long black braids, Peruvian, who sells
tamales at the farmers’ market, tells
me I’m too thin, I better eat; or is
she the Dominican with too much rouge
and almond eyes at the dry cleaner’s who
must have been so beautiful in her youth;
or maybe she’s the Cuban lady drunk
on grief who I’ve seen half-asleep, alone
as if that bench were only hers, the park
her home at last; or else the Mexican
who hoards the littered papers she collects
and says they are her “documents”; if not,
it could be that Colombian drug addict
whose Spanish, even when she’s high, is perfect;
or maybe it’s the one who never says
exactly where she’s from, but who reminds
me of my grandmother, poor but refined,
lace handkerchief balled up in her plump hand,
who died too young from a condition that
some doctor, nose in her chart, overlooked.
A Second Poem for Today
By Nick Carbo
If you come to Mojacar
and peel open an orange full of worms,
count how many there are because
those are the days it will take for your body
to decompose after you are buried.
If you come to Mojacar
and find a small green snake with its back
broken, don’t step on it or you’ll cause
an earthquake that will catch up to you
while you sleep in a continent far, far away.
If you come to Mojacar
and two brown long-legged spiders crawl
on your face and shoulders, keep a sharp eye
out for two individuals, a mother-son, or
sister-sister who will try to take your money.
If you come to Mojacar
and see a scorpion scurry by your feet,
note the direction it ran to, north, south,
east, or west. You must avoid going there
or risk the sting of losing a loved one.
If you come to Mojacar
and a cock crows ten times at three
in the morning, lock your door and all
the wooden windows because nightmares in silver
dresses will arrive to slip into your bed.
A Third Poem for Today
“A Chair in Snow,”
By Jane Hirshfield
A chair in snow
like any other object whited
and yet a chair in snow is always sad
more than a bed
more than a hat or house
a chair is shaped for just one thing
a soul its quick and few bendable
perhaps a king
not to hold snow
not to hold flowers
American Art – Part IV of V: Kim Cogan
From the American Old West: Wyatt Earp
Born 19 March 1848 – Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp. In the words of one historian, “(He) was an American gambler, Pima County, Arizona Deputy Sheriff, and Deputy Town Marshal in Tombstone, Arizona, who took part in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, during which lawmen killed three outlaw Cowboys. He is often regarded as the central figure in the shootout in Tombstone, although his brother Virgil was Tombstone City Marshal and Deputy U.S. Marshal that day, and had far more experience as a sheriff, constable, marshal, and soldier in combat.”
Above – Wyatt Earp at about age 39.
Below – Wyatt Earp with his mother Virginia Ann Cooksey Earp, circa 1856; Tombstone in 1881 (the year of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral); Wyatt Earp (right) and Doc Holliday; Wyatt Earp at home on August 9, 1923, at age 75.
American Art – Part V of V: Charles Marion Russell
“The West is dead… you may lose a sweetheart but you won’t forget her.” – Charles Marion Russell, artist of the Old American West, who was born 19 March 1864.
In the words of one historian, “Russell created more than 2,000 paintings of cowboys, Indians, and landscapes set in the Western United States and in Alberta, Canada, in addition to bronze sculptures. Known as ‘the cowboy artist,’ Russell was also a storyteller and author.”
Below – “The Tenderfoot”; “Smoke of a .45”; “Laugh Kills Lonesome”; “Bronc to Breakfast”; “The Scouts”; “Keeoma #3”; “A Quiet Day in Utica”;
“The Custer Fight”; “Piegans”; “Lewis and Clark Meeting the Flathead Indians”; “For Supremacy”; “A Bad Hoss”; “Innocent Allies”; “Custer’s Last Stand.”