April Offerings – Part V: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of II: Larry Holmes

Artist Statement: “The concerns that I have in my work range from the formal to the fanciful with several issues between the two extremes. In the process of juggling such a variety of ideas, my way of thinking about the images and the devices that I utilize has come to be largely about the psychology of what is depicted and the gaps that this subsequently leaves for the viewer to fill. Ultimately, I am creating pictorial situations that are intended to leave the audience amused or bemused (sometimes both) and to provide such experiences through what seem to be familiar genres, but are actually less so than what initial impressions might indicate.”
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“Each Wal-Mart store should reflect the values of its customers and support the vision they hold for their community.” – Sam Walton, American businessman, who died 5 April 1992.
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French Art – Part I of II: Jean-Honore Fragonard

Born 5 April 1732 – Jean-Honore Fragonard, a French painter and printmaker.

Below – “The Swing”; “The Secret Meeting”; “A Young Girl Reading”; “Inspiration.”

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From the Music Archives – Part I of V: Johann Strauss II

5 April 1874 – The operetta “Die Fledermaus,” composed by Johann Strauss II, premieres in Vienna.

French Art – Part II of II: Philippe Charles Jacquet

Here is how one critic describes the artistry of painter
Philippe Charles Jacquet (born 1957): “Adventurous by nature, he loved open spaces and the sea, his early tended towards painting and natural landscapes.
Painting is his way of telling stories, those he would have liked to live, those he could not live. His landscapes are timeless decors, aspirations towards infinity.”
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British Art – Part I of II: Harriet White

Artist Statement: “With my portraits I aim to reflect conflicting senses of intimacy and glamour, looking at luscious, over applied makeup and the heightened, synthetic colour which can evoke an immediate sense of dazzle and seduction. Yet there is something so private, almost confidential about the ‘beautifying’ routine that there is also an exposed, vulnerable quality. Imperfections are enlarged and presented for scrutiny, perhaps inviting a slightly uneasy sense of voyeurism from the viewer.
In a similar way the underwater world invites different interpretations according to personal experience and emotion – to one person the images might evoke a sense of calm and quiet, to another, panic or menace.”
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“Poetry is a natural energy resource of our country.” – Richard Eberhart, American poet and recipient of both the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the National Book Award for Poetry, who was born 5 April 1904.

“The Groundhog”

In June, amid the golden fields,
I saw a groundhog lying dead.
Dead lay he; my senses shook,
And mind outshot our naked frailty.

There lowly in the vigorous summer
His form began its senseless change,
And made my senses waver dim
Seeing nature ferocious in him.

Inspecting close maggots’ might
And seething cauldron of his being,
Half with loathing, half with a strange love,
I poked him with an angry stick.

The fever arose, became a flame
And Vigour circumscribed the skies,
Immense energy in the sun,
And through my frame a sunless trembling.

My stick had done nor good nor harm.
Then stood I silent in the day
Watching the object, as before;
And kept my reverence for knowledge

Trying for control, to be still,
To quell the passion of the blood;
Until I had bent down on my knees
Praying for joy in the sight of decay.

And so I left; and I returned
In Autumn strict of eye, to see
The sap gone out of the groundhog,
But the bony sodden hulk remained

But the year had lost its meaning,
And in intellectual chains
I lost both love and loathing,
Mured up in the wall of wisdom.

Another summer took the fields again
Massive and burning, full of life,
But when I chanced upon the spot
There was only a little hair left,

And bones bleaching in the sunlight
Beautiful as architecture;
I watched them like a geometer,
And cut a walking stick from a birch.

It has been three years, now.
There is no sign of the groundhog.
I stood there in the whirling summer,
My hand capped a withered heart,

And thought of China and of Greece,
Of Alexander in his tent;
Of Montaigne in his tower,
Of Saint Theresa in her wild lament.

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British Art – Part II of II: Thea Penna

English painter Thea Penna studied printed textiles at the Royal College of Art, London for two years.
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From the Music Archives – Part II of V: Lonnie White

Born 5 April 1939 – Lonnie White, an American vocalist and a member of the group Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

Here is one critic describing the artistry of Dutch painter Jan Worst (born 1953): “In a photorealist painterly style, the Dutch artist Jan Worst creates views of rooms in palatial homes loaded with antique furnishings. In each he places two or three slightly creepy-looking children, disaffected adolescents or fashion models.”
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From the Music Archives – Part III of V: Allan Clark

Born 5 April 1942 – Allan Clark, an English vocalist and a founding member of the group The Hollies.

Here is one critic describing the character of Chinese painter
Pang Maokun (born 1963): “Pang Maokun is not the type of intellectual who seeks social reform or the salvation of mankind or the society. He is more concerned with his own independent spiritual exploration and artistic creation, adopting an attitude of benign indifference to the dramatic changes in social life and to the prevailing cultural mediocrity. While keeping a distance from the daily life, Maokun concentrates in the perfection of his own character and in his artistic exploration – a way of spiritual self-salvation. Exactly in this kind of dogged spiritual pursue, we sense the independence of Chinese intellectual in this era of changing urban culture.”

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5 April 1900 – Archaeologists in Knossos, Crete, discover a large cache of clay tablets with hieroglyphic writing in a script they call Linear B.

Above – Knossos.
Below – Linear B.
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Spanish Art – Part I of III: Antoni Taule

Antoni Taulé (born 1945) is a painter of Catalonian origin living in France who was a longtime friend and collaborator of Salvador Dalí.
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From the Music Archives – Part IV of V: Agnetha Faltskog

Born 5 April 1950 – Agnetha Faltskog (Anna Ulvaeus), a Swedish singer and a member of ABBA, perhaps the greatest semi-hard rock and death metal-like group in the history of music.

Spanish Art – Part II of III: Didier Lourenco

Artist Statement: “When I look around me, I get the feeling that I would like to live life at a slower pace, have time to take in everything that surrounds us: light, color, fragrance, landscapes, thought, the cat, the moon, the dog, the woman, the bar, the taste, the child, the sea.
The thought of collecting these small moments is what motivates me to go to the studio every day and try to stop time on canvas. I think that we live life at a very fast pace and I hope to stop time, if only for a brief moment.”
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From the Music Archives – Part V of V: Bob Hite

Died 5 April 1981 – Bob “Bear” Hite, the American lead singer of the blues-rock band Canned Heat.

Spanish Art – Part III of III: Oriol Angrill Jorda

Artist Statement: “I did not start like most of the artists I’ve met. As I’ve been listening, a majority of them had been enthusiastic about Art, almost since they were born, as a native desire to create or express themselves. Unfortunately, it wasn’t like that to me. It was like a research of what I did better. I really had no interest in drawing or art culture. I did not know there were people living and working on Art. Despite my childish ignorance, I had already a skill to draw, or rather, a facility to represent what I saw on paper.”

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From the American History Archives: The Lava Lamp

5 April 1965 – Lava Lamp Day is first celebrated, and it has been observed every 5 April since.

I have never owned a lava lamp, and that fact indicates a serious deficiency in my character.

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Nobel Laureate: Saul Bellow

“Unexpected intrusions of beauty. This is what life is.” – Saul Bellow, Canadian-born American writer, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, three-time winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, and recipient of the 1976 Nobel Prize for Literature “for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work,” who died 5 April 2005.

Some quotes from the work of Saul Bellow:

“A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.”
“People can lose their lives in libraries. They ought to be warned.”
“It’s usually the selfish people who are loved the most. They do what you deny yourself, and you love them for it. You give them your heart.”
“A man is only as good as what he loves.”
“Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door.”
“Boredom is the conviction that you can’t change … the shriek of unused capacities.”
“When we ask for advice, we are usually looking for an accomplice.”
“We are funny creatures. We don’t see the stars as they are, so why do we love them? They are not small gold objects, but endless fire.”
“One thought-murder a day keeps the psychiatrist away.”
“In an age of madness, to expect to be untouched by madness is a form of madness. But the pursuit of sanity can be a form of madness, too.”
“You can spend the entire second half of your life recovering from the mistakes of the first half. ”
“I feel that art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos. A stillness which characterizes prayer, too, and the eye of the storm. I think that art has something to do with an arrest of attention in the midst of distraction.”
“She was what we used to call a suicide blonde– dyed by her own hand.”
“I love solitude but I prize it most when company is available.”
“Readiness to answer all questions is the infallible sign of stupidity.”
“People don’t realize how much they are in the grip of ideas. We live among ideas much more than we live in nature.”
“I am a true adorer of life, and if I can’t reach as high as the face of it, I plant my kiss somewhere lower down. Those who understand will require no further explanation.”
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Here is one critic describing the artistry of Croatian painter Maja Vodanovic (born 1968): “In Vodanovic’s recent work each painting is a historical construction, where characters and places, objects and texts evoke real and imaginary events. The motionless images are deliberate syntheses condensing in a two-dimensional frame a temporal perspective. This visual construction of memory is produced by a constant and deliberate work of synthesis performed by our consciousness and our dreams.
With this work, we are able to orient ourselves in the chaotic stream of our experience. This fundamental dimension of our existence is represented in the theme as well as in the manner of Vodanovic’s works.”
Maja Vodanovic lives and works in Montreal.
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From the Movie Archives: Bette Davis

“A sure way to lose happiness, I found, is to want it at the expense of everything else.”– Ruth Elizabeth “Bette” Davis, American actress of film, television, and theater, who was born 5 April 1908.

An apt tribute to a great actress:

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“Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that’s what the poet does.” – Allen Ginsberg, American poet and member of the Beat Generation, who died 5 April 1997.

“A Supermarket in California”

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked
down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking
at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon
fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at
night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!
–and you, García Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking
among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops?
What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you,
and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy
tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the
cashier.

Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in a hour.
Which way does your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and
feel absurd.)
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade
to shade, lights out in the houses, we’ll both be lonely.
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automo-
biles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America
did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a
smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of
Lethe?

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Japanese artist Yoshiro Tachibana (born 1941) was raised in Japan, but he has spent considerable time in Spain, Germany, and Norway, in which places he was exposed to and influenced by the work of Paul Klee and other twentieth century European painters.

Below – “The Sirens”; “Nude with White Horse”; “Ying-Yang World”; “Adam and Eve in Blue”; “Flower, Vase, and White Moon”; “At Dawn”; “Tragic Human Boat”; “The Door Is Open”; “Nude with the Moon and the Sun”; “Tree of Life.”
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A Poem for Today

“Not Here,”
By Jane Kenyon

Searching for pillowcases trimmed
with lace that my mother-in-law
once made, I open the chest of drawers
upstairs to find that mice
have chewed the blue and white linen
dishtowels to make their nest,
and bedded themselves
among embroidered dresser scarves
and fingertip towels.

Tufts of fibers, droppings like black
caraway seeds, and the stains of birth
and afterbirth give off the strong
unforgettable attar of mouse
that permeates an old farmhouse
on humid summer days.

A couple of hickory nuts
roll around as I lift out
the linens, while a hail of black
sunflower shells
falls on the pillowcases,
yellow with age, but intact.
I’ll bleach them and hang them in the sun
to dry. There’s almost no one left
who knows how to crochet lace….

The bright-eyed squatters are not here.
They’ve scuttled out to the fields
for summer, as they scuttled in
for winter—along the wall, from chair
to skirted chair, making themselves
flat and scarce while the cat
dozed with her paws in the air,
and we read the mail
or evening paper, unaware.
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American Art – Part II of II: Dennis Crayon

Artist Statement: “I paint still life paintings that combine the technique of the Old Masters with a modern sensibility. As a still life painter, I work in oils on both canvas and panels, using color and position to convey Modernist composition with a classical painting technique. Each of my paintings features extreme attention to detail, especially the effect of light as it hits objects. I recognize the value of craft in my painting and continually work on my technique and style. My influences include Caravaggio and Vermeer, as well as contemporary realists Claudio Bravo and Scott Fraser. I make my work personal and contemporary, reflecting life around me.”
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