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

American Art – Part I of III: Joshua Petker

Here is one writer describing the background of painter Joshua Petker (born 1979): “(He) received a BA in Western History from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. While pursuing a degree in History he maintained a growing interest in the arts that developed out of a fascination with graffiti which Petker started creating at the age of 14. After studying abroad in 2001 at the Lorenzo de’Medici Institute of Florence, he decided to pursue a career as a fine artist upon completion of his studies back in the U.S.A.
Petker’s paintings have been exhibited internationally and are included in numerous private collections throughout the world.”
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“There is a good deal to live for, but a man has to go through hell really to find it out.” – Edwin Arlington Robinson, American poet and three-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, who died 6 April 1935.

“Miniver Cheevy”

Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;
He wept that he was ever born,
And he had reasons.

Miniver loved the days of old
When swords were bright and steeds were prancing;
The vision of a warrior bold
Would set him dancing.

Miniver sighed for what was not,
And dreamed, and rested from his labors;
He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot,
And Priam’s neighbors.

Miniver mourned the ripe renown
That made so many a name so fragrant;
He mourned Romance, now on the town,
And Art, a vagrant.

Miniver loved the Medici,
Albeit he had never seen one;
He would have sinned incessantly
Could he have been one.

Miniver cursed the commonplace
And eyed a khaki suit with loathing;
He missed the mediæval grace
Of iron clothing.

Miniver scorned the gold he sought,
But sore annoyed was he without it;
Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,
And thought about it.

Miniver Cheevy, born too late,
Scratched his head and kept on thinking;
Miniver coughed, and called it fate,
And kept on drinking.

Below – Edvard Munch: “In the Tavern”
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From the Music Archives – Part I of III: Shakey Horton

Born 6 April 1917 – Walter “Shakey” Horton, an accomplished American blues harmonica player.

Born 6 April 1826 – Gustave Moreau, a French Symbolist painter whose main emphasis was the illustration of mythological figures.

Below (left to right) – “Apollo and the Nine Muses”; “Oedipus and the Sphinx”; “Prometheus”; “Head of Orpheus”; “Europa and the Bull”; “Hesiod and the Muse.”

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“I am a socialist. That is why I want as much beauty as possible in our everyday lives, and so I am an enemy of pseudo-poetry and pseudo-art of all kinds. Too many ‘poets of the Left,’ as they call themselves, are badly in need of instruction as to the difference between poetry and propaganda. These people should read William Blake on Imagination until they show signs of understanding him. Then the air will be clear again, and the land be, if not full of, fit for song.” – Idris Davies, Welsh poet and environmentalist, who died 6 April 1953.
“High Summer on the Mountains”

High summer on the mountains

And on the clover leas, 

And on the local sidings, 

And on the rhubarb leaves.



Brass bands in all the valleys

Blaring defiant tunes, 

Crowds, acclaiming carnival, 

Prize pigs and wooded spoons.



Dust on shabby hedgerows

Behind the colliery wall, 

Dust on rail and girder

And tram and prop and all.



High summer on the slag heaps

And on polluted streams, 

And old men in the morning

Telling the town their dreams.
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American Art – Part II of III: Ty Steinbacher

Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Ty Steinbacher: “(He) resides in the western Catskill village of Walton, NY. From his studio surroundings he paints in a variety of mediums but prefers to work in oils. He captures beauty with a brush, during his plein air excursions with nature and landscape, the capturing of the essence of the model in the studio or in the melding of the two.”
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The Joy and Sorrow of Love

6 April 1327 (Good Friday) – Francesco Petrarch, Italian scholar, humanist, and poet, first sets eyes on his beloved Laura, who inspired him to write his famous sonnet sequence.
6 April 1348 – Laura dies of plague.

“Sonnet 3” (translated by Mark Musa)

It was the day the sun’s ray had turned pale
with pity for the suffering of his Maker
when I was caught, and I put up no fight,
my lady, for your lovely eyes had bound me.
It seemed no time to be on guard against
Love’s blows; therefore, I went my way
secure and fearless-so, all my misfortunes
began in midst of universal woe.

Love found me all disarmed and found the way
was clear to reach my heart down through the eyes
which have become the halls and doors of tears.

It seems to me it did him little honour
to wound me with his arrow in my state
and to you, armed, not show his bow at all.

Above – Francesco Petrarch.
Below – Laura de Noves.

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Here is the Artist Statement of Kazakhstani painter Moussin Irjan (born 1977): “I use art as a means of knowledge. I’m inspired mainly by music, especially modern Italian songs. I am inspired by people. It is important to me that my paintings are made using high quality materials and to the highest standards – by this I mean the combination of high levels of performance, creative reflection, planning and impromptu execution. Along with my ongoing painting practice, I continue to study painting.
I use oil-based paint that is often quite fluid – my painting is like a watercolour technique – using oils. Sometimes I work with thicker paint that emphasises the expression of a stroke. For me, the picture should ‘live.’”
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From the Music Archives – Part II of III: Igor Stravinsky

“My music is best understood by children and animals.” – Igor Stravinsky, Russian composer, pianist, and conductor, who died 6 April 1971.

Here is the Artist Statement of painter Iva Troj: “My son once said art was about ‘breaking things in the right places.’ He was 8 and I was trying to explain what juxtaposition meant. I use this quote a lot when I teach, I figure people discover things about art and themselves when they try to decipher it.
Art is so hard to explain though. I am fascinated by the impossibility of art categorization, I get in trouble every time I’m asked to explain my work or technique. I was schooled in the most traditional way starting from the same basics that Renaissance artists and their pupils learned, like making your own oils or studying the bodies in the morgue (it’s a long story, I grew up in communist Bulgaria).”
Iva Troj lives and works in Sweden.
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Born 6 April 1935 – John Pepper Clark, a Nigerian poet and playwright.

“Streamside Exchange”

Child: River bird, river bird

Sitting all day long

On the hook over grass

River bird, river bird,

Sing to me a song

Of all that pass

And say,

Will mother come back today?

Bird: You cannot know

And should not bother;

Tide and market come and go

And so shall your mother.
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Born 6 April 1921 – Franta Belsky, a Czech sculptor who lived and worked in Britain.

Below (left to right) – “Head of a Boy”; “Sir Winston Churchill”; “Silver Horses.”
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From the Music Archives – Part III of III: Niki Sullivan

Died 6 April 2004 – Niki Sullivan, an American guitarist and one of the original members of Buddy Holly’s band The Crickets.

Here is the Artist Statement of Slovenian painter Rebeka Rodosek: “Art is wine on a journey called life. It adds flavour which enriches life and makes it more beautiful. It helps us to understand nature and people through the eyes of a creator or an observer. It is also a way of communication among people and an exchange of life experience. It often teaches us in words and pictures about historical events which could be otherwise forgotten. Each artist being sensitive opens his-her soul to higher vibrations of cosmos and depicts everything in his-her own unique way. Hence all the diversity of art. Since we are connected worldwide, we artists should make real efforts to do good for all mankind. Everyone can offer one’s gifts to contribute to the world cultural heritage regardless criticism or competition. Humanity is a body needing all its parts to function properly. No single part is more important than the other; all are equally essential for the balance of the whole.”
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“We’re all just walking each other home.” – Ram Dass (born Richard Alpert), American spiritual teacher, founder of the charitable organizations Seva Foundation and Hanuman Foundation, and author of “Be Here Now,” who was born 6 April 1928.

Some quotes from the work of Ram Dass:

“It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed.”
“When you are already in Detroit, you don’t have to take a bus to get there.”
“Inspiration is God making contact with itself.”
“Your problem is you’re . . . too busy holding onto your unworthiness.”
“From a Hindu perspective, you are born as what you need to deal with, and if you just try and push it away, whatever it is, it’s got you.”
“I have always said that often the religion you were born with becomes more important to you as you see the universality of truth.”
“If you think you’re free, there’s no escape possible.”
“My guru said that when he suffers, it brings him closer to God. I have found this, too.”
“Our plans never turn out as tasty as reality.”
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Born 6 April 1929 – Li Yuan-chia, a Chinese poet, artist, and curator who spent most of his life living and working in the United Kingdom.

“Empty”

Traveling through empty space,
my mind walks around on the moonscape.
A birds shames me,
while a stone ignores me.
I taste infinite empty distances
as the knife cuts my heart.
You do not want to know it.
Lost love
seems like sand found in a shell.
Shall I come too late
to the beginning?
Each word in my heart is
like a jewel under the sun.
Day by day love fades,
like wood you have burned.
I am torn with sorrow.
At last I am
empty again.

Below – Four of Li’s untitled works.
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Born 6 April 1940 – Homero Aridjis, a Mexican poet, novelist, environmental activist, journalist, diplomat, and President of the Group of One Hundred (One Hundred Artists for the Environment).

“Rain in the Night”

It rains in the night

on the old roofs and the wet streets



on the black hills

and on the temples in the dead cities



In the dark I hear the ancestral music of the rain

its ancient footfall its dissolving voice



More rapid than the dreams of men

the rain makes roads through the air



makes trails through the dust

longer than the footstep of men.



Tomorrow we will die

die twice over



Once as individuals

a second time as a species



and between the bolts of lightning and the white seeds

scattered through the shadows



there’s time for a complete examination of conscience

time to tell the human story



It rains

It will rain in the night



but on the wet streets and black hills

there will be no one to hear rain fall 

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Welsh Art – Part I of II: Meirion Alan Ginsberg

Artist Statement: “My work is more of an autobiography, using friends and family and sometimes a Dadaist mish-mash where humour is injected. Influenced by a huge range of painters from Willem DeKooning to Rembrandt, I use a versatility of mark making which leaves some of the work borderline figurative and abstract.
Application and mark making became the interest or factors I was looking for in painting, learning a lot from The Great Artists series, which was subscribed by my father.
Norman Rockwell and Frances Bacon became my favourite painters. Even today I use elements of these two artists although my knowledge and influence has expanded from the days of finding these treasures.
Humour plays a big part in my work, but this seems to be mellowed out by the intuitive construction of my paintings. I am a strong believer of improvisation and risk taking which are two strong elements in my mind that strengthen my ideas and skill. In university I tried to move away from the traditional, but always seemed to come back to it in subtle ways. Versatility plays a big part of my work and hopefully will continue to do so.”
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Nobel Laureate: Gabriela Mistral

Born 6 April 1889 – Gabriela Mistral, a Chilean poet, educator, diplomat, feminist, and the recipient of the 1945 Nobel Prize in Literature “for her lyric poetry which, inspired by powerful emotions, has made her name a symbol of the idealistic aspirations of the entire Latin American world.”

“To See Him Again”

Never, never again?
Not on nights filled with quivering stars,
or during dawn’s maiden brightness
or afternoons of sacrifice?

Or at the edge of a pale path
that encircles the farmlands,
or upon the rim of a trembling fountain,
whitened by a shimmering moon?

Or beneath the forest’s
luxuriant, raveled tresses
where, calling his name,
I was overtaken by the night?
Not in the grotto that returns
the echo of my cry?

Oh no. To see him again —
it would not matter where —
in heaven’s deadwater
or inside the boiling vortex,
under serene moons or in bloodless fright!

To be with him…
every springtime and winter,
united in one anguished knot
around his bloody neck!
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Welsh Art – Part II of II: Susan Angharad Williams

Artist Statement: “I paint primarily from life. The drawings are derived from many sources – life, photographs, video stills…
My work is intensely figurative. Natural pattern is set alongside patterns made by hand. Abandonment, rituals and bearing witness are recurring themes.
I want the intense stillness of the images and the relationship between the objects to project both harmony and tension. The further tension between three-dimensional space and the flat surface, between spatial forms and linear description is a constant exploration.”
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From the American History Archives – Part I of II: Shiloh

6 April 1862 – The opening day of the Battle of Shiloh during the American Civil War. It was the bloodiest battle in the history of the United States up to that time.

“Shiloh: A Requiem (April, 1862)”
by Herman Melville

Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
The swallows fly low
Over the field in clouded days,
The forest-field of Shiloh—
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched ones stretched in pain
Through the pause of night
That followed the Sunday fight
Around the church of Shiloh—
The church so lone, the log-built one,
That echoed to many a parting groan
And natural prayer
Of dying foemen mingled there—
Foemen at morn, but friends at eve—
Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
But now they lie low,
While over them the swallows skim,
And all is hushed at Shiloh.

Above – “Battle of Shiloh,” by Thure de Thulstrup.
Below – Decoration Day (Memorial Day) activities at Shiloh National Cemetery, 1895.
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Born 6 April 1849 – John William Waterhouse, a British painter known for working in the Pre-Raphaelite style.

Below (left to right) – “Gone But Not Forgotten”; “Ophelia”; “The Lady of Shallot”; “Circe Offering the Cup to Odysseus”; “Ulysses and the Sirens”; “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”; “Hylas and the Nymphs”; “Juliet”; “Boreas”; “Enchanted Garden.”

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6 April 1917 – The United States declares war on Germany and enters World War I.

A few months following the declaration of war and after a parade through Paris with the first contingent of American soldiers to land in France, lieutenant colonel Charles Stanton stood with his troops at the grave of the Marquis de Lafayette and said, “Nous voila, Lafayette!” (“Lafayette, we are here!“).

“Never such innocence again.” – Phillip Larkin

Here is one critic describing the artistry of New Zealand painter Rex Turnbull: “The paintings of Rex Turnbull entice the viewer to journey ‘through the mirror’ into other worlds where the fictive imagination of the painter meticulously constructs landscapes that are strangely familiar and yet not quite known. These landscapes are imbued with an intense stillness at counterpoint to the frenetic pace of contemporary life. This is slow art, work to quieten the mind and stimulate the imagination.”

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A Poem for Today

“Cathay.”
By Joshua Edwards

Wrongheaded and obsequious
on vacation, unnerved
by new surroundings, I miss
the bright feeling of belonging
and the familiar patterns of my country,
its virginity and schizophrenia,
my several stolen bicycles.

Below – Salvador Dali: “The American Dream”
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American Art – Part III of III: Frederick Ortner

Here is one critic describing the background of painter Frederick Ortner: “(He) was trained in New York City at Pratt Institute, the New York Studio School, and New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. His painting has been supported by grants from the Skowegan School, the Royal College of Art in London, the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, the E. J. Noble Foundation, and the MacDowell Colony.”
Frederick Ortner is Professor of Art at Louisiana State University.
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