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

American Art – Part I of V: William Michael Harnett

In the words of one historian, “William Michael Harnett (1848–1892) was an Irish-American painter known for his trompe l’oeil still lifes of ordinary objects. What sets Harnett’s work apart, besides his enormous skill, is his interest in depicting objects not usually made the subject of a painting.”
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American Art – Part II of V: George Edgar Ohr

Died 7 April 1918 – George Edgar Ohr, an American ceramic artist and the self-proclaimed “Mad Potter of Biloxi.”
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From the Music Archives – Part I of VIII: Ludwig van Beethoven

7 April 1805 – Ludwig van Beethoven conducts the premiere of his Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”) in Vienna.

Canadian Art – Part I of II: Larry Bracegirdle

Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Larry Bracegirdle: “As a self-taught painter, Larry calls himself a ‘painterly realist.’ In contrast to his early work, which verged on photo-realism, he has learned through practice and self-study to loosen up and let the paint do the talking. Now there is next to no blending of the paint. He says, ‘I mix up a brush load, wipe it on the canvas and move on.’ The method in which Bracegirdle practices his art has come full circle. Beginning with the use of photography as a technique to hone his drawing skills; then painting ‘en plein air’ in order to train his eye; to painting interiors, a subject matter which “sits still” then back to photography to capture the moment, he now paints real life with finely tuned drawing skills and a keen, passionate eye. Influenced by Dutch painter Jan Vermeer, Larry specializes in domestic interiors and like Verneer, has become renowned for his use of light.”
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Canadian Art – Part II of II: James Huctwith

Painter James Huctwith (born 1967) lives and works in Toronto.
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From the Music Archives – Part II of VIII: Billie Holiday

“Don’t threaten me with love, baby. Let’s just go walking in the rain.” – Billie Holiday, American jazz singer and songwriter, who was born 7 April 1915.

Here is one critic describing the artistry of Chinese painter Qu Muzi
(born 1982): “Qu Muzi paints scenes of mystery and wonder, usually featuring a single figure in a dreamlike setting. Her treatment of light and colour is muted, with an occasional flash of brilliant colour.
She pays close attention to texture and design, which complement the careful composition of her paintings.
There is a wistful sense of fleeting beauty, tinged with sadness, in Qu Muzi’s paintings.”

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According to one writer, Syrian painter Safwan Aslan (born 1973) “is a graduate of Subhi Shuaib Fine Arts Institute.”

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“Irony is the hygiene of the mind.” – Princess Elizabeth Asquith Bibesco, English writer and author of “Haven,” who died 7 April 1945.

Some quotes from Princess Elizabeth Asquith Bibesco:

“Life more often teaches us how to perfect our weaknesses than how to develop our strengths.”
“Blessed are those who give without remembering and take without
forgetting.”
“Those we love are entitled to resent the allowances we make for them.”
“To be on a pedestal is to be in a corner.”
“What we buy belongs to us only when the price is forgotten.”
“It is easier to be generous than to be just.”
“Each play worth seeing should be watched a second time on the faces of the audience.”
“Winter draws what summer paints.”
“The image of ourselves in the minds of others is the picture of a stranger we shall never see.”
“We learn nothing by being right.”
“We are bound to those we love by their imperfections — their perfections help us to explain them to others.”
“Death is part of this life and not of the next.”
“Perfect moments don’t turn into half-hours.”
“My soul has gained the freedom of the night.”
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From the Music Archives – Part III of VIII: Babtunde Olatunji

Born 7 April 1927 – Babtunde Olatunji, a Nigerian drummer, educator, social activist, and recording artist.

Here is one critic describing the background and artistry of German painter Viola Kunst (born 1981): “In 2005 she graduated magna cum laude at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. In 2006 she started studying as Contemporary Art Curator at the University La Sapienza in Rome where she graduated in 2010.
Viola Kunst loves the flesh in its purest form and gives us an intimate view of the full bloom of its sensual splendor. Her paintings would resemble a sailor’s fantasy, if you were unaware of her own identification with, and care for, the subjects of her painting. As the artist says, ‘The women I paint have a story, feelings, and fears inside of them. But in some respects I am lying. I use them as a medium through which I paint only myself.’ Her painted nudes are portraits in which the bodies dissolve into colorful vibrations of flesh, in which nuances play across the surface of the skin. The proximity of the portrayed women is charged with personality and erotic undertones which in no way resemble pornography. Viola Kunst’s art leads to a exploration (not an exploitation) of the feminine body, and, last but not least, to an undisguised, feminine look at the feminine itself.”
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Here is the Artist Statement of British ceramicist Katharine Morling: “My work can be described as 3 dimensional drawings, in the medium of ceramics. Each piece, on the surface, an inanimate object, has been given layers of emotion and embedded with stories, which are open for interpretation in the viewer’s mind. When put together, the pieces combine to make a tableau staging the still lives of everyday objects. The life size pieces and the unexpectedness of the scale create a slightly surreal experience as you walk through this strange environment. I work very instinctively, one piece leads to the next, I try not to pin down what I am doing or even why. I have to trust and believe that I can communicate through this medium. My searching is never complete; each piece is a journey for answers that are only hinted at, with more questions.”

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From the Music Archives – Part IV of VIII: “South Pacific”

7 April 1949 – “South Pacific” opens at New York City’s Majestic Theater and runs for 1,928 performances.

Died 7 April 1614 – El Greco, a Greek-born painter, sculptor, and architect, who lived and worked in Spain.

Below (left to right) – “View of Toledo”; “Nobleman with His Hand on His Chest”; “Laocoon”; “The Opening of the Fifth Seal of the Apocalypse”; “St. Martin and the Beggar”; “The Annunciation.”

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From the Music Archives – Part V of VIII: Charlie Thomas

Born 7 April 1937 – Charlie Thomas, an American rhythm and blues singer best known for his work with The Drifters.

Self-taught Italian figurative artist Gianluca Mantovani (born 1974) specializes in painting the female form and, occasionally, still lifes.
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“Goals incapable of attainment have driven many a man to despair, but despair is easier to get to than that — one need merely look out of the window, for example.” – Donald Barthelme, American postmodernist writer and author of “Snow White,” who was born 7 April 1931.

Some quotes from the work of Donald Barthelme:

“The distinction between children and adults, while probably useful for some purposes, is at bottom a specious one, I feel. There are only individual egos, crazy for love.”
“Succeed! It has been done, and with a stupidity that can astound the most experienced.”
“The world in the evening seems fraught with the absence of promise, if you are a married man. There is nothing to do but go home and drink your nine drinks and forget about it.”
“All of us…still believe that the American flag betokens a kind of general righteousness. But I say…that signs are signs and some of them are lies.”
“There is no moment that exceeds in beauty that moment when one looks at a woman and finds that she is looking at you in the same way that you are looking at her. The moment in which she bestows that look that says, ‘Proceed with your evil plan, sumbitch.’”
“I have to admit we are locked in the most exquisite mysterious muck. This muck heaves and palpitates. It is multi-directional and has a mayor. To describe it takes many hundreds of thousands of words. Our muck is only a part of a much greater muck — the nation-state — which is itself the creation of that muck of mucks, human consciousness. Of course all these things also have a touch of sublimity — as when Moonbelly sings, for example, or all the lights go out. What a happy time that was, when all the electricity went away! If only we could re-create that paradise! By, for instance, all forgetting to pay our electric bills at the same time. All nine million of us. Then we’d all get those little notices that say unless we remit within five days the lights will go out. We all stand up from our chairs with the notice in ours hands. The same thought drifts across the furrowed surface of nine million minds. We wink at each other, through the walls.”
“I believed that because I had obtained a wife who was made up of wife-signs (beauty, charm, softness, perfume, cookery) I had found love.”
“The privileged classes can afford psychoanalysis and whiskey. Whereas all we get is sermons and sour wine. This is manifestly unfair. I protest, silently.”
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French Art – Part I of III: Suzanne Valadon

Died 7 April 1938 – Suzanne Valadon, a French artist and the first female painter to be admitted to the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts. She was the mother of painter Maurice Utrillo.

Below – “Flowers on a Round Table”; “Nudes”; “Young Girl in Front of a Window”; “The Bath”; “My Son at 7 Years Old”; “Casting the Net”; “Self-Portrait.”

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From the Music Archives – Part VI of VIII: Mongo Santamaria

Born 7 April 1922 – Mongo Santamaria, an Afro-Cuban Latin jazz percussionist.

French Art – Part II of III: Robert Doisneau

In the words of one historian, “Robert Doisneau (1912-1994), one of France’s most popular and prolific reportage photographers, is known for his modest, playful, and ironic images of amusing juxtapositions, mingling social classes, and eccentrics in contemporary Paris streets and cafes… Doisneau has presented a charming vision of human frailty and life as a series of quiet, incongruous moments. He has written: ‘The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.’”
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From the Music Archives – Part VII of VIII: John Oates

“The worst thing that happened to me was when platforms went out of style.” – John Oates, American guitarist, musician, songwriter, and part of the duo Hall & Oates, who was born 7 April 1949.

Here is one critic describing the artistry of French painter Francine de Van Hove: “The remote world portrayed by Van Hove is peopled by nude young women. The lighting which exposes them is of a precise quality which makes their reality veer slightly, almost imperceptibly, away from everyday reality.
Her figures strike up very natural poses which make us feel the existence of a precarious yet exquisite dividing-line between the ordinary and the extraordinary.
Her figures (she paints from ‘live’ models) define certain canons of beauty. This aptitude is characteristic of an innate sense of stylisation which has always been felt as necessary by painters who tend to paint timeless subjects.
Van Hove’s art possesses the essential quality of suggesting without proselytising. It abolishes the distance between emotions and their perception. The subtlest feelings, the most tenuous allusions she has set down come across to us in a startlingly precise fashion. And the vibration in that transmission is pure pleasure.”
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From the Movie Archives – Part I of II: Jackie Chan

“The kids never listen to you, especially the youngest ones.” – Jackie Chan, Hong Kong actor, comedian, action choreographer, director, singer, martial artist, stunt performer, and wise parent, who was born 7 April 1954.

Some quotes from Jackie Chan:

“I just want people to remember me like I remember Buster Keaton. When they talk about Buster Keaton or Gene Kelly, people say, ‘Ah yes, they’re good.’ Maybe one day, they will remember Jackie Chan that way.”
“American stuntmen are smart – they think about safety. When they do a jump in a car, they calculate everything: the speed, the distance… But in Hong Kong, we don’t know how to count. Everything we do is a guess. If you’ve got the guts, you do it. All of my stuntmen have gotten hurt.”
“Do not let circumstances control you. You change your circumstances.”
“Coffee is a language in itself.”
“I’m crazy, but I’m not stupid.”
“We learn martial arts as helping weakness. You never fight for people to get hurt. You’re always helping people.”
“I now have two different audiences. There’s the one that has been watching my action films for 20 years, and the American family audience. American jokes, less fighting.”
“Cinema reflects culture and there is no harm in adapting technology, but not at the cost of losing your originality.”
“I only want my work to make people happy.”
“I really like children to watch my movies.”
“I sometimes just don’t like to see the Ultimate Fighting. I just find it, as a martial artist, I just find it too violent.”
“Jackie Chan is a myth.”
“My affection for Taiwan is witnessed by everyone. My wife is Taiwanese and I am a son-in-law of Taiwan. I am half Taiwanese.”
“The ads all call me fearless, but that’s just publicity. Anyone who thinks I’m not scared out of my mind whenever I do one of my stunts is crazier than I am.”
“The world is too violent right now.”
“When you are learning about a martial art, it is about respect.”

American Pioneers

From the American History Archives – Part I of II: American Pioneers
To the Northwest Territory

7 April 1788 – In the words of one historian, “American Pioneers to the Northwest Territory arrive at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers, establishing Marietta, Ohio, as the first permanent American settlement of the new United States in the Northwest Territory, and opening the westward expansion of the new country.”

Above – The arrival of Rufus Putnam and the pioneers at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers on 7 April 1788.

From the Movie Archives – Part II of II: Francis Ford Coppola

“My movie is not about Vietnam. My movie is Vietnam.” – Francis Ford Coppola, American film director, producer, and screenwriter, who was born 7 April 1939, commenting on “Apocalypse Now.”

This is one of the great opening scenes in the history of cinema:

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From the American History Archives – Part II of II: The Lewis and Clark Expedition

2 April 1805 – Lewis and Clark Expedition: The Corps of Discovery breaks camp among the Mandan tribe and resumes its journey West along the Missouri River.

From the Music Archives – Part VIII of VIII: Ravi Shankar

“In our culture we have such respect for musical instruments, they are like part of God.” – Ravi Shankar, Indian musician and sitar player, who was born 7 April 1920.

American Art – Part III of V: Raul Colon

Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Raúl Colón (born 1952): “Colón uses very unique techniques in his artwork to create texture and rich, deep colors. The illustrations are done on watercolor paper and combine watercolor washes, etching, and the use of colored pencils and litho pencils. In Colon’s words, ‘I began with textured watercolor paper. I added a wash of golden undertone watercolor. On top of that I drew the image – sketched it – and then added the middle tones. There are about 5 to 8 washes on top of each other. I then used colored pencils to make the texture of the paper come out. I also use a scratchboard instrument appropriately called a ‘scratcher’ to draw down through the layers.’”

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(c) The Wordsworth Trust; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

“What we need is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out.” – William Wordsworth, English Romantic poet and co-author (with Samuel Taylor Coleridge) of “Lyrical Ballads” (1798), the book that launched the Romantic Age in English literature, who was born 7 April 1770.

“The World Is Too Much With Us”

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

Below – Old Triton blowing his wreathed horn on Ocean Beach in San Francisco on 1 December 2014. Listening to him play did, in fact, make me less forlorn.
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American Art – Part IV of V: Tamara Adams

Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Tamara Adams: “A Native Oregonian, Tamara paints primarily acrylic on canvas. Continuously evolving, she relies heavily on her imagination, without models or reference books and few outside influences. Tamara began painting exotic themes long before she had been exposed to great artists such as Gauguin and Rivera. Painting has always been her way to escape the ordinary aspects of her life, doing what she loves and believing in the power of art to comfort and enrich the soul.
Tamara’s portrayals of women are warm, whimsical, and reflective. The exotic imagery and deep resonance of color capture the eye and the imagination. In Tamara’s words, ‘It doesn’t seem satisfying to say that I paint what I see, and yet it is what I see, wherever I go, whoever I am with, along with the things that surround me inspiring me to paint.’”

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A Poem for Today

“Two Nudes,”
By Mary Jo Bang

I was working in a bookstore and as an antidote
to the twin torment of exhaustion and boredom,
one day I went with a friend on a walking tour.
We made it as far as Berlin and there I met the
man I would move with to a boarding house, then
to furnished rooms in the flat of a civil servant,
and from there one morning in January to the
Registry to be married. Afterward we moved to a
studio apartment and two years later to the
school where boys returning from the war would
remove their collars and sew them back on with
red thread to demonstrate the end of their
allegiance to the cruel and fastidious past.
Everyone wanted to be launched into a place
from which you could look back and ask whether
the red was also meant to enact spilled blood. You
could say so, but only if you want to insist that
history’s minutia is best read as allegory. The fact
is, history didn’t exist then. Each day was a
twenty-four hour stand-still on a bridge from
which we discretely looked into the distance,
hoping to catch sight of the future. It’s near where
you’re standing now. One day we were lying in
the sun dressed in nothing but our skin when a
camera came by and devoured us.

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American Art – Part V of V: Bruno Perillo

Painter Bruno Perillo graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He lives and works in Brooklyn.
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