American Art – Part I of IX: Sol LeWitt
Died 8 April 2007 – Sol LeWitt, a painter and sculptor.
American Art – Part II of IX: Frank Weston Benson
In the words of one art historian, “Frank Weston Benson (1862-1951) was an American painter from Salem, Massachusetts known for his Realistic portraits, Impressionist paintings, watercolors and etchings. He began his career painting portraits of distinguished families and murals for the Library of Congress.”
“Large parties given to very young children . . . foster the passions of vanity and envy, and produce a love of dress and display which is very repulsive in the character of a child.” – Susanna Strickland Moodie, English-born Canadian writer and author of “Roughing It in the Bush: or, Forest Life in Canada” (1852), who died 8 April 1885.
Turkish Art – Part I of II: Aleattin Aksoy
Turkish Art – Part II of II: Sertap Yegin
“Now is time for me to say that I consider you the greatest painter living and am proud to have you as my friend.” – Andrew Wyeth in a private letter (3 March 2003) to Odd Nerdrum, a Norwegian figurative painter who was born 8 April 1944.
Here is what critic Hilton Kramer wrote about the paintings of Odd Nerdrum in “The Triumph of Modernism: The Art World 1985-2005”: “When you see the work, you may very well dislike it intensely. But you will not soon forget it, and you will certainly not remain indifferent to it. Afterward, you may even find that a lot of contemporary painting looks perfectly trivial by comparison.”
Below – “Lunatics”; “In Limbo”; “Flock”; “The Storm”; “Early Morning”; “Summit.”
Born 8 April 1816 – Frederick William Burton, an Irish painter and the third director of the National Gallery, London.
Nobel Laureate: Erik Axel Karlfeldt
Died 8 April 1931 – Erik Axel Karlfeldt, a Swedish poet and recipient of the 1931 Nobel Prize in Literature (awarded posthumously).
“The Rhyme Smith”
Now, coarsely wrought iron from my thoughts’ own smithy,
my sledge shall test the utmost you can bear.
I know your chain’s links snap, that this is risky,
but likewise know there’s honest steel in there.
From my home mine and slash-burnt acres’ clamour
I gained my iron and charcoal for the fire,
I gripped – as once each sweetheart’s waist – my hammer
and fanned my forge’s flames with keen desire.
How bright the anvil’s song when dusk was swelling,
in evening coolness when my youth’s sun set!
The clanging, how it spread! From farm and dwelling
with chiming youthful voices it was met.
But out of sight, alone, hard iron unfurling,
toiled with great zest the half-apprenticed bard
and smiled at all the hot flakes round him whirling,
though many a spark his pitted skin still scarred.
“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” – Pablo Picasso, Spanish artist, who died 8 April 1973.
Liu Yuanshou (born 1967) is a Chinese Realist painter whose award-winning work has been exhibited throughout Asia. In the words of one critic, “While Liu Yuanshou hails from the austere north of China, he has become fascinated by the seductively temperate cultural and physical climate of the eastern coastal province of Jiangsu, which lies east of Anhui and north of Shanghai. Silkworm culture is and always has been an important part of Jiangsu’s history, as is the production of silk textiles. Perhaps because of this circumstance, silk is especially evident in Liu’s art, which primarily focuses on portraits of young women from the Jiangsu region.”
Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war that we know about peace, more about killing that we know about living.” – Omar Bradley, American General and U.S. Army field commander in North Africa and Europe during World War II, who died 8 April 1981.
Some quotes from the work of Omar Bradley:
“Set your course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.”
“This is as true in everyday life as it is in battle: we are given one life and the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind, or whether to act, and in acting, to live.”
“Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death.”
“If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.”
“Wars can be prevented just as surely as they can be provoked, and we who fail to prevent them, must share the guilt for the dead.”
“We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.”
“I am convinced that the best service a retired general can perform is to turn in his tongue along with his suit and to mothball his opinions.”
“The way to win an atomic war is to make certain it never starts.”
“With the monstrous weapons man already has, humanity is in danger of being trapped in this world by its moral adolescents.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of French painter Alain Gazier (born 1956): “Gazier prepares his blank canvas’s with a primer called gesso; a mineral based substance that contains marble. This technique gives his paintings a unique texture.
The paintings of Alain Gazier show images of the past with the faithfulness of the present. The walls whisper songs from the past, the stones breathe, the marble, the stairways, the columns and a divine light that comes from the windows. Pure imagination from an artist that dreams with beauty. He invites us in to this world of silent interior’s, where he plays with the light and the perspective. Let us come and visit this magic theatre of an exclusive artist.”
From the Music Archives: Marian Anderson
“When I sing, I don’t want them to see that my face is black. I don’t want them to see that my face is white. I want them to see my soul. And that is colorless.” – Marian Anderson, American contralto, who died 8 April 1993.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of British painter Aldo Balding: “Aldo’s characters and many scenes are placed in timeless settings, they are a rich source for romantic nostalgia and potential drama. Aldo’s palett is muted: soft browns and ocher are his colours of choice. The tonal quality of the work emphasises the locale. This stylistic technique enhances the evocative atmosphere and mood, heightening our perception of a different era.”
American Art – Part III of IX: Clarence Hudson White
Born 8 April 1871 – Clarence Hudson White, a photographer and teacher. In the words of one writer, “Although he was completely self-taught in the medium, within a few years he was internationally known for his pictorial photographs that captured the spirit and sentimentality of America in the early twentieth century. As he became well known for his images, White was sought out by other photographers who often traveled to Ohio to learn from him. He became friends with Alfred Stieglitz and helped advance the cause of photography as a true art form.”
“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.” – Barbara Kingsolver, American novelist, essayist, poet, and author of “The Poisonwood Bible” and “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” who was born 8 April 1955.
Some quotes from the work of Barbara Kingsolver:
“Don’t try to make life a mathematics problem with yourself in the center and everything coming out equal. When you’re good, bad things can still happen. And if you’re bad, you can still be lucky.”
“There is no point treating a depressed person as though she were just feeling sad, saying, ‘There now, hang on, you’ll get over it.’ Sadness is more or less like a head cold- with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.”
“Listen. Slide the weight from your shoulders and move forward. You are afraid you might forget, but you never will. You will forgive and remember.”
“Everything you’re sure is right can be wrong in another place.”
“God doesn’t need to punish us. He just grants us a long enough life to punish ourselves.”
“Listen. To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know. In perfect stillness, frankly, I’ve only found sorrow.”
“The changes we dread most may contain our salvation.”
“What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness.”
“I attempted briefly to consecrate myself in the public library, believing every crack in my soul could be chinked with a book.”
“April is the cruelest month, T.S. Eliot wrote, by which I think he meant (among other things) that springtime makes people crazy. We expect too much, the world burgeons with promises it can’t keep, all passion is really a setup, and we’re doomed to get our hearts broken yet again. I agree, and would further add: Who cares? Every spring I go out there anyway, around the bend, unconditionally. … Come the end of the dark days, I am more than joyful. I’m nuts. ”
“A mother’s body remembers her babies-the folds of soft flesh, the softly furred scalp against her nose. Each child has it’s own entreaties to body and soul.”
“There is a strange moment in time, after something horrible happens, when you know it’s true, but you haven’t told anyone yet.”
“As long as I kept moving, my grief streamed out behind me like a swimmer’s long hair in water. I knew the weight was there but it didn’t touch me. Only when I stopped did the slick, dark stuff of it come floating around my face, catching my arms and throat till I began to drown. So I just didn’t stop.”
“It’s what you do that makes your soul.”
“What keeps you going isn’t some fine destination but just the road you’re on, and the fact that you know how to drive. You keep your eyes open, you see this damned-to-hell world you got born into, and you ask yourself, ‘What life can I live that will let me breathe in & out and love somebody or something and not run off screaming into the woods?’”
“In a world as wrong as this one, all we can do is make things as right as we can.”
“Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin.”
“When we traded homemaking for careers, we were implicitly promised economic independence and worldly influence. But a devil of a bargain it has turned out to be in terms of daily life. We gave up the aroma of warm bread rising, the measured pace of nurturing routines, the creative task of molding our families’ tastes and zest for life; we received in exchange the minivan and the Lunchable.”
“Pain reaches the heart with electrical speed, but truth moves to the heart as slowly as a glacier.”
“Misunderstanding is my cornerstone. It’s everyone’s, come to think of it. Illusions mistaken for truth are the pavement under our feet.”
“The most important thing about a person is always the thing you don’t know.”
“There’s such a gulf between yourself and who you were then, but people speak to that other person and it answers; it’s like having a stranger as a house guest in your skin.”
American Art – Part IV of IX: Suzanne Clements
Here is one writer describing the background and artistry of painter Suzanne Clements (born 1977): “Suzanne Clements is a fulltime fine artist working from the sunny seaside town of Melbourne, Florida. Her recent transition to the sunshine state has helped to push her work into new directions. Primarily a figurative painter, she builds lush storylines and narratives with each canvas. Her subjects convey deep emotion through their posture and expression, while her strongly modern and graphical style lends a unique perspective to each work.
She was first inspired to the visual arts by her grandfather, a sculptor based in Ontario, Canada who successfully raised five children using his creative skills. Having grown up in a family surrounded by artistic people she was encouraged to reach out and try new things and never to assume failure. Over time she has worked as an illustrator, designer, and now successfully as a fulltime painter.
Suzanne’s work has been shown nationally since 1998 and she has numerous pieces in private collections across the country and the world including Australia and Canada.”
American Art – Part V of IX: Eric Fortune
Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Eric Fortune: “Lyrical, haunting, yet poignant at the same time, Eric Fortune’s paintings make lasting impressions. These are characters who are neither out of place in the world, nor at home in it — they are characters wrapped in their own worlds. The emotionally complex metaphors Fortune paints are richly evocative. His imagery is quiet yet dynamic, and seasoned with a touch of surrealism that takes us to captivating places, beyond our everyday experience but filled with truth.
Packed with emotional nuances he creates soft yet riveting lighting and atmosphere. With uncompromising patience and discipline he slowly builds up his luminous characters and worlds until they radiate life.
And so what sometimes seems to be a simple image to the viewer becomes richer and richer as he or she becomes increasingly entranced by the emotional presences within the art. A true original, Fortune is emerging as a subtle yet powerful artistic voice.”
From the Movie Archives: Ben Johnson
“Everybody in town’s a better actor than I am, but none of them can play Ben Johnson.” – Ben Johnson, American actor, world champion rodeo cowboy, stuntman, and rancher, who died 8 April 1996.
Ben Johnson won the 1971 Academy Award for his performance as “Sam the Lion” in “The Last Picture Show.”
American Art – Part VI of IX: Frederick Childe Hassam
In the words of one art historian, “Frederick Childe Hassam (1859-1939) “was a prolific American Impressionist painter, noted for his urban and coastal scenes. Along with Mary Cassatt and John Henry Twachtman, Hassam was instrumental in promulgating Impressionism to American collectors, dealers, and museums. He produced over 3,000 paintings, oils, watercolors, etchings, and lithographs over the course of his career, and was an influential American artist of the early 20th century.”
I am posting below a number of what some critics term Hassam’s “Garden” or “Floral” paintings.
From the American History Archives: The Works Progress Administration
8 April 1935 – The United States Congress approves the Works Progress Administration. In the words of one historian, “(The WPA) was the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency, employing millions of unemployed people (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads. In much smaller but more famous projects the WPA employed musicians, artists, writers, actors and directors in large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects.”
American Art – Part VII of IX: Paul W. McCormack
Here is one writer describing some of the accomplishments of painter Paul W. McCormack (born 1962): “Sharing his knowledge on the fine art of portraiture, he has been on the faculties of the New Jersey Center for the Visual Arts, the Somerset Art Association, and the Newark Museum. Paul is currently teaching workshop intensives at notable institutions, including the Andreeva Portrait Academy, the Bay Area Classical Arts Atelier, and the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art. Workshops and classes are also offered in Paul’s private studio located in the Hudson Valley region of New York State.
Displaying equal skill and depth with his works in both oils and watercolors, he has exhibited widely with various establishments; these include the National Arts Club (NYC), the Salmagundi Club (NYC), the American Watercolor Society, the Montclair Arts Museum (NJ), the Noyes Museum (NJ) and the Butler Institute of American Art (OH). Mr. McCormack is also an elected member of the Allied Artists of America, the NJ Watercolor Society and the Hudson Valley Art Association.”
A Poem for Today
“An April Night,” by Lucy Maud Montgomery
The moon comes up o’er the deeps of the woods,
And the long, low dingles that hide in the hills,
Where the ancient beeches are moist with buds
Over the pools and the whimpering rills;
And with her the mists, like dryads that creep
From their oaks, or the spirits of pine-hid springs,
Who hold, while the eyes of the world are asleep,
With the wind on the hills their gay revellings.
Down on the marshlands with flicker and glow
Wanders Will-o’-the-Wisp through the night,
Seeking for witch-gold lost long ago
By the glimmer of goblin lantern-light.
American Art – Part VIII of IX: Edgar Alwin Payne
Died 8 April 1947 – Edgar Alwin Payne, an American artist. In the words of one writer, “Edgar Alwin Payne was an American Western landscape painter and muralist. Payne was born in Washburn, Barry County, Missouri, in the heart of the Ozarks. Washburn is in southwest Missouri, only nine miles from the Arkansas border. But that wouldn’t stop this turn-of-the-century Missouri teenager from seeing the world. Before Edgar was done he would crisscross the United States, travel to Mexico, Canada, and Europe and even spend the summer in the Alps. But, like John Muir before him, and Ansel Adams after, it was the American West that most appealed to his heart.”
A Second Poem for Today
“The Yellow House, 1978,”
By Maggie Dietz
The kitchen in the house had a nook for eating, a groove
for the broom behind the door and the woman moved through
it like bathing, reaching ladles from drawers, turning to lift
the milk from the refrigerator while still stirring the pudding,
as if the room and everything in it were as intimate to her as her
body, as beautiful and worthy of her attention as the elbows
which each day she soothed with rose lotion or the white legs
she lifted, again and again, in turn, while watching television.
To be in that room must be what it was like to be the man
next to her at night, or the child who, at six o’clock had stood
close enough to smell the wool of her sweater through the steam,
and later, at the goodnight kiss, could breathe the flavor of her hair—
codfish and broccoli—and taste the coffee, which was darkness
on her lips, and listen then from upstairs to the water running
down, the mattress drifting down the river, a pale moonmark
on the floor, and hear the clink of silverware—the stars, their distant
speaking—and picture the ceiling—the back of a woman kneeling,
covering the heart and holding up the bed and roof and cooling sky.
American Art – Part IX of IX: Stephen Early