American Art – Part I of II: Jeremy Plunkett
Artist Statement: “When we as humans stop to self reflect, we pause. If for only a split second or a prolonged period, this pause brings us to reconsider the condition of our surroundings –the notion of what seems familiar conjoined with the present. I work with the idea that light cast into a space and upon specific characters within familiar places triggers self reflection, triggers that ‘pause.’
By using subtractive approaches within my work, I am able to more vividly create a sense of light through erasing. This is important because this eradication mimics the effects of cast light, specifically the intensity of its source. Light owns the capacity to eradicate space as well as maintaining the ability to shape, bend, and depict. The more detailed and realistically light is depicted, the more light becomes something of abstraction, lending itself to its beauty and daunting nature. I believe this character, in conjunction with monumentally scaled interiors, touches upon the sublime –a feeling made evident when viewing contrasting notions of reality, the real beside illusion.
My work is meant to represent various different pauses, activated by a moment of the sublime (the daunting beauty of light’s interaction with space, the real and the non-real, the mark and the non-mark).”
From the Music Archives – Part I of VII: Bill Haley & His Comets
12 April 1954 – Bill Haley & His Comets record “Rock Around Clock.”
Here is the Artist Statement of Bulgarian painter Peter Mitchev (born 1955): “During the past century, there was too much aggression and hostility in art and life. Because of this, I have promised myself that I will paint for love and unity. For unity between all people, races, religions, man and nature, and for tolerance between the rich and the poor. For me, this is not an abstract idea, but my deep feeling and belief.
As humans, we need to remember some very simple things like joy, tears, happiness… This is why time in my painting is reflected by a stillness. The history and memory of mankind are gathered in one place.
My painting is a message to all people who need love and beauty. What everyone will see in them has already happened, is happening at the moment or will happen in the future. These images are inspired by the memory of mankind and the purest vibrations that people feel.
These paintings are like children to me and that is why I am thankful if they bring joy and satisfaction. For me, painting is a form of thinking. It is a way of living. It is a mission impossible to give up.”
“If you wrote a novel in South Africa which didn’t concern the central issues, it wouldn’t be worth publishing.” – Alan Paton, South African writer, anti-apartheid activist, and author of
“Cry, The Beloved Country” and “Ah, But Your Land is Beautiful,” who died 12 April 1988.
Some quotes from Alan Paton:
“Who knows for what we live, and struggle, and die? Wise men write many books, in words too hard to understand. But this, the purpose of our lives, the end of all our struggle, is beyond all human wisdom.”
“But the one thing that has power completely is love, because when a man loves, he seeks no power, and therefore he has power.”
“There is only one way in which one can endure man’s inhumanity to man and that is to try, in one’s own life, to exemplify man’s humanity to man.”
“When a deep injury is done us, we never recover until we forgive.”
“To give up the task of reforming society is to give up one’s responsibility as a free man.”
“Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply… For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.”
“I envision someday a great, peaceful South Africa in which the world will take pride, a nation in which each of many different groups will be making its own creative contribution.”
“You ask yourself not if this or that is expedient, but if it is right.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of VII: “Big” Joe Turner
12 April 1954 – “Big” Joe Turner releases “Shake, Rattle & Roll.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Korean painter Oh Sujin: “Oh’s art looks at the world with a sure and steady gaze. She turns her attention to faces chosen for how they reflect our time and presents them in pieces executed with artistic and expressive skill guided by a brilliant technique. Selected from websites and magazines, Oh’s portrait subjects have no connection to her. The artist explains, ‘Mass media is our only connection. My portraits are not conceived from a particular aesthetic point of view. Rather, they are inspired by something that grabs my attention, a main concern, a powerful image. Still, if they do have an underlying aesthetic, it lies in the process of moving an image from its place of origin into one of my portraits.’”
America Fails a Test
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States and creator of the New Deal, who died 12 April 1945.
Some quotes from Franklin Delano Roosevelt:
“A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward.”
“Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.”
“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”
“True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.”
“In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”
“When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
“If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships – the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace.”
“Don’t forget what I discovered that over ninety percent of all national deficits from 1921 to 1939 were caused by payments for past, present, and future wars.”
“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.”
“Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.”
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
“The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize.”
“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”
“I am neither bitter nor cynical but I do wish there was less immaturity in political thinking.”
“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”
“In our personal ambitions we are individualists. But in our seeking for economic and political progress as a nation, we all go up or else all go down as one people.”
“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”
“I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”
“Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.”
Here is the Artist Statement of Scottish painter Peter Nigel Mansfield: “A dialogue has gradually developed in my work fueled by cultural and social questionings and discoveries. Influences are drawn from a combination of ongoing personal experiences that feed into the themes of my work, and connections that are made between them.
Firstly, experiencing life abroad, specifically in Pakistan, has continually brought forth comparisons made to my own Scottish way of living. The rich, decorative history of the country’s Persian empirical roots has influenced in an aesthetic and artistic sense whilst the overtly Islamic society and way of life has prompted reflection in a sociological and moral sense.
Secondly, archetypal religious iconography is referred to specifically in the way that it styles the beings it depicts. Whilst belief systems differ, often the visual language of composition, pattern, symbols, use of light etc. all serve the purpose of elevating, revering and/or attributing divinity to the subject (whether the subject be included or not). Overtly religious societies display such visuals throughout their lands yet our oppositely secular society appears not to fall short of such imagery itself. Densely media-clad pages, billboards and screens seem to project surprisingly similar themes and styles related to consumer goods, celebrity stars and cinema superheroes.
Thirdly, discussion of an apparently inherent nature in mankind: the capacity to aspire to perfection, to strive to ‘win’, to be the best. The revered ones that achieve the heights of the pages, billboards and screens may display these drives, but the rest of us surely do not lack them. Neither, it seems, are these yearnings exclusive to adulthood. In weekly community work with children from Dundee housing estates, desires to be crowned King of the Castle, fly like Superman or beat the bully in the after school punch-up are observed and remind of my own childhood memories, and also that such desires are intrinsic to being human.
Thus, direct links are purposely made between these combination of themes that are already present, but less obviously connected, in our visual world of mass media. It is by these means that my paintings seek to provide visual discourse around the aspirations of normal, everyday humanity to something more, something perfect.”
From the Music Archives – Part III of VII: The Beatles
12 April 1963 – The Beatles release “From Me to You” in the United Kingdom.
“I wish I could press snowflakes in a book like flowers.” – James Schuyler, American poet and recipient of the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (for “The Morning of the Poem”), who died 12 April 1991.
beside me in this garden
are huge and daisy-like
(why not? are not
oxeye daisies a chrysanthemum?),
shrubby and thick-stalked,
the leaves pointing up
the stems from which
the flowers burst in
sunbursts. I love
this garden in all its moods,
even under its winter coat
of salt hay, or now,
in October, more than
half gone over: here
a rose, there a clump
of aconite. This morning
one of the dogs killed
a barn owl. Bob saw
it happen, tried to
intervene. The airedale
snapped its neck and left
it lying. Now the bird
lies buried by an apple
tree. Last evening
from the table we saw
the owl, huge in the dusk,
circling the field
on owl-silent wings.
The first one ever seen
here: now it’s gone,
a dream you just remember.
The dogs are barking. In
the studio music plays
and Bob and Darragh paint.
I sit scribbling in a little
notebook at a garden table,
too hot in a heavy shirt
in the mid-October sun
into which the Korean mums
all face. There is a
dull book with me,
an apple core, cigarettes,
an ashtray. Behind me
the rue I gave Bob
flourishes. Light on leaves,
so much to see, and
all I really see is that
owl, its bulk troubling
the twilight. I’ll
soon forget it: what
is there I have not forgot?
Or one day will forget:
this garden, the breeze
in stillness, even
the words, Korean mums.
From the Music Archives – Part IV of VII: Jan Berry
12 April 1966 – Jan Berry, member of the musical duo Jan and Dean, crashes his Corvette into a parked truck and suffers debilitating injuries.
Here is the Artist Statement of British painter Nadia Lazizi: “My paintings centre around figurative representations of the human form. I work predominantly with oils on canvas/linen. I seek to represent and capture a fleeting moment in time, a transient image of contemplation that is a combination of dreams and reality.
This is achieved by a careful construction of mood and atmosphere which is created by the deliberate juxtaposition of the central figure against an ambiguous background, defined by intense artificial lighting and a restricted colour palette. This projects the image outwards towards the viewer, establishing its presence within the central frame of the canvas. The play of light and shadows conveys an effect that is both welcoming and remote, it distorts the image and produces an abstract quality arising from the gradual fading of parts of the image from sight.
It intensifies an ephemeral moment which is interpreted by the viewer in their own personal way, yet being guided by the ambience and composition of the image as a whole.
The works possess a contemporary tone which is achieved through the integration of a soft-focus, chiaroscuro and dry brush techniques combined with an illustrative edge.”
“Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture, or
kill any creature or living being.” – Mahavira, Jain patriarch and spiritual
teacher, who died 12 April 599 B.C.E.
Some quotes from Mahavira:
“There is no enemy ‘outside.’ The real enemies live inside you. They are anger, pride, covetousness, greed, attachments, and hate.”
“Don’t accumulate if you do not need. The excess of wealth in your hands is for the society, and you are the trustee for the same.”
“Can you hold a red-hot iron rod in your hand merely because some one wants you to do so? Then, will it be right on your part to ask others to do the same thing just to satisfy your desires? If you cannot tolerate infliction of pain on your body or mind by others’ words and actions, what right have you to do the same to others through your words and deeds?”
“There is no separate existence of God. Everybody can attain God-hood by making supreme efforts in the right direction.”
“Every soul is in itself absolutely omniscient and blissful. The bliss does not come from outside.”
“Kill not, cause no pain. Non-violence is the highest religion.”
From the Music Archives – Part V of VII: Simon and Garfunkel
12 April 1969 – Simon and Garfunkel release “The Boxer.”
From the Music Archives – Part VI of VII: Linda Ronstadt
12 April 1975 – Linda Ronstadt releases “When Will I Be Loved?”
From the American History Archives: Fort Sumter
12 April 1861 – Forces of the Confederacy open fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina, thereby starting the American Civil War. By War’s end, 620,000 combatants had been killed in battle, 476,000 had been wounded, and 400,00 had been captured or were missing.
Canadian Art – Part I of II: David Silva
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Mexican-born Canadian painter David Silva: “Working as well with acrylics, oils or inks, presents imaginative figurative paintings, responding to a mix of influences going from surrealism to classicism, fantastic, allegoric or sacred art. The fineness and the precision of the drawings are enhanced by the richness of the colors and hues, allowing the artist to share with us some of his passions, such as music, mythology, or history. The whole of his work is meant to be a celebration of life. To the more careful observer, loves to offer fine composite and complex images, with hidden details and compositions, then revealing a secondary symbolism which remains for ever vivid.”
Canadian Art – Part II of II: Brigitta Kocsis
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Hungarian-born Canadian painter Brigitta Kocsis: “Brigitta Kocsis’ recent work focused on investigating the shifting concepts of the human body and its environment. Contemporary discoveries in anatomical technologies have profoundly changed how one perceives the human body. Secret Mechanisms explores how technology can alter perception by interacting with the methods and processes involved in how the human body works. Kocsis is interested in the process of finding a place between abstraction and representation through creating elaborate layers of images, patterns and colors on canvas. In Secret Mechanisms she is creating a series of characters with multi-part anatomical and technological allusions with a specific ‘trade’ or ‘trait’ assigned to each character; like dysfunctional poetic super-heroes in a contemporary comic strip. The graphic images are painted in a layered, collage-like style combined with painterly expressions. The tension contained within the bodies of the characters due to the pervasive technologies, communicates a sense of contemporary environment in its fractured state.”
From the Music Archives – Part VII of VII: Sonny Bono
12 April 1988 – Sonny Bono is elected mayor of Palm Springs, California.
“Since the beginning, Native Peoples lived a life of being in harmony with all that surrounds us.” – Dennis Banks, Native American leader, teacher, lecturer, actor, activist, and author, who was born 12 April 1932.
Some quotes from Dennis Banks:
“I have a Father’s Day every day.”
“Most importantly, the meaning of spirituality lays the seeds for our destiny and the path we must follow.”
“When you have a spiritual foundation, you look at poverty differently.”
“Every man should see the birth of his children.”
“It also called upon traditional people in the Four Directions to strengthen the healing ceremonies and asked people to heed the warnings of Mother Earth.”
“And Americans realized that native people are still here, that they have a moral standing, a legal standing.”
“It is an understanding with the Great Spirit or Creator that we will follow these ways.”
Australian Art – Part I of II: Mary-Jean Richardson
Australian Art – Part II of II: Cressida Campbell
A Poem for Today
“A Marriage in the Dolomites,”
By D. Nurkse
We communicated by cheeses,
unwrapping them gingerly,
parting the crust with a fork,
tasting dew, must, salt,
raising an eyebrow,
or we let chianti talk for us,
rolling it in the glass,
staring—it was dark and shiny
as the pupil, and stared back—
or we undressed each other;
American Art – Part II of II: Burton Silverman