American Art – Part I of X: C. M. Cooper
Painter C. M. Cooper refers to herself as a “contemporary traditionalist.” In the words of one art critic, “Her impressionistic paintings blend classic aesthetics with the modern figure. Women, children, dancers and animals in contemporary settings come to life through her bold impressionistic brush strokes. Cooper’s delicate color sensitivity and wonderful sense of light create images that are filled with emotion and feeling.”
American Art – Part II of X: George Pratt
Russian Art – Part I of II: Victor Borisov-Musatov
Born 14 April 1870 – Victor Borisov-Musatov, a painter whose style mixed Post-Impressionism with realism and Symbolism.
Below – “The Pool”; “Autumn Song”; “May Flowers”; “Phantoms”; “Spring”; “Self-Portrait with Sister.”
Russian Art – Part II of II: Zlata Privedentseva
Here is part of the Artist Statement of painter Zlata Privedentseva: “I call the style in which I paint expressionism, because my paintings are full of emotions, but I am not going to write about my work, because it is much better to view it.”
Zlata Privedentseva lives and works in the Netherlands.
“Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it. What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.” – Sri Ramana Maharshi, Indian philosopher and one of the outstanding Hindu gurus of modern times, who died 14 April 1950.
Some quotes from Sri Ramana Maharshi:
“Wanting to reform the world without discovering one’s true self is like trying to cover the world with leather to avoid the pain of walking on stones and thorns. It is much simpler to wear shoes.”
“Your duty is to be and not to be this or that. ‘I am that I am’ sums up the whole truth. The method is summed up in the words ‘Be still.’ What does stillness mean? It means destroy yourself. Because any form or shape is the cause for trouble. Give up the notion that ‘I am so and so.’ All that is required to realize the Self is to be still. What can be easier than that?”
“All are gurus to us, the wicked by their evil deeds say ‘do not come near me.’ The good are always good, therefore all are like gurus to us.”
“Correcting oneself is correcting the whole world. The Sun is simply bright. It does not correct anyone. Because it shines, the whole world is full of light. Transforming yourself is a means of giving light to the whole world.”
Instead of indulging in mere speculation, devote yourself here and now to the search for the Truth that is ever within you.”
French Art – Part I of III:
French Art – Part II of III: Genevieve Dael
Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Genevieve Dael (born 1947): “Windows have always figured large in Geneviève Dael’s paintings of interiors, defining the spaces they puncture and illuminate. But as her approach has evolved, their role has changed correspondingly, never more intriguingly than in the present sequence of canvases.
Through Dael’s windows there filters, into sometimes intimate, sometimes imposing spaces a soft, benign light. Where in earlier paintings windows were often opaque, now they are beginning to reveal another, outside world: branches of trees can be detected, even a glimpse of sunlit parkland beyond. ‘I give entire priority to feeling,’ Dael has commented, ‘never to the decorative.’ The figures who occupy these rooms, relating to each other in ways we can only intuit, seem to be in the grip of strong emotions, turning the spaces themselves into metaphors for states of mind and feeling.”
French Art – Part III of III: Roland Bertin
14 April 1980 – The Pulitzer Prize is awarded to Norman Mailer for “The Executioner’s Song.”
A quote from “The Executioner’s Song”:
“Historical, religious, and existential treatises suggest that for some persons at some times, it is rational not to avoid physical death at all costs. Indeed the spark of humanity can maximize its essence by choosing an alternative that preserves the greatest dignity and some tranquility of mind.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of British painter Liz Ridgway (born 1964): “Ridgeway aims for a simplicity of composition in her figurative contemporary paintings highlighting the play between the human presence and the flat patterning of the elements around them. She is particularly interested in showing the vulnerability and dignity that coexist in the human face. At times her paintings have a contemplative quality.”
“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.” – James Branch Cabell, American writer of fantasy fiction and author of “Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice,” who was born 14 April 1879.
Some quotes from the work of James Branch Cabell:
“There is not any memory with less satisfaction than the memory of some temptation we resisted.”
“For although this was a very heroic war, with a parade of every sort of high moral principle, and with the most sonorous language employed upon both sides, it somehow failed to bring about either the reformation or the ruin of humankind: and after the conclusion of the murdering and general breakage, the world went on pretty much as it has done after all other wars, with a vague notion that a deal of time and effort had been unprofitably invested, and a conviction that it would be inglorious to say so.”
“Poetry is man’s rebellion against being what he is.”
“Everything in life is miraculous. It rests within the power of each of us to awaken from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness.”
“The only way of rendering life endurable is to drink as much wine as one can come by.”
“I ask of literature precisely those things of which I feel the lack in my own life.”
Born 14 April 1803 – Friedrich von Amerling, an Austrian artist and one of the outstanding portrait painters of the 19th century.
14 April 1912, 11:40 p.m. – RMS Titanic hits an iceberg 375 miles south of Newfoundland and soon begins sinking.
American Art – Part III of X: Carrie Lingscheit
Artist Statement: “Human experience is plagued by an inherent incompleteness—both perception and memory being naturally imperfect, undeniably inexact. It is in our nature to yearn for completion, for narrative wholeness—to seek to fill in the gaps. Craving familiarity, we long to connect ourselves with other people through shared experience. Memories expressed by one person may reanimate long-forgotten details and events for others as their minds strive to forge these connections and to satisfy these voids.
I have always been interested in how identity is tangled up in past experience. We all have a notion of who we are by name, age, and occupation; but who and what I really am is the total amount of all of my experiences, and my later remembrances of those events. The subjective nature of sensory perception imbues our experience of daily life with a fundamental incompleteness—because the human brain can only process a limited amount of information at a time, our every moment is always subject to omission as well as misinterpretation and embellishment by the imagination or by emotion. Each day consists of roughly twenty thousand such moments—defined as the few seconds wherein the brain records an experience. In turn, each subsequent recalling of these experiences is subject to repression, convolution, and dissipation. We rarely remember neutral moments, only those that register as significantly positive or negative. I am fascinated by the notion of the gaps left by these absences of information, these holes within the structure of our past and present lives.”
American Art – Part IV of X: Richard Ryan
Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Richard Ryan (born 1950): “Richard Ryan is a contemporary painter whose still life and figurative works feature highly structured yet enigmatic compositions and a brilliant, clarified palette. Ryan’s work is realist in style. Painting in both large and small formats, he combines allegorical references and pop elements to create images that radiate a subtle melancholy and mystery.”
“Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.” – Arnold Joseph Toynbee, British historian, philosopher of history, and author of “A Study of History” (in twelve volumes), who was born 14 April 1889.
In the words of one critic, in his 12-volume “A Study of History,” Toynbee “examined the rise and fall of 22 civilizations in the course of human history, and he concluded that they rose by responding successfully to challenges under the leadership of creative minorities composed of elite leaders.”
Some quotes from the work of Arnold Toynbee:
“It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.”
“America is a large, friendly dog in a very small room. Every time it wags its tail, it knocks over a chair.”
“Of the twenty-two civilizations that have appeared in history, nineteen of them collapsed when they reached the moral state the United States is in now.”
“A life which does not go into action is a failure.”
“Schism in the soul, schism in the body social, will not be resolved by any scheme to return to the good old days (archaism), or by programs guaranteed to render an ideal projected future (futurism), or even by the most realistic, hardheaded work to weld together again the deteriorating elements [of civilization]. Only birth can conquer death – the birth, not of the old thing again, but of something new.”
“The only real struggle in the history of the world…is between the vested interest and social justice.”
“Militarism has been by far the commonest cause of the breakdown of civilizations. The single art of war makes progress at the expense of all the arts of peace.”
“The human race’s prospects of survival were considerably better when we were defenseless against tigers than they are today when we have become defenseless against ourselves.”
“A city that outdistances man’s walking powers is a trap for man.”
American Art – Part V of X: Juliette Aristides
American Art – Part VI of X: Trinka Jordy
Here is one critic describing the artistry of artist Tinka Jordy, who is best known for her figurative stoneware sculpture: “Tinka Jordy, from Chapel Hill, uses everyday imagery as a visual stimulus to illustrate stories and personal dreams. ‘I attempt to reach a more subconscious level that will hopefully pass through my personal journey to the universal core,’ says Jordy. ‘It is this core that connects us all.’”
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” – Rachel Carson, American marine biologist, conservationist, and author of “The Sea Around Us” (which won the 1952 National Book Award for Nonfiction), “The Edge of the Sea,” and “Silent Spring,” who died 14 April 1964.
Some quotes from the work of Rachel Carson:
“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full or wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year…the alienation from the sources of our strength.”
“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”
“But man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself.”
“In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.”
“Why should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons, a home in insipid surroundings, a circle of acquaintances who are not quite our enemies, the noise of motors with just enough relief to prevent insanity? Who would want to live in a world which is just not quite fatal?”
“The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place.”
“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.”
“One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, “What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?”
“Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth, are never alone or weary of life.”
“The question is whether any civilization can wage relentless war on life without destroying itself, and without losing the right to be called civilized.”
“The ‘control of nature’ is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and philosophy, when it was supposed that nature exists for the convenience of man.”
“Until we have the courage to recognize cruelty for what it is — whether its victim is human or animal — we cannot expect things to be much better in this world. We cannot have peace among men whose hearts delight in killing any living creature. By every act that glorifies or even tolerates such moronic delight in killing, we set back the progress of humanity.”
“For the sense of smell, almost more than any other, has the power to recall memories and it’s a pity we use it so little.”
“We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road — the one less traveled by — offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.”
“Every mystery solved brings us to the threshold of a greater one.”
“The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery, not over nature but of ourselves.”
American Art – Part VII of X: Karen Ann Myers
Artist Statement: “I am investigating the psychological complexity of women through intimate observations in the bedroom. The work is inspired by the cult of beauty in contemporary mass media. Intricately painted, decorative interiors are invented to titillate the viewer.”
The Dust Bowl – Part I of II: Black Sunday
14 April 1935 – The Black Sunday dust storm wreaks economic and agricultural havoc in the plains states. The storm is estimated to have displaced 300 thousand tons of topsoil from the Prairie area of the United States.
American Art – Part VIII of X: Maya Brodsky
Painter Maya Brodsky has earned a BFA and a BA in Philosophy from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and an MFA from the New York Academy of Art.
Below – Sleepers”; “Announcement”; “Curtain”; “Awake”; “Asleep”; “Orsha.”
The Dust Bowl – Part II of II: “The Grapes of Wrath”
14 April 1939 – John Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath” is published. The book won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and it was cited prominently when Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.
A few quotes from “The Grapes of Wrath”:
“Our people are good people; our people are kind people. Pray God some day kind people won’t all be poor.”
“A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going. And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.”
“And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history. The land fell into fewer hands, the number of the dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great owners was directed at repression. The money was spent for arms, for gas to protect the great holdings, and spies were sent to catch the murmuring of revolt so that it might be stamped out. The changing economy was ignored, plans for the change ignored; and only means to destroy revolt were considered, while the causes of revolt went on.”
American Art – Part IX of X: Charles J. Dwyer
A Poem for Today
“All It Is,”
By Alfred Corn
The flexible arc
described by treetop leaves
when breathing currents ripple
a branch to one,
then the other side.
Or the level, quickened swell
that follows a gust over wetlands
home to a million reeds.
Any terrain you find arises from all
that came before: succeeding
event horizons from earlier eras
brought forward by today’s considered
impetus to lift the way it looks,
out toward whatever senses you are there—
breathed into completion, a sphere,
into all it is.
American Art – Part X of X: April Gornik
In the words of one critic, April Gornik “is an American artist who paints American landscapes. Her realist yet dreamlike paintings and drawings embody oppositions and speak to America’s historically conflicted relationship with nature.”