American Art – Part I of II: D. J. Hall
The Pulitzer Prize – Part I of IV: Sam Shepard
16 April 1979 – Sam Shepard wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “Buried Child.”
“You can’t force a thing to grow. You can’t interfere with it. It’s all hidden. It’s all unseen. You just gotta wait til it pops up out of the ground. Tiny little shoot. Tiny little white shoot. All hairy and fragile. Strong enough. Strong enough to break the earth even. It’s a miracle.” – from “Buried Child”
The Pulitzer Prize – Part II of IV: Mary Oliver
16 April 1984 – Mary Oliver wins the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for “American Primitive.”
“In Blackwater Woods”
Look, the trees
their own bodies
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
the long tapers
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
Here is the Artist Statement of Romanian painter Flavia Pitis: “The center of my artwork is the memory. I think it’s fascinating the way it filters its own souvenirs, changing them constantly and moving them easily back and forward in time. I’m also concentrate on humanism, on universal feelings, trying to avoid political involvement and contemporary social issues.
I stop to particular moments from memory filled up in time with an ideal beauty, atmosphere, mystery. My work reveals my own perception of those moments based on my visual journal. I‘m exploring how our mind is completing the past, adding convenient elements from our life experience or desires. I’m interested in catching that magic beauty beyond space and time that is born in our imagination in a realistic approach.
I work with those memories because I conceive the existence like a succession of such moments chosen by our selective memory to last.”
The Pulitzer Prize – Part III of IV: Peter Taylor
16 April 1987 – Peter Taylor wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “Summons to Memphis.”
“I had relived all the wrongs done me by my father, even those he had unwittingly done and those he had done merely in order to enable himself to go ahead with his own life. …I knew that after first protecting Father from my sisters, I must then convert the two middle-aged women to my own views on forgetting wrongs done them by their parents. …Our prerogative was to forget the wrongs done us in our youth and childhood, in order to know ourselves truly grown up. My new insight seemed a great light casting its rays everywhere.” – from “Summons to Memphis”
The Pulitzer Prize – Part IV of IV: August Wilson
16 April 1987 – August Wilson wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “Fences.”
“Don’t you think I ever wanted other things? Don’t you think I had dreams and hopes? What about my life? What about me. Don’t you think it ever crossed my mind to want to know other men? That I wanted to lay up somewhere and forget about my responsibilities? That I wanted someone to make me laugh so I could feel good? You not the only one who’s got wants and needs. But I held on to you, Troy. I took all my feelings, my wants and needs, my dreams…and I buried them inside you. I planted myself inside you and waited to bloom. And it didn’t take me no eighteen years to find out the soil was hard and rocky and it wasn’t never gonna bloom.” – from “Fences”
British Art – Part I of II: Patrick Palmer
Artist Statement: “Whilst an element of realism is important, I try to move beyond artistic convention and avoid an image that is too predictable. Realism is not enough – what you take away and what you add to what you see are what transform a picture into art.
I believe that the viewer wants to see a degree of draughtsmanship from an artist but they deserve more than this. I aspire to make my pictures to touch people personally and to be considered works of beauty.”
“You must be able to see the beautiful.” – Sarah Kirsch, German poet, who was born 16 April 1935.
“Along the coast the sea roars, and inland the mountains roar – the roaring at the center, like a distant clap of thunder.” – Kawabata Yasunari, Japanese novelist, short story writer, and recipient of the 1968 Nobel Prize for Literature “for his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind,” who died 16 April 1972.
Kawabata Yasunari titled his Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech “Japan, The Beautiful, and Myself,” and it is a concise elaboration of Japanese culture, aesthetics, and artistry – at least in their aristocratic expressions.
British Art – Part II of II: Agnes Toth
Artist Statement: “Dichotomy is the main feature of my practice; my work is equally precise and detailed, but also fractured, unfinished and deconstructed. A type of manipulation, where the painting is abstract and realistic at the same time. My aim is to be able to create anything within the framework of painting, to find a path where there are no constrains and limitations in terms of representation.
In my paintings appearance of the contrast between existing and invisible is linked to the conceptual matters of nature, existence and human cognition. The standard set of rules are dissolved by the fragments and the partial forms, layers. The shapes develop organically, as observed in nature.
My area of research is slow processes, private spaces, human behaviour, existence, incompleteness, reconstruction, fragmentation, reinterpretation and denial.”
“A closed mind is a dying mind.” – Edna Ferber, American novelist, short story writer, playwright, and recipient of the 1925 Pulitzer Prize for the Novel (for “So Big”), who died 16 April 1968.
Some quotes from the work of Edna Ferber:
“Being an old maid is like death by drowning, a really delightful sensation after you cease to struggle.”
“Big doesn’t necessarily mean better. Sunflowers aren’t better than violets.”
“Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little.”
“I never go to weddings. Waste of time. Person can get married a dozen times. Lots of folks do. Family like ours, know everybody in the state of Texas and around outside, why, you could spend your life going to weddings. But a funeral, that’s different. You only die once.”
“Whoever said love conquers all was a fool. Because almost everything conquers love – or tries to.”
“Any piece of furniture, I don’t care how beautiful it is, has got to be lived with, and kicked about, and rubbed down, and mistreated…and repolished, and knocked around and dusted and sat on or slept in or eaten off of before it develops its real character.”
“Some day I’ll probably marry a horny-handed son of a toil, and if I do it’ll be the horny hands that will win me. If you want to know, I like ’em with their scars on them. There’s something about a man who has fought for it – I don’t know what it is – a look in his eye – the feel of his hand. He needn’t have been successful – thought he probably would be. I don’t know. I’m not very good at this analysis stuff. I know he – well, you haven’t a mark on you. Not a mark. You quit being an architect, or whatever it was, because architecture was an uphill disheartening job at the time. I don’t say that you should have kept on. For all I know you were a bum architect. But if you had kept on – if you had loved it enough to keep on – fighting, and struggling, and sticking it out – why, that fight would show in your face to-day – in your eyes and your jaw and your hands and in your way of standing and walking and sitting and talking. Listen. I’m not critcizing you. But you’re all smooth. I like ’em bumpy.”
“Then there were long, lazy summer afternoons when there was nothing to do but read. And dream. And watch the town go by to supper. I think that is why our great men and women so often have sprung from small towns, or villages. They have had time to dream in their adolescence. No cars to catch, no matinees, no city streets, none of the teeming, empty, energy-consuming occupations of the city child. Little that is competitive, much that is unconsciously absorbed at the most impressionable period, long evenings for reading, long afternoons in the fields or woods.”
Here is one writer describing the background of Italian painter Daniela Astone (born 1980): “She discovered her passion for drawing and painting at a very young age, and began nourishing and cultivating her craft early on. In 1997, after graduating from the High School for Visual Arts, she moved to Florence to deepen her knowledge of painting. Upon arriving, she first worked in illustration, then, in 2001, enrolled in the Florence Academy of Art, where she is now an instructor.”
“The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who… looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space… on the infinite highway of the air.” – Wilbur Wright, American inventor, aviation pioneer, and, with his brother Orville, credited with building the world’s first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered, and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, who was born 16 April 1867.
“I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.” – Sir Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin, English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer who rose to fame in the silent movie era, who was born 16 April 1889.
Some quotes from the work of Charlie Chaplin:
“Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.”
“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”
“A man’s true character comes out when he’s drunk.”
“I don’t believe that the public knows what it wants; this is the conclusion that I have drawn from my career.”
“To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it!”
“Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.”
“Life could be wonderful if people would leave you alone.”
“I do not have much patience with a thing of beauty that must be explained to be understood. If it does need additional interpretation by someone other than the creator, then I question whether it has fulfilled its purpose.”
“We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery.”
“Man as an individual is a genius. But men in the mass form the headless monster, a great, brutish idiot that goes where prodded.”
“What do you want a meaning for? Life is a desire, not a meaning.”
“I thought I would dress in baggy pants, big shoes, a cane and a derby hat -everything a contradiction: the pants baggy, the coat tight, the hat small and the shoes large.”
“All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl.”
“Despair is a narcotic. It lulls the mind into indifference.”
“In the end, everything is a gag.”
Nobel Laureate: Anatole France
“The Law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich, as well as the poor, to sleep under the bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” – Anatole France, French poet, journalist, novelist, and recipient of the 1921 Nobel Prize in Literature “in recognition of his brilliant literary achievements, characterized as they are by a nobility of style, a profound human sympathy, grace, and a true Gallic temperament,” who was born 16 April 1844.
Some quotes from the work of Anatole France:
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
“Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folks have lent me.”
“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”
“To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.
“To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything.”
“It is the certainty that they possess the truth that makes men cruel.”
“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”
“The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of the mind for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards.”
“We have never heard the devil’s side of the story, God wrote all the book.”
“If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.”
“Of all sexual aberrations, chastity is the strangest.”
“Stupidity is far more dangerous than evil, for evil takes a break from time to time, stupidity does not.”
“It is human nature to think wisely and act in an absurd fashion.”
“An education isn’t how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It’s being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don’t.”
“Time deals gently only with those who take it gently.”
“A person is never happy except at the price of some ignorance.”
“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.”
“Nine tenths of education is encouragement.”
“The books that everybody admires are those that nobody reads.”
“If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.”
“The average man, who does not know what to do with his life, wants another one which will last forever.”
From the American History Archives: Natural Bridges National Monument
16 April 1908 – President Theodore Roosevelt signs a bill establishing Natural Bridges National Monument.
Russian artist Igor Panov (born 1969) has a degree in painting from the St. Petersburg Art Institute.
“I do not know if the people of the United States would vote for superior men if they ran for office, but there can be no doubt that such men do not run.” – Alexis de Tocqueville, French political thinker, historian, and author of “Democracy in America,” who died 16 April 1859:
In addition to “Democracy in America,” students of American history and cultural character should also read “Tocqueville on America after 1840: Letters and Other Writings,” edited and translated by Aurelian Craiutu and Jeremy Jennings. In the words of one critic, “The book points out a clear shift in emphasis especially after 1852 and documents Tocqueville’s growing disenchantment with America, triggered by such issues as political corruption, slavery, expansionism, and the encroachment of the economic sphere upon the political.”
Some quotes from the work of Alexis de Tocqueville:
“There are two things which a democratic people will always find very difficult – to begin a war and to end it.”
“There are many men of principle in both parties in America, but there is no party of principle.”
“As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in?
“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”
“America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
“Americans are so enamored of equality, they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.”
“When the taste for physical gratifications among them has grown more rapidly than their education . . . the time will come when men are carried away and lose all self-restraint . . . .It is not necessary to do violence to such a people in order to strip them of the rights they enjoy; they themselves willingly loosen their hold. . . .they neglect their chief business which is to remain their own masters.”
“Nothing is more wonderful than the art of being free, but nothing is harder to learn how to use than freedom.”
“It is indeed difficult to imagine how men who have entirely renounced the habit of managing their own affairs could be successful in choosing those who ought to lead them. It is impossible to believe that a liberal, energetic, and wise government can ever emerge from the ballots of a nation of servants.”
“History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies.”
“I cannot help fearing that men may reach a point where they look on every new theory as a danger, every innovation as a toilsome trouble, every social advance as a first step toward revolution, and that they may absolutely refuse to move at all.”
American Art – Part II of III: Linda Christensen
Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Linda Christensen: “Since the early 1990s, Linda Christensen has chosen to depict female figures in transitions of movement and repose. Developing her own personal language over years of influence from the Bay Area Abstract and Figurative traditions, Christensen has confidently refined her own inner vision to reach a place of clarity and national significance with her painting.”
A Poem for Today
By Esther Belin
I like to travel to L.A. by myself
My trips to the crowded smoggy polluted by brown
indigenous and immigrant haze are healing.
I travel from one pollution to another.
Being urban I return to where I came from
survives in L.A.
Now for over forty years.
I drive to L.A. in the darkness of the day
on the road before CHP
one with the dark
driving my black truck
invisible on my journey home.
The dark roads take me back to my childhood
riding in the camper of daddy’s truck headed home.
My brother, sister and I would be put to sleep in the camper
and sometime in the darkness of the day
daddy would clime into the cab with mom carrying a thermos full of coffee and some Pendleton blankets
And they would pray
before daddy started the truck
for journey mercies.
Often I’d rise from my lullaby sleep and stare into the darkness of the road
the long darkness empty of cars
Glowy from daddy’s headlights and lonesome from Hank Williams’ deep and twangy voice singing of cold nights and cheatin’ hearts.
About an hour from Flagstaff
the sun would greet us
and the harsh light would break the darkness
and we’d be hungry from travel and for being almost home.
I know the darkness of the roads
endless into the glowy path before me
lit by the moon high above and the heat rising from my truck’s engine.
The humming from tires whisper mile after mile
endless alongside roadside of fields shadowy from glow.
I know the darkness of the roads
It swims through my veins
dark like my skin
and silenced like a battered wife.
I know the darkness of the roads
It floods my liver
pollutes my breath
yet I still witness the white dawning.
American Art – Part III of III: Lovell Birge Harrison