American Art – Part I of V: Jenny Harmon-Scott
According to one critic, painter Jenny Harmon-Scott (born 1962) “ became greatly inspired by the works of the Old Masters. She soon developed a love for the rich glazes and dark dramatic tones of the Dutch painters of the Delft School, which is still reflected in her work today.”
Born 18 April 1839 – Henry Clarence Kendall, an Australian poet.
I purposed once to take my pen and write,
Not songs, like some, tormented and awry
With passion, but a cunning harmony
Of words and music caught from glen and height,
And lucid colours born of woodland light
And shining places where the sea-streams lie.
But this was when the heat of youth glowed white,
And since I’ve put the faded purpose by.
I have no faultless fruits to offer you
Who read this book; but certain syllables
Herein are borrowed from unfooted dells
And secret hollows dear to noontide dew;
And these at least, though far between and few,
May catch the sense like subtle forest spells.
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Leopold Stokowski
“On matters of intonation and technicalities I am more than a martinet—I am a martinetissimo.” – Leopold Stokowski, Anglo-American orchestral conductor, who was born on18 April 1882.
Leopold Stokowski was one of the most famous and influential orchestral conductors of the 20th century, and I will always associate him with Walt Disney’s remarkable 1940 movie “Fantasia,” in which he appeared and for which he conducted nearly all the music. I still remember being both awed and frightened by this movie when I saw it as a boy, and I am happy to share the “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” segment of the film, for which Stokowski produced his own orchestration of Bach’s great work.
“The universe may
be as great as they say.
But it wouldn’t be missed
if it didn’t exist.” – A “grook” (a short, witty poem) written by Piet Hein, Danish architect, mathematician, inventor, author, and poet, who died 18 April 1996.
More Piet Hein grooks:
Losing one glove
is certainly painful,
compared to the pain,
of losing one,
throwing away the other,
the first one again.
“HINT AND SUGGESTION – Admonitory grook addressed to youth”
The human spirit sublimates
the impulses it thwarts;
a healthy sex life mitigates
the lust for other sports.
“PRAYER – to the sun above the clouds”
Sun that givest all things birth,
shine on everything on earth!
If that’s too much to demand,
shine at least on this our land.
If even that’s too much for thee,
shine at any rate on me.
As Pastor X steps out of bed
he slips a neat disguise on:
that halo round his priestly head
is really his horizon.
When people always
try to take
the very smallest
piece of cake
how can it also
that that’s the one
that’s left for me?
Man’s a kind
of Missing Link,
he can think.
“FORETASTE WITH AFTERTASTE”
Corinna’s scanty evening dress
reveals her charms to an excess
which makes a fellow lust for less.
“A PSYCHOLOGICAL TIP”
Whenever you’re called on to make up your mind,
and you’re hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you’ll find,
is simply by spinning a penny.
No — not so that chance shall decide the affair
while you’re passively standing there moping;
but the moment the penny is up in the air,
you suddenly know what you’re hoping.
American Art – Part II of V: Romaine Brooks
In the words of one historian, “Romaine Brooks (1874 – 1970), born Beatrice Romaine Goddard, was an American painter who specialized in portraiture and used a subdued palette dominated by the color gray. Brooks ignored contemporary artistic trends such as Cubism and Fauvism, drawing instead on the Symbolist and Aesthetic movements of the 19th century, especially the works of James McNeill Whistler. Her subjects ranged from anonymous models to titled aristocrats, but she is best known for her images of women in androgynous or masculine dress.”
“A lot of people seem to want to make the institution of marriage substitute for a real relationship.” – Susan Faludi, American feminist, journalist, author, and recipient of the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism, who was born 18 April 1959.
Some quotes from Susan Faludi:
“Feminism’s agenda is basic: It asks that women not be forced to choose between public justice and private happiness.”
“Divorced men are more likely to meet their car payments than their child support obligations.”
“I think a reason that a lot of people feel politically paralyzed is that it used to be clear how power was organized. But those who have their hands on the levers of popular culture today have great power – and it isn’t even clear who they are.”
“The culture used to move relatively slowly, so you could take aim. Now it moves so fast, and is so fluffy and meaningless, you feel like an idiot even complaining about it.”
“The media and the rest of popular culture weren’t recording people’s reactions to 9/11; they were forcing made-up reactions down people’s throats.”
“What happened with Hurricane Katrina was the American electorate was forced to look at what lay behind the veneer of chest-beating. We all saw the consequences of having terrible government leadership.”
American Art – Part III of V:
Here is the Artist Statement of painter Adam Normandin: ‘In my work, I seek to emphasize the beauty and relevance of unobserved details. Everyday things may not be recognized by most as beautiful, yet the ordinary can be compelling, truthful and soulful.
At the core, my work focuses on the commitment and persistence required to understand and ultimately master this art form. I rarely choose my subjects, instead they draw me to them. Recently, freight trains, industrial machinery and old tools fascinate me. Years of use and exposure to the elements imprint a sense of tireless duty onto these objects. They are purely functional and have a “no-nonsense” existence that resonates with my own way of working.
Freight trains are particularly intriguing to me because they are travelers, relentlessly moving from one place to the next, year after year. Many have been in operation for several decades, without rest. All the layers of rust, numeric codes and graffiti give the surface of each train a unique character. Accumulated details reveal truthful and compelling stories, transforming an ordinary object’s nature into something full of history and inherent beauty. If something mundane and functional can communicate such richness and complexity then perhaps we can find meaning within the most ordinary aspects of our own lives as well.”
18 April 1853 – The first train in Asia takes to the rails on a 36 km run from Bombay to Thana in India. Today, rail service in the country is as wonderful as it is extensive, and the several train trips I have taken in India were filled with pleasant serendipities.
From the Music Archive – Part II of II: John Lennon
18 April 1975 – John Lennon releases “Stand by Me.”
“Borders? I have never seen one. But I have heard they exist in the minds of some people.” – Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer most notable for his 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition, who died 18 April 2002.
Some quotes from the work of Thor Heyerdahl:
“A civilized nation can have no enemies, and one cannot draw a line across a map, a line that doesn’t even exist in nature and say that the ugly enemy lives on the one side, and good friends live on the other.”
“One learns more from listening than speaking. And both the wind and the people who continue to live close to nature still have much to tell us which we cannot hear within university walls.”
“In fighting nature, man can win every battle except the last. If he should win that too, he will perish, like an embryo cutting its own umbilical cord.”
“I have never been able to grasp the meaning of time. I don’t believe it exists. I’ve felt this again and again, when alone and out in nature. On such occasions, time does not exist. Nor does the future exist.”
“We must wake up to the insane reality of our time. We are all irresponsible, unless we demand from the responsible decision makers that modern armaments must no longer be made available to people whose former battle axes and swords our ancestors condemned.”
“Civilization grew in the beginning from the minute that we had communication – particularly communication by sea that enabled people to get inspiration and ideas from each other and to exchange basic raw materials.”
“In my experience, it is rarer to find a really happy person in a circle of millionaires than among vagabonds.”
“It is also rarer to find happiness in a man surrounded by the miracles of technology than among people living in the desert of the jungle and who by the standards set by our society would be considered destitute and out of touch.”
French Art – Part I of II: Didier Delamonica
Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Didier Delamonica (born 1950): “Without any doubt, Delamonica is a poet and a storyteller who claims the freedom of leading us into a universe where only his personal vision matters.
This born storyteller who translates his text into highly fanciful images rather than words nurtures his imagination on Biblical, mythological stories and on legends from other cultures. He probably adds to that a lot of himself. He cares first and foremost about the beauty and the light of his painting, and wishes to share his daydream with us.
Each theme, each story is a pretext for building a fairytale universe where the slightest detail has its own importance and is a sort of key. For the deciphering to be richer, more complete, one must move from one side of the painting to the other, find clues, admittedly, but also accept to be immersed in the narrative.
Entering into the Delamonica world without losing your bearings means returning to childhood instincts, accepting the irrational, becoming part of the dreamlike surroundings, thus leaving reality completely behind you. More important still is to know the legends of the past, the bygone tales told by the fireside, all those stories told the world over.”
“The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” – Albert Einstein, German-born theoretical physicist and genius who developed the theory of general relativity and thereby fundamentally changed our view of both the universe and our place in it. Einstein, who died on 18 April 1955, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921 “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.”
Some quotes from Albert Einstein:
“Confusion of goals and perfection of means seems, in my opinion, to characterize our age.”
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”
“Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.”
“Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.”
“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”
“I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace.” “Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.”
“Force always attracts men of low morality.”
“I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.”
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
“Information is not knowledge.”
“Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.”
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
“Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”
“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”
“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
“Nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced.”
“Solitude is painful when one is young, but delightful when one is more mature.”
“The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax.”
“Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.”
“The road to perdition has ever been accompanied by lip service to an ideal.”
“You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.”
“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
French Art – Part II of II: Lortiwa
The Pulitzer Prize – Part I of IV: Michael Cristofer
18 April 1977 – Michael Cristofer wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “The Shadow Box.”
“Your whole life goes by and it feels like only a minute. You try to remember what it was you believed in. What was so important? What was it? You wanted to make a difference. And then you think someone should have said it sooner. Someone should have said it a long time ago. When we were young, someone should have said, ‘This is living. This is life. This lifetime doesn’t last forever. A few days. A few minutes. That’s all.’
This face. These hands. This world. It doesn’t last forever.
This air. This light. This earth. The things you love. These children. This smile. This paint. It doesn’t last forever.
It was never supposed to last forever. These things you have. This moment. They will not last forever.” – from “The Shadow Box”
The Pulitzer Prize – Part II of IV: James Merrill
18 April 1977 – James Merrill wins the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for “Divine Comedies.”
“Remember Sam and Frodo in their hot
Waterless desolation overshot
By evil zombies. They of course come through
—It’s what, in any Quest, the heroes do—
But at the cost of being set apart,
Emptied, diminished. Tolkien knew this. Art—
The tale that all but shapes itself—survives
By feeding on its personages’ lives.
The stripping process, sort of. What to say?
Our lives led to this. It’s the price we pay.” – from “The Book of Ephraim,” in “Divine Comedies”
The Pulitzer Prize – Part III of IV: Alice Walker
18 April 1983 – Alice Walker wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “The Color Purple.”
“I am an expression of the divine, just like a peach is, just like a fish is. I have a right to be this way…I can’t apologize for that, nor can I change it, nor do I want to… We will never have to be other than who we are in order to be successful…We realize that we are as ourselves unlimited and our experiences valid. It is for the rest of the world to recognize this, if they choose.” – from “The Color Purple”
The Pulitzer Prize – Part IV of IV: Galway Kinnell
18 April 1983 – Galway Kinnell wins the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for “Selected Poems.”
I love to go out in late September
among the fat, overripe, icy, black blackberries
to eat blackberries for breakfast,
the stalks very prickly, a penalty
they earn for knowing the black art
of blackberry-making; and as I stand among them
lifting the stalks to my mouth, the ripest berries
fall almost unbidden to my tongue,
as words sometimes do, certain peculiar words
like strengths or squinched,
many-lettered, one-syllabled lumps,
which I squeeze, squinch open, and splurge well
in the silent, startled, icy, black language
of blackberry — eating in late September. – from “Selected Poems”
From the American History Archives: Paul Revere
18 April 1775: Paul Revere and William Dawes set out on horseback to warn colonists that British forces were approaching.
“Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five:
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.” – The opening lines of “Paul Revere’s Ride,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
From the American Old West: Billy the Kid
18 April 1881: In the words of one historian, “Billy the Kid had been sentenced to be hanged by the neck until dead and was being held prisoner in the Old Lincoln County Courthouse. Somehow he got hold of a six-shooter, killed the two deputies who were guarding him, then stole a horse and rode out of town.” This was to prove Billy the Kid’s most famous escape – and his final one. Two months later he was tracked down and shot dead by Sheriff Pat Garrett.
Above – Billy the Kid.
Below – The Old Lincoln County Courthouse and Jail, where Billy the Kid was held.
Since 1993, Bosnian painter Sadko Hadzihasanovic (born 1953) has lived and worked in Toronto. In the words of one critic, “Hadzihasanovic puts the delicacies of manhood front and centre, and layers his work with references from his immediate environment.”
The Pacific Theater in World War II, Part I of II – 18 April 1942: The Doolittle Raid
18 April 1942: Lieutenant Colonel James “Jimmy” Doolittle leads an aerial attack against the Japanese home islands. Taking off from the deck of the United States aircraft carrier Hornet in B-25 bombers – a feat thought impossible – Doolittle and his fellow airmen were able to provide a significant morale boost to Americans and partially avenge the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Montenegrin painter and sculptor Vojo Stanic (born 1924): “In time he turned to painting, enabling him to better express his peace-loving, Mediterranean spirit and interest in people. His paintings are small drama stories from every day life, full of spirit. They bring back to life the spirit of Renaissance comedies, presenting human weaknesses and at the same time he shows understanding for them. Topics from cafes, sea or home are often a mixture of surreal details or imaginative relationship of characters and objects.”
The Pacific Theater in World War II, Part II of II – 18 April 1943: Operation Vengeance
18 April 1943: A group of American airmen flying P-38 fighter planes intercepts and shoots down a plane carrying Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku, the architect of the Pearl Harbor attack. This long-range mission succeeded both because American cryptanalysts had broken Japanese military codes and because the pilots selected for the mission were incredibly courageous and skillful.
Born 18 April 1852 – George Clausen, an English artist.
Below – “The Girl at the Gate”; “Day Dreams”; “Head of a Peasant Woman”; “The Golden Age”; “Dusk”; “Reading by Lamplight (Twilight: Interior)”; “In the Orchard”; “The Watcher”; “The Blacksmith”; “Portrait of a Girl’s Head”; “The Cherry Orchard”; “The Stars Coming Out.”
American Art – Part IV of V: Julie Barbeau
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Julie Barbeau:
“Julie Barbeau is a contemporary realism portrait, figure and still life painter. She earned bachelor degrees in journalism and German at the University of Missouri, and later studied drawing and painting at Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art and Gage Academy of Art in Seattle.
She is inspired by many great masters of the Baroque, especially Rembrandt, Titian and Velazquez. Yet, she puts a contemporary psychological spin on her pieces. Many of her oil paintings are multi-layered works based on the classic Venetian technique.”
Julie Barbeau lives and works in Dallas.
A Poem for Today
“I Have Not Lived,”
By Walter Clyde Curry
Though half my years besiege the aged sun,
I have not lived. My robust preparation
Lags tardily behind fit consummation,
Droops sweatily in courses just begun.
Oh, I have loved and lusted with the best,
Plucked momentary music from the senses;
I’ve kissed a lip or two with fair pretenses
And wept for softness of a woman’s breast.
My mind rebounds to nether joys and pain,
Toying with filth and pharisaic leaven;
I know the lift up sundry peaks to heaven,
And every rockless path to hell again.
A Second Poem for Today
By Walter Clyde Curry
Grieve not that winter masks the yet quick earth,
Nor still that summer walks the hills no more;
That fickle spring has doffed the plaid she wore
To swathe herself in napkins till rebirth.
These buddings, flowerings, are nothing worth;
This ermine cloud stretched firm across the lakes
Will presently be shattered into flakes;
Then, starveling world, be subject to my mirth.
I know that faithful swift mortality
Subscribes to nothing longer than a day;
All beauty signals imminent decay;
And painted wreckage cumbers land and sea.
I laugh to hear a sniveling wise one say,
“Some winnowed self escapes this reckless way.”
American Art – Part V of V: Jeff Barson
Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Jeff Barson (born 1966): “Barson’s style is rich and refreshing, bearing the imprint of a finely tuned artistic hand. His colors are equally opulent, so captivating that it’s hard to remove their memory from your mind.”