American Art – Part I of VI: Dominic Avant
Artist Statement: “I mainly work in oils on figurative and landscape subjects. Because of my passion for plein air painting, I use a strong play of light and color to create drama. This impressionistic use of color and light set on my foundation of academic drawing builds a nice marriage between Impressionism and Realism.
I have become increasingly intrigued with catching the figure in natural moments. In my painting of my son Dean I was struck by a child’s fascination and peaceful innocence as he played with a green bucket in the water and sand oblivious of time. It is just this type of moment that I strive for in my figurative work. I have been doing commissions now for several years.
Whether I am doing landscape or figurative works I strive to capture the essence and the true beauty of the subject. I believe nature is our greatest teacher.”
Died 22 April 1957 – Roy Campbell, a South African poet and satirist.
My thought has learned the lucid art
By which the willows lave their limbs
Whose form upon the water swims
Though in the air they rise apart.
For when with my delight I lie,
By purest reason unreproved,
Psyche usurps the outward eye
To trace her inward sculpture grooved
In one melodious line, whose flow
With eddying circle now invests
The rippled silver of her breasts,
Now shaves a flank of rose-lit snow,
Or rounds a cheek where sunset dies
in the black starlight of her eyes.
“Fashion is the science of appearance, and it inspires one with the desire to seem rather than to be.” – Henry Fielding, English novelist, dramatist, and author of “Tom Jones,” who was born 22 April 1707.
Some quotes from “Tom Jones”:
“There are a set of religious, or rather moral writers, who teach that virtue is the certain road to happiness, and vice to misery, in this world. A very wholesome and comfortable doctrine, and to which we have but one objection, namely, that it is not true.”
“Wisdom, in short, whose lessons have been represented as so hard to learn by those who never were at her school, only teaches us to extend a simple maxim universally known and followed even in the lowest life, a little farther than that life carries it. And this is, not to buy at too dear a price. Now, whoever takes this maxim abroad with him into the grand market of the world, and constantly applies it to honours, to riches, to pleasures, and to every other commodity which that market affords, is, I will venture to affirm, a wise man.”
“I look upon the vulgar observation, ‘That the devil often deserts his friends, and leaves them in the lurch,’ to be a great abuse on that gentleman’s character. Perhaps he may sometimes desert those who are only his cup acquaintance; or who, at most, are but half his; but he generally stands by those who are thoroughly his servants, and helps them off in all extremities, till their bargain expires.”
“It is much easier to make good men wise, than to make bad men good.”
“Nothing can be more reasonable, than that slaves and flatterers should exact the same taxes on all below them, which they themselves pay to all above them.”
“One of the maxims which the devil, in a late visit upon earth, left to his disciples, is, when once you are got up, to kick the stool from under you. In plain English, when you have made your fortune by the good offices of a friend, you are advised to discard him as soon as you can.”
“Men are strangely inclined to worship what they do not understand. A grand secret, upon which several imposers on mankind have totally relied for the success of their frauds.”
From the “Too Good Not to Quote Department”:
“Sure there are dishonest men in local government. But there are dishonest men in national government too.” – Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the United States and shamelessly dishonest man, who died 22 April 1994.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Chinese-born painter Zhaoming Wu (born 1955): “Wu focuses on figurative work, using live models, mainly women draped in cloth, although his repertoire includes landscapes and portraits. The curves of the body and folds in cloth remind Wu of nature, such as mountains, water, and sunrise and sunset. Wu’s style is impressionistic and moody. It has evolved from initially painting ‘quickly and spontaneously’ with exaggerated values and colors to growing more logical and conscious, according to Wu.”
Zhaoming Wu lives and works in San Francisco.
Died 22 April 1930 – Jeppe Aakjaer, a Danish poet and novelist.
Still, my heart, now sets the sun,
While the moor is resting,
Herds now homeward are begun,
And the stork is nesting.
Still, my heart, now sets the sun.
O’er the moor-path silence falls
As on roads so winding.
A late bumblebee is all
Keenest ears are finding.
Still, my heart, now sets the sun.
Briefly now the lapwing flies
O’er the bog-pond’s blushes,
Ere it folds its wings and lies
’Neath a roof of rushes.
Still, my heart, now sets the sun.
Eastern window-panes afar
Flare up in the gloaming,
Moorland ponds like tiny stars
Catch the sunset’s homing.
Still, my heart, now sets the sun!
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Moldovan painter Vladimir Sorin (born 1966): “Sorin has developed a personal style that allows him to depict his subject with photorealistic clarity using traditional painting techniques combined with soft light and warm colors to create a romantic realism that is more like a dream-like ‘ultra memory.’
Sorin is an avid photographer and gets many of his ideas while cycling or hiking in the countryside with his camera. His poetic landscapes have become a part of personal collections throughout Europe and America.”
“All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” – Ellen Glasgow, American novelist and recipient of the 1942 Pulitzer Prize for the Novel (for “In This Our Life”), who was born 22 April 1873.
Some quotes from the work of Ellen Glasgow:
“The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions.”
“He knows so little and knows it so fluently.”
“To teach one’s self is to be forced to learn twice.”
“Mediocrity would always win by force of numbers, but it would win only more mediocrity.”
“There wouldn’t be half as much fun in the world if it weren’t for children and men, and there ain’t a mite of difference between them under the skins.”
“No idea is so antiquated that it was not once modern. No idea is so modern that it will not someday be antiquated.”
“No matter how vital experience might be while you lived it, no sooner was it ended and dead than it became as lifeless as the piles of dry dust in a school history book.”
“Nothing is more consuming, or more illogical, than the desire for remembrance.”
“Violence commands both literature and life, and violence is always crude and distorted.”
“What happens is not as important as how you react to what happens.”
“He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” – Immanuel Kant, German philosopher, who was born 22 April 1724.
“Immaturity is the incapacity to use one’s intelligence without the guidance of another.”
“Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play.”
“Live your life as though your every act were to become a universal law.”
“Two things awe me most: the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.”
“All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.”
“Morality is not the doctrine of how we may make ourselves happy, but how we may make ourselves worthy of happiness.”
“Always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end.”
“Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them.”
“Happiness is not an ideal of reason, but of imagination.”
“To be is to do.”
“Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.”
“If man makes himself a worm he must not complain when he is trodden on.”
“Even philosophers will praise war as ennobling mankind, forgetting the Greek who said: ‘War is bad in that it begets more evil than it kills.’”
“Nothing is divine but what is agreeable to reason.”
“From such crooked wood as that which man is made of, nothing straight can be fashioned.”
American Art – Part II of VI: Michelle Dunaway
Artist Statement: “My mother was always doing something creative, whether painting, wood carving, or stained glass… there were always art books around the house and she encouraged me to do charcoal drawings at around the age of seven. I think growing up in Alaska gave me a love of color and also, growing up in such an untamed wilderness made me aware of all the beauty that is in the everyday. My Father and I always went on adventure hikes in the wilderness, taking the ‘path less traveled.’ I think that really gave me a joy of the process of discovery that translates into the creation of art. For me, the most profound stories are found in the simplest moments. That is something I aspire to convey in my paintings.”
“The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.” – Vladimir Nabokov, Russian-American novelist, lepidopterist, and author of “Lolita” and “Pale Fire,” who was born 22 April 1899.
Some quotes from the work of Vladimir Nabokov:
“Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man.”
“Revelation can be more perilous than Revolution.”
“Complacency is a state of mind that exists only in retrospective: it has to be shattered before being ascertained.”
“Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it.”
“There is nothing in the world that I loathe more than group activity, that communal bath where the hairy and slippery mix in a multiplication of mediocrity.”
“My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.”
“A work of art has no importance whatever to society. It is only important to the individual.”
“Existence is a series of footnotes to a vast, obscure, unfinished masterpiece.”
“I think it is all a matter of love: the more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is.”
“To play safe, I prefer to accept only one type of power: the power of art over trash, the triumph of magic over the brute.”
“Life is a great sunrise. I do not see why death should not be an even greater one.”
“I confess, I do not believe in time.”
“I cannot conceive how anybody in his right mind should go to a psychoanalyst.”
“Poetry involves the mysteries of the irrational perceived through rational words.”
“It is hard, I submit, to loathe bloodshed, including war, more than I do, but it is still harder to exceed my loathing of the very nature of totalitarian states in which massacre is only an administrative detail.”
“Some people, and I am one of them, hate happy ends. We feel cheated. Harm is the norm.”
“Nothing is more exhilarating than philistine vulgarity.”
“Satire is a lesson, parody is a game.”
“The good, the admirable reader identifies himself not with the boy or the girl in the book, but with the mind that conceived and composed that book.”
“The breaking of a wave cannot explain the whole sea.”
“Let all of life be an unfettered howl. Like the crowd greeting the gladiator. Don’t stop to think, don’t interrupt the scream, exhale, release life’s rapture.”
American Art – Part III of VI: Craig Nelson
Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Craig Nelson: “For over 30 years, Craig Nelson has been depicting figures landscapes and various environments in rich vibrant oils. His passion for the subjects relates directly to his brushwork, weaving mood and emotion into each work of art.”
“We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory.” –
Louise Gluck, American poet and 12th U.S. Poet Laureate, who was born 22 April 1943.
“A Summer Garden”
Several weeks ago I discovered a photograph of my mother
sitting in the sun, her face flushed as with achievement or triumph.
The sun was shining. The dogs
were sleeping at her feet where time was also sleeping,
calm and unmoving as in all photographs.
I wiped the dust from my mother’s face.
Indeed, dust covered everything; it seemed to me the persistent
haze of nostalgia that protects all relics of childhood.
In the background, an assortment of park furniture, trees and shrubbery.
The sun moved lower in the sky, the shadows lengthened and darkened.
The more dust I removed, the more these shadows grew.
Summer arrived. The children
leaned over the rose border, their shadows
merging with the shadows of the roses.
A word came into my head, referring
to this shifting and changing, these erasures
that were now obvious—
it appeared, and as quickly vanished.
Was it blindness or darkness, peril, confusion?
Summer arrived, then autumn. The leaves turning,
the children bright spots in a mash of bronze and sienna.
When I had recovered somewhat from these events,
I replaced the photograph as I had found it
between the pages of an ancient paperback,
many parts of which had been
annotated in the margins, sometimes in words but more often
in spirited questions and exclamations
meaning “I agree” or “I’m unsure, puzzled—”
The ink was faded. Here and there I couldn’t tell
what thoughts occurred to the reader
but through the bruise-like blotches I could sense
urgency, as though tears had fallen.
I held the book awhile.
It was ‘Death in Venice’ (in translation);
I had noted the page in case, as Freud believed,
nothing is an accident.
Thus the little photograph
was buried again, as the past is buried in the future.
In the margin there were two words,
linked by an arrow: “sterility” and, down the page, “oblivion”—
“And it seemed to him the pale and lovely
summoner out there smiled at him and beckoned…”
How quiet the garden is;
no breeze ruffles the Cornelian cherry.
Summer has come.
How quiet it is
now that life has triumphed. The rough
pillars of the sycamores
support the immobile
shelves of the foliage,
the lawn beneath
And in the middle of the sky,
the immodest god.
Things are, he says. They are, they do not change;
response does not change.
How hushed it is, the stage
as well as the audience; it seems
breathing is an intrusion.
He must be very close,
the grass is shadowless.
How quiet it is, how silent,
like an afternoon in Pompeii.
Beatrice took the children to the park in Cedarhurst.
The sun was shining. Airplanes
passed back and forth overhead, peaceful because the war was over.
It was the world of her imagination:
true and false were of no importance.
Freshly polished and glittering—
that was the world. Dust
had not yet erupted on the surface of things.
The planes passed back and forth, bound
for Rome and Paris—you couldn’t get there
unless you flew over the park. Everything
must pass through, nothing can stop—
The children held hands, leaning
to smell the roses.
They were five and seven.
was her perception of time.
She sat on a bench, somewhat hidden by oak trees.
Far away, fear approached and departed;
from the train station came the sound it made.
The sky was pink and orange, older because the day was over.
From the Movie Archives: Jack Nicholson
Born 22 April 1937 – Jack Nicholson, an American actor, film director, producer, and writer. In the words of one movie historian, “ With twelve Academy Award nominations (eight for Best Actor and four for Best Supporting Actor), Nicholson is the most nominated male actor in Academy Awards history.”
A scene from one of Jack Nicholson’s Academy Award-winning performances (Will Sampson, portraying Chief Bromden in this clip, also deserved at least an Academy Award nomination.):
American Art – Part IV of VI: John Randall Younger
From the Music Archives: Richie Havens
Died 22 April 2013 – Richie Havens, an American guitarist and singer-songwriter.
American Art – Part V of VI: William Whitaker
In the words of one writer, “The only son of an artist father, William Whitaker (born 1943), American painter, grew up in the special world of the working artist. He had access to the finest art materials and was painting in watercolor and oil at the age of six. His fondest early memories are of the sights sounds and smells of the art studio.
Whitaker loves to paint from life in an old fashioned studio. No matter what direction his art takes him, he always comes back to the model in the studio, the form bathed in the beautiful quiet cool light coming down from a high north window. He refers to this kind of seeing and painting as the Old Testament of art and feels there is enough magic to engage him there for the rest of his life.
He believes the value of painting is to be found in its spiritual power. Having been told all his life that the kind of painting he enjoys is dead, he takes quiet comfort in lovingly attempting to capture something the camera cannot see. He is also delighted that there are so many wonderfully talented young artists who are not bound or inhibited by contemporary art world conventions and who are out to paint beautifully crafted pictures without apology. He has been a professional artist since 1965, during which time he has conducted workshops and been a university art professor. He continues to work with one or two advanced student artists for fun. He paints about three or four hours every day ands spends the rest of the time trying not to ruin any good work he’s done.”
A Poem for Today
“Twilight: After Haying,”
By Jane Kenyon
Yes, long shadows go out
from the bales; and yes, the soul
must part from the body:
what else could it do?
The men sprawl near the baler,
too tired to leave the field.
They talk and smoke,
and the tips of their cigarettes
blaze like small roses
in the night air. (It arrived
and settled among them
before they were aware.)
The moon comes
to count the bales,
and the dispossessed–
–sings from the dusty stubble.
These things happen. . .the soul’s bliss
and suffering are bound together
like the grasses. . .
The last, sweet exhalations
of timothy and vetch
go out with the song of the bird;
the ravaged field
grows wet with dew.
Below – Marc Bohne: “Twilight Hay Bales”
American Art – Part VI of VI: Ansel Adams
“It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.” AND “A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.” – Ansel Adams, visionary American photographer and environmentalist, who died 22 April 1984.
Below – “The Tetons and the Snake River”; “Moon and Half Dome”; “Close-up of Leaves in Glacier National Park”; “Clearing Winter Storm – Yosemite Valley”; “Moonrise”; “Rose and Driftwood”; “Mountains”; “Jeffry Pine”; “Poplar Trees”; “Trees with Snow on Branches.”
Loving Our Mother: Earth Day 2015
22 April 1970 – Earth Day, founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, is first observed, though the idea for such a day had been suggested a year earlier. In the words of one historian, “In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be celebrated on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. This day of nature’s equipoise was later sanctioned in a Proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations.”
Some appropriate quotes for Earth Day (particularly the final one):
“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” —Theodore Roosevelt
“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.” —John James Audubon
“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” —Henry David Thoreau
“Perhaps a creature of so much ingenuity and deep memory is almost bound to grow alienated from his world, his fellows, and the objects around him. He suffers from a nostalgia for which there is no remedy upon earth except as it is to be found in the enlightenment of the spirit–some ability to have a perceptive rather than an exploitive relationship with his fellow creatures.” – Loren Eiseley
“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” —John Muir
“The good man is the friend of all living things.” — Mahatma Gandhi
“We need the tonic of wildness … At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplainable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” —Henry David Thoreau
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together … all things connect.” —Chief Seattle
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” —Jane Goodall
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” – Carl Sagan
Above – The Earth Day Flag.
Below – John McConnell (1915-2012); Gaylord Nelson (1916-2005); the “Pale Blue Dot” – a photograph of the Earth taken from about six billion miles away by the Voyager 1 space probe.