American Art – Part I of V: Joseph Pennell
Died 23 April 1926 – Joseph Pennell, an American artist.
Born 23 April 1775 – J.M.W. Turner, an English landscape painter, watercolorist, and printmaker.
Below – “Ivy Bridge”; “Rain, Steam, and Speed – The Great Western Railway”; “Snow Storm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps”; “Heaving in Coals by Moonlight”; “Paestrum in the Storm”; “Self-Portrait.”
Literary Genius – Part I of II: Miguel de Cervantes
“It’s up to brave hearts, sir, to be patient when things are going badly, as well as being happy when they’re going well … For I’ve heard that what they call fortune is a flighty woman who drinks too much, and, what’s more, she’s blind, so she can’t see what she’s doing, and she doesn’t know who she’s knocking over or who she’s raising up.” – Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish novelist, poet, playwright, and author of “Don Quixote,” one of the major works of Western literature, who died 23 April 1616.
Some quotes from “Don Quixote”:
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
“All I know is that while I’m asleep, I’m never afraid, and I have no hopes, no struggles, no glories — and bless the man who invented sleep, a cloak over all human thought, food that drives away hunger, water that banishes thirst, fire that heats up cold, chill that moderates passion, and, finally, universal currency with which all things can be bought, weight and balance that brings the shepherd and the king, the fool and the wise, to the same level. There’s only one bad thing about sleep, as far as I’ve ever heard, and that is that it resembles death, since there’s very little difference between a sleeping man and a corpse”
“Time ripens all things; no man is born wise.”
“Remember that there are two kinds of beauty: one of the soul and the other of the body. That of the soul displays its radiance in intelligence, in chastity, in good conduct, in generosity, and in good breeding, and all these qualities may exist in an ugly man. And when we focus our attention upon that beauty, not upon the physical, love generally arises with great violence and intensity. I am well aware that I am not handsome, but I also know that I am not deformed, and it is enough for a man of worth not to be a monster for him to be dearly loved, provided he has those spiritual endowments I have spoken of.”
“Virtue is persecuted by the wicked more than it is loved by the good.”
“Drink moderately, for drunkenness neither keeps a secret, nor observes a promise.”
“Make it thy business to know thyself, which is the most difficult lesson in the world”
“‘Destiny guides our fortunes more favorably than we could have expected. Look there, Sancho Panza, my friend, and see those thirty or so wild giants, with whom I intend to do battle and kill each and all of them, so with their stolen booty we can begin to enrich ourselves. This is noble, righteous warfare, for it is wonderfully useful to God to have such an evil race wiped from the face of the earth.’
‘What giants?’ Asked Sancho Panza.
‘The ones you can see over there,’ answered his master, ‘with the huge arms, some of which are very nearly two leagues long.’
‘Now look, your grace,’ said Sancho, ‘what you see over there aren’t giants, but windmills, and what seems to be arms are just their sails, that go around in the wind and turn the millstone.’
‘Obviously,’ replied Don Quijote, ‘you don’t know much about adventures.’”
Literary Genius – Part II of II: William Shakespeare
“Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage.” – William Shakespeare, English poet, playwright, actor, and both the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist, who died 23 April 1616.
Some quotes from the work of William Shakespeare:
“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”
“I would challenge you to a battle of wits, but I see you are unarmed!”
“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”
“We know what we are, but not what we may be.”
“Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find.”
“To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.”
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.”
In the words of one art historian, “The artwork of Gabriel Bonmati (1928-2005) is a mixture of choice ingredients inspired by his travels around the world. It all started in Morocco in 1928, when he was born into a French/Spanish household. He began his studies in French, which eventually lead him to the Paris School of Fine Arts. From 1952-1965 he taught at a girls’ high school in Casablanca. At that time, he was also painting and began to exhibit his work in 1965. The same year he was appointed head of the Educational Documentation Center at the Nice Academy by the French ministry of Education. Although he had a successful career, he continued to paint and exhibit in Menton, Monte Carlo and Nice.
Growing up in Morocco, educated in France, and inspired by Quebec, Gabriel Bonmati dismisses nothing he was exposed to. His romantic paintings are an accumulation of his travels and experiences. He often paints women of nobility that are adorned with bejeweled headdresses in a middle-eastern décor, seemingly set in the mountains of Charlevoix. Every so often, he incorporates symbolic royal elements like kings and horses into his pieces. Most striking are his delicate female figures that seem to invite the viewer into the Bonmati world. In this imaginary world, they are the queens and we are their subordinates.”
Nobel Laureate: Halldor Laxness
“Whoever doesn’t live in poetry cannot survive here on earth.” – Halldor Laxness, Icelandic writer, author of “Independent People,” and recipient of the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his vivid epic power which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland,” who was born 23 April 1902.
Some quotes from the work of Halldor Laxness:
“Human beings, in point of fact, are lonely by nature, and one should feel sorry for them and love them and mourn with them. It is certain that people would understand one another better and love one another more if they would admit to one another how lonely they were, how sad they were in their tormented, anxious longings and feeble hopes.”
“Shortly afterwards it started raining, very innocently at first, but the sky was packed tight with cloud and gradually the drops grew bigger and heavier, until it was autumn’s dismal rain that was falling—rain that seemed to fill the entire world with its leaden beat, rain suggestive in its dreariness of everlasting waterfalls between the planets, rain that thatched the heavens with drabness and brooded oppressively over the whole countryside, like a disease, strong in the power of its flat, unvarying monotony, its smothering heaviness, its cold, unrelenting cruelty. Smoothly, smoothly it fell, over the whole shire, over the fallen marsh grass, over the troubled lake, the iron-grey gravel flats, the sombre mountain above the croft, smudging out every prospect. And the heavy, hopeless, interminable beat wormed its way into every crevice in the house, lay like a pad of cotton wool over the ears, and embraced everything, both near and far, in its compass, like an unromantic story from life itself that has no rhythm and no crescendo, no climax, but which is nevertheless overwhelming in its scope, terrifying in its significance. And at the bottom of this unfathomed ocean of teeming rain sat the little house and its one neurotic woman.”
“This was the first time that he has ever looked into the labyrinth of the human soul. He was very far from understanding what he saw. But what was of more value, he felt and suffered with her. In years that were yet to come, he relived this memory in song, in the most beautiful song this world has known. For the understanding of the soul’s defenselessness, of the conflict between the two poles, is not the source of the greatest song. The source of the greatest song is sympathy.”
“One boy’s footprints are not long in being lost in the snow, in the steadily falling snow of the shortest day, the longest night; they are lost as soon as they are made. And once again the heath is clothed in drifting white. And there is no ghost, save the one ghost that lives in the heart of a motherless boy, till his footprints disappear.”
“But he could not help it. No one can help it. One is a realist. One has put up with it all ever since childhood; one has had the courage to look it full in the eye, possibly courage enough to look it in the eye all one’s life long. Then one day the distances beckon with their floating possibilities, and in one’s hands are the admission tickets, two slips of blue paper. One is a realist no longer. One has finished putting up with it all, one no longer has the courage to look it in the eye, one is in the power of beckoning hospitable distances, floating possibilities, perhaps forever afterwards. Perhaps one’s life is over.”
“Strange though it may seem, people rarely show such enthusiasm as when they are seeking the proof of a ghost story—the soul gathers all this sort of thing to its hungry bosom.”
“The tyranny of mankind; it was like the obstinate drip of water falling on a stone and hollowing it little by little; and this drip continued, falling obstinately, falling without pause on the souls of the children.”
“And when the spring breezes blow up the valley; when the spring sun shines on last year’s withered grass on the river banks; and on the lake; and on the lake’s two white swans; and coaxes the new grass out of the spongy soil in the marshes – who could believe on such a day that this peaceful, grassy valley brooded over the story of our past; and over its spectres?”
“The farm brook ran down from the mountain in a straight line for the fold then swerved to the west to go its way down into the marshes. There were two knee-high falls in it and two pools, knee-deep. At the bottom there was shingle, pebbles and sand. It ran in many curves. Each curve had its own tone, but not one of them was dull; the brook was merry and music-loving, like youth, but yet with various strings, and it played its music without thought of any audience and did not care though no one heard for a hundred years, like the true poet.”
is of more account than the height of a roof beam. I ought to know; mine cost me eighteen years’ slavery. The man who lives on his own land is an independent man. He is his own master. If I can keep my sheep alive through winter and can pay what has been stipulated from year to year – then I pay what has been stipulated; and I have kept my sheep alive. No, it is freedom that we are all after, Titla. He who pays his way is a king. He who keeps his sheep alive through the winter lives in a palace.”
“The thing that is incredible is life itself. Why should we be here in this sun-illuminated universe? Why should there be green earth under our feet?” – Edwin Markham, American poet, who was born 23 April 1852.
“The Man with the Hoe”
Written after seeing Millet’s World-Famous Painting God made man in His own image, in the image of God made He him. —Genesis.
Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground,
The emptiness of ages in his face,
And on his back the burden of the world.
Who made him dead to rapture and despair,
A thing that grieves not and that never hopes,
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw?
Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow?
Whose breath blew out the light within this brain?
Is this the Thing the Lord God made and gave
To have dominion over sea and land;
To trace the stars and search the heavens for power;
To feel the passion of Eternity?
Is this the Dream He dreamed who shaped the suns
And marked their ways upon the ancient deep?
Down all the stretch of Hell to its last gulf
There is no shape more terrible than this—
More tongued with censure of the world’s blind greed—
More filled with signs and portents for the soul—
More fraught with danger to the universe.
What gulfs between him and the seraphim!
Slave of the wheel of labor, what to him
Are Plato and the swing of Pleiades?
What the long reaches of the peaks of song,
The rift of dawn, the reddening of the rose?
Through this dread shape the suffering ages look;
Time’s tragedy is in that aching stoop;
Through this dread shape humanity betrayed,
Plundered, profaned and disinherited,
Cries protest to the Judges of the World,
A protest that is also prophecy.
O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
is this the handiwork you give to God,
This monstrous thing distorted and soul-quenched ?
How will you ever straighten up this shape;
Touch it again with immortality;
Give back the upward looking and the light;
Rebuild in it the music and the dream;
Make right the immemorial infamies,
Perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes?
O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
How will the Future reckon with this Man?
How answer his brute question in that hour
When whirlwinds of rebellion shake the world?
How will it be with kingdoms and with kings—
With those who shaped him to the thing he is—
When this dumb Terror shall reply to God
After the silence of the centuries?
Spanish Art – Part I of III: Goyo Dominguez
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Spanish painter Goyo Dominguez (born 1960): “Goyo is one of those very few, enviable characters who very early in life realize that haste and noise are the principal enemies of happiness. He soon chose, both in his life and in his art, the road of wisdom; taking him far away from sterile competition and useless ambition, from false gods and passing glory. This is the way he found the peace and quiet that stimulate his soul.”
And from a second critic: “It is from within this state of peace that Goyo Dominguez composes his festive, alluring paintings, using his brilliant draftsmanship from several years in art school, his distinct mixture of dulled and bright colors, and his fascinating juxtaposition of detailed countenances and blurred backgrounds to transcend reality entirely. Goyo’s faith in and dependence on his paintings is clearly evident: he speaks through his subjects, and pleadingly gazes back at the viewer through his figures’ eyes.”
Spanish Art –Part II of III: Matias Quetglas
“Fish say, they have their Stream and Pond;
But is there anything Beyond?” – Rupert Brooke, English poet and soldier, who died 23 April 1915.
If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
Above – Rupert Brooke.
Below – Brooke’s grave on the Greek Island of Skyros – “some corner of a foreign field/That is for ever England.”
Spanish Art – Part III of III: Josep Moncada Juaneda
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Sergei Prokofiev
Born 23 April 1891 – Sergei Prokofiev, a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor.
American Art – Part II of V: Darrell Hill
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Roy Orbison
“Love hurts, love scars, love wounds, and mars.” – Roy Orbison, American singer-songwriter dubbed by one critic “the Caruso of Rock,” who was born 23 April 1936.
American Art – Part III of V: Daniel Sprick
23 April 1907 – Jack London and his wife Charmian set sail from San Francisco on the Snark. London had the forty-three-foot-long boat built in anticipation of a seven-year, around-the-world cruise. Unfortunately, while in the Solomon Islands London became sick with what he feared was leprosy (it proved to be a bad case of psoriasis), and after he was forced to spend five weeks in a Sydney hospital recovering, doctors in Australia convinced him to forsake the rest of his journey and return to California.
Above – The Snark.
Below – Jack and Charmian London on board Snark; the book in which Jack London chronicled their adventures in the South Seas; the book in which Charmian London recorded the details of their voyage.
American Art – Part IV of V: Julio Reyes
Artist Statement: “Beyond my parents, there exists an incredible family saga, transmitted to me around dinner tables and fireplaces one story at a time. Through those experiences, I learned that I come from a long line of Indians, witch doctors, and bootleggers, a lineage that stretches out across Mexico, and the American Southwest. I suppose it was there with my family that I got what I really needed to be an artist. It was in family and hearth that I discovered what it meant to feel deeply about things – the ability to move and be moved by others. At that dinner table, my soul was built up and made larger with noble thoughts. I learned that there were sacred things in life, and that I should devote myself to knowing them.
Very simply, I want to create art for the rest of my life according to my highest calling and fullest abilities — all else stems from this really. If I can transmit, through my work, even the smallest semblance of the love and awe that I have for life – I will have truly done something… I want to look back on a life of meaningful and serious works of art. Art that stands against the growing nihilism of our time, and with fixed purpose celebrates the beauty and immensity of life.”
A Poem for Today
By Lawson Fusao Inada
Memory is an old Mexican woman
sweeping her yard with a broom.
She has grown even smaller now,
residing at that vanishing point
decades after one dies,
but at some times, given
the right conditions—
an ordinary dream, or practically
anything in particular—
she absolutely looms,
assuming the stature
she had in the neighborhood.
This was the Great Valley,
and we had swept in
to do the grooming.
We were on the move, tending
what was essentially
someone else’s garden.
Memory’s yard was all that
in miniature, in microcosm:
rivers for irrigation,
certain plants, certain trees
ascertained by season.
Without formal acknowledgment,
she was most certainly
the head of a community, American.
Memory had been there forever.
We settled in around her;
we brought the electricity
of blues and baptized gospel,
ancient adaptations of icons,
spices, teas, fireworks, trestles,
newly acquired techniques
of conflict and healing, common
concepts of collective survival. . .
Memory was there all the while.
Her house, her shed, her skin,
were all the same— weathered—
and she didn’t do anything, especially,
except hum as she moved;
Memory, in essence, was unmemorable.
Yet, ask any of us who have long since left,
who have all but forgotten that adulterated place
paved over and parceled out by the powers that be,
and what we remember, without even choosing to,
is an old woman humming, sweeping, smoothing her yard: Memory.
American Art – Part V of V: Gregory Calibey