American Art – Part I of IV: George Grey Barnard
Died 24 April 1938 – George Grey Barnard, an American sculptor.
American Art – Part II of IV: Mark Tobey
Died 24 April 1976 – Mark Tobey, an American painter whose work was often inspired by Asian calligraphy.
24 April 1792 – Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle composes “La Marseillaise.” In the words of one historian, “The French National Convention adopted it as the Republic’s anthem in 1795. It acquired its nickname after being sung in Paris by volunteers from Marseille marching on the capital.”
Here’s a stirring rendition of the anthem:
“I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.” – Willa Cather, American writer and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize (for “One of Ours”), who died 24 April 1947.
In the words of one critic, Cather “achieved recognition for her novels of frontier life on the Great Plains, in works such as “O Pioneers!,” “My Ántonia,” and “The Song of the Lark.”
Some quotes from the work of Willa Cather:
“The earth was warm under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers…I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.”
“I wanted to walk straight on through the red grass and over the edge of the world, which could not be very far away. The light and air abot me told me that the world ended here: only the ground and sun and sky were left, and if one went a little farther there would only be sun and sky, and one would float off into them, like the tawny hawks which sailed over our heads making slow shadows on the grass.”
“Winter lies too long in country towns; hangs on until it is stale and shabby, old and sullen.”
“While the train flashed through never-ending miles of ripe wheat, by country towns and bright-flowered pastures and oak groves wilting in the sun, we sat in the observation car, where the woodwork was hot to the touch and red dust lay deep over everything. The dust and heat, the burning wind, reminded us of many things. We were talking about what it is like to spend one’s childhood in little towns like these, buried in wheat and corn, under stimulating extremes of climate: burning summers when the world lies green and billowy beneath a brilliant sky, when one is fairly stifled in vegetation, in the color and smell of strong weeds and heavy harvests; blustery winters with little snow, when the whole country is stripped bare and gray as sheet-iron. We agreed that no one who had not grown up in a little prairie town could know anything about it. It was a kind of freemasonry, we said.”
“I slept that night in the room I used to have when I was a little boy, with the summer wind blowing in at the windows, bringing the smell of the ripe fields. I lay awake and watched the moonlight shining over the barn and the stacks and the pond, and the windmill making its old dark shadow against the blue sky.”
“Trees were so rare in that country, and they had to make such a hard fight to grow, that we used to feel anxious about them, and visit them as if they were persons.”
Oleg Zhivetin was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in 1964 to a family of Russian painters. He is a graduate of the prestigious Surikov Art Institute. In his words, “I show in my paintings what people cannot see in real life. I show individuality, the intelligence, dreams and emotions, that every human being is different and because of that they are beautiful.”
“For West is where we all plan to go some day. It is where you go when the land gives out and the old-field pines encroach. It is where you go when you get the letter saying: Flee, all is discovered. It is where you go when you look down at the blade in your hand and the blood on it. It is where you go when you are told that you are a bubble on the tide of empire. It is where you go when you hear that thar’s gold in them-thar hills. It is where you go to grow up with the country. It is where you go to spend your old age. Or it is just where you go.” – Robert Penn Warren, American poet, novelist, literary critic, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel (for “All the King’s Men”) and two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, who was born 24 April 1905. Warren is the only person to have won Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and poetry.
From plane of light to plane, wings dipping through
Geometries and orchids that the sunset builds,
Out of the peak’s black angularity of shadow, riding
The last tumultuous avalanche of
Light above pines and the guttural gorge,
The hawk comes.
Scythes down another day, his motion
Is that of the honed steel-edge, we hear
The crashless fall of stalks of Time.
The head of each stalk is heavy with the gold of our error.
Look! Look! he is climbing the last light
Who knows neither Time nor error, and under
Whose eye, unforgiving, the world, unforgiven, swings
The last thrush is still, the last bat
Now cruises in his sharp hieroglyphics. His wisdom
Is ancient, too, and immense. The star
Is steady, like Plato, over the mountain.
Here is the Artist Statement of painter Krassimir Kolev: “I was born in Bulgaria, but now I live in Uppsala, Sweden with my wife Lena and our daughter Matilda. My paintings are realistic with a hyper-realistic touch. They are often emotional and expressive. The figures in my paintings express more presence than action.”
“Humor is the spiciest condiment in the feast of existence. Laugh at your mistakes but learn from them, joke over your troubles but gather strength from them, make a jest of your difficulties but overcome them.” – Lucy Maud Montgomery, Canadian author best known for a series of novels beginning with “Anne of Green Gables,” who died 24 April 1942.
Some quotes from the work of Lucy Maud Montgomery:
“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”
“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
“Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music, perhaps . . . perhaps . . . love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath.”
“Life is worth living as long as there’s a laugh in it.”
“It’s not what the world holds for you. It’s what you bring to it.”
“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”
“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive–it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there?”
“Look at that sea, girls–all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn’t enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.”
“There are so many unpleasant things in the world already that there is no use in imagining any more.”
American Art – Part III of IV: Willem de Kooning
“I don’t paint to live; I live to paint.” – Willem de Kooning, Dutch-American abstract expressionist artist, who was born 24 April 1904.
Below – “Seated Woman” (1940); “Woman V” (1952-1953); “Woman and Bicycle” (1953); “Marilyn Monroe” (1954); “A Tree in Naples” (1960); ‘North Atlantic Light” (1977).
From the American Old West: Annie Oakley
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Norwegian painter Christer Karlstad (born 1974): “In Karlstad’s constructed, ambiguous scenarios he freely engages in myths, symbols and archetypes, as this is how he sees and understands the world. When confronted by one of his paintings, wondering if somebody is dead or only sleeping, whether it’s good or evil, comforting or disturbing, the answers are actually to be found in the questions.
In his visual world of ‘staged mysticism’ the ordinary time perspective ceases to exist. Depictions of realistic situations give way to another agenda. Compositions revolve around scenarios where normality is challenged, replaced or consumed by something else, something unknown.”
A Poem for Today
“A Workman to the Gods,”
By Edwin Markham
Once Phidias stood, with hammer in his hand,
Carving Minerva from the breathing stone,
Tracing with love the winding of a hair,
A single hair upon her head, whereon
A youth of Athens cried, “O Phidias,
Why do you dally on a hidden hair?
When she is lifted to the lofty front
Of the Parthenon, no human eye will see.”
And Phidias thundered on him: “Silence, slave:
Men will not see, but the Immortals will!”
A Second Poem for Today
By Tsering Wangmo Dhompa
(Note: Tsering Wangmo Dhompa is the first Tibetan female poet to be published in English. She lives in Santa Cruz, California.)
Like brides behind veils, my people peep from drawn curtains and feel the air with their fingers. They do not see any use for heat and are not hospitable to it. Electric fans focus on bare shoulder blades and erect nipples.
Mosquitoes persist. Hands do not move fast enough.
On arrival, my people were instructed to throw away their black clothes, then taught to distract the sun. In crisp white pajamas and khadi shirts, they walked the camp till it paled to a canvas of gathering spirits.
Night led them to the edge of the stream. Feet in water, they talked about what they had left to lose.
Some afternoons, old stories were translated into Tibetan. ‘You are blessed,’ strangers said. ‘God has delivered you. Such is his bountiful nature.’
Sparrows tattooed the air. Prayer beads clicked as mantras circulated above the parable of a son who erred and was forgiven. The story teller’s lips bent with crystals of sweat.
‘Jesus loves you.’ For years, F thought Jesus was the president of a country. He thought he was a rich old man.
American Art – Part IV of IV: Steve Hawley