April Offerings – Part XXVI: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of VI: Gaela Erwin

Artist Statement: “Self-portraits are a recurrent theme in my work. This motif allows me the luxury of working from life without the worry of mounting model bills and the ease of working whenever and however long I feel without scheduling conflicts. After all, I am always available to model. Self-portraits also afford the possibilities not only of mirroring my own physical characteristics and psychology but, if the painting is truly successful, also a glimpse of the interior landscape of the viewer’s own psyche.”
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"Self Portrait with Portable Horse"

From the Music Archives – Part I of V: Ma Rainey

“You don’t sing to feel better. You sing ’cause that’s a way of understanding life.” – Ma Rainey (born Gertrude Pridgett), one of the earliest known American professional blues singers, who was born 26 April 1886.

Ma Rainey was billed as “The Mother of the Blues.”

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American Art – Part II of VI: John James Audubon

“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, French-American ornithologist, naturalist, painter, and author of “The Birds of America” (1827-1839), who was born 26 April 1785.

Above – John James Audubon.
Below – Audubon’s great book; four of Audubon’s remarkable illustrations.
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AMERICAN MASTERS - John James Audubon: Drawn From Nature
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From the Music Archives – Part II of V: Count Basie

“I decided that I would be one of the biggest new names; and I actually had some little fancy business cards printed up to announce it, ‘Count Basie. Beware, the Count is Here.'” – William James “Count” Basie, American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer, who died 26 April 1984.

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American Art – Part III of VI: Frederick Law Olmsted

“The possession of arbitrary power has always, the world over, tended irresistibly to destroy humane sensibility, magnanimity, and truth.” – Frederick Law Olmsted, journalist, social critic, public administrator, one of the fathers of American landscape architecture, and, with his partner Calvert Vaux, the designer of New York City’s Central Park, who was born 26 April 1822.

Above – “Frederick Law Olmstead” (1895), by John Singer Sargent.
Below – “Early Spring Afternoon – Central Park” (1911), by Willard Leroy Metcalf; Central Park in 2007.
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From the Music Archives – Part III of V: Bobby Rydell

Born 26 April 1942 – Bobby Rydell, an American singer and, in the early 1960s, a teen idol.

British Art – Part I of II: Charles Hazelwood Shannon

Born 26 April 1863 – Charles Hazelwood Shannon, an English artist.

Below – “Hermes and the Infant Bacchus”; “Lady in a Black Shawl”; “The Apple Gatherers”; “The Birth of Venus”; “Self-Portrait.”

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From the Music Archives – Part IV of V: Gary Wright

Born 26 April 1943 – Gary Wright, an American singer, songwriter, and musician who is credited with helping establish the synthesizer as an instrument in popular music.

British Art – Part II of II: Raymond Leech

Here is one critic describing the background of British painter Raymond Leech (born 1949): “While he took a course in fine art and graphics at a local college of art, Raymond Leech considers himself mainly to be a self-taught artist. Originally he made his living in graphic design, but demand for his original art, prints and posters grew so great that he eventually made the decision to take up painting full time. He works in watercolour, oil and pastel, and his motivation as an artist is best illustrated by his affection for the figure-work of the Cornish Newlyn School of artists, which at the turn of the twentieth century included Stanhope Forbes and Dame Laura Knight. He admires their work because it provided ‘a breath of fresh air’ and Raymond Leech believes that a successful painting is not just a picture, but one that captures the air around the subject and the atmosphere as well.”
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From the Music Archives – Part V of V: Roger Taylor

Born 26 April 1960 – Roger Taylor, an English musician best known as the drummer for the band Duran Duran.

“Nature is a dictionary; one draws words from it.” – Eugene Delacroix, a French Romantic painter, who was born 26 April 1798.

Below – “Massacre at Chios”; “Liberty Leading the People”; “The Barque of Dante”; “The Natchez”; “A Jewish Wedding in Morocco”; “Hamlet with Horatio”; “The Last Words of Emperor Marcus Aurelius”; “Portrait of George Sand”; “Self-Portrait.”
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26 April 1937 – The German Luftwaffe destroys Guernica, a Basque town in Spain. In the words of one historian, “The bombing is considered one of the first raids on a defenseless civilian population by a modern air force.”

Pablo Picasso responds:
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Polish painter Marzena Slusarczyk (born 1976) is a graduate of the Academy of Arts in Gdansk.

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Waxing Philosophical – Part I of III: Marcus Aurelius

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor, philosophical stoic, and author of “Meditations,” who was born 26 April 121.

Some quotes from Marcus Aurelius:

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.”
“The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.”
“Confine yourself to the present.”
“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”
“A noble man compares and estimates himself by an idea which is higher than himself; and a mean man, by one lower than himself. The one produces aspiration; the other ambition, which is the way in which a vulgar man aspires.”
“The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing.”
“I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinions of himself than on the opinions of others.”
“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”
“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”
“How much time he saves who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks.”
“Adapt yourself to the things among which your lot has been cast and love sincerely the fellow creatures with whom destiny has ordained that you shall live.”
“Do every act of your life as if it were your last.”
“Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also.”
“How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.”
“Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.”
“He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.”
“Poverty is the mother of crime.”
“If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.”
“We ought to do good to others as simply as a horse runs, or a bee makes honey, or a vine bears grapes season after season without thinking of the grapes it has borne.”
“Death is a release from the impressions of the senses, and from desires that make us their puppets, and from the vagaries of the mind, and from the hard service of the flesh.”
“Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too.”
“Let men see, let them know, a real man, who lives as he was meant to live.”
“Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.”
“A man should be upright, not be kept upright.”
“Such as are your habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of your mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts.”
“Life is neither good nor evil, but only a place for good and evil.”
“Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.”
“Forward, as occasion offers. Never look round to see whether any shall note it.” “Be satisfied with success in even the smallest matter, and think that even such a result is no trifle.”
“We are too much accustomed to attribute to a single cause that which is the product of several, and the majority of our controversies come from that.”
“Each day provides its own gifts.”
“The only wealth which you will keep forever is the wealth you have given away.”
“To understand the true quality of people, you must look into their minds, and examine their pursuits and aversions.”
“Men exist for the sake of one another.”
“Begin – to begin is half the work, let half still remain; again begin this, and thou wilt have finished.”
“To refrain from imitation is the best revenge.”
“Everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be.”
“The universal order and the personal order are nothing but different expressions and manifestations of a common underlying principle.”
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Spanish painter Angel Benito Gastanaga (born 1962) is a member of the Spanish Association of Painters and Sculptors.
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Waxing Philosophical – Part II of III: David Hume

“A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.” – David Hume, Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist known for his empiricism and skepticism, who was born 26 April 1711 (Old System).

Some quotes from the work of David Hume:

“Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous.”
“He is happy whose circumstances suit his temper, but he is more excellent who can suit his temper to his circumstance.”
“When men are most sure and arrogant they are commonly most mistaken, giving views to passion without that proper deliberation which alone can secure them from the grossest absurdities.”
“Epicurus’s old questions are still unanswered: Is he (God) willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence evil?”
“The life of man is of no greater importance to the universe than that of an oyster.”
“Liberty of any kind is never lost all at once.”
“Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them”
“It is an absurdity to believe that the Deity has human passions, and one of the lowest of human passions, a restless appetite for applause”
“The life of man is of no greater importance to the universe than that of an oyster.”
“When anyone tells me that he saw a dead man restored to life, I immediately consider with myself whether it be more probable that this person should either deceive or be deceived or that the fact which he relates should really have happened. I weigh the one miracle against the other and according to the superiority which I discover, I pronounce my decision. Always I reject the greater miracle. If the falsehood of his testimony would be more miraculous than the event which he relates, then and not till then, can he pretend to command my belief or opinion.”

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Belarusian artist Andrei Ostashov (born 1970) is a graduate of the Belarusian State Academy of Arts, Department of Sculpture.
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Andrey Ostashov - Андрея  Осташова - sculptures
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Andrey Ostashov - Андрея  Осташова - sculptures
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Waxing Philosophical – Part III of III: Ludwig Wittgenstein

“If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian-English philosopher, who was born 26 April 1889.

Some quotes from the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein:

“Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.”
“A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.”
“If people did not sometimes do silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done.”
“The real question of life after death isn’t whether or not it exists, but even if it does what problem this really solves.”
“Don’t for heaven’s sake, be afraid of talking nonsense! But you must pay attention to your nonsense.”
“The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for.”
“A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that’s unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.”
“The problems are solved, not by giving new information, but by arranging what we have known since long.”
“Never stay up on the barren heights of cleverness, but come down into the green valleys of silliness.”
“If you and I are to live religious lives, it mustn’t be that we talk a lot about religion, but that our manner of life is different. It is my belief that only if you try to be helpful to other people will you in the end find your way to God.”
“How small a thought it takes to fill a life.”
“Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.”
“Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”
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Canadian painter Judith Geher earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Toronto. In the words of one writer, “Her practice includes drawing, painting, and sculpture, as well as designing thoughtful and considered architecture.”
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“It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us in trouble. It’s the things we know that ain’t so.” – Charles Farrar Browne, better known by his pen name, Artemus Ward, American humorist, who was born 26 April 1834.

Artemus Ward was one of Mark Twain’s good friends, and he was President Abraham Lincoln’s favorite author.

Some quotes from the work of Artemus Ward:

“Let us all be happy and live within our means, Even if we have to borrow money to do it with.”
“I am not a politician, and my other habits are good, also.”
“The Puritans nobly fled from a land of despotism to a land of freedom, where they could not only enjoy their own religion, but could prevent everybody else from enjoying his.”
“I am happiest when I am idle. I could live for months without performing any kind of labor, and at the expiration of that time I should feel fresh and vigorous enough to go right on in the same way for numerous more months.”
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Here is one critic describing the artistry of Italian symbolist painter Renzo Verdone (born 1939): “The dramatic violence of his figures told the desperation and anger of a generation. Those eyes lost, tired and empty. And those hands, those awful gnarled hands that are an essential part in his paintings. His painting, digging in the soul reveals that unconsciously we hid the infinite thirst for light.”
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“Without heroes, we are all plain people and don’t know how far we can go.” – Bernard Malamud, American novelist, short story writer, and author of “The Magic Barrel” (which won the National Book Award), “The Fixer” (which won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize), and “The Natural,” who was born 26 April 1914.

Some quotes from the work of Bernard Malamud:

“There comes a time in a man’s life when to get where he has to go – if there are no doors or windows he walks through a wall.”
“We have two lives – the one we learn with and the life we live after that.”
“Life is a tragedy full of joy.”
“Where to look if you’ve lost your mind?”
“The purpose of a writer is to keep civilisation from destroying itself.”
“The wild begins where you least expect it, one step off your normal course.”
“A man is an island in the only sense that matters, not an easy way to be. We live in mystery, a cosmos of separate lonely bodies, men, insects, stars. It is all loneliness and men know it best.”
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Here is one writer describing the artistry of Indian painter Basudeb Pal Majumder (born 1970): “Basudeb, as a part of his work and also for his wildlife photography, spends a lot of time in remote places, tribal villages & forests just to get in touch with another world. He has always been inspired by the sensuous beauty of life & living entities which provoke the visual philosophy of his canvases with images that are juxtaposed to the web of enigma illustrated by fragments of memory, visual humors & impressions of subconscious mind. In his words, ‘Living in a busy metro city, I always play a game of hiding in the inexplicable; find myself in the unknown, lost in canvas.’”
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A Poem for Today

“For a Coming Extinction,”
By W. S. Merwin

Gray whale
Now that we are sending you to The End
That great god
Tell him
That we who follow you invented forgiveness
And forgive nothing

I write as though you could understand
And I could say it
One must always pretend something
Among the dying
When you have left the seas nodding on their stalks
Empty of you
Tell him that we were made
On another day

The bewilderment will diminish like an echo
Winding along your inner mountains
Unheard by us
And find its way out
Leaving behind it the future
Dead
And ours

When you will not see again
The whale calves trying the light
Consider what you will find in the black garden
And its court
The sea cows the Great Auks the gorillas
The irreplaceable hosts ranged countless
And fore-ordaining as stars
Our sacrifices

Join your word to theirs
Tell him
That it is we who are important
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American Art – Part IV of VI: Piotr Antonow

Here is one critic describing the artistry of Polish-born painter Piotr Antonow (born 1965): “Known for his nudes but also creates portraits, still lifes and landscapes. After starting with more or less traditional drawing; I’m chasing after the abstract compositional elements that result. I’m very interested in human eye’s various ways of perception of the depth; and the ways of representing it in the three-dimensional medium.”
Antonow lives and works in Chicago.
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A Second Poem for Today

“Climbing along the River,”
By William Stafford

Willows never forget how it feels
to be young.

Do you remember where you came from?
Gravel remembers.

Even the upper end of the river
believes in the ocean.

Exactly at midnight
yesterday sighs away.

What I believe is,
all animals have one soul.

Over the land they love
they crisscross forever.
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American Art – Part V of VI: Emil Robinson

Artist Statement: “My paintings are an attempt to glean spiritual resonance from even the most mundane aspects of my life. I believe in the power of painting to communicate something mysterious. As a representational painter there are nameable things in my paintings. However, I am invested in the unnamable as my primary subject. I think a carefully made painting is a perfect answer to the information inundation in contemporary society.”
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A Third Poem for Today

“A Ritual to Read to Each Other,”
By William Stafford

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider–
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give–yes or no, or maybe–
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.
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American Art – Part VI of VI: Andrew Ek

Artist Statement: “I am a painter completely devoted to my work. I am primarily a self-taught artist and began drawing early on. In the beginning, dinosaurs and anthropomorphic creatures were my favorite subjects. In my teens, I became interested in special effects, frequently making Super-8 horror films, which eventually led to my enrollment in the Industrial Design Technology program at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. At school, I was introduced to a myriad of artistic disciplines and ultimately became obsessed with developing and nurturing my fascination with realistic figurative oil painting. Utilizing my immediate surroundings and friends as fodder for imagery, while incorporating strong emotional undercurrents, my work has culminated into a nexus of finely wrought, phantasmagorical sequences. My aim is to envelop the viewer into an unfolding narrative in a vivid cinematic context, similar to a movie still.
I live with my wife in Chicago.”

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