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

American Art – Part I of V: Kayleen Ylitalo-Horsma

Artist Statement: “I paint simple strokes. Strokes that mature into figures that are emphasized by the intentions of chiaroscuro. Using the contrast of light and shadow to highlight the essence of its focal point, resulting in loose but believable figurative oil paintings.”
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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” – The opening paragraph of “A Tale of Two Cities,” by Charles Dickens, the first installment of which was published in the literary periodical “All the Year Round” on 30 April 1859.

Above – The first installment of “A Tale of Two Cities.”
Below – The novel; “Charles Dickens in His Study” (1859), by William Powell Frith.
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“Above all keep your colours fresh!” – Edouard Manet, French painter and a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism, who died 30 April 1883.

Below – “The Luncheon on the Grass”; “The Café Concert”; “The Bar at the Folies-Bergere”; “The Railway”; “Olympia”; “Self-Portrait with Palette.”

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From the Movie Archives: Sergio Leone

“In my childhood, America was like a religion. Then, real-life Americans abruptly entered my life – in jeeps – and upset all my dreams…I can’t see America any other way than with a European’s eyes. It fascinates me and terrifies me at the same time.” – Sergio Leone, Italian film director, producer, and screenwriter most associated with the “Spaghetti Western” genre, who died 30 April 1989.

Note: “A Fistful of Dollars” (1964) is based on Kurosawa Akira’s “Yojimbo” (1961).

In the words of one critic, painter Yakov Feldman was “born in 1969 in Vitebsk (Belarus). In 1987 he graduated from art school in Vitebsk. From 1988 to 1990 he studied at the Art Academy of Vitebsk. He participated in exhibitions in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Vitebsk. He emigrated to Israel in 1990, and that is where he lives and works.”
In the words of another critic, ”Feldman’s work range between surrealism, symbolism and super-realism. he is focusing mostly on human faces, which seem cut out from the past, they have an affinity with the early renaissance portraits from the likes of Giotto or Van Eyck but also with the saints of Russian iconography.
The technique of thin layers of glazed oil paint Feldman uses on his panels strengthens the tranquil, aesthetic character of the paintings. The gleaming, crystalline eyes are striking. They seem to be contacting the present through the layers of history with their piercing gaze.”
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“The trouble with us in America isn’t that the poetry of life has turned to prose, but that it has turned to advertising copy.” – Louis Kronenberger, American critic, novelist, and biographer, who died 30 April 1980.

Some quotes from the work of Louis Kronenberger:

“There seems to be a terrible misunderstanding on the part of a great many people to the effect that when you cease to believe you may cease to behave.”
“Old age is an excellent time for outrage. My goal is to say or do at least one outrageous thing every week.”
“Individualism is rather like innocence; there must be something unconscious about it.”
“The closer and more confidential our relationship with someone, the less we are entitled to ask about what we are not voluntarily told.”
“It is the gossip columnist’s business to write about what is none of his business.”
“Nothing so soothes our vanity as a display of greater vanity in others; it make us vain, in fact, of our modesty.”
“Privacy was in sufficient danger before TV appeared, and TV has given it its death blow.”
“Highly educated bores are by far the worst; they know so much, in such fiendish detail, to be boring about.”
“In art there are tears that lie too deep for thought.”
“Many people today don’t want honest answers insofar as honest means unpleasant or disturbing. They want a soft answer that turneth away anxiety.”
“One of the misfortunes of our time is that in getting rid of false shame we have killed off so much real shame as well.”
“The Englishman wants to be recognized as a gentleman, or as some other suitable species of human being; the American wants to be considered a good guy.”

Latvian painter Irina Vorkale (born 1953) is a graduate of both the Art School of Riga and the Painting Department of the Latvian Academy of Arts.

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From the American History Archives: Mr. Potato Head

30 April 1952 – Mr. Potato Head becomes the first toy advertised on television. In the words of one historian, “The campaign was also the first to be aimed directly at children; before this, commercials were only targeted at adults, so toy adverts had always been pitched to parents. This commercial revolutionized marketing, and caused an industrial boom.”

Below – The original Mr. Potato Head.
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Italian painter Gavino Pedoni (born 1945) lives and works in Sassari.
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“Give me a land of boughs in leaf
A land of trees that stand;
Where trees are fallen there is grief;
I love no leafless land.” – A. E. Housman, English classical scholar, poet, and author of “A Shropshire Lad,” who died 30 April 1936.

“Bredon Hill”

In summertime on Bredon
The bells they sound so clear;
Round both the shires they ring them
In steeples far and near,
A happy noise to hear.

Here of a Sunday morning
My love and I would lie,
And see the coloured counties,
And hear the larks so high
About us in the sky.

The bells would ring to call her
In valleys miles away:
“Come all to church, good people;
Good people, come and pray.”
But here my love would stay.

And I would turn and answer
Among the springing thyme,
“Oh, peal upon our wedding,
And we will hear the chime,
And come to church in time.”

But when the snows at Christmas
On Bredon top were strown,
My love rose up so early
And stole out unbeknown
And went to church alone.

They tolled the one bell only,
Groom there was none to see,
The mourners followed after,
And so to church went she,
And would not wait for me.

The bells they sound on Bredon
And still the steeples hum.
“Come all to church, good people,”–
Oh, noisy bells, be dumb;
I hear you, I will come.

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Brazilian painter Marcia Marostega graduated from the Federal University of Santa Maria with a degree in Fine Art.
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“Because my love for you is beyond words, I decided to shut up.” – Nizar Qabbani, a Syrian diplomat, publisher, and poet, who died 30 April 1998. In the words of one critic, “His poetic style combines simplicity and elegance in exploring themes of love, eroticism, feminism, religion, and Arab nationalism. Qabbani is one of the most revered contemporary poets in the Arab world.”

“Maritime Poem”

In the blue harbor of your eyes

Blow rains of melodious lights,

Dizzy suns and sails

Painting their voyage to endlessness.

In the blue harbor of your eyes

Is an open sea window,

And birds appear in the distance

Searching for islands still unborn.



In the blue harbor of your eyes

Snow falls in July.

Ships laden with turquoise

Spill over the sea and are not drowned.



In the blue harbor of your eyes

I run on the scattered rocks like a child

Breathing the fragrance of the sea

And return an exhausted bird.



In the blue harbor of your eyes

Stones sing in the night.

Who has hidden a thousand poems

In the closed book of your eyes?



If only, if only I were a sailor,

If only somebody’d give me a boat,

I would furl my sails each evening

In the blue harbor of your eyes.

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Iranian painter Pooneh Oshidari is a graduate of the Academy of Art University in Tehran.
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“At its best New Wave/punk represents a fundamental and age-old Utopian dream: that if you give people the license to be as outrageous as they want in absolutely any fashion they can dream up, they’ll be creative about it, and do something good besides.” – Lester Bangs, American music journalist, author, and musician, who died 30 April 1982.

Greil Marcus (author of “Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock ‘n’ Roll Music” and “Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century”) has collected many of the best essays of Lester Bangs in “Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung: The Work of a Legendary Critic.”

Some quotes from the work of Lester Bangs:

“I suspect almost every day that I’m living for nothing, I get depressed and I feel self-destructive and a lot of the time I don’t like myself. What’s more, the proximity of other humans often fills me with overwhelming anxiety, but I also feel that this precarious sentience is all we’ve got and, simplistic as it may seem, it’s a person’s duty to the potentials of his own soul to make the best of it. We’re all stuck on this often miserable earth where life is essentially tragic, but there are glints of beauty and bedrock joy that come shining through from time to precious time to remind anybody who cares to see that there is something higher and larger than ourselves. And I am not talking about your putrefying gods, I am talking about a sense of wonder about life itself and the feeling that there is some redemptive factor you must at least search for until you drop dead of natural causes.”
“Rock ‘n’ roll is an attitude, it’s not a musical form of a strict sort. It’s a way of doing things, of approaching things. Writing can be rock ‘n’ roll, or a movie can be rock ‘n’ roll. It’s a way of living your life.”
“Don’t ask me why I obsessively look to rock ’n’ roll bands for some kind of model for a better society. I guess it’s just that I glimpsed something beautiful in a flashbulb moment once, and perhaps mistaking it for prophecy have been seeking its fulfillment ever since.”
“Sometimes I think nothing is simple but the feeling of pain.”
“I’ll probably never produce a masterpiece, but so what? I feel I have a Sound aborning, which is my own, and that Sound if erratic is still my greatest pride, because I would rather write like a dancer shaking my ass to boogaloo inside my head, and perhaps reach only readers who like to use books to shake their asses, than to be or write for the man cloistered in a closet somewhere reading Aeschylus while this stupefying world careens crazily past his waxy windows toward its last raving sooty feedback pirouette.”
“The twin concepts of nihilism and the antihero have had it. What began with The Wild One and James ‘nobody understands me’ Dean, ran with increasing vehement negativism up through the Stones and Velvets and Iggy…It may be time, in spite of all indications to the contrary from the exterior society, to begin thinking in terms of heroes again, of love instead of hate, of energy instead of violence, of strength instead of cruelty, of action instead of reaction.”
“If the main reason we listen to music in the first place is to hear passion expressed- as I’ve believed all my life-then what good is this music going to prove to be? What does that say about us? What are we confirming in ourselves by doting on art that is emotionally neutral? And, simultaneously, what in ourselves might we be destroying or at least keeping down?”
“The trend toward narcissistic flair has been responsible in large part for smiting rock with the superstar virus, which revolves around the substituting of attitudes and flamboyant trappings, into which the audience can project their fantasies, for the simple desire to make music, get loose, knock the folks out or get ‘em up dancin.’ It’s not enough just to do those things anymore; what you must do instead if you want success on any large scale is figure a way of getting yourself associated in the audience’s mind with their pieties and their sense of ‘community,’ i.e., ram it home that you’re one of THEM; or, alternately, deck and bake yourself into an image configuration so blatant or outrageous that you become a culture myth.”
“But since death is inevitable we don’t have to deal with it (it’ll deal with us when it decides to). What we do have to deal with is the psychic, physical, and fusion diseases wrought during our so-called lives as byproducts of the elemental clash. In other words we’re all terminally psychotic and no doctor, hospital, pill, needle, book or guru holds the cure. Because the disease is called life and there is no cure for that but death and death’s just part of the set-up designed to keep you terrified and thus in bondage from the cradle to the crypt so ha ha the joke’s on you except there’s no punchline and the comedian forgot you ever existed as even a comma.”
“Personally I feel that real rock ‘n’ roll may be on the way out, just like adolescence as a relatively innocent transitional period is on the way out. What we have instead is a small island of new free music surrounded by some good reworkings of past idioms and a vast sargasso sea of absolute garbage.”
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Here is the Artist Statement of Greek painter Maria Giannakaki: “I was born in Athens and I am a professional painter. I graduated from the Athens School of Fine Arts in 1983. Under a state scholarship I spent 3 years in China studying traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy. I love traveling and I have visited many countries, mostly in Europe and Asia. Last year I spent a month in Tibet. In my spare time I help stray animals and practice yoga.”
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”Where have I seen before, against the wind,
These bright virgins, robed and bare of bonnet,

Flowing with music of their strange quick tongue
And adventuring with delicate paces by the stream,—
Myself a child, old suddenly at the scream
From one of the white throats which it hid among?” – From “Vision by Sweetwater,” by John Crowe Ransom, American educator, scholar, literary critic, essayist, editor, and poet, who was born 30 April 1888.

“Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter”

There was such speed in her little body,
And such lightness in her footfall,
It is no wonder her brown study
Astonishes us all.

Her wars were bruited in our high window.
We looked among orchard trees and beyond
Where she took arms against her shadow,
Or harried unto the pond

The lazy geese, like a snow cloud
Dripping their snow on the green grass,
Tricking and stopping, sleepy and proud,
Who cried in goose, Alas,

For the tireless heart within the little
Lady with rod that made them rise
From their noon apple-dreams and scuttle
Goose-fashion under the skies!

But now go the bells, and we are ready,
In one house we are sternly stopped
To say we are vexed at her brown study,
Lying so primly propped.

Below – Seymour Joseph Guy (1824-1910): “The Goose Girl”
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“If you take the mystery out of art, you’re left with nothing but design and illustration.” – F. E. McWilliam, Irish sculptor, who was born 30 April 1909.

Below – “Women of Belfast”; “Angular Figure”; “Woman in Bomb Blast”; “Legs Static.”
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Canadian artist Leslie Watts (born 1961) became a full-time painter in 2007.
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“It has always been a happy thought to me that the creek runs on all night, new every minute, whether I wish it or know it or care, as a closed book on a shelf continues to whisper to itself its own inexhaustible tale.” – Annie Dillard, American writer and author of “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” (which won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction), who was born 30 April 1945.

Some quotes from the work of Annie Dillard:

“You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require nor demand it.”
“Thomas Merton wrote, ‘there is always a temptation to diddle around in the contemplative life, making itsy-bitsy statues.’ There is always an enormous temptation in all of life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for itsy-bitsy years on end. It is so self-conscious, so apparently moral, simply to step aside from the gaps where the creeks and winds pour down, saying, I never merited this grace, quite rightly, and then to sulk along the rest of your days on the edge of rage.
I won’t have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous and bitter, more extravagant and bright. We are making hay when we should be making whoopee; we are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.
Go up into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish too. Stalk the gaps. Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock-more than a maple- a universe. This is how you spend this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon. Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.”
“There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet. Who would call a day spent reading a good day? But a life spent reading — that is a good life.”
“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them.”
“Nature is, above all, profligate. Don’t believe them when they tell you how economical and thrifty nature is, whose leaves return to the soil. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to leave them on the tree in the first place? This deciduous business alone is a radical scheme, the brainchild of a deranged manic-depressive with limitless capital. Extravagance! Nature will try anything once.”
“Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what’s going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.”
“It was less like seeing than like being for the first time seen, knocked breathless by a powerful glance.”
“We have not yet encountered any god who is as merciful as a man who flicks a beetle over on its feet.”
“I am a fugitive and a vagabond, a sojourner seeking signs.”
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American Art – Part II of V: Laurie Lisonbee

Artist Statement: “I am a contemporary realist painter, born in Riverside, California. My artistic sensibility was early formed amidst California’s beaches and lush orange groves, along with family drawing sessions at the kitchen table. In my teens I lived in Utah where my visual perceptions were sharpened by the daily vista of the islands in the Great Salt Lake. After spending most of my adult life making art and teaching in California, I now make my home amidst the spectacular mountains of Salem, Utah.”
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From the American Music Archives – Native Genius, Part I of II: Richard Farina

“Been down so long it looks like up to me.” – Richard Farina, American writer, folk singer, musician, songwriter, and the author of “Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me,” a comic novel based on Farina’s college and travel experiences, who died 30 April 1968.
Below – Richard Farina performing his best-known song with his wife Mimi Baez Farina, sister of Joan Baez.

American Art – Part III of V: Jeremy Lipking

Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Jeremy Lipking (born 1975): “Realism has been misunderstood through most of the twentieth century as an art of imitation. In truth, when practiced by a painter like Jeremy Lipking, realist painting is a powerful creative force. Many viewers are drawn to his art thinking that it looks just like a photograph. Actually Lipking’s vision is the opposite of what a camera does. A photograph tends to flatten an image, reducing all relationships of color and shade to a stiff mechanical pattern. Lipking’s skill lies in his ability to probe in and around his subject. With a highly sensitive eye, he sees nuances of value and hue that the camera and most people can never see. More incredibly, he is able to translate his highly nuanced vision into a painted image. Lipking’s true subject is his pictorial fluency. Seeing one of his paintings involves entering into the pictorial world he has created. Like all great realists, he has the ability to generate powerful fictions.”
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From the American Music Archives – Native Genius, Part II of II: Willie Nelson

“It keeps me from killing people.” – Willie Nelson, American singer, songwriter, author, poet, actor, and social activist, who was born 30 April 1933, on why he smokes marijuana.

American Art – Part IV of V: Drew Ernst

Painter Drew Ernst (born 1979) is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.
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A Poem for Today

“The Wall,”
By Alfred Corn

I try and try not to think about the Wall.
Its profile, massive height and roughcut stonework
All stir up fear, gloom, exaltation, pride,
And numbness, in a jumble hard to name.

No one knows who had it built, or when;
Five hundred years ago, the locals guess;
But sunset trumpet calls depict it gold
Enough to have been there more than a thousand.

The thing held off invasions, true—but not
Always, our history records defeats.
Nowadays we never get invaders,
Or else they’re us, going beyond its limits

To acquire new territory and subjects.
Though weaker stretches have sheared off and fallen,
Herders fence up their sheepfolds at the base,
And some blocks are dragged off to build new houses.

Topside, binoculars can sight its ramparts
Winding through dark-blue mountains farther north . . .
That monumental, chill indifference
Explains why boys graffiti names on it

(Or jokes), no matter if their scrawny slashes
In time begin to erode. Decades ago,
I gouged in mine, it wasn’t yet forbidden.
Luckily, dense vines screen the signature,

Made at an age when we assume our name
Amounts to more than permanent stone structures.
Oh, even now it sparks a vocal reflex
When I move the leaves and read it there again.

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American Art – Part V of V: Josh Bronaugh

Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Josh Bronaugh: “His portraits allow him to focus feelings of longing, and to develop intellectual elaboration. Interaction of color is always at the forefront of his work, and the elements shape and composition have their genesis in motion and peripheral vision. When these principles combine, we are presented with a constant state of vibration and emergence.”
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