American Art – Part I of III: Eastman Johnson
In the words of one art historian, “Eastman Johnson (1824-1906) was an American painter and Co-Founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, with his name inscribed at its entrance. Best known for his genre paintings, paintings of scenes from everyday life, and his portraits of everyday people, he also painted portraits of prominent Americans such as Abraham Lincoln, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His later works often show the influence of the 17th-century Dutch masters whom he studied while living in The Hague, and he was even known as ‘The American Rembrandt’ in his day.
His careful portrayal of individuals rather than stereotypes enhances the realism of his paintings. Ojibwe artist Carl Gawboy notes that the faces in the 1857 portraits of Ojibwe people by Johnson are recognizable in people in the Ojibwe community today. Some of his paintings such as ‘Ojibwe Wigwam at Grand Portage’ display near photorealism long before the photorealism movement.”
Below – “The Boyhood of Abraham Lincoln”; “Girl and Pets”; “The Nantucket School of Philosophy”; “Life in the South”; “Nathaniel Hawthorne”; “A Ride for Liberty – The Fugitive Slaves”; “Ojibwe Wigwam at Grand Portage”; “Ojibwe Women”; “Sha Wen Ne Gun”; “The Old Stagecoach”; “Gathering Lilies”; “The Girl I Left Behind Me.”
“You will not find poetry anywhere unless you bring some of it with you.” – Joseph Joubert, French essayist who died on 4 May 1824.
More quotes from Joseph Joubert:
“One who has imagination without learning has wings without feet.”
“A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve.”
“Ask the young. They know everything.”
“How many people make themselves abstract to appear profound. The most useful part of abstract terms are the shadows they create to hide a vacuum.”
“Misery is almost always the result of thinking.”
“Only choose in marriage a man whom you would choose as a friend if he were a woman.”
“The best remedy for a short temper is a long walk.”
“The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.”
“Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love the truth.”
“We must respect the past, and mistrust the present, if we wish to provide for the safety of the future.”
“Politeness is the flower of humanity.”
Polish Art – Part I of II: Radek Rola
Here is the Artist Statement of Polish painter Radek Rola (born 1979): “I strive to create undistorted shapes which are deeply emotional and symbolistic. By focusing on faces as the main subjects for my work, I try to portray all aspects of human nature through mood and character. A strictly controlled use of colour as well as an emphasis on light and shadow are key elements in my efforts to produce pieces which are powerful and engaging.”
Polish Art – Part II of II: Antoni Falat
In the words of one critic, Polish painter Antoni Falat “studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In 1993 he founded the European Academy of Arts in Warsaw. In his paintings he often refers to old family portraits. He creates compositions presenting people in slightly comic yet casual situation of everyday life. The impression of unnaturalness is deepened by strong contrasts of colors. Fałat’s art, related with the movement of ‘new figuration’, is also related closely to pop-art.”
The Pulitzer Prize – Part I of II: Ellen Glasgow
4 May 1942 – The Pulitzer Prize for the Novel is awarded to Ellen Glasgow for “In This Our Life.”
Died 4 May 1734 – James Thornhill, an English painter of mythological and historical subjects in the Italian baroque tradition.
Below – “The Gods on Mount Olympus”; “Spring, Mercury, and Juno”; “The Judgment of Paris”; “An Allegory of Apollo and Minerva as Wisdom and the Arts”; “Diana and Actaeon”; “The Victory of Apollo”; “Model for a Mural: Psyche Obtaining the Jar of Forgetfulness from Pluto in Hades”; “Summer, Ceres.”
The Pulitzer Prize – Part II of II: Ernest Hemingway
4 May 1953 – Ernest Hemingway receives the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “The Old Man and the Sea.”
Some quotes from “The Old Man and the Sea”:
“He always thought of the sea as ‘la mar’ which is what people call her in Spanish when they love her. Sometimes those who love her say bad things of her but they are always said as though she were a woman. Some of the younger fishermen, those who used buoys as floats for their lines and had motorboats, bought when the shark livers had brought much money, spoke of her as ‘el mar’ which is masculine. They spoke of her as a contestant or a place or even an enemy. But the old man always thought of her as feminine and as something that gave or withheld great favours, and if she did wild or wicked things it was because she could not help them. The moon affects her as it does a woman, he thought.”
“Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”
“Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.”
“The clouds were building up now for the trade wind and he looked ahead and saw a flight of wild ducks etching themselves against the sky over the water, then blurring, then etching again and he knew no man was ever alone on the sea.”
“He was asleep in a short time and he dreamed of Africa when he was a boy and the long, golden beaches and the white beaches, so white they hurt your eyes, and the high capes and the great brown mountains. He lived along that coast now every night and in his dreams he heard the surf roar and saw the native boats come riding through it. He smelled the tar and oakum of the deck as he slept and he smelled the smell of Africa that the land breeze brought at morning.”
“He no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women, nor of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, nor of his wife. He only dreamed of places now and the lions on the beach. They played like young cats in the dusk and he loved them as he loved the boy. He never dreamed about the boy. He simply woke, looked out the open door at the moon and unrolled his trousers and put them on.”
“‘But man is not made for defeat,’ he said. ‘A man can be destroyed but not defeated.’”
In the words of one writer, “Pierre Boncompain was born in 1938 at Valence, in the Drome region of Southern France. He studied art at the National Decorative Arts Institute and was later accepted at the National Institute of Fine Arts in Paris where he received the distinguished Collioure Prize. He subsequently accepted and was nominated for numerous prestigious awards.”
From the American History Archives: The Panama Canal
4 May 1904 – In accordance with the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty, the United States formally takes control of French property relating to the Panama Canal.
“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.” – From “The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland,” by Lewis Carroll.
Below – Alice Liddell, the girl who likely inspired “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” who was born 4 May 1852.
“Agnosticism simply means that a man shall not say that he knows or believes that for which he has no grounds for professing to believe.” – Thomas Henry Huxley, an English biologist known as “Darwin’s Bulldog” for his advocacy of both Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and scientific education in schools, who was born 4 May 1825.
Some quotes from the work of Thomas Henry Huxley:
“Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not. It is the first lesson that ought to be learned and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.”
“Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.”
“The great tragedy of Science – the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.”
“A man has no reason to be ashamed of having an ape for his grandfather. If there were an ancestor whom I should feel shame in recalling it would rather be a man who plunges into scientific questions with which he has no real acquaintance, only to obscure them by an aimless rhetoric.”
“What we call rational grounds for our beliefs are often extremely irrational attempts to justify our instincts.”
“There is no greater mistake than the hasty conclusion that opinions are worthless because they are badly argued.”
“Science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.”
“We live in a world which is full of misery and ignorance, and the plain duty of each and all of us is to try to make the little corner he can influence somewhat less miserable and somewhat less ignorant than it was before he entered.”
“The known is finite, the unknown infinite; intellectually we stand on an islet in the midst of an illimitable ocean of inexplicability. Our business in every generation is to reclaim a little more land, to add something to the extent and the solidity of our possessions.”
“It is not what we believe, but why we believe it. Moral responsibility lies in diligently weighing the evidence. We must actively doubt; we have to scrutinize our views, not take them on trust. No virtue attached to blindly accepting orthodoxy, however ‘venerable.’”
“The most considerable difference I note among men is not in their readiness to fall into error, but in their readiness to acknowledge these inevitable lapses.”
“The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man’s foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher.”
“There is the greatest practical benefit in making a few failures early in life.”
“To a clear eye the smallest fact is a window through which the infinite may be seen.”
“It is wrong for a man to say that he is certain of the objective truth of any proposition unless he can produce evidence which logically justifies that certainty.”
“Science commits suicide when it adopts a creed.”
“Trust a witness in all matters in which neither his self-interest, his passions, his prejudices, nor the love of the marvelous is strongly concerned. When they are involved, require corroborative evidence in exact proportion to the contravention of probability by the thing testified.”
“History warns us that it is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions.”
According to one writer, “Shin-Young An began studying art in her home country of South Korea, obtaining a B.F.A. from Hyosung Women’s University in Daegu. She has additionally studied at the Art Students League of NY, U.S.A and ‘Cercle Artistic de Sant Llu’ in Barcelona, Spain after she received her M.F.A. in painting from The Graduate School of Figurative Art of the New York Academy of Art in 2001.”
American Art – Part II of III: Keith Haring
“My contribution to the world is my ability to draw. I will draw as much as I can for as many people as I can for as long as I can. Drawing is still basically the same as it has been since prehistoric times. It brings together man and the world. It lives through magic.” – Keith Haring, American artist and social activist, who was born 4 May 1958.
Canadian Art – Part I of II: Frank Carmichael
Born 4 May 1890 – Frank Carmichael, a Canadian artist and the youngest original member of the Group of Seven, also known as the Algonquin School, an informal organization of landscape painters.
Below – “Mirror Lake”; “Light and Shadow”; “Autumn Hillside”; “Lake Superior”; “Bisset Farm”; “La Cloche Panorama.”
Canadian Art – Part II of II: John Neville
In the words of one writer, “John Neville (b. 1952) paints nostalgic portraits of bygone days which chronicle the folklore and daily lives of the local fishermen and their women from his childhood village. This popular Canadian artist, who splits his time between Nova Scotia and Maine, is a painter, printmaker, and story teller, who has engaged collectors throughout his long career with his exceptional etchings, and more recently the bold palette and modern compositions of his impressive oil paintings.”
A Poem for Today
By Pat Mora
They think she lives alone
on the edge of town in a two-room house
where she moved when her husband died
at thirty-five of a gunshot wound
in the bed of another woman. The curandera
and house have aged together to the rhythm
of the desert.
She wakes early, lights candles before
her sacred statues, brews tea of yerbabuena.
She moves down her porch steps, rubs
cool morning sand into her hands, into her arms.
Like a large black bird, she feeds on
the desert, gathering herbs for her basket.
Her days are slow, days of grinding
dried snake into powder, of crushing
wild bees to mix with white wine.
And the townspeople come, hoping
to be touched by her ointments,
her hands, her prayers, her eyes.
She listens to their stories, and she listens
to the desert, always, to the desert.
By sunset she is tired. The wind
strokes the strands of long gray hair,
the smell of drying plants drifts
into her blood, the sun seeps
into her bones. She dozes
on her back porch. Rocking, rocking.
American Art – Part III of III: Chin H. Shin
In the words of one writer, “Korean-born American painter Chin H. Shin has a Master of Art Degree from Long Island University. His past affiliation includes, Oil painters of America, American Society of Marine Artists, Portrait Society of America, member of Huntington Art Council, a judge for Bold Brush International Art Competition and teaches art classes by request.
The culture, history, music, and movies of New York serve as a guiding force for his paintings. Technique-wise, he has been influenced by Korean calligraphy and the wild brush strokes of Expressionism. All of these elements have influenced Chin’s work. His goal is to transform these street scenes of daily life into a form of visual poetry. Ultimately, he is looking for an extremely positive mental satisfaction found in his work. This can be broken down technically as light and color; light standing for hope for our future.”