I thank all my readers who sent me birthday greetings yesterday, and I want them to know that I deeply appreciate their kind words.
American Art – Part I of III: Sandra Fisher
Born 6 May 1947 – Sandra Fisher, an American painter.
6 May 1861 – Arkansas secedes from the Union.
In the words of one historian, “On this day in 1861, Arkansas lawmakers voted 65-5 to become the ninth of 11 Southern states to join the Confederate States of America. Unlike South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas, Arkansas waited until after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, S.C., in Charleston Harbor on April 12, and President Abraham Lincoln’s subsequent call for troops on April 15, to take action.”
From the American History Archives – Part II of III: The Chinese Exclusion Act
6 May 1882 – President Chester A. Arthur signs the Chinese Exclusion Act into law. This bill was one of the most significant restrictions on free immigration in U.S. history, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers. However, there was a ray of light in all the racist darkness. In the words of one historian, “One of the critics of the Chinese Exclusion Act was the anti-slavery/anti-imperialist Republican Senator George Frisbie Hoar of Massachusetts, who described the Act as ‘nothing less than the legalization of racial discrimination.’”
George Frisbie Hoar was born in Concord, Massachusetts. His fellow townsmen Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson would have been proud of him.
Above – A Political cartoon from 1882.
Below – George Frisbie Hoar.
From the American History Archives – Part III of III: The Hindenburg
6 May 1937 – The Hindenburg disaster takes place in Lakehurst, New Jersey.
In the words of one historian, “The Hindenburg disaster took place on Thursday, May 6, 1937, as the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, which is located adjacent to the borough of Lakehurst, New Jersey. Of the 97 people on board (36 passengers and 61 crewmen), there were 35 fatalities. There was also one death of a ground crewman.”
Here is a link to Herbert Morrison’s famous broadcast of the event (“Oh, the humanity.”):
Born 6 May 1880 – Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, a German expressionist painter and printmaker.
Pulitzer Prize – Part I of II: Audrey Wurdemann
6 May 1935 – The Pulitzer Prize for Poetry is awarded to Audrey Wurdemann for “Bright Ambush.”
The sweet wild dogwood wears its flowers
Through silent shadow-patterned hours,
And ivory cream-cups make a star
Where robin and wake-robin are.
The judas-trees let crimson drip
From each spire-pointed fingertip,
And bishop’s croziers unfold
To dust the ginger-root with gold.
Then, gathering all her loveliness,
Spring goes, and leaves us no address. – From “Bright Ambush”
Pulitzer Prize – Part II of II: John Steinbeck
6 May 1940 – The Pulitzer Prize is awarded to John Steinbeck for “The Grapes of Wrath.”
“A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going. And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.” – From “The Grapes of Wrath”
Died 6 May 1994 – Helen Lessore, an English painter.
“The only sure thing about luck is that it will change. ” – Bret Harte, American author and poet, who died 6 May 1902.
A few quotes from the work of Bret Harte:
“If, of all words of tongue and pen,
The saddest are, ‘It might have been,’
More sad are these we daily see:
‘It is, but hadn’t ought to be.’”
“A bird in hand is a certainty. But a bird in the bush may sing.”
“We begin to die as soon as we are born, and the end is linked to the beginning.”
“Man has the possibility of existence after death. But possibility is one thing and the realization of the possibility is quite a different thing.”
Born 6 May 1856 – Robert Peary, an American explorer who claimed to have reached the geographic North Pole with his expedition of 6 April 1909. In the words of one historian, “Based on an evaluation of Peary’s records by Wally Herbert, also a polar explorer, he concluded in a 1989 book that Peary did not reach the pole, although he may have been as close as 5 miles (8 km). His conclusions have been widely accepted.”
Above – Robert Peary in 1909.
Below – Robert Peary explorer of the North Pole and Roald Amundsen explorer of the South Pole in 1913.
Nobel Laureate – Part I of III: Maurice Maeterlinck
“At every crossroads on the path that leads to the future, tradition has placed 10,000 men to guard the past.” – Maurice Maeterlinck, Belgian playwright, poet, essayist, author of “The Life of the Bee,” and recipient of the 1911 Nobel Prize in Literature “in appreciation of his many-sided literary activities, and especially of his dramatic works, which are distinguished by a wealth of imagination and by a poetic fancy, which reveals, sometimes in the guise of a fairy tale, a deep inspiration, while in a mysterious way they appeal to the readers’ own feelings and stimulate their imaginations,” who died 6 May 1949.
Some quotes from Maurice Maeterlinck:
“Remember that happiness is as contagious as gloom. It should be the first duty of those who are happy to let others know of their gladness.”
“All our knowledge merely helps us to die a more painful death than animals that know nothing.”
“When we lose one we love, our bitterest tears are called forth by the memory of hours when we loved not enough.”
“A truth that disheartens because it is true is of more value than the most stimulating of falsehoods.”
“How strangely do we diminish a thing as soon as we try to express it in words.”
“They believe that nothing will happen because they have closed their doors.”
“Do we not all spend the greater part of our lives under the shadow of an event that has not yet come to pass?”
“Happiness is rarely absent; it is we that know not of its presence.”
“Many a happiness in life, as many a disaster, can be due to chance, but the peace within us can never be governed by chance.”
“No great inner event befalls those who summon it not.”
“We are never the same with others as when we are alone. We are different, even when we are in the dark with them.”
“Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves.”
Nobel Laureate – Part II of III: Rabindranath Tagore
“We read the world wrong and say that it deceives us.” – Rabindranath Tagore, Bengali writer, poet, author of “Gitanjali,” and recipient of the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature “”because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West,” who was born on 6 May 1861.
Some quotes from Rabindranath Tagore:
“We live in the world when we love it.”
“Bigotry tries to keep truth safe in its hand with a grip that kills it.”
“Do not say, ‘It is morning,’ and dismiss it with a name of yesterday. See it for the first time as a newborn child that has no name.”
“The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.”
“Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.”
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”
“Those who own much have much to fear.”
“The water in a vessel is sparkling; the water in the sea is dark. The small truth has words which are clear; the great truth has great silence.”
“What is Art? It is the response of man’s creative soul to the call of the Real.”
Nobel Laureate – Part III of III: Harry Martinson
Born 6 May 1904 – Harry Martinson, Swedish author, poet, and joint winner of the 1974 Nobel Prize in Literature “for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos.”
In the gardens of the home village, where earthworms
loosen the soil, the columbine still grows
and grandfather clocks cluck old-fashionedly in each house.
Smoke rises from cottages like sacrificial pillars
and to those who come from afar, from the hard toils
of the world’s oceans and the brothel alleys of Barcelona,
this peaceful village is like a silent lie.
A lie one would willingly hang on to, a lie
for which one would trample down all evil truths.
“Far From Here”
I want to send a dream far from here.
The swallows fly high there.
Perhaps your wheat ripens
and through the yellow oceans of rye
a slow humming sound of bread can be heard.
This is a world of water and stones,
my hand is without bread and I count its lines.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Argentinean painter Ariel Gulluni (born 1978): “ His artistic career began with the stylus, drawing pure and simple, thanks to which discovered the importance of forms, tensions and contrasts. It was through the illustration he found the versatility sought by multiplying media and themes. Finally he found the painting, a territory now infinite in seeking that place where it crosses surreal expression. Preferences realistic and figurative, his themes have been mixed but with a clear tendency to give prominence to the symbolic-conceptual narrative above. It is the spectator, he says, who should narrate the play. Constantly exploring new locations, painted bodies and emotions wrapped in dark shadows and indirect lighting, using integrated ranges almost monochrome, but that show bulk-expressionist mode pure colors: red, green, blue and yellow.”
“It is impossible to escape the impression that people commonly use false standards of measurement — that they seek power, success and wealth for themselves and admire them in others, and that they underestimate what is of true value in life.” – Sigmund Freud, Austrian neurologist and the founding father of psychoanalysis, who was born 6 May 1856.
Some quotes from the work of Sigmund Freud:
“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.”
“Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.”
“Religion is an attempt to get control over the sensory world, in which we are placed, by means of the wish-world, which we have developed inside us as a result of biological and psychological necessities. But it cannot achieve its end. Its doctrines carry with them the stamp of the times in which they originated, the ignorant childhood days of the human race. Its consolations deserve no trust. Experience teaches us that the world is not a nursery. The ethical commands, to which religion seeks to lend its weight, require some other foundations instead, for human society cannot do without them, and it is dangerous to link up obedience to them with religious belief. If one attempts to assign to religion its place in man’s evolution, it seems not so much to be a lasting acquisition, as a parallel to the neurosis which the civilized individual must pass through on his way from childhood to maturity.”
“Life, as we find it, is too hard for us; it brings us too many pains, disappointments and impossible tasks. In order to bear it we cannot dispense with palliative measures… There are perhaps three such measures: powerful deflections, which cause us to make light of our misery; substitutive satisfactions, which diminish it; and intoxicating substances, which make us insensible to it.”
“America is a mistake, a giant mistake.”
“In the depths of my heart I can’t help being convinced that my dear fellow-men, with a few exceptions, are worthless.”
Here is how Portuguese painter Martinho Dias (born 1968) describes his art: “The complexity and the multiple facets of the global world are my main fundamentals. Resorting to the paradox, contrariety, criticism or irony, what I do is unfold the reality, individual and collective, which is common to us, reconfiguring it in the plan of the canvas. Along my journey as a painter, I have also developed ways of communication with different cultures, as well as other areas, particularly the music and their players.”
6 May 1970 – Japanese skier Yuchiro Miura skies down part of Mount Everest. In the words of one historian, “He descended nearly 4,200 vertical feet from the South Col (elevation over 8,000 m [26,000 ft]). This feat was documented in 1975, in the film ‘The Man Who Skied Down Everest.’ The film won the Academy Award for best documentary, the first sports film to do so.”
In the words of one critic, “Linnea Strid is based in Uppsala, Sweden, where she creates her hyper-realistic oil paintings that often feature the incorporation of water as a central element of the work. Strid renders water in a way that confuses the onlooker as to whether or not the image they are looking at is a photograph or indeed a painting. These works feature all the characteristics of water, from how it moves and why it moves and where, and in turn her work truly moves all that view it.”
Here is the Artist Statement of Bulgarian painter Atanas Matsoureff: “Watercolour is a painting technique which offers an infinite scope of possibilities for artistic expression, demanding on the part of the artist concentration combined with passion. The beauty of watercolour painting lies in the white of the paper, the lightness, the movement, the transparency, the vibrant colours. I paint from nature, and I bow before the beauty and the forces of the Nature and the simple, ordinary things around us. I try to catch the spirit of each material and to touch the thing beyond reality.”
“One of the most obvious facts about grown-ups, to a child, is that they have forgotten what it is like to be a child.” – Randall Jarrell, American poet, literary critic, essayist, novelist, children’s author, United States Army Air Corps veteran of World War II, and recipient of the 1961 National Book Award for Poetry (for “The Woman at the Washington Zoo”), who was born 6 May 1914.
It was not dying: everybody died.
It was not dying: we had died before
In the routine crashes– and our fields
Called up the papers, wrote home to our folks,
And the rates rose, all because of us.
We died on the wrong page of the almanac,
Scattered on mountains fifty miles away;
Diving on haystacks, fighting with a friend,
We blazed up on the lines we never saw.
We died like aunts or pets or foreigners.
(When we left high school nothing else had died
For us to figure we had died like.)
In our new planes, with our new crews, we bombed
The ranges by the desert or the shore,
Fired at towed targets, waited for our scores–
And turned into replacements and woke up
One morning, over England, operational.
It wasn’t different: but if we died
It was not an accident but a mistake
(But an easy one for anyone to make.)
We read our mail and counted up our missions–
In bombers named for girls, we burned
The cities we had learned about in school–
Till our lives wore out; our bodies lay among
The people we had killed and never seen.
When we lasted long enough they gave us medals;
When we died they said, “Our casualties were low.”
The said, “Here are the maps”; we burned the cities.
“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.” – Henry David Thoreau, American writer, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, social critic, surveyor, transcendentalist, and author of “Walden” and “Resistance to Civil Government” (commonly called “Civil Disobedience”), who died 6 May 1862.
Some quotes from the work of Henry David Thoreau:
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
“Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life so. Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something.”
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”
“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
“If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.”
“It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see.
“Not till we are completely lost or turned around… do we begin to find ourselves.”
“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”
“You must realize that no matter how intently you count your breaths you will still perceive what is in your line of vision, since your eyes are open, and you will hear the normal sounds about you, as your ears are not plugged. And since your brain likewise is not asleep, various thought forms will dart about your mind. Now, they will not hamper or diminish the effectiveness of zazen unless, evaluating them as ‘good,’ you cling to them or, deciding they are ‘bad,’ you try to check or eliminate them.” – Philip Kapleau, American writer, teacher of Zen Buddhism, and author of “The Three Pillars of Zen,” who died 6 May 2004.
One critic writing about “The Three Pillars of Zen” has stated (correctly) that, “It was one of the first English-language books to present Zen Buddhism not as philosophy, but as a pragmatic and salutary way of training and living.”
A few quotes from “The Three Pillars of Zen”:
“The patriarchal line is, then, a reminder of how deep cultural biases can run, in this case undercutting the core Buddhist teaching that all beings without exception are equally endowed with the true nature of enlightenment.”
“One day a man of the people said to Zen Master Ikkyu: ‘Master, will you please write for me some maxims of the highest wisdom?’ Ikkyu immediately took his brush and wrote the word ‘Attention.’ ‘Is that all?’ asked the man. ‘Will you not add something more?’ Ikkyu then wrote twice running: ‘Attention. Attention.’ ‘Well,’ remarked the man rather irritably, ‘I really don’t see much depth or subtlety in what you have just written.’ Then Ikkyu wrote the same word three times running: ‘Attention. Attention. Attention.’ Half angered, the man demanded: ‘What does that word “Attention” mean anyway?’ And Ikkyu answered gently: ‘Attention means attention.’”
American Art – Part II of III: Jack Beal
A Poem for Today
“Traveling through the Dark,”
By William Stafford
Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.
By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.
My fingers touching her side brought me the reason—
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated.
The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.
American Art – Part III of III: Brian Keeler
Here is one critic speaking with painter Brian Keeler (born 1953): “One thing that struck me about your work is you don’t seem to fit into any known category. Your work is sort of like Academic Realism – sometimes even like Superrealism – it’s a little like Impressionism – but not really – occasionally you do a Magritte-like Surrealism, and there’s what I referred to at gallery night as that ‘hopped-up hyper-reality’ like Van Gogh’s work – a sort of hyper-awareness.”