May Offerings – Part XV: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of VII: Jasper Johns

Born 15 May 1930 – Jasper Johns, an American painter and printmaker.

Below – “Three Flags”; “Map”; “Numbers”; “Target.”
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American Art – Part II of VII: Andrea Kemp

Here is the Artist Statement of American painter Andrea Kemp: “Painting had its way of creeping into my life. I do not know how or why, but I am so fortunate it did. Though it is a large part of who I am, its meaning is ever changing. My journey as a painter takes me to new places that end up either, presenting unique ideas and challenges, or paralleling other events in my life. Painting in itself is a teacher that if we pay attention to, we learn from and grow from, not only as an artist, but to be a better person. Its possibilities are boundless and the adventure of painting presents numerous challenges. It’s not always easy to meet those challenges.
A famous women writer, who I cannot recall, describes the experience of having a great idea and the desperate need to capture it by comparing it to train and how you can hear it approaching, which sends you into a fury preparing yourself for when it passes by so that you might capture its power and greatness, for when it is gone, it may be gone forever. Though writing and painting may be two different mediums of communication, I still could very much relate to this metaphor.”
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“I found nothing really wrong with this autobiography except poor choice of subject.” – Clifton Fadiman, American author, editor, and radio and television personality, who was born 15 May 1904, discussing Gertrude Stein’s autobiography.

Some quotes from Clifton Fadiman:

“Insomnia is a gross feeder. It will nourish itself on any kind of thinking, including thinking about not thinking.”
“A sense of humor is the ability to understand a joke – and that the joke is oneself.”
“Cheese is milk’s leap towards immortality.”
“Experience teaches you that the man who looks you straight in the eye, particularly if he adds a firm handshake, is hiding something.”
“For most men, life is a search for the proper manila envelope in which to get themselves filed.”
“The German mind has a talent for making no mistakes but the very greatest.”
“When you read a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than there was before.”

British Art – Part I of II: Ralph Steadman

“Governments are not running the show anymore. Scumbag Entrepreneurs are, and they have a harsh and ruthless agenda.” – Ralph Steadman, British cartoonist best known for his work with Hunter S. Thompson, who was born 15 May 1936.
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British Art – Part II of II: Philip Harris

Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter
Philip Harris (born 1965): “He specialises in photorealistic figurative painting and portraiture, rendered in oils or pencil drawing. Despite the extraordinarily technical approach to his work he is a highly personal, idiosyncratic, expressive artist whose paintings may be disturbing and confrontational.”

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From the Music Archives: Peter, Paul & Mary

15 May 1963 – Peter, Paul & Mary win their first Grammy Award for “If I Had a Hammer.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTvr79Oe5w8

Russian Art – Part I of II: Viktor Vasnetsov

Born 15 May 1848 – Viktor Vasnetsov, a Russian artist who frequently painted mythological and historical subjects.

Below – “Alyonushka”; “Akhtyrsky Oak”; “Knight at the Crossroads”; “Three Tsarevnas of the Underground”; “Flying Carpet”; “Self-Portrait.”
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Russian Art – Part II of II: Kazmir Malevich

Died 15 May 1935 – Kazimir Malevich, a Russian painter and originator of the avant-garde Suprematist movement.

Below – “Flower Girl”; “Red Cavalry”; “Taking in the Rye”; “Composition with the Mona Lisa”; “Black Suprematic Square”; “Self-Portrait.”
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Indian painter Krishna Ashok (born 1964) has exhibited his work in solo shows in India, New York, the West Indies, and Hong Kong.

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Self-taught Filipino painter Ronilo Abayan lives and works on Cebu.
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Korean painter Lee Soungsoo graduated from Seoul National University in 1999 with a degree in sculpture.
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“The past is never where you think you left it.” – Katherine Anne Porter, American journalist, essayist, short story writer, novelist, political activist, and recipient of the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (for “The Collected Stories”), who was born 15 May 1890.

Some quotes from the work of Katherine Anne Porter:

“There seems to be a kind of order in the universe…in the movement of the stars and the turning of the Earth and the changing of the seasons. But human life is almost pure chaos. Everyone takes his stance, asserts his own right and feelings, mistaking the motives of others, and his own.”
“I shall try to tell the truth, but the result will be fiction.”
“I get so tired of moral bookkeeping.”
“Love must be learned and learned again. There is no end.”
“Trust your happiness and the richness of your life at this moment. It is as true and as much yours as anything else that ever happened to you.”
“The trial of Jesus of Nazareth, the trial and rehabilitation of Joan of Arc, any one of the witchcraft trials in Salem during 1691, the Moscow trials of 1937 during which Stalin destroyed all of the founders of the 1924 Soviet Revolution, the Sacco-Vanzetti trial of 1920 through 1927- there are many trials such as these in which the victim was already condemned to death before the trial took place, and it took place only to cover up the real meaning: the accused was to be put to death. These are trials in which the judge, the counsel, the jury, and the witnesses are the criminals, not the accused. For any believer in capital punishment, the fear of an honest mistake on the part of all concerned is cited as the main argument against the final terrible decision to carry out the death sentence. There is the frightful possibility in all such trials as these that the judgment has already been pronounced and the trial is just a mask for murder.”
“The thought of him was a smoky cloud from hell that moved and crept in her head.”
“You waste life when you waste good food.”
“It is a simple truth that the human mind can face better the most oppressive government, the most rigid restrictions, than the awful prospect of a lawless, frontierless world. Freedom is a dangerous intoxicant and very few people can tolerate it in any quantity; it brings out the old raiding, oppressing, murderous instincts; the rage for revenge, for power, the lust for bloodshed. The longing for freedom takes the form of crushing the enemy- there is always the enemy! – into the earth; and where and who is the enemy if there is no visible establishment to attack, to destroy with blood and fire? Remember all that oratory when freedom is threatened again. Freedom, remember, is not the same as liberty.”
“The Grandmother always treated her animal friends as if they were human beings temporarily metamorphosed.”
“The whole effort for the past one hundred years has been to remove the moral responsibility from the individual and make him blame his own human wickedness on his society, but he helps to make his society, you see, and he will not take his responsibility for his part in it.”
“The road to death is a long march beset with all evils, and the heart fails little by little at each new terror, the bones rebel at each step, the mind sets up its own bitter resistance and to what end? The barriers sink one by one, and no covering of the eyes shuts out the landscape of disaster, nor the sight of crimes committed there.”
“It’s a man’s world, and you men can have it.”
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Here is the Artist Statement of Canadian painter Yannick Bouchard (born 1982): “Art has always been a passion to me. As a kid, drawing was the favourite activity of mine and already back then I knew I wanted to be an artist. I was interested in comics at a younger age, but it’s only in college that painting became my main interest. My inspiration first came with the acquaintance of surrealist painters. I discovered then a world of peculiar images with obscure meanings, exploring figuratively abstract concepts through their own strange and personal vision of life, pursuing the mysteries of subconscious and dreams, bringing a different view on perception, reality, human mind and desires.
I am not claiming myself as a ‘surrealist artist,’ but my art is undeniably marked by their influence. I was also very impressed by some notable fantasy artists, as well as erotic artists; the way they depict beauty and sensuality, and how they bring grandiose imaginary worlds to life.
Overall, my paintings are more or less a mixture of all those types; surrealism, fantasy, erotic, with a touch of symbolism and even sometimes macabre. But most of all, my paintings are images resulting of my inner thoughts and feelings; they are the expression of my love for the human body, the inspiring curves of femininity, as well as the superphysical side of the human mind, the mystical and the magical, or just very simple little things, like textures, colors and nature. They are not intellectual pieces. They don’t depict sophisticated and complicated opinions and cryptic theories. Their essence is to stimulate the imagination and guide viewers where only they want to go.
Mostly, I paint for myself; I paint what I want, I paint what I like, what moves me, what I feel and what I am. ”
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American Art – Part III of VII: Richard Avedon

“All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.” – Richard Avedon, American photographer, who was born 15 May 1923.

The author of an obituary in “The New York Times” wrote of Avedon that “his fashion and portrait photographs helped define America’s image of style, beauty and culture for the last half-century.” While most critics are likely to agree with that assessment, I have decided to post not only some of Avedon’s “fashionable” work but also several poignant photographs from his collection “In The American West.”

Below – Richard Avedon; four of his “stylish” photographs; the cover of “In The American West”; seven photographs from “In The American West.”
Richard Avedon, self-portrait, Photographer, Provo, Utah, August
Veruschka, Dress by Kimberly, New York, January 1967
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From the American History Archives: Las Vegas

15 May 1905 – Las Vegas, Nevada is founded when 110 acres, in what would become downtown, are auctioned off.

Above – The Las Vegas land auction held on 15 May 1905.
Below – Las Vegas in 1905; Las Vegas railroad depot in 1905.

Below – The Las Vegas land auction held on 15 May 1905; Las Vegas in 1905; Las Vegas railroad depot in 1905.

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American Art – Part IV of VII: Edward Hopper

“What I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house.” – Edward Hopper, American painter and printmaker, who died 15 May 1967.

Below – “High Noon”; “Nighthawks”; “Summertime”; “New York Movie”; “Rooms by the Sea”; “Woman in the Sun”; “Early Sunday Morning”; “Sun in an Empty Room”; “Rooms for Tourists”; “Self-Portrait.”

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American Art – Part V of VII: Sharon Allicotti

Here is the Artist Statement of American painter Sharon Allicotti: “I have found that contemplating the spare beauty and silence of the desert region east of my home in Los Angeles seems to empty the mind of the trivial, with the poetic taking its place. These vast, abandoned landscapes inspire a state of creative reverie and, as featured in my work, are evocative of the profound mystery of the mind. Verisimilitude is crucial to the effectiveness of the work. The high degree of detailed pictorial realism engages the viewer in a resonant illusion meant to convey stillness and timelessness– as well as a sensation of subtle, inward intensity. The painstaking technique is employed to produce a compelling equivalence of observed appearances and a restrained surface quality appropriate to the works’ quiet, meditative expression. The dry, elemental properties of pastel, charcoal, and chalk feel particularly well-suited to describing features of an arid environment. The city-dweller must travel ever-increasing distances to find the rewards of relative solitude. The automobile, although a product of advanced technology, can privately convey us away from civilization and its material distractions. In the West, it is the largely undeveloped desert where we may find a renewed connection with what often remains elusive: our essential self.”
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” . . . the fog is rising.” – The last words of Emily Dickinson, American poet, who died 15 May 1886.

“I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –“

I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air –
Between the Heaves of Storm –

The Eyes around – had wrung them dry –
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset – when the King
Be witnessed – in the Room –

I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable – and then it was
There interposed a Fly –

With Blue – uncertain – stumbling Buzz –
Between the light – and me –
And then the Windows failed – and then
I could not see to see –
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American Art – Part VI of VII: Rose Frantzen

American artist Rose Frantzen (born 1965) trained at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, and her paintings have been featured in many art magazines and journals.
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A Poem for Today

“The Round,”
By Stanley Kunitz

Light splashed this morning
on the shell-pink anemones
swaying on their tall stems;
down blue-spiked veronica
light flowed in rivulets
over the humps of the honeybees;
this morning I saw light kiss
the silk of the roses
in their second flowering,
my late bloomers
flushed with their brandy.
A curious gladness shook me.
So I have shut the doors of my house,
so I have trudged downstairs to my cell,
so I am sitting in semi-dark
hunched over my desk
with nothing for a view
to tempt me
but a bloated compost heap,
steamy old stinkpile,
under my window;
and I pick my notebook up
and I start to read aloud
and still-wet words I scribbled
on the blotted page:
“Light splashed…”

I can scarcely wait till tomorrow
when a new life begins for me,
as it does each day,
as it does each day.

Below – April Gornik: “Fresh Light”
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American Art – Part VII of VII: Seamus Conley

Award-winning painter Seamus Conley (born 1976) lives and works in San Francisco.
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