American Art – Part I of V: Robert Coombs
“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.” – Margaret Fuller, American journalist, critic, and women’s rights advocate, who was born on 23 May 1810.
The brilliant Margaret Fuller had a great-nephew whose career appears to have been guided by her wise example. Here is a typically thought-provoking quote from R. Buckminster Fuller: “It is essential to release humanity from the false fixations of yesterday, which seem now to bind it to a rationale of action leading only to extinction.” Great aunt Margaret would have been proud.
American Art – Part II of V: David Smith
“To me, apples are fruit—to Cezanne they were mountains!” – David Smith, American Abstract Expressionist sculptor and painter, who died 23 May 1963.
Below – “CUBI VI”; “CUBI XII”; “Ancient Household.”
From the Canadian History Archives – Part I of II: The Northwest Mounted Police
From the Canadian History Archives – Part II of II: The Transcontinental Railroad
British Art – Part I of III: Jonathan Yeo
In the words of one writer, “Jonathan Yeo (b 1970) is a British artist specialising in portraiture and collage. He is represented by Eleven in London and Lazarides worldwide. He didn’t go to art school but took up painting while recovering from Hodgkins Disease in his early 20s. He became known as a contemporary portraitist in the late 1990s, exhibiting frequently at the National Portrait Gallery.”
Nobel Laureate: Par Lagerkvist
“It is incomprehensible that he should want to have these futile people here, and still more incomprehensible that he should be able to sit and listen to them and their stupid chatter. I can understand that he may occasionally listen to poets reciting their verses; they can be regarded as buffoons such as are always kept at court. They laud the lofty purity of the human soul, great events and heroic feats, and there is nothing to be said against all that, particularly if their songs flatter him. Human beings need flattery; otherwise they do not fulfill their purpose, not even in their own eyes. And both the present and the past contain much that is beautiful and noble which, without due praise, would have been neither noble nor beautiful. Above all, they sing the praises of love, which is quite as it should be, for nothing else is in such need of transformation into something different. The ladies are filled with melancholy and their breasts heave with sighs; the men gaze vaguely and dreamily into space, for they all know what it is really like and realize that this must be an especially beautiful poem.” ― From “The Dwarf,” by Par Lagerkvist, Swedish writer, author of “The Sibyl,” and recipient of the 1951 Nobel Prize in Literature “for the artistic vigour and true independence of mind with which he endeavours in his poetry to find answers to the eternal questions confronting mankind,” who was born 23 May 1891.
Some quotes from the work of Nobel Laureate Par Lagerkvist:
“Nothing is more foreign than the world of one’s childhood when one has truly left it.”
“Bitter, too, to be forced to acknowledge in one’s heart how little love has to do with kindness.”
“No, the man said, looking past him with his empty gaze, the realm of the dead isn’t anything. But to those who have been there, nothing else is anything either.”
“And they are deformed though it does not show on the outside. I live only my dwarf life. I never go around tall and smooth-featured. I am ever myself, always the same, I live one life alone. I have no other being inside me. And I recognize everything within me, nothing ever comes up from my inner depths, nothing there is shrouded in mystery. Therefore I do not fear the things which frighten them, the incoherent, the unknown, the mysterious. Such things do not exist for me. There is nothing ‘different’ about me.”
British Art – Part II of III: Alain Choisnet
Here is how British sculptor Alain Choisnet (born 1962) describes his artistic career: “I was born in Britain at the foot of the magnificent castle of Ferns, but it was in a Paris suburb that I grew up. Philosophical studies gave me a solid understanding of the human being. This knowledge helped me tremendously to assert myself as an artist. It is enough to seize a gesture, an emotion, then to set them while preserving the sincerity of moment and the fluidity of the movement.”
From the Music Archives: Iron Butterfly
23 May 1971 – The rock group Iron Butterfly disbands. Psychotropic drug use in the United States immediately drops by 50%.
British Art – Part III of III: Van Renselar
In the words of one writer, “Abstract artist Van Renselar has travelled extensively. He grew up in South Wales, moving to London in his teens, where he now lives and works. After committing himself fully to abstract painting 10 years ago he has rapidly become one of the most original of the emerging contemporary artists in the UK.”
Born 23 May 1710 – Francois-Gaspard Adam, a French rococo sculptor.
“I find nothing more depressing than optimism.” – Paul Fussell, American cultural and literary historian, university professor, and author of “The Great War and Modern Memory” (which won the National Book Award for Arts and Letters, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism, and the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award of Phi Beta Kappa), “Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War,” and “Abroad: British Literary Travelling Between the Wars,” who died 23 May 2012.
Some quotes from the work of Paul Fussell:
“Americans are the only people in the world known to me whose status anxiety prompts them to advertise their college and university affiliations in the rear window of their automobiles.”
“Every war is ironic because every war is worse than expected. Every war constitutes an irony of situation because its means are so melodramatically disproportionate to its presumed ends.”
“If truth is the main casualty in war, ambiguity is another.”
“Wars damage the civilian society as much as they damage the enemy. Soldiers never get over it.”
“When … asked what I am writing, I have answered, ‘A book about social class in America,’ … It is if I had said, ‘I am working on a book urging the beating to death of baby whales using the dead bodies of baby seals.’”
“If I didn’t have writing, I’d be running down the street hurling grenades in people’s faces.”
“The day after the British entered the war Henry James wrote a friend: ‘The plunge of civilization into this abyss of blood and darkness… is a thing that so gives away the whole long age during which we have supposed the world to be, with whatever abatement, gradually bettering, that to have to take it all now for what the treacherous years were all the while really making for and meaning is too tragic for any words.’”
“So many bright futures consigned to the ashes of the past. So many dreams lost in the madness that had engulfed us. Except for a few widely scattered shouts of joy, the survivors of the abyss sat hollow-eyed and silent, trying to comprehend a world without war.”
“Today the Somme is a peaceful but sullen place, unforgetting and unforgiving. … To wander now over the fields destined to extrude their rusty metal fragments for centuries is to appreciate in the most intimate way the permanent reverberations of July, 1916. When the air is damp you can smell rusted iron everywhere, even though you see only wheat and barley.”
From the American Old West: Kit Carson
Died 23 May 1868 – Christopher Houston “Kit” Carson, an American frontiersman. In the words of one historian, “The few paying jobs he had during his lifetime included mountain man (fur trapper), wilderness guide, Indian agent, and American Army officer. Carson became a frontier legend in his own lifetime via biographies and news articles. Exaggerated versions of his exploits were the subject of dime novels.”
“The poet’s job is to put into words those feelings we all have that are so deep, so important, and yet so difficult to name, to tell the truth in such a beautiful way, that people cannot live without it.” – Jane Kenyon, American poet, who was born 32 May 1947.
“Alone for a Week”
I washed a load of clothes
and hung them out to dry.
Then I went up to town
and busied myself all day.
The sleeve of your best shirt
when I drove in; our night-
clothes twined and untwined in
a little gust of wind.
For me it was getting late;
for you, where you were, not.
The harvest moon was full
but sparse clouds made its light
not quite reliable.
The bed on your side seemed
as wide and flat as Kansas;
your pillow plump, cool,
and allegorical. . . .
“Those who can’t find anything to live for,
always invent something to die for.
Then they want the rest of us to
die for it, too.” – Lew Welch, American poet associated with the Beat generation, who died 23 May 1971.
Some quotes and three poems from the work of Lew Welch:
“We invent ourselves out of ingredients we didn’t choose, by a process we can’t control.”
“Living is made up of these little things – a day to day business punctuated with things seen, seen best when we weren’t looking for them, or things that just happened to us while we were walking “dully along” and that we ought to notice these things. It is very easy to bandage the eyes and tell everyone that life is dull. But I am called odd by these people because I really don’t think so. I try to make the day have a THING in it, and it usually does whether I try or not. And that makes the day. Period. But I am purposeless.
I am talking of this far too seriously, but it rather hurts when I think that I was once very vulnerable to the charges that come my way. I have tried so damned hard to put a thing as simply as it appeared to me, and tried too damned hard not to let myself blow up a simple happening into a symbol of unrequited love but to leave it as it is. shit.”
“Christ, will I ever find someone who is not crying inside?”
“I am a Beginner. What the others are I don’t really know. All I know is I am wiped out every six months or so. I die. I have died hundreds and hundreds of times. It is always the same death. I do not know what dies. Why must I always begin again and again – always the same high hopes, the identical death?”
“You can’t fix it. You can’t make it go away. I don’t know what you’re going to do about it, but I know what I’m going to do about it. I’m just going to walk away from it. Maybe a small part of it will die if I’m not around feeding it anymore.”
“Not yet 40, my beard is already white”
Not yet 40, my beard is already white.
Not yet awake, my eyes are puffy and red,
like a child who has cried too much.
What is more disagreeable
than last night’s wine?
I’ll stick my head in the cold spring and
look around at the pebbles.
Maybe I can eat a can of peaches.
Then I can finish the rest of the wine,
write poems ’til I’m drunk again,
and when the afternoon breeze comes up
I’ll sleep until I see the moon
and the dark trees
and the nibbling deer
the quarreling coons
“The Image, as in a Hexagram”
The image, as in a Hexagram:
The hermit locks his door against the blizzard.
He keeps the cabin warm.
All winter long he sorts out all he has.
What was well started shall be finished.
What was not, should be thrown away.
In spring he emerges with one garment
and a single book.
The cabin is very clean.
Except for that, you’d never guess
anyone lived there.
“I Saw Myself”
I saw myself
a ring of bone
in the clear stream
of all of it
always to be open to it
that all of it
might flow through
and then heard
“ring of bone” where
ring is what a
American Art – Part III of V: Claudia Olivos
Artist Statement: “I am an artist who is perpetually engaged in the creation of a seemingly ethereal novel….: my life lived among others with the help of H/She who created me in love while simultaneously condemning me by imbedding within me the soul of an artist (as Jung stated:‘the artist is a blessing unto others-a curse unto himself’).”
A Poem for Today
“Philosophy and the Sunday Funnies,”
By Rachel Sherwood
The perfect satisfaction
of wine, cigarettes, the sun
at an afternoon angle
passes through flesh
as if flesh were a sieve
to the direct point
the soul of matter.
Things fix time
although the sun moves
lazily, creating an image
that seems like motive
the wine transmutes
and becomes blood
to blue threads and ash
but the sun continues
in constant repetition
of its slow and rather boring dance.
American Art – Part IV of V: Eric Pedersen
In the words of one writer, “Eric Pedersen was born in the Detroit metro area of Michigan in 1981. Twenty- three years later he moved to Los Angeles where he currently lives and works. Eric has studied at various institutions primarily focusing on the visual arts, in 2009 he graduated from the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art where he continues to teach.”
A Second Poem for Today
By Jonathan Galassi
The backyard apple tree gets sad so soon,
takes on a used-up, feather-duster look
within a week.
The ivy’s spring reconnaissance campaign
sends red feelers out and up and down
to find the sun.
Ivy from last summer clogs the pool,
brewing a loamy, wormy, tea-leaf mulch
soft to the touch
American Art – Part V of V: Lyndall Bass
In the words of one writer, “Lyndall Bass began studying art at age eleven with private teachers, eventually gaining admission to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Her work is a reflection of classical traditions, focused on visionary modern interpretations in the mediums of oil paint and graphite pencil.”