American Art – Part I of VIII: Curtis Bartonel
Artist Statement: “My paintings, drawings, and etchings focus on the uneasy relationship between human beings and the natural world, exploring the idea of wilderness and how it has changed from being a real place–mysterious, unknown, and pristine–to a distorted fiction. Throughout history we have striven to conquer and exploit ‘wild-ness’ for our benefit. Simultaneously we have used art to manipulate, translate, analyze, reconfigure, and tame nature. My current pieces fuse Italian Renaissance painting, 17th-century Dutch still life, 19th-century scientific illustration with a twenty-first century aesthetic informed by photography and mass media to explore and to question our attempts to tame, control, and consume our surroundings. Painting and drawing, filtered through art history and mass media, still have the potential to make sense of seemingly disparate elements, revealing connections, beauty, and order in apparent disharmony.”
“Anyone can achieve their fullest potential; who we are might be predetermined, but the path we follow is always of our own choosing. We should never allow our fears or the expectations of others to set the frontiers of our destiny. Your destiny can’t be changed, but it can be challenged. Every man is born as many men and dies as a single one.” – Martin Heidegger, influential German philosopher (though he is personally tainted by his association with the Nazi regime), who died 26 May 1976.
Some quotes from the work of Martin Heidegger:
“If I take death into my life, acknowledge it, and face it squarely, I will free myself from the anxiety of death and the pettiness of life – and only then will I be free to become myself.”
“The most thought-provoking thing in our thought-provoking time is that we are still not thinking.”
“The small are always dependent on the great; they are ‘small’ precisely because they think they are independent. The great thinker is one who can hear what is greatest in the work of other ‘greats’ and who can transform it in an original manner.”
“Freedom is only to be found where there is burden to be shouldered. In creative achievements this burden always represents an imperative and a need that weighs heavily upon man’s mood, so that he comes to be in a mood of melancholy. All creative action resides in a mood of melancholy, whether we are clearly aware of the fact or not, whether we speak at length about it or not. All creative action resides in a mood of melancholy, but this is not to say that everyone in a melancholy mood is creative.”
“What seems natural to us is probably just something familiar in a long tradition that has forgotten the unfamiliar source from which it arose. And yet this unfamiliar source once struck man as strange and caused him to think and to wonder.”
American Art – Part II of VIII: John Currin
In the words of one writer, “John Currin (born 1962) is an American painter. He is best known for satirical figurative paintings which deal with provocative sexual and social themes in a technically skillful manner.[ His work shows a wide range of influences, including sources as diverse as the Renaissance, popular culture magazines, and contemporary fashion models. He often distorts or exaggerates the erotic forms of the female body.
Currin was born in Boulder, Colorado, and grew up in Connecticut, where he studied painting privately with a renowned traditionally trained artist from Odessa, Ukraine, Lev Meshberg. He went to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he obtained a BFA in 1984, and received a MFA from Yale University in 1986.”
American Art – Part III of VIII: Isadora Duncan
If I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point in dancing it” – Isadora Duncan, American interpretive dancer, who was born 26 May 1877.
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Moondog
“‘Go commercial,’ cried the prostitutes, in every calling.
‘Sell your soul, but sell yourself. Get with it. Stop the stalling.’” –
Moondog, born Louis Thompson Hardin, blind American composer, musician, poet, and inventor of several musical instruments, who was born 26 May 1916.
Here is one writer describing the artistry of Hungarian painter Attila Adorjan: “The art of Attila Adorján is on the borderline of reality and imagination. His foremost motivations are archaizing based on respect for painting traditions, and creative experimenting with metals, forms and artistic devices, for the revival of classic genres. The works being born evoke certain styles as a reference, but in truth, they cannot be connected to any of them.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Stevie Nicks
Born 26 May 1948 – Stevie Nicks, an American singer-songwriter who, in the words of one writer, “in the course of her work with Fleetwood Mac and her extensive solo career has produced over forty Top 50 hits and sold over 140 million albums.”
Playing Cowboys and Indians – Part I of III: The Duke
“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” – John Wayne, American film actor, producer, and director best known for his iconic roles in Westerns, who was born 26 May 1907.
Playing Cowboys and Indians – Part II of III: Tonto
“That right, Kemosabe.” – Jay Silverheels, Canadian Mohawk First Nations actor best known for his role as Tonto, the companion of The Lone Ranger on a long-running television series (1949-1957), who was born 26 May 1912.
Playing Cowboys and Indians – Part III of III: Matt Dillon
“You’re looking pretty tonight, Kitty.” – James Arness, American actor best known for portraying Marshall Matt Dillon on the television series “Gunsmoke” for twenty years (1955-1975), who was born 26 May 1923.
In the words of one writer, “ Born in 1972, Stephen Martyn Welch is one of New Zealand’s major up and coming portraiture talents.
Self- taught, Marty (as he prefers to be known) cites influences such as Jenny Saville and Lucien Freud, but his work does not share their same fascination with the grotesque and the traumatic. Rather, Marty’s work is characterised by his intense fascination with people, whom he portrays with great humanity.
He is not trying to tell a story or make his motive clear, he is showing you a split second in time that you, the viewer, can interpret as a narrative or decide where the split second will take you next. Marty has been a finalist twice in New Zealand’s prestigious biennial Adam Portraiture Awards (2006 and 2008) and he won the People’s Choice Award here in 2006.”
From the Movie Archives: Bobcat Goldthwait
“America’s one of the finest countries anyone ever stole.” – Robert Francis “Bobcat” Goldthwait, American actor, comedian, screenwriter, and film and television director, who was born 26 May 1962.
Two of my favorite movies written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait are “Shakes the Clown” (1992 – with a great cameo by Robin Williams portraying Mime Jerry) and “God Bless America” (2011).
American Art – Part IV of VIII: Melinda Whitmore
In the words of one writer “Melinda Whitmore received her MFA cum laude in painting from the New York Academy of Art and BA degrees in Art History and Studio Art from Indiana University. In addition to her eleven years of teaching experience in oil painting, life drawing, sculpture and anatomy, she has been a part of numerous exhibitions from New York to Chicago, held an assistant curatorial position in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago, sculpts anatomical figures and models for many of the country’s top anatomical supply companies, and has been featured in ‘American Artist Drawing’ magazine.”
From the American History Archives – Part I of III: Give Me That Old-Time Religion – Alse Young
26 May 1647 – Alse Young (sometimes Achsah Young or Alice Young) becomes the first person executed for witchcraft in the thirteen American colonies when she is hanged in Hartford, Connecticut.
American Art – Part V of VIII: Dorothea Lange
“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” – Dorothea Lange, influential American documentary photographer and photojournalist best known for her Depression-era work for the Farm Security Administration, who was born 26 May 1895.
Below – Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California (1936); Children at the Weill public school in San Francisco pledge allegiance to the American flag in April 1942, prior to the internment of Japanese-Americans; Damaged Child, Shacktown, Elm Grove, Oklahoma (1936); White Angel Bread Line, San Francisco (1933); Woman of the High Plains, Texas Panhandle (1938); The Road West, New Mexico (1938); Crossroads Store, North Carolina (1939); Dorothea Lange in 1936.
From the American History Archives – Part II of III: Meriwether Lewis
26 May 1805 – Meriwether Lewis sees the Rocky Mountains for the first time and leaves a lengthy description of the countryside in his Journal: “In the after part of the day I also walked out and ascended the river hills which I found sufficiently fortiegueing. on arriving to the summit one of the highest points in the neighbourhood I thought myself well repaid for any labour; as from this point I beheld the Rocky Mountains for the first time these points of the Rocky Mountains were covered with snow and the sun shone on it in such manner as to give me the most plain and satisfactory view. while I viewed these mountains I felt a secret plaesure in finding myself so near the head of the heretofore conceived boundless Missouri; but when I reflected on the difficulties which this snowy barrier would most probably throw in my way to the Pacific, and the sufferings and hardships of myself and party in them, it in some measure counterbalanced the joy I felt in the 1st moments in which I gazed on them; but as I have always held it a crime to anticipate evils I will believe it a good comfortable road untill I am compelled to believe differently.”
Above – Olaf Seltzer: “Lewis’s First Glimpse of the Rockies.”
American Art – Part VI of VIII: Eric White
In the words of one critic describing the artistry of Eric White: “One can hardly look at it for very long, as the precision with which it is painted does not allow for one specific focal point. These paintings go against the commonly appreciated aesthetic that encourages the viewer to take in the piece in an orderly fashion and instead almost forces the observer to look away. He uses what we often find in photography and creates dreamlike paintings with what he calls ‘hyper-anal’ technique.”
From the American History Archives – Part III of III: The Golden Gate Bridge.
26 May 1937 – San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge opens. A confession: I am in love with this bridge, San Francisco, and Northern California. In describing the Golden Gate Bridge, I can do no better than to quote Hart Crane’s tribute to Brooklyn Bridge:
“O Sleepless as the river under thee,
Vaulting the sea, the prairies’ dreaming sod,
Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend
And of the curveship lend a myth to God.”
American Art – Part VII of VIII: Jerri Lisk
Artist Statement: “I was born into a life of paint brushes, pencils and paper. With oceans, mountains and deserts in my veins, I use a rich palette of color; my eye ready to fasten the most impossible blue to a hillside or to find the strongest form to represent the shape of a tree. I studied as a student of painter Frank Holda, and later studied in London at the Leonard Pardon School of Specialty Design where I was taught techniques that whispered fluently the language of texture, material, surface and hue. From my home, I now set out into deserts, up craggy limber pine ridge-tops and down into river canyons, to capture in pen the stark forms of trees, hills and valleys into compositions. Later, I paint their lines, redrawing these simple lines onto the surface of metal, layering each with intense color and depth of light. While it is neither conceptual nor literal, there is something about the subject of the trees of which I never tire. It seems as though these forms each have a story to tell. I enjoy the one-on-one dimension that working on a large piece gives, as well as the small jewelry like accents of the small simple compositions. The installed painting stands away from the wall, but I hope to take future works towards a series of sculptural forms.”
Swiss ceramicist Doris Althaus (born 1970) has enriched her art with experiences while traveling in England and South America.
A Poem for Today
By Cecilia Woloch
Didn’t I stand there once,
white-knuckled, gripping the just-lit taper,
swearing I’d never go back?
And hadn’t you kissed the rain from my mouth?
And weren’t we gentle and awed and afraid,
knowing we’d stepped from the room of desire
into the further room of love?
And wasn’t it sacred, the sweetness
we licked from each other’s hands?
And were we not lovely, then, were we not
as lovely as thunder, and damp grass, and flame?
American Art – Part VIII of VIII: Reuben Negron
Here is one critic describing the artistry of American painter Reuben Negron: “Reuben Negron’s art is firmly rooted in the narrative tradition. Although his work crosses disciplines, the intent maintains a singular focus – to tell stories of people and events that would normally go unsung. His comics, paintings and photos set to explore the delicate intricacies of the mundane – even when the content may at first appear taboo. The stories themselves are often taken from, or inspired by true-life events. Even the more ambiguous narratives have their seeds planted firmly in something Reuben has encountered personally.”