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

American Art – Part I of III: Kim Roberti

Artist Statement: “I love painting…it’s my life! I love the endless series of tasks exploring the abstract elements of lines, shapes, values, colors, textures, and edges!”
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“There is no sin but ignorance.” – Christopher Marlowe, English dramatist and poet of the Elizabethan era, who died 30 May 1593.

My Asian Studies students will recall that the Sanskrit term “avidya” is usually translated as “ignorance” but that it actually means “willful ignorance,” and that definition is likely close to Marlowe’s meaning of “sin.” This character flaw is a form of intellectual sloth – the conscious disinclination to move beyond accepted opinions about the world and investigate its actualities in a critical and skeptical way. A succinct description of this grave error might be “life in contemporary America.” (And before someone labels me a cynic for making that comment, he or she should spend some time in thoughtful consideration of politics, education, and religion in our Republic.)

“The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy

British Art – Part I of II: Annie Louisa Swynnerton

In 1922, English painter Annie Louisa Swynnerton (1844-1933) became the first female associate of the Royal Academy since the 18th century.
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From the Music Archives – Part I of II: The Beatles

30 May 1964 – The Beatles’ single “Love Me Do” reaches number one on American popular music charts.

From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Tom Morello

“There is a mostly male, predominantly white, ruling elite in this country and all of the presidential candidates are chosen from their number. They’re all beholden to wealth and property and corporate interest; that’s just how you get elected in this country. There are no welfare mothers or homeless people or construction workers or auto workers running for president, it’s all millionaires and billionaires and the fact that 1% of the population controls more than a third of all the wealth and 40 million live in total poverty … And everybody else is fighting over the leftovers and are on each other’s throats, and that’s reflected every time we have an election. Most people are just disregarded.” – Tom Morello, American guitarist, member of Rage Against the Machine, and political activist, who was born on 30 May 1964.

British Art – Part II of II: Ray Howard-Jones

Born 30 May 1903 – Ray Howard-Jones, a Welsh artist. While Howard-Jones spent most of her life in Wales, she had many solo and group exhibitions of her paintings in England, Scotland, and Paris.

Below – “Gateholm, Low Water”; “Landscape”; “Seascape”; “Female Nude”; “Painter in My Studio”; “Farmhouse”; “Snow in Suffolk”; “Evening in Alderney”;“Derelict Farmhouse.”
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From the Movie Archives – Part I of II: Claude Rains

Died 30 May 1967 – Claude Rains, an English stage and film actor. In the words of one movie historian, “He was known for many roles in Hollywood films, among them the title role in ‘The Invisible Man’ (1933), a corrupt senator in ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ (1939), Mr. Dryden in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ (1962), and, perhaps his most notable performance, as Captain Renault in ‘Casablanca’ (1942).”

Spanish Art – Part I of III: Juan Bautista Nieto

Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Juan Bautista Nieto (born 1963): “His work presents an exaggerated obsession with recreating a reality which reaches beyond the precise representation of a photograph. He transcends the theme and concept of hyperrealism using it as a vehicle to take us onto another level wherein he achieves an extraordinary kind of intensity that paradoxically creates a distinct feeling of unreality.
His technique is equally obsessive and both demanding and exhaustive. Every facet of his subject is depicted with a minute and impersonal exactitude of detail. His materials are oil and acrylic combined to build an accumulation of delicate and continuous layers of shades and multiple tones of light, shadows and density.
In common with other hyperrealist painters he produces very few paintings each year. His large works take between six to nine months to complete. With some justification Nieto is regarded within Spanish Art circles as one of the foremost exponents of hyperrealism in Spain today.”
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From the Movie Archives – Part II of II: Howard Hawks

“I get a little sick of these New Yorkers who want me to make some psychic thing, like ‘The Left-Handed Gun.’ They don’t know anything about Western history.” – Howard Hawks, American film director, producer, and screenwriter who made many successful movies in a variety of genres during the classic Hollywood era, who was born 30 May 1896.

Here is film critic David Thomson paying tribute to Hawks’ directorial excellence: “Far from being the meek purveyor of Hollywood forms, he always chose to turn them upside down, ‘To Have and Have Not’ and ‘The Big Sleep,’ ostensibly an adventure and a thriller, are really love stories. ‘Rio Bravo,’ apparently a Western – everyone wears a cowboy hat – is a comedy conversation piece. The ostensible comedies are shot through with exposed emotions, with the subtlest views of the sex war, and with a wry acknowledgment of the incompatibility of men and women.”

Howard Hawks also directed one of my favorite boyhood movies: “The Thing from Another World” (1951).

Spanish Art – Part II of III: Alejandro Carpintero

Painter Alejandro Carpintero (born 1981) has degrees from both the Fine Arts University of Madrid and Leeds Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom.
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From the Television Archives: Mel Blanc

“Today was tomorrow yesterday, so don’t inhale.” – Mel Blanc, American voice actor and comedian, who was born on 30 May 1908.

Blanc’s immense talent earned him the well-deserved nickname “The Man of a Thousand Voices,” but he was also an accomplished actor, as is evident in his performance with fellow comic genius Jack Benny in one of their great routines.

Spanish Art – Part III of III: Mikel Olazabal

Painter Mikel Olazabal has studied extensively in the United States.
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“I find myself hoping a total end of all the unhappy divisions of mankind by party-spirit, which at best is but the madness of many for the gain of a few.” – Alexander Pope, English poet and translator of Homer, who died 30 May 1744.

Some quotes from Alexander Pope (who is the third-most frequently quoted writer in “The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations,” after Shakespeare and Tennyson):

“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”
“To err is human, to forgive, divine.”
“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”
“A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.”
“A little learning is a dangerous thing.
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring;
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
and drinking largely sobers us again.”
“Know then thyself, presume not God to scan,
The proper study of mankind is Man.
Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
A being darkly wise and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the Stoic’s pride,
He hangs between, in doubt to act or rest;
In doubt to deem himself a God or Beast;
In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
Born but to die, and reas’ning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little or too much;
Chaos of thought and passion, all confused;
Still by himself abused or disabused;
Created half to rise, and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl’d;
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!”

Born 30 May 1892 – Fernando Amorsolo, a Filipino artist who painted portraits and rural Philippine landscapes.

Below – “Fruit Gatherer”; “Lavendera”; “Antipolo”; “Waterfall”; “Mango Vendors.”
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“Sir, this is no time for making new enemies.” – Voltaire, French enlightenment writer, historian, philosopher, and author of “Candide,” who died 30 May 1778, responding to a priest who asked him to renounce Satan.

In the words of one historian, Voltaire was “famous for his wit, his attacks on the established Catholic Church, and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state.”

Some quotes from the work of Voltaire:

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”
“It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.”
“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”
“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”
“Common sense is not so common.”
“Despite the enormous quantity of books, how few people read! And if one reads profitably, one would realize how much stupid stuff the vulgar herd is content to swallow every day.”
“Dare to think for yourself.”
“Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.”
“Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.”
“I don’t know where I am going, but I am on my way.”
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Here is the Artist Statement of Polish painter Emilia Wilk: “In my work the most important matter is what I think makes the picture interesting for me. But really I’m most upset with myself. I love this discontent, and the thought that a painting is always more important than its creator.”
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30 May 1539 – Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto discovers Florida.
Two weeks later, the place is overrun by retirees from New Jersey.
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Here is one critic describing the artistry of Dutch painter Peter van Oostzanen (born 1962): “”Peter van Oostzanen’s paintings and drawings evoke the sensation of seeing a different world in which the laws of nature do not apply. Objects have unusual functions and human beings behave differently than in everyday life. By depicting impossible situations and objects van Oostzanen cunningly toys with reality. Recognizable themes are placed in an entire new context, and the imaginary world that is thus created is on the one hand familiar, because of the ordinary objects and creatures in it, but on the other hand strange and impossible, since these objects and creatures have unusual qualities and functions.”
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“From the naturalistic point of view, all men are equal. There are only two exceptions to this rule of naturalistic equality: geniuses and idiots.” – Mikhail Bakunin, Russian revolutionary, philosopher, and anarchist, who was born on 30 May 1814.

Some quotes from Mikhail Bakunin:

“By striving to do the impossible, man has always achieved what is possible. Those who have cautiously done no more than they believed possible have never taken a single step forward.”
“Does it follow that I reject all authority? Perish the thought. In the matter of boots, I defer to the authority of the boot-maker.”
“A Boss in Heaven is the best excuse for a boss on earth; therefore, if God did exist, he would have to be abolished.”
“If there is a State, then there is domination, and in turn, there is slavery.”
“He who desires to worship God must harbor no childish illusions about the matter but bravely renounce his liberty and humanity.”
“I am truly free only when all human beings, men and women, are equally free.”
“To my utter despair I have discovered, and discover every day anew, that there is in the masses no revolutionary idea or hope or passion.”
“People go to church for the same reasons they go to a tavern: to stupefy themselves, to forget their misery, to imagine themselves, for a few minutes anyway, free and happy.”

Died 30 May 1640 – Peter Paul Rubens, a Flemish Baroque painter.

Below – “Prometheus Bound”; “The Three Graces”; “The Birth of the Milky Way”; “The Judgment of Paris”; “The Fall of Phaeton”; “Diana Returning from the Hunt”; “Venus at the Mirror.”
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From the American History Archives – Part I of II: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

30 May 1848 – Mexico ratifies the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ending the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). In the words of one historian, “The treaty called for the United States to pay $15 million to Mexico and pay off the claims of American citizens against Mexico up to $3.25 million. It gave the United States the Rio Grande boundary for Texas, and gave the U.S. ownership of California, and a large area comprising New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Wyoming and Colorado. Mexicans in those annexed areas had the choice of relocating to Mexico or receiving American citizenship with full civil rights; over 90% remained. The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty by a vote of 38–14, against the Whigs who had opposed the war, rejected Manifest Destiny in general and rejected this expansion in particular.”

Here is the Artist Statement of Brita Seifert: “In 1963 I was born in Leipzig, Germany. In 1980 I started drawing with pencil and paper, and then learned to paint with oils. Never having agreed with the method of art education in school, all my techniques in the application of art materials were self-taught. Being interested in all that encompasses art and design I decided to investigate computer art. In January 2000 my first formal education in multimedia design was completed, enabling me to pursue a career in the digital arts. The strongest social critical period of my work was from 1980 until 1989, the years that I lived in the German Democratic Republic (GDR).”
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The Chicago Memorial Day Incident

From the American History Archives – Part II of II: The Memorial Day Massacre, or “A Tribute to the Working Man”

30 May 1937 – The Memorial Day Massacre takes place in Chicago, during which members of the Chicago Police Department shot and killed ten unarmed demonstrators who had gathered in support of striking union workers. In the words of one historian, “On Memorial Day, hundreds of sympathizers gathered at Sam’s Place, headquarters of the SWOC (Steel Workers Organizing Committee of the Congress of Industrial Workers). As the crowd marched across the prairie towards the Republic Steel mill, a line of Chicago policemen blocked their path. The foremost protestors argued their right to continue. The police, angered, fired on the crowd. As the crowd fled, police bullets killed ten people and injured 30. Nine people were permanently disabled and another 28 had serious head injuries from police clubbing.”

In the words of one writer, “André Durand (born Ottawa, Canada 1947) is a painter working in the European Hermetic tradition. He is influenced by artists such as Rubens, Titian, Michelangelo and Velázquez. As Durand has said: ‘Almost all the young people that inspire me to paint them have something in common. I am convinced that I have met them before in a painting. When I consider the teenage behavior of the deities and saints in mythology or the Bible, not to mention heroes and heroines, the kids in my pictures are appropriate symbols of such protagonists.’”
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“We turned the switch, saw the flashes, watched for ten minutes, then switched everything off and went home. That night I knew the world was headed for sorrow.” – Leo Szilard, Hungarian-American physicist and inventor, who died 30 May 1964, commenting on the first successful controlled nuclear chain reaction at the University of Chicago on 2 December 1942.

Above – Leo Szilard.
Below – Trinity, the code name for the detonation of the first nuclear weapon by the United States Army on 16 July 1945 at the White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico.
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American Art – Part II of III: Robin Purcell

Painter Robin Purcell lives and works in California.
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A Poem for Today

“Anecdote of the Jar,”
By Wallace Stevens

I placed a jar in Tennessee,
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.

The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.
The jar was round upon the ground
And tall and of a port in air.

It took dominion everywhere.
The jar was gray and bare.
It did not give of bird or bush,
Like nothing else in Tennessee.
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American Art – Part III of III: Zachary Thornton

Artist Statement: “I continue to find visual inspiration in the night: the eerie lighting, the silent trees and glowing houses, the looming darkness and quietly ominous solitude. The figures who appear in this ambiguous atmosphere embody a separate and private realm of internal conflict, a world within a world; revealing just enough of themselves to arouse curiosity, leaving the viewer to pursue their identity, situation, and purpose.
My technique is influenced by traditional painting, as well as by photography and film, the latter especially in its composition and drama.”

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