American Art – Part I of II: Colleen Barry
In the words of one critic, painter Colleen Barry (born 1981)
“currently lives and works in Brooklyn NY. A student of the National Academy of Design, the Harlem Studio of Art, the Hudson River Landscape School, and the Water Street Atelier, she has been the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards. As a student, she exhibited her work at the National Academy of Art, The National Arts Club, the Cork Gallery in Lincoln Center, and Frost and Reed Gallery in London and NY.”
“I wonder sometimes if manufacturers of foolproof items keep a fool or two on their payroll to test things.” – Alan Coren, English humorist, writer, satirist, and journalist, who was born 27 June 1938.
Some quotes from the work of Alan Coren:
“Democracy consists of choosing your dictators, after they’ve told you what you think it is you want to hear.”
“The Act of God designation on all insurance policies; which means, roughly, that you cannot be insured for the accidents that are most likely to happen to you.”
On Switzerland: “Since both its national products, snow and chocolate, melt, the cuckoo clock was invented solely in order to give tourists something solid to remember it by.”
“Remember: Enjoy your life today, because yesterday has gone and tomorrow may never come.”
Italian Art – Part I of II: Giorgio Vasari
Died 27 June 1574 – Giorgio Vasari, an Italian architect, painter, and writer.
“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” – Jane Howard, American journalist, writer, editor, and author of “Margaret Mead: A Life,” who died 27 June 1996.
Another quote from the work of Jane Howard: “What we all have discovered together, only rarely in classrooms, is that the passage of years guarantees very little in the way of answers, that ambivalence and ambiguity will follow us all the days of our lives, but that words and wit and woods and food and music will endure as sources of comfort.
We have learned that surprises exhilarate, if they don’t barrage us too fast, and that the quest for the proper balances between stillness and motion, restraint and excess, sound and silence, will continue, and that too much freedom—a life too much at large…can feel at least as constricting as too little. We have learned, maybe most importantly of all, to cherish the company of those who can make us laugh, who can forgive us our shortcomings, who can restore to us or evoke in us a feeling of purpose in the face of absurdity.”
Italian Art – Part II of II: Licio Passon
Here is one writer describing the artistry of painter Licio Passon: “It is said that in the early ages, travelers from all over the world would visit Venice. When they left, a popular memento would be the purchase of a very realistic painting. The idea was to bring the city home with them. Paintings were created as exact replicas of the various canals of Venice.
Licio Passon, born in Udine, Italy, in 1965, paints in this realistic manner. To comprehend his artistic work, you can’t neglect his belonging to his homeland of the Friuli region and the rustic life, the hardship of the fields that he experienced as a child. Watching him work today in his studio in Campoformido, Italy, you can still feel this complete dedication, his attention, ability and taste for color.”
“A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library.” – Shelby Foote, American historian, novelist, and author of the three-volume “The Civil War: A Narrative,” who died 27 June 2005.
Some quotes from the work of Shelby Foote:
“The point I would make is that the novelist and the historian are seeking the same thing: the truth – not a different truth: the same truth – only they reach it, or try to reach it, by different routes. Whether the event took place in a world now gone to dust, preserved by documents and evaluated by scholarship, or in the imagination, preserved by memory and distilled by the creative process, they both want to tell us how it was: to re-create it, by their separate methods, and make it live again in the world around them.”
“They took it for more than it was, or anyhow for more than it said; the container was greater than the thing contained, and Lincoln became at once what he would remain for them, ‘the man who freed the slaves.’ He would go down to posterity, not primarily as the Preserver of the Republic-which he was-but as the Great Emancipator, which he was not.”
“I can’t begin to tell you the things I discovered while I was looking for something else.”
“I think making mistakes and discovering them for yourself is of great value, but to have someone else to point out your mistakes is a shortcut of the process.”
“North was only a direction indicated by a compass–if a man had one, that is, for otherwise there was no north or south or east or west; there was only the brooding desolation.”
“Generally the first week in September brings the hottest weather of the year, and this was no exception. Overhead the fans turned slow, their paddle blades stirring the air up close to the ceiling but nowhere else.”
“The Civil War defined us as what we are and it opened us to being what we became, good and bad things… It was the crossroads of our being, and it was a hell of a crossroads.”
British Art – Part I of II: Toby Boothman
The artistic career of British painter Toby Boothman (born 1973) changed dramatically in 1994 when he went to study under master Patrick Betaudier in Monflanquin, France. In his words, “At the Atelier Neo Medici, I was taught a modern version of the Renaissance technique known as the Technique Mixed. This technique, which combines detailed under painting with transparent oil glazes, dates back to the time of the 15th century Flemish master Jan van Eyck. Patrick not only taught me how to paint but also how to see things. Technique has become an extremely important factor in my painting, since discovering it, I have enjoyed painting a variety of subjects – mainly figurative, but also still life.”
“Sometimes the house of the future is better built, lighter and larger than all the houses of the past, so that the image of the dream house is opposed to that of the childhood home. Late in life, with indomitable courage, we continue to say that we are going to do what we have not yet done: we are going to build a house. This dream house may be merely a dream of ownership, the embodiment of everything that is considered convenient, comfortable, healthy, sound, desirable, by other people. It must therefore satisfy both pride and reason, two irreconcilable terms. . . Maybe it is a good thing for us to keep a few dreams of a house that we shall live in later, always later, so much later, in fact, that we shall not have time to achieve it. For a house that was final, one that stood in symmetrical relation to the house we were born in, would lead to thoughts—serious, sad thoughts—and not to dreams. It is better to live in a state of impermanence than in one of finality.” – Gaston Bachelard, French philosopher and author of “The Poetics of Space” and “The Poetics of Reverie: Childhood Language and the Cosmos,” who was born 27 June 1884.
Some quotes from the work of Gaston Bachelard:
“So, like a forgotten fire, a childhood can always flare up again within us.”
“To feel most beautifully alive means to be reading something beautiful, ready always to apprehend in the flow of language the sudden flash of poetry.”
“If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.”
“We comfort ourselves by reliving memories of protection. Something closed must retain our memories, while leaving them their original value as images. Memories of the outside world will never have the same tonality as those of home and, by recalling these memories, we add to our store of dreams; we are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps nothing but an expression of a poetry that was lost.”
“When the image is new, the world is new.”
“Of course, thanks to the house, a great many of our memories are housed, and if the house is a bit elaborate, if it has a cellar and a garret, nooks and corridors, our memories have refuges that are all the more clearly delineated. All our lives we come back to them in our daydreams. A psychoanalyst should, therefore, turn his attention to this simple localization of our memories. I should like to give the name of topoanalysis to this auxiliary of psychoanalysis. Topoanalysis, then, would be the systematic psychological study of the sites of our intimate lives.”
“The repose of sleep refreshes only the body. It rarely sets the soul at rest. The repose of the night does not belong to us. It is not the possession of our being. Sleep opens within us an inn for phantoms. In the morning we must sweep out the shadows.”
“Even a minor event in the life of a child is an event of that child’s world and thus a world event.”
“One must always maintain one’s connection to the past and yet ceaselessly pull away from it.”
“Man is a creation of desire, not a creation of need.”
“The characteristic of scientific progress is our knowing that we did not know.”
“The great function of poetry is to give back to us the situations of our dreams.”
British Art – Part II of II: Penny Sistro
Here is part of the Artist Statement of Scottish quilting artist Penny Sistro: “The images, the beings on my work haunt and whisper to me as I make them live. I learn sometimes things that only they can tell, as I sew the edges of their world. Some of the collectors who take them home with them tell me that they catch echoes, see the compassion in their quilted eyes, feel the warmth of their spirit…that is the fabric-world’s gift to me and mine to you, the people who look at my pieces.”
“The Shadow-maker shapes forever.” – Lafcadio Hearn, American journalist and author, who was born 27 June 1850.
While Hearn is best known for his books about Japan (written under his Japanese name Koizumi Yakumo), he also wrote extensively about New Orleans (“Inventing New Orleans”), based on his ten-year stay in that city. Nonetheless, his Japanese ghost stories are his greatest achievement, and four of his most impressive supernatural tales were brought to the screen in “Kwaidan” (1965), directed by Kobayashi Masaki.
Some quotes from the work of Lafcadio Hearn:
“Times are not good here. The city is crumbling into ashes. It has been buried under taxes and frauds and maladministrations so that it has become a study for archaeologists…but it is better to live here in sackcloth and ashes than to own the whole state of Ohio.”
“There is scarcely any great author in European literature, old or new, who has not distinguished himself in his treatment of the supernatural. In English literature, I believe there is no exception from the time of the Anglo-Saxon poets to Shakespeare, and from Shakespeare to our own day. And this introduces us to the consideration of a general and remarkable fact, a fact that I do not remember to have seen in any books, but which is of very great philosophical importance: there is something ghostly in all great art, whether of literature, music, sculpture, or architecture. It touches something within us that relates to infinity.”
“The tea ceremony requires years of training and practice … yet the whole of this art, as to its detail, signifies no more than the making and serving of a cup of tea. The supremely important matter is that the act be performed in the most perfect, most polite, most graceful, most charming manner possible.”
“It may remain for us to learn… that our task is only beginning; and that there will never be given to us even the ghost of any help, save the help of unutterable unthinkable Time. We may have to learn that the infinite whirl of death and birth, out of which we cannot escape, is of our own creation, of our own seeking–that the forces integrating worlds are the errors of the Past–that the eternal sorrow is but the eternal hunger of insatiable desire–and that the burnt-out suns are rekindled only by the inextinguishable passions of vanished lives.”
“On the Gulf side of these islands you may observe that the trees—where there are any trees—all bend away from the sea; and, even of bright, hot days when the wind sleeps, there is something grotesquely pathetic in their look of agonized terror. A group of oaks . . . I remember as especially suggestive: five stooping silhouettes in line against the horizon, like fleeing women with streaming garments and wind-blown hair—bowing grievously and thrusting out arms desperately northward as to save themselves from falling. And they are being pursued indeed—for the sea is devouring the land.”
“We owe more to our illusions than to our knowledge.”
“But I confess that ‘my mind to me a kingdom is’–not! Rather it is a fantastical republic, daily troubled by more revolutions than ever occurred in South America.”
“Perhaps, after trillions of ages burning in different dynasties of suns, the very best of me may come together again.”
Above – Lafcadio Hearn in 1889.
Below – Koizumi Yakumo with his wife Koizumi Setsu; “Kwaidan”; a poster for the movie version of “Kwaidan”; a still from “The Woman of the Snow” episode of the movie; a still from the “”Hoichi the Earless” episode in the movie.
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Kim Carnes
27 June 1981 – The song “Bette Davis Eyes,” performed by Kim Carnes, regains the number one position on American popular music charts. In the words of one writer, “It spent nine weeks at No. 1 on the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ and was the biggest hit of the entire year for 1981. The recording won the 1982 Grammy Awards for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year.”
The “Bette Davis Eyes” music video I have selected is better than the official one featuring Kim Carnes; considerable artistry and no little effort were involved in its creation.
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: John Entwistle
“For 15 years, we always thought we would last as long as our last record contract.” – John Entwistle, English musician, songwriter, singer, and film and music producer best known as the bass guitarist for The Who, who died 27 June 2002.
Polish artist Jan Chrzaszcz (born 1944) is a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow.
“Gently I stir a white feather fan,
With open shirt sitting in a green wood.
I take off my cap and hang it on a jutting stone;
A wind from the pine-trees trickles on my bare head.” – “In the Mountains on a Summer Day,” by Li Po, translated by Arthur Waley, English orientalist, sinologist, and translator, who died 27 June 1966.
In the words of one historian, “Waley was the great transmitter of the high literary cultures of China and Japan to the English-reading general public; the ambassador from East to West in the first half of the 20th century. He was self-taught, but reached remarkable levels of fluency, even erudition, in both languages. It was a unique achievement, possible (as he himself later noted) only in that time, and unlikely to be repeated.”
Here is the Artist Statement of Canadian painter Laura Den Hertog: “My reasons for painting what I paint and doing it the way I do are really pretty simple. I’m fascinated by the things we do that are the same throughout time, regardless of changing social structures and technology. I think we are all creating in our everyday lives. I have the greatest respect for both the things people make and those who make them, from a simple loaf of bread to a ship that sails on the sea.
I live and work in idyllic Quebec with its multitude of lakes, rivers and streams and within spitting distance of northern New England. When not in my studio, I can be found out and about in my ancient Volkswagen camper van searching out beautiful places and meeting incredible people to paint.
I am happiest with a brush in my hand surrounded by a mix of technology and antiques…both keep me humble.”
From the Television Archives: “Captain Video and His Video Rangers”
27 June 1949 – “Captain Video and His Video Rangers” debuts on DuMont-TV. In the words of one writer, “The series aired between June 27, 1949 and April 1, 1955, originally Monday through Saturday at 7 p.m. ET, and then Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET. A separate 30-minute spinoff series, ‘The Secret Files of Captain Video,’ aired Saturday mornings, alternating with ‘Tom Corbett, Space Cadet,’ from September 5, 1953 to May 29, 1954 for a total of 20 episodes.
Set in the distant future, the series followed the adventures of a group of fighters for truth and justice, the Video Rangers, led by Captain Video. The Rangers operated from a secret base on a mountain top. Their uniforms resembled United States Army surplus with lightning bolts sewn on.
The Captain had a teen-age companion who was known only as the Video Ranger. Captain Video received his orders from the Commissioner of Public Safety, whose responsibilities took in the entire solar system as well as human colonies on planets around other stars. Captain Video was the first adventure hero explicitly designed (by DuMont’s idea-man Larry Menkin) for early live television.”
“Poetry is a matter of life, not just a matter of language.” – Lucille Clifton, American poet, writer, and educator, who was born 27 June 1936.
“oh antic God”
oh antic God
return to me
my mother in her thirties
leaned across the front porch
the huge pillow of her breasts
pressing against the rail
summoning me in for bed.
I am almost the dead woman’s age times two.
In the words of one writer, “Alfredo Roldan was born in Madrid in 1965. At the age of 22, having had no formal artistic training, he started drawing professionally, selling his work in street markets, at the same time presenting his work at major competitions, of which he won several. It was on winning the award granted by the City Council of Madrid in 1994 that he was discovered by a major gallery. His winning painting now hangs in the Museum of Modern Art, Madrid. In 1996 he was named a Member of the Senate ‘Honoris Caus’ of the Academy of Modern Art of Rome.”
A Poem for Today
By Kim Addonizio
I know my friend is going,
though she still sits there
across from me in the restaurant,
and leans over the table to dip
her bread in the oil on my plate; I know
how thick her hair used to be,
and what it takes for her to discard
her man’s cap partway through our meal,
to look straight at the young waiter
and smile when he asks
how we are liking it. She eats
as though starving—chicken, dolmata,
the buttery flakes of filo—
and what’s killing her
eats, too. I watch her lift
a glistening black olive and peel
the meat from the pit, watch
her fine long fingers, and her face,
puffy from medication. She lowers
her eyes to the food, pretending
not to know what I know. She’s going.
And we go on eating.
American Art – Part II of II: Sharon Sprung
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Sharon Sprung (born 1953): “Sprung’s work is at once beautiful and quietly powerful. Seeing her paintings in reproduction doesn’t give you the true feel of her technique. The surfaces are actually quite tactile, which owes to the fact that she paints a good deal of each work with a palette knife. Not in the usual way palette knife painting is thought of, in fact she has developed a more nuanced approach which initially seems like pulling a brush with paint over a layer which has yet to fully dry. When done in the opaque areas, this enhances the flesh tones by catching more light and reflecting it back to the viewer.”