American Art – Part I of IV: Daena Title
In the words of one writer, “Daena Title was born in Manhattan in 1957 and was raised in Long Island, New York. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and in Theatre Studies from Wellesley College in 1979, and lived in Manhattan until 1991. Title currently resides in Los Angeles, California.”
Title has long been concerned with the cultural pressures that tend to warp female identity in the United States. The paintings below come from two of her series – “Pageants” and “Drown the Dolls.” Of the latter she has written, “In my ‘Drown the Dolls’ series, the formal compositions of refraction and reflection mirror the way women see themselves reflected and distorted, for better or worse (I believe for worse) in the image of the Barbie doll. Pervasive societal standard, indoctrinating tool, or ‘just a doll,’ this 51 (and counting) year old icon presents a view of women that is as relentlessly fake as it is unattainable.
In ‘Drown the Dolls’ pre-pubescent girls play with Barbie, holding her under the water as if saying ‘no’ to the narrow parameters she presents as role model. In others the Barbie free floats alone, serving as metaphor for the female subconscious and its ‘drowned’ dreams and submerged anger at the relentless stress society places on attaining physical beauty above all else. The images encourage us, too, to ‘drown’ these internalized voices that haunt us.”
From the American History Archives: George Washington Goethals
Born 29 June 1858 – George Washington Goethals, a United States Army officer and civil engineer, best known for his administration and supervision of the construction and opening of the Panama Canal. In the words of one historian, “During the Spanish-American War, he was lieutenant colonel and chief of engineers of the United States Volunteers. In 1903, Goethals became a member of the first Army General Staff in Washington, D.C. According to the book ‘The Panama Canal: An Army’s Enterprise,’ Goethals made such an impression on President Taft in D.C. that he later recommended him as an engineer for the Panama Canal. In 1907 US President Theodore Roosevelt appointed George Washington Goethals chief engineer of the Panama Canal. The building of the Canal was completed in 1914, two years ahead of the target date of June 10, 1916.”
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Tim Buckley
Died 29 June 1975 – Tim Buckley, an American singer-songwriter and guitarist.
American Art – Part II of III: Robert Hunt
Robert Hunt received a Bachelor’s degree in Art History from the University of California and a Master’s degree in Illustration from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. As described by Walt Reed in the 2003 edition of ‘The Illustrator in America,’ “His work reflects his classical training, but with a contemporary take.”
“One eye sees, the other feels.” – Paul Klee, Swiss-German painter, who died 29 June 11940.
In the words of one critic, South African painter Hanneke Benade (born 1972) “graduated from the University of Pretoria with a Fine Arts degree in 1993. She has since lectured at the university and curated a group exhibition…. Her paintings have been displayed in solo exhibitions in Gauteng and the Western Cape, as well as group shows throughout South Africa, Europe, and Egypt.”
Here is part of the Artist Statement of Dutch painter Andri de Brujin: “From my early youth drawing and painting became a passion. A week without painting is a lost week. From still life in watercolour, in the beginning, to landscapes in pastel of which I made sketches during my travels, I got more and more portrait tasks. And now about a 150 portraits later I became fascinated by oriental countries, such as China, India, Nepal, Japan, Vietnam and Egypt.
The landscape, culture, the mysticism and living habits which I encounter in these countries buoys me enormously. During each travel I acquire so many impressions that give me inspiration, which I then develop in my workshop.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Little Eva
Born 29 June 1943 – Eva Narcissus Boyd, known by the stage name Little Eva, an American singer.
Here is one writer describing the artistry of Dutch painter Ger Eikendal (born 1954): “Torn posters of Hollywood beauties from the past on dilapidated buildings can be interpreted as the passage of beauty and time.”
Chinese painter Meng Yangyang (born 1983) graduated from the Oil Painting Department of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute and earned a M.F.A. in Oil Painting from the same institution. In the words of one critic, “She is one of the first Chinese artists whose artwork is not influenced by President Mao’s Totalitarianism, and yet these young artists are emerging in a country that is rapidly growing and changing. Western culture has influenced the character of Meng Yangyang and the young artists like her; their artwork reflects how China is turning into a brand new and well developed country. However, the insecurity extended from this changing country is the reason that young people are trying to find themselves in the fantasy world.”
“All grown-ups were once children… but only a few of them remember it.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French writer, poet, pioneering aviator, and author of “The Little Prince,” “Wind, Sand and Stars” (winner of the 1939 U.S. National Book Award for Nonfiction), and “Night Flight, who was born 29 June 1900.
Some quotes from the work of Antoine de Saint-Exuperey:
“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”
“I looked about me. Luminous points glowed in the darkness. Cigarettes punctuated the humble meditations of worn old clerks. I heard them talking to one another in murmurs and whispers. They talked about illness, money, shabby domestic cares. And suddenly I had a vision of the face of destiny. Old bureaucrat, my comrade, it is not you who are to blame. No one ever helped you to escape. You, like a termite, built your peace by blocking up with cement every chink and cranny through which the light might pierce. You rolled yourself up into a ball in your genteel security, in routine, in the stifling conventions of provincial life, raising a modest rampart against the winds and the tides and the stars. You have chosen not to be perturbed by great problems, having trouble enough to forget your own fate as a man. You are not the dweller upon an errant planet and do not ask yourself questions to which there are no answers. Nobody grasped you by the shoulder while there was still time. Now the clay of which you were shaped has dried and hardened, and naught in you will ever awaken the sleeping musician, the poet, the astronomer that possibly inhabited you in the beginning.”
“‘Goodbye,’ said the fox. ‘And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’”
“Action and personal happiness have no truck with each other; they are eternally at war.”
“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.”
“When I opened my eyes I saw nothing but the pool of nocturnal sky, for I was lying on my back with out-stretched arms, face to face with that hatchery of stars. Only half awake, still unaware that those depths were sky, having no roof between those depths and me, no branches to screen them, no root to cling to, I was seized with vertigo and felt myself as if flung forth and plunging downward like a diver.”
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
“In every crowd are certain persons who seem just like the rest, yet they bear amazing messages.”
“The first stars tremble as if shimmering in green water. Hours must pass before their glimmer hardens into the frozen glitter of diamonds. I shall have a long wait before I witness the soundless frolic of the shooting stars. In the profound darkness of certain nights I have seen the sky streaked with so many trailing sparks that it seemed to me a great gale must be blowing through the outer heavens.”
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
American Art – Part III of IV: James Van Der Zee
Born 29 June 1886 – James Van Der Zee, an African-American photographer best known for his portraits of black New Yorkers. In the words of one historian, “He was a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Aside from the artistic merits of his work, Van Der Zee produced the most comprehensive documentation of the period. Among his most famous subjects during this time were Marcus Garvey, Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson and Countee Cullen.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Lithuanian painter Eurika Urbonaviciute: “She evolved a unique style of multilayered painting with a persistent texture that has become recognizable to audiences throughout Europe.”
In the words of one writer, “Ronnie Copas studied drawing at Epsom School of Art and etching at Royal West of England Academy, Bristol. In a professional painting career that spans over 50 years, Copas progressed from his first one-man London show in the 1950s, through teaching, scene painting, graphic design and back to fine art.”
A Poem for Today
By Joy Harjo
for Lurline McGregor
Ah, ah cries the crow arching toward the heavy sky over the marina.
Lands on the crown of the palm tree.
Ah, ah slaps the urgent cove of ocean swimming through the slips.
We carry canoes to the edge of the salt.
Ah, ah groans the crew with the weight, the winds cutting skin.
We claim our seats. Pelicans perch in the draft for fish.
Ah, ah beats our lungs and we are racing into the waves.
Though there are worlds below us and above us, we are straight ahead.
Ah, ah tattoos the engines of your plane against the sky—away from these waters.
Each paddle stroke follows the curve from reach to loss.
Ah, ah calls the sun from a fishing boat with a pale, yellow sail. We fly by
on our return, over the net of eternity thrown out for stars.
American Art – Part IV of IV: Jason John
Artist Statement: ”My interest as an artist is related to how people look back into his or her past to retrieve memories of certain situations. Depending on the situation the individual has experienced can drastically alter the shape of a person’s memory and furthermore, a person’s identity. As a painter and draftsman, I represent particular memory situations from my own life and other people’s stories that have been passed on to me. Some or all of the figures in my paintings are partially concealed by a veil or mask. Concealing the identity of an individual takes away the personal narrative and identity attached to the represented individual or individuals. My artwork is meant to represent each individual or group of individuals in a memory fragment that has been shifted and altered by time and situation.”