American Art – Part I of VII: Barnett Newman
Died 4 July 1970 – Barnett Newman, an American painter and a major figure in abstract expressionism.
American Art – Part II of VII: Bill Watterson
Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.” – Bill Watterson, American cartoonist and creator of “Calvin and Hobbes,” who was born 5 July 1951.
American Art – Part III of VII: Chuck Close
Born 5 July 1940 – Chuck Close, an American painter and photographer who achieved fame as a photorealist through his massive-scale portraits. In the words of one writer, “Though a catastrophic spinal artery collapse in 1988 left him severely paralyzed, he has continued to paint and produce work that remains sought after by museums and collectors.”
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Robbie Robertson
“Music should never be harmless.” – Robbie Robertson, Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist best known for his work with The Band, who was born 5 July 1944.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Polish-born painter Ewelina Koszykowska: “(She) was born a caul bearer; a highly rare condition, where a baby is born with a veil of skin over its face. People born under the caul are often gifted with exceptional talents and are believed to possess psychic abilities. Cauls are extremely sought after objects, and people have been collecting them as talismans since the Middle Ages.
In 2012, Koszykowska began work on a series of paintings which explore the relationship between the nude and the veil. Drifting like smoke across the canvas, the veil possesses a metamorphic quality affecting all it comes into contact with. As it obscures and reveals the figures, it draws our focus to the translucent and invites us to make our own conclusions on the immateriality of the material.
Koszykowska’s work creates a visual séance, opening up a dialogue with traditional depictions of the veil as a decorative object and responding to its religious connotations throughout the history of art.”
Ewelina Koszykowska lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Here is the Artist Statement of British sculptor Mary E. Kershaw: “Sculpture in stoneware and porcelain. In creating my own combination of fine art and sculpture, I use carefully developed blends of different clays to achieve my objective. Much of my inspiration comes from elements of mythology and a keen sense of history. Combining these factors, I incorporate in my work a sense of timelessness in an imaginary parallel world. The fragmented representations of times past can now exist in a contemporary state of flux, and the viewer can feel at ease with his or her own interpretation of each piece.”
Born 5 July 1885 – Andre Lhote, a French painter and sculptor.
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Marc Cohn
Born 5 July 1959 – Marc Cohn, a Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and musician.
Here is one critic describing the background of Canadian artist Randy Hann: “Randy was born in 1961 in Twillingate, Newfoundland. During his early teen years he moved with his family to Toronto, Ontario. After several years of living and working in Toronto, he met and married his wife Tracey. They eventually moved back to Newfoundland with their two children.
Randy can always remember being able to draw, even as a child, but he didn’t really take his ability seriously until years later. Being entirely self-taught, Randy has taken many years developing and refining his technique and style. His inspiration is found in his own family life and in the picturesque place where he lives. Both play a very important part in his work and are evident in many of his drawings and paintings.
He has interest in a wide variety of subject matter including people, wildlife, scenery, and portraits. Randy’s work has been exhibited in several solo and group shows, and on many occasions he has supported special charitable organizations by donating his work for sale or auction. His work can be found in many private collections across Canada and around the world. Randy now lives and works in Carter’s Cove, Newfoundland , where he shares his love for life, art, music, and nature with his family.”
Syrian artist Maysa Mohammed graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Damascus, Syria in 1984. In the words of one writer, “She brings with her the ethos of human endeavor and the constant search which is not hers alone.”
“Life is a horizontal fall.” – Jean Cocteau, French poet, novelist, dramatist, playwright, artist, and filmmaker best known for his novel “Les Enfants Terribles” (1929) and his movie “The Blood of a Poet,” who was born 5 July 1889.
Some quotes from Jean Cocteau:
“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.”
“Art produces ugly things which frequently become more beautiful with time. Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which always become ugly with time.”
“Mirrors should think longer before they reflect.”
“Art is science made clear.”
“The day of my birth, my death began its walk. It is walking toward me, without hurrying.”
“An artist cannot speak about his art anymore than a plant can discuss horticulture.”
“All spiritual journeys are martyrdoms.”
“One of the characteristics of the dream is that nothing surprises us in it. With no regret, we agree to live in it with strangers, completely cut off from our habits and friends.”
“It is excruciating to be an unbeliever with a spirit that is deeply religious.”
“Art is a marriage of the conscious and the unconscious.”
“At all costs the true world of childhood must prevail, must be restored; that world whose momentous, heroic, mysterious quality is fed on airy nothings, whose substance is so ill-fitted to withstand the brutal touch of adult inquisition.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Irish painter Eileen Healy: “Eileen Healy is mainly a figurative artist who works from life. A strong believer in the practice of drawing she believes its this practice of working from life that keeps her work fresh and alive.
She uses models as her source of inspiration working with various lighting, investigating the effects of light and shadow on the body and face both with nudes and portraits.
Her finished pieces mostly show the figure in isolation, She rarely uses props or themes as the main focus is mainly on the person seated or lying in front of her.”
Died 5 July 1920 – Max Klinger, a German painter and sculptor.
Below – “Portrait of a Roman Woman on a Flat Roof”; “The Judgment of Paris”; “The Evening”; “Work, Prosperity, Beauty”; “Mural at the Albers Villa.”
Died 4 July 1916 – Alan Seeger, an American poet. Seeger was killed in World War I during the Battle of the Somme while serving with the French Foreign Legion. He is best known for having written “I Have A Rendezvous with Death,” a favorite poem of President John F. Kennedy.
“I Have a Rendezvous with Death”
I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air—
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.
It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath—
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.
God knows ’twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where Love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear…
But I’ve a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.
“Nothing in the universe can travel at the speed of light, they say, forgetful of the shadow’s speed.” – Howard Nemerov, American poet and recipient of the National Book Award for Poetry, the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and the Bollingen Prize, who died 5 July 1991.
“Walking the Dog”
Two universes mosey down the street
Connected by love and a leash and nothing else.
Mostly I look at lamplight through the leaves
While he mooches along with tail up and snout down,
Getting a secret knowledge through the nose
Almost entirely hidden from my sight.
We stand while he’s enraptured by a bush
Till I can’t stand our standing any more
And haul him off; for our relationship
Is patience balancing to this side tug
And that side drag; a pair of symbionts
Contented not to think each other’s thoughts.
What else we have in common’s what he taught,
Our interest in shit. We know its every state
From steaming fresh through stink to nature’s way
Of sluicing it downstreet dissolved in rain
Or drying it to dust that blows away.
We move along the street inspecting shit.
His sense of it is keener far than mine,
And only when he finds the place precise
He signifies by sniffing urgently
And circles thrice about, and squats, and shits,
Whereon we both with dignity walk home
And just to show who’s master I write the poem.
Chinese painter Liu Gui Jun (born 1964) graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing in 1988.
American Art – Part IV of VII: Ronald Bowen
Artist Statement: “Transcendental Realism: It is my intention to present to the viewer an image that is on the one hand concrete and close to life, yet so filtered, strange and bordering on the abstract that he may be led into a state of contemplation and meditation. There is a minimum of anecdote in my painting in order to allow the viewer space to create his own story, to discover his own mystery.”
American Art – Part V of VII: Robin Purcell
American Art – Part VI of VII: Adam Caldwell
Artist Statement: “My paintings and drawings juxtapose elements of abstract expressionism and classical figuration. During my training at the California College of Arts and Crafts, I began to create collage drawings that layered disparate images on top of one another; I now use oil paint in a similar way, starting with an abstract background and then adding more photorealistic details, allowing the work to dictate its own construction. The resulting palimpsest of figures and abstract shapes represents the conflicted and paradoxical emotions that underlie my work. My paintings evoke the tensions between mind and body, self and other, present and past. They also raise questions about the nature of identity, particularly concerning issues of gender and sexuality. I am deeply concerned about the world around me, and my work reflects my reactions to social issues such as war and consumerism by contrasting images from American advertisements and popular culture with images of rituals from around the world.”
A Poem for Today
“Here in Katmandu,”
By Donald Justice
We have climbed the mountain.
There’s nothing more to do.
It is terrible to come down
To the valley
Where, amidst many flowers,
One thinks of snow,
As formerly, amidst snow,
Climbing the mountain,
One thought of flowers,
Tremulous, ruddy with dew,
In the valley.
One caught their scent coming down.
It is difficult to adjust, once down,
To the absense of snow.
Clear days, from the valley,
One looks up at the mountain.
What else is there to do?
Prayer wheels, flowers!
Let the flowers
Fade, the prayer wheels run down.
What have they to do
With us who have stood atop the snow
Atop the mountain,
Flags seen from the valley?
It might be possible to live in the valley,
To bury oneself among flowers,
If one could forget the mountain,
How, never once looking down,
Stiff, blinded with snow,
One knew what to do.
Meanwhile it is not easy here in Katmandu,
Especially when to the valley
That wind which means snow
Elsewhere, but here means flowers,
As soon it must, from the mountain.
American Art – Part VII of VII: James “Kingneon” Gucwa
In the words of one critic, “James ‘Kingneon’ Guçwa is no unfamiliar name in the Southwest. A long time photo-real/hyper-real painter of the American Roadside, his famous neon paintings brought him both local and international fame. He has had scores of one man gallery exhibitions throughout the years and is in many prestigious collections.”