American Art – Part I of IV: Linda Bacon
Artist Statement: ”I’ve been a collector of ‘stuff’ since my childhood. Now I paint realistic still lifes incorporating items from my collection and items borrowed from others. Ideally, the objects will be old and worn, with a patina of age and use about them. (This gives me a great excuse to stop at all garage sales, collectible shops, and junk stores, plus some upscale shops as well. EBay grabs me occasionally – I have to limit myself to looking there only once every four or five months. Quite dangerous! You just never know when or where a fabulous object might appear.) I look for objects that trigger some emotional (‘Boy, those faded colors on that tin game are beautiful!’) or intellectual (‘Could I use that Humpty Dumpty savings bank to represent the right-wing establishment?’) response in me, and I paint them larger-than-life. I look for objects whose color, shape, size, design, or content will deserve many hours of studying and painting. I try to give the viewer (and myself) much to see and consider – compositions that invite the viewer to reflect deeply on the familiar, easily recognizable objects in the painting. I take those objects that evoke strong feelings in me, and I explore and expand upon my feelings by including similar objects and by painting each with such care that, hopefully, it transcends the original, often enhancing the image by making it more colorful, more meaningful, more symbolic.”
15 July 1838 – Ralph Waldo Emerson delivers the Divinity School Address to the graduating class of Harvard Divinity School. In the words of one historian, “At the time of Emerson’s speech, Harvard was the center of academic Unitarian thought. In this address, Emerson made comments that were radical for their time. Emerson enunciated many of the tenets of Transcendentalism against a more conventional Unitarian theology. He argued that moral intuition is a better guide to the moral sentiment than religious doctrine, and insisted upon the presence of true moral sentiment in each individual, while discounting the necessity of belief in the historical miracles of Jesus.”
A few quotes from the work of Hugo von Hofmannsthal:
“Reality lies in the greatest enchantment you have ever experienced.”
“To be modern means to like antique furniture – and youthful neurosis.”
“Words performed through music can express what language alone had exhausted.”
“I wanted to show that the fables and mythic tales which the ancients have handed down to us and in which painters and sculptors never cease to find mindless pleasure are the hieroglyphics of a secret, inexhaustible wisdom. I sometimes thought I felt its breath, as though coming from behind a veil.”
American Art – Part II of IV: Michelle Jader
Artist Statement: “My work explores moments when we willingly and unwillingly dive into the next phase of our life. Whether it’s moving to a new city, starting or ending a relationship, having a baby, or quitting a job, these moments of endings and beginnings are alternately terrifying and exhilarating. Ready or not, we jump, fall or are pushed, and our lives change.
Transitions like these include the sense of falling, lack of control, and the feeling that anything is possible. We’re vulnerable in these moments and despite our best efforts, our actions seem to be more public than other times in our lives. To capture these feelings, I paint a series of images on semi-transparent, acrylic panels. The push and pull inherent in having different layers of images support the work’s theme and provide an exciting way to paint motion, change and emotional release.”
“A Klee painting named ‘Angelus Novus’ shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.” – Walter Benjamin, German literary critic, philosopher, social critic, translator, radio broadcaster, and essayist, who was born 15 July 1892.
Some quotes from the work of Walter Benjamin:
“Separation penetrates the disappearing person like a pigment and steeps him in gentle radiance.”
“You could tell a lot about a man by the books he keeps – his tastes, his interest, his habits.”
“Memory is not an instrument for surveying the past but its theater. It is the medium of past experience, just as the earth is the medium in which dead cities lie buried. He who seeks to approach his own buried past must conduct himself like a man digging.”
“Ideas are to objects as constellations are to stars.”
Above – Walter Benjamin.
Below – Paul Klee’s “Angelus Novus.”
Died 15 July 1885 – Rosalia de Castro, Galician romanticist writer and poet. Castro defied convention and insisted on writing in Galician, and critic Gerald Brenan has stated that, “Had she written in Castilian rather than in her native Galician dialect, she would, I feel sure, be recognized as the greatest woman poet of modern times.”
Rosalía de Castro’s poems are suffused with the feeling of unassailable loss, which is known in Galician as “Saudade,” and they tend to express a sorrowful concession to the inevitability of changes which can only be lamented.
“The Atmosphere is Incandescent”
The atmosphere is incandescent;
The fox explores an empty road;
Sick grow the waters
That sparkled in the clear arroya,
Unfluttered stands the pine
Waiting for fickle winds to blow.
A majesty of silence
Overpowers the meadow;
Only the hum of an insect troubles
The spreading, dripping forest shadow,
Relentless and monotonous
As muffled rattle in a dying throat.
In such a summer the hour of midday
Could as well go
By the name of night, to struggle-weary
Man who has never known
Greater vexation from the vast cares
Of the soul, or from matter’s majestic force.
Would it were winter again! The nights! The cold!
O those old loves of ours so long ago!
Come back to make this fevered blood run fresh,
Bring back your sharp severities and snows
To these intolerable summer sorrows…
Sorrows!…While vine and corn stand thick and gold!
The cold, the heat; the autumn or the spring;
Where, where has delight set up its home?
Beautiful are all seasons to the man
Who shelters happiness within his soul;
But the deserted, orphaned spirit feels
No season smile upon its luckless door.
“The moment a little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing.” – Eric Berne, Canadian-born psychiatrist best known as the creator of transactional analysis and the author of “Games People Play,” who died 15 July 1970.
Some quotes from the work of Eric Berne:
“We are born princes and the civilizing process makes us frogs.”
“Awareness requires living in the here and now, and not in the elsewhere, the past or the future.”
“The eternal problem of the human being is how to structure his waking hours.”
“The destiny of every human being is decided by what goes on inside his skull when confronted by what goes on outside his skull.”
“A loser doesn’t know what he’ll do if he loses but talks about what he’ll do if he wins and a winner doesn’t talk about what he’ll do if he wins but knows what he’ll do if he loses.”
“Society frowns upon candidness, except in privacy; good sense knows that it can always be abused; and the Child fears it because of the unmasking which it involves. Hence in order to get away from the ennui of pastimes without exposing themselves to the dangers of intimacy, most people compromise for games when they are available, and these fill the major part of the more interesting hours of social intercourse. That is the social significance of games.”
“Education doesn’t make you happy. Nor does freedom. We don’t become happy just because we’re free – if we are. Or because we’ve been educated – if we have. But because education may be the means by which we realize we are happy. It opens our eyes, our ears, tells us where delights are lurking, convinces us that there is only one freedom of any importance whatsoever, that of the mind, and gives us the assurance – the confidence – to walk the path our mind, our educated mind, offers.” – Iris Murdoch, an Irish-born British author and philosopher best known for her novels about good and evil, sexual relationships, morality, and the power of the unconscious, and author of “Under the Net,” who was born 15 July 1919.
Some quotes from the work of Iris Murdoch:
“One of the secrets of a happy life is continous small treats.”
“Falling out of love is chiefly a matter of forgetting how charming someone is.”
“We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality.”
“Time can divorce us from the reality of people, it can separate us from people and turn them into ghosts. Or rather it is we who turn them into ghosts or demons. Some kinds of fruitless preoccupations with the past can create such simulacra, and they can exercise power, like those heroes at Troy fighting for a phantom Helen.”
“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”
“Then I felt too that I might take this opportunity to tie up a few loose ends, only of course loose ends can never be properly tied, one is always producing new ones. Time, like the sea, unties all knots. Judgments on people are never final, they emerge from summings up which at once suggest the need of a reconsideration. Human arrangements are nothing but loose ends and hazy reckoning, whatever art may otherwise pretend in order to console us.”
“The absolute yearning of one human body for another particular body and its indifference to substitutes is one of life’s major mysteries.”
“Anything that consoles is fake.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of French painter Jean-Marie Poumeyrol (born 1945): “Much of his early work consisted of erotica and hallucinogenic art, but as his art has matured he has shown a great interest in landscapes as well. He is an exponent of the fantastic realism movement.”
From the Cinema Archives: Forest Whitaker
“I can play a man who’s despicable. But I’ll still look inside him to find a point of connection. If I can find that kernel, audiences will relate to me.” – Forest Whitaker, American actor, producer, and director, who was born 15 July 1961.
Forest Whitaker won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin int the 2006 film “The Last King of Scotland.”
He can also play a man who’s noble:
American Art – Part III of IV: Aaron Maximilian Gleason
A Poem for Today
“To Whistler, American,”
By Ezra Pound
On the loan exhibit of his paintings at the Tate Gallery
You also, our first great,
Had tried all ways;
Tested and pried and worked in many fashions,
And this much gives me heart to play the game.
Here is a part that’s slight, and part gone wrong,
And much of little moment, and some few
Perfect as Dürer!
“In the Studio” and these two portraits, if I had my choice I
And then these sketches in the mood of Greece?
You had your searches, your uncertainties,
And this is good to know—for us, I mean,
Who bear the brunt of our America
And try to wrench her impulse into art.
You were not always sure, not always set
To hiding night or tuning “symphonies”;
Had not one style from birth, but tried and pried
And stretched and tampered with the media.
You and Abe Lincoln from that mass of dolts
Show us there’s chance at least of winning through.
American Art: Part IV of IV: Andrew Kish
Artist Statement: “Using metaphors and symbolism I create complex human narratives in an intimate setting. These narratives incorporate social and political commentaries that revolve around provocative contemporary issues. Each painting explores the intersection of social institutions with my personal life, and the constant quest to communicate. By using a contemporary approach to traditional watercolor painting, I am stretching the boundaries of aquaralle in the United States and abroad. The stark contrast, immersive detail, and delicate painting technique offer a new experience to a polarizing and unfairly criticized medium.
When I began working with watercolor, I became addicted to the challenge it presented. The possibilities of expression are endless. My obsession for drawing on paper had finally found a home.”