American Art – Part I of VII: Arshile Gorky
“The stuff of thought is the seed of the artist. Dreams form the bristles of the artist’s brush. As the eye functions as the brain’s sentry, I communicate my innermost perceptions through the art, my worldview.” – Arshile Gorky, Armenian-American Abstract Expressionist painter, who died 21 July 1948.
“Our cause is the cause of equality between nations and peoples. Only thus can the brotherhood of man be firmly established.” – Albert Lutuli, South African educator, politician, and recipient of the 1960 Nobel Peace Prize (for his role in the non-violent struggle against apartheid), who died 21 July 1967.
In the words of one historian, “(Lutuli) was the first African, and the first person from outside Europe and the Americas, to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.”
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Isaac Stern
“There are more bad musicians than there is bad music.” – Isaac Stern, Russian violinist and conductor, who was born 21 July 1920.
“In Palm Springs, they think homelessness is caused by bad divorce lawyers.” – Garretson Beekman “Garry” Trudeau, American cartoonist best known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Doonesbury” comic strip, who was born 21 July 1948.
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Cat Stevens
Born 21 July 1948 – Yusuf Islam, born Steven Demetre Georgiou, a British singer-songwriter commonly known by his former stage name Cat Stevens.
In the words of one critic, “The story of the American West is the story of a relentless quest for a precious resource: water. It is a tale of rivers diverted and dammed, of political corruption and intrigue, of billion-dollar battles over water rights, of ecologic and economic disaster. In ‘Cadillac Desert’ Marc Reisner writes of the earliest settlers, lured by the promise of paradise, and of the ruthless tactics employed by Los Angeles politicians and business interests to ensure the city’s growth. He documents the bitter rivalry between two government giants, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in the competition to transform the West.
Based on more than a decade of research, ‘Cadillac Desert’ is a stunning expose and a dramatic, intriguing history of the creation of an Eden—an Eden that may be only a mirage.”
Born 21 July 1858 – Lovis Corinth, a German painter whose work was a synthesis of Impressionism and Expressionism.
“Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers.” – Marshall McLuhan, Canadian public intellectual, social critic, and philosopher of communication theory, who was born 21 July 1911.
Some quotes from the work of Marshall McLuhan:
“A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding.”
“American youth attributes much more importance to arriving at driver’s license age than at voting age.”
“Those who make a distinction between education and entertainment don’t know the first thing about either.”
“I don’t necessarily agree with everything that I say.”
“Our Age of Anxiety is, in great part, the result of trying to do today’s jobs with yesterday’s tools!”
“Most of our assumptions have outlived their uselessness.”
“Art is anything you can get away with.”
“There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.”
Born 21 July 1870 – Emil Orlik, a Czech painter, etcher, and lithographer.
Below (left to right) – “Woman on a Divan” “A Young Woman Sitting”; “Woman Carrying Wood in Winter”; “Two Geishas”; “Self-Portrait.”
21 July 1865 – Wild Bill Hickok shoots and kills Davis Tutt in what is generally regarded as the first western showdown.
In the words of one historian, “The Wild Bill Hickok – Davis Tutt shootout was a gunfight that occurred on July 21, 1865 in the town square of Springfield, Missouri between Wild Bill Hickok and cowboy Davis Tutt. It is one of the few recorded instances in the Old West of a one-on-one pistol quick-draw duel in a public place, in the manner later made iconic by countless dime novels, radio operas, and Western films such as ‘High Noon.’ The first story of the shootout was detailed in an article in ‘Harper’s Magazine’ in 1867, making Hickok a household name and folk hero.
Above – Wild Bill Hickock in 1869.
Below – Wild Bill Hickok threatens the friend of Davis Tutt after defeating Tutt in a duel, ‘Harper’s New Monthly Magazine,’ February 1867; “Wild Bill Hickok vs David Tutt,” by Andy Thomas.
21 July 1873 – At Adair, Iowa, Jesse James and the James-Younger Gang pull off what is generally regarded as the first successful train robbery in the American Old West.
On 18 September 1877, Sam Bass, born 21 July 1851, a train robber and outlaw, along with a gang of fellow criminals, intercepted and robbed a Union Pacific Railroad gold train headed east from San Francisco in Big Springs, Nebraska. Bass and his men made off with $60,000, which is, to date, the single largest robbery of the Union Pacific.
American Art – Part III of VII: Kathleen Morris
In the words of one critic, “Kathleen Morris was born in Stillwater, Oklahoma, the eldest of ten children. She studied at the Academia Carra in Bergamo, Italy and in 1983 was selected to show at the Salon d’ Automne in Paris. From Paris she returned to Italy where she worked for another year and was nominated for The Awards in the Visual Arts.”
According to a second critic, “Morris’ paintings with their “glazed, scumbled, and layered surfaces bring to mind Italy’s ubiquitous frescoes and murals, stained and marred with age. The imagery in the paintings, somehow as ancient as that crumbling Italian fresco, causes us to talk about our own dreams and inner imagery as if part of us immediately recognizes and picks up the tread of an old conversation.”
Artist Statement: “The imagery in my work has come to me, as much as I have called it out of that ‘vast silence’ of collectivity. The human figure holds a passionate centrality in my painting and has led me to place the archetypal figures in a setting that floats freely in time and space.”
“My heart has made its mind up
And I’m afraid it’s you.
Whatever you’ve got lined up,
My heart has made its mind up
And if you can’t be signed up
This year, next year will do.
My heart has made its mind up
And I’m afraid it’s you.” – From “Serious Concerns,” by Wendy Cope, English poet, who was born 21 July 1945.
The witty Wendy Cope has written a wonderful “reply poem” to one authored by Sir Phillip Sydney:
“Song from Arcadia: My True Love Hath My Heart,”
By Sir Phillip Sydney
My true-love hath my heart and I have his,
By just exchange one for the other given:
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss;
There never was a bargain better driven.
His heart in me keeps me and him in one;
My heart in him his thoughts and senses guides:
He loves my heart, for once it was his own;
I cherish his because in me it bides.
His heart his wound received from my sight;
My heart was wounded with his wounded heart;
For as from me on him his hurt did light,
So still, methought, in me his hurt did smart:
Both equal hurt, in this change sought our bliss,
My true love hath my heart and I have his.
By Wendy Cope
My true love hath my heart and I have hers:
We swapped last Tuesday and we felt elated
But now, whenever one of us refers
To “my heart,” things get rather complicated.
Just now, when she complained “My heart is racing,”
“You mean my heart is racing,” I replied.
“That’s what I said.” “You mean the heart replacing
Your heart my love.” “Oh piss off, Jake!” she cried.
I ask you, do you think Sir Philip Sydney
Got spoken to like that? And I suspect
If I threw in my liver and a kidney
She’d still address me with as scant respect.
Therefore do I revoke my opening line:
My love can keep her heart and I’ll have mine.
At lunchtime I bought a huge orange —
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled and shared it with Robert and Dave —
They got quarters and I had a half.
And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.
American Art – Part IV of VII: Elizabeth “Lee” Miller
Died 21 July 1977 – Lee Miller, an American photographer. Miller was an accomplished fashion photographer in New York City and Paris during the 1920s. During the Second World War, she became an acclaimed war correspondent and photojournalist.
Yet, love endures, though starving and alone.
A dove’s wings clung about my heart each night
With surging gentleness, and the blue stone
Set in the tryst-ring has but worn more bright.” – “Exile,” by Hart Crane, American poet, who was born 21 July 1899.
I know that I have posted about the poem before, but Hart Crane’s “To Brooklyn Bridge” is a masterpiece worth rereading.
“How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest
The seagull’s wings shall dip and pivot him,
Shedding white rings of tumult, building high
Over the chained bay waters Liberty–
Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes
As apparitional as sails that cross
Some page of figures to be filed away;
–Till elevators drop us from our day . . .
I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights
With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene
Never disclosed, but hastened to again,
Foretold to other eyes on the same screen;
And Thee, across the harbor, silver-paced
As though the sun took step of thee, yet left
Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,–
Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!
Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft
A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,
Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,
A jest falls from the speechless caravan.
Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,
A rip-tooth of the sky’s acetylene;
All afternoon the cloud-flown derricks turn . . .
Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.
And obscure as that heaven of the Jews,
Thy guerdon . . . Accolade thou dost bestow
Of anonymity time cannot raise:
Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show.
O harp and altar, of the fury fused,
(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)
Terrific threshold of the prophet’s pledge,
Prayer of pariah, and the lover’s cry,–
Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift
Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,
Beading thy path–condense eternity:
And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.
Under thy shadow by the piers I waited;
Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.
The City’s fiery parcels all undone,
Already snow submerges an iron year . . .
American Art – Part V of VII: Jennifer Presant
Artist Statement: “With an artistic training in figurative realism and a background in graphic design, my paintings unite my interest in the psyche as expressed through the human form and a personal graphic aesthetic. Thematically, my paintings address the complexity of memory, by blurring the lines between recollection, projection, and reality. Each painting becomes a psychological landscape or waking dream, reinforcing the fluid relationships between time, memory and place. The projected image as object, and the notion of projection, is the most dominant visual metaphor pervading the compositions and gives my paintings the look of theater, video and installation art. By merging both real and fictitious images in these painted fictional documentaries, I explore the conflation of our media-saturated lives and our lived reality; we live among images and in many ways as images. Our memories of events have become distorted. With media today, we have grown accustomed to watching ourselves and living from a voyeuristic standpoint. With these paintings, the viewer’s imagination plays an important role in the piece, while also being implicated in the voyeurism depicted.”
An American Hero: Robert Ingersoll
“They knew that to put God in the constitution was to put man out. They knew that the recognition of a Deity would be seized upon by fanatics and zealots as a pretext for destroying the liberty of thought. They knew the terrible history of the church too well to place in her keeping or in the keeping of her God the sacred rights of man. They intended that all should have the right to worship or not to worship that our laws should make no distinction on account of creed. They intended to found and frame a government for man and for man alone. They wished to preserve the individuality of all to prevent the few from governing the many and the many from persecuting and destroying the few.” – Robert Green “Bob” Ingersoll, lawyer, Civil War veteran, political leader, orator, Freethinker, and agnostic, who died 21 July 1899.
Some quotes from the work of Robert Ingersoll:
“This is my doctrine: Give every other human being every right you claim for yourself.”
“To hate man and worship God seems to be the sum of all the creeds.”
“A college is a place where pebbles are polished and diamonds dimmed.”
“Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith! Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge!”
“Reason, Observation and Experience — the Holy Trinity of Science — have taught us that happiness is the only good; that the time to be happy is now, and the way to be happy is to make others so. This is enough for us. In this belief we are content to live and die. If by any possibility the existence of a power superior to, and independent of, nature shall be demonstrated, there will then be time enough to kneel. Until then, let us stand erect.”
“There are in nature neither rewards nor punishments — there are consequences.”
“Progress is born of doubt and inquiry. The Church never doubts, never inquires. To doubt is heresy, to inquire is to admit that you do not know—the Church does neither.”
“Religion can never reform mankind because religion is slavery. It is far better to be free, to leave the forts and barricades of fear, to stand erect and face the future with a smile. It is far better to give yourself sometimes to negligence, to drift with wave and tide, with the blind force of the world, to think and dream, to forget the chains and limitations of the breathing life, to forget purpose and object, to lounge in the picture gallery of the brain, to feel once more the clasps and kisses of the past, to bring life’s morning back, to see again the forms and faces of the dead, to paint fair pictures for the coming years, to forget all Gods, their promises and threats, to feel within your veins life’s joyous stream and hear the martial music, the rhythmic beating of your fearless heart. And then to rouse yourself to do all useful things, to reach with thought and deed the ideal in your brain, to give your fancies wing, that they, like chemist bees, may find art’s nectar in the weeds of common things, to look with trained and steady eyes for facts, to find the subtle threads that join the distant with the now, to increase knowledge, to take burdens from the weak, to develop the brain, to defend the right, to make a palace for the soul. This is real religion. This is real worship.”
American Art – Part VI of VII: Marguerite Peet
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Marguerite Peet (1903-1995): “A student of Thomas Hart Benton, she was a Kansas City artist who created work that was part of an exhibition in St. Joseph, Missouri that featured Benton’s students. She worked in oil, pastel, and watercolor and was prolific, but it wasn’t until after her death that it was realized how productive and skillful she was. In storage, her daughter found nearly five hundred paintings that were portraits, still lifes and figure work.”
By Joe Brainard
More time is spent at the window.
You go along from day to day with summer all around you.
Stores tell all about people who live in the area.
Others have already written what I would like to write.
Today the sky is so blue it burns.
IN THE COUNTRY
In the country one can almost hear the silence.
THE FOUR SEASONS
The four seasons of the year permit us to enjoy things.
Smear each side of a pork chop with mustard and dredge in flour.
Have always had nose stuck in book from little on.
What defines that feeling one has when gazing at a rock?
It was in Costa Rica I saw my first coffee plantation.
Happiness is nothing more than a state of mind.
Money will buy a fine dog.
A new program is being introduced by our government.
On the whole he is a beautiful human being.
A lake attracts a man and wife and members of a family.
We see so many different things when we look at the sky.
A SEXY THOUGHT
Male early in the day.
One can only go so far without potatoes in the kitchen.
A mother is something we have all had.
Every four minutes a car comes off the assembly line they say.
Foamy waves wash to shore “treasures” as a sacrifice to damp sand.
High density housing is going on all around us.
I could have screamed the day John proposed winterizing the cottage and living there permanently.
I am a very cold person here.
THE YEAR OF THE WHITE MAN
The year of the white man was a year of many beads.
Loyalty, I feel, is a very big word.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
Perhaps in our mad scramble to keep our heads above water we miss the point.
Why must we be so intent on destroying everything we
Winifred was a little relieved when they were gone.
By William Stafford
Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.
I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.
“A Ritual to Read to Each Other,”
By William Stafford
If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the
and following the wrong god home we may miss
For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of
storming out to play through the broken dike.
And as elephants parade holding each
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.
And so I appeal to a voice, to something
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the
American Art – Part VII of VII: Albert Bierstadt
In the words of one critic, “German-born, New York educated Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) was made famous by his portraits of the unspoiled American West. He is often grouped with the Hudson River and the Rocky Mountain schools of landscape painting. He was prolific, producing thousands of landscapes, many of which survive.”
Below – “Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California” (1865); “A Storm in the Rocky Mountains” (1870); “The Rocky Mountains, Landers Peak” (1863); “Mount Corcoran” (1876-1877); “San Francisco Bay” (1871-1873); “Sierra Nevada” (circa 1871); “Lake Tahoe” (1868); Bierstadt Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park.