August Offerings – Part VIII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of IV: Michael Shapcott

Here is one critic describing the artistry of Michael Shapcott:
“Michael Shapcott is an artist from central Connecticut who began drawing at an early age. In high school he realized art would be a life-long passion and attended Paier College of Art in Hamden, Connecticut graduating in 2007. He started to exhibit his work shortly after at group showings and local establishments and has since been successful in showcasing his work all over the country. Viewers and purchasers of Mike’s paintings have called them powerful, inspiring, and filled with emotion. Symbols from dream imagery, folklore, and personal memories are the major inspirations and elements used in Mike’s work. His art is a unique blend of illustration and traditional portraiture created with a blend of acrylics, graphite and oil. In addition to painting, Mike creates art videos that track the process of painting a painting and show his unique style of working.”
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“Modern diplomats approach every problem with an open mouth.” – Arthur J. Goldberg, an American statesman and jurist who served as the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Supreme Court Justice and Ambassador to the United Nations, who was born 8 August 1908.

Two more quotes from the work of Arthur J. Goldberg:

“Law not served by power is an illusion; but power not ruled by law is a menace which our nuclear age cannot afford.”
“The basic guarantees of our Constitution are warrants for the here and now, and unless there is an overwhelmingly compelling reason, they are to be promptly fulfilled.”

British Art – Part I of II: Neil Moore

Artist Statement: “I am described as a ‘contemporary, figurative realist painter,’ which means that I am alive and paint people as they are. People – myself, other individuals and humanity in general – continually perplex me. I try by painting them to unravel some of the complex tangle of our lives. It sounds daft and pretentious I know, but its harmless and it is what I do.”
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British Art – Part II of II: Jo Jones

Here is one critic describing the artistry of sculptor Jo Jones: “Jo Jones’ work is concerned with the human form and its relationships with and comparisons to landscape and environment, which are constantly important to her. She has always enjoyed working with clay as a medium to replicate scale and texture. My sculptures are ambiguous, self-contained characters – contemplative, quiet, serene, with heads bowed or skyward looking – together yet apart.
While landscape is a huge influence, she also draws a great deal from early fifteenth century Renaissance artists such as Giotto, Simone Martini, Masaccio, Pierro della Francesca and many more fresco painters – I find their boldness and simplicity remarkable.”
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From the Music Archives: The Kingsmen

8 August 1963 – The Kingsmen, a rock band from Portland, Oregon, release “Louie Louie,” and shortly thereafter many radio stations refuse to play the song because it was allegedly obscene. In the words of one writer, “The band attracted nationwide attention when ‘Louie Louie’ was banned by the governor of Indiana, Matthew E. Welsh, also attracting the attention of the FBI because of alleged indecent lyrics in their version of the song.”

Died 8 August 1902 – Jacques Joseph Tissot (better known as James Tissot), a French painter and illustrator. In the words of one critic, “He became famous as a genre painter of fashionably dressed women shown in various scenes of everyday life.”

Below – “On the Thames”; “Hide and Seek”; “Chrysanthemums”; “Seaside”; “Lilacs”; “Young Ladies Looking at Japanese Objects.”
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From the American History Archives: The Execution of Herbert Hans Haupt

Executed 8 August 1942 – Herbert Hans Haupt, an American citizen and a German by birth, who joined Operation Pastorius in Germany and became a secret agent for the Third Reich. In the words of one historian, “Operation Pastorius consisted of 12 English-speaking Germans who were trained as secret agents at the Brandenburg Sabotage School. Eight eventually graduated and were sent to the United States via U-Boat to try to damage the US war industries. Haupt and three others landed on Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida on June 17, 1942. The remaining group landed on Long Island, New York. Haupt promptly took a train from Jacksonville to Chicago, where he stayed with his parents and visited his girlfriend. Haupt may well have intended to remain inactive until the end of the war. However, two members of the Long Island group, (George John Dasch and Ernst Peter Burger), had decided to defect to the Americans and did so almost immediately. They informed on their comrades. Haupt and his parents were arrested in Chicago on June 27.”

Below – FBI mug shot of Haupt.

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Turkish painter Sahin Demir (born 1987) earned a degree from Selcuk University’s Department of Art.
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“A good review from the critics is just another stay of execution.” – Dustin Hoffman, an American actor, director,
and two-time winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor (1979 – “Kramer vs. Kramer; 1988 – “Rain Man), who was born 8 August 1937.

In the beginning:

Here is the Artist Statement of Australian painter Richard Baxter (born 1966): “The main, simple message in all my recent work is that life is joyous and explosive, here and now in the present, amidst the ordinary, amongst the flowers and the garbage. This joy is found right wherever you are, at any time, you don’t have to search, you don’t have to attend monasteries for years on end, you don’t need large amounts of money, or knowledge.”
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German artist Rene Schoemakers (born 1972) studied painting at Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel.

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“You will recognize your own path when you come upon it because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination you will ever need.” – Sara Teasdale, American poet and the recipient of the earliest Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1918 – for “Love Songs”), who was born 8 August 1884.

“I Have Loved Hours at Sea”

I have loved hours at sea, gray cities,
The fragile secret of a flower,
Music, the making of a poem
That gave me heaven for an hour;

First stars above a snowy hill,
Voices of people kindly and wise,
And the great look of love, long hidden,
Found at last in meeting eyes.

I have loved much and been loved deeply —
Oh when my spirit’s fire burns low,
Leave me the darkness and the stillness,
I shall be tired and glad to go.

Below – Mariana Stauffer: “Summer Morning”
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Spanish Art – Part I of II: Tomas Castano

Here is one writer describing the background of Spanish painter Tomas Castano (born 1953): “Since early childhood he demonstrated a special predisposition towards drawing, but he did not take up painting until he was seventeen. He is a self-taught realist, and he has shown his work around the world.”

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Spanish Art – Part II of II: Javier Torices

According to one writer, “Spanish artist Javier Torices (born 1968) studied painting with Prado Lopez, the Director of Art at the School of Fine Arts of Granada.”

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“I delight in what I fear.” – Shirley Jackson, American writer and author of “The Lottery,” “The Haunting of Hill House,” and “Life Among The Savages” (a cogent commentary on family life), who died 8 August 1965.

Some quotes from the work of Shirley Jackson:

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”
“I looked at the clock with the faint unconscious hope common to all mothers that time will somehow have passed magically away and the next time you look it will be bedtime.”
“I took my coffee into the dining room and settled down with the morning paper. A woman in New York had had twins in a taxi. A woman in Ohio had just had her seventeenth child. A twelve-year-old girl in Mexico had given birth to a thirteen-pound boy. The lead article on the woman’s page was about how to adjust the older child to the new baby. I finally found an account of an axe murder on page seventeen, and held my coffee cup up to my face to see if the steam might revive me.”
“Now, I have nothing against the public school system as it is presently organized, once you allow the humor of its basic assumption about how it is possible to teach things to children.”
“Am I walking toward something I should be running away from?”
“The idea of a series of items, following one another docilely, forms the only possible reasonable approach to life if you have to live it with a home and a husband and children, none of whom would dream of following one another docilely.”
“Our house is old, and noisy, and full. When we moved into it we had two children and about five thousand books; I expect that when we finally overflow and move out again we will have perhaps twenty children and easily half a million books; we also own assorted beds and tables and chairs and rocking horses and lamps and doll dresses and ship models and paint brushes and literally thousands of socks.”
“She had taken to wondering lately, during these swift-counted years, what had been done with all those wasted summer days; how could she have spent them so wantonly? I am foolish, she told herself early every summer, I am very foolish; I am grown up now and know the values of things. Nothing is ever really wasted, she believed sensibly, even one’s childhood, and then each year, one summer morning, the warm wind would come down the city street where she walked and she would be touched with the little cold thought: I have let more time go by.”

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American Art – Part II of IV: Tristan Schane

Artist Statement: “I was born in New York City in 1968 where I grew up and have spent nearly my entire life. I have been a full time professional artist since I was 18 years old
The painting style that I have been developing over the past few years I have come to call Subversive Realism. Subversive Realism represents a fusion of the skills and sensibilities which I have acquired over the years working as an illustrator and a fine artist. I started my fine arts painting as a surrealist but quickly felt that the visual language of surrealism was to atavistic for the modern world, too reliant on visual structures and styles that while beautiful were out of touch with the flavor and sensibilities of today’s world. Sort of like trying to describe a punk rock concert while writing in Elizabethan English. However expertly this could be done, to me a new age and new experiences needs a new language.”

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A Poem for Today

“Not in This Chamber,”
By Edna St. Vincent Millay

Not in this chamber only at my birth–
When the long hours of that mysterious night
Were over, and the morning was in sight–
I cried, but in strange places, steppe and firth
I have not seen, through alien grief and mirth;
And never shall one room contain me quite
Who in so many rooms first saw the light,
Child of all mothers, native of the earth.
So is no warmth for me at any fire
To-day, when the world’s fire has burned so low;
I kneel, spending my breath in vain desire,
At that cold hearth which one time roared so strong,
And straighten back in weariness, and long
To gather up my little gods and go.
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American Art – Part III of IV: John De Andrea

Here is one critic describing the artistry of sculptor John De Andrea (born 1941): “(De Andrea) is known for realistic sculptures of human figures, dressed and nude in true-to-life postures. He is associated with the photorealist and hyperrealist schools of art.”
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A Second Poem for Today

“Five Flights Up,”
By Elizabeth Bishop

Still dark.
The unknown bird sits on his usual branch.
The little dog next door barks in his sleep
inquiringly, just once.
Perhaps in his sleep, too, the bird inquires
once or twice, quavering.
Questions—if that is what they are—
answered directly, simply,
by day itself.

Enormous morning, ponderous, meticulous;
gray light streaking each bare branch,
each single twig, along one side,
making another tree, of glassy veins…
The bird still sits there. Now he seems to yawn.

The little black dog runs in his yard.
His owner’s voice arises, stern,
“You ought to be ashamed!”
What has he done?
He bounces cheerfully up and down;
he rushes in circles in the fallen leaves.

Obviously, he has no sense of shame.
He and the bird know everything is answered,
all taken care of,
no need to ask again.
—Yesterday brought to today so lightly!
(A yesterday I find almost impossible to lift.)

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A Third Poem for Today

“Variations on a Line From Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘Five Flights Up,’”
by Stanley Plumly

Sometimes it’s the shoes, the tying and untying,
the bending of the heart to put them on,
take them off, the rush of blood
between the head and feet, my face,
sometimes, if I could see it, astonished.
Other times the stairs, three, four stages
at the most, “flights” we call them,
in honor of the wings we’ll never have,
the fifth floor the one that kills the breath,
where the bird in the building flies to first.
Love, too, a leveler, a dying all its own,
the parts left behind not to be replaced,
a loss ongoing, and every day increased,
like rising in the night, at 3:00 am,
to watch the snow or the dead leaf fall,
the rings around the streetlight in the rain,
and then the rain, the red fist in the heart
opening and closing almost without me.
“ — Yesterday brought to today so lightly!”
The morning, more and more, like evening.
When I bend to tie my shoes and the blood
fills the cup, it’s as if I see into the hidden earth,
see the sunburned path on which I pass
in shoes that look like sandals
and arrive at a house where my feet
are washed and wiped with my mother’s hair
and anointed with the autumn oils of wildflowers.

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American Art – Part IV of IV: Sean Mahan

In the words of one critic, “Sean Mahan’s paintings first began surfacing on independent/punk/hardcore record covers in the early 90’s. Initially he worked with the band 12 Hour Turn who’s beautifully insurgent style set Sean’s paintings into the context of dissident thought. This relationship opened the door to working with other musicians within the genre like Daitro, The Dauntless Elite, Del Cielo, among others. Along with painting for records, Sean is a prolific fine artist. His current series of paintings of children on wood are of a sweeter conception, yet don’t shy away from the complexity of character which reflects in the quiet and fragile expression of his subjects. His portraits are greatly influenced by his father, Gary Mahan, who’s paintings, although of a more academic nature, express a similar gentleness.”
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