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

American Art – Part I of V: Bryce Cameron Liston

Artist Statement: “My goal is to regain the traditions of the past along with the standards of craftsmanship and training. By studying the great artists of the past, we artists of today can once again regain a full command of proficiency to create great works of art…art about life.”
In the words of one critic, “Bryce Cameron Liston believes that the highest form of art is the representation of the human figure. As a traditional painter and sculptor, he considers sound draftsmanship and a solid knowledge of human anatomy essential for the successful execution of his work. Collectors around the world are very familiar with his knowledge and talent. When viewing Liston’s work in person you can’t help but to be drawn into the evocative scenes. His paintings scintillate and vibrate with the poetry of light and subtle color variations.
But Liston’s paintings of timeless beauty embody so much more than sound draftsmanship. He believes that an accomplished artist has the power to convey emotion and even passion through his work by virtue of imagination, talent and experience. The artist’s sensibilities, along with his practical knowledge allow him to merge together the technical with the aesthetic, the physical with the spiritual. ‘I’m a figurative painter focusing on narrative subjects,’ he says.”
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Born 21 August 1725 – Jean-Baptiste Greuze, a French painter.

Below – “The Guitarist”; “The White Hat”; “Portrait of Benjamin Franklin”; “Village Bride”; “Young Knitter Asleep”; “Self-Portrait.”

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“I’d be glad to go out on a limb with those
Who want nothing beyond what the wind bestows,
Were I not bound to roots, dug in deep to bear
Never being done grasping for light and air” – X. J. Kennedy, American poet, translator, anthologist, editor, and author of children’s literature, who was born 21 August 1929.

“Nude Descending a Staircase”

Toe upon toe, a snowing flesh,

A gold of lemon, root and rind,

She sifts in sunlight down the stairs

With nothing on. Nor on her mind.

We spy beneath the banister

A constant thresh of thigh on thigh–

Her lips imprint the swinging air

That parts to let her parts go by.

One-woman waterfall, she wears

Her slow descent like a long cape

And pausing, on the final stair

Collects her motions into shape.

Below – Marcel Duchamp: “Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2.”
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Here is the Artist Statement of Greek painter Irene Georgopoulou (born 1964): “I am basically a still life and floral painter working in oils and pastels. I find great delight painting a close-up of a flower, capturing details as precisely as I can and combining light and dark flavoring with brilliant color.”
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From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Count Basie

“Well, if you find a note tonight that sounds good, play the same damn note every night!” – Count Basie, American jazz pianist, organist, composer, and bandleader, who was born on 21 August 1904.

Count Basie was the recipient of multiple Grammy Awards, including a Grammy Hall of Fame Award for “One O’clock Jump” (1937).

Born 21 August 1936 – Radish Tordia, a Georgian figurative painter.

Below – “Melancholy”; “Woman in Green”; “Girl with Black Bull”; “Running from Rain”; “Evening at Bank of the River”; “Evening”; “Woman with Strawberry”; “Apple Flower in Glass.”
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From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Jackie DeShannon

Born 21 August 1944 – Jackie DeShannon, an American singer and songwriter.

British Art – Part I of II: Aubrey Beardsley

Born 21 August 1872 – Aubrey Beardsley, an English illustrator and author best known for his drawings in black ink.

Below – “Salome”; “Edgar Allen Poe”; “Venus Between Two Terminal Gods”; “The Comedy of the Rhinegold”; “The Peacock Skirt”; “Self-Portrait.”

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British Art – Part II of II: Harry Epworth Allen

In the words of one critic, “Harry Epworth Allen (1894 – 1958) was an English painter. He was one of the twentieth century’s most distinctive interpreters of landscape.”
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From the Canadian History Archives: Fort Selkirk

21 August 1852 – Tlingit Indians attack and destroy Fort Selkirk, Yukon Territory. In the words of one historian, “Fort Selkirk is a former trading post on the Yukon River at the confluence of the Pelly River in Canada’s Yukon. For many years it was home to the Selkirk First Nation (Northern Tutchone).
Archaeological evidence shows that the site has been in use for at least 8,000 years. Robert Campbell established a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post nearby in 1848. In early 1852 he moved the post to its current location. Resenting the interference of the Hudson’s Bay Company with their traditional trade with interior Athabaskan First Nations, Chilkat Tlingit warriors attacked and looted the post that summer. It was rebuilt about 40 years later and became an important supply point along the Yukon River. It was essentially abandoned by the mid-1950s after the Klondike Highway bypassed it and Yukon River traffic died down.
Many of the buildings have been restored and the Fort Selkirk Historic Site is owned and managed jointly by the Selkirk First Nation and the Yukon Government’s Department of Tourism and Culture. There is no road access. Most visitors get there by boat, though there is an airstrip, Fort Selkirk Aerodrome, at the site.”

Below – A group of women and children at Fort Selkirk, circa 1920; some of the restored buildings at Fort Selkirk; an aerial view of Fort Selkirk.
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Here is the Artist Statement of Canadian painter Brian LaSaga:
“Nature is my muse and inspiration simply because of her endless subject matter and surprises. This collaboration offers me something I never even thought of. Although I prefer to paint nature themes, weathered objects and rural settings, I’m open to other things that may catch my eye. As an artist, I feel that I’m just a work in progress, and there is always something to learn. Exploring and collecting material for paintings is a great adventure for me, and always a thrill to wonder what’s around the bend or beyond that ridge. I like to create a sense of place that is somewhere but nowhere in particular. My goal is not to paint life, but to paint life into my work and create an emotional connection that I hope will inspire my viewers.”
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American Art – Part II of V: Douglas Malone

Artist Statement: “My work as a figurative painter arises from a deep and abiding sense of isolation and detachment. Although representational, my paintings are not intended to depict specific people, events, or circumstances. Instead, they retain an element of calculated ambiguity which heightens the mystery of the pictures and precludes them from being pinpointed to a specific time, place, or situation. My paintings, while ‘realistic,’ are not simply depictions of recognizable imagery, but are carefully-arranged formal constructions or ‘ordered systems’ in which all the pictorial elements are deliberately designed to satisfy my own sense of balance and harmony.”
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From the American History Archives: Hawaii

21 August 1959 – Hawaii becomes the 50th U.S. state. In the words of one historian, “The Admission Act, formally An Act to Provide for the Admission of the State of Hawaii into the Union (enacted March 18, 1959) is a statute enacted by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower which dissolved the Territory of Hawaii and established the State of Hawaii as the 50th state to be admitted into the Union. Statehood became effective on August 21, 1959.”

Below – Diamond Head; Hanauma Bay; Mauna Loa Volcano.
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American Art – Part III of V: Rodney Wood

In the words of one critic, “In years past Rodney Wood was considered by many as the ubiquitous ‘art guy’ of many hats. His true passion lies in a life-long devotion to the Arts. Rodney is an artist that has also been an educator, arts advocate, and entrepreneur. Born and raised in Colorado, he has lived in places as diverse as Breckenridge, San Francisco, Santa Fe and Sedona but would often return to family in the Rocky Mountains. His art career has included: gallery owner, bronze foundry worker, teacher (private/public institutions – elementary through college), non-profit arts administrator, curator, preparator and jewelry designer. As an artist his past work focused on mixed media sculpture, jewelry and metal smithing. He has had solo exhibitions in photography, drawing, printmaking, sculpture and most recently, painting. With a full commitment to painting, he has disposed of all unrelated tools and materials. Painting has become an obsession and will likely be the media of choice for the rest of his life.”

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American Art – Part IV of V: Eric White

Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Eric White: “For all its passages of radical distortion, poly-perverse morphism, and darkly subversive portraiture, Eric White’s art is essentially grounded deeply in the recognizable world. Obsessively crafted in a digital age of endlessly reproductive domains, an unself-conscious idiosyncrasy of our rampant interconnectivity, Eric White paints for the global village idiot that is all of us today. Inasmuch as White takes his cues from pre-war Hollywood’s idealization of women to paint his ‘perfect female as quasi-religious icon,’ he maintains a fluid discursive relationship with time itself, arguing that if, by our attention spans, a half century constitutes ancient history, it is in fact only a blink in the eye of time. But he does something far more profound than confronting the relativity of time. What White is really after is a way to disassemble the false architecture of the self.”

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A Poem for Today

“Wild Geese,”
By Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Seven Canadian Geese flying in formation on clear blue sky

American Art – Part V of V: David Lenz

Artist Statement:
“Urban scenes: Deep in the heart of every large city in America, there is a central city. It is a place very different from the areas that surround it. The property values, income levels, and educational opportunities are low. Crime rates, however, are higher, much higher. Murder, sexual assaults, and armed robbery all happen much too often. Often if people can, they move out. Even when driving through, people lock their doors and worry about what might happen to them. But for the children of the central city, this is their home. Their bed, toys, and yard are in the central city. This is where they lay down to sleep each night. No wonder these children often don’t reach their full potential. It’s no wonder alcohol and drug addiction are so common, when life seems so hopeless, and the road to a better life seems so steep and so long. Through a series of paintings about these social issues, I hope to shine a light on the children growing up in these very difficult places. There is hope. There are people down in the trenches working tirelessly each day to make our cities a better place. The kids of the central city are the innocent bystanders of our society – bright, eager to learn, and ready to lift themselves up – if only they had half a chance.”

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“Rural scenes: Sometimes it is easy to make the mistake of thinking our food comes from the grocery store. When in fact it come from the farm. And it comes from farmers. And they work mighty long hours, often for very little pay, to produce the food we need to live. Erv and Mercedes Wagner of Sauk County, Wisconsin are two of these farmers. With their age and old ways of doing things, they are a direct connection to our farming past. The transition from horse to diesel power, from kerosene to electric lights, from isolation to the telephone and television, all happened within their lifetimes. Still with this change, there remains a certain cultural isolation in rural life. They have to make do; sometimes rely on neighbors; live close to the earth, and at the mercy of the weather. Even now in 2004, they have running water only in their kitchen sink. So like generations before them, they make mad dashes across the yard to the outhouse, even in the dead of the night, even in the bone-cracking cold. All the while, an unforgiving landscape looms outside their door. A landscape of sublime beauty and magnificent scale. What a pleasure it has been to know Erv and Mercedes Wagner, and to paint a series of pictures about their lives.”

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