American Art – Part I of VI: Forrest Rodts
In the words of one writer, “Forrest Rodts was born in 1960. Throughout his childhood he moved frequently with his family, but always spent his summers on Nantucket. Rodts traces his ancestry to some of the earliest settlers on the island. His family’s home in Siasconset was originally built by a whaling captain and has been passed down through the generations for more than 250 years.
Nantucket became the most important influence on his painting during his early years. A self-taught artist, Rodts began showing his paintings while still in college, with the Artist Association of Nantucket. In 1983 he graduated from Hobart College with a B.A. in Economics and a minor in Fine Arts. In 1988 he set up his first full one-man show at the New Street Gallery in Siasconset. Since then, Rodts has continuously exhibited on Nantucket, currently showing at Quidley and Company on Main Street.
Rodts’ family ties to Martha’s Vineyard are also strong, and for over 25 years he has explored the varied nature of that island in his paintings. The dramatic cliffs of Gay Head, the serene fishing village of Menemsha and the bustling sailing harbor of Edgartown are familiar scenes that come to life in his landscapes and seascapes. He has exhibited at the Granary Gallery in West Tisbury since 1990.”
Today in American History – Part I of III: September 6 is “National Read a Book Day.”
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Tom Fogerty
Died 6 September 1990 – Tom Fogerty, American musician best known as the rhythm guitarist in Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Here is the Artist Statement of Mariano De Castro: “I was born in 1980 in Porto, Portugal. Since I was a child I have been interested in Art. I just loved to draw, paint and to do every type of art craft. When I was twelve, I joined the Art Studio of Macedónia Freitas Pereira.
I did my BA (Painting) course at Faculdade de Belas Artes Universidade do Porto, and an ERASMUS for one year at Athens Greece in the Athens School of Fine Arts.”
British Art – Part I of II: Arthur Rackham
Died 6 September 1939 – Arthur Rackham, an English artist best known as the illustrator for Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
My German grandmother encouraged me to read the Grimm tales when I was a young boy, and so at an early age I came to associate them with Arthur Rackham’s splendid illustrations. The original stories collected and published by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm are quite different from the “Disneyfied” versions available today. In fact, many of them are quite brutal, and my grandmother rarely failed to underscore what for her was the obvious moral in the more punitive tales: Children must obey their parents and behave well, or they will suffer the consequences of their insubordination. It is not surprising, then, that I grew up to be such a law-abiding person, since if I exceed the speed limit in my automobile, I half-expect a crow to fly in the window and peck out my eyes.
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Roger Waters
Born 6 September 1943 – Roger Waters, English musician, singer, songwriter, composer, and co-founder of Pink Floyd.
I am dedicating the song on the link below to my three sons, who have loved Roger Waters’ “Radio Waves” since they were boys. In fact, they used to play it constantly, almost obsessively, though I am not sure why.
British Art – Part II of II: Brian Denington
Here is one critic describing the background and artistry of painter Brian Denington: “Brian Denington was born in 1944 in Glastonbury, Somerset. He studied fine art and illustration at the South East Essex School of Art from 1961 to 1966. After leaving college he worked for some time as a graphic designer in a London design studio before turning his interests towards figurative illustration and portraiture. Since moving to France he has placed less emphasis on portraiture, and concentrated almost entirely on his figure work.”
American Art – Part II of VI: Allan Gorman
Artist Statement: “I think what drives me as an artist is a desire share the emotional excitement I find in things that are beautiful. Most of my paintings explore the unique and interesting patterns and designs one can find hidden in the milieu of machinery. The sensuality of a curved and smooth exhaust pipe, the dance of light and shadow, the abstract shapes found in chrome reflections, and the music created by a blend of colors and tonal values. I focus on these elements and try to share them with you in the work. My process involves scouring and manipulating hundreds of photographs to find that one image that will work successfully as a painting. Then, as I work on it, the image evolves into something more engaging than the original source material. In looking at the works, I hope you’ll see them for more than mere renderings of watch mechanisms, vehicles, or engine close ups, but as a discovery of the powerful abstractions you can find when you take a closer look.”
“I am still every age that I have been. Because I was once a child, I am always a child. Because I was once a searching adolescent, given to moods and ecstasies, these are still part of me, and always will be… This does not mean that I ought to be trapped or enclosed in any of these ages…the delayed adolescent, the childish adult, but that they are in me to be drawn on; to forget is a form of suicide… Far too many people misunderstand what ‘putting away childish things’ means, and think that forgetting what it is like to think and feel and touch and smell and taste and see and hear like a three-year-old or a thirteen-year-old or a twenty-three-year-old means being grownup. When I’m with these people I, like the kids, feel that if this is what it means to be a grown-up, then I don’t ever want to be one. Instead of which, if I can retain a child’s awareness and joy, and ‘be’ fifty-one, then I will really learn what it means to be grownup.” – Madeleine L’Engle, American writer and author of the Newberry Award-winning “A Wrinkle in Time,” who died 6 September 2007.
Some quotes from the work of Madeleine L’Engle:
“A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming.”
“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable.”
“Some things have to be believed to be seen.”
“Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.”
“We can’t take any credit for our talents. It’s how we use them that counts.”
“Don’t try to comprehend with your mind. Your minds are very limited. Use your intuition.”
“Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.”
“Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.”
“We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes.”
American Art – Part III of VI: Jennifer Gennari
Artist Statement: “I am very interested in a person’s internal struggles. Emotions we hide, and the transparencies of the masks we wear. We lie to the world burying our worries and anxieties, hoping that no one will discover what we really are. My work is designed to engage the viewer with the subject intimately, breaking down the mask and allowing access to the secrets we hold deep inside us.”
“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” – Jane Addams, American social worker, public philosopher, sociologist, writer, leader in the causes of women’s suffrage and world peace, author of “Twenty Years at Hull House,” and recipient of the 1931 Nobel Peace Prize, who was born 6 September 1860.
Some quotes from the work of Jane Addams:
“True peace is not merely the absence of war, it is the presence of justice.”
“Nothing could be worse than the fear that one had given up too soon, and left one unexpended effort that might have saved the world.”
“I am not one of those who believe – broadly speaking – that women are better than men. We have not wrecked railroads, nor corrupted legislatures, nor done many unholy things that men have done; but then we must remember that we have not had the chance. ”
“The essence of immorality is the tendency to make an exception of myself.”
“If the meanest man in the republic is deprived of his rights, then every man in the republic is deprived of his rights. ”
“Action is indeed the sole medium of expression for ethics.”
“Social advance depends as much upon the process through which it is secured as upon the result itself.”
“The role of the artist is to not look away.” – Kurosawa Akira, Japanese film director, who died 6 September 1998.
My Asian Studies students will remember our watching and discussing Kurosawa’s “Dreams” (1990) in class. For those who have not seen it, this movie has eight thematically interlocked episodes, one of which is “Mount Fuji in Red.” While this episode is undoubtedly didactic, it is also prophetic, since in it a large nuclear power plant near Mount Fuji begins to melt down, and then its six nuclear reactors explode one by one, spreading radioactive toxins everywhere. In light of the still-unfolding disaster at Fukushima, it is essential for all of us to ponder the ever-timely theme of “Mount Fuji in Red,” namely, that it is dangerous to assume that the authorities in charge of the institutions that affect our lives in important ways are either competent or truthful.
Some quotes from the work of Kurosawa Akira:
“Man is a genius when he is dreaming.”
“In a mad world only the mad are sane.”
“People today have forgotten they’re really just a part of nature. Yet, they destroy the nature on which our lives depend. They always think they can make something better. Especially scientists. They may be smart, but most don’t understand the heart of nature. They only invent things that, in the end, make people unhappy. Yet they’re so proud of their inventions. What’s worse, most people are, too. They view them as if they were miracles. They worship them. They don’t know it, but they’re losing nature. They don’t see that they’re going to perish. The most important things for human beings are clean air and clean water.”
“I suppose all of my films have a common theme. If I think about it, though, the only theme I can think of is really a question: Why can’t people be happier together?”
“No matter where I go in the world, although I can’t speak any foreign language, I don’t feel out of place. I think of earth as my home. If everyone thought this way, people might notice just how foolish international friction is and the would be put an end to it.”
Here is the Artist Statement of sculptor Renate Verbrugge: “My stone sculptures are created out of pure inspiration. It should be appreciated with your eyes, your hands, your heart, your soul. No intellectual analysis will speak louder than the emotions my sculptures provoke.”
Born to Italian parents in Belgium in 1964, Renate Verbrugge emigrated to New Zealand in 1995.
From the American History Archives: Jack Dempsey
6 September 1920 – Jack Dempsey knocks out Billy Miske in round three of their match to retain the Heavyweight Boxing Title. This was both Dempsey’s first defense of his title and the first radio broadcast of a boxing match. Miske had already fought Dempsey and lost by decision on two previous occasions, and he could not perform with his usual skill in their third fight, because he was suffering the effects of Bright’s Disease. Here is what Dempsey had to say about the contest: “My first defense of the world heavyweight championship title was on Labor Day, 1920, against a dying friend of mine. I knocked him out because I loved the guy — Billy Miske.”
American Art – Part IV of VI: Charles Hartley
Artist Statement: “I bought canvases and oil painting gear when I was in college and created several truly horrible oil paintings; thankfully none have survived. In the meantime every four to six years I created a few more very mundane paintings, only a few of which survive. A year after I retired from teaching I figured out some of what I was doing wrong with my painting and started producing classical realism paintings. I have no formal training in art, but I have been fortunate enough to have visited a number of the great art museums of the world and seen examples of the finest paintings.
My wife and I have traveled extensively in the past twenty-five years, mostly to somewhat less developed countries with exotic sights and people, and I have documented our adventures with photographs. I paint mostly from my travel photographs, picking the subject matter because it offers something I think I will enjoy painting.”
Below – “Tivat House” (Montenegro); “Siena Dusk” (Italy); “Above the Urubamba Valley” (Peru); “Spice Lady” (Bali); “Deep Shade” (Croatia); “Three Waves” (Florida); “Huntington Park” (New York); “Dixie Bread” (based on a photograph taken in 1921 in Hopewell, Oregon by Carl Hartley, bakery truck driver); “Men Having Tea” (based on a photograph taken by Charles Hartley in Malomo, Malawi); “Little Indian Girl” (based on a photograph Charles Hartley took in Fatehpur Sikri, India); “Street Scene in Varanasi, India”; “Temple Moat at Mengwi” (Bali).
“The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.” – Robert Pirsig, American writer, philosopher, and author of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values,” who was born 6 September 1928.
Some quotes from the work of Robert Pirsig:
“When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a Religion.”
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, ‘Go away, I’m looking for the truth,’ and so it goes away. Puzzling.”
“You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge.”
“We’re in such a hurry most of the time we never get much chance to talk. The result is a kind of endless day-to-day shallowness, a monotony that leaves a person wondering years later where all the time went and sorry that it’s all gone. ”
“You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it’s going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.”
“To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top.”
“In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.
“The only Zen you find on tops of mountains is the Zen you bring there.”
On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.”
“We take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world.”
“Peace of mind produces right values, right values produce right thoughts. Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce work which will be a material reflection for others to see of the serenity at the center of it all.”
“But to tear down a factory or to revolt against a government or to avoid repair of a motorcycle because it is a system is to attack effects rather than causes; and as long as the attack is upon effects only, no change is possible. The true system, the real system, is our present construction of systematic thought itself, rationality itself, and if a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it is left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another factory. If a revolution destroys a systematic government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves in the succeeding government. There’s so much talk about the system. And so little understanding.”
“Like those in the valley behind us, most people stand in sight of the spiritual mountains all their lives and never enter them, being content to listen to others who have been there and thus avoid the hardships.”
“Sometimes it’s a little better to travel than to arrive”
American Art – Part V of VI: Jerome Garth Parker
In the words of one critic, “A Central California native, Jerome comes from a family of artists and musicians. A quiet and introspective figure, Jerome is active in galleries in this beautiful region of his home state. Figurative compositions, closely observed from life, comprise many of this artist’s rich work in oils and charcoal. Though clearly inspired by the masters, Jerome’s intriguing subjects nevertheless capture a certain contemporary view of life ‘in the moment.’”
A Poem for Today
By William Meredith
What it must be like to be an angel
or a squirrel, we can imagine sooner.
The last time we go to bed good,
they are there, lying about darkness.
They dandle us once too often,
these friends who become our enemies.
Suddenly one day, their juniors
are as old as we yearn to be.
They get wrinkles where it is better
smooth, odd coughs, and smells.
It is grotesque how they go on
loving us, we go on loving them.
The effrontery, barely imaginable,
of having caused us. And of how.
Their lives: surely
we can do better than that.
This goes on for a long time. Everything
they do is wrong, and the worst thing,
they all do it, is to die,
taking with them the last explanation,
how we came out of the wet sea
or wherever they got us from,
taking the last link
of that chain with them.
Father, mother, we cry, wrinkling,
to our uncomprehending children and grandchildren.
American Art – Part VI of VI: Jim Holland
In the words of one writer, “Jim Holland is an artist working in oils and watercolors. Jim was born in 1955 in Schenectady, NY. He attended Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie, NY where he received a degree in graphic design. While in college he began painting with acrylics and received some valuable instruction in watercolors.
Jim worked in graphic design for 15 years, while using his spare time developing his artwork. He started refining the elements that would become his style, marked by stripped-down realistic depiction and a sense of solitude often found in the work of Edward Hopper—an artist for whom Jim has had lifelong admiration. The enduring themes in Holland’s paintings are the light and space near the ocean.”