American Art – Part I of III: Joe Naujokas
Here is the Artist Statement of Russian-born Canadian painter Slava Groshev: “Nine years ago, living in Montreal, I began to make paintings. I always knew that could do so, but there was neither time nor possibility. So I started to work hard: ten hours a day, six days a week.
I had been trained in the basics of drawing, painting, and composition, first at art school, then for a couple of years with teachers at Moscow’s Stroganov Art Institute.”
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl, British novelist, short story writer, poet, fighter pilot, screenwriter, and author of “The Witches,” who was born 13 September 1916.
Some quotes from the work of Roald Dahl:
“So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall.”
“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
“I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn’t be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.”
“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.”
“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”
“The witching hour, somebody had once whispered to her, was a special moment in the middle of the night when every child and every grown-up was in a deep deep sleep, and all the dark things came out from hiding and had the world all to themselves.”
“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”
From the Music Archives – Part I of III: The Beatles
13 September 1965 – The Beatles release the single “Yesterday.”
Born 13 September 1857 – Milton S. Hershey, an American confectioner and head of the U.S. Cocoa Cartel, whose nefarious products continue to addict countless chocoholics each year. Despite Hershey’s being responsible for so much delectable misery, the United States Postal Service honored this fiend by placing his likeness on a postage stamp! What next? A picture of Columbian drug lord Griselda Bianco Restrepo – “The Cocaine Godmother” – on our ten dollar bill? Where’s our moral outrage in this matter, my fellow Americans?!
According to one critic, “Andrej Remnjov was born in 1962 in Yachroma, not far from Moscow. This mountain village afforded him a view of hills and valleys, forests and fields, waterfalls, and the Moscow-Volga canal. This environment and the local residents characteristic of the area would always remain a source of inspiration for Andrej Remnjov. He most identifies himself with the 19th century period of Russian art history. He is especially fascinated by the transitional period from icon painting to a more academic manner of painting. His technique is realistic; he is as masterful in depicting subject matter as a 17th-century Dutch master, but in the surfaces we recognize the icon-painter who makes the foreground and background equally visible. The vista of the background of a close-up portrait pushes itself forward to the viewer as urgently as the personage in the foreground, because Remnjov is a painter of an inexplicable clarity that, by way of an alienating, magic spectrum, makes his world visible.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of III: Leopold Stokowski
“A painter paints his pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. We provide the music, and you provide the silence.” – Leopold Stokowski, Anglo-American orchestral conductor, who died on 13 September 1977.
Some quotes from the work of Montaigne:
“The most certain sign of wisdom is cheerfulness.”
“On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom.”
“When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts, nothing helps me so much as running to my books. They quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind.”
“If I speak of myself in different ways, that is because I look at myself in different ways.”
“No one is exempt from talking nonsense; the misfortune is to do it solemnly.”
“Learned we may be with another man’s learning: we can only be wise with wisdom of our own.”
“How many things served us yesterday for articles of faith, which today are fables for us?”
“To forbid us anything is to make us have a mind for it.”
“I am afraid that our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, and that we have more curiosity than understanding. We grasp at everything, but catch nothing except wind.”
“Man is certainly stark mad; he cannot make a worm, and yet he will be making gods by dozens.”
“Obsession is the wellspring of genius and madness.”
“To compose our character is our duty, not to compose books, and to win, not battles and provinces, but order and tranquility in our conduct. Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live appropriately. All other things, ruling, hoarding, building, are only little appendages and props, at most.”
“Let us give Nature a chance; she knows her business better than we do.”
“To begin depriving death of its greatest advantage over us, let us adopt a way clean contrary to that common one; let us deprive death of its strangeness, let us frequent it, let us get used to it; let us have nothing more often in mind than death… We do not know where death awaits us: so let us wait for it everywhere.”
To practice death is to practice freedom. A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.”
“I speak the truth, not so much as I would, but as much as I dare; and I dare a little more as I grow older.”
Died 13 September 1992 – Lou Jacobs, an American clown credited with popularizing the clown car and creating the red ball rubber ball nose. He was the first living person to have his portrait appear on an American postage stamp.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Dutch painter Wim Heldens (born 1954): “For Wim Heldens, a meticulously realistic and time consuming technique, is an expression of dedication and a tribute to the human soul as against the background of a commercialized, materialistic society, people barely have time for each other any longer.
In a time when for most people, life seems to be geared toward instant gratification and making an easy, quick profit, leading to an immense impoverishment of human existence, he chooses to work for months on only one painting in a refined renaissance-like technique.
In his paintings, Wim Heldens wants to confront the viewer with other people, making them aware of the presence of the human character and soul in an art-form that needs no explaining and theorizing.
In his portraits, he is never flattering or glamourizing his subjects. Heldens is always in search of the human soul behind the face, the inner reality behind the façade, which can sometimes make looking at his paintings a rather disturbing and unsettling – but always compelling – experience.
In his narrative paintings, Heldens depicts modern life and the modern relationships people choose to have in our complex multi-cultural society where more and more people choose life-styles different from the ancient conventions dictated by religion and middle-class bourgeois world views.”
13 September 122 – Building begins on Hadrian’s Wall in Britain. Since its completion, not a single illegal alien has managed to enter Wark from Hexham – and that’s a fact that Donald Trump should consider referencing in the course of one of his anti-illegal immigrant tirades.
From the Music Archives – Part III of III: Mikhail Glinka
“People keep on getting married. Evidently hope is eternal in the human breast.” – Sherwood Anderson, American novelist, short story writer, and author of “Winesburg, Ohio,” who was born 13 September 1976.
Some quotes from the work of Sherwood Anderson:
“There is a time in the life of every boy when he for the first time takes the backward view of life. Perhaps that is the moment when he crosses the line into manhood. The boy is walking through the street of his town. He is thinking of the future and of the figure he will cut in the world. Ambitions and regrets awake within him. Suddenly something happens; he stops under a tree and waits as for a voice calling his name. Ghosts of old things creep into his consciousness; the voices outside of himself whisper a message concerning the limitations of life. From being quite sure of himself and his future he becomes not at all sure. If he be an imaginative boy a door is torn open and for the first time he looks out upon the world, seeing, as though they marched in procession before him, the countless figures of men who before his time have come out of nothingness into the world, lived their lives and again disappeared into nothingness. The sadness of sophistication has come to the boy. With a little gasp he sees himself as merely a leaf blown by the wind through the streets of his village. He knows that in spite of all the stout talk of his fellows he must live and die in uncertainty, a thing blown by the winds, a thing destined like corn to wilt in the sun.”
“I am a lover and have not found my thing to love. That is a big point if you know enough to realize what I mean. It makes my destruction inevitable, you see. There are few who understand that.”
“There is within every human being a deep well of thinking over which a heavy iron lid is kept clamped.”
“‘Love is like a wind stirring the grass beneath trees on a black night,’ he had said. ‘You must not try to make love definite. It is the divine accident of life. If you try to be definite and sure about it and to live beneath the trees, where soft night winds blow, the long hot day of disappointment comes swiftly and the gritty dust from passing wagons gathers upon lips inflamed and made tender by kisses.’”
“Dare to be strong and courageous. That is the road. Venture anything.”
“I go about looking at horses and cattle. They eat grass, make love, work when they have to, bear their young. I am sick with envy of them.”
“In the beginning when the world was young there were a great many thoughts but no such thing as a truth. Man made the truths himself and each truth was a composite of a great many vague thoughts.”
“In youth there are always two forces fighting in people. The warm unthinking little animal struggles against the thing that reflects and remembers.”
“It is no use. I find it impossible to work with security staring me in the face.”
“Everyone knows of the talking artists. Throughout all of the known history of the world they have gathered in rooms and talked. They talk of art and are passionately, almost feverishly, in earnest about it. They think it matters much more than it does.”
“He thought about himself and to the young that always brings sadness.”
“It was a cold day but the sun was out and the trees were like great bonfires against gray distant fields and hills.”
“It was the truths that made the people grotesques. The moment one of the people took one of the truths to himself, called it his truth, and tried to live his life by it, he became a grotesque and the truth he embraced became a falsehood.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Australian painter
John Baird: “Baird’s practice encompasses both painting and sculpture in his distinctive, bold style. Baird explores the interior landscape of domestic life and the slippage between utilitarianism and decoration. The comfortable chair, the dressing table or the floral arrangement is elevated from the commonplace.”
A Poem for Today
“Night on the Mountain”
By George Sterling
The fog has risen from the sea and crowned
The dark, untrodden summits of the coast,
Where roams a voice, in canyons uttermost,
From midnight waters vibrant and profound.
High on each granite altar dies the sound,
Deep as the trampling of an armored host,
Lone as the lamentation of a ghost,
Sad as the diapason of the drowned.
The mountain seems no more a soulless thing,
But rather as a shape of ancient fear,
In darkness and the winds of Chaos born
Amid the lordless heavens’ thundering—
A Presence crouched, enormous and austere,
Before whose feet the mighty waters mourn.
“My disappointments came from people, not the mountains.” – Walter Bonatti, Italian mountaineer, loner, and maverick, who died on 13 September 2011, indicating one of his principal reasons for climbing.
Walter Bonatti, who was one of my heroes during the period in my life when I climbed Mount Rainier and had dreams of reaching even loftier summits, is the author of “The Mountains of My Life,” from which this inspiring passage is taken: “For me, the value of a climb is the sum of three inseparable elements, all equally important: aesthetics, history, and ethics. Together they form the whole basis of my concept of alpinism. Some people see no more in climbing mountains than an escape from the harsh realities of modern times. This is not only uninformed but unfair. I don’t deny that there can be an element of escapism in mountaineering, but this should never overshadow its real essence, which is not escape but victory over your own human frailty.”
American Art – Part II of III: Dan Thompson
In the words of one writer, “Dan Thompson was born in Alexandria, Virginia. He has received grants and awards from foundations, colleges, and competitions, such as the American Portrait Society, which presented him with the 2001 Grand Prize for Best of Show in the International Portrait Competition, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.”
“My Father’s Study,”
By Louis Simpson
A light is on in my father’s study.
“Still up?” he says, and we are silent,
looking at the harbor lights,
listening to the surf
and the creak of coconut boughs.
He is working late on cases.
No impassioned speech! He argues from evidence,
actually pacing out and measuring,
while the fans revolving on the ceiling
winnow the true from the false.
Once he passed a brass curtain rod
through a head made out of plaster
and showed the jury the angle of fire–
where the murderer must have stood.
For years, all through my childhood,
if I opened a closet . . . bang!
There would be the dead man’s head
with a black hole in the forehead.
All the arguing in the world
will not stay the moon.
She has come all the way from Russia
to gaze for a while in a mango tree
and light the wall of a veranda,
before resuming her interrupted journey
beyond the harbor and the lighthouse
at Port Royal, turning away
from land to the open sea.
Yet, nothing in nature changes, from that day to this,
she is still the mother of us all.
I can see the drifting offshore lights,
black posts where the pelicans brood.
And the light that used to shine
at night in my father’s study
now shines as late in mine.
American Art – Part III of III: Kevin Peterson
Artist Statement: “My work is about the varied journeys we take through life. It’s about growing up and living in a world that is broken. These paintings are about trauma, fear and loneliness and the strength that it takes to survive and thrive. They each contain the contrast of the untainted, young and innocent against a backdrop of a worn, ragged, and defiled world. Support versus restraint, bondage versus freedom, and tension versus slack are all themes that I often visit. My work deals with isolation, loneliness and longing teamed with a level of optimistic hope. Issues of race and the division of wealth have arisen in my recent work. This work deals with the idea of rigid boundaries, the hopeful breakdown of such restrictions, as well as questions about the forces that orchestrate our behavior.”