September Offerings – Part XV: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of IV: Lu Cong

Here is how one critic describes the career of painter Lu Cong: “Lu Cong was born in Shanghai, China in 1979. At the age of eleven he joined his parents in Muscatine, Iowa near the Quad Cities area. A graduate of the University of Iowa with a degree in biology he moved to Denver, CO in 2000 with very limited art training. Since 2002 he has exhibited at the Denver Art Students League and participated in life drawing sessions there. As an artist he is mainly self-taught. The undeniable power and strength of his compositions affects all who view his work. Today he is considered one of the most important young artists in the southwestern United States.”
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From the American History Archives: A Plea for Gun Control Legislation

15 September 1966 – President Lyndon B. Johnson, responding to a sniper attack at the University of Texas at Austin on 1 August 1966, writes a letter to the United States Congress urging the enactment of gun control legislation.

Dear Mr. President: (Dear Mr. Speaker:)
In August of last year, a demented sniper sat with an arsenal of weapons at the top of a University tower and coldly and systematically killed and maimed 44 Americans.
The horror of that senseless slaughter shocked the entire Nation. Yet, today, 13 months later, Congress has failed to enact a gun control law. In those intervening 13 months, guns were involved in more than:
–6,500 murders
–10,000 suicides
–2,600 accidental deaths
–43,500 aggravated assaults
–50,000 robberies.
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover has just reported that the use of firearms in dangerous crimes is on the upswing. For the first six months of 1967 there was a:
–24 percent rise in the use of guns in aggravated assaults.
–37 percent rise in the use of weapons in robberies.
A civilized nation cannot allow this armed terror to continue.
An enlightened Congress must not allow it to continue. The time has come for action.
Last year, two million guns were sold in the United States. Many of them were sold to hardened criminals, snipers, mental defectives, rapists, habitual drunkards and juveniles.
There is no excuse for this.
There is no excuse for a holdup at gun point on a dark city street or an armed robbery in a house where children are sleeping. We are long past the point where we can allow lethal weapons to be hawked by the same mail order techniques used to market frozen steaks or baskets of fruit. We are long past the point where we can allow an enemy of society to buy and use a weapon of death and disorder–when existing state laws would not even allow the same person to drive a car, or to vote.
Last February, after an exhaustive report by the National Crime Commission, I recommended that the Congress enact the State Firearms Control Act of 1967–the third such gun control bill I proposed since I became President. That legislation is designed to:
–Stop interstate mail order sales of all firearms.
–Stop over-the-counter sales of firearms, other than rifles and shotguns, to any person who does not reside in the State in which the seller does business.
–Stop sales of handguns to any person under 21, and sales of rifles and shotguns to any person under 18.
–Curb imports of firearms into the United States.
Despite the urgency, however, the bill has not been enacted by Congress, and has not as yet been reported out of the Senate or House subcommittees.
The challenge of any gun control bill is to keep weapons from the hands of the dangerous and still permit the law-abiding citizen to acquire them.
The Administration’s bill meets that challenge. It is directed primarily at the criminal use of firearms. Its basic approach is to limit out-of-state purchases and interstate mail order sales of firearms. This will allow State and local authorities to exercise such controls as the people of their own communities believe are warranted.
Recently, for example, the State of New Jersey enacted its own gun control legislation. During the first six months of its operation more than 7% of the prospective gun purchasers had prior criminal records. Over 540 individuals were denied licenses to buy guns because they were hardened criminals, or alcoholics, or drug addicts or mentally unstable–540 people to whom guns were not the tools of a sportsman but the potential instruments of terror and violence. Think of the tragedy and the waste this has avoided.
The measure now before Congress is aimed solely at keeping deadly weapons out of the wrong hands. It interferes neither with sportsmen nor law-abiding citizens with a legitimate need. This legislation will impose no real inconvenience on gun buyers. But under any circumstances, who would measure inconvenience against the personal safety and security of thousands of American citizens?
The passage of an effective gun control statute can be an important step in providing a climate of security for all our citizens. It can help them enjoy the right to travel unmolested, to walk without fear on the streets of our cities, and to be secure in their homes.
Its passage will avoid senseless tragedy, and promote the safety of the American people.
As I said today to the International Association of Chiefs of Police–talking about morality, speaking about crime, deploring the conditions that exist cannot get the job done. The time is here and now to stand up and vote against crime.
I call upon the Congress to serve the public interest by promptly enacting this vital gun control legislation.

Sincerely,
LYNDON B. JOHNSON 15 September 1966

Here is one critic describing the artistry of Italian painter Francesca Strino: “Francesca was born in 1979 in Naples, Italy. Her powerful paintings reflect the influence of her father, Maestro Gianni Strino. She graduated from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Napoli with specialisation in sculpture and portraiture. She was a pupil of the great master G. Di Fiore
There is virtuosity in Francesca’s painting that should be admired in such a young artist. The unflinching gaze of an exhausted ballerina after a long performance and the ruffles of her tutu are painted with apparent ease. Manipulation of delicate brushstroke and a complex use of tone and chiaroscuro in Francesca’s painting excite the eye and stir the soul.”
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“I think the greatest curse of American society has been the idea of an easy millennialism—that some new drug, or the next election, or the latest in social engineering will solve everything.” – Robert Penn Warren, American poet, novelist, literary critic, and recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes – the 1947 Pulitzer Prize for the Novel and the 1958 and 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry – the only person to have won Pulitzer Prizes in both fiction and poetry, who died 15 September 1989.

“Evening Hawk”

From plane of light to plane, wings dipping through
Geometries and orchids that the sunset builds,
Out of the peak’s black angularity of shadow, riding
The last tumultuous avalanche of
Light above pines and the guttural gorge,
The hawk comes.

His wing
Scythes down another day, his motion
Is that of the honed steel-edge, we hear
The crashless fall of stalks of Time.

The head of each stalk is heavy with the gold of our error.

Look! Look! he is climbing the last light
Who knows neither Time nor error, and under
Whose eye, unforgiving, the world, unforgiven, swings
Into shadow.

Long now,
The last thrush is still, the last bat
Now cruises in his sharp hieroglyphics. His wisdom
Is ancient, too, and immense. The star
Is steady, like Plato, over the mountain.

If there were no wind we might, we think, hear
The earth grind on its axis, or history
Drip in darkness like a leaking pipe in the cellar.
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Here is one critic describing the artistry of Belgian painter Mieke Teirlinck: “Austerity is essential in her work. Only the subject is painted in an extremely delicate play of light and shadow. Honesty prevails. She doesn’t use distracting backgrounds, settings or frames.”
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“Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at the moment. ” – Robert Benchley, American newspaper columnist, humorist, and film actor, who was born 15 September 1889.

Some quotes from Robert Benchley:

“Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and, instead of bleeding, he sings.”
“The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him.”
“There are two kinds of travel: first class and with children.”
“A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.”
“There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t.”
“I have tried to know absolutely nothing about a great many things, and I have succeeded fairly well.”
“We are constantly being surprised that people did things well before we were born.”
“Most of the arguments to which I am party fall somewhat short of being impressive, owing to the fact that neither I nor my opponent knows what we are talking about.”
“The only cure for a real hangover is death.”
“Central Park is the grandiose symbol of the front yard each child in New York hasn’t got.”
“Every boy should have two things: a dog and a mother who lets him have one.”
“The problem of what to wear while lolling about the house on a Sunday afternoon is becoming more and more acute as the fashions in lolling garments change. The American home is in danger of taking on the appearance of an Oriental bordello.”
“As the storm came nearer I began to realize that I hadn’t made the most of my three years’ immunity. In fact, I hadn’t done a single thing about cleaning up my life. I was, if anything, an even more logical target for lightning than the last time I was in range. And thunderstorms don’t creep up on you at seven o’clock in the morning in a non-thunderstorm country for nothing, you know. I lined up a rather panicky schedule of reforms. But as the storm suddenly petered out and went off in the other direction nothing much has come out of it yet. I may have three years more, and these things can’t be rushed.”
“A great many people have come up to me and asked how I manage to get so much work done and still keep looking so dissipated.”
“If there is a streak of ham anywhere in an actor, Shakespeare will bring it out.”
“There seems to be no lengths to which humorless people will not go to analyze humor. It seems to worry them.”

In the words of one writer, “Carlos Dugos was born in Lisbon in 1942. His first works date back to 1957, yet, one year later, he moved to Lorenzo Marques, then the Capital of Mozambique, where he attended an Art School – under the guidance of the painter João Ayres – and had the opportunity to work with Malangatana, José Júlio, Álvaro Passos and a few other Mozambican artists.”
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15 September 1949 – “The Lone Ranger,” starring Clayton Moore (as the Ranger), Jay Silverheels (as Tonto), and Silver (as “a fiery horse with the speed of light”), premieres on ABC-TV.

“Those thrilling days of yesteryear . . .”

Died 15 September 1940 – Dick Ket, a Dutch painter known for his still lifes and self-portraits.

Below – “Self-Portrait”; “Still Life with Grapes”; “Self-Portrait with a Bread Roll”; “Still Life with Flute.”
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Brazilian artist Elon Brasil (born 1957) is a self-taught painter.
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From the Music Archives: Ludwig van Beethoven

American Art – Part II of IV: Andre Kohn

Here is one critic describing the background of Andre Kohn: “The precise convergence of three dynamic forces-culture, environment and talent-combined to produce one of the most collected figurative painters on the American art scene today. Raised by an artistically gifted family near the Caspian Sea in southern Russia, Andre Kohn’s childhood was marked by the natural splendor of mountains and sea, and by an unfettered access to all the creative arts.
In 1993, while Kohn was in America visiting his parents, his father announced his intention to defect to the United States. Suddenly, the young artist realized he would never again be permitted to return to his homeland.
It took little time for American art audiences and media to discover the mature, fresh figurative painting style of the young Russian. His first one-man show in America created instant interest in his work and helped introduce Kohn to audiences in his adopted country.”
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“The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.” – Thomas Wolfe, American novelist, short story writer, and author of “Look Homeward, Angel,” who died 15 September 1938.

Some quotes from Thomas Wolfe:

“We are always acting on what has just finished happening. It happened at least 1/30th of a second ago. We think we’re in the present, but we aren’t. The present we know is only a movie of the past.”
“There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves.”
“Child, child, have patience and belief, for life is many days, and each present hour will pass away. Son, son, you have been mad and drunken, furious and wild, filled with hatred and despair, and all the dark confusions of the soul – but so have we. You found the earth too great for your one life, you found your brain and sinew smaller than the hunger and desire that fed on them – but it has been this way with all men. You have stumbled on in darkness, you have been pulled in opposite directions, you have faltered, you have missed the way, but, child, this is the chronicle of the earth. And now, because you have known madness and despair, and because you will grow desperate again before you come to evening, we who have stormed the ramparts of the furious earth and been hurled back, we who have been maddened by the unknowable and bitter mystery of love, we who have hungered after fame and savored all of life, the tumult, pain, and frenzy, and now sit quietly by our windows watching all that henceforth never more shall touch us – we call upon you to take heart, for we can swear to you that these things pass.”
“You can’t go home again.
You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame, back home to exile, to escape to Europe and some foreign land, back home to lyricism, to singing just for singing’s sake, back home to aestheticism, to one’s youthful idea of ‘the artist’ and the all-sufficiency of ‘art’ and ‘beauty’ and ‘love,’ back home to the ivory tower, back home to places in the country, to the cottage in Bermuda, away from all the strife and conflict of the world, back home to the father you have lost and have been looking for, back home to someone who can help you, save you, ease the burden for you, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time–back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”
“Man is born to live, to suffer, and to die, and what befalls him is a tragic lot. There is no denying this in the final end. But we must deny it all along the way.”
“Some things will never change. Some things will always be the same. Lean down your ear upon the earth and listen.
The voice of forest water in the night, a woman’s laughter in the dark, the clean, hard rattle of raked gravel, the cricketing stitch of midday in hot meadows, the delicate web of children’s voices in bright air–these things will never change.
The glitter of sunlight on roughened water, the glory of the stars, the innocence of morning, the smell of the sea in harbors, the feathery blur and smoky buddings of young boughs, and something there that comes and goes and never can be captured, the thorn of spring, the sharp and tongueless cry–these things will always be the same.
All things belonging to the earth will never change–the leaf, the blade, the flower, the wind that cries and sleeps and wakes again, the trees whose stiff arms clash and tremble in the dark, and the dust of lovers long since buried in the earth–all things proceeding from the earth to seasons, all things that lapse and change and come again upon the earth–these things will always be the same, for they come up from the earth that never changes, they go back into the earth that lasts forever. Only the earth endures, but it endures forever.
The tarantula, the adder, and the asp will also never change. Pain and death will always be the same. But under the pavements trembling like a pulse, under the buildings trembling like a cry, under the waste of time, under the hoof of the beast above the broken bones of cities, there will be something growing like a flower, something bursting from the earth again, forever deathless, faithful, coming into life again like April.”
“O lost,
And by the wind grieved,
Ghost,
Come back again.”
“My dear, dear girl . . . we can’t turn back the days that have gone. We can’t turn life back to the hours when our lungs were sound, our blood hot, our bodies young. We are a flash of fire–a brain, a heart, a spirit. And we are three-cents-worth of lime and iron–which we cannot get back.”
“The old hunger for voyages fed at his heart….To go alone…into strange cities; to meet strange people and to pass again before they could know him; to wander, like his own legend, across the earth–it seemed to him there could be no better thing than that.”
“Make your mistakes, take your chances, look silly, but keep on going. Don’t freeze up.”
“All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travellers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken.”
“Each of us is all the sums he has not counted: subtract us into nakedness and night again, and you shall see begin in Crete four thousand years ago the love that ended yesterday in Texas.
The seed of our destruction will blossom in the desert, the alexin of our cure grows by a mountain rock, and our lives are haunted by a Georgia slattern, because a London cutpurse went unhung. Each moment is the fruit of forty thousand years. The minute-winning days, like flies, buzz home to death, and every moment is a window on all time.
This is a moment.”
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British Art – Part I of II: Stuart Luke Gatherer

Here is how art historian and critic Edward Lucie Smith describes the work of Scottish artist Stuart Luke Gatherer (born 1971): “Gatherer is doing what gifted artists have always done. He does not imitate the past; he searches the past for ways of expressing his own sense of the present. It is as valid to compare his work with videos by Sam Taylor-Wood, often showing young urban professionals of the same sort, as it is to compare it to that of the great painters of the past whom he evokes in some of his compositions. We need both points of reference to understand what he is trying to achieve. Neither comparison detracts from the impressive nature of his achievement.”
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15 September 1835 – The HMS Beagle arrives in the Galapagos Islands, with young naturalist Charles Darwin on board. Based on his observations in these islands, Darwin would begin formulating his theory of natural selection that he would elaborate and publish twenty-four years later in “On the Origin of Species,” thereby changing the course of scientific, intellectual, social, and cultural history.

Some quotes from the work of Charles Darwin:

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”
“Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”
“…Whilst on board the Beagle I was quite orthodox, and I remember being heartily laughed at by several of the officers… for quoting the Bible as an unanswerable authority on some point of morality… But I had gradually come by this time, i.e., 1836 to 1839, to see that the Old Testament from its manifestly false history of the world, with the Tower of Babel, the rainbow at sign, &c., &c., and from its attributing to God the feelings of a revengeful tyrant, was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos, or the beliefs of any barbarian.

…By further reflecting that the clearest evidence would be requisite to make any sane man believe in the miracles by which Christianity is supported, (and that the more we know of the fixed laws of nature the more incredible do miracles become), that the men at that time were ignorant and credulous to a degree almost uncomprehensible by us, that the Gospels cannot be proved to have been written simultaneously with the events, that they differ in many important details, far too important, as it seemed to me, to be admitted as the usual inaccuracies of eyewitnesses; by such reflections as these, which I give not as having the least novelty or value, but as they influenced me, I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation. The fact that many false religions have spread over large portions of the earth like wild-fire had some weight with me. Beautiful as is the morality of the New Testament, it can be hardly denied that its perfection depends in part on the interpretation which we now put on metaphors and allegories.

But I was very unwilling to give up my belief… Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted even for a single second that my conclusion was correct. I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all of my friends, will be everlastingly punished.

And this is a damnable doctrine.”
“The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic.”
“The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognise that we ought to control our thoughts.”
“An American monkey, after getting drunk on brandy, would never touch it again, and thus is much wiser than most men.”
“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.”
“If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.”

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British Art – Part II of II: James Naughton

According to one critic, “James Naughton was born in Bolton, Lancashire, on the 6th May 1971, and apart from his three college years in Leeds and a short spell in America, he has never left. It is from this large provincial northern English industrial town that he began what was to become a most extraordinary career as one of Britain’s most accomplished and sought after landscape painters.”
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A Poem for Today

“He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven,”
By William Butler Yeats

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
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Here is how German artist Jurgen Gorg (born 1951) describes his subject matter: “The human body. The face remains vague the gestures are those of free motion. Everything concentrates on the body language and the erotic radiation of the figures.” According to one critic, “His artistic universe consists of lovers dancers musicians and masked personages… These idealized loosely rendered figures suggest the timeless and eternal. An elusive quality is cultivated by Gorg who feels that something should always be left open.”
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A Second Poem for Today

“The Road Back,”
By Anne Sexton

The car is heavy with children
tugged back from summer,
swept out of their laughing beach,
swept out while a persistent rumour
tells them nothing ends.
Today we fret and pull
on wheels, ignore our regular loss
of time, count cows and others
while the sun moves over
like an old albatross
we must not count nor kill.
There is no word for time.
Today we will
not think to number another summer
or watch its white bird into the ground.
Today, all cars,
all fathers, all mothers, all
children and lovers will
have to forget
about that thing in the sky,
going around
like a persistent rumor
that will get us yet.
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American Art – Part III of IV: Tamae Frame

Artist Statement: “My work symbolizes the subject as a vehicle to convey the hidden part of our psyche and the feminine spirituality. I depict female spiritual bodies in the bold-headed nude figures, which have been pruned of the trappings of their earthly existence. My intention is to use the figures as fodder for delivering the women’s state of mind by subtly stretching, twisting or relaxing the body-lines for expressing their tension, struggle, or calmness.
I also create mystical figures in which their body-parts are connected with other organisms and creatures: they are the expressions of mysterious inner dimensions of female consciousness.
I use mid-fire stoneware clay for its strength and stone-like appearance, and this material has opened the door to the creation of my sculpture in an intuitive way. While shaping a subject, its plasticity allows my hands to have a dialogue with the material which gives me time to tap into my subconscious, and the result is a piece that has emerged from deep within myself.
I often draw my inspirations for color and texture from the ancient Asian art, particularly Japanese Buddhist art and Indian Hindu art. I am fascinated by those ancient surfaces, which had been affected by time.”
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A Third Poem for Today

“My Heart Soars,”
By Chief Dan George

The beauty of the trees, the softness of the air,
the fragrance of the grass,
speaks to me.

The summit of the mountain, the thunder of the sky,
the rhythm of the sea,
speaks to me.

The faintness of the stars, the freshness of the morning, the dew drop on the flower,
speaks to me.

The strength of fire,
the taste of salmon,
the trail of the sun,
and the life that never goes away,
They speak to me.

And my heart soars.

Below – Helen Hardin (Tsa-Sah-Wee-Eh – Little Standing Spruce): “Heartline Bear”
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American Art – Part IV of IV: Ray Hare

In the words of one critic, “Realism takes on new dimension through the eyes of artist Ray Hare. Rays paintings are photorealism but his art goes beyond realistic likeness. In his work the larger than life close-ups are depicted with all their infinite color and details. It is as if he held a magnifying glass up to his subject and painted what he saw. What Hare captures as a result is a new reality. His unique vision through enlarged images and illusions is shared through paintings that grasp the essence of his subjects. The emotional impact of each painting confronts and challenges us to view reality with renewed emotion. He incorporates conceptual studies with practical mastery of fine art, testing each image and medium to its limit. The subjects seem so real we believe we can reach out and touch them.”
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