American Art – Part I of IV: Steve Smulka
According to one writer, “Born in Detroit, Steve Smulka moved to New York City at age 18 to attend The School of Visual Arts. While majoring in fine art he studied with, among others, photo-realist Chuck Close who had a profound effect on him. After completing his education at the University of Massachusetts, where he received an MFA degree, Steve moved back to New York to continue his painting career.
Smulka currently has a studio outside New York City in South Salem, NY and teaches drawing and anatomy at The School of Visual Arts.”
“Spring and Fall,”
By Gerard Manley Hopkins
to a young child
Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
Died 11 October 1994 – Nic Jonk, Dutch sculptor whose bronzes, though undeniably powerful, often convey a sense of nuanced emotional complexity.
From the Movie Archives: Chico Marx
Died 11 October 1961 – Leonard “Chico” Marx, American comedian, actor, and member of the Marx Brothers comedy team. His persona in the act was that of a dim-witted albeit crafty con artist, seemingly of rural Italian origin, who wore shabby clothes, and sported a curly-haired wig and Tyrolean hat.
American Art – Part II of IV: Claire Oswalt
Canadian Art – Part I of II: Helene Beland
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Gyorgy Ligeti
“If you would tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads, but what he rereads.” Francois Mauriac, French writer, author of “Vipers’ Tangle,” and recipient of the 1952 Nobel Prize in Literature “for the deep spiritual insight and the artistic intensity with which he has in his novels penetrated the drama of human life,” who was born 11 October 1885.
Some quotes from the work of Francois Mauriac:
“To love someone is to see a miracle invisible to others.”
“The effort of explaining, even of expressing himself, had become, with the years, more and more terrifying to him. Whether from laziness or from inability to find the right words, he had developed almost a passion for silence.”
“I’ve always had a passion for tearing the bandages from other people’s eyes. I’ve always insisted that those round me should see things as they are. I suppose it is that I need companionship in despair. I can’t understand not despairing.”
“By the time dusk fell, he was back in his room. The last of the daylight lay like fine ashes on the roof-tops. He did not light his lamp, but sat by the fireplace in the dark, seeking in the far distance of his past some vague memory of a love-affair, some recollection of a friendship, with which to soften the hard tyranny of isolation.”
“We are, all of us, molded and remolded by those who have loved us, and though that love may pass, we remain none the less their work–a work that very likely they do not recognize, and which is never exactly what they intended.”
Canadian Art – Part II of II: David Bierk
“Deserve your dream.” – Octavio Paz, Mexican poet, writer, and diplomat, who on 11 October 1990 received the Nobel Prize in Literature “for impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity.”
“Between Going and Coming”
Between going and staying
the day wavers,
in love with its own transparency.
The circular afternoon is now a bay
where the world in stillness rocks.
All is visible and all elusive,
all is near and can’t be touched.
Paper, book, pencil, glass,
rest in the shade of their names.
Time throbbing in my temples repeats
the same unchanging syllable of blood.
The light turns the indifferent wall
into a ghostly theater of reflections.
I find myself in the middle of an eye,
watching myself in its blank stare.
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Born 11 October 1922 – Nonda (Epaminondas Papadopoulos), a Greek painter of the School of Paris.
11 October 2012 – Mo Yan, Chinese novelist, short story writer, and author of “The Garlic Ballads” is awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature for his work as a writer “who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary.”
Some quotes from the work of Mo Yan:
“People who are strangers to liquor are incapable of talking about literature.”
“Where there’s life, death is inevitable. Dying’s easy; it’s living that’s hard. The harder it gets, the stronger the will to live. And the greater the fear of death, the greater the struggle to keep on living.”
“The act of giving voice to this spiritual suffering is, in my view, the sacred duty of the writer.”
“The cliché that the sea dries up and rocks rot away, but the heart never changes is nothing but a beautiful fantasy.”
“The sun, a red wheel, was sinking slowly in the west. Besides being spectacularly beautiful, the early-summer sunset was exceedingly soft and gentle: black mulberry leaves turned as red as roses; pristine white acacia petals shed an enshrouding pale-green aura. Mild evening breezes made both the mulberry leaves and the acacia petals dance and whirl, filling the woods with a soft rustle.”
“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” – Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, writer, poet, peace activist, and author of “Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire,” “The Miracle of Mindfulness,” and “Peace in Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life,” who was born 11 October 1928.
Some quotes from the work of Thich Nhat Hanh:
“Compassion is a verb.”
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.”
“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.”
“My actions are my only true belongings.”
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”
“If you love someone but rarely make yourself available to him or her, that is not true love.”
“Through my love for you, I want to express my love for the whole cosmos, the whole of humanity, and all beings. By living with you, I want to learn to love everyone and all species. If I succeed in loving you, I will be able to love everyone and all species on Earth… This is the real message of love.”
“Our own life has to be our message.”
“Life is available only in the present moment.”
“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”
“By eating meat we share the responsibility of climate change, the destruction of our forests, and the poisoning of our air and water. The simple act of becoming a vegetarian will make a difference in the health of our planet.”
“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.”
A Second Poem for Today
“Returned To Say,”
By William Stafford
When I face north a lost Cree
on some new shore puts a moccasin down,
rock in the light and noon for seeing,
he in a hurry and I beside him
It will be a long trip; he will be a new chief;
we have drunk new water from an unnamed stream;
under little dark trees he is to find a path
we both must travel because we have met.
Henceforth we gesture even by waiting;
there is a grain of sand on his knifeblade
so small he blows it and while his breathing
darkens the steel his eyes become set
And start a new vision: the rest of his life.
We will mean what he does. Back of this page
the path turns north. We are looking for a sign.
Our moccasins do not mark the ground.
American Art – Part III of IV: Meghan Howland
A Third Poem for Today
“Reading Moby-Dick at 30,000 Feet,”
By Tony Hoagland
At this height, Kansas
is just a concept,
a checkerboard design of wheat and corn
no larger than the foldout section
of my neighbor’s travel magazine.
At this stage of the journey
I would estimate the distance
between myself and my own feelings
is roughly the same as the mileage
from Seattle to New York,
so I can lean back into the upholstered interval
between Muzak and lunch,
a little bored, a little old and strange.
I remember, as a dreamy
backyard kind of kid,
tilting up my head to watch
those planes engrave the sky
in lines so steady and so straight
they implied the enormous concentration
of good men,
but now my eyes flicker
from the in-flight movie
to the stewardess’s pantyline,
then back into my book,
where men throw harpoons at something
much bigger and probably
better than themselves,
wanting to kill it,
wanting to see great clouds of blood erupt
to prove that they exist.
Imagine being born and growing up,
rushing through the world for sixty years
at unimaginable speeds.
Imagine a century like a room so large,
a corridor so long
you could travel for a lifetime
and never find the door,
until you had forgotten
that such a thing as doors exist.
Better to be on board the Pequod,
with a mad one-legged captain
living for revenge.
Better to feel the salt wind
spitting in your face,
to hold your sharpened weapon high,
to see the glisten
of the beast beneath the waves.
What a relief it would be
American Art – Part IV of IV: Jenness Cortez
According to one critic, “In her most recent works, Cortez pays homage to history’s celebrated artists. Inspired by the light, color and form of the great masters, Cortez skillfully incorporates familiar images into exquisitely painted contemporary settings. By depicting artworks into her compositions, Cortez underscores a classic paradox of painting: the painting as a ‘window’ into an imagined space, and as a physical object; both a metaphysical presence and a material entity. Her dynamic and rich compositions entreat the viewer’s eye to move eagerly through these paintings again and again, savoring every nuance. Cortez chooses to utilize her talent for realism to illuminate the ordinary. As in the works of O’Keeffe or Estes, everyday objects become dazzling and luminous when reconsidered through her virtuosity. Far from being mere exercises in photorealism or replication, each Cortez work touches upon important questions about the nature of painting itself and the significance of art objects. Her work inspires viewers to rediscover, revalue and reintegrate their own creative force into the hurried regimen of modern life.”