November Offerings – Part XIII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of IV: Gary Hostallero

In the words of one art critic, painter Gary Hostallero has always had “an abiding fascination with samurai stories and legends. As a child he was struck by the heroism and valor they recounted. Later the entire bushido (the way of the warrior) and its philosophical depth became an intricate part of Hostallero’s own ideals. It is natural, then, that Hostallero’s artistic gifts should focus on martial arts whose lives were the ultimate expression of discipline, courage and pursuit of perfection. In Hostallero’s own magnificent works, these principles are clearly apparent, revealing his quiet passion for creative precision, poetic technique, and majestic impact. Spectacular colors and breathtaking detail are among the hallmarks of Hostallero’s painting. So exacting and intricate are his techniques that each image requires more than 800 hours to complete.”
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Happy World Kindness Day

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain

In the words of one historian, “World Kindness Day evolved from a series of conferences in 1996-1997 in Japan by a group known as the World Kindness Movement. These conferences brought together groups interested in promoting more kindness around the world. It culminated in the ‘Declaration of Kindness’ on November 13,1997. With this declaration, a new and very special day was born.”
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Hands on a globe

“Pleasures lie thickest where no pleasures seem:
There’s not a leaf that falls upon the ground
But holds some joy of silence or of sound,
Some spirits begotten of a summer dream.” – Laman Blanchard
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A Poem for Today

“The morns are meeker than they were -,”
By Emily Dickinson

The morns are meeker than they were –
The nuts are getting brown –
The berry’s cheek is plumper –
The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf –
The field a scarlet gown –
Lest I should be old-fashioned –
I’ll put a trinket on.
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Died 13 November 1903 – Camille Pissarro, a Danish-French Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist painter.

Below – “Two Women Chatting by the Sea”; “Bath Road, London”; “Landscape at Pontoise”; “Orchard in Bloom”; “Hay Harvest at Eragny “; “Conversation.”
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A Second Poem for Today

“Her Kind,”
By Anne Sexton

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.
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“The young have aspirations that never come to pass, the old have reminiscences of what never happened.” – H. H. Munro, better known by the pen name Saki, British writer, satirist, and author of “Beasts and Superbeasts,” who died 13 November 1916.

Some quotes from the work of Saki:

“He is one of those people who would be enormously improved by death.”
“A little inaccuracy sometimes saves a ton of explanation.”
“I hate posterity – it’s so fond of having the last word.”
“Every reformation must have its victims. You can’t expect the fatted calf to share the enthusiasm of the angels over the prodigal’s return.”
“Romance at short notice was her specialty.”
“‘I think oysters are more beautiful than any religion,’ he resumed presently. ‘They not only forgive our unkindness to them; they justify it, they incite us to go on being perfectly horrid to them. Once they arrive at the supper-table they seem to enter thoroughly into the spirit of the thing. There’s nothing in Christianity or Buddhism that quite matches the sympathetic unselfishness of an oyster.’”
“The censorious said she slept in a hammock and understood Yeats’s poems, but her family denied both stories.”
“Confront a child, a puppy, and a kitten with a sudden danger; the child will turn instinctively for assistance, the puppy will grovel in abject submission, the kitten will brace its tiny body for a frantic resistance.”
“And the vagueness of his alarm added to its terrors; when once you have taken the Impossible into your calculations its possibilities become practically limitless.”
“I’m living so far beyond my means that we may almost be said to be living apart.”
“The people of Crete unfortunately make more history than they can consume locally.”
“It follows that they never understood Reginald, who came down late to breakfast, and nibbled toast, and said disrespectful things about the universe. The family ate porridge, and believed in everything, even the weather forecast.”
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A Third Poem for Today

“November,”
By Walter De la Mare

I saw the lovely arch
Of Rainbow span the sky,
The gold sun burning
As the rain swept by.

In bright-ringed solitude
The showery foliage shone
One lovely moment,
And the Bow was gone.
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Died 13 November 1975 – Olga Bergholz, a Russian poet best known for her work on the Leningrad radio during the city’s blockade by the Nazi army. Here is how one historian describes her: “Olga Bergholz remains one of the most enduring personages of the 900-day siege of Leningrad (September 1941-January 1944). The siege was one of the most tragic, and at the same time most heroic, episodes of The Great Patriotic War. Leningrad, as St. Petersburg was called during the Soviet era, was surrounded by the German army for almost three years, resulting in a blockade that caused the starvation deaths of over a million civilians. The siege itself, although not a key strategic event on the Eastern Front, holds an important place in the Russian national memory of war. At the same time, it is one of the events of the war that is, with several very notable exceptions, commonly overlooked by Western scholars and sources. While textbooks often mention the heroics of the Battle of Stalingrad, Leningrad is rarely mentioned. Bergholz is often remembered for her cultural work during those 900 days. Her radio broadcasts did much to raise the morale of the city’s beleaguered citizens.”

The poem below reveals how the war left an indelible mark on Olga Bergholz and influenced her writing.

“My Home” (1946)

In the home where I lived many years,
From where I left the winter of the blockade,
A light once again appears in the evening windows.
It is pinkish, festive, elegant.

Glancing at the three windows that used to be mine,
I remember: the war happened here.
Oh how we darkened, without a ray of hope…
And everything darkened, everything darkened in this world…

Afterwards the owner did not knock on the door,
As though he had forgotten the way back to his own apartment.
Where is he now, absent-mindedly roaming?
What is the last place that gave him shelter?

No, I do not know who lives there now,
In these rooms where you and I used to live,
Who, in the evenings, knocks on that very door,
Who left the blue wallpaper as it was,
The very same wallpaper that was chosen so long ago…
I recognized it from outside through the window.

The windows’ inviting comfort,
Awaken memories of such bright, forgotten light,
That I believe that kind people live there,
Good, welcoming people.

There are even little children there,
And someone young, who is perpetually in love,
And the postman only brings them happy news,
And only the truest friends come here for noisy holidays.

I want so dearly for someone to be happy,
There, where I suffered immeasurably.

Possess everything that was denied to me,
And all that I gave up for the war…

However, should such a day arrive,
When the tranquil snow and glimmering twilight,
Will light ablaze my blessed memories,
So vividly that I will not resist knocking on the door,
Coming into my home, standing in my threshold,
And asking…well asking, “What time is it?”
Or “Water,” like I did on those roads of war.
If that happens, do not judge me,
Answer me trustingly and compassionately,
After all, I have come here to my home,
And I remember it all and believe in our happiness.

Below – Olga Bergholz in 1930; the siege ends – 27 January 1944.
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British painter Grace O’Connor attended the Royal Academy Schools, 1996-1999.
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“Every year, in November, at the season that follows the hour of the dead, the crowning and majestic hours of autumn, I go to visit the chrysanthemums … They are indeed, the most universal, the most diverse of flowers.” – Maurice Maeterlinck

Below – A Chrysanthemum in San Francisco Botanical Garden, Golden Gate Park.
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“The poet’s business is not to save the soul of man but to make it worth saving.” – James Elroy Flecker, English poet, novelist, and playwright.

A Fourth Poem for Today

“To A Poet A Thousand Years Hence”

Who am dead a thousand years,
And wrote this sweet archaic song,
Send you my words for messengers
The way I shall not pass along.

I care not if you bridge the seas,
Or ride secure the cruel sky,
Or build consummate palaces
Of metal or of masonry.

But have you wine and music still,
And statues and a bright-eyed love,
And foolish thoughts of good and ill,
And prayers to them who sit above?

How shall we conquer? Like a wind
That falls at eve our fancies blow,
And old Mæonides the blind
Said it three thousand years ago.

O friend unseen, unborn, unknown,
Student of our sweet English tongue,
Read out my words at night, alone:
I was a poet, I was young.

Since I can never see your face,
And never shake you by the hand,
I send my soul through time and space
To greet you. You will understand.
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American Art – Part II of IV: Candice Bohannon Reyes

Here is how one critic describes the artistry of American painter Candice Bohannon Reyes (born 1982): “Bohannon’s artwork, an often-brooding combination of emotive figurative pieces and intensely studied works from life and nature, has already garnered the attention of many fine art connoisseurs, trade publications and artists. Her body of work expresses immense waves of controlled power and emotional sensitivity as she looks out at the world and attempts to share through art the touchingly sincere philosophical search for truth and meaning in our human existence. The artist describes much of her work’s content as: the invisible yet perceptible quality of awareness, emotions, experiences, memories and expectations, the ethereal nature of the human soul and a searching for comfort and familiarity in the sublime unknown. Here is a refreshing example of a contemporary figurative artist who is not a cynical postmodern artist or a clinical academic realist. Bohannon’s soulful work is firmly planted the inexplicably complex nature of human existence.”
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A Fifth Poem for Today

“Romanticism 101,”
By Dean Young

Then I realized I hadn’t secured the boat.
Then I realized my friend had lied to me.
Then I realized my dog was gone
no matter how much I called in the rain.
All was change.
Then I realized I was surrounded by aliens
disguised as orthodontists having a convention
at the hotel breakfast bar.
Then I could see into the life of things,
that systems seek only to reproduce
the conditions of their own reproduction.
If I had to pick between shadows
and essences, I’d pick shadows.
They’re better dancers.
They always sing their telegrams.
Their old gods do not die.
Then I realized the very futility was salvation
in this greeny entanglement of  breaths.
Yeah, as if.
Then I realized even when you catch the mechanism,
the trick still works.
Then I came to in Texas
and realized rockabilly would never go away.
Then I realized I’d been drugged.
We were all chasing nothing
which left no choice but to intensify the chase.
I came to handcuffed and gagged.
I came to intubated and packed in some kind of foam.
This too is how ash moves through water.
And all this time the side doors unlocked.
Then I realized repetition could be an ending.
Then I realized repetition could be an ending.

Below – Caspar David Friedrich: “Wanderer Above the Fog”; Caspar David Friedrich: “Woman Before the Setting Sun.”
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“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer, who was born 13 November 1850.

Here is a list of some writers who admired and were influenced by Robert Louis Stevenson: Jorge Luis Borges, Bertolt Brecht, Arthur Conan Doyle, Cesare Pavese, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, Jack London, Vladimir Nabokov, J. M. Barrie, and G. K. Chesterton.

Some quotes from the work of Robert Louis Stevenson:

“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”
“The man is a success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who leaves the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had.”
“Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.”
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”
“So long as we love we serve; so long as we are loved by others, I would almost say that we are indispensable; and no man is useless while he has a friend.”
“You think those dogs will not be in heaven! I tell you they will be there long before any of us.”
“The cruelest lies are often told in silence.”
“We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.”
“Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm. ”
“Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.”
“To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.”
“Wine is bottled poetry.”
“There are two things that men should never weary of, goodness and humility; we get none too much of them in this rough world among cold, proud people.”
“You cannot run away from a weakness, you must sometimes fight it out or perish. And if that be so, why not now and where you stand?”
“Everyone, at some time or another, sits down to a banquet of consequences. ”
“Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits.”
“I sat in the sun on a bench; the animal within me licking the chops of memory; the spiritual side a little drowsed, promising subsequent penitence, but not yet moved to begin.”
“Perpetual devotion to what a man calls his business, is only to be sustained by perpetual neglect of many other things.”
“Books are good enough in their own way but they are a mighty bloodless substitute for life.”
“The world is so full of a number of things, I ’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”
“It is perhaps a more fortunate destiny to have a taste for collecting shells than to be born a millionaire.”
“Make the most of the best and the least of the worst.”
“Everyday courage has few witnesses. But yours is no less noble because no drum beats for you and no crowds shout your name.”
“Compromise is the best and cheapest lawyer.”
“All speech, written or spoken, is a dead language, until it finds a willing and prepared hearer. ”
“An aim in life is the only fortune worth finding.”

“Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he long’d to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.”

Below – A platinum print of Robert Louis Stevenson in 1885; a portrait of Stevenson painted by John Singer Sargent in 1887; Stevenson with his wife and their household in Valima, Samoa, circa 1892.
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American Art – Part III of IV: Will Barnet

Died 13 November 2012 – Will Barnet, an artist known for his paintings, watercolors, drawings, and prints that, in the words of one critic, “depict the human figure and animals, both in casual scenes of daily life and in transcendent dreamlike worlds.”

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A Sixth Poem for Today

From “A Child’s Calendar,”
By John Updike

The stripped and shapely
Maple grieves
The ghosts of her
departed leaves.

The ground is hard

As hard as stone.

The year is old

The birds are flown.

And yet the world,

Nevertheless,

Displays a certain

Loveliness.
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American Art – Part IV of IV: Brad Slaugh

Artist Statement: ”I work in several ways, all of them representational but not strictly realist, with an emphasis on immediate response and tactile exploration of form and color.
Many artists have influenced my work from el Greco, Caravaggio and Egon Schiele to more recent artists like Alice Neel, Eric Fischl and David Hockney.
More often I am thinking about contemporary artists in other disciplines such as the filmmakers David Lynch and the Cohen Brothers, the musician/storyteller Tom Waits, and the recently deceased novelist David Foster Wallace.”
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