American Art – Part I of II: Matthew Davey
A Poem for Today
By Billy Collins
There is the sudden silence of the crowd
above a player not moving on the field,
and the silence of the orchid.
The silence of the falling vase
before it strikes the ﬂoor,
the silence of the belt when it is not striking the child.
The stillness of the cup and the water in it,
the silence of the moon
and the quiet of the day far from the roar of the sun.
The silence when I hold you to my chest,
the silence of the window above us,
and the silence when you rise and turn away.
And there is the silence of this morning
which I have broken with my pen,
a silence that had piled up all night
like snow falling in the darkness of the house—
the silence before I wrote a word
and the poorer silence now.
Iranian painter Shahrzad Hazrati (born 1957) studied art at the Polytechnic University in Tehran, the Fine Arts Department of Tehran University, and the Fine Arts Department of Mimar Sinan University in Istanbul.
A Second Poem for Today
By Margaret Widdemer
I have known great gold Sorrows:
Majestic Griefs shall serve me watchfully
Through the slow-pacing morrows:
I have knelt hopeless where sea-echoing
Dim endless voices cried of suffering
Vibrant and far in broken litany:
Where white magnolia and tuberose hauntingly
Pulsed their regretful sweets along the air-—
All things most tragical, most fair,
Have still encompassed me . . .
I dance where in the screaming market-place
The dusty world that watches buys and sells,
With painted merriment upon my face,
Whirling my bells,
Thrusting my sad soul to its mockery.
I have known great gold Sorrows . . .
Shall they not mock me, these pain-haunted ones,
If it shall make them merry, and forget
That grief shall rise and set
With the unchanging, unforgetting suns
Of their relentless morrows?
In the words of one critic, British painter Jake Baddeley “draws his inspirations from many sources: the Ancient Greeks, the Italian Renaissance Masters, the Dutch Masters, iconography, mythology, psychology and philosophy. But most of all he relies on his own subconscious and intuition which has proven many times to have a logic and curious independence of its own.”
From the Psychedelic History Archives: Dr. Albert Hofmann
16 November 1938 – Swiss chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann synthesizes lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) for the first time at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland.
“Inside us there is something that has no name, that something is what we are.” – Jose Saramago, Portuguese writer, author of “The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis,” and recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature (for his “compassion and irony” that enable us “to once again apprehend an elusory reality” and for his “modern skepticism” about official truths), who was born 16 November 1922.
Some quotes from the work of Jose Saramago:
“We use words to understand each other and even, sometimes, to find each other.”
“I don’t think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see.”
“If there is a way for the world to be transformed for the better, it can only be done by pessimism; optimists will never change the world for the better.”
“You know the name you were given, you do not know the name that you have.”
“Whether we like it or not, the one justification for the existence of all religions is death; they need death as much as we need bread to eat.”
“When all is said and done, what is clear is that all lives end before their time.”
“You never know beforehand what people are capable of, – you have to wait, give it time. It’s time that rules; time is our gambling partner on the other side of the table and it holds all the cards of the deck in its hand. We have to guess the winning cards of life, our lives.”
“Lo! sweeten’d with the summer light,
The full-juiced apple, waxing over-mellow,
Drops in a silent autumn night.
All its allotted length of days
The flower ripens in its place,
Ripens and fades, and falls, and hath no toil,
Fast-rooted in the fruitful soil.” – From “The Lotos-Eaters,” by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Here is the Artist Statement of Australian artist Max Middleton:
“Despite the fact that I have painted many subjects, I have endeavored to have clear goals and they are: to be inspired by nature in all its variety, to be excited by what I see, to paint only that which touches me deeply, and to attain the highest excellence in draftsman ship and technique in order to express what I feel about my subject.”
A Third Poem for Today
By Walter Clyde Curry
Grieve not that winter masks the yet quick earth,
Nor still that summer walks the hills no more;
That fickle spring has doffed the plaid she wore
To swathe herself in napkins till rebirth.
These buddings, flowerings, are nothing worth;
This ermine cloud stretched firm across the lakes
Will presently be shattered into flakes;
Then, starveling world, be subject to my mirth.
I know that faithful swift mortality
Subscribes to nothing longer than a day;
All beauty signals imminent decay;
And painted wreckage cumbers land and sea.
In the words of one critic, “Alexander Bartashevich was born in Minsk in 1966. He graduated from the Art College and later from the Belarusian Art Academy. The artist determined his own recognizable style in his first student works. Since then he stays true to his aesthetic concept, which can be expressed by a short formula: ‘hidden charge at heart – harmony and peace on a canvas.’”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Chard Deniord
For Ethan Canin
I sat on the dock at dusk and spoke
to the fish who swam beneath me
like ears with fins to hear my secrets.
“That words come close?” I whispered.
“The sky enters me like a sword
with my own hand on the hilt.
How to witness what I can’t express—
the smell of lilacs, the dirge of loons.
Make up the rest if you wish.
Less is enough.
Say I sound like one of the Hosts.
That I’m crying also and there’s nothing
you can do to make me stop.
That I’m like the peepers, katydids, and thrush
with my own song— all call in the opera of dusk.
Or is it response?”
“What we call our ego is something abstract. It has the same kind of reality as an hour, or an inch, or a pound, or a line of longitude. It is an image of ourselves. It is a social convention. The fallacy that all of us make is that we treat is as a physical organ, as if it were real.” – Alan Watts, British-born philosopher, writer, speaker, and author of many excellent books, best known as an interpreter of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience, who died 16 November 1973.
Some quotes from the work of Alan Watts:
“Paradoxical as it may seem, the purposeful life has no content, no point. It hurries on and on, and misses everything. Not hurrying, the purposeless life misses nothing, for it is only when there is no goal and no rush that the human senses are fully open to receive the world.”
“You find out that the universe is a system that creeps up on itself and says ‘Boo!’ and then laughs at itself for jumping.”
“But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.”
“If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, which is stupid.”
“What I am really saying is that you don’t need to do anything, because if you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomenon of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that, and there is nothing wrong with you at all.”
“No one is more dangerously insane than one who is sane all the time: he is like a steel bridge without flexibility, and the order of his life is rigid and brittle.”
“There is only this now. It does not come from anywhere; it is not going anywhere. It is not permanent, but it is not impermanent. Though moving, it is always still. When we try to catch it, it seems to run away, and yet it is always here and there is no escape from it. And when we turn around to find the self which knows this moment, we find that it has vanished like the past.”
“Inability to accept the mystic experience is more than an intellectual handicap. Lack of awareness of the basic unity of organism and environment is a serious and dangerous hallucination. For in a civilization equipped with immense technological power, the sense of alienation between man and nature leads to the use of technology in a hostile spirit—-to the ‘conquest’ of nature instead of intelligent co-operation with nature.”
“When a man no longer confuses himself with the definition of himself that others have given him, he is at once universal and unique. He is universal by virtue of the inseparability of his organism from the cosmos. He is unique in that he is just this organism and not any stereotype of role, class, or identity assumed for the convenience of social communication.”
“When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.”
“Belief…is the insistence that the truth is what one would ‘lief’ or (will or) wish to be…Faith is an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be. Faith has no preconceptions; it is a plunge into the unknown. Belief clings, but faith let’s go…faith is the essential virtue of science, and likewise of any religion that is not self-deception.”
“No one imagines that a symphony is supposed to improve as it goes along, or that the whole object of playing is to reach the finale. The point of music is discovered in every moment of playing and listening to it. It is the same, I feel, with the greater part of our lives, and if we are unduly absorbed in improving them we may forget altogether to live them.”
“Philosophy is man’s expression of curiosity about everything and his attempt to make sense of the world primarily through his intellect.”
“Just as money is not real, consumable wealth, books are not life. To idolize scriptures is like eating paper currency.”
“We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience. We are therefore out of touch with reality. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas.”
“Look, here is a tree in the garden and every summer is produces apples, and we call it an apple tree because the tree ‘apples.’ That’s what it does. All right, now here is a solar system inside a galaxy, and one of the peculiarities of this solar system is that at least on the planet earth, the thing peoples! In just the same way that an apple tree apples!”
“There is no more telling symptom of the confusion of ‘modern thought’ than the very suggestion that poetry or mythology can be ‘mere.’”
“Going out of your mind at least once a day is tremendously important. Because by going out of your mind you come to your senses.”
“A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts. So he loses touch with reality, and lives in a world of illusion.”
“A loving God would not provide His children with an infallible guide
to behavior and to the truth about the universe. A loving God would not do something to His children that would rot their brains. If we had an infallible guide, then we would never think for ourselves. Therefore, our minds would become atrophied. It would be as if my grandfather had left me a billion dollars. I’m glad he didn’t.”
“A myth is an image in terms of which we try to make sense of the world.”
“We seldom realize, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society.”
“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.”
“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.”
“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
“The menu is not the meal.”
“You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.”
“You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.”
“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”
“The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.”
“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.”
“Jesus Christ knew he was God. So wake up and find out eventually who you really are. In our culture, of course, they’ll say you’re crazy and you’re blasphemous, and they’ll either put you in jail or in a nut house (which is pretty much the same thing). However if you wake up in India and tell your friends and relations, ‘My goodness, I’ve just discovered that I’m God,’ they’ll laugh and say, ‘Oh, congratulations, at last you found out.’”
“The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.”
“Life is like music for its own sake. We are living in an eternal now, and when we listen to music we are not listening to the past, we are not listening to the future, we are listening to an expanded present.”
“Try to imagine what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up… now try to imagine what it was like to wake up having never gone to sleep.”
“Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.”
“A scholar tries to learn something everyday; a student of Buddhism tries to unlearn something daily.”
“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.”
“It’s like you took a bottle of ink and you threw it at a wall. Smash! And all that ink spread. And in the middle, it’s dense, isn’t it? And as it gets out on the edge, the little droplets get finer and finer and make more complicated patterns, see? So in the same way, there was a big bang at the beginning of things and it spread. And you and I, sitting here in this room, as complicated human beings, are way, way out on the fringe of that bang. We are the complicated little patterns on the end of it. Very interesting. But so we define ourselves as being only that. If you think that you are only inside your skin, you define yourself as one very complicated little curlique, way out on the edge of that explosion. Way out in space, and way out in time. Billions of years ago, you were a big bang, but now you’re a complicated human being. And then we cut ourselves off, and don’t feel that we’re still the big bang. But you are. Depends how you define yourself. You are actually–if this is the way things started, if there was a big bang in the beginning– you’re not something that’s a result of the big bang. You’re not something that is a sort of puppet on the end of the process. You are still the process. You are the big bang, the original force of the universe, coming on as whoever you are. When I meet you, I see not just what you define yourself as–Mr so-and- so, Ms so-and-so, Mrs so-and-so–I see every one of you as the primordial energy of the universe coming on at me in this particular way. I know I’m that, too. But we’ve learned to define ourselves as separate from it. ”
“Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.”
“Tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live. There is no other reality than present reality, so that, even if one were to live for endless ages, to live for the future would be to miss the point everlastingly.”
“Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way.”
“A priest once quoted to me the Roman saying that a religion is dead when the priests laugh at each other across the altar. I always laugh at the altar, be it Christian, Hindu, or Buddhist, because real religion is the transformation of anxiety into laughter.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Robinson Jeffers
In scornful upright loneliness they stand,
Counting themselves no kin of anything
Whether of earth or sky. Their gnarled roots cling
Like wasted fingers of a clutching hand
In the grim rock. A silent spectral band
They watch the old sky, but hold no communing
With aught. Only, when some lone eagle’s wing
Flaps past above their grey and desolate land,
Or when the wind pants up a rough-hewn glen,
Bending them down as with an age of thought,
Or when, ‘mid flying clouds that can not dull
Her constant light, the moon shines silver, then
They find a soul, and their dim moan is wrought
Into a singing sad and beautiful.
American Art – Part II of II: Linda Christensen
Artist Statement: “I continue to explore the figure and am looking more consciously at the reasons for doing so. I enjoy working on composition whilst creating obstacles for myself – this challenges me to select different solutions to familiar situations.
Sometimes throwing something onto the canvas that has little immediate connection to the current idea opens up a new awareness. I strive to keep myself interested in the process and therefore a challenge is welcome. Reworking my palette and exploring new color combinations is helping me to question the reason for selecting specific colors.
I like the challenge in my awareness of what isn’t happening, what isn’t being used, what isn’t being said and why, these are some of the obstacles I set myself.
Honesty about myself is a crucial factor in my paintings. My overall desire is to emit emotion through the paint, the line, the contrasts and composition. Redundancy is the enemy. I want to keep things interesting and with a hint of danger. Danger in the desire to obscure what is already there and what might be a beautiful passage in the painting. Courage to continue growing and recognizing my need for emotional movement is paramount.”