American Art – Part I of V: Brent Funderburk
A Poem for Today
“The Best of It,”
By Kay Ryan
However carved up
or pared down we get,
we keep on making
the best of it as though
it doesn’t matter that
our acre’s down to
a square foot. As
though our garden
could be one bean
and we’d rejoice if
it flourishes, as
though one bean
could nourish us.
Died 21 November 1907 – Paula Modersohn-Becker, a German painter and one of the most important representatives of early Expressionism.
From the American History Archives: The Phonograph
21 November 1877 – Thomas Edison announces that he has invented the phonograph, a machine that could record and play sound. The first words he recorded and played back were “Mary had a little lamb.” The phonograph was Edison’s favorite invention.
A Second Poem for Today
“Flying at Night,”
By Ted Kooser
Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like
American Art – Part II of V: Linda Mann
Artist Statement: “The theme of my still life paintings is that the world is real, orderly and fascinating and that man is capable of understanding and enjoying it. I express this theme by choosing beautiful objects to paint, by creating compositions that are purposeful and intriguing, by carefully rendering the objects and by capturing the subtle and exact quality of light.
My paintings evoke an exciting sense of immediacy, of experiencing a stylized reality – not a reality of routine, but rather a reality of heightened and selective focus, sensuous surfaces, dramatic intersection of light and dark, subtle contrast between warm and cool light and between crisp and soft edges – a reality that rewards your study.”
A Third Poem for Today
“The Wild Iris,”
By Louise Gluck
At the end of my suffering
there was a door.
Hear me out: that which you call death
Overhead, noises, branches of the pine shifting.
Then nothing. The weak sun
flickered over the dry surface.
It is terrible to survive
buried in the dark earth.
Then it was over: that which you fear, being
a soul and unable
to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth
bending a little. And what I took to be
birds darting in low shrubs.
You who do not remember
passage from the other world
I tell you I could speak again: whatever
returns from oblivion returns
to find a voice:
Here is how one critic describes the work of Spanish painter Ramon Lombarte: “His art seems to rise from a Mediterranean psyche with rich combinations of light, shadows and movement. Mundane impressions of our daily life are transformed into unforgettable works of riveting beauty. He manages to weld a combination of flawless technique with images of daily life to capture in his art rich scenarios revealing an original and virtuosic talent. He invites us to come out of the daily routine and from his artist soul he rises us up from a conventional surrounding world. He stimulates our consciousness and stops the movement of time to reveal the transcendent in the insignificant, the shape in the shapeless.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Paul Zimmer
Amongst dogs are listeners and singers.
My big dog sang with me so purely,
puckering her ruffled lips into an O,
beginning with small, swallowing sounds
like Coltrane musing, then rising to power
and resonance, gulping air to continue—
her passion and sense of flawless form—
singing not with me, but for the art of dogs.
We joined in many fine songs—”Stardust,”
“Naima,” “The Trout,” “My Rosary,” “Perdido.”
She was a great master and died young,
leaving me with unrelieved grief,
her talents known to only a few.
Now I have a small dog who does not sing,
but listens with discernment, requiring
skill and spirit in my falsetto voice.
I sing her name and words of love
andante, con brio, vivace, adagio.
Sometimes she is so moved she turns
to place a paw across her snout,
closes her eyes, sighing like a girl
I held and danced with years ago.
But I am a pretender to dog music.
The true strains rise only from
the rich, red chambers of a canine heart,
these melodies best when the moon is up,
listeners and singers together or
apart, beyond friendship and anger,
far from any human imposter—
ballads of long nights lifting
to starlight, songs of bones, turds,
conquests, hunts, smells, rankings,
things settled long before our birth.
“All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” – Ellen Glasgow, American writer, author of “Barren Ground,” and recipient of the 1942 Pulitzer Prize for the Novel (for “In This Our Life”), who died 21 November 1945.
Some quotes from the work of Ellen Glasgow:
“The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions.”
“A tragic irony of life is that we so often achieve success or financial independence after the chief reason for which we sought it has passed away.”
“Most women want their youth back again; but I wouldn’t have mine back at any price. The worst years of my life are behind me, and my best ones ahead.”
“There is no support so strong as the strength that enables one to stand alone.”
“Grandfather used to say that when a woman got ready to fall in love the man didn’t matter, because she could drape her feeling over a scarecrow and pretend he was handsome.”
“Her life, she knew, was becoming simplified into an unbreakable chain of habits, a series of orderly actions at regular hours. Vaguely, she thought of herself as a happy woman; yet she was aware that this monotony of contentment had no relation to what she had called happiness in her youth. It was better perhaps; it was certainly as good; but it measured all the difference between youth and maturity.”
“It is good for a man to do right, and to leave happiness to take care of itself.”
“In the past few years, I have made a thrilling discovery … that until one is over sixty, one can never really learn the secret of living. One can then begin to live, not simply with the intense part of oneself, but with one’s entire being.”
“Mediocrity would always win by force of numbers, but it would win only more mediocrity.”
“He knows so little and knows it so fluently.”
“To teach one’s self is to be forced to learn twice.”
“What happens is not as important as how you react to what happens.”
“No idea is so antiquated that it was not once modern. No idea is so modern that it will not someday be antiquated.”
“No matter how vital experience might be while you lived it, no sooner was it ended and dead than it became as lifeless as the piles of dry dust in a school history book.”
American Art – Part III of V: Thomas Wargin
Artist Statement: “The work in its entirety represents who I am, my interests, abilities and what lies beneath my sub-conscious mind. My goal is to engage the viewer and stimulate the mind as well as their visual senses. I want the viewer to go to a place that they can only dream of or hope to be part of. I sometimes am intrigued with childhood stories and interpret these stories in a fashion that captures my viewer and stirs them into a new way of looking at the story.
The technique I use to create my work is a blend of old and new practices. I begin with sketches, which evolve into clay or carved 3- dimensional forms. Using various molding techniques, resin models are created, which are then hand packed into flasks with casting sand, ready for the casting process. In my foundry, I melt aluminum and bronze and watch as the molten metal burns new life into the molds. After cooling, parts are assembled for rough fit and positioning. Meticulously, I either weld or drill, tap and screw every component together to check for form, fit, and overall composition. Some pieces are disassembled again to be taken through phases of polishing or sandblasting. I complete the desired finish through high polish buffing or patination. Some of my art adds a diverse mixture of materials both raw and man made such as: various woods, stone, glass, or even original drawings. With the combination of these materials my goal is to compliment not compete in the composition and make it more inviting. These types of processes and materials allow me and my work to be spontaneous. It also assures each piece to be an original.
My goal is to create a unique art form that shares a seamless integration between the world around me and the human spirit. All the work is the growth of my interests, skills and imagination. I personally accomplish every task in the creation of my work. I feel it harnesses the energy and creativity of my soul.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Amy Clampitt
While you walk the water’s edge,
turning over concepts
I can’t envision, the honking buoy
serves notice that at any time
the wind may change,
the reef-bell clatters
its treble monotone, deaf as Cassandra
to any note but warning. The ocean,
cumbered by no business more urgent
than keeping open old accounts
that never balanced,
goes on shuffling its millenniums
of quartz, granite, and basalt.
toward the permutations of novelty—
driftwood and shipwreck, last night’s
beer cans, spilt oil, the coughed-up
residue of plastic—with random
impartiality, playing catch or tag
or touch-last like a terrier,
turning the same thing over and over,
over and over. For the ocean, nothing
is beneath consideration.
of so many mussels and periwinkles
have been abandoned here, it’s hopeless
to know which to salvage. Instead
I keep a lookout for beach glass—
amber of Budweiser, chrysoprase
of Almadén and Gallo, lapis
by way of (no getting around it,
I’m afraid) Phillips’
Milk of Magnesia, with now and then a rare
translucent turquoise or blurred amethyst
of no known origin.
goes on forever: they came from sand,
they go back to gravel,
along with treasuries
of Murano, the buttressed
astonishments of Chartres,
which even now are readying
for being turned over and over as gravely
and gradually as an intellect
engaged in the hazardous
redefinition of structures
no one has yet looked at.
In the words of one writer, “Born in Paris in 1953, Patrick Pietropoli has been painting figures and urban landscapes for almost thirty years. His landscapes have been influenced by the panoramas of many cities around the world including Rome, Venice, New York, Paris or London and he continues to draw inspirations from cities that surround him. His meticulous attention to detail, his realistic use of color and his distinct linear gestures are what make his urban landscapes very personal and familiar, creating an intimate experience between the artwork and its audience. Pietropoli’s own personal Grail is the quest of beauty: ‘Beauty, I think, can be anywhere and everywhere, even under all the infinitesimal details of reality, like a chimney on a rooftop or a gothic window on the top of a building in New York City,” he says. ‘ I don’t have to look far or wide to find beauty, because – to my eyes- it’s in everything. And I do not consider myself a realistic painter at all. I use realism to reach another dimension that is beyond the boundaries of realism.’”
“In autumn, (it is) the evenings (that are most beautiful), when the glittering sun sinks close to the edge of the hills and the crows fly back to their nests in threes and fours and twos; more charming still is a file of wild geese, like specks in the distant sky. When the sun has set, one’s heart is moved by the sound of the wind and the hum of the insects.” – Sei Shonagon
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of British figurative painter Mark Demsteader (born 1963):
“His powerful depictions of the female form in clean and assured lines of pastel and gouache have sparked a renaissance of interest in traditional life drawing amongst the art collecting fraternity. This immense technical ability is tempered by the natural sensitivity with which he imbues each subject. Although isolated in the picture plane each model seems to live and breathe, their expression and poise conveying a sense of narrative that invites the viewer to ask more questions about them than the artist answers.”
Born 21 November 1861 – Tom Horn, an American Old West lawman, scout, soldier, hired gunman, outlaw, and assassin. On the day before his 43rd birthday, Tom Horn was hanged in Cheyenne, Wyoming for the murder of Willie Nickell. Horn is buried in the Columbia Cemetery in Boulder, Colorado.
“If the dream is a translation of waking life, waking life is also a translation of the dream.” – Rene Magritte, Belgian surrealist artist, who was born 21 November 1898.
“The good life of any river may depend on the perception of its music; and the preservation of some music to perceive.” – Aldo Leopold
American Art – Part IV of V: Tristan Henry-Wilson
In the words of one writer, “Hailing from the forlorn reaches of New England, visual artist Tristan Henry-Wilson works his unique magic with consummate flair and a knowing ease. A steady go-to illustrator for many popular music bands and magazines, he has quickly become a regular presence throughout online and print media. However, despite his growing success in illustration, Tristan still labors away for days on end with a feverishly beatific glint in his eye and an oil-paint dabbed brush in his hand, causing some to cite him as a rising personality in ‘Nueu American Painting.’”
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Tu Fu
A slight rain comes, bathed in dawn light.
I hear it among treetop leaves before mist
Arrives. Soon it sprinkles the soil and,
Windblown, follows clouds away. Deepened
Here is the Artist Statement of Japanese Painter Yoji Nishida:
“For 40 years, I have continued to paint with oil on the theme of man. In recent years I’ve drawn mainly roses and white color female images. Models are those who have continued to classical ballet.
I decided to add one point for comparison with recent years, ‘look’ works depicting 25 years ago.”
A Seventh Poem for Today
“Dirge Without Music,”
By Edna St. Vincent Millay
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.
The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
American Art – Part V of V: Brett Bigbee
Artist Statement: “I am painstaking with my work. I usually have a strong sense of the effect I want to create and I labor to achieve it. As a result, I only finish one or two paintings a year.
When I decide upon an image, I start making multiple sketches to explore and strengthen the composition. With (paintings of my two sons), once I was confident of the strength of the image, I focused on creating life-size drawings of each child. Next, I transferred the drawings to canvas. To do this, I traced the drawings, flipped the tracings over and re-drew my lines on the reverse side of the tracings. Then, I flipped the tracings back over onto the canvas and used a pen to go over the original lines. This process transfers the graphite onto the canvas. Renaissance artists used a similar technique. They would prick the contours of a drawing with a pin and dust powdered charcoal through the pinholes onto the recipient surface, which could be a wall or canvas.
My next step in this painting was to create a monochromatic, opaque image. I used various golden hues, establishing the tonal relationships that I’d have in the final work. In a sense, I redrew and refined the image using multiple layers of paint. I then added local color to the whole image. As with the underpainting, the color is enhanced and developed using multiple layers of pigment until the painting is finished.”