American Art – Part I of III: Joyce Cambron
In the words of one writer, “Joyce Cambron states that her figurative paintings are about ‘things I can’t easily talk about – isolation and intimacy. They are often representations of the least public moments, those seen only by family or a lover; waking, stepping into the shower, a dirty kitchen. They both invite intimacy and cause the discomfort of intrusion.’
While interiors and the figure are the subjects that most interest her, she returns to the landscape to experiment with materials and to work more with light and space rather than representation. In these paintings, she often employs irregular surfaces such as hand made paper from India for the inspiration derived from its rustic shape and texture.”
A Poem for Today
“Sixth Ave. Green with Blue Corner,”
By Elaine Equi
From the Movie Archives: Harpo Marx
Born 23 November 1888 – Arthur “Harpo” Marx, an American comedian, film star, member of The Marx Brothers Comedy Team, and harpist.
Born 23 November 1861 – Konstantin Korovin, a leading Russian Impressionist painter.
Below – “Hammerfest: Aurora Borealis”; “St. Triphon’s Brook in Pechenga”; “On the Balcony, Spanish Women Leonora and Ampara”; “Twilight in a Room”; “Two Ladies on a Terrace”; “Pier in Gurzuf”; “Moonlit Night, Paris”; “Moonlit Night, Winter.”
A Second Poem for Today
“Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock,”
By Wallace Stevens
The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
In red weather.
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: The Piano Guys
From the American Old West: Billy the Kid
Born 23 November 1859 – William H. Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid, a 19th century gunman and outlaw in the American Old West.
In the words of one historian: “Relatively unknown during most of his lifetime, Billy was catapulted into legend in 1881 when New Mexico’s governor, Lew Wallace, placed a price on his head.” Shortly thereafter, Billy the Kid was shot by Sheriff Pat Garrett.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of British sculptor Matthew Simmonds: “The sculptures of Matthew Simmonds give us a direct experience of our being in the present, through a love of the past transmitted in marble and light.
From his early childhood, Simmonds was fascinated by stone buildings, an affection that flows into his artworks, where stone architecture is used as a central theme. Particularly the medieval architecture, with its striving to get to a new sophistication of space, comes alive in the marble. Simmonds makes a play of architecture and ornamentation on a small scale, but the spaces created give the same feeling as in the buildings themselves; a place to rest, a place to travel with the eye and maybe find a moment of tranquillity. The marble is opened up, and inside is a space within a building that only exists in the viewer’s mind. What you sense is the significance of space.
‘To create a sculpture that catches the light and structure of a building and lets the eye wander, to feel that here my eye could live, here a part of me could stay, is a great achievement. The sculptures give the viewer a different perspective on space. They look different from every viewpoint. You long to be in them, and they seem almost more meaningful for that.”
A Third Poem for Today
By Mary Jo Salter
My husband has a crush on Myrna Loy,
and likes to rent her movies, for a treat.
It makes some evenings harder to enjoy.
The list of actresses who might employ
him as their slave is too long to repeat.
(My husband has a crush on Myrna Loy,
Carole Lombard, Paulette Goddard, coy
Jean Arthur with that voice as dry as wheat …)
It makes some evenings harder to enjoy.
Does he confess all this just to annoy
a loyal spouse? I know I can’t compete.
My husband has a crush on Myrna Loy.
And can’t a woman have her dreamboats? Boy,
I wouldn’t say my life is incomplete,
but some evening I could certainly enjoy
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: The Piano Guys
“The poet is at the edge of our consciousness of the world, finding beyond the suspected nothingness which we imagine limits our perception another acre or so of being worth our venturing upon.” – Guy Davenport, American writer, translator, illustrator, painter, teacher, and author of “The Geography of the Imagination: Forty Essays,” who was born 23 November 1927.
Some quotes from the work of Guy Davenport:
“Man was first a hunter, and an artist: his early vestiges tell us that alone. But he must always have dreamed, and recognized and guessed and supposed, all the skills of the imagination. Language itself is a continuously imaginative act. Rational discourse outside our familiar territory of Greek logic sounds to our ears like the wildest imagination. The Dogon, a people of West Africa, will tell you that a white fox named Ogo frequently weaves himself a hat of string bean hulls, puts it on his impudent head, and dances in the okra to insult and infuriate God Almighty, and that there’s nothing we can do about it except abide him in faith and patience.
This is not folklore, or quaint custom, but as serious a matter to the Dogon as a filling station to us Americans. The imagination; that is, the way we shape and use the world, indeed the way we see the world, has geographical boundaries like islands, continents, and countries. These boundaries can be crossed. That Dogon fox and his impudent dance came to live with us, but in a different body, and to serve a different mode of the imagination. We call him Brer Rabbit.”
“In curved Einsteinian space we are at all times, technically, looking at the back of our own head.”
“When Heraclitus said that everything passes steadily along, he was not inciting us to make the best of the moment, an idea unseemly to his placid mind, but to pay attention to the pace of things. Each has its own rhythm: the nap of a dog, the procession of the equinoxes, the dances of Lydia, the majestically slow beat of the drums at Dodona, the swift runners at Olympia.”
“The meaning of the world, said Wittgenstein, is outside the world. Events and values are distinguishable only in relation to others. A totality of events and values, the world itself, requires another.”
“The birds suffer their suffering each in a lifetime, forgetting it as they go.”
“It is worthwhile adding that the power of the poem to teach not only sensibilities and the subtle movements of the spirit but knowledge, real lasting felt knowledge, is going mostly unnoticed among our scholars. The body of knowledge locked into and releasable from poetry can replace practically any university in the Republic. First things first, then: the primal importance of a poem is what it can add to the individual mind.
Poetry is the voice of a poet at its birth, and the voice of a people in its ultimate fulfillment as a successful and useful work of art.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Antonio Machado
In our souls everything
moves guided by a mysterious hand.
We know nothing of our own souls
that are un-understandable and say nothing.
Here is the Artist Statement of Swedish painter Alexander Klingspor: “My paintings reflect the world around me as I experience it. After all, that is what a painter does. He reflects what he sees. Hopefully my paintings will give the viewer an experience, a window into my world. I listen to the riddles of the night. From the nocturnal winter world of my hometown Stockholm comes my fascination for the night and it’s intriguing mood. I’ve always admired the old masters for their way to depict the relativity between light and dark. Without darkness no light can shine. And according to this universal rule I create my paintings.”
Musings in Autumn – Part I of II: Annie Dillard
“It has always been a happy thought to me that the creek runs on all night, new every minute, whether I wish it or know it or care, as a closed book on a shelf continues to whisper to itself its own inexhaustible tale.” – “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”
In 1867, Comanche and Kiowa tribal leaders met with William Tecumseh Sherman at Medicine Lodge Creek, Kansas. Sherman told them that they and their people would have to leave their ancestral homeland on the plains and live on a reservation in Oklahoma. In response, Ten Bears delivered the following speech:
“My heart is filled with joy when I see you here today, as the brooks fill with water when the snows melt in the spring. I feel glad as the ponies do when the fresh grass starts in the beginning of the year.
My people have never first drawn a bow or fired a gun against the whites. There has been trouble between us. My young men have danced the war dance. But it was not begun by us. It was you who sent the first soldier.
Two years ago I came upon this road, following the buffalo that my wives and children might have their cheeks plump and their bodies warm. But the soldiers fired on us. So it was upon the Canadian River. Nor have we been made to cry once only. The blue-dressed soldiers came out from the night, and for campfires they lit our lodges. Instead of hunting game they killed our braves, and the warriors of the tribe cut short their hair for the dead.
So it was in Texas. They made sorrow in our camps, and we went out like the buffalo bulls when the cows are attacked. When we found them we killed them, and their scalps hung in our lodges. The Comanches are not weak and blind, like the pups of a dog when seven days old. They are strong and far-sighted, like grown horses. We took their road and we went on it. The white women cried and our women laughed.
But there are things that you have said to me which I do not like. They were not sweet like sugar, but bitter like gourds. You have said that you want to put us on a reservation, to build us houses and to make us medicine lodges. I do not want them. I was born under the prairie, where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no walls and everything drew free breath. I want to die there, not within walls. I know every stream and every wood between the Rio Grande and the Arkansas River. I have hunted and lived all over that country. I live like my fathers before me and like them I live happily.
When I was in Washington the Great Father told me that all the Comanche land was ours and that no one should hinder us from living on it. So why do you ask us to leave the rivers and the sun and the wind and live in houses? Do not tell us to give up the buffalo for the sheep. The young men hear talk of this, and it makes them sad and angry. Do not speak of it more. I love to carry out the talk I heard from the Great Father. When I get goods and presents my people feel glad, since it shows that he holds us in his eye.
If the Texans had kept out of my country there might have been peace. But that which you say we must now live in is too small. The Texans have taken away the places where the grass grew thickest and the timber was best. Had we kept that, we might have done as you ask. But it is too late. The whites took the country which we loved, and we wish only to wander the prairie ’til we die.”
Musings in Autumn – Part II of II: Edward Abbey
“There are some good things to be said about walking. Not many, but some. Walking takes longer, for example, than any other known form of locomotion except crawling. Thus it stretches time and prolongs life. Life is already too short to waste on speed. I have a friend who’s always in a hurry; he never gets anywhere. Walking makes the world much bigger and thus more interesting. You have time to observe the details. The utopian technologists foresee a future for us in which distance is annihilated. … To be everywhere at once is to be nowhere forever, if you ask me.” – “Desert Solitaire”
Below – Walking with my intrepid students in Tibet (at the top of Tara Pass during the circumambulation of Mount Kailash – 18, 500’); in Sikkim, India (at the base of Mount Kanchenjunga – 16,500’); in Ladakh, India (at the top of a 17,000’ pass in the Markha Valley); on a pilgrimage route above Lhasa, Tibet – 16,000’; in Nepal (on the Annapurna Circuit, at the top of Thorung Pass -17,769 feet).
A Fifth Poem for Today
“The First Night,”
By Billy Collins
‘The worst thing about death must be
the first night. ’ – Juan Ramón Jiménez
Before I opened you, Jiménez,
it never occurred to me that day and night
would continue to circle each other in the ring of death,
but now you have me wondering
if there will also be a sun and a moon
and will the dead gather to watch them rise and set
then repair, each soul alone,
to some ghastly equivalent of a bed.
Or will the first night be the only night,
a darkness for which we have no other name?
How feeble our vocabulary in the face of death,
How impossible to write it down.
This is where language will stop,
the horse we have ridden all our lives
rearing up at the edge of a dizzying cliff.
The word that was in the beginning
and the word that was made flesh—
those and all the other words will cease.
Even now, reading you on this trellised porch,
how can I describe a sun that will shine after death?
But it is enough to frighten me
into paying more attention to the world’s day-moon,
to sunlight bright on water
or fragmented in a grove of trees,
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Sharon Bryan
Why not lindendust,
live oak, maple, why
name the remains
after the blade, not
what it cut—
American Art – Part II of III: John Robert Peck
Artist Statement: “My focus is portraiture. I believe that both drawing and painting are fundamentally about a search for visual truth in nature- in the objects of still life, the landscapes around us and the faces and figures of models. For me, the portrait remains the single most important subject of painting- and I am a student for life in that search to see and record such beauty.”
A Seventh Poem for Today
“Sonnets to Orpheus: Part II, Number 29,”
By Rainer Maria Rilke
Silent friend of many distances, feel
how your breath enlarges all of space.
Let your presence ring out like a bell
into the night. What feeds upon your face
grows mighty from the nourishment thus offered.
Move through transformation, out and in.
What is the deepest loss that you have suffered?
If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine.
In this immeasurable darkness, be the power
that rounds your senses in their magic ring,
the sense of their mysterious encounter.
And if the earthly no longer knows your name,
whisper to the silent earth: I’m flowing.
To the flashing water say: I am.
An Eighth Poem for Today
“Of History and Hope,”
By Miller Williams
We have memorized America,
how it was born and who we have been and where.
In ceremonies and silence we say the words,
telling the stories, singing the old songs.
We like the places they take us. Mostly we do.
The great and all the anonymous dead are there.
We know the sound of all the sounds we brought.
The rich taste of it is on our tongues.
But where are we going to be, and why, and who?
The disenfranchised dead want to know.
We mean to be the people we meant to be,
to keep on going where we meant to go.
But how do we fashion the future? Who can say how
except in the minds of those who will call it Now?
The children. The children. And how does our garden grow?
With waving hands—oh, rarely in a row—
and flowering faces. And brambles, that we can no longer allow.
Who were many people coming together
cannot become one people falling apart.
Who dreamed for every child an even chance
cannot let luck alone turn doorknobs or not.
Whose law was never so much of the hand as the head
cannot let chaos make its way to the heart.
Who have seen learning struggle from teacher to child
cannot let ignorance spread itself like rot.
We know what we have done and what we have said,
and how we have grown, degree by slow degree,
believing ourselves toward all we have tried to become—
just and compassionate, equal, able, and free.
All this in the hands of children, eyes already set
on a land we never can visit—it isn’t there yet—
but looking through their eyes, we can see
what our long gift to them may come to be.
If we can truly remember, they will not forget.
American Art – Part III of III: Joseph Michael Todorovitch
In the words of one writer, “Joseph Todorovitch is a young contemporary painter who has developed a reputation for his highly representational figure paintings. Growing up in Southern California, he became interested in traditional drawing and painting at an early age. His training introduced him to many artistic influences including notable ateliers and instructors.
His work is a culmination of these forces with a deep respect for the knowledge and sensitivities of the past. Joseph has been able to sift through the vast amount of information, be selective, and utilize what’s necessary to achieve an impact that speaks about a personal experience with his subjects. His paintings emote, and convey a care and sensitivity that is reminiscent of the naturalist painters of the 19th century. Utilizing subtle value and temperature shifts, fine draughtsmanship, and pure intuition, Joseph weaves a world of breathable air and psychological nuance in his work.”