American Art – Part I of V: Barbara D. Hultmann
“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee? Was ever anything so civil?” – Anthony Trollope, English novelist and author of “Barchester Towers,” who died 6 December 1882.
“Barchester Towers” is the perfect book to read on a snowy day while sitting in a well-stuffed chair in front of a warm fire.
Some quotes from the work of Anthony Trollope:
“There is no happiness in love, except at the end of an English novel.”
“A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.”
“Don’t let love interfere with your appetite. It never does with mine.”
“The habit of reading is the only enjoyment in which there is no alloy; it lasts when all other pleasures fade.”
“Never think that you’re not good enough yourself. A man should never think that. People will take you very much at your own reckoning.”
“Love is like any other luxury. You have no right to it unless you can afford it.”
“One can only pour out of a jug that which is in it.”
“Words spoken cannot be recalled, and many a man and many a woman who has spoken a word at once regretted, are far too proud to express that regret.”
“I hate a stupid man who can’t talk to me, and I hate a clever man who talks me down. I don’t like a man who is too lazy to make any effort to shine; but I particularly dislike the man who is always striving for effect. I abominate a humble man, but yet I love to perceive that a man acknowledges the superiority of my sex, and youth and all that kind of thing. . . A man who would tell me that I am pretty, unless he is over seventy, ought to be kicked out of the room. But a man who can’t show me that he thinks me so without saying a word about it, is a lout.”
“Till we can become divine, we must be content to be human, lest in our hurry for change we sink to something lower.”
“It is no good any longer to have any opinion upon anything.”
“The Church of England is the only church in the world that interferes neither with your politics nor your religion.”
Born 6 December 1841 – Jean Frederic Bazille, French Impressionist painter whose canvases frequently depict figures situated outdoors within a landscape. Bazille preferred to paint en plein air, because, in the words of one critic, “He believed that light was inseparable from the object it illuminated, so to capture the light at a precise moment, he worked from direct observation.”
A Poem for Today
By Denise Low
I look through glass and see a young woman
of twenty, washing dishes, and the window
turns into a painting. She is myself thirty years ago.
She holds the same blue bowls and brass teapot
I still own. I see her outline against lamplight;
she knows only her side of the pane. The porch
where I stand is empty. Sunlight fades. I hear
water run in the sink as she lowers her head,
blind to the future. She does not imagine I exist.
I step forward for a better look and she dissolves
into lumber and paint. A gate I passed through
to the next life loses shape. Once more I stand
squared into the present, among maple trees
and scissor-tailed birds, in a garden, almost
a mother to that faint, distant woman.
“Know, or listen to those who know.” – Baltasar Gracian, Spanish cleric, author of “The Art of Worldly Wisdom,” and philosopher whose writings were admired by both Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, who died on 6 December 1658.
Some quotes from Baltasar Gracian:
“True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island… to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing.”
“Don’t show off every day, or you’ll stop surprising people. There must always be some novelty left over. The person who displays a little more of it each day keeps up expectations, and no one ever discovers the limits of his talent.”
“Better mad with the rest of the world than wise alone.”
“The wise does at once what the fool does at last.”
“Dreams will get you nowhere, a good kick in the pants will take you a long way.”
“Never have a companion that casts you in the shade.”
“Always leave something to wish for; otherwise you will be miserable from your very happiness.”
“Attempt easy tasks as if they were difficult, and difficult as if they were easy; in the one case that confidence may not fall asleep, in the other that it may not be dismayed.”
“A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.”
“Never do anything when you are in a temper, for you will do everything wrong.”
“A beautiful woman should break her mirror early.”
“Never contend with a man who has nothing to lose.”
“Quit while you’re ahead. All the best gamblers do.”
“A man of honour should never forget what he is because he sees what others are.”
“Aspire rather to be a hero than merely appear one.”
“Even knowledge has to be in the fashion, and where it is not, it is wise to affect ignorance.”
“Nature scarcely ever gives us the very best; for that we must have recourse to art.”
“Advice is sometimes transmitted more successfully through a joke than grave teaching.”
“It is a great piece of skill to know how to guide your luck even while waiting for it.
Let the first impulse pass, wait for the second.”
“Things do not pass for what they are, but for what they seem. Most things are judged by their jackets.”
“True knowledge lies in knowing how to live.”
“Fortune pays you sometimes for the intensity of her favors by the shortness of their duration. She soon tires of carrying any one long on her shoulders.”
“Hope has a good memory, gratitude a bad one.”
“It is better to have too much courtesy than too little, provided you are not equally courteous to all, for that would be injustice.”
“It is better to sleep on things beforehand than lie awake about them afterwards.”
“It is good to vary in order that you may frustrate the curious, especially those who envy you.”
“Let him that hath no power of patience retire within himself, though even there he will have to put up with himself.”
“Little said is soon amended. There is always time to add a word, never to withdraw one.”
“Never open the door to a lesser evil, for other and greater ones invariably slink in after it.”
“One must pass through the circumference of time before arriving at the center of opportunity.”
“Those who insist on the dignity of their office show they have not deserved it.”
“Without courage, wisdom bears no fruit.”
“Work is the price which is paid for reputation.”
“The things we remember best are those better forgotten.”
Born 6 December 1890 – Rudolf Schlichter, a German artist.
Below – “Rooftop Studio”; “Dance Scene in a Bar”; “Gilded Youth”; “Speedy Schlichter”; “Woman with Tie.”
Musings in December, Hoping for Snow: John Burroughs
“All sounds are sharper in winter; the air transmits better. At night I hear more distinctly the steady roar of the North Mountain. In summer it is a sort of complacent purr, as the breezes stroke down its sides; but in winter always the same low, sullen growl.” – “The Snow-Walkers”
American Art – Part II of V: Joseph Piccillo
In the words of one writer, “Joseph Piccillo’s meticulous charcoal and graphite drawings and paintings reveal an exquisite draftsmanship tempered by emotional sensitivity. Piccillo presents an action-based assemblage of images and symbols by combining dancers, horses, divers, and sometimes mysterious and arbitrarily placed figures producing a surreal effect. His compositional logic, for example, contrasts the gracefully elongated ballerinas to the compressed and invigorated musculature of horses and divers. Piccillo’s horse series details anatomical studies from varying angles of the horse as ‘supreme beast’ while also reflecting a classic homage to their heroism. In short, Piccillo’s charcoal and graphite drawings reveal the mind of a master draftsman at work.”
A Second Poem for Today
“Where We Are,”
By William Stafford
Fog in the morning here
will make some of the world far away
and the near only a hint. But rain
will feel its blind progress along the valley,
tapping to convert one boulder at a time
into a glistening fact. Daylight will
love what came.
Whatever fits will be welcome, whatever
steps back in the fog will disappear
and hardly exist. You hear the river
saying a prayer for all that’s gone.
Far over the valley there is an island
for everything left; and our own island
will drift there too, unless we hold on,
unless we tap like this: “Friend,
are you there? Will you touch when
you pass, like the rain?”
From the Music Archives – Part I of IV: Lead Belly
“The blues is like this. You lay down some night and you turn from one side of the bed to the other: all night long. It’s not too cold in that bed, and it ain’t too hot. But what’s the matter? The blues has got you.” – Lead Belly, American folk and blues musician, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist, who died on 6 December 1949.
Iraqi artist Abraham Hadad (born 1937) studied at the School of Fine Arts in Tel Aviv and the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His paintings have won many awards.
From the Music Archives – Part II of IV: Mike Smith
Born 6 December 1943 – Mike Smith, English singer, songwriter, keyboard player, and member of The Dave Clark Five.
Irish painter Colin Davidson (born 1968) graduated with a First Class Honours Degree from the College of Art and Design of the University of Ulster, Belfast.
From the Music Archives – Part III of IV: Headman Tshabalala
Died 6 December 1991 – Headman Tshabalala, South African singer and an original member of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Born in Naples in 1953, Gianni Strino studied Fine Art at the acclaimed Naples Art Institute, winning the medal for the best graduate artist in 1970. After completing his studies in the Neapolitan Artistic Lyceum, he briefly enrolled at the Faculty of Architecture, but soon decided to devote himself to the pictorial arts.
“Only the lonely know the way I feel tonight.” – Roy Orbison, American singer, songwriter, and balladeer whose remarkable voice caused one critic to dub him “the Caruso of Rock,” who died on 6 December 1988.
“For a lack of attention a thousand forms of loveliness elude us every day.” – Evelyn Underhill, British poet, pacifist, and author of “Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness,” who was born 6 December 1875.
Some quotes from the work of Evelyn Underhill:
“In mysticism that love of truth which we saw as the beginning of all philosophy leaves the merely intellectual sphere, and takes on the assured aspect of a personal passion. Where the philosopher guesses and argues, the mystic lives and looks; and speaks, consequently, the disconcerting language of first-hand experience, not the neat dialectic of the schools. Hence whilst the Absolute of the metaphysicians remains a diagram —impersonal and unattainable—the Absolute of the mystics is lovable, attainable, alive.”
“Every minute you are thinking of evil, you might have been thinking of good instead. Refuse to pander to a morbid interest in your own misdeeds. Pick yourself up, be sorry, shake yourself, and go on again.”
“Eternity is with us, inviting our contemplation perpetually, but we are too frightened, lazy, and suspicious to respond; too arrogant to still our thought, and let divine sensation have its way. It needs industry and goodwill if we would make that transition; for the process involves a veritable spring-cleaning of the soul, a turning-out and rearrangement of our mental furniture, a wide opening of closed windows, that the notes of the wild birds beyond our garden may come to us fully charged with wonder and freshness, and drown with their music the noise of the gramaphone within. Those who do this, discover that they have lived in a stuffy world, whilst their inheritance was a world of morning-glory: where every tit-mouse is a celestial messenger, and every thrusting bud is charged with the full significance of life.”
“Idealism, though just in its premises, and often daring and honest in their application, is stultified by the exclusive intellectualism of its own methods: by its fatal trust in the squirrel-work of the industrious brain instead of the piercing vision of the desirous heart. It interests man, but does not involve him in its processes: does not catch him up to the new and more real life which it describes. Hence the thing that matters, the living thing, has somehow escaped it; and its observations bear the same relation to reality as the art of the anatomist does to the mystery of birth.”
“All men, at one time or another, have fallen in love with the veiled Isis whom they call Truth. With most, this has been a passing passion: they have early seen its hopelessness and turned to more practical things. But others remain all their lives the devout lovers of reality: though the manner of their love, the vision which they make to themselves of the beloved object varies enormously. Some see Truth as Dante saw Beatrice: an adorable yet intangible figure, found in this world yet revealing the next. To others she seems rather an evil but an irresistible enchantress: enticing, demanding payment and betraying her lover at the last. Some have seen her in a test tube, and some in a poet’s dream: some before the altar, others in the slime. The extreme pragmatists have even sought her in the kitchen; declaring that she may best be recognized by her utility. Last stage of all, the philosophic skeptic has comforted an unsuccessful courtship by assuring himself that his mistress is not really there.”
“Therefore it is to a practical mysticism that the practical man is here invited: to a training of his latent faculties, a bracing and brightening of his languid consciousness, an emancipation from the fetters of appearance, a turning of his attention to new levels of the world. Thus he may become aware of the universe which the spiritual artist is always trying to disclose to the race. This amount of mystical perception—this ‘ordinary contemplation,’ as the specialists call it—is possible to all men: without it, they are not wholly conscious, nor wholly alive. It is a natural human activity, no more involving the great powers and sublime experiences of the mystical saints and philosophers than the ordinary enjoyment of music involves the special creative powers of the great musician.”
“As the beautiful does not exist for the artist and poet alone—though these can find in it more poignant depths of meaning than other men—so the world of Reality exists for all; and all may participate in it, unite with it, according to their measure and to the strength and purity of their desire.”
“The business and method of mysticism is love.”
In the words of one writer, “Dimitris Andreadakis was born in 1964 in Chania, Crete.
He studied in the School of Fine Arts of Athens, under Dimitris Mytaras (1985-1991). From 1991 to 1996, he was a postgraduate student at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he was taught by P. Carron and V. Velickovic. During his undergraduate and postgraduate studies, he received scholarships from the Greek State Scholarship Foundation, the French Government, the Onassis Foundation and the Leventis Foundation.”
From the Cinema Archives – Part I of II: William S. Hart
Born 6 December 1864 – William S. Hart, American silent film actor, screenwriter, director, producer, and prototypical hero of the Western movie genre.
Hart was a successful Shakespearean actor on the stages of both Broadway and London before his fascination with the Old West (he was friends with Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson) convinced him to begin a career in films, a decision that quickly elevated him to stardom. The man and his work deserve to be better known, particularly among fans of classic Westerns.
Musings in December, Hoping for Snow: Edward Hoagland
American Art – Part III of V: John Wellington
Artist Statement: ”Ever since I can remember I have created my own world through drawing and painting. As a child it was a way I could leave the real world for a little while and have some control over the feelings I experienced. Today I still create worlds with my art, but now they reveal the many contradictory aspects of my hidden self.
The purest themes of my work have been the passing of life and the sensuous and erotic aspects of devotion. My still-lifes and portraits are often composed as shrines or altars. Contrast is an important aspect of my work and I take a diverse collection of objects—turned fruit, religious symbols, erotic images, historical works of art—and bring them together. Although the objects can have a specific purpose when seen on their own, as I paint, their meanings change. An objectified pin-up of a woman might become a muse or goddess and a Buddha might transform into a lustful and happy man. When all the different objects are placed together, a new story unfolds. Occasionally the meanings are clear to me from the outset, but more often they evolve with the paintings.
The technical qualities of my work are an anachronism in the 21st Century. In a world that becomes increasingly digitized, I realize how important the act of painting is for me. I am inspired by the physical qualities of the paint, by the surfaces of copper and wood panel, and by the magic of seeing the painting develop over weeks and months.
The focus of my paintings often shifts with the changes in my life. The process is the art. At times my work has been classical, claustrophobic, fetishistic, beautiful, vulgar, architectural, humorous, morbid, decorative, and sexual. Sometimes it is all of these at once.
Painting for me is a devotional profession. At the best of moments I paint in an enlightened state. This is how I felt as a child.”
From the Cinema Archives – Part II of II: Janet Munro
Died 6 December 1972 – Janet Munro, an English actress.
Janet Munro portrayed Anne Pilgrim in the 1958 science fiction classic “The Trollenberg Terror” (released as “The Crawling Eye” in the United States).
American Art – Part IV of V: Ed Byers
Artist Statement: “Using earthenware, I am striving to make narrative representations that all have a unique, human story to tell – usually of peace and hope – helping to connect to others through our differences.”
A Third Poem for Today
“Walking with My Delaware Grandfather,”
By Denise Low
Walking home I feel a presence following
and realize he is always there
that Native man with coal-black-hair who is
my grandfather. In my first memories
he is present, mostly wordless,
resident in the house where I was born.
My mother shows him the cleft in my chin
identical to his. I am swaddled
and blinking in the kitchen light. So
we are introduced. We never part.
Sometimes I forget he lodges in my house still
the bone-house where my heart beats.
I carry his mother’s framework
a sturdy structure. I learn his birthright.
I hear his mother’s teachings through
what my mother said of her:
She kept a pot of stew on the stove
all day for anyone to eat.
She never went to church but said
you could be a good person anyway.
She fed hoboes during the ‘30s,
her back porch a regular stop-over.
Every person has rights no matter
what color. Be respectful.
This son of hers, my grandfather,
still walks the streets with me.
Some twist of blood and heat still spark
across the time bridge. Here, listen:
Air draws through these lungs made from his.
His blood still pulses through this hand.
Musings in December, Hoping for Snow: Henry David Thoreau
A Fourth Poem for Today
By William Stafford
Spilling themselves in the sun bluebirds
Wing-mention their names all day. If everything
Told so clear a life, maybe the sky would
Come, maybe heaven; maybe appearance and
Truth would be the same. Maybe whatever seems
To be so, we should speak so from our souls,
Never afraid, “Light” when it comes,
“Dark” when it goes away.
American Art – Part V of V: Denton Lund
Artist Statement: “I am continuously striving to stretch beyond my limitations and parameters in the process I use, in the themes I select, in the subjects I render, and in the colors I express in my paintings. Each act of painting, as it becomes more spontaneous, also becomes a satisfying journey of delight and discovery. Through my paintings, I seek to establish a connection with those who view my work so that they may also share in the journey. The paintings, themselves, form the bond between the artist and those who would view them.”