American art part I of IV: Evelyn Taylor
Musings in December: Andy Warhol
British Art – Part I of III: Ken Currie:
In the words of one critic, “Ken Currie (born 1960, North Shields, England) is a Scottish painter, one of the most influential living artists in Scotland. His paintings are displayed in public and museum collections worldwide.
Currie’s paintings are primarily concerned with how the human body is affected by illness, ageing and physical injury. Closely related to these themes, his work also deals with social and political issues and philosophical questions. Although many of the images dealing with, for example, metaphysical questions do not feature figures, a human presence is nevertheless suggested.”
A Poem for Today
“I Go Down To The Shore,”
By Mary Oliver
I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what should I do? And the sea says
in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.
Musings in December: Aldo Leopold
“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”
Francesco Ciusa (1883-1949) was an Italian sculptor. In the words of one writer, “Born in the town of Nuoro, on the island of Sardinia in Italy, his father was an Ébéniste, or cabinet maker. He attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence from 1899 to 1903, where he had as teachers affirmed artists such as Adolfo De Carolis, the sculptor Trentacoste and the master of the Macchiaioli’s movement Giovanni Fattori.”
In Praise of Coffee – Part I of III: Dave Barry
American Art – Part II of IV: Gwen Murphy
Musings in December: John Muir
Nobel Laureate: Andrei Sakharov
“Intellectual freedom is essential — freedom to obtain and distribute information, freedom for open-minded and unfearing debate and freedom from pressure by officialdom and prejudices. Such freedom of thought is the only guarantee against an infection of people by mass myths, which, in the hands of treacherous hypocrites and demagogues, can be transformed into bloody dictatorship.” – Andre Sakharov, Russian nuclear physicist, dissident, human rights activist, and recipient of the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize, who died 14 December 1989.
Some quotes from the work of Andrei Sakharov:
“I regard the death penalty as a savage and immoral institution that undermines the moral and legal foundations of a society. I reject the notion that the death penalty has any essential deterrent effect on potential offenders. I am convinced that the contrary is true—that savagery begets only savagery.”
“Our country, like every modern state, needs profound democratic reforms. It needs political and ideological pluralism, a mixed economy and protection of human rights and the opening up of society.”
“Thousands of years ago tribes of human beings suffered great privations in the struggle to survive. In this struggle it was important not only to be able to handle a club, but also to possess the ability to think reasonably, to take care of the knowledge and experience garnered by the tribe, and to develop the links that would provide cooperation with other tribes. Today the entire human race is faced with a similar test. In infinite space many civilizations are bound to exist, among them civilizations that are also wiser and more “successful” than ours. I support the cosmological hypothesis which states that the development of the universe is repeated in its basic features an infinite number of times. In accordance with this, other civilizations, including more ‘successful’ ones, should exist an infinite number of times on the ‘preceding’ and the ‘following’ pages of the Book of the Universe. Yet this should not minimize our sacred endeavors in this world of ours, where, like faint glimmers of light in the dark, we have emerged for a moment from the nothingness of dark unconsciousness of material existence. We must make good the demands of reason and create a life worthy of ourselves and of the goals we only dimly perceive.”
British Art – Part II of III: Helen Masacz
Here is how one critic describes the work of English painter Helen Masacz (born 1988): “She concerns herself with the issues of transition; from childhood to adulthood, from the changes in relationships over a lifetime and to the meaning that the passage of time imprints on all our lives.”
In Praise of Coffee – Part II of III: Nicole Johnson
“Coffee is far more than a beverage. It is an invitation to life, disguised as a cup of warm liquid. It’s a trumpet wakeup call or a gentle rousing hand on your shoulder … Coffee is an experience, an offer, a rite of passage, a good excuse to get together.”
Musings in December: Rachel Carson
A Second Poem for Today
“A Barred Owl,”
By Richard Wilbur
The warping night air having brought the boom
Of an owl’s voice into her darkened room,
We tell the wakened child that all she heard
Was an odd question from a forest bird,
Asking of us, if rightly listened to,
“Who cooks for you?” and then “Who cooks for you?”
Words, which can make our terrors bravely clear,
Can also thus domesticate a fear,
And send a small child back to sleep at night
Not listening for the sound of stealthy flight
Or dreaming of some small thing in a claw
Borne up to some dark branch and eaten raw.
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Irish painter Ian Cumberland (born 1983): “As a painter Cumberland’s main interest is with people and the (often absurd) things they do. Thus his pictures reflect situations in everyday life, attitudes and values expressed or implied and so on. In his own words, he is ‘always watching people’ and his observations shape his compositions. There is nothing judgmental in his work, but he indulges in what he calls ‘black comedy’ in terms of the general surrealism that is never far from his view.”
Musings in December: Michel de Montaigne
“It has long been my belief that in times of great stress, such as a 4-day vacation, the thin veneer of family wears off almost at once, and we are revealed in our true personalities.” – Shirley Jackson, American writer and author of “The Lottery” and “The Haunting of Hill House,” who was born 14 December 1919.
Some quotes from the work of Shirley Jackson:
“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”
“My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all, I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in our family is dead.”
“I delight in what I fear.”
“I could live there all alone, she thought, slowing the car to look down the winding garden path to the small blue front door with, perfectly, a white cat on the step. No one would ever find me there, either, behind all those roses, and just to make sure I would plant oleanders by the road. I will light a fire in the cool evenings and toast apples at my own hearth. I will raise white cats and sew white curtains for the windows and sometimes come out of my door to go to the store to buy cinnamon and tea and thread. People will come to me to have their fortunes told, and I will brew love potions for sad maidens.”
“I am like a small creature swallowed whole by a monster, she thought, and the monster feels my tiny little movements inside.”
“I remember that I stood on the library steps holding my books and looking for a minute at the soft hinted green in the branches against the sky and wishing, as I always did, that I could walk home across the sky instead of through the village.”
“I took my coffee into the dining room and settled down with the morning paper. A woman in New York had had twins in a taxi. A woman in Ohio had just had her seventeenth child. A twelve-year-old girl in Mexico had given birth to a thirteen-pound boy. The lead article on the woman’s page was about how to adjust the older child to the new baby. I finally found an account of an axe murder on page seventeen, and held my coffee cup up to my face to see if the steam might revive me.”
In Praise of Coffee – Part III of III: Thomas Jefferson
Musings in December: John Burroughs
“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring — these are some of the rewards of the simple life.”
In the words of one critic, “Jorge Jiménez Martínez, whose art-name is Deredia, was born on 4th October 1954 in Heredia, Costa Rica. He started sculpting in the seventies creating pieces already bearing the signs and characteristics of what would become a constant throughout his successive works: the development of organic shapes modified by their environment, the force of gravity and growth; and the influence of pre-Columbian art. In 1976 at 22 years old, a study grant brought him to Italy where he settled and from here started to travel around Europe, coming into contact with the main artistic movements of the continent.
Deredia graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Carrara and, between 1980 and 1986, he attended the Faculty of Architecture at Florence University. The intellectual stimulations of those years profoundly changed his approach to his artistic work and, immersed in the Florentine climate, he extended his interest in the Renaissance period. The intellectual fervor of that time pushed him to reflect extensively on the development of his own work. The perception of a globalised dimension of ‘being’ and the universe, forming the basis of his vision of life, developed and deepened thanks to a conscious return to the cultural origins of his own country. In his work, he started to reflect the extraordinary creative influence received by observing the monumental granite spheres, produced by the pre-Columbian civilization of the Borucas. Those artifacts of mysterious primordial strength moved the sculptor towards studies as much of shape and material used, as of function and symbology derived from the sphere and circle. By taking on the art-name ‘Deredia’ (a contraction of ‘de Heredia’ = ‘originating from Heredia’), the artist’s conscious return to his cultural origins was underlined at that time as the source of his creative and philosophical inspiration.”
Musings in December: Walt Whitman
A Third Poem for Today
“Aubade with Bread for the Sparrows,”
By Oliver de la Paz
The snow voids the distance of the road
and the first breath comes from the early morning
ghosts. The sparrows with their hard eyes
glisten in the difficult light. They preen
their feathers and chirp. It’s as though they were one
voice talking to God.
Mornings are a sustained hymn
without the precision of faith. You’ve turned the bag
filled with molding bread inside out and watch
the old crusts fall to the ice. What’s left
but to watch the daylight halved by the glistening ground?
What’s left but an empty bag and the dust of bread
ravaged by songsters?
There are ruins we witness
within the moment of the world’s first awakening
and the birds love you within that moment. They want
to eat the air and the stars they’ve hungered for, little razors.
Little urgent bells, the birds steal from each other’s mouths
which makes you hurt. Don’t ask for more bread.
The world is in haste to waken. Don’t ask for a name
you can surrender, for there are more ghosts to placate.
Don’t hurt for the sparrows, for they love you like a road.
American Art – Part III of IV: Bill Bailey
According to one critic, American painter Bill Bailey “works primarily in watercolor, using various paper supports and techniques. He attempts to capture the Southern Landscape and people in his work. He has won numerous awards in juried, regional, national and international competitions.”
Musings in December: Ralph Waldo Emerson
“I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.”
British Art – Part III of III: Linda Sutton
Born 14 December 1947 – Linda Sutton, a British painter.
Below – “Waiting for the Barbarians”; “Woman and Leopard”; “Reading the Tarot at Southend-on-Sea”; “Europa and the Bull II”; “Woman and Tiger”; “Annunciation II”; “Orpheus and Eurydice”; “The Witches”; “Preparing for the Evening”; “Eurydice.”
Musings in December: Henry David Thoreau
A Fourth Poem for Today
“Reading with Little Sister: A Recollection,”
By William Stafford
The stars have died overhead in their great cold.
Beneath us the sled whispers along. Back there
our mother is gone. They tell us, “If you hold on
the dogs will take you home.” And they tell us never
to cry. We’ll die too, they say, if we
are ever afraid. All night we hold on.
The stars go down. We are never afraid.
American Art – Part IV of IV: Eric Zener
Here is one writer describing the work of painter Eric Zener:
“‘Water is my platform,’ Eric Zener says. He paints a diver in red-striped trunks at the tip of a board, face focused on the leap. Bubbles so real they seem to burst around a swimmer ascending to the ocean’s sunlit surface. A lone sunbather lulled by the rhythmic lap of waves. Eric’s artwork depicts the diver’s hesitation, the swimmer’s escape, and the sunbather’s contentment.”