American Art – Part I of III: Joshua Flint
Artist Statement: “People are forever fascinating. I am compelled to paint them. My pursuits are driven by my curiosities about the world around me; about our nature, about our character, about our ambitions, both individually and collectively.
The work I do explores people and place. Sometimes these elements collide, other times they remain solitary; leaving the viewer with a sense of how we see ourselves and how others view us. Human beings in a myriad of possible lights and angles, whether beautiful, hopeful, downtrodden, defeated, or indifferent. There are so many moments in our lives that are telescoped into a single pose. My paintings take that one hour, that one moment, that certain dream you would forget if you didn’t get it down fast enough and give it a face, a home, a story. The figurative work I do allows both myself and the viewer to stop time for a while and focus on the lifetime of events, in all of our lives, that often remain undocumented.
Painting an environment or exploring a figure gives me insight I wouldn’t receive in any other way. It allows me to have multiple dialogues at the same time. One with the subject matter, one with the paint, and one with myself. Culminating a new perspective about all three.”
Musings in December: E.B. White
“I am pessimistic about the human race because it is too ingenious for its own good. Our approach to nature is to beat it into submission. We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively, instead of skeptically and dictatorially.”
A Poem for Today
“There Will Come Soft Rains,”
By Sara Teasdale
There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pool singing at night,
And wild plum-trees in tremulous white;
Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;
Some quotes from “The Compleat Angler”:
“Rivers and the inhabitants of the watery element are made for wise men to contemplate, and for fools to pass by without consideration.”
“Doubt not but angling will prove to be so pleasant that it will prove to be, like virtue, a reward to itself.”
“Angling may be said to be so like the mathematics that it can never be fully learnt.”
“I am, sir, a Brother of the Angle.”
“You will find angling to be like the virtue of humility, which has a calmness of spirit and a world of other blessings attending upon it.”
“Rivers and the inhabitants of the watery element are made for wise men to contemplate, and for fools to pass by without consideration.”
“I have laid aside business, and gone a-fishing.”
Musings in December: John Lubbock
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
Died 15 December 1675 – Jan Vermeer, Dutch artist best known for painting remarkably detailed interior domestic scenes.
“Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.” – Betty Smith, American writer and author of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” who was born on 15 December 1896.
Some quotes from the work of Betty Smith:
“Yes, when I get big and have my own home, no plush chairs and lace curtains for me. And no rubber plants. I’ll have a desk like this in my parlor and white walls and a clean green blotter every Sunday night and a row of shining yellow pencils always sharpened for writing and a golden-brown bowl with a flower or some leaves or berries always in it and books…books..books.”
“Obscenity and profanity had no meaning as such among those people. They were emotional expressions of inarticulate people with small vocabularies.”
“It is good thing to learn the truth one’s self. To first believe with all your heart, and then not to believe, is good too. It fattens the emotions and makes them to stretch. When as a woman life and people disappoint her, she will have had practice in disappointment and it will not come so hard. In teaching your child do not forget that suffering is good too. It makes a person rich in character.”
“Let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry…have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere-be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.”
In the words of one writer, “Georgian artist Irma Gelantia studied at the Tbilisi State Academy of Art, graduating from the Faculty of Monumental-Decorative Painting in 2004. Her surrealist images draw on symbols of history, power and the unconscious. Her forms imply a sense of fluidity and freedom sometimes contrasting with the themes they represent, suggesting a dreamlike escape from a troublesome reality. Her traditional still life paintings exhibit her training and high level of skill that underpins the surrealist works and an understanding of the art historical remit for this form, to celebrate the material pleasures of her subjects. From this she departs to the ephemeral representations of her more stylized works.”
Musings in December: Mary Austin
“There are sacraments of evil as well as of good about us, and we live and move to my belief in an unknown world, a place where there are caves and shadows and dwellers in twilight. It is possible that man may sometimes return on the track of evolution, and it is my belief that an awful lore is not yet dead.” – Arthur Machen, Welsh writer of supernatural, fantasy, and horror fiction, who died on 15 December 1947.
Stephen King has called Machen’s novella “The Great God Pan,” “Maybe the best (horror story) in the English language.”
Some quotes from the work of Arthur Machen:
“It was better, he thought, to fail in attempting exquisite things than to succeed in the department of the utterly contemptible.”
“Every branch of human knowledge, if traced up to its source and final principles, vanishes into mystery.”
“We both wondered whether these contradictions that one can’t avoid if one begins to think of time and space may not really be proofs that the whole of life is a dream, and the moon and stars bits of nightmare.”
“Old stories often turn out to be true.”
“There are strange things lost and forgotten in obscure corners of the newspaper.”
“But he recognized that the illusions of the child only differed from those of the man in that they were more picturesque; belief in fairies and belief in the Stock Exchange as bestowers of happiness were equally vain, but the latter form of faith was ugly as well as inept.”
“I dream in fire but work in clay.”
When Lebanese painter Kal Gajoum (born 1968) was an adolescent, he was introduced to palette knife techniques by a friend who was a resident artist at the Leonardo Da Vinci School of Art in Rome. Since then, Gajoum has concentrated on painting cityscapes and still lifes using palette knife techniques in oil on canvas.
Musings in December: John F. Kennedy
“I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it’s because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it’s because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Glenn Miller
Died 15 December 1944 – Glenn Miller, American big band musician, arranger, composer, and bandleader during the swing era.
A Second Poem for Today
By David Huddle
Fifteen I got a job at Leggett’s, stock
boy, fifty cents an hour. Moved up—I come
from that kind of people—to toys at Christmas,
then Menswear and finally Shoes.
Quit to go
to college, never worked retail again, but
I still really like stores, savor merchandise
neatly stacked on tables, sweaters wanting
my gliding palm as I walk by, mannequins
weirdly sexy behind big glass windows,
shoes shiny and just waiting for the right feet.
Musings in December: John Muir
“It is characteristic of all deep human problems that they are not to be approached without some humor and some bewilderment.” – Freeman Dyson, Anglo-American physicist, mathematician, and author of “Disturbing the Universe,” who was born on 15 December 1923.
Some quotes from the work of Freeman Dyson:
We must be careful not to discourage our twelve-year-olds by making them waste the best years of their lives preparing for examinations.”
“The technologies which have had the most profound effects on human life are usually simple. A good example of a simple technology with profound historical consequences is hay. Nobody knows who invented hay, the idea of cutting grass in the autumn and storing it in large enough quantities to keep horses and cows alive through the winter. All we know is that the technology of hay was unknown to the Roman Empire but was known to every village of medieval Europe. Like many other crucially important technologies, hay emerged anonymously during the so-called Dark Ages. According to the Hay Theory of History, the invention of hay was the decisive event which moved the center of gravity of urban civilization from the Mediterranean basin to Northern and Western Europe. The Roman Empire did not need hay because in a Mediterranean climate the grass grows well enough in winter for animals to graze. North of the Alps, great cities dependent on horses and oxen for motive power could not exist without hay. So it was hay that allowed populations to grow and civilizations to flourish among the forests of Northern Europe. Hay moved the greatness of Rome to Paris and London, and later to Berlin and Moscow and New York.”
“Science is my territory, but science fiction is the landscape of my dreams.”
“It is remarkable that mind enters into our awareness of nature on two separate levels. At the highest level, the level of human consciousness, our minds are somehow directly aware of the complicated flow of electrical and chemical patterns in our brains. At the lowest level, the level of single atoms and electrons, the mind of an observer is again involved in the description of events. Between lies the level of molecular biology, where mechanical models are adequate and mind appears to be irrelevant. But I, as a physicist, cannot help suspecting that there is a logical connection between the two ways in which mind appears in my universe. I cannot help thinking that our awareness of our own brains has something to do with the process which we call ‘observation’ in atomic physics. That is to say, I think our consciousness is not just a passive epiphenomenon carried along by the chemical events in our brains, but is an active agent forcing the molecular complexes to make choices between one quantum state and another. In other words, mind is already inherent in every electron, and the processes of human consciousness differ only in degree but not in kind from the processes of choice between quantum states which we call ‘chance’ when they are made by electrons.”
“The public has a distorted view of science because children are taught in school that science is a collection of firmly established truths. In fact, science is not a collection of truths. It is a continuing exploration of mysteries.”
“The essential fact which emerges … is that the three smallest and most active reservoirs (of carbon in the global carbon cycle), the atmosphere, the plants and the soil, are all of roughly the same size. This means that large human disturbance of any one of these reservoirs will have large effects on all three. We cannot hope either to understand or to manage the carbon in the atmosphere unless we understand and manage the trees and the soil too.”
“It is our task, both in science and in society at large, to prove the conventional wisdom wrong and to make our unpredictable dreams come true”
“The glory of science is to imagine more than we can prove.”
“The more I examine the universe and the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming.”
“It is better to be wrong than to be vague.”
“As a working hypothesis to explain the riddle of our existence, I propose that our universe is the most interesting of all possible universes, and our fate as human beings is to make it so.”
“The nonliving universe is as diverse and as dynamic as the living universe, and is also dominated by patterns of organization that are not yet understood.”
“We do not need to have an agreed set of goals before we do something ambitious!”
“The conservative has little to fear from the man whose reason is the servant of his passions, but let him beware of him in whom reason has become the greatest and most terrible of passions. These are the wreckers of outworn empires.”
“The whole point of science is that most of it is uncertain. That’s why science is exciting–because we don’t know. Science is all about things we don’t understand. The public, of course, imagines science is just a set of facts. But it’s not. Science is a process of exploring, which is always partial. We explore, and we find out things that we understand. We find out things we thought we understood were wrong. That’s how it makes progress.”
“The progress of science requires the growth of understanding in both directions, downward from the whole to the parts and upward from the parts to the whole. A reductionist philosophy, arbitrarily proclaiming that the growth of understanding must go only in one direction, makes no scientific sense. Indeed, dogmatic philosophical beliefs of any kind have no place in science.”
“No matter how far we go into the future, there will always be new things happening, new information coming in, new worlds to explore, a constantly expanding domain of life, consciousness, and memory.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Niccolo Paganini
Musings in December: Mary Austin
In the words of one writer, “Xu Mang Yao, who was born in 1945 in Shanghai, is a famous contemporary oil painter whose original family home is Chongfu county, Tongxiang city, Zhejiang province. He began his study of art at the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts Preparatory School when he was 17, and his teachers were professor Wang DeWei and Quan ShanShi. In 1980, he graduated with a Masters Degree in Fine Arts from the Zhejiang Academy where he remained as an instructor through 1984. In 1984 he went abroad to French to study in French Paris National Academy of Fine Arts. In 1998, he was transformed from China Academy of Fine Arts to work as professor and president in Academy Department of Shanghai Normal University. In the decade of he 1990’s, Xu Mangyao was a professor and artist in residence at the China National Academy of Fine Arts, Hangzhou. He is currently a professor and President of the Art College of Shanghai Normal University and he writes frequently on art theory for international journals.”
“The universe is made of stories, not atoms.” – Muriel Rukeyser, American poet and political activist, who was born on 15 December 1913.
Some quotes from Muriel Rukeyser:
“However confused the scene of our life appears, however torn we may be who now do face that scene, it can be faced, and we can go on to be whole.”
“Breathe-in experience, breathe-out poetry.”
“A work of art is one through which the consciousness of the artist is able to give its emotions to anyone who is prepared to receive them. There is no such thing as bad art.”
“Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings. Not all things are blest, but the seeds of all things are blest. The blessing is in the seed.”
“I think there is choice possible to us at any moment, as long as we live. But there is no sacrifice. There is a choice, and the rest falls away. Second choice does not exist. Beware of those who talk about sacrifice.”
“If there were no poetry on any day in the world, poetry would be invented that day. For there would be an intolerable hunger.”
“Our poems will have failed if our readers are not brought by them beyond the poems.”
“The sources of poetry are in the spirit seeking completeness.”
“The journey is my home.”
And a poem:
“Waiting For Icarus”
He said he would be back and we’d drink wine together
He said that everything would be better than before
He said we were on the edge of a new relation
He said he would never again cringe before his father
He said that he was going to invent full-time
He said he loved me that going into me
He said was going into the world and the sky
He said all the buckles were very firm
He said the wax was the best wax
He said Wait for me here on the beach
He said Just don’t cry
I remember the gulls and the waves
I remember the islands going dark on the sea
I remember the girls laughing
I remember they said he only wanted to get away from me
I remember mother saying: Inventors are like poets, a trashy lot
I remember she told me those who try out inventions are worse
I remember she added: Women who love such are the worst of all
I have been waiting all day, or perhaps longer.
I would have liked to try those wings myself.
It would have been better than this.
Musings in December: Cormac McCarthy
Mexican Art – Part I of II: Juan Medina
In the words of one writer, painter Juan Medina “is an artist who grapples with themes that both epic and complex. Viewers are struck by the extraordinary three-dimensional effects he achieves in his paintings.
In his paintings, Medina takes preconceived ideas of reality and turns them inside out; much like Alice experienced through the looking glass. He utilizes numerous references to artistic and architectural styles throughout history. These elements, in juxtaposition with contemporary models raise issues of the relativity of time. He also creates doubt in perception of spatial reality as figures seem to break through the composition’s borders and occupy another dimension.”
“Each man is good in (the Great Spirit’s) sight. It is not necessary for eagles to be crows.” – Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux chief and holy man, who died on 15 December 1890.
Some quotes from Sitting Bull:
“Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!”
“What white man has ever seen me drunk? Who has ever come to me hungry and left me unfed? Who has seen me beat my wives or abuse my children? What law have I broken?”
“If we must die, we die defending our rights.”
“Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.”
“I am a red man. If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man he would have made me so in the first place.”
“When I was a boy, the Sioux owned the world. The sun rose and set on their land; they sent ten thousand men to battle. Where are the warriors today? Who slew them? Where are our lands? Who owns them?”
“Strangely enough, they have a mind to till the soil, and the love of possessions is a disease in them.”
“There are things they tell us that sound good to hear, but when they have accomplished their purpose they will go home and will not try to fulfill our agreements with them.”
“Is it wrong for me to love my own? Is it wicked for me because my skin is red? Because I am Sioux? Because I was born where my father lived? Because I would die for my people and my country?”
“It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being, and we therefore yield to our neighbors, even to our animal neighbors, the same right as ourselves to inhabit this vast land.”
“They want us to give up another chunk of our tribal land. This is not the first time or the last time.”
“This nation is like a spring freshet; it overruns its banks and destroys all who are in its path.”
“If I agree to dispose of any part of our land to the white people I would feel guilty of taking food away from our children’s mouths, and I do not wish to be that mean.”
“The white man knows how to make everything, but he does not know how to distribute it.”
“They claim this mother of ours, the Earth, for their own use, and fence their neighbors away from her, and deface her with their buildings and their refuse.”
“I wish it to be remembered that I was the last man of my tribe to surrender my rifle.”
“Only seven years ago we made a treaty by which we were assured that the buffalo country should be left to us forever. Now they threaten to take that from us also.”
“What treaty that the whites have kept has the red man broken? Not one.”
“Now that we are poor, we are free. No white man controls our footsteps.”
“What white man can say I never stole his land or a penny of his money? Yet they say that I am a thief.”
“Every seed is awakened, and all animal life.”
Musings in December: Ralph Waldo Emerson
Mexican Art – Part II of II: Jorge Figueroa Acosta
In the words of one critic, “Jorge Figueroa Acosta is a Mexican painter and sculptor born in 1942 in Cananea, Sonora, Mexico. He studied at the National School of Plastic Arts Academy of San Carlos, regarded as the best school of arts in Mexico, of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
Because his works, predominantly figurative, he’s considered one of the representatives of the neofigurative tendency that in Mexico and some Latin American countries contributed to the rescue of the iconographic role of the figure, in a historical moment in which the abstraction has offered possibilities for artistic expression, albeit residual, to developers who saw in modernism an inexhaustible source of possibilities for the creation of theoretical frameworks to argue their artistic proposals.”
Musings in December: John Muir
“Most people are on the world, not in it — have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them — undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate.”
A Third Poem for Today
“Ten Thousand to One,”
By Arthur Sze
The Phoenicians guarded a recipe that required
ten thousand murex shells to make
an ounce of Tyrian purple.
Scan the surface of Aldebaran with a radio wave;
grind lapis lazuli
Search the summer sky for an Anasazi turkey constellation;
see algae under an electron microscope
resemble a Magellanic Cloud.
A chemist tried to convert benzene into quinine,
but blundered into a violet
aniline dye instead.
Have you ever seen maggots feed on a dead rat?
Listen to a red-tailed hawk glide
over the hushed spruce and
American Art – Part II of III: David Hettinger
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of painter David Hettinger (born 1946): “Hettinger to work up concepts for paintings based on past experiences and life’s observations. He often begins a painting without models or references, pulling a scene from a past memory. Models are hired for figurative paintings only after a concept is drawn out on canvas. Hettinger doesn’t think of his figurative pieces as portraits or paintings of people but rather of relationships and moments in time.”
Musings in December: Annie Dillard
“Thomas Merton wrote, ‘there is always a temptation to diddle around in the contemplative life, making itsy-bitsy statues.’ There is always an enormous temptation in all of life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for itsy-bitsy years on end. It is so self-conscious, so apparently moral, simply to step aside from the gaps where the creeks and winds pour down, saying, I never merited this grace, quite rightly, and then to sulk along the rest of your days on the edge of rage.
I won’t have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous and bitter, more extravagant and bright. We are making hay when we should be making whoopee; we are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.
Go up into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish too. Stalk the gaps. Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock-more than a maple- a universe. This is how you spend this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon. Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
“Song of Myself – Verse 52,”
By Walt Whitman
The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me—he complains of my gab and my loitering.
I too am not a bit tamed—I too am untranslatable;
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
The last scud of day holds back for me;
It flings my likeness after the rest, and true as any, on the shadow’d wilds;
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.
I depart as air—I shake my white locks at the runaway sun;
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.
I bequeathe myself to the dirt, to grow from the grass I love;
If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles.
You will hardly know who I am, or what I mean;
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.
Musings in December: Henry David Thoreau
American Art – Part III of III: Julie Barbeau
In the words of one writer, “Julie Barbeau is a contemporary realism portrait, figure and still life painter. She earned bachelor degrees in journalism and German at the University of Missouri, and later studied drawing and painting at Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art and Gage Academy of Art in Seattle.
She is inspired by many great masters of the Baroque, especially Rembrandt, Titian and Velazquez. Yet, she puts a contemporary psychological spin on her pieces. Many of her oil paintings are multi-layered works based on the classic Venetian technique.”