December Offerings – Part XXXI: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of V: Timothy Tyler

In the words of one writer, “Tim grew up in Oklahoma and Arizona. While in Oklahoma he would frequent the Cowboy Hall of Fame NAWA show and Art galleries in surrounding Oklahoma City. He was invited to show in an art gallery at age 16. He went to Santa Fe and met with Clark Hulings at his home and exchanged letters with a generous Wilson Hurley. He went to Scottsdale and talked to Bettina Steinke at the Scottsdale Artists School. While in AZ he would stray over to the galleries of Scottsdale where he began showing at age 18. He consigned work at Trailsides Gallery at age 21.”
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A Poem for Today

“Before the ice is in the pools,”
By Emily Dickinson

Before the ice is in the pools—
Before the skaters go,
Or any check at nightfall
Is tarnished by the snow—

Before the fields have finished,
Before the Christmas tree,
Wonder upon wonder
Will arrive to me!

What we touch the hems of
On a summer’s day—
What is only walking
Just a bridge away—

That which sings so—speaks so—
When there’s no one here—
Will the frock I wept in
Answer me to wear?
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“Fine art is knowledge made visible.” – Gustave Courbet, French painter and a leader of the Realist movement, who died 31 December 1877.

Below – “Young Ladies on the Banks of the Seine”; “A Burial at Ornans”; “The Wave”; “The Artist’s Studio”; “The Hammock”; “Self-Portrait.”

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Musings in Winter: Wendell Berry

“The paramount doctrine of the economic and technological euphoria of recent decades has been that everything depends on innovation. It was understood as desirable, and even necessary, that we should go on and on from one technological innovation to the next, which would cause the economy to ‘grow’ and make everything better and better. This of course implied at every point a hatred of the past, of all things inherited and free. All things superceded in our progress of innovations, whatever their value might have been, were discounted as of no value at all.”
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A Second Poem for Today

“Almost Nowhere in the World, as Far as Anyone Can Tell,”
By Dick Allen

It is pleasant, very pleasant, to sit at a wooden booth
surrounded by parrots, wheels, right-turning conch shells,
the victory banner and the endless knot,
the lotus, the treasure vase, the golden fishes—
is this not so? Is it not pleasant
to sip Tsingtao beer, or Zhujiang, or Yanjing,
and tap your fingers on the bamboo mats?
After we’ve drunk enough, there will be Buddhist Delight,
Mongolian beef side dishes, a whole host of sauces,
even some pizza and chicken wings if children are present,
as well as the small ice-cream machine, lotus paste, pears,
smiles and bows all around. It is pleasant, is it not,
to linger outside the door that opens to the parking lot
of this small strip mall beside this secondary road
and look upon the scattered cars all come to rest here
like boats in China, floating on a quiet evening tide.
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Musings in Winter: Daniel C. Dennett

“Is this Tree of Life a God one could worship? Pray to? Fear? Probably not. But it did make the ivy twine and the sky so blue, so perhaps the song I love tells a truth after all. The Tree of Life is neither perfect nor infinite in space or time, but it is actual, and if it is not Anselm’s ‘Being greater than which nothing can be conceived,’ it is surely a being that is greater than anything any of us will ever conceive of in detail worthy of its detail. Is something sacred? Yes, say I with Nietzsche. I could not pray to it, but I can stand in affirmation of its magnificence. This world is sacred.”
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Here is one critic describing the artistry of Dutch sculptor Mieke Oldenburg: “Mieke Oldenburg works in clay and bronze: Serene introvert busts of women, bathing figures, women as sentinels, standing figures and reliefs. The skin dry and yet touchable. Her colours are sometimes greyish and sometimes intense.”
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From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Peter Quaife

Born 31 December 1943 – Peter Quaife, an English musician, artist, author, and a founding member and original bass guitarist for The Kinks.

Musings in Winter: Sue Monk Kidd

“I didn’t know what to think, but what I felt was magnetic and so big it ached like the moon had entered my chest and filled it up. The only think I could compare it to was the feeling I got one time when I walked from the peach stand and saw the sun spreading across the late afternoon, setting the top of the orchard on fire while darkness collected underneath. Silence had hovered over my head, beauty multiplying in the air, the trees so transparent I felt like I could see through to something pure inside them. My chest ached then, too, this very same way.”
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American Art – Part II of V: Cathy Rose

In the words of one writer, “Cathy Rose, a long-term Lucky Street artist, creates small porcelain women—often in wooden boxes –that have a wide appeal. A veteran on the craft show circuit, she won first place in mixed media at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, and regularly wins honors at such prestigious shows as Winter Park, Cherry Creek, Kansas City, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and the Sausalito Art Festival.”

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A Third Poem for Today

“Winter Morning Walks,”
By Ted Kooser

Just as a dancer, turning and turning,

may fill the dusty light with the soft swirl 

of her flying skirts, our weeping willow —

now old and broken , creaking in the breeze —

turns slowly, slowly in the winter sun,

sweeping the rusty roof of the barn

with the pale blue lacework of her shadow

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“I don’t paint things. I only paint the difference between things.” – Henri Matisse, French artist, who was born 31 December 1869.

Below – “Woman Reading”; “Fruit and Coffeepot”; “Vase of Sunflowers”; “Woman with a Hat”; “The Joy of Life”; “Self-Portrait in a Striped T-shirt.”

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A Fourth Poem for Today

“The Swan,”
By Mary Oliver

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

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Musings in Winter: John Burroughs

“What a wild winter sound,— wild and weird, up among the ghostly hills…. I get up in the middle of the night to hear it. It is refreshing to the ear, and one delights to know that such wild creatures are among us. At this season Nature makes the most of every throb of life that can withstand her severity.”
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“Technology without hatred can be a blessing. Technology with hatred is always a disaster.” – Simon Wiesenthal, Austrian Holocaust survivor, Nazi hunter, and author of “The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness,” who was born 31 December 1908.

Some quotes from Simon Wiesenthal:

“For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.”
“Humour is the weapon of unarmed people: it helps people who are oppressed to smile at the situation that pains them.”
“There is no denying that Hitler and Stalin are alive today… they are waiting for us to forget, because this is what makes possible the resurrection of these two monsters.”
“God must have been on leave during the Holocaust.”
“Survival is a privilege which entails obligations. I am forever asking myself what I can do for those who have not survived.”
“The history of man is the history of crimes, and history can repeat. So information is a defence. Through this we can build, we must build, a defence against repetition.”
“For your benefit, learn from our tragedy. It is not a written law that the next victims must be Jews. It can also be other people.”
“Violence is like a weed – it does not die even in the greatest drought.”
“What connects two thousand years of genocide? Too much power in too few hands.”
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A Fifth Poem for Today

“Into My Own,”
By Robert Frost

One of my wishes is that those dark trees,
So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze,
Were not, as ’twere, the merest mask of gloom,
But stretched away unto the edge of doom.
I should not be withheld but that some day
Into their vastness I should steal away,
Fearless of ever finding open land,
Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand.
I do not see why I should e’er turn back,
Or those should not set forth upon my track
To overtake me, who should miss me here
And long to know if still I held them dear.
They would not find me changed from him they knew–
Only more sure of all I thought was true.
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Born 31 December 1881 – Max Pechstein, a German expressionist painter and printmaker.

Below – “Under the Trees”; “Sunflowers”; “Horse Fair”; “Melting Snow”; “Young Woman with a Red Fan”; “Dawn.”

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Musings in Winter: Henry David Thoreau

“A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.”
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From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Burton Cummings

Born 31 December 1947 – Burton Cummings, a Canadian vocalist, musician, and former singer and keyboardist for The Guess Who.

A Sixth Poem for Today

From “Song of Myself,”
By Walt Whitman

I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,
Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,
Stuffed with the stuff that is course, and stuffed with the stuff that is fine, one of the nation, of many nations, the smallest the same and the largest.
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Chinese painter Wang Longjun (born 1980) lives and works in Beijing.
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Musings in Winter: Gustave Flaubert

“I tried to discover, in the rumor of forests and waves, words that other men could not hear, and I pricked up my ears to listen to the revelation of their harmony.”
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“My religion is to seek for truth in life and for life in truth, even knowing that I shall not find them while I live.” – Miguel de Unamuno, Spanish essayist, novelist, playwright, philosopher, poet, and author of “The Tragic Sense of Life,” who died 31 December 1936.

Some quotes from the work of Miguel de Unamuno:

“Love is the child of illusion and the parent of disillusion.”
“Only in solitude do we find ourselves; and in finding ourselves, we find in ourselves all our brothers in solitude.”
“Science is a cemetery of dead ideas.”
“A lot of good arguments are spoiled by some fool who knows what he is talking about.”
“If a person never contradicts himself, it must be that he says nothing.”
“Faith which does not doubt is dead faith.”
“The only way to give finality to the world is to give it consciousness.”
“Some people will believe anything if you whisper it to them.”
“The skeptic does not mean him who doubts, but him who investigates or researches, as opposed to him who asserts and thinks that he has found.”
“To fall into a habit is to begin to cease to be.”
“Anyone who in discussion relies upon authority uses, not his understanding, but rather his memory.”
“What we believe to be the motives of our conduct are usually but the pretexts for it.”
“If it is nothingness that awaits us, let us make an injustice of it; let us fight against destiny, even though without hope of victory.”
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Here is the Artist Statement of British painter Vicky Mount: “I look at the world with a gentle humour, believing that in smiling, it is easier to live in a complicated world. If I had to say what my paintings are about (in a very small nutshell), I’d say they were about love, work, death, friendship and loneliness and longing, escape…and hope…and…I’m going to need a bigger nutshell.
I hope you like what you see.”
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A Seventh Poem for Today

From “Renascence,”
By Edna St. Vincent Millay

And all at once the heavy night
Fell from my eyes and I could see, —
A drenched and dripping apple-tree,
A last long line of silver rain,
A sky grown clear and blue again.
And as I looked a quickening gust
Of wind blew up to me and thrust
Into my face a miracle
Of orchard-breath, and with the smell, —
I know not how such things can be! —
I breathed my soul back into me.
Ah! Up then from the ground sprang I
And hailed the earth with such a cry
As is not heard save from a man
Who has been dead, and lives again.
About the trees my arms I wound;
Like one gone mad I hugged the ground;
I raised my quivering arms on high;
I laughed and laughed into the sky.
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From the Cinema Archives – Part I of II: Anthony Hopkins

Born 31 December 1937 – Anthony Hopkins, Welsh actor best known for his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991 – for which he won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role), “Hannibal” (2001), and “Red Dragon” (2002).

American Art – Part III of V: Erika Craig

Artist Statement: “I paint figures underwater, immersing my subjects in their surroundings. A person’s reflection in water is a constantly changing self, a distorted image with many sides. Near the surface, the familiar blends into the unknown. Color and shape break down. Things that seem separate become entwined.
Water is the source of life, bodily and spiritual renewal. It represents both life and death, existing in the same place as a continuation. It is the place of origins, and a place inside ourselves where we go to find peace. Making up most of the Earth and most of our bodies, it is the connectedness of things.
I occupy the world below the surface, the subconscious, a place of intuition and dreams. The vague ideas and emotions that don’t quite fit into words. I marvel at the world above the surface, past the limits of our perception. The unseen and unexplained, mysteries beyond our human reach. Reality is deep and complex. The more we delve and search, the more astounding layers we find. Yet in supreme chaos I see universal order. From galaxies to subatomic particles, the curve of a leaf and the human brain.
I prefer the organic to the mechanized, natural to manmade, timeless to modern. In nature, I see the essence of truth and beauty. As people disconnect from nature, they lose a vital understanding. We become preoccupied with the mundane, obsessed with tiny details of our daily lives, restless and struggling for meaning. Forgetting how small we are and how little we control. How strange it is to even exist.”
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Musings in Winter: Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nature is a language and every new fact one learns is a new word; but it is not a language taken to pieces and dead in the dictionary, but the language put together into a most significant and universal sense. I wish to learn this language–not that I may know a new grammar, but that I may read the great book which is written in that tongue.”
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From the Cinema Archives – Part II of II: Val Kilmer

Born 31 December 1959 – Val Kilmer, an American actor best known for his masterful portrayal of Doc Holliday in the 1993 Western “Tombstone.”

An Eighth Poem for Today

“Leisure,”
By William H. Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare? —
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Below – A statue of Davies on the seafront of Port Williams.

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American Art – Part IV of V: Lynn Christopher

Artist Statement: “I began my career as a Set Designer at Universal Studios in the art department. I went on to become an Art Director, and over the span of 33 years, worked on many wonderful films and television shows, both set designing and art directing at the major film studios. In the last few years, I have studied at the local art academies in the Los Angeles area, first painting, then, as the classes became available, I studied sculpture. I have had the privilege to study with some extraordinary sculptors during that time, which helped to set the direction of my current work approach. I am now working full time in my studio, focusing on the nude figure and portraits.”
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A Ninth Poem for Today

“At Blackwater Pond,”
By Mary Oliver

At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have settled
after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold
into my body, waking the bones. I hear them
deep inside me, whispering
oh what is that beautiful thing
that just happened?
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Musings in Winter: Rainer Maria Rilke

“If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.”
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American Art – Part V of V: Adrian Waggoner

Artist Statement: “I am in love with paint. I believe that pigments are created to become a part of a whole. Through mixing and layering, individual pigments combine and form relationships to create an image, and can fulfill the measure of their own creation.”
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“A Song for New Year’s Eve,”
By William Cullen Bryant

Stay yet, my friends, a moment stay—
Stay till the good old year,
So long companion of our way,
Shakes hands, and leaves us here.
Oh stay, oh stay,
One little hour, and then away.

The year, whose hopes were high and strong,
Has now no hopes to wake;
Yet one hour more of jest and song
For his familiar sake.
Oh stay, oh stay,
One mirthful hour, and then away.

The kindly year, his liberal hands
Have lavished all his store.
And shall we turn from where he stands,
Because he gives no more?
Oh stay, oh stay,
One grateful hour, and then away.

Days brightly came and calmly went,
While yet he was our guest;
How cheerfully the week was spent!
How sweet the seventh day’s rest!
Oh stay, oh stay,
One golden hour, and then away.

Dear friends were with us, some who sleep
Beneath the coffin-lid:
What pleasant memories we keep
Of all they said and did!
Oh stay, oh stay,
One tender hour, and then away.

Even while we sing, he smiles his last,
And leaves our sphere behind.
The good old year is with the past;
Oh be the new as kind!
Oh stay, oh stay,
One parting strain, and then away.
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I wish everyone a Happy New Year.

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