American Art – Part I of VI: Alexander Petrovich Pogrebinsky
Born 2 January 1951 – Alexander Petrovich Pogrebinsky, a Ukrainian-born American painter best known for his portraits.
A Poem for Today
By Jon Pineda
Between the train’s long slide and the sun
ricocheting off the sea, anyone
would have fallen silent in those words,
the language of age in her face, the birds
cawing over the broken earth, gathering near its stones
and chapel doors. In the marina, the sea and its bones
have grown smaller. Though the tide is out,
it is not the tide nor the feathers nor the cat
that jumps into the street, the dust
lifting with each wing and disappearing. The rust-
colored sheets that wrap the sails of ships,
I don’t know their name nor the way to say lips
of water in Italian and mean this: an old woman
stood by the tracks until his hand stopped waving.
Born 2 January 1877 – Slava Raskaj, a painter considered the greatest Croatian watercolorist of the late 19th and early 20th century.
Musings in Winter: Henry David Thoreau
Some quotes from the work of Robert Nathan:
“How little we have, I thought, between us and the waiting cold, the mystery, death–a strip of beach, a hill, a few walls of wood or stone, a little fire–and tomorrow’s sun, rising and warming us, tomorrow’s hope of peace and better weather . . . What if tomorrow vanished in the storm? What if time stood still? And yesterday–if once we lost our way, blundered in the storm–would we find yesterday again ahead of us, where we had thought tomorrow’s sun would rise?”
“Where I come from
And where I’m going
The wind blows,
The sea flows –
And nobody knows.”
“Art is a communication informing man of his own dignity, and of the value of his life, whether in joy or grief, whether in laughter or indignation, beauty or terror…Man needs the comfort of his own dignity…And that’s what the artist is for. To give him that comfort.”
“Summer is the worst time of all to be alone. The earth is warm and lovely, free to go about in; and always somewhere in the distance there is a place where two people might be happy if only they were together. It is in the spring that one dreams of such places; one thinks of the summer which is coming, and the heart dreams of its friend.”
“Beauty is ever to the lonely mind A shadow fleeting; she is never plain. She is a visitor who leaves behind the gift of grief, the souvenir of pain.”
“It seems to me that I have always wanted to say the same thing in my books: that life is one, that mystery is all around us, that yesterday, today and tomorrow are all spread out in the pattern of eternity, together, and that although love may wear many faces in the incomprehensible panorama of time, in the heart that loves, it is always the same.”
Musings in Winter: John Burroughs
“I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. The longer I live, the more my mind dwells upon the beauty and the wonder of the world.”
American Art – Part II of VI: Jess Collins
Died 2 January 2004 – Jess Collins, a visual artist.
Below – “The Way to Rose Mountain”; “Figure 2, A Field of Pumpkins Grown for Seed”; “Arkadia’s Last Resort”; “The Virtue of Incertitude Perplexing the Vice of Definition”; “A Western Prospect of Egg and Dart.”
2 January 1839 – Louis Daguerre takes the first photograph of the Moon.
A Second Poem for Today
“The Sea at Night,”
By Sri Aurobindo
The grey sea creeps half-visible, half-hushed,
And grasps with its innumerable hands
These silent walls. I see beyond a rough
Glimmering infinity, I feel the wash
And hear the sibilation of the waves
That whisper to each other as they push
To shoreward side by side, –long lines and dim
Of movement flecked with quivering spots of foam,
The quiet welter of a shifting world.
Born 2 January 1938 – David Bailey, an English fashion and portrait photographer.
Musings in Winter: Jeanette Winterson
“Earth is ancient now, but all knowledge is stored up in her. She keeps a record of everything that has happened since time began. Of time before time, she says little, and in a language that no one has yet understood. Through time, her secret codes have gradually been broken. Her mud and lava is a message from the past.
Of time to come, she says much, but who listens?”
“It is a life’s task to find the ways you want to play an endless game of uncontrollable beauty.” – David Shapiro, American poet, historian, and critic, who was born 2 January 1947.
“Poem for You”
I am jealous of the sand
what you see
bright things erased lady
sparkling and traveling without luggage
you are tattooed on my back music
I too grew up in
the soft hands
of the gods
and a little donkey will lead them
Tears, tears, and I know
just what they mean
honeysuckles at night
American Art – Part III of VI: Robin Purcell
A Third Poem for Today
By Ivan Granger
Musings in Winter: David Brower
American Art – Part IV of VI: Julie Speed
Here is how painter Julie Speed describes herself: “I keep hours just like a real job, only longer, and in my spare time I read books, drink tequila, garden, and drive around West Texas.” In the words of one critic, “Speed fearlessly mixes memories of the Old Master paintings she loves with images from fairy tales, poetry, trash novels, thrift shops, Baroque prints, newspaper photographs, and Persian and Indian miniatures, blending them together with everyday experiences and fantasies. The results of such wide and deep excavations inevitably address the Collective Unconscious so dear to Carl Jung and James Joyce.”
Musings in Winter: Jules Verne
“There is no more sagacious animal than the Icelandic horse. He is stopped by neither snow, nor storm, nor impassable roads, nor rocks, glaciers, or anything. He is courageous, sober, and surefooted. He never makes a false step, never shies. If there is a river or fjord to cross (and we shall meet with many) you will see him plunge in at once, just as if he were amphibious, and gain the opposite bank.”
“If happiness truly consisted in physical ease and freedom from care, the happiest individual would not be either a man or a woman, but an American cow.” – William Lyon Phelps, American author, critic, scholar, and journalist, who was born 2 January 1865.
Some quotes from William Lyon Phelps:
“The final test of a gentleman is his respect for those who can be of no possible service to him.”
“A student never forgets an encouraging private word, when it is given with sincere respect and admiration.”
“If at first you don’t succeed, find out if the loser gets anything.”
“If I were running the world I would have it rain only between 2 and 5 a.m. Anyone who was out then ought to get wet.”
“Those who decide to use leisure as a means of mental development, who love good music, good books, good pictures, good plays, good company, good conversation – what are they? They are the happiest people in the world.”
“A cat pours his body on the floor like water. It is restful just to see him.”
“A well-ordered life is like climbing a tower; the view halfway up is better than the view from the base, and it steadily becomes finer as the horizon expands.”
“I divide all readers into two classes: those who read to remember and those who read to forget.”
“The belief that youth is the happiest time of life is founded on a fallacy. The happiest person is the person who thinks the most interesting thoughts, and we grow happier as we grow older.”
“You can be deprived of your money, your job and your home by someone else, but remember that no one can ever take away your honor.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Maureen N. McLane
Again the white blanket
The fierce teeth
of steel-framed snowshoes
bite the trail open.
Where the hardwoods stand
and rarely bend
the wind blows hard
an explosion of snow
like flour dusting
the baker in a shop
long since shuttered.
In this our post-shame century
we will reclaim
the old nouns
If it rains
we’ll say oh
If she falls
out of love
with you you’ll carry
your love on a gold plate
to the forest and bury it
in the Indian graveyard.
Pioneers do not
The sweet knees
of oxen have pressed
a path for me.
A lone chickadee
sings in the snow.
as if out of air
but surely they come
bearing what news
from the troposphere.
The sky’s shifted
and Capricorns abandon
themselves to a Sagittarian
line. I like
this weird axis.
In 23,000 years
it will become again
the same sky
the Babylonians scanned.
Musings in Winter: Aldo Leopold
In the words of one critic, “Nigel Hewitt is a Visual Artist based in Perth, Western Australia. His images are most frequently mixed media on canvas, with subjects ranging from contemporary environmental and political issues to the personal and ambiguous notions of discovery and existence.
For Nigel Hewitt the image itself always has primacy and all commentary about it, even his own, is of minimal interest. However, thematically it can be said that he has an ongoing interest in the interrelationship between historical, political, cultural and environmental conditions. To raise questions about real space and ‘mind’ space he uses layer upon layer of pencil, acrylic washes, gauze or wax to create a seductive surface which draws the viewer into impossible worlds. The layers are not an act of covering up but rather an act of revealing; through them the reality disappears and subjectivity is revealed. The placement of familiar objects in these worlds combined with the use of layering serves to make reference to what has gone before, what is now and what is to follow.”
Musings in Winter: John James Audubon
From the Music Archives: Tex Ritter
Died 2 January 1974 – Woodward Maurice “Tex” Ritter, American singer, actor, and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. At the first televised Academy Awards ceremony in 1953, Tex Ritter sang “The Ballad of High Noon,” which had won the 1952 Academy Award for Best Original Song.
A great song – and a great movie:
“Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition.” – Isaac Asimov, American writer, professor, humanist, atheist, rationalist, and author of “The Roving Mind,” best known for his science fiction works and popular science books, who was born 2 January 1920:
Some quotes from the work of Isaac Asimov:
“It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”
“Creationists make it sound as though a ‘theory’ is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night.”
“If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them.”
“Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.”
“The true delight is in the finding out rather than in the knowing.”
“To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.”
“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”
“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”
“Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.”
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”
“I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I’ve been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn’t have. Somehow, it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I’m a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time.”
“Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly.”
“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.”
“When I read about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Jennifer Elise Foerster
Once there were coyotes, cardinals
in the cedar. You could cure amnesia
with the trees of our back-forty. Once
I drowned in a monsoon of frogs—
Grandma said it was a good thing, a promise
for a good crop. Grandma’s perfect tomatoes.
Squash. She taught us to shuck corn, laughing,
never spoke about her childhood
or the faces in gingerbread tins
stacked in the closet.
She was covered in a quilt, the Creek way.
But I don’t know this kind of burial:
vanishing toads, thinning pecan groves,
peach trees choked by palms.
New neighbors tossing clipped grass
over our fence line, griping to the city
of our overgrown fields.
Grandma fell in love with a truck driver,
grew watermelons by the pond
on our Indian allotment,
took us fishing for dragonflies.
When the bulldozers came
with their documents from the city
and a truckload of pipelines,
her shotgun was already loaded.
Under the bent chestnut, the well
where Cosetta’s husband
hid his whiskey—buried beneath roots
her bundle of beads. ‘They tell
the story of our family.’ Cosetta’s land
flattened to a parking lot.
Grandma potted a cedar sapling
I could take on the road for luck.
She used the bark for heart lesions
doctors couldn’t explain.
To her they were maps, traces of home,
the Milky Way, where she’s going, she said.
After the funeral
I stowed her jewelry in the ground,
promised to return when the rivers rose.
On the grassy plain behind the house
one buffalo remains.
Along the highway’s gravel pits
sunflowers stand in dense rows.
Telephone poles crook into the layered sky.
A crow’s beak broken by a windmill’s blade.
It is then I understand my grandmother:
‘When they see open land
they only know to take it.’
I understand how to walk among hay bales
looking for turtle shells.
How to sing over the groan of the county road
widening to four lanes.
I understand how to keep from looking up:
small planes trail overhead
as I kneel in the Johnson grass
combing away footprints.
Up here, parallel to the median
with a vista of mesas’ weavings,
the sky a belt of blue and white beadwork,
I see our hundred and sixty acres
stamped on God’s forsaken country,
a roof blown off a shed,
beams bent like matchsticks,
a drove of white cows
making their home
in a derailed train car.
Here is the Artist Statement of Moldavian painter Robert Andersen: ”I was born in 1985, in Chisinau. In 1997 I began my way as a painter and I began with abstractionism, as it usually happens nowadays. Since 2001 I have been working with surrealism, in the spirit of Dali and Tanga. By the year 2003 I had wanted to finish the dangerous games of reproducing hallucinations, dreams and wishes on the canvas. In the same period I begin to experiment in the manner of fauvists and impressionists. Fauvism as a way of self-expression turned out to be too simple for me, while the impressionistic apportionment of colors satisfied my technical needs and became the most appropriate manner of painting for me. At the moment I get inspired by the first modern openings of the end of the 19th century and I create my own things in the same manner. While expressing my thoughts on the canvas, I try to connect harmonically the spirit of modernism with that of impressionism. It may be added that my creative education, I mean my studies at the Academy of Art, leans my creation on the experience of the Russian painters of the end of the 19th century. In other words, my impressionism and modern are inseparably linked with the influence of the Russian realism, in particular, Repin and Serov. That is why in a certain way I am quite conservative, however I try to get only the methods from the old art, while the spirit itself, it is clear, I search in the modern world.
As for the inner side of my paintings, I can say that the images that I gather in compositions come in most cases accidentally. The fortuity is a residuary habit from the time of the surrealistic games. My compositions do not carry a definite, for example, philosophic conception. On the contrary I try to isolate my painting of any ideal and philosophical side, inasmuch as the history shows, it hindered the majority of the painters from expressing the beauty itself of their inner world, it hindered from catching the poetry. I consider my painting as a discloser of my internal, spiritual side and as a method of self-knowledge. The next aspect of my work lies in the specific peculiarities of the painting process itself. Like any other decorous painter I want to create something special, this is something one needs to focus his attention on. If you look at the today’s situation in the world of fine arts, on the whole there is nothing new to discover. All the new things that appear are most likely to be mannerism. But for a painter there are always the eternal sources of inspiration, for example, the man, nature. In reflections about the contemporary art I understood one thing that is already known to everyone. The main thing is that a painter does not have to create something original, the thing is that a painter has to breathe life into the painting. Sooner or later the painter realizes that this very thing is his basic desire. To breathe life into the image, to coerce the painting to live its own life, to turn on electricity through the structure of the canvas, to inject a stream of energy into the canvas… Well, at least this compels me to create something.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
“My Sister, Who Died Young, Takes Up The Task,”
By Jon Pineda
A basket of apples brown in our kitchen,
their warm scent is the scent of ripening,
and my sister, entering the room quietly,
takes a seat at the table, takes up the task
of peeling slowly away the blemished skins,
even half-rotten ones are salvaged carefully.
She makes sure to carve out the mealy flesh.
For this, I am grateful. I explain, ‘this elegy
would love to save everything.’ She smiles at me,
and before long, the empty bowl she uses fills,
domed with thin slices she brushes into
the mouth of a steaming pot on the stove.
‘What can I do?’ I ask finally. ‘Nothing,’
she says, ‘let me finish this one thing alone.’
Musings in Winter: Marco Pierre White
American Art – Part V of VI: Geoffrey Laurence
In the words of one writer, “After training in painting, graphic design, photography and printmaking in London from 1965 to 1972 where Geoffrey Laurence received his L.C.A.D and B.A. in painting. He spent the next 20 years whilst also working freelance in the allied arts fields of illustration, fashion and interior design, concentrating on drawing and painting, working exclusively from life and specifically with the figure.
He attended the New York Academy in 1993, receiving his M.F.A. Cum Laude and relocated from New York City to Santa Fe in 1996.”
A Seventh Poem for Today
“Footprint on Your Heart,”
By Gary Lenhart
Someone will walk into your life,
Leave a footprint on your heart,
Turn it into a mudroom cluttered
With encrusted boots, children’s mittens,
Where you linger to unwrap
Or ready yourself for rough exits
Into howling gales or onto
Frozen car seats, expulsions
Into the great outdoors where touch
Is muffled, noses glisten,
And breaths stab,
So that when you meet someone
Who is leaving your life
You will be able to wave stiff
Icy mitts and look forward
To an evening in spring
When you can fold winter away
Until your next encounter with
A chill so numbing you strew
The heart’s antechamber
With layers of rural garble.
Musings in Winter: Henry David Thoreau
“Every sunset which I witness inspires me with the desire to go to a west as distant and as fair as that into which the Sun goes down. He appears to migrate westward daily and tempt us to follow him. He is the Great Western Pioneer whom the nations follow. We dream all night of those mountain ridges in the horizon, though they may be of vapor only, which were last gilded by his rays.”
American Art – Part VI of VI: Andrew Young
In the words of one critic, “Obvious contrasts are at play in Young’s work, between nature and artifice, old and new, structure and randomness. Yet passages guided by chance are all the more allusive for the exacting attention paid to form elsewhere. And the artifice of language, in the form of writing, appears ultimately as a further expression of nature, like flowers, the idiosyncratic sigils of a strange and perpetual exultance.”