American Art – Part I of III: Kay Sage
Died 8 January 1963 – Kay Sage, an American Surrealist artist and poet.
8 January 1956 – The Bollingen Prize for poetry is awarded to Conrad Aiken.
“The Dreamer of Dreams”
The sun goes down in a cold pale flare of light.
The trees grow dark: the shadows lean to the east:
And lights wink out through the windows, one by one.
A clamor of frosty sirens mourns at the night.
Pale slate-grey clouds whirl up from the sunken sun.
And the wandering one, the inquisitive dreamer of dreams,
The eternal asker of answers, stands in the street,
And lifts his palms for the first cold ghost of rain.
The purple lights leap down the hill before him.
The gorgeous night has begun again.
“I will ask them all, I will ask them all their dreams,
I will hold my light above them and seek their faces.
I will hear them whisper, invisible in their veins . . .”
The eternal asker of answers becomes as the darkness,
Or as a wind blown over a myriad forest,
Or as the numberless voices of long-drawn rains.
We hear him and take him among us, like a wind of music,
Like the ghost of a music we have somewhere heard;
We crowd through the streets in a dazzle of pallid lamplight,
We pour in a sinister wave, ascend a stair,
With laughter and cry, and word upon murmured word;
We flow, we descend, we turn . . . and the eternal dreamer
Moves among us like light, like evening air . . .
Good-night! Good-night! Good-night! We go our ways,
The rain runs over the pavement before our feet,
The cold rain falls, the rain sings.
We walk, we run, we ride. We turn our faces
To what the eternal evening brings.
Our hands are hot and raw with the stones we have laid,
We have built a tower of stone high into the sky,
We have built a city of towers.
Our hands are light, they are singing with emptiness.
Our souls are light; they have shaken a burden of hours . . .
What did we build it for? Was it all a dream? . . .
Ghostly above us in lamplight the towers gleam . . .
And after a while they will fall to dust and rain;
Or else we will tear them down with impatient hands;
And hew rock out of the earth, and build them again.
Musings in Winter: Aldo Leopold
8 January 1961 – The Bollingen Prize for poetry is awarded to Yvor Winters.
“At the San Francisco Airport”
To my daughter, 1954
This is the terminal: the light
Gives perfect vision, false and hard;
The metal glitters, deep and bright.
Great planes are waiting in the yard—
They are already in the night.
And you are here beside me, small,
Contained and fragile, and intent
On things that I but half recall—
Yet going whither you are bent.
I am the past, and that is all.
But you and I in part are one:
The frightened brain, the nervous will,
The knowledge of what must be done,
The passion to acquire the skill
To face that which you dare not shun.
The rain of matter upon sense
Destroys me momently. The score:
There comes what will come. The expense
Is what one thought, and something more—
One’s being and intelligence.
Musings in Winter: David Attenborough
“Using his burgeoning intelligence, this most successful of all mammals has exploited the environment to produce food for an ever increasing population. Instead of controlling the environment for the benefit of the population, perhaps it’s time we controlled the population to allow the survival of the environment.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Polish painter Julita Malinowska: “(Her) paintings belong to those, which once seen – are never forgotten. The open spaces, sometimes cool and bright, at other times heavily saturated with contrasting light, create a landscape in which, like a counterpoint, we come across a figure – sometimes one, perhaps two or more. The synthetic construction of form, clean contours, and strong divisions are elements which at first sight are the defining characteristics of the artist’s style. It is impossible to pass one by and remain indifferent to the subdued harmony flooding these spaces which are not totally defined.”
Musings in Winter: Michael J. Cohen
“Labels bias our perceptions, thinking, and behavior. A label or story can either separate us from, or connect us to, nature. For our health and happiness, we must critically evaluate our labels and stories by their effects.”
A Poem for Today
“Live Blindly and Upon the Hour,”
By Trumbull Stickney
Live blindly and upon the hour. The Lord,
Who was the Future, died full long ago.
Knowledge which is the Past is folly. Go,
Poor, child, and be not to thyself abhorred.
Around thine earth sun-winged winds do blow
And planets roll; a meteor draws his sword;
The rainbow breaks his seven-coloured chord
And the long strips of river-silver flow:
Awake! Give thyself to the lovely hours.
Drinking their lips, catch thou the dream in flight
About their fragile hairs’ aerial gold.
Thou art divine, thou livest,—as of old
Apollo springing naked to the light,
And all his island shivered into flowers.
Below – “Apollo and Daphne,” by John William Waterhouse.
8 January 1966 – The Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out” single reaches number one on the popular music charts and remains there for three weeks.
Born 8 January 1883 – Pavel Nikolayevich Filonov, a Russian painter, art theorist, and poet.
From the Music Archives – Part II of IV: Shirley Bassey
“No wedding bells for me anymore. I’ve been happily married to my profession for years.” – Shirley Bassey, Welsh singer best known for recording the theme songs to three James Bond films, who was born 8 January 1937.
Musings in Winter: Joni L. James
“Who will bear witness to these small islands and oases of wildness as land is divided and sold to become strip malls, housing developments, and parking lots? What happens to the natural history here? We must bear witness.”
Died 8 January 2013 – Kenojuak Ashevak, a Canadian Inuit artist.
Science versus Ignorance – Part I of II: Galileo Galilei
“It is surely harmful to souls to make it a heresy to believe what is proved.” – Galileo Galilei, Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, heretic, and the “Father of Modern Science,” who died 8 January 1642.
Some quotes from the work of Galileo Galilei:
“In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.”
“The Bible tells you how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.”
“I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.”
“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”
“You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.”
“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”
“Passion is the genesis of genius.”
“Philosophy [nature] is written in that great book which ever is before our eyes — I mean the universe — but we cannot understand it if we do not first learn the language and grasp the symbols in which it is written. The book is written in mathematical language, and the symbols are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without whose help it is impossible to comprehend a single word of it; without which one wanders in vain through a dark labyrinth.”
“There are those who reason well, but they are greatly outnumbered by those who reason badly.”
“Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”
“Long experience has taught me this about the status of mankind with regard to matters requiring thought: the less people know and understand about them, the more positively they attempt to argue concerning them, while on the other hand to know and understand a multitude of things renders men cautious in passing judgment upon anything new.”
“Measure what can be measured, and make measurable what cannot be measured.”
“The increase of known truths stimulates the investigation, establishment, and growth of the arts.”
Musings in Winter: Richard Louv
“She was one of those exceptional children who do still spend time outside, in solitude. In her case nature represented beauty – and refuge. ‘It’s so peaceful out there and the air smells so good. I mean, it’s polluted, but not as much as the city air. For me, it’s completely different there,’ she said. ‘It’s like you’re free when you go out there. It’s your own time. Sometimes I go there when I’m mad – and then, just with the peacefulness, I’m better. I can come back home happy, and my mom doesn’t even know why.’
Then she described her special part of the woods.
‘I had a place. There was a big waterfall and a creek on one side of it. I’d dug a big hole there, and sometimes I’d take a tent back there, or a blanket, and just lie down in the hole, and look up at the trees and sky. Sometimes I’d fall asleep back there. I just felt free; it was like my place, and I could do what I wanted, with nobody to stop me. I used to go down there almost every day.’
The young poet’s face flushed. Her voice thickened.
‘And then they just cut the woods down. It was like they cut down part of me.’”
Here is the Artist Statement of Irish painter Eleanor McCaughey: “While there is no one overriding theme in my work, common thematic elements include the ambiguity of violence in film, the aggressive nature of globalisation and its effects.
My work is an ongoing investigation into the dialogue between film and painting with a focus primarily on scenes of violence. Intentionally isolating the representational image from its context I use painting as a means to create new environments and narratives.
Recently I have been exploring the possibilities of painting and its structures. Deconstructing form and colour from the canvas, looking at new methods of presentation and reconstruction of the medium and its functions.”
A Second Poem for Today
By Claudia Emerson
She perches high on the stand, gleaming whistle
dangling, on her suit a dutiful,
faded red cross. Mine her only life
to guard, she does for a while watch
the middle-aged woman who has nothing better
to do than swim laps in the Y’s indoor pool
on a late Friday afternoon. I am slow,
though, boring, length after predictable
length of breaststroke or the duller lap
of elementary backstroke perfectly
executed within the taut confines
of the brightly buoyed lane. So she abandons me
to study split-ends, hangnail, wristwatch,
until—the body of the whistle cupped
loosely in her palm—her head nods toward
shallow dreams. I’ve never felt so safe in my life,
making flawless, practiced turns, pushing, invisible
to reenter my own wake, reverse it.
“I grew up with landscape as a recourse, with the possibility of exiting the horizontal realm of social relations for a vertical alignment with earth and sky, matter and spirit. Vast open spaces speak best to this craving, the spaces I myself first found in the desert and then in the western grasslands.”
Science versus Ignorance – Part II of II: Stephen Hawking
“I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.” – Stephen Hawking, English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, writer, Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge, and author of “A Brief History of Time,” who was born 8 January 1942.
Some quotes from the work of Stephen Hawking:
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”
“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.”
“Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?”
“Quiet people have the loudest minds.”
“One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.”
“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change. ”
“Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.”
“(In the Universe it may be that) Primitive life is very common and intelligent life is fairly rare. Some would say it has yet to occur on Earth.”
“It surprises me how disinterested we are today about things like physics, space, the universe and philosophy of our existence, our purpose, our final destination. It’s a crazy world out there. Be curious.”
“I think computer viruses should count as life. I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We’ve created life in our own image.”
“My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”
“I believe the simplest explanation is, there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization that there probably is no heaven and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that, I am extremely grateful.”
“It is all right to make mistakes; nothing is perfect because with perfection, we would not exist.”
“There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, and science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.”
“Although I cannot move and I have to speak through a computer, in my mind I am free.”
“To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit.”
“What I have done is to show that it is possible for the way the universe began to be determined by the laws of science. In that case, it would not be necessary to appeal to God to decide how the universe began. This doesn’t prove that there is no God, only that God is not necessary.”
“I do not fear death but I am in no hurry to die.”
“We don’t deliberately set out to offend. Unless we feel it’s justified. And in the case of certain well-known religions, it was justified.” – Graham Chapman, English comedian, writer, actor, and member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, who was born 8 January 1941.
Musings in Winter: Nancy Farmer
“O take heart, my brothers. Even now… with every leader & every resource & every strategy of every nation on Earth arrayed against Her – Even now, O even now, my brothers, Life is in no danger of losing the argument! – For after all … (as will be shown) She has only to change the subject.” – Kenneth Patchen, an American poet and novelist who influenced the San Francisco Renaissance and the Beat Generation, who died 8 January 1972.
That should be obvious
Of course it won’t
Any fool knows that.
Even in the winter.
Consider for a moment.
They never have.
Certainly it means nothing.
It’s all a lie.
What else could it be?
Any way you look at it.
A silk hat.
A fat belly.
A nice church to squat in.
My holy ass…
What should they care about?
Twelve kids on the fire escape…
Flowers on the windowsill…
You’re damn right.
That’s the way it is.
That’s just the way it is.
From the Music Archives – Part III of IV: Elvis
“Rhythm is something you either have or don’t have, but when you have it, you have it all over.” – Elvis Presley, American singer, musician, actor, and “the King of Rock and Roll,” who was born 8 January 1935.
Elvis’s first song to reach #1 on American popular music charts:
Spanish Art – Part I of II: Juan Luis Jardi
Here is one writer describing the artistry of Spanish painter Juan Luis Jardi (born 1961): “The landscape of every painting, the ones where figures appear, is unique because of all its peculiarities, carefully picked up. Jardí has no doubts with respect to the settings he picks, whether a snowed landscape, quite pertinent right now, a beach or an urban location. And he does not question either that the onlooker –himself, in the first instance, but also others that do exist or he can imagine– wants to be integrated in the ensemble, but at the same time, he has several ways to do it, and the artist desires to represent it to understand the different options we always have.”
A Third Poem for Today
“I Have News for You,”
By Tony Hoagland
There are people who do not see a broken playground swing
as a symbol of ruined childhood
and there are people who don’t interpret the behavior
of a fly in a motel room as a mocking representation of their thought process.
There are people who don’t walk past an empty swimming pool
and think about past pleasures unrecoverable
and then stand there blocking the sidewalk for other pedestrians.
I have read about a town somewhere in California where human beings
do not send their sinuous feeder roots
deep into the potting soil of others’ emotional lives
as if they were greedy six-year-olds
sucking the last half-inch of milkshake up through a noisy straw;
and other persons in the Midwest who can kiss without
debating the imperialist baggage of heterosexuality.
Do you see that creamy, lemon-yellow moon?
There are some people, unlike me and you,
who do not yearn after fame or love or quantities of money as
unattainable as that moon;
thus, they do not later
have to waste more time
defaming the object of their former ardor.
Or consequently run and crucify themselves
in some solitary midnight Starbucks Golgotha.
I have news for you—
there are people who get up in the morning and cross a room
From the American Old West: The Battle of Wolf Mountain
8 January 1877, The Montana Territory – The Battle of Wolf Mountain is fought between troops of the United States Army commanded by General Nelson Miles and a force of Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne warriors led by Two Moons and Crazy Horse. This was the last time that Crazy Horse fought against the United States cavalry, and in May he and his surviving warriors surrendered at Camp Robinson.
A Fourth Poem for Today
“The Outstretched Earth,”
By Jane Mead
Do you know what whole fields are?
They are fields with a dog and a moon.
Do you know the answer — for the many?
Except there would be vineyards.
Meaning there would, as usual, be commerce.
Money, and a game of sorts to play it.
Meanwhile — Emma lost in the cover-crop.
Top of her head bobbing through mustard-flower.
It is, after all, still here —
Spanish Art – Part II of II: Juan Moreno Aguado
A Fifth Poem for Today
“You Can’t Have It All,”
By Barbara Ras
But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands
gloved with green. You can have the touch of a single eleven-year-old finger
on your cheek, waking you at one a.m. to say the hamster is back.
You can have the purr of the cat and the soulful look
of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite
every sorrow until it fled, and when it is August,
you can have it August and abundantly so. You can have love
though often it will be mysterious, like the white foam
that bubbles up at the top of the bean pot over the red kidneys
until you realize foam’s twin is blood.
You can have the skin at the center between a man’s legs,
so solid, so doll-like. You can have the life of the mind,
glowing occasionally in priestly vestments, never admitting pettiness,
never stooping to bribe the sullen guard who’ll tell you
all roads narrow at the border.
You can speak a foreign language, sometimes,
and it can mean something. You can visit the marker on the grave
where your father wept openly. You can’t bring back the dead,
but you can have the words forgive and forget hold hands
as if they meant to spend a lifetime together. And you can be grateful
for makeup, the way it kisses your face, half spice, half amnesia, grateful
for Mozart, his many notes racing one another towards joy, for towels
sucking up the drops on your clean skin, and for deeper thirsts,
for passion fruit, for saliva. You can have the dream,
the dream of Egypt, the horses of Egypt and you riding in the hot sand.
You can have your grandfather sitting on the side of your bed,
at least for a while, you can have clouds and letters, the leaping
of distances, and Indian food with yellow sauce like sunrise.
You can’t count on grace to pick you out of a crowd
but here is your friend to teach you how to high jump,
how to throw yourself over the bar, backwards,
until you learn about love, about sweet surrender,
and here are periwinkles, buses that kneel, farms in the mind
as real as Africa. And when adulthood fails you,
you can still summon the memory of the black swan on the pond
of your childhood, the rye bread with peanut butter and bananas
your grandmother gave you while the rest of the family slept.
There is the voice you can still summon at will, like your mother’s,
it will always whisper, you can’t have it all,
but there is this.
From the Music Archives – Part IV of IV: Ludwig van Beethoven
Musings in Winter: Annie Dillard
“The mountains are great stone bells; they clang together like nuns. Who shushed the stars? There are a thousand million galaxies easily seen in the Palomar reflector; collisions between and among them do, of course, occur. But these collisions are very long and silent slides. Billions of stars sift about each other untouched, too distant even to be moved, heedless as always, hushed. The sea pronounces something, over and over, in a hoarse whisper; I cannot quite make it out. But God knows I have tried.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
“An Afternoon at the Beach,”
By Edgar Bowers
I’ll go among the dead to see my friend.
The place I leave is beautiful: the sea
Repeats the winds’ far swell in its long sound,
And, there beside it, houses solemnly
Shine with the modest courage of the land,
While swimmers try the verge of what they see.
I cannot go, although I should pretend
Some final self whose phantom eye could see
Him who because he is not cannot change.
And yet the thought of going makes the sea,
The land, the swimmers, and myself seem strange,
Almost as strange as they will someday be.
American Art – Part II of III: Natalia Fabia
In the words of one writer, “Natalia Fabia is of Polish descent and was raised in Southern California where she graduated from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Inspired by light, color, punk rock music, hot chicks and sparkles, Fabia is fascinated with ‘hookers,’ which fuels her paintings of sultry women.
Her work has been featured in numerous gallery exhibitions including Thinkspace Gallery, M Modern and The Shooting Gallery. She has been featured in ‘Angeleno,’ ‘Juxtapoz,’ and ‘New York Arts’ magazine as well as appearances on ‘Miami Ink,’ ‘Fox 11 News’ and ‘Indie 103.1.’”
Below – “Brooklyn Rainbows”; “Electric Marshmallows For Real Eyes”; “Cherokee Geisha”; “Noelle The Hooker Clown”; “Rest Interrupted”; “Pizza Party”; “Jungle Hooker”; “Safari Girl Pile”; “Cocktail Face”: “Patty Cake.”
Musings in Winter: Guy de Maupassant
“There are some delightful places in this world which have a sensual charm for the eyes. One loves them with a physical love. We people who are attracted by the countryside cherish fond memories of certain springs, certain woods, certain ponds, certain hills, which have become familiar sights and can touch our hearts like happy events.
Sometimes indeed the memory goes back towards a forest glade, or a spot on a river bank or an orchard in blossom, glimpsed only once on a happy day, but preserved in our heart.”
A Seventh Poem for Today
“The Tree Agreement,”
By Elise Paschen
The neighbor calls the ‘Siberian Elm’
a “weed” tree, demands we hack
it down, says the leaves overwhelm
his property, the square backyard.
He’s collar-and-tie. A weed tree?
Branches screen buildings, subway tracks,
his patch of yard. We disagree,
claim back the sap, heartwood, wild bark.
He declares the tree “hazardous.”
We shelter under leaf-hoard, crossway
for squirrels, branch house for sparrows, jays.
The balcony soaks up the shade.
Musings in Winter: Hamlin Garland
“I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets. It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day. It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful. Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me – I am happy.”
American Art – Part III of III: Brian Keeler
In the words of one critic, “In 31 years of editing art magazines, I can’t think of many other artists whose artwork is as varied, accomplished, or expressive as the pictures Keeler has created during his long career. He is an exceptionally talented, intelligent, and dedicated artist, and it has been a great privilege to share his work with readers of these publications. Above all, he is an intelligent, passionate artist who deals with aspects of the visual world that can be analyzed and explained, as well as those that are purely emotional.”