January Offerings – Part XXVIII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of V: Amy Hill

Here is the Artist Statement of American painter Amy Hill: “Painting is both a material and historical process. Fifteenth century Flemish painters are my current inspiration. Their simultaneous naiveté and precocious power of observation are spiritually reassuring. My instincts as a painter are similar enough to theirs to allow me to conduct an ongoing dialogue with them.”
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A Poem for Today

“Afternoon on a Hill”
By Edna St. Vincent Millay

I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

I will look at cliffs and clouds
With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down the grass,
And the grass rise.

And when lights begin to show
Up from the town,
I will mark which must be mine,
And then start down!

Below – Yelena Bryksenkova: “Afternoon on a Hill”
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Musings in Winter: F. G. Capitanio

“There is a mystical quality to the place where sea meets land, the clashing of two very different worlds. Yet continuity remains between them. The oceans reclaim the earth with their wind and water. The earth soaks up the sea to be carried off by the rain. They are always in flux. Each has their specific creatures, breathing in their own given ways, but dying in the same way, caught in a constant battle to survive. They swim and run and fly in tranquil spaces, among rolling hills and waves, great blue and green expanses, mountains both below the surface and above. And there is violence in their worlds.”
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American Art – Part II of V: Jackson Pollock

“Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you.” – Jackson Pollock, influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement, who was born 28 January 1912.

Below – “Convergence”; “Number 1 (Lavender Mist)”; “Full Fathom Five”; “Blue (Moby Dick)”; “The Deep”; “Portrait and a Dream.”
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An American Voice – The Poetry of Gary Snyder: Part I of VI

“December At Yase”

You said, that October,
In the tall dry grass by the orchard
When you chose to be free,
“Again someday, maybe ten years.”

After college I saw you
One time. You were strange,
And I was obsessed with a plan.

Now ten years and more have
Gone by: I’ve always known
where you were—
I might have gone to you
Hoping to win your love back.
You still are single.

I didn’t.
I thought I must make it alone. I
Have done that.

Only in dream, like this dawn,
Does the grave, awed intensity
Of our young love
Return to my mind, to my flesh.

We had what the others
All crave and seek for;
We left it behind at nineteen.

I feel ancient, as though I had
Lived many lives.

And may never now know
If I am a fool
Or have done what my
karma demands.

Below – Gary Snyder (born 1930), circa 1966.
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Musings in Winter: Bill McKibben

“We speak often, and sentimentally, of being ‘enchanted’ by the natural world. But what if it’s the other way around? What if we are enchanted, literally, by the human world we live in? That seems entirely more likely – that the consumer world amounts to a kind of lulling spell, chanted tunefully and eternally by the TV, the billboard, the suburb. A spell that convinces us that the things we want most from the world are comfort, convenience, security. A spell that by now we sing to each other. A spell that, should it start to weaken, we try to strengthen with medication, with consumption, with noise. A slight frantic enchantment, one that has to get louder all the time to block out the troubling question constantly forming in the back of our minds: ‘Is this all there is?’”
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The Irish Muse – William Butler Yeats: Part I of V

“The Second Coming”

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Below – “Life in the Gyre,” by Valerie O’Flynn (inspired by “The Second Coming”).
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A Second Poem for Today

“The Art of Disappearing”
By Naomi Shihab Nye

When they say Don’t I know you?
say no.

When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.
Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.

If they say We should get together
say why?

It’s not that you don’t love them anymore.
You’re trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven’t seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don’t start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.
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Musings in Winter: Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon

“The great workman of nature is time.”
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28 January 1813 – Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is first published in the United Kingdom.

Some quotes from “Pride and Prejudice”:

“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.”
“A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.”
“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.”
“For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?”
We are all fools in love.”
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An American Voice – The Poetry of Gary Snyder: Part II of VI

“Above Pate Valley”

We finished clearing the last
Section of trail by noon,
High on the ridge-side
Two thousand feet above the creek
Reached the pass, went on
Beyond the white pine groves,
Granite shoulders, to a small
Green meadow watered by the snow,
Edged with Aspen—sun
Straight high and blazing
But the air was cool.
Ate a cold fried trout in the
Trembling shadows. I spied
A glitter, and found a flake
Black volcanic glass—obsidian—
By a flower. Hands and knees
Pushing the Bear grass, thousands
Of arrowhead leavings over a
Hundred yards. Not one good
Head, just razor flakes
On a hill snowed all but summer,
A land of fat summer deer,
They came to camp. On their
Own trails. I followed my own
Trail here. Picked up the cold-drill,
Pick, singlejack, and sack
Of dynamite.
Ten thousand years.

Below – The Tuolmne River in Pate Valley.
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Musings in Winter: Anne Sexton

“Put your mouthful of words away
and come with me to watch
the lilies open in such a field,
growing there like yachts,
slowly steering their petals
without nurses or clocks.”
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American Art – Part III of V: Jenny Morgan

In the words of one writer, “Jenny Morgan is a contemporary artist who creates large paintings. She was schooled at the School of Visual Arts in New York and the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in Colorado. Jenny has held several solo shows throughout the Denver area and has participated in numerous other shows across Colorado and New York.”
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A Third Poem for Today

“Beans and Franks”
By Donald Hall

When Newberry’s closed
in Franklin, New Hampshire—homely lime front
on Main Street, among the closed
storefronts of this mill town depressed
since nineteen twenty-nine;
with its lunch counter for beans and franks
and coleslaw; with its
bins of peanuts, counters of acrylic,
hair nets, underwear, workshirts,
marbled notebooks, Bic pens, plastic
toys, and cheap sneakers;
where Marjorie worked ten years at the iron
cash register, Alcibide
Monbouquet pushed a broom at night.
and Mr. Smith managed—
we learned that a man from Beverly
Hills owned it, who never saw
the streets of Franklin, New Hampshire,
and drew with a well-groomed hand
a line through “Franklin, New Hampshire.”
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The Irish Muse – William Butler Yeats: Part II of V

“Leda and the Swan”

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

Below – Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640): “Leda and the Swan”; Rapiti Giovanni: “Leda and the Swan” (2008).
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Musings in Winter: John Muir

“The making of gardens and parks goes on with civilization all over the world, and they increase both in size and number as their value is recognized. Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike. This natural beauty-hunger is made manifest in the little windowsill gardens of the poor, though perhaps only a geranium slip in a broken cup, as well as in the carefully tended rose and lily gardens of the rich, the thousands of spacious city parks and botanical gardens, and in our magnificent National Parks—the Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sequoia, etc.—Nature’s sublime wonderlands, the admiration and joy of the world. Nevertheless, like anything else worth while, from the very beginning, however well guarded, they have always been subject to attack by despoiling gain-seekers and mischief-makers of every degree from Satan to Senators, eagerly trying to make everything immediately and selfishly commercial, with schemes disguised in smug-smiling philanthropy, industriously, sham-piously crying, ‘Conservation, conservation, panutilization,’ that man and beast may be fed and the dear Nation made great. Thus long ago a few enterprising merchants utilized the Jerusalem temple as a place of business instead of a place of prayer, changing money, buying and selling cattle and sheep and doves; and earlier still, the first forest reservation, including only one tree, was likewise despoiled. Ever since the establishment of the Yosemite National Park, strife has been going on around its borders and I suppose this will go on as part of the universal battle between right and wrong, however much of its boundaries may be shorn, or its wild beauty destroyed.”
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Nobel Laureate: Joseph Brodsky

“Life, the way it really is, is a battle not between Bad and Good but between Bad and Worse.” – Joseph Brodsky, Russian poet, essayist, and recipient of the 1987 Nobel Prize in Literature “for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity,” who died 28 January 1996.

“Odysseus to Telemachus”

The Trojan War 

is over now; I don’t recall who won it. 

The Greeks, no doubt, for only they would leave

so many dead so far from their own homeland. 

But still, my homeward way has proved too long. 

While we were wasting time there, old Poseidon, 

it almost seems, stretched and extended space.

I don’t know where I am or what this place 

can be. It would appear some filthy island, 

with bushes, buildings, and great grunting pigs. 

A garden choked with weeds; some queen or other. 

Grass and huge stones . . . Telemachus, my son! 

To a wanderer the faces of all islands 

resemble one another. And the mind 

trips, numbering waves; eyes, sore from sea horizons, 

run; and the flesh of water stuffs the ears. 

I can’t remember how the war came out; 

even how old you are–I can’t remember.

Grow up, then, my Telemachus, grow strong. 

Only the gods know if we’ll see each other 

again. You’ve long since ceased to be that babe 

before whom I reined in the plowing bullocks. 

Had it not been for Palamedes’ trick 

we two would still be living in one household. 

But maybe he was right; away from me 

you are quite safe from all Oedipal passions, 

and your dreams, my Telemachus, are blameless.

Below – Lucien Doucet: “Reunion of Odysseus and Telemachus”

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Musings in Winter: D. T. Suzuki

“Modern life seems to recede further and further away from nature, and closely connected with this fact we seem to be losing the feeling of reverence towards nature. It is probably inevitable when science and machinery, capitalism and materialism go hand in hand so far in a most remarkably successful manner. Mysticism, which is the life of religion in whatever sense we understand it, has come to be relegated altogether in the background. Without a certain amount of mysticism there is no appreciation for the feeling of reverence, and, along with it, for the spiritual significance of humility. Science and scientific technique have done a great deal for humanity; but as far as our spiritual welfare is concerned we have not made any advances over that attained by our forefathers. In fact we are suffering at present the worst kind of unrest all over the world.”

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An American Voice – The Poetry of Gary Snyder: Part III of VI

“Paiute Creek”

One granite ridge
A tree, would be enough
Or even a rock, a small creek,
A bark shred in a pool.
Hill beyond hill, folded and twisted
Tough trees crammed
In thin stone fractures
A huge moon on it all, is too much.
The mind wanders. A million
Summers, night air still and the rocks
Warm. Sky over endless mountains.
All the junk that goes with being human
Drops away, hard rock wavers
Even the heavy present seems to fail
This bubble of a heart.
Words and books
Like a small creek off a high ledge
Gone in the dry air.
A clear, attentive mind
Has no meaning but that
Which sees is truly seen.
No one loves rock, yet we are here.
Night chills. A flick
In the moonlight
Slips into Juniper shadow:
Back there unseen
Cold proud eyes
Of Cougar or Coyote
Watch me rise and go.

Below – Paiute Creek.
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A Fourth Poem for Today

“Prayer Chain”
By Tim Nolan

My mother called to tell me
about an old classmate of mine who

was dying on the parish prayer chain—
or was very sick—or destitute—

or it had not worked out—the marriage—
or the kids were all on drugs—and

all the old mothers were praying intensely
for all the pain of their children

and for life—they were praying for life—
in their quiet rooms—sipping decaf coffee—

I bet they’ve been praying for me at times—
so I’ll find my way—so I won’t rob a bank—

I’ll take them—the mystical prayers of old mothers—
it matters—all this patient and purposeful love.
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In the words of one critic, the art of Spanish-born Venezuelan painter Chelin Sanjuan “stands out for its polished technique. Her drawing is clean, with steady and secure lines, while dynamic, showing a balanced and serene usage of color, mainly warm tones. She copes with easiness in the most realistic pictorial lines, but also in more imaginative and surrealist fields. Each painting is an unique world, magical, intimate, with hidden elements and transparent shapes that mix with softness.
The characters -women, children and animals, particularly cats- that appear in her paintings have an interesting close relationship between them, always showing a small point of humor. Figurative art, of sharp and polished shapes, but delicate in the topics and always lively in the contents, without doubt a very personal style, not influenced by gestural and pseudodecorative artistic trends. ‘A flower in the desert,’ I thought the first time I saw her works.”
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An American Voice – The Poetry of Gary Snyder: Part IV of VI

“Hay for the Horses”

He had driven half the night

From far down San Joaquin

Through Mariposa, up the

Dangerous Mountain roads,

And pulled in at eight a.m.

With his big truckload of hay

behind the barn.
With winch and ropes and hooks

We stacked the bales up clean

To splintery redwood rafters

High in the dark, flecks of alfalfa

Whirling through shingle-cracks of light,

Itch of haydust in the 

sweaty shirt and shoes.

At lunchtime under Black oak

Out in the hot corral,

—The old mare nosing lunchpails,

Grasshoppers crackling in the weeds—

“I’m sixty-eight” he said,

“I first bucked hay when I was seventeen.

I thought, that day I started,

I sure would hate to do this all my life.

And dammit, that’s just what

I’ve gone and done.”

Below – Bucking hay.
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Musings in Winter: Tsering Wangmo Dhompa

“There is an uncommonly harsh beauty to the Tibetan landscape. Its nakedness makes it seem incapable of deception, but under its calm deportment it conceals winds so brutal that yaks are known to die while their jaws are in masticating bliss. On hot summer days the sun licks up the rain within minutes. No puddles are formed; no moisture lingers in the air. It is only the droplets on tiny leaves of the baby turnip plant that betray rain.”
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American Art – Part IV of V: Ryan Mendoza

American painter Ryan Mendoza (born 1971) is a graduate of Parsons School of Art and Design in New York City. He now lives and works in both Berlin and Naples.
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The Irish Muse – William Butler Yeats: Part III of V

“Sailing to Byzantium”

I

That is no country for old men. The young

In one another’s arms, birds in the trees

—Those dying generations—at their song,

The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,

Fish, flesh, or fowl commend all summer long

Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.

Caught in that sensual music all neglect

Monuments of unaging intellect.

II

An aged man is but a paltry thing,

A tattered coat upon a stick, unless

Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing

For every tatter in its mortal dress,

Nor is there singing school but studying

Monuments of its own magnificence;

And therefore I have sailed the seas and come

To the holy city of Byzantium.

III

O sages standing in God’s holy fire

As in the gold mosaic of a wall,

Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,

And be the singing-masters of my soul.

Consume my heart away; sick with desire

And fastened to a dying animal

It knows not what it is; and gather me 

Into the artifice of eternity.

IV

Once out of nature I shall never take

My bodily form from any natural thing,

But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make

Of hammered gold and gold enamelling

To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;

Or set upon a golden bough to sing

To lords and ladies of Byzantium

Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

Below – Martin Cheek: “Byzantine Fishermen”
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Irish Art – Part I of II: Eileen Healy

In the words of one critic, “Eileen Healy is mainly a figurative artist who works from life. A strong believer in the practice of drawing she believes its this practice of working from life that keeps her work fresh and alive.
She uses models as her source of inspiration working with various lighting, investigating the effects of light and shadow on the body and face both with nudes and portraits.
Her finished pieces mostly show the figure in isolation, she rarely uses props or themes as the main focus is mainly on the person seated or lying in front of her.
Working in a variety of mediums she enjoys developing her skills in both pastel, oil and sometimes acrylic.”
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The Irish Muse – William Butler Yeats: Part IV of V

“The Lake Isle of Innisfree”

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Below – Isle of Innisfree.
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Irish Art – Part II of II: Bob Quinn

In the words of one writer, “Born in 1948 Bob Quinn enjoyed a long career within the Irish advertising business as a commercial artist, designer and as the head of a successful design and production company.
He now works full time as a sculptor in Blackrock Co Dublin where he lives with his wife and two daughters.”
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The Irish Muse – William Butler Yeats: Part V of V

William Butler Yeats died on 28 January 1939.

“Under Ben Bulben – Stanza VI”

Under bare Ben Bulben’s head
In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.
An ancestor was rector there
Long years ago, a church stands near,
By the road an ancient cross.
No marble, no conventional phrase;
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut:

Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!

Below – Ben Bulben; the grave of William Butler Yeats.
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An American Voice – The Poetry of Gary Snyder: Part V of VI

“There Are Those Who Love To Get Dirty”

There are those who love to get dirty
and fix things.
They drink coffee at dawn,
beer after work,

And those who stay clean,
just appreciate things,
At breakfast they have milk
and juice at night.

There are those who do both,
they drink tea.

Below – Gary Snyder drinking tea during his student days at Berkeley.
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Musings in Winter: Okakura Kakuzo

“Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.”

Below – Yen-Fu: “The Evening Glow and Bamboo”
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A Fifth Poem for Today

“My Mother’s Address Book”
By Lyn Lifshin

With rubber bands
flecked with powder,
slack as the face of
a child who won’t
eat. Almost half
the names crossed
out with a line,
Buzzy, darkened over
with a pencil, as if there
was a rush like some
one throwing a dead
relative’s shoes and
wool dresses toward
the Salvation Army
baskets, someone
catching a train,
breathlessly, the
graphite black as
shining freight.
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Musings in Winter: John Steinbeck

“The Pacific is my home ocean; I knew it first, grew up on its shore, collected marine animals along the coast. I know its moods, its color, its nature. It was very far inland that I caught the first smell of the Pacific. When one has been long at sea, the smell of land reaches far out to greet one. And the same it true when one has been long inland.”
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An American Voice – The Poetry of Gary Snyder: Part VI of VI

“Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout”

Down valley a smoke haze
Three days heat, after five days rain
Pitch glows on the fir-cones
Across rocks and meadows
Swarms of new flies.

I cannot remember things I once read
A few friends, but they are in cities.
Drinking cold snow-water from a tin cup
Looking down for miles
Through high still air.

Below – Sourdough Mountain Lookout in the North Cascades.
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Musings in Winter: Daniel J. Rice

“If you have not touched the rocky wall of a canyon. If you have not heard a rushing river pound over cobblestones. If you have not seen a native trout rise in a crystalline pool beneath a shattering riffle, or a golden eagle spread its wings and cover you in shadow. If you have not seen the tree line recede to the top of a bare crested mountain. If you have not looked into a pair of wild eyes and seen your own reflection. Please, for the good of your soul, travel west.”
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American Art – Part V of V: Craig Kosak

Artist Statement: “Inspired by the wildlife and landscapes I encounter while travelling I return to my studio with insights about the world and about myself. Rather than faithfully documenting the flora and fauna, I strive to capture the feeling and emotions these trips provide. Each trip consists of both a journey through the outer world, and an inner journey where I learn more about my humanity, my spirit and the world inside. These paintings are about both worlds and how they relate.”
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Friends: I am leaving town for a few days to visit my son and daughter-in-law in Fairbanks, Alaska. If I can take a good photograph of the Aurora – or anything else interesting in the Arctic landscape – I will definitely post it immediately upon my return.
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