February Offerings – Part XI: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of VII: Arne Westerman

In the words of one writer, “Arne Westerman, A.W.S. signature member is Nationally known for his richly colored watercolors of people from all walks of life. He captures fleeting moments in their interaction as they go about their daily pursuits. Arne does not try to paint pretty people or contrived scenes, but real situations catching the warmth and earthiness of his subjects.”

Below – “A Touch Up”; “Sunday Morning”; “Santa Cruz Restaurant”; “Beautiful Blue Shirt”; “Carol with Guitar.”
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A Poem for Today

“Not a Sparrow”
By Tess Gallagher

Just when I think the Buddhists
are wrong and life is not mostly suffering,
I find a dead finch near the feeder.
How sullen, how free of regret, this death
that sinks worlds. I bury her near
the bicycle shed and return to care for
my aged mother, whose suffering
is such oxygen we do not consider it,
meaning life at any point exceeds
the price. A little more. A little more.

That same afternoon, having restored balance,
I discover a junco fallen on its back, beak
to air, rain pelting the prospect. Does
my feeder tempt flight through windows?
And, despite evidence, do some
accomplish it?

Digging a hole for the second bird, I find
the first gone. If I don’t think “raccoons”
or “dogs,” I can have a quiet, unwitnessed
miracle. Not a feather remains.
In goes the junco. I swipe earth over it,
set a pot on top. Time
to admit the limitations of death as
admonition.

Still, two dead birds in an afternoon
lets strange sky into the mind: birds flying
through windows, flying through
earth. Suffering must be like that too: equipped
with inexplicable escapes where the mind
watches the hand level dirt over the emptied grave
and, overpowered by the idea of wings,
keeps right on flying.
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Musings in Winter: Chief Seattle

“The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth.
All things are connected like the blood that unites one family.
Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
The earth is sacred and men and animals are but one part of it.
Treat the earth with respect so that it lasts for centuries to come and is a place of wonder and beauty for our children.”
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“You think that a wall as solid as the earth separates civilization from barbarism. I tell you the division is a thread, a sheet of glass. A touch here, a push there, and you bring back the reign of Saturn.” – John Buchan, Scottish novelist, historian, and politician, who died 11 February 1940.

Some quotes from the work of John Buchan:

“We can pay our debts to the past by putting the future in debt to ourselves.”
“The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.”
“The true definition of a snob is one who craves for what separates men rather than for what unites them.”
“The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.”
“Civilization is a conspiracy. Modern life is the silent compact of comfortable folk to keep up pretences.”
“Every man at the bottom of his heart believes that he is a born detective.”
“Peace is that state in which fear of any kind is unknown.”
“There may be Peace without Joy, and Joy without Peace, but the two combined make Happiness.”
“Without humility there can be no humanity.”

Italian painter Guglielmo Siega was born in Milan in 1935.
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Musings in Winter: John O’Donohue

“The ancient rhythms of the earth have insinuated themselves into the rhythms of the human heart. The earth is not outside us; it is within: the clay from where the tree of the body grows.”
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“I think, therefore I am.” – Rene Descartes, French philosopher, who stopped thinking on 11 February 1650.

Some quotes from the work of Rene Descartes:

“The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of past centuries.”
“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.”
“When it is not in our power to determine what is true, we ought to follow what is most probable.”
“Common sense is the most widely shared commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it.”
“Doubt is the origin of wisdom”
“It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.”
“Conquer yourself rather than the world.”
“Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.”
“I desire to live in peace and to continue the life I have begun under the motto ‘to live well you must live unseen.’”
“Masked, I advance.”
“To know what people really think, pay attention to what they do, rather than what they say.”
“It is only prudent never to place complete confidence in that by which we have even once been deceived.”
“For I found myself embarrassed with so many doubts and errors that it seemed to me that the effort to instruct myself had no effect other than the increasing discovery of my own ignorance.”
“To live without philosophizing is in truth the same as keeping the eyes closed without attempting to open them.”
“He who hid well, lived well.”
“At last I will devote myself sincerely and without reservation to the general demolition of my opinions.”
“But I cannot forget that, at other times I have been deceived in sleep by similar illusions; and, attentively considering those cases, I perceive so clearly that there exist no certain marks by which the state of waking can ever be distinguished from sleep, that I feel greatly astonished; and in amazement I almost persuade myself that I am now dreaming.”

Musings in Winter: Vendela Vida

“…and on some nights in bed, in that moment before sleep erased the day, I would picture the way the sky in Lapland looked the morning I left, how the train had sped south beneath a sky that was brighter than it had been in weeks. It had pulsed with reds and oranges, as though hiding a beating heart.”
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American Art – Part II of VII: Pablo Villicana Lara

Artist Statement: “I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, CA and Master of Fine Arts from College of the Arts in Oakland, CA. After creating with oils for several years as well as ceramics, pastel and textiles, discovering the quality of light and clarity of colors that could be achieved with watercolors changed the course of my artistic career and have exclusively worked with them for the past 22 years.
I was raised in both Mexican and American cultures, and most of my images reflect my love for Mexican/Native culture.”
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Musings in Winter: Matthew Arnold

“The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits;- on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.”
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Born 11 February 1800 – William Henry Fox Talbot, an Englishman who invented the calotype process, a precursor to the photographic processes of the 19th and 20th centuries. Talbot was also a noted photographer who made major contributions to the development of photography as an artistic medium.

Below – William Henry Fox Talbot – a photograph taken by John Moffat in1864; a latticed window at Lacock Abbey, August 1835 – a positive from what may be the oldest camera negative in existence; London Street, Reading, circa 1845.
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Musings in Winter: Psyche Roxas-Mendoza

“Every time I stand before a beautiful beach, its waves seem to whisper to me: If you choose the simple things and find joy in nature’s simple treasures, life and living need not be so hard.”

Below – Nancy Poucher: “Seascape”
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American Art – Part III of VII: Bill Baily

In the words of one writer, “Bill Baily lives with his wife, Donna, in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Although he was a professional pharmacist, he has also been an artist for over forty six years. Bill is now retired and except for an occasional fill in at the pharmacy, he spends his time painting. His subject matter is impressionistic landscapes and seascapes as well as the more prevalent fruit and vegetable still lifes for which he is well known. Most recently, Bill has been creating acrylic abstract paintings and collages.”

Below – “Early Morning”; “Pears at Rest”; “Magnetic Energy”; “Eggplant”; “Water in Motion.”
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Musings in Winter: Annie Dillard

“I was still ringing. I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.”
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From the American History Archives: Emma Goldman

11 February 1916 – Emma Goldman is arrested in New York City for lecturing on birth control. In the words of one historian, Goldman, an “American anarchist and feminist, compelling advocate of free speech, the eight-hour workday, and birth control, was arrested in New York City on February 11, 1916, just prior to giving another public lecture on family planning. She was charged with violating the Comstock Act, an 1873 statute banning transportation of “obscene” matter through the mails or across state lines. At the time, federal courts interpreted the statute as prohibiting distribution of contraception information.”

Below – Emma Goldman speaking in New York’s Union Square, 1916.
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A Second Poem for Today

“Charitable Deductions”
By Kate Bernadette Benedict

This is what I deduce:

That selfishness is born of deprivation.
That harsh words are the fearful’s bungled prayers.
That the gluttonous are starved,
the greedy cheated,
the lecher too unloved to hazard love.

Beneath the cold rock, the slug takes cover,
despised, unbeautiful,
spineless, lacking skeleton or shell.
Raise the rock:
it twirls its little feelers and shrugs itself,
innocent, tolerable, defenseless in the sudden light.
aBenedict

American Art – Part IV of VII: Rose Frantzen

Here is how one critic describes the artistry of painter Rose Frantzen: “Over time, Rose’s paintings have taken on an allegorical quality in which an abstract or surreal setting presents the subject as an archetypal character seen on his or her own internal stage. For these multi-dimensional works, she incorporates diverse stylistic elements along with gilding, stained glass, and mosaic.”
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Born 11 February 1874 – Elsa Beskow, a Swedish author and illustrator of children’s books and fairy tales.

Below – A photograph of Elsa Beskow (taken in 1901), followed by some of her charming illustrations.
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Musings in Winter: William Henry Hudson

“The blue sky, the brown soil beneath, the grass, the trees, the animals, the wind, and rain, and stars are never strange to me; for I am in and of and am one with them; and my flesh and the soil are one, and the heat in my blood and in the sunshine are one, and the winds and the tempests and my passions are one. I feel the ‘strangeness’ only with regard to my fellow men, especially in towns, where they exist in conditions unnatural to me, but congenial to them…. In such moments we sometimes feel a kinship with, and are strangely drawn to, the dead, who were not as these; the long, long dead, the men who knew not life in towns, and felt no strangeness in sun and wind and rain.”
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“We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy–sun, wind and tide. I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” – Thomas Alva Edison, American inventor and businessman, who was born 11 February 1847.

In the words of one historian, “(Edison) developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. Dubbed ‘The Wizard of Menlo Park.’ he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production and large-scale teamwork to the process of invention, and because of that, he is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.”

Some quotes from the work of Thomas Alva Edison:

“To do much clear thinking a person must arrange for regular periods of solitude when they can concentrate and indulge the imagination without distraction.”
“Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.”
There are no rules here — we’re trying to accomplish something.”
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
“Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”
“We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work”
“Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”
“If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”
“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.”
“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.”
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.”
“Vision without execution is hallucination.”
“Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.”
“What you are will show in what you do.”
“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.”
“The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”
“I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun.”
“Failure is really a matter of conceit. People don’t work hard because, in their conceit, they imagine they’ll succeed without ever making an effort. Most people believe that they’ll wake up some day and find themselves rich. Actually, they’ve got it half right, because eventually they do wake up.”
“We have but two ears and one mouth so that we may listen twice as much as we speak”
“The most necessary task of civilization is to teach people how to think. It should be the primary purpose of our public schools. The mind of a child is naturally active, it develops through exercise. Give a child plenty of exercise, for body and brain. The trouble with our way of educating is that it does not give elasticity to the mind. It casts the brain into a mold. It insists that the child must accept. It does not encourage original thought or reasoning, and it lays more stress on memory than observation.”
“There is always a better way.”
“Discontent is the first necessity of progress.”
“Your worth consists in what you are and not in what you have.”

American Art – Part V of VII: Brenda Boylan

Artist Statement: “My art is a visual display of all my senses orchestrating at once. Every time I enter into another painting my surroundings come alive from the rhythm of my heartbeat, the glow of light, the structure of design and the dance of color. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by beauty that I struggle to harness these feelings, but I am drawn to do it as if breathing. As I layer pigment down it is a slow unveiling of my inner self to the world, revealing the imperfections that I wish to improve with every mark. And so I paint.”
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Musings in Winter: Jay Woodman

When he is born, a baby’s head is filled with the knowledge of space. The circumference of his skull is as infinite as the twirlings of the universe. His eyes look out with the blur of eyes which see for all species. He has remembered his own nature from past patterns. Now his heart beats through rock, sky, oceans. He feels the silence and the sound all around the world beneath his skin.
We all hold somewhere deep within us the truth we accepted in innocence. The seas, the forests, the soil, the atmosphere, are all vital parts of an ongoing system. By harming any part of it we must ultimately harm ourselves. It is that simple.”
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A Third Poem for Today

“The Enigma We Answer by Living”
By Alison Hawthorne Deming

Einstein didn’t speak as a child
waiting till a sentence formed and
emerged full-blown from his head.

I do the thing, he later wrote, which
nature drives me to do. Does a fish
know the water in which he swims?

This came up in conversation
with a man I met by chance,
friend of a friend of a friend,

who passed through town carrying
three specimen boxes of insects
he’d collected in the Grand Canyon—

one for mosquitoes, one for honeybees,
one for butterflies and skippers,
each lined up in a row, pinned and labeled,

tiny morphologic differences
revealing how adaptation
happened over time. The deeper down

he hiked, the older the rock
and the younger
the strategy for living in that place.

And in my dining room the universe
found its way into this man
bent on cataloguing each innovation,

though he knows it will all disappear—
the labels, the skippers, the canyon.
We agreed then, the old friends and the new,

that it’s wrong to think people are a thing apart
from the whole, as if we’d sprung
from an idea out in space, rather than emerging

from the sequenced larval mess of creation
that binds us with the others,
all playing the endgame of a beautiful planet

that’s made us want to name
each thing and try to tell
its story against the vanishing.
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Musings in Winter: Thornton Wilder

“Throughout the hours of the night, though there had been few to hear it, the whole sky had been loud with the singing of these constellations.”
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Back from the Territory – Part I of II: Granite Tors Trail

The Granite Tors Trail affords hikers views of both the Alaska Range and the Chena River Valley. Trekking along its sinuous course in sub-zero temperatures is both testing and invigorating.
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.

Below – The Granite Tors Trail in winter.
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American Art – Part VI of VII: Mike Smith

In the words of one writer, “Mike Smith began his artistic career as an abstract painter, but for a number of reasons he began to abandon ‘schools’ of thinking and painting, and his subject matter became the objects of his life, family, and the neighbors and town that he lives in. In this portrayal of his small section of the world, Mike’s artworks have captured hearts around the globe, finding their way into collections in almost every country.”

Below – “Yellow House on the North Sea”; “Horses and Bear”; “The Horse Made of Light”; “Pony Watching The Boat To Zanzibar”; “Dusty, The Norwegian Forest Cat”; “Horse Bringing Dawn”; “Horse Bringing Stars”; “Lilly, Maddie, And The Coast Moon.”
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A Fourth Poem for Today

“An Observation”
By May Sarton

True gardeners cannot bear a glove
Between the sure touch and the tender root,
Must let their hands grow knotted as they move
With a rough sensitivity about
Under the earth, between the rock and shoot,
Never to bruise or wound the hidden fruit.
And so I watched my mother’s hands grow scarred,
She who could heal the wounded plant or friend
With the same vulnerable yet rigorous love;
I minded once to see her beauty gnarled,
But now her truth is given me to live,
As I learn for myself we must be hard
To move among the tender with an open hand,
And to stay sensitive up to the end
Pay with some toughness for a gentle world.
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Back from the Territory – Part II of II: The Aurora

During my recent visit to Fairbanks, I was fortunate enough to see the Aurora three times. On the third occasion the display was spellbinding: Light and dark green ribbons edged with pink danced across the sky from horizon to horizon for hours. I have witnessed few things in my life that were as lovely and awe-inspiring.
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.

Below – The Aurora over Fairbanks, Alaska.
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American Art – Part VII of VII: David Allen Dunlop

In the words of one writer, “David Allen Dunlop won the 2009 national daytime Emmy for ‘Outstanding Special Class Writing’ for the national 13-week PBS television series, ‘Landscapes through Time with David Dunlop,’ for which he was also the host. He said, ‘I’ve been fortunate to be able to put my life-study of art history, painting techniques and advances in neuroscience, reflected in my artwork, to use in another medium.’ David is a Norwalk, Connecticut artist who for twenty two or more years has been admired for his relentless pursuit of researching the Old Masters by studying the primary sources such as the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci and Leon Alberti’s 1436 instruction book, ‘Della Pictura.’ An instructor in his own right, David pursues experimental methods and teaching techniques stretching back to the Renaissance. During the Fall and Winter, David paints and exhibits extensively in the East since 1981 (as well as teaching landscape painting and print-making at the Silvermine School of Art in New Canaan, CT since 1993), while in the summer he teaches art classes in Italy.”
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