American Art – Part I of VIII: Barbara Bassett
In the words of one writer, “Barbara studied art at the Etruscan Art School in Italy where the emphasis was on outdoor plein air painting. Her most recent oil paintings on canvas depict what she calls “quintessential northwest”. There are paintings of farm fields, haystacks, birds, nests, and one of palm trees overlooking an ocean. Barbara recently won the top prize at the Keizer Mayor’s Art Gala with an oil painting of a scene with trees and water moving through the land. The painting was purchased for the city of Keizer’s Civic Center as a permanent part of the City’s art collection.”
A Poem for Today
By Jennifer Maier
Forgive me, Aunt Phyllis, for rejecting the cut
glass dishes—the odd set you gathered piece
by piece from thirteen boxes of Lux laundry soap.
Pardon me, eggbeater, for preferring the whisk;
and you, small ship in a bottle, for the diminutive
size of your ocean. Please don’t tell my mother,
hideous lamp, that the light you provided
was never enough. Domestic deities, do not be angry
that my counters are not white with flour;
no one is sorrier than I, iron skillet, for the heavy
longing for lightness directing my mortal hand.
And my apologies, to you, above all,
forsaken dresses, that sway from a rod between
ladders behind me, clicking your plastic tongues
at the girl you once made beautiful,
Born 13 February 1859 – William Strang, a Scottish painter and engraver.
A Second Poem for Today
“How I Learned Bliss,”
By Oliver De La Paz
I spied everything. The North Dakota license,
the “Baby on Board” signs, dead raccoons, and deer carcasses.
The Garfields clinging to car windows—the musky traces of old coffee.
I was single-minded in the buzz saw tour I took through
the flatlands of the country to get home. I just wanted to get there.
Never mind the antecedent. I had lost stations miles ago
and was living on cassettes and caffeine. Ahead, brushstrokes
of smoke from annual fires. Only ahead to the last days of summer
and to the dying theme of youth. How pitch-perfect
the tire-on-shoulder sound was to mask the hiss of the tape deck ribbons.
Everything. Perfect. As Wyoming collapses over the car
like a wave. And then another mile marker. Another.
How can I say this more clearly? It was like opening a heavy book,
Born 13 February 1921 – Zao Wou-Ki, a Chinese-French painter and member of the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
Musings in Winter: Christopher Paolini
“The sea is emotion incarnate. It loves, hates, and weeps. It defies all attempts to capture it with words and rejects all shackles. No matter what you say about it, there is always that which you can’t.”
From the Music Archives – Part I of III: Richard Wagner
“I write music with an exclamation point!” – Richard Wagner, German composer, theater director, and conductor known primarily for his operas, who died 13 February 1883.
American Art – Part II of VIII: Z. Z. Wei
In the words of one writer, “Z.Z. Wei was born Zhao Bai Wei on September 26, 1957 in Beijing, China. He graduated from the Central Institute of Art and Design in Beijing in 1984. In 1989, Z.Z. was invited by the Washington State Centennial Commission to participate in the Pacific Rim Cultural Connection Project and to be a resident artist at Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, Washington… Upon his first arrival to the Northwest, Z.Z. Wei could not believe the beauty spread before him. His first experiences in the Pacific Northwest were visual revelations. Feeling completely liberated from the stringent boundaries placed on him since birth, he embarked on an artistic odyssey in a quest to paint powerful images of rural America. He found the strong and unique landscapes in this region, and the spirit which moved through them, mirrored his inner passions and the art ideas he sought. This explosion of awareness coupled with his own memories of home have created a visual text in his work that is an intoxicating sensation of the past and present.”
A Third Poem for Today
By Paul Hostovsky
Everything is interesting
if you’re of a mind to see it
in that light. Claude Monet
probably understood this. The stoners
back in high school definitely
understood that everything is intoxicatingly
interesting if you’re of a mind
to see it in that light. My grandmother
in the emergency room
surrounded by doctors and nurses and children
and grandchildren, was of a mind to see
the pulse-oximeter on her left index finger
as the most interesting thing in the room,
more interesting than anything else in recent
memory, which was mostly gone
by then anyway. She cocked
her head like a bird or philosopher
contemplating a crumb
on God’s table under the light, that light,
and said to her children and her children’s children
and all of the strangers working together
to keep her from dying: “What
is the name of this thing? It’s so interesting.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before.”
Born 13 February 1930 – Ernst Fuchs, an Austrian painter, printmaker, sculptor, architect, poet, composer, and singer.
Musings in Winter: Kirin Desai
A Fourth Poem for Today
“Without Priests or Robes”
By Julie Eger
I remember a time when
Mama moved the furniture
to give us more room
as Dick Rodgers, Fritz Willfarht
and the rest of the players
would come in on WLUK
TV Station out of Green Bay
at 10:00 on Sunday mornings
while other kids were sitting in cars,
mothers slicking back hair with spit,
straightening collars, and scolding them
to stand up straight as they walked to their pews.
Mama cranked the volume on the TV
and with hands together, chins up,
shoulders locked, right foot back,
back together back, counting
we would polka all our cares away
and before Tuba Dan
put down his bouncing tuba,
without priests or robes,
without altars or smoke,
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of British painter Maxwell Doig (born 1966); ”The lone figure, face partially concealed and painted from an aerial viewpoint, continues to be the principal subject-matter of Maxwell Doig’s work. Doig has taken this previously untapped area of figurative painting and made it his own over the past eleven years, constantly striving to explore the many formal possibilities that it opens up.
In employing this unconventional viewpoint, Doig has been heavily influenced by other artistic mediums such as film and photography. The shot from directly above was heavily characteristic of the French Nouvelle Vague. A view that succeeds in being both intimate and detached, it emphasises the stillness of Doig’s solitary figures and subjects – there is no movement only quiet reflection or introspection.”
Musings in Winter: Robert Frost
A Fifth Poem for Today
“Getting in Touch with Mother”
By Jan Epton Seale
With no snappy top, spigot, or pump,
her Jergens bottle, wide-mouthed, glass-hipped,
might be too generous at her tip and shake,
give her far more lotion than she
could possibly be beautiful in,
even counting neck and elbows.
She’d bid me, stuck in the doorway,
”Come. Give me your hands.”
I’d spring forward, lay palms to hers,
thrilled at this invitation to high fives.
Then she’d coat me with her excess,
first slathering on the glamour milk,
now feeling of my hands like fine fabrics,
now massaging, squeezing,
me knowing to stay utterly limp,
and finally, trolling each finger
as my giggles rose no-holds-barred
from this daring grown-up wetness.
Our lovely handwrestling complete,
and fresh out of her emergency,
all almond-scented and smooth
I’d stand alone again.
Born 13 February 1941 – Sigmar Polke, a German painter and photographer.
Musings in Winter: Sara Teasdale
“I thought of you and how you love this beauty,
And walking up the long beach all alone
I heard the waves breaking in measured thunder
As you and I once heard their monotone.
American Art – Part III of VIII: Gary Brewer
In the words of one writer, “In a time of reality television, ecological awareness and everyone’s minutes of fame and seconds of attention span, Gary Brewer’s paintings are sensual invitations to pause and contemplate and enjoy the seductive beauty of Nature.
Brewer’s renditions of orchids and anemones, coral, lichens and mosses speak of the most recent biological discoveries, and proffer a visual vocabulary that describes the supra-natural world – a space and time that formerly existed beyond awareness, or only within imaginations. Here, wonderfully composed, bold, colorful and precise, Brewer transforms microscopic detail into a macro view of an elegant, inventive and fresh Nature, one that opens both eyes and minds.”
Musings in Winter: Albert Einstein
Died 13 February 1905 – Konstantin Apollonovich Savitsky, a Russian realist painter.
13 February 1566 – The Spanish settle in St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement and port in the continental United States.
American Art – Part IV of VIII: Janet Ternoff
Artist Statement: Janet Ternoff: ”My name is Janet Ternoff and I’m a self-taught artist living and working in New York. I create realist-style cityscapes paintings in oil. Most of my works are New York City scenes.
My works range from large-scale formats to small paintings. Large format oil paintings are more detailed then smaller ones.
I like details and sometimes it takes me countless hours to create large painting. Details are important in my work because the goal I’m trying to achieve is to invite you to step inside the painting and feel the city life.”
Musings in Winter: Margot Datz
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Iranian painter Hossein Ahmadi Nasab: “Born and raised in Iran, Hossein Ahmadi Nasab’s paintings are inspired by the women of his hometown, in the coastal city of Minab. Their colourful garments are reflected in the vibrant patterns featured in his works. Other influences include nature, the sun, the moon and the blue sky. In his pieces, he depicts the crescent of the moon, at the feet of these women, symbolising their majestic presence. Also engaged in poetry and writing, he often chooses people as his subject matter.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of III: “By the Beautiful Blue Danube”
13 February 1867 – “By the Beautiful Blue Danube,” composed by Johann Strauss II, premieres in Vienna.
American Art – Part V of VIII: Natalie Warrens
In the words of one writer, “Popular ceramic artist, Natalie Warrens, born in Portland, Oregon in December 1960, has successfully catapulted her ceramic works into a sought after enterprise. After receiving her BA with honors in ceramics from Portland State University, Portland, Oregon in 1984, Natalie continued her education obtaining an MFA in ceramics from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois. On her way to perfecting her unique style of sunny colors and a glaze so fine that people often mistake her work for glass, Natalie was accepted in the 1992 American Craft Exhibition in Baltimore, Maryland where she now exhibits her work every year. From that contact, other fairs opened to her such as the Sun Valley Festival of the Arts, Sun Valley, Idaho; Southwest Arts Festival, Alburquerque, New Mexico; Park City Festival of Arts, Park City, Utah; Sausalito Art Fair, Sausalito, California; Womens Show, San Francisco, California; and the State Street Area Art Fair, Ann Arbor, Michigan. As a result of all of these fairs, galleries from all over the United States were introduced to her ceramics and orders continue to grow keeping Natalie successfully productive. She sells in over 35 galleries in at least 20 states as well as Saks Fifth Avenue stores and Gump’s in San Francisco.”
Musings in Winter: Ian McEwan
A Sixth Poem for Today
“When Women Went Downtown”
By Patricia Fargnoli
The city was brick and stone in the time
before glass and steel. In those days
the city was streets of women.
They climbed down from buses
in seal skin, navy straw hats stuck with pearl drop pins,
their double-knotted Red Cross shoes,
clutching black cowhide purses, leading the children.
They lunched in tea rooms
on chicken-a-la-king and quartered sandwiches
but never wine–and never with men.
Rising in the smoky air,
their voices blended–silver striking off silver.
They haunted book rental booths,
combed aisles of threads and zippers,
climbed to the theater balconies, the palaces
where Astaire dipped and turned them
into more than they were.
In the late afternoons they crowded the winter dusk
waiting at the Isle-of-Safety, for the bus
with the right name to carry them home
to the simmer of soup on the stove,
the fire’s sweet red milk.
Evenings, far over the tiny houses
the wind swept the black pines like a broom,
stars swirled in their boiling cauldron of indigo
and the children floated to sleep to the women’s song
zipping the night together, to the story
of the snow goose who went farther and farther
and never returned.
Musings in Winter: Werner Herzog
Here is the Artist Statement of Australian painter Robert “Alfie” Hannaford (born 1944), who grew up on his family’s farm: ” I have always wanted to draw, sculpt and paint my world. I am amazed at how much work expands my reality.”
From the Music Archives – Part III of III: “The Dark Side of the Moon”
13 February 1982 – Pink Floyd’s album “The Dark Side of the Moon” appears on American popular music charts for the 402nd week. It ultimately remained on the charts for 741 weeks, from 1973 to 1988.
Musings in Winter: Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
American Art – Part VI of VIII: Judith Cunningham
Artist Statement: “When I am painting I become one with the paint and try to keep intellectual ideas to a minimum. While working, I relaate only to surfaces, thus much of the transmission of subtle intuitive feelings about a subject is subconscious. My intention is to share a vision with others, and when they connect with it: validation.”
A Seventh Poem for Today
By Alicia Suskin Astriker
The puzzled ones, the Americans, go through their lives
Buying what they are told to buy,
Pursuing their love affairs with the automobile,
Baseball and football, romance and beauty,
Enthusiastic as trained seals, going into debt, struggling—
True believers in liberty, and also security,
And of course sex—cheating on each other
For the most part only a little, mostly avoiding violence
Except at a vast blue distance, as between bombsight and earth,
Or on the violent screen, which they adore.
Those who are not Americans think Americans are happy
Because they are so filthy rich, but not so.
They are mostly puzzled and at a loss
As if someone pulled the floor out from under them,
They’d like to believe in God, or something, and they do try.
You can see it in their white faces at the supermarket and the gas station
—Not the immigrant faces, they know what they want,
Not the blacks, whose faces are hurt and proud—
The white faces, lipsticked, shaven, we do try
To keep smiling, for when we’re smiling, the whole world
Smiles with us, but we feel we’ve lost
That loving feeling. Clouds ride by above us,
Rivers flow, toilets work, traffic lights work, barring floods, fires
And earthquakes, houses and streets appear stable
From the American History Archives: Jesse James
13 February 1866 – Jesse James holds up his first bank in Liberty, Missouri. When losses were tallied, James and his cohorts (including brother Frank) escaped with almost $60,000, which is more than $1.2 million in today’s value.
Musings in Winter: George Bernard Shaw
An Eighth Poem for Today
“Reading the Obituaries”
By Marilyn L. Taylor
Now the Barbaras have begun to die,
trailing their older sisters to the grave,
the Helens, Margies, Nans—who said goodbye
just days ago, it seems, taking their leave
a step or two behind the hooded girls
who bloomed and withered with the century—
the Dorotheas, Eleanors and Pearls
now swaying on the edge of memory.
Soon, soon, the scythe will sweep for Jeanne
and Angela, Patricia and Diane—
pause, and return for Karen and Christine
while Susan spends a sleepless night again.
Ah, Debra, how can you be growing old?
Jennifer, Michelle, your hands are cold.
Back from the Territory – Part I of II: Landscape, Light, and Art
When you walk through the birch forests of Interior Alaska, especially in the morning, the reasons for the painterly values of many Alaskan and Canadian artists become apparent. (See the next “Back from the Territory” post.)
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
American Art – Part VII of VIII: Barbara Benedetti Newton
Artist Statement: “For me, painting is a journey of discovery from challenges of mastering the medium to contemplation about my message. I portray natural and man-made objects in a light filled environment. Presenting a variety of relationships is facinating to me – color to form, object to subject, shadow to light. I combine surface characteristics, color, and attention to detail to portray the spare elegance of ordinary objects and everyday scenes through contemporary realism. My most recent work has been creating landscape paintings through the luscious color and buttery texture of soft pastel.”
A Ninth Poem for Today
By Julianna McCarthy
Let me tell you about the dance band
at the shore, summer nights when I was just
old enough to feel the heartache in a trumpet solo,
the plea in a smoky saxophone riff.
Young girl lonely I would swim
out beyond the drop-off to lie on the raft,
wavelets lapping against planks still
warm under my back, to listen
to the baritone crooning, “Always”
and longing, longing to keep it all; keep
the night, keep the music, keep the band from going home.
Back from the Territory – Part II of II: Art
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
American Art – Part VIII of VIII: Mike Smith
Mike Smith was born in l942 in Portland, Oregon and spent his childhood growing up in Vancouver, Washington and the Puget Sound area.