American Art – Part I of IX: Ricardo Mazal
In the words of one writer, “Mazal’s work explores the process of visual perception as it takes form in the human consciousness. His paintings depict the passage of time, not by illustrating events but by leaving their residue to dissipate in space like a still photograph of a speeding object blurred to abstraction.”
“The grass grows over the graves, time overgrows the pain. The wind blew away the traces of those who had departed; time blows away the bloody pain and the memory of those who did not live to see their dear ones again—and will not live, for brief is human life, and not for long is any of us granted to tread the grass.” – Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov, Russian novelist, author of “And Quiet Flows the Don,” and recipient of the 1965 Nobel Prize in Literature “for the artistic power and integrity with which, in his epic of the Don, he has given expression to a historic phase in the life of the Russian people,” who died 21 February 1984.
Some quotes from the work of Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokov:
“And over the village slipped the days, passing into the nights; the weeks flowed by, the months crept on, the wind howled, and, glassified with an autumnal, translucent, greenish-azure, the Don flowed tranquilly down to the sea.”
“When swept out of its normal channel, life scatters into innumerable streams. It is difficult to foresee which it will take in its treacherous and winding course. Where to-day it flows in shallows, like a rivulet over sandbanks, so shallow that the shoals are visible, to-morrow it will flow richly and fully.”
“Sometimes life played with him, sometimes it hung on him like a stone round the neck of a drowned man.”
“The Don! The Don! The gentle Don! Our father; giver of our food! Hurrah!”
“In this winter night, long and ample for bitter memories, many a widow who lost her husband in the war and is now left alone will press her palms to her ageing face; and in the nocturnal darkness the burning tears, as bitter as wormwood, will scorch her fingers.”
A Poem for Today
“Lyell’s Hypothesis Again”
By Kenneth Rexroth
An Attempt to Explain the Former Changes of the Earth’s Surface by Causes Now in Operation — subtitle of Lyell: ‘Principles of Geology’
The mountain road ends here,
Broken away in the chasm where
The bridge washed out years ago.
The first scarlet larkspur glitters
In the first patch of April
Morning sunlight. The engorged creek
Roars and rustles like a military
Ball. Here by the waterfall,
Insuperable life, flushed
With the equinox, sentient
And sentimental, falls away
To the sea and death. The tissue
Of sympathy and agony
That binds the flesh in its Nessus’ shirt;
The clotted cobweb of unself
And self; sheds itself and flecks
The sun’s bed with darts of blossom
Like flagellant blood above
The water bursting in the vibrant
Air. This ego, bound by personal
Tragedy and the vast
Of the ruined and ruining world,
Pauses in this immortality,
As passionate, as apathetic,
As the lava flow that burned here once;
And stopped here; and said, ‘This far
And no further.’ And spoke thereafter
In the simple diction of stone.
Naked in the warm April air,
We lie under the redwoods,
In the sunny lee of a cliff.
As you kneel above me I see
Tiny red marks on your flanks
Like bites, where the redwood cones
Have pressed into your flesh.
You can find just the same marks
In the lignite in the cliff
Over our heads. ‘Sequoia
Langsdorfii’ before the ice,
And ‘sempervirens’ afterwards,
There is little difference,
Except for all those years.
Here in the sweet, moribund
Fetor of spring flowers, washed,
Flotsam and jetsam together,
Cool and naked together,
Under this tree for a moment,
We have escaped the bitterness
Of love, and love lost, and love
Betrayed. And what might have been,
And what might be, fall equally
Away with what is, and leave
Only these ideograms
Printed on the immortal
Hydrocarbons of flesh and stone.
Musings in Winter: Vivian Green
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
“Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings.” – Wystan Hugh Auden, Anglo-American poet, who was born 21 February 1907.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
Musings in Winter: Michael Chabon
American Art – Part II of IX: Tom Monaghan
Tom Monaghan has earned both a BA (Visual Communications) and an MFA (Fine Arts) from the University of Northern Illinois.
From the Dance Archives: Dame Margot Fonteyn
“Life forms illogical patterns. It is haphazard and full of beauties which I try to catch as they fly by, for who knows whether any of them will ever return?” – Dame Margot Fonteyn, English ballerina widely regarded as one of the greatest classical ballet dancers of all time, who died 21 February 1991.
A Second Poem for Today
“Tattoo for Gina”
By David Shapiro
Some see a dove
And think Pigeon
Others see pigeons
And think Dove
Some know that all pigeons are doves
Some angry as if pigeons were not doves
But the city lover knows
And I try to reconstruct
The tattoo on one of your many branches
American Art – Part III of IX: Frederick Childe Hassam
In the words of one historian, “Frederick Childe Hassam (October 17, 1859 – August 27, 1935) was a prolific American Impressionist painter, noted for his urban and coastal scenes.”
Below – “Late Afternoon, New York, Winter”; “Celia Thaxter’s Garden”; “Snowstorm, Madison Square”; “August Afternoon, Appledore”; “The Water Garden”; “The Avenue in the Rain”; “Surf and Rocks”; “The Butterfly.”
Some quotes from the work of Chuck Palahniuk:
“The one you love and the one who loves you are never, ever the same person.”
“All God does is watch us and kill us when we get boring. We must never, ever be boring.”
“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”
“I don’t want to die without any scars.”
“The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.”
“This is your life and its ending one moment at a time.”
“You realize that our mistrust of the future makes it hard to give up the past.”
“The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That’s the only lasting thing you can create.”
“No matter how careful you are, there’s going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn’t experience it all. There’s that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should’ve been paying attention.
Well, get used to that feeling. That’s how your whole life will feel some day.
This is all practice.”
“You know how they say you only hurt the ones you love? Well, it works both ways.”
“When we don’t know who to hate, we hate ourselves.”
“If death meant just leaving the stage long enough to change costume and come back as a new character…Would you slow down? Or speed up?”
“A girl calls and asks, ‘Does it hurt very much to die?’
‘Well, sweetheart,’ I tell her, ‘yes, but it hurts a lot more to keep living.’”
“Just for the record, the weather today is calm and sunny, but the air is full of bullshit.”
“The things you used to own, now they own you.”
“Parents are like God because you wanna know they’re out there, and you want them to think well of you, but you really only call when you need something.”
“You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We’re all part of the same compost heap. We’re all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”
“At the time, my life just seemed too complete, and maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves.”
“We can spend our lives letting the world tell us who we are. Sane or insane. Saints or sex addicts. Heroes or victims. Letting history tell us how good or bad we are. Letting our past decide our future. Or we can decide for ourselves. And maybe it’s our job to invent something better.”
“Don’t do what you want. Do what you don’t want. Do what you’re trained not to want. Do the things that scare you the most.”
“Have your adventures, make your mistakes, and choose your friends poorly — all these make for great stories.”
American Art – Part IV of IX: Nelson Boren
In the words of one writer, “Born and raised in Tempe, Arizona, Nelson studied to be an architect earning a degree from Arizona State University. After practicing for 15 years, during which time he owned a successful firm and won numerous awards, Nelson made the pivotal decision to leave the field in 1990 to pursue his dream of becoming a full-time artist. Nelson credits his life-long love of both art and math with his dual-career path of architecture and fine art. His mother, a painter herself, was his earliest influence. Years later he resumed watercolor classes, this time with a higher degree of dedication and more realistic goals. It was during this phase of training when Nelson developed his signature style, which he credits most to the principle of ‘gestalt.’ He wanted to be a full-time artist but to justify a career change he knew he needed to sell some art. He got his art represented by several Scottsdale galleries by showing his work door-to-door. Within two weeks, two of his paintings sold. Since then, some of the leading galleries in the U.S. have sought to represent his work, recognizing his unique combination of incredible detail and big, bold and graphic images.”
A Third Poem for Today
By Marilyn Singer
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Andres Segovia
“Sometimes it is impossible to deal with her, but most of the time she is very sweet, and if you caress her properly she will sing beautifully.” – Andres Segovia, Spanish virtuoso guitarist and father of modern classical guitar, who was born 21 February 1893.
French Art – Part I of II: Alain Pontecorvo
In the words of one critic, “Alain Pontecorvo, a native and resident of France, has been a professional artist since he sold his first painting in 1960 as a student in the Decorative Art School of Paris.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Florence Ballard
Died 21 February 1976 – Florence Ballard, an American recording artist, vocalist, and member of The Supremes.
French Art – Part II of II: Bruno Schmeltz
According to one writer, in the work of French painter Bruno Schmeltz (born 1938) the style is “technical hyper-realistic, but the content surreal. His landscapes are obviously related to the beauty of Hautes-Pyrenees, land of the last shepherds and silence.”
Musings in Winter: Tom Hiddleston
“You never know what’s around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
“Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg,”
By Richard Hugo
You might come here Sunday on a whim.
Say your life broke down. The last good kiss
you had was years ago. You walk these streets
laid out by the insane, past hotels
that didn’t last, bars that did, the tortured try
of local drivers to accelerate their lives.
Only churches are kept up. The jail
turned 70 this year. The only prisoner
is always in, not knowing what he’s done.
The principal supporting business now
is rage. Hatred of the various grays
the mountain sends, hatred of the mill,
The Silver Bill repeal, the best liked girls
who leave each year for Butte. One good
restaurant and bars can’t wipe the boredom out.
The 1907 boom, eight going silver mines,
a dance floor built on springs—
all memory resolves itself in gaze,
in panoramic green you know the cattle eat
or two stacks high above the town,
two dead kilns, the huge mill in collapse
for fifty years that won’t fall finally down.
Isn’t this your life? That ancient kiss
still burning out your eyes? Isn’t this defeat
so accurate, the church bell simply seems
a pure announcement: ring and no one comes?
Don’t empty houses ring? Are magnesium
and scorn sufficient to support a town,
not just Philipsburg, but towns
of towering blondes, good jazz and booze
the world will never let you have
until the town you came from dies inside?
Say no to yourself. The old man, twenty
when the jail was built, still laughs
although his lips collapse. Someday soon,
he says, I’ll go to sleep and not wake up.
You tell him no. You’re talking to yourself.
The car that brought you here still runs.
The money you buy lunch with,
no matter where it’s mined, is silver
and the girl who serves your food
is slender and her red hair lights the wall.
American Art – Part V of IX: Carolyn Epperly
Artist Statement: “After working in several media, I finally discovered watercolor. The splendid colors and the transparency allowed me to succeed in my goal of depicting dramatic light on an object. Although my favorite subjects are figures, I am fascinated by the influence of light on colorand impact. In fact, as I work, I am actually painting the light and its effect rather than the subject itself.”
“We will go to the sun of freedom or to the death; if we die, our cause will continue living.” – Augusto Cesar Sandino, Nicaraguan revolutionary and leader of a rebellion between 1927 and 1933 against the U.S. military occupation of Nicaragua, who died 21 February 1934.
In the words of one historian, “(Sandino) was referred to as a ‘bandit’ by the United States government; his exploits made him a hero throughout much of Latin America, where he became a symbol of resistance to United States’ domination. Drawing units of the United States Marine Corps into an undeclared guerrilla war, his insurgents never defeated the Americans in battle. The United States troops withdrew from the country in 1933 after overseeing the election and inauguration of President Juan Bautista Sacasa, who had returned from exile. The re-call of the Marines was largely due to the Great Depression. Sandino was assassinated in 1934 by National Guard forces of Gen. Anastasio Somoza García, who went on to seize power in a coup d’état two years later.”
Musings in Winter: Tom Robbins
“Our lives are not as limited as we think they are; the world is a wonderfully weird place; consensual reality is significantly flawed; no institution can be trusted, but love does work; all things are possible; and we all could be happy and fulfilled if we only had the guts to be truly free and the wisdom to shrink our egos and quit taking ourselves so damn seriously.”
Here is the Artist Statement of Belarusian painter Yury Darashkevich (born 1962): “My works are about visual perception and the ways in which the face or body or sometimes even a simple cup responds to the color, line, texture or pattern. The ‘Thing’ or ‘Subject’ by itself, surrounded by ‘Great Nothing,’ is my excitement. I try to establish a very private dialog between the viewer and the subject matter of my painting. It is a simple and sincere conversation without any unnecessary details.”
Musings in Winter: John Green
“One swing set, well worn but structurally sound, seeks new home. Make memories with your kid or kids so that someday he or she or they will look into the backyard and feel the ache of sentimentality as desperately as I did this afternoon. It’s all fragile and fleeting, dear reader, but with this swing set, your child(ren) will be introduced to the ups and downs of human life gently and safely, and may also learn the most important lesson of all: No matter how hard you kick, no matter how high you get, you can’t go all the way around.”
From the American History Archives Part I of II: The “Cherokee Phoenix”
21 February 1828 – “Cherokee Phoenix,” the first Native American newspaper in the United States, begins publication.
American Art – Part VI of IX: Gustavo Ramos Rivera
In the words of one writer, “Gustavo Ramos Rivera is an abstract painter working in San Francisco whose work is celebrated nationally for its intense emotional content and its unique, personal symbology. Rivera’s paintings combine the palette and iconography of the indigenous cultural heritage of his native Mexico with classic techniques of Post War American Abstraction.
In his paintings Rivera constructs layers of intense translucent color fields upon which he lays simple hieroglyphic markings of rich impasto which seem at once archaic and contemporary. They articulate a poetic narrative but also express the artist’s pure delight in working the medium of oil paint.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
“blessing the boats”
(at saint mary’s)
By Lucille Clifton
may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that
Musings in Winter: Theodore Roethke
From the American History Archives – Part II of II: Manuelito
21 February 1861 – The Navajo tribe elects Manuelito to be their chief. In the words of one historian, “Manuelito was a prominent Navajo leader who rallied his nation against the oppression of the United States military. For several years he led a group of warriors in resisting federal efforts to forcibly remove the Navajo people to Bosque Redondo, New Mexico via the Long Walk in 1864. After being relocated to Bosque Redondo, Manuelito was among the leaders who signed the 1868 treaty, ending a period of imprisonment in United States government internment camps and establishing a reservation for the Navajo.”
American Art – Part VII of IX: Kenjilo Nanao
In the words of one writer, “Kenjilo Nanao (1929 – 2013) was born in Aomori Japan . In 1960 he immigrated to the Bay Area to study at the San Francisco Art Institute as a student with Nathan Oliveira. He also was a student at The Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque New Mexico where he distinguished himself as a brilliant print maker. He has been an influential figure in San Francisco Bay Area Art since the early 70’s.”
Musings in Winter: Herman Melville
“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet… I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
“Something for the journey”
By Alice D’Alessio
Suppose, for instance,
this is the last morning. You never know.
You wake to find a wet snow
has sneaked in after midnight
wrapping the branches
with an airy gauze, spangled with diamonds
so that every snarly twig and tendril
is an epiphany of white
etched against the purplish-blue
of an undecided sky.
And you want to be sure to seize it,
store it in scented linens,
in carved and gilded coffers
along with last May’s poppies,
August sunlight spilling its motes and spores
among the pines and sandstone cliffs,
and a copy of your only perfect poem.
Because we must take something with us,
like the pharaohs.
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – Anais Nin, American writer born to Spanish-Cuban parents in France, novelist, essayist, memoirist, literary critic, short story writer, and author of the erotic “Delta of Venus” and “Little Birds,” both of which were published posthumously, who was born 21 February 1903.
Some quotes from the work of Anais Nin:
“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”
“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”
“I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.”
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
“How wrong is it for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself?”
“I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason. I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me. Anything I can not transform into something marvelous, I let go. Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.”
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
“You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book… or you take a trip… and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death. Some never awaken.”
“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”
A Seventh Poem for Today
“Ode To Enchanted Light”
By Pablo Neruda
Under the trees light
has dropped from the top of the sky,
like a green
latticework of branches,
on every leaf,
drifting down like clean
A cicada sends
its sawing song
high into the empty air.
Musings in Winter: John Muir
“Few are altogether deaf to the preaching of pine trees. Their sermons on the mountains go to our hearts; and if people in general could be got into the woods, even for once, to hear the trees speak for themselves, all difficulties in the way of forest preservation would vanish.”
American Art – Part VIII of IX: Claudia Rilling
In the words of one writer, “Claudia’s earlier work consists mainly of cityscape and still-life. They are based on the relationships of planes, light and form, placed within carefully constructed compositions.
The green landscapes are inspired by her keen interest in the geometry of landscape. Rilling’s work is subtle and delicate. A lot of time is devoted to articulating implied relationships-tonal notes of color and value shifts, neutrals placed against slightly more saturated color notes, carefully carved out shapes and edged lines to emphasize a specific area.
The result is a firmly established composition with an emotive connection.
Through editing and emphasizing her vision, she produces a subtle abstracted quality in the composition – one where the intervals of field rows or shapes of the fields – the diagonals, verticals, and horizontal relationships – are constructed to present the artist’s voice.”
Musings in Winter: Jack London
“He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars.”
Back from the Territory – Art: The work of Alaska artist Bill Brody
Artist Statement: “The measure of art is how successful it is as an agent to alter and enrich the viewer’s capacity to experience the universe. Art is supposed to cast the scales from your eyes and enable you to see the world anew. It is not about pretty pictures and social climbing. My art is about authentic experience transformed into signs and pathways to encourage experience of a wider and wilder world.
Painting in the wilderness has become a significant focus of my artistic life. I’ve been going out into the backcountry of Alaska for 25 years with the goal of representing something of what it is like to be immersed in that wilderness. My artwork serves as a tool for me to recall those special times. I have taken more than 60 extended trips dedicated to this purpose.
Amidst the clamor of humanity en masse, shy truth hides; in wilderness the truth comes out to play. Solitude needs to be combined with an outside focus, else it is navel-gazing. The wilderness is my cornerstone. And when I’m in my studio alone, I recall the relative purity of the wilderness experience and try to attain that same clarity that I find in wild places.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
American Art – Part IX of IX: John McCormick
In the words of one writer, “John McCormick lives in Northern California and has distinguished himself both in his earlier abstract works and his refined landscapes and drawings. In 2001, he was given a one person exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art,and in 2002 he was invited to be a resident artist at The Morris Graves Foundation in Northern California.
Nature is the departure point for McCormick’s paintings, drawings and collages. He is a contemporary painter who combines elements of modernism with those of traditional painting. His art demonstrates a deep involvement with the craft of painting, the alchemy of rendering form, and the modulation of tone and hue.
His paintings, drawings, and collages are not just a documentation of nature, but rather, they are compositions that demonstrate a process of engagement and a meditation on experience.”