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

American Art – Part I of V: Sung Eun Kim

In the words of one writer, “Sung Eun Kim’s paintings capture and re-state the urban landscape by finding moments of beauty in everyday city life through his devoted consideration of light and color. From early morning fog to the hazy darkness of night, the varied characteristics of light provide fuel for Kim’s interpretation as both observer and artist. To Kim, illumination is the catalyst that lends the city its character, adding emotion and warmth where there would otherwise be none.
Sung Eun Kim completed his BFA in Painting & Drawing in 2010 at the California College of the Arts, and graduated in 2015 with an MFA in Painting from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Based in the Bay Area, Kim has exhibited and earned acclaim both nationally and internationally. He lives and maintains a studio practice in Alameda.”

Below – “Citylight #2”; “Morning on Chestnut Hill”; “Morning Light and Winter Shadow”; “Bay Rise”; “Memory.”
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“To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.” – W.E.B. du Bois, American sociologist, historian, writer, editor, co-founder of the NAACP, and author of “The Souls of Black Folk,” who was born 23 February 1868.

Some quotes from the work of W.E.B. du Bois:

“The most important thing to remember is this: To be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you might become.”
“Either America will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States.”
“There is but one coward on earth, and that is the coward that dare not know.”
“The world still wants to ask that a woman primarily be pretty and if she is not, the mob pouts and asks querulously, ‘What else are women for?’”
“The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.”
“I believe that all men, black, brown, and white, are brothers.”
“What do nations care about the cost of war, if by spending a few hundred millions in steel and gunpowder they can gain a thousand millions in diamonds and cocoa?”
“The function of the university is not simply to teach breadwinning, or to furnish teachers for the public schools, or to be a centre of polite society; it is, above all, to be the organ of that fine adjustment between real life and the growing knowledge of life, an adjustment from which forms the secret of civilization.”
“Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done and not some future day or future year. It is today that we fit ourselves for the greater usefulness of tomorrow. Today is the seed time, now are the hours of work, and tomorrow comes the harvest and the playtime.”
“Honest and earnest criticism from those whose interests are most nearly touched,- criticism of writers by readers, of government by those governed, of leaders by those led, – this is the soul of democracy and the safeguard of modern society.”
“Perhaps the most extraordinary characteristic of current America is the attempt to reduce life to buying and selling. Life is not love unless love is sex and bought and sold. Life is not knowledge save knowledge of technique, of science for destruction. Life is not beauty except beauty for sale. Life is not art unless its price is high and it is sold for profit. All life is production for profit, and for what is profit but for buying and selling again?”
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Musings in Winter: Joseph Campbell

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”
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A Poem for Today

“Open, Time”
By Louise Imogen Guiney

Open, Time, and let him pass
Shortly where his feet would be!
Like a leaf at Michaelmas
Swooning from the tree,

Ere its hour the manly mind
Trembles in a sure decrease,
Nor the body now can find
Any hold on peace.

Take him, weak and overworn;
Fold about his dying dream
Boyhood, and the April morn,
And the rolling stream:

Weather on a sunny ridge,
Showery weather, far from here;
Under some deep-ivied bridge,
Water rushing clear:

Water quick to cross and part,
(Golden light on silver sound),
Weather that was next his heart
All the world around!

Soon upon his vision break
These, in their remembered blue;
He shall toil no more, but wake
Young, in air he knew.

He has done with roods and men.
Open, Time, and let him pass,
Vague and innocent again,
Into country grass.
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Musings in Winter: Walt Whitman

“I like the scientific spirit—the holding off, the being sure but not too sure, the willingness to surrender ideas when the evidence is against them: this is ultimately fine—it always keeps the way beyond open—always gives life, thought, affection, the whole man, a chance to try over again after a mistake—after a wrong guess.”
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American Art – Part II of V: Buck McCain

Painter Buck McCain discovered his love of art while taking a humanities class when he was a pre-med student in college. He lives and works in southern Arizona.

Below – “Summer Series #1”; “Storm over Superstitions”; “Hunting Story”; “Apache Spirit 2”; “Fire Kachina.”
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Musings in Winter: Mary Oliver

“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”
aOliver

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“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.” – Jessamyn West, American writer and author of “The Friendly Persuasion,” who died 23 February 1984.

Some quotes from the work of Jessamyn West:

“A taste for irony has kept more hearts from breaking than a sense of humor, for it takes irony to appreciate the joke which is on oneself. ”
“It is very easy to forgive others their mistakes; it takes more grit and gumption to forgive them for having witnessed your own.”
“I have done more harm by the falseness of trying to please than by the honesty of trying to hurt.”
“A rattlesnake that doesn’t bite teaches you nothing.”
“Knowledge of what you love somehow comes to you; you don’t have to read nor analyze nor study. If you love a thing enough, knowledge of it seeps into you, with particulars more real than any chart can furnish.”
“People who keep journals have life twice.”
“If you want a baby, have a new one. Don’t baby the old one.”
“Groan and forget it.”
“Nothing ruins a face so fast as double-dealing. Your face telling one story to the world. Your heart yanking your face to pieces, trying to let the truth be known.”
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A Second Poem for Today

“There Have Come Soft Rains”
By John Philip Johnson

In kindergarten during the Cold War,
mid-day late bells jolted us,
sending us single file into the hallway,
where we sat, pressing our heads
between our knees, waiting.

During one of the bomb drills,
Annette was standing.
My mother said I would talk on and on
about her, about how pretty she was.
I still remember her that day,
curly hair and pretty dress,
looking perturbed the way
little children do.
Why Annette? There’s nothing
to be upset about—
The bombs won’t get us,
I’ve seen what’s to come—
it is the days, the steady
pounding of days, like gentle rain,
that will be our undoing.
aJohnson

Musings in Winter: Gabriel Garcia Marquez

“Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but … life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”
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Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Iranian painter Bahareh Raeesi (born 1976): “The vibrant colors in the paintings of Bahareh Raeesi add resonant meaning to the everyday existence of little things.”
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Musings in Winter: Mahatma Gandhi

“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.”
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Born 23 February 1920 – David Wright, a South African-born poet.

“A Santa Fe Storm”

Evening, and I watch the sky 

from the portal of an old adobe

on Agua Fria Street.



The clouds roll from 

the Jemez to drench the city

with what the Navajos call male rain.

Evening blends to night 

and the storm stays, 

but softer now

as rain turns white. 



Lightning, thunder, and the softness, softness

of new snow make strange skyfellows. 



As I admire the backlighting

I rejoice in my good fortune.
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Musings in Winter: Philip Roth

“How much time could you spend staring out the ocean, even if it was the ocean you’d loved since you were a boy?”
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Armenian painter Artavazd Talalyan graduated from Yerevan State Fine Arts University in 1984.
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Musings in Winter: Mehmet Murat Ildan

“If you get the taste of the mountains once, you will always find the cities horribly tasteless!”
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“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.” – James Alfred White, known by the pen name James Herriot, British veterinary surgeon, writer, and author of “All Creatures Great and Small,” who died 23 February 1995.

James Herriot was an uncommonly wise and good man.
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Musings in Winter: Alan Watts

“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
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A Third Poem for Today

“Exiting the Night”
By D.R. Goodman

By living late, and sleeping late, we miss
the moment when the bats come home to roost—
when crooked shadows flit in jagged loops
that seem to seek the chimney, seem to miss,

then somehow disappear into the eaves;
and they (the bats) tuck wing to fur to wing
in crevices and roof-beam beveling,
doze through our nearly diametric lives,

invisible as brown on brown—until
today, wakened by dreams, I caught a slight,
compelling corner-glimpse in gray first light,

of sudden motion in the mostly still
new dawn; and drawn, I rose to see the flight:
our dark companions exiting the night.
aGoodman

Musings in Winter: Jostein Gaarder

“How terribly sad it was that people are made in such a way that they get used to something as extraordinary as living.”
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Here is how one writer describes the work of Indian painter Bratin Khan: “The influence of the Bengal school is evident in Bratin Khan’s masterful handling of colour and the line. His paintings seem to have the proverbial halo surrounding them. His subjects are relaxed and flow seamlessly within the greater picture of the beautiful world that they dwell in. The artist always draws his figures from the ocean of stories that is Indian mythology, religion and folk lore. His focus on detail and remarkable skill over the line make his style unique.”
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Musings in Winter: Jack Kerouac

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
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“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” – John Keats, English Romantic poet, who died 23 February 1821.

“Ode on a Grecian Urn”

Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy’d,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy’d,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead’st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.

O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

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American Art – Part III of V: Liz Maxwell

In the words of one writer, texture, light and color are three elements that draw Liz Maxwell to painting. Her reduced, spiritual landscapes often employ a horizon line and just one or two well-chosen motifs that take on greater symbolic weight for being so few. Maxwell develops her powerful imagery using a rich palette tending towards deep, warm reds, oranges, blacks, and earth tones.
Using oils, and watercolor washes sealed with an acrylic gel medium, Liz works with the paint in layers, slowly building texture while simultaneously producing a surface that enables her to scrape through to the underlying layers of color.”

Below – “Shoreline at Night”; “Desert Horizon”; “Hillside”; “Sonora 11”; “Sundown Horizon.”
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Musings in Winter: Charles Bukowski

“The Laughing Heart”

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.
aBukowski

A Fourth Poem for Today

“Heaven’s Gate”
By Robert Morgan

In her nineties and afraid
of weather and of falling if
she wandered far outside her door,
my mother took to strolling in
the house. Around and round she’d go,
stalking into corners, backtrack,
then turn and speed down hallway, stop
almost at doorways, skirt a table,
march up to the kitchen sink and
wheel to left, then swing into
the bathroom, almost stumble on
a carpet there. She must have walked
a hundred miles or more among
her furniture and family pics,
mementos of her late husband.
Exercising heart and limb,
outwalking stroke, attack, she strode,
not restless like a lion in zoo,
but with a purpose and a gait,
and kept her eyes on heaven’s gate.

aMorgan

From the American History Archives: The Alamo

23 February 1836 – The Texas Revolution: The Battle of the Alamo begins in San Antonio, Texas.

Below – The Alamo, as drawn in 1854.
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Belarusian painter Sergey Sotnikov (born 1969) graduated from Vitebsk State University in 1994 with a degree in Art and Graphics.
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A Fifth Poem for Today

“25th reunion”
By Barbara Crooker

A quarter of a century
since we left high school,
and we’ve gathered at a posh restaurant.
A little heavier, a little grayer,
we look for the yearbook pictures
caught inside these bodies of strangers.
Some of our faces are etched with lines,
the faint tracing of a lover’s touch,
and some of our hair is silver-white,
a breath of frost. And some of us are gone.
But he’s here, the dark angel,
everyone’s last lover, up at the microphone
singing ‘Save the last dance for me’;
he’s singing a cappella, the notes rising
sweetly, yearningly toward the ceiling,
which is now festooned with tissue flowers,
paper streamers, balloons.
And we’re all eighteen again,
lines and wrinkles erased, gray hairs gone,
our slim bodies back, the perfect editing.
A saxophone keens its reedy insistence;
scents of gardenias and tea roses float in the air
from our wrist corsages and boutonnieres.
No children or lovers have broken our hearts,
it’s just all of us, together,
in our fresh young skin,
ready to do it all over again.
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Musings in Winter: Daniel J. Rice

“Only lost photographs that were never taken know what my mind speaks of when we are alone together.”
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American Art – Part IV of V: Tjasa Owen

In the words of one writer, “Tjasa (pronounced Tee-asha) Owen’s work is a confluence of her international travels; her enthusiasm for written correspondence; and her love for landscapes, inland as well as coastal. During her foreign travels and time away from the studio, she photographs, sketches, and captures landscape details and textures to use as inspiration. Her canvases incorporate memories from a childhood by the Atlantic seashore, time spent abroad in France and Tuscany, and written correspondence from travelling. Rather than representing a specific place, Tjasa is interested in creating views that feel shared and remembered, as though torn from the pages of a scrapbook. Back in her San Francisco studio, the artist employs acrylic, oil pastel, and collage media in her canvases. Her subtle and whimsical notations on many of the pieces invite the viewer to create a personal relationship with the work of art open to their own interpretation.
Owen has studied fine arts, art history, and interior architecture on both American coasts and abroad. She attended and received her BA at the University of Virginia and studied at the National Academy of Art in New York, the Academy of Art in San Francisco and Coupa in Paris. Her work has been shown extensively in the US and internationally and has been acquired by many corporate collections as well as by a distinguished list of private collectors. Currently Tjasa divides her time between Mill Valley, CA and Cape Cod, MA with her husband and two children,
Finn & Remy.”

Below – “After the Storm”; “Pond in Colour”; “Into the Deep”; “Coastline”; “Coastal Route 1.”
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Musings in Winter: L.M. Boston

“Then all was quiet, except for that murmurous half telling, half withholding of tremendous secrets that the sea would keep up all night. Each little wave seemed to say, ‘I’ll tell you-’ and then pull back with a smothered ‘Oh!’ to be followed by another wave saying, ‘Then I will say-’ but whatever it was remained unsaid and unsayable.”
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From the Music Archives: Richard Wagner and Silver Machine

Wait . . . what?

A Sixth Poem for Today

“Animal Time”
By Carol V. Davis

I do better in animal time,
a creeping dawn, slow ticking toward dusk.
In the middle of the day on the Nebraska prairie,
I’m unnerved by subdued sounds, as if listening
through water, even the high-pitched drone of the
cicadas faint; the blackbirds half-heartedly singing.
As newlyweds, my parents drove cross country to
Death Valley, last leg of their escape from New York,
the thick soups of their immigrant mothers, generations
of superstitions that squeezed them from all sides.
They camped under stars that meant no harm.
It was the silence that alerted them to danger.
They climbed back into their tiny new car, locked
its doors and blinked their eyes until daylight.
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Back from the Territory – Art: The work of Alaska artist Lynn Larsen

Artist Statement: “I like my mountains nude – with no trees and little vegetation. I like to see the mountains’ cracks, scars, uplifts, erosion, layers. Mountains without clothes allow one to see into their pasts, to see their essence. Preferring “bare mountains”, it is no surprise I fell in love with arctic Alaska. In 1988, I made my first trip to the Arctic Refuge, and the Brooks Range has pulled me north every year since. Traveling to the arctic puts one face to face with powerful land – land that has been allowed just to be.
Even though I love the arctic, I possess no romantic disillusions about the far north. The land is indifferent towards me, often conjuring up an awareness of my smallness – not even a speck in the whole. In my paintings I hope to capture the spirit of the northern land – its space, its wildness, its intense light. The Brooks Range extends over 600 miles across northern Alaska. Geologists say the Brooks is a new range on top of another old range. Many of the mountains appear female, with their sensuous lines and gentle curves. The limestone and shale make-up allows easy erosion, creating mountains of old women – wrinkled and wise- sharing their gifts with the rest of us.”

Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
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American Art – Part V of V: Catherine Palmer

In the words of one writer, “routine. Stopping to observe how light moves across architectural structures, Palmer is often awestruck during dawn and dusk. In her paintings, Palmer reinterprets these stark contrasts of light, resulting in a geometric abstraction of the familiar forms. The vacant landscapes, devoid of human activity, offer the viewer a voyeuristic opportunity to explore and rediscover the city.
Palmer studied art at Virginia Commonwealth University and California State University, Chico before earning her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2008, she left her position teaching art at Alice Fong Yu Elementary School in San Francisco to dedicate herself full time to her studio practice. Palmer lives and works in San Francisco. “

Below – “Above Cole and Carmel”; “Morning in the Avenues”; “Mama’s Market”; “Sunrise on Embarcadero”; “Sunrise in the Sunset.”
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