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

American Art – Part I of VII: Katherine B. Young

In the words of one writer, “Katherine B. Young’s paintings are explorations of the spiritual in nature, specifically in the vast spaces of ocean and sky. Alluding to art historical icon paintings, Young begins each piece with an underlying layer of gold or silver leaf. Built upon the reflective leafing with oil paint, the imagery evokes a calm and meditative atmosphere. Young intentionally reveals hints of the leafing to enhance the glow and sense of reflection.
Young studied art in her youth before earning her M.D. at Duke University and completing her post-graduate studies at Stanford University. After 10 years of private practice in medicine, Young took a sabbatical from her surgical career to raise her daughter and resume her study of art. Young earned an M.F.A. with honors at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in 2011.
Young has exhibited in solo and group shows both locally and nationally, including such venues as Stanford University, Oil Painters of America National Exhibition, and the Napa Valley Museum. Her numerous awards include the Grand Prize in the International Artist Magazine Competition. Young maintains a studio and lives in San Francisco with her husband and daughter.”

Below – “Water & Fire”; “City Glow”; “All Lit Up”; “Diamond Lights”; “Mirrored in Gold.”
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“We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.” – William Ralph Inge, English author, Anglican priest, professor of divinity at Cambridge, and Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, who died 26 February 1954.

Some quotes from the work of William Ralph Inge:

“A nation is a society united by a delusion about its ancestry and a common hatred of its neighbors.”
“It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favor of vegetarianism, while the wolf remains of a different opinion.”
“Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.”
“The proper time to influence the character of a child is about a hundred years before he is born.”
“The whole of nature is a conjugation of the verb to eat, in the active and passive.”
“Many people believe that they are attracted by God, or by Nature, when they are only repelled by man.”
“Whoever marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next. ”
“Events in the past maybe roughly divided into those which and probably never happened and those which do not matter.”

Musings in Winter: Terry Pratchett

“This isn’t life in the fast lane; it’s life in the oncoming traffic.”
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American Art – Part II of VII: Ann West

In the words of one writer, “Her paintings evoke the contemplative expanses of these journeys, offering us a respite from the cluttered chaos of urban life.
Ann often refers to her own photographs as she paints, freely mixing elements drawn from various landscapes and paring down the barren scenes to their most essential elements. Her paintings are subtly rendered in a rich palette that mirrors the countless hues of earth and sky she identifies in the deserts and canyons of our wild countryside.
Ann West received a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from San Jose State University and is currently working from her studio at the Sanchez Art Center in Pacifica.”

Below – “The Third Tree”; “Outgate”; “Dead End Pole”; “Vista”; “Ranch.”
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A Poem for Today

“An Abandoned Factory, Detroit”
By Philip Levine

The gates are chained, the barbed-wire fencing stands,
An iron authority against the snow,
And this grey monument to common sense
Resists the weather. Fears of idle hands,
Of protest, men in league, and of the slow
Corrosion of their minds, still charge this fence.

Beyond, through broken windows one can see
Where the great presses paused between their strokes
And thus remain, in air suspended, caught
In the sure margin of eternity.
The cast-iron wheels have stopped; one counts the spokes
Which movement blurred, the struts inertia fought,

And estimates the loss of human power,
Experienced and slow, the loss of years,
The gradual decay of dignity.
Men lived within these foundries, hour by hour;
Nothing they forged outlived the rusted gears
Which might have served to grind their eulogy.
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“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” – Victor Hugo, French poet, novelist, dramatist, and author of “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” and “Les Miserables,” who was born 26 February 1802.

Some quotes from the work of Victor Hugo:

“It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.”
“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved — loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.”
“Not being heard is no reason for silence.”
“Laughter is sunshine, it chases winter from the human face.”
“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”
“People do not lack strength; they lack will.”
“Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.”
“He who opens a school door, closes a prison.”
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Musings in Winter: Steve Maraboli

“Let today be the day you stop being haunted by the ghost of yesterday. Holding a grudge & harboring anger/resentment is poison to the soul. Get even with people…but not those who have hurt us, forget them, instead get even with those who have helped us.”
aMaraboli

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American Art – III of VII: “Tex” Avery

Born 26 February 1908 – Frederick “Tex” Avery, an American animator, cartoonist, voice actor, and director famous for producing animated cartoons during The Golden Age of Hollywood animation. Here is how critic Gary Morris describes Avery’s artistry: “Above all, (Avery) steered the Warner Bros. house style away from Disney-esque sentimentality and made cartoons that appealed equally to adults, who appreciated Avery’s speed, sarcasm, and irony, and to kids, who liked the nonstop action. Disney’s ‘cute and cuddly’ creatures, under Avery’s guidance, were transformed into unflappable wits like Bugs Bunny, endearing buffoons like Porky Pig, or dazzling crazies like Daffy Duck. Even the classic fairy tale, a market that Disney had cornered, was appropriated by Avery, who made innocent heroines like Red Riding Hood into sexy jazz babies, more than a match for any Wolf. Avery also endeared himself to intellectuals by constantly breaking through the artifice of the cartoon, having characters leap out of the end credits, loudly object to the plot of the cartoon they were starring in, or speak directly to the audience.”
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From the Dusty Back Room of the Music Archives – Part I of II: The Stone Poneys

A long-forgotten oldie that I just found in my music file: Recorded by the Stone Poneys in 1967, this song was written in 1965 by Mike Nesmith (of The Monkees fame). The female vocalist is vaguely familiar.

American Art – Part IV of VII: Douglas Hofmann

Artist Statement: “My primary artistic heroes are the realists of the 17th Century, and the impressionists of the 19th and early 20th Century. Early on I was exposed to Jan Vermeer, and for me he has always been the pinnacle figure in painting. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Vermeer’s work always read right for me. That is to say the settings, the props, and the figures depicted, all had an innate believability. Vermeer showed me that an artist could be extremely successful, by placing a normal person in a real room with good or at least interesting lighting, and attempt to paint merely what he saw. On its face a Vermeer painting might seem simplistic, but in truth portraying the complexities of real images correctly is insanely difficult. Vermeer used numerous techniques and short cuts to achieve his artistic goals, and I use them too, along with many others, some of which are even unique to my work. But at the end of the process, when you view the finished painting, all that is left is an image, which hopefully appears as real, as it is beautiful. Less of an inspiration, Vermeer is more like a challenge. In the final result, the work must be as pure and as real as can be.”
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A Second Poem for Today

“In Defense of Small Towns,”
By Oliver de la Paz

When I look at it, it’s simple, really. I hated life there. September,
once filled with animal deaths and toughened hay. And the smells

of fall were boiled-down beets and potatoes
or the farmhands’ breeches smeared with oil and diesel

as they rode into town, dusty and pissed. The radio station
split time between metal and Tejano, and the only action

happened on Friday nights where the high school football team
gave everyone a chance at forgiveness. The town left no room

for novelty or change. The sheriff knew everyone’s son and despite that,
we’d cruise up and down the avenues, switching between

brake and gearshift. We’d fight and spit chew into Big Gulp cups
and have our hearts broken nightly. In that town I learned

to fire a shotgun at nine and wring a chicken’s neck
with one hand by twirling the bird and whipping it straight like a towel.

But I loved the place once. Everything was blonde and cracked
and the irrigation ditches stretched to the end of the earth. You could

ride on a bicycle and see clearly the outline of every leaf
or catch on the streets each word of a neighbor’s argument.

Nothing could happen there and if I willed it, the place would have me
slipping over its rocks into the river with the sugar plant’s steam

or signing papers at a storefront army desk, buttoned up
with medallions and a crew cut, eyeing the next recruits.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that I could be anywhere,
staring at a hunk of asphalt or listening to the clap of billiard balls

against each other in a bar and hear my name. Indifference now?
Some. I shook loose, but that isn’t the whole story. The fact is

I’m still in love. And when I wake up, I watch my son yawn,
and my mind turns his upswept hair into cornstalks

at the edge of a field. Stillness is an acre, and his body
idles, deep like heavy machinery. I want to take him back there,

to the small town of my youth and hold the book of wildflowers
open for him, and look. I want him to know the colors of horses,

to run with a cattail in his hand and watch as its seeds
fly weightless as though nothing mattered, as though

the little things we tell ourselves about our pasts stay there,
rising slightly and just out of reach.

Below – Sharon Schock: “Eureka South Dakota II.”
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Musings in Winter: Henry David Thoreau

“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”
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From the Dusty Back Room of the Music Archives – Part II of II: Smith

Another oldie that I had completely forgotten about: Smith’s cover of “Baby It’s You” did better on popular music charts than the original hit by The Shirelles. Also, this version of the song was featured in Quentin Tarantino’s film “Death Proof.”

A Third Poem for Today

“Doing Laundry In Budapest”
By Anya Krugovoy Silver

The dryer, uniform and squat as a biscuit tin,
came to life and turned on me its insect eye.
My t-shirts and underwear crackled and leapt.
I was a tourist there; I didn’t speak the language.
My shoulders covered themselves up in churches,
my tongue soothed its burn with slices of pickle.
More I don’t remember: only, weekends now
when I stand in the kitchen, sorting sweat pants
and pairing socks, I remember the afternoon
I did my laundry in Budapest, where the sidewalks
bloomed with embroidered linen, where money
wasn’t permitted to leave the country.
When I close my eyes, I recall that spinning,
then a woman, with nothing else to sell,
pressing wilted flowers in my hands.
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Musings in Winter: Marcus Aurelius

“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”
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Born 26 February 1906 – Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas, a Greek painter, sculptor, engraver, and writer.

Below – “London Roofs”; “Studio in Paris”; “Odysseus and Nausicaa”;
“Party by the Sea”; “Wild Garden”; “Christmas Tree.”

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26 February 1984 – Robert Penn Warren is named the first Poet Laureate of the United States. Warren was the recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes: the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel (1946) and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1958, 1979). He is the only person to have won Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and poetry.

“True Love”

In silence the heart raves. It utters words
Meaningless, that never had
A meaning. I was ten, skinny, red-headed,

Freckled. In a big black Buick,
Driven by a big grown boy, with a necktie, she sat
In front of the drugstore, sipping something

Through a straw. There is nothing like
Beauty. It stops your heart. It Thickens your blood. It stops your breath.
It Makes you feel dirty. You need a hot bath.
I leaned against a telephone pole, and watched.
I thought I would die if she saw me.

How could I exist in the same world with that brightness?

Two years later she smiled at me. She
Named my name. I thought I would wake up dead.

Her grown brothers walked with the bent-knee
Swagger of horsemen. They were slick-faced.
Told jokes in the barbershop. Did no work.

Their father was what is called a drunkard.
Whatever he was he stayed on the third floor
Of the big white farmhouse under the maples for twenty-five years.

He never came down. They brought everything up to him.

I did not know what a mortgage was.
His wife was a good, Christian woman, and prayed.

When the daughter got married, the old man came down wearing

An old tail coat, the pleated shirt yellowing.
The sons propped him. I saw the wedding. There were

Engraved invitations, it was so fashionable. I thought
I would cry. I lay in bed that night

And wondered if she would cry when something was done to her.

The mortgage was foreclosed. That last word was whispered.
She never came back. The family
Sort of drifted off. Nobody wears shiny boots like that now.

But I know she is beautiful forever, and lives
In a beautiful house, far away.

She called my name once.

I didn’t even know she knew it

Below – Sheru: “Feeling of Lost True Love.”
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A Fourth Poem for Today

“Motor Lodge”
By John Drury

“So this is it, experience,” I thought,
lugging tin buckets from the ice machines
to rooms of real adults with cigarettes,
mixed drinks in plastic cups, and proffered coins.

I reached out for their blessings, but the tips
were nothing next to rumpled, unmade beds
at four in the afternoon, women in slips
and men in t-shirts while the TV played.

Down in the laundry room, I counted sheets,
stunned by the musk that vanished in the wash,
and balled up soggy towels that down the chutes
exploded in bins. Before the evening rush,

avid and timid for what I glimpsed at work,
I left, hanging my gold vest on a hook.
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Musings in Winter: Carl Gustav Jung

“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.”
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American Art – Part V of VII: Bev Jozwiak

In the words of one critic, painter Bev Jozwiak “has earned her signature status in the American Watercolor Society, the National Watercolor Society, Watercolor West, and others, too numerous to mention. She is an International Award-winning artist. Born in Vancouver, Washington, Bev still resides there with her husband of 30 plus years. She has two daughters, and two grandchildren.”
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A Fifth Poem for Today

“A Relevance”
Wendy Videlock

One
teeny tiny
worm

making the earth
turn.
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Musings in Winter: Munia Khan

“You can never be lost when you learn to get lost into the blue of the sea.”
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The Pinnacle of World Fashion

Born 26 February 1829 – Levi Strauss, a German-American businessman who created the 501 Blue Jean – the trouser of choice for intellectually astute, aesthetically discriminating, and physically rugged human beings everywhere.

Let me be clear in this matter: Levi’s 501 shrink-to-fit jeans are the only authentic blue jeans. Levi’s 501 pre-shrunk jeans are acceptable, but not quite classic. Any other “jeans” – blue or otherwise – are nothing but fashion frippery, and it is possible, even likely, that a person wearing them possesses an ethically unsound character. Of course, anyone sporting designer jeans, especially those made in Europe, is obviously a moral degenerate and should be kept away from children and pets.
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Musings in Winter: Cheryl Strayed

“I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”
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A Sixth Poem for Today

“Nightmare”
By Melissa Balmain

Your TV cable’s on the fritz.
Your Xbox is corroded.
Your iPod sits in useless bits.
Your Game Boy just imploded.

Your cell phone? Static’s off the scale.
Your land line? Disconnected.
You’ve got no mail—E, junk or snail.
Your hard drive is infected.

So here you idle, dumb and blue,
with children, spouse and mother—
and wish you knew what people do
to entertain each other.
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American Art – Part VI of VII: Kristen Tradowsky

In the words of one writer, “Tradowsky venerates her subjects by stripping them from their original context and valuation. The resulting paintings entice nostalgia and encourage a dialogue of time and culture.
Tradowsky’s work has been exhibited throughout U.S. including Tinlark Gallery in Los Angeles and Red Dot Art Fair in New York. Tradowsky earned a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art and an MFA from California College of Arts. Tradowsky currently lives and works in San Francisco.”

Below – “Carousel”; “Car Show”; “Potluck”; 1969 Plymouth Barracuda”; “The Photographers.”
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A Seventh Poem for Today

“The Flower Press”
By Chelsea Woodward

It was the sort of thing given to little girls:
sturdy and small, round edged, wooden and light.
I stalked the pasture’s rough and waist-high grass
for worthy specimens: the belle amid the mass,
the star shaming the clouds of slighter,
ordinary blooms. The asters curled

inside my sweat-damp palms, as if in sleep. Crushed
in the parlor’s stifling heat, I pried
each shrinking petal back, and turned the screws.
But flowers bear no ugly bruise,
and even now fall from the brittle page, dried
prettily, plucked from memory’s hush.
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From the American Old West: “Buffalo Bill” Cody

“I could never resist the call of the trail.” – William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody, American soldier, bison hunter, showman, and recipient of the Medal of Honor in 1972 for service to the U.S. Army as a scout, who was born 26 February 1846.

In the words of one historian, “One of the most colorful figures of the American Old West, Buffalo Bill became famous for the shows he organized with cowboy themes, which he toured in Great Britain and Europe as well as the United States.”

Some quotes from Buffalo Bill Cody:

“But the West of the old times, with its strong characters, its stern battles and its tremendous stretches of loneliness, can never be blotted from my mind.”
“Every Indian outbreak that I have ever known has resulted from broken promises and broken treaties by the government.”
“It was because of my great interest in the West, and my belief that its development would be assisted by the interest I could awaken in others, that I decided to bring the West to the East through the medium of the Wild West Show.”
“I felt only as a man can feel who is roaming over the prairies of the far West, well armed, and mounted on a fleet and gallant steed.”
“The greatest of all the Sioux in my time, or in any time for that matter, was that wonderful old fighting man, Sitting Bull, whose life will some day be written by a historian who can really give him his due.”
“It was my effort, in depicting the West, to depict it as it was.”

Below – Buffalo Bill on horseback; Rosa Bonheur: “Buffalo Bill.”
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Musings in Winter: Roger A. Caras

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
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An Eighth Poem for Today

“Strewn”
By Barbara Crooker

It’d been a long winter, rags of snow hanging on; then, at the end
of April, an icy nor’easter, powerful as a hurricane. But now
I’ve landed on the coast of Maine, visiting a friend who lives
two blocks from the ocean, and I can’t believe my luck,
out this mild morning, race-walking along the strand.
Every dog within fifty miles is off-leash, running
for the sheer dopey joy of it. No one’s in the water,
but walkers and shellers leave their tracks on the hardpack.
The flat sand shines as if varnished in a painting. Underfoot,
strewn, are broken bits and pieces, deep indigo mussels, whorls
of whelk, chips of purple and white wampum, hinges of quahog,
fragments of sand dollars. Nothing whole, everything
broken, washed up here, stranded. The light pours down, a rinse
of lemon on a cold plate. All of us, broken, some way
or other. All of us dazzling in the brilliant slanting light.
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Musings in Winter: Thich Nhat Hanh

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”

Below – A painting of Lu Yu (733-804), the Chinese Buddhist “tea sage.”
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Back from the Territory – Art: The work of Alaska artist Brianna Reagan

In the words of one writer, “Brianna Reagan was born in 1986, and spent the first half of her life in the Bay Area of California. She currently lives and works in Fairbanks, Alaska, where she loves to hate it, but hates to leave it.
Brianna has been drawing since she could hold a crayon. Painting was truly discovered in college, when she attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She obtained a BFA in painting with a minor in drawing.
Brianna’s work is largely inspired by life and music, and the philosophy that we all are developed by the choices we make and the experiences we carry. This reasoning encourages a convergence of unlike thoughts and concepts.
As an artist, Brianna is constantly thinking about how to make her art unique. She often describes her mind like a Rubix cube, where she twists & turns an idea in several directions until pieces of other half-ideas coordinate. In this way, she cultivates her imagination and pushes it into new territory to come up with the unique and original works that feed her artistic cravings.”

Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.

Below – “The Awakening”; “Full Circle”; “The Quest.”

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American Art – Part VII of VII: Katherine Valentine

In the words of one writer, “Katherine Valentine’s oil paintings flicker with saturated evanescent light, subtle movement, and palpable emotion. Her painting process mimics life itself, with its constant negotiation of boundaries and cycles of dissolution and regeneration. Valentine reworks her compositions constantly; alternately dissolving borders to let the space creep in and adding more definition to reclaim the subject matter.
Valentine received her bachelor’s degree in film from UCLA and earned her master’s degree in painting at the Academy of Art College. A native of the Bay Area, she has a spent time living abroad in Italy and Costa Rica.”

Below – “Depth”; “J Line”; “Simple Stillness”; “Way Out”; “End of the Road.”
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