American Art – Part I of V: Steven Vasquez Lopez
In the words of one writer, “Steven Lopez composes textile-based acrylic paintings of still life scenes woven together with a psychedelic kaleidoscope of plaids and pinstripes. A careful craftsman, the artist also delivers contrasting work with a collection original ink drawings illustrating precise stitch work comprised of thousands of individual colorful threads, both unified and intentionally undone.”
A Poem for Today
“Dear March – Come in –“
By Emily Dickinson
Dear March — Come in —
How glad I am —
I hoped for you before —
Put down your Hat —
You must have walked —
How out of Breath you are —
Dear March, Come right up the stairs with me —
I have so much to tell —
I got your Letter, and the Birds —
The Maples never knew that you were coming — till I called
I declare — how Red their Faces grew —
But March, forgive me — and
All those Hills you left for me to Hue —
There was no Purple suitable —
You took it all with you —
Who knocks? That April.
Lock the Door —
I will not be pursued —
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied —
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come
Musings in Winter: Marjorie Pay Hinckley
From the American History Archives
1 March 1872 – President Ulysses S. Grant signs the bill that makes Yellowstone the world’s first National Park.
Below – Old Faithful Geyser; Yellowstone Lake; Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone; Mountain meadow at Yellowstone; Fly fishing in the Firehole River; Park Superintendent Horace M. Albright and dinner guests, 1922.
Musings in Winter: H.P. Lovecraft
A Second Poem for Today
By James Wright
A bear under the snow
Turns over to yawn.
It’s been a long, hard rest.
Once, as she lay asleep, her cubs fell
Out of her hair,
And she did not know them.
It is hard to breathe
In a tight grave:
So she roars,
And the roof breaks.
Dark rivers and leaves
American Art – Part II of V: Wrongrob
In the words of one writer, “Rob Masao McCarthy is a published freelance photographer based in Brooklyn, New York.”
A Third Poem for Today
“Unusually Warm March Day, Leading to Storms”
By Francesca Abbate
Everything is half here,
like the marble head
of the Roman emperor
and the lean torso
of his favorite.
The way the funnel cloud
which doesn’t seem
to touch ground does—
flips a few cars, a semi—
we learn to walk miles
above our bodies.
The pig farms dissolve,
then the small hills.
As in dreams fraught
with irrevocable gestures,
the ruined set seems larger,
a charred palace the gaze
and through. How well
we remember the stage—
the actors gliding about
like petite sails, the balustrade
cooling our palms.
Not wings or singing,
but a darkness fast as blood.
It ended at our fingertips:
the fence gave way
to the forest.
The world began.
Musings in Winter: Gaston Bachelard
“Here is Menard’s own intimate forest: ‘Now I am traversed by bridle paths, under the seal of sun and shade…I live in great density…Shelter lures me. I slump down into the thick foliage…In the forest, I am my entire self. Everything is possible in my heart just as it is in the hiding places in ravines. Thickly wooded distance separates me from moral codes and cities.’”
From the Television Archives: Joe Besser
“I’ll harm you!” – Joe Besser, American comedian, who died 1 March 1988.
Joe Besser is best known for his brief stint as a member of The Three Stooges, but he was brilliant in his portrayal of Stinky, the bratty adversary of Lou Costello on “The Abbott and Costello Show” television series.
Here are some classic confrontations between obnoxious Stinky and hapless Lou:
Musings in Winter: Angela Schwindt
A Fourth Poem for Today
“Ocean City: Early March”
By Elizabeth Spires
Along Ocean Highway, apartments rise up
to ten and twenty stories,
white, hallucinatory, defying the shifting sand,
the storm moving in off the Atlantic
that drives the rain, needlelike,
across the windshield so that we can’t see,
so that we stop in Ocean City to wait the storm out
at the Dutch, the only bar on the boardwalk
open this time of year, all the concessions
boarded up, weather-beaten, closed against the season.
Last summer in violet light, kites
spiraled downward in loops, then up,
dragons and birds flying high above the boardwalk.
Ocean City. Haven of the lost and aimless,
with a ten-foot sand sculpture of Christ
illuminated by neon lights.
People on their way to Ripley’s BELIEVE IT OR NOT
looked on in apathy, then wandered off,
their children begging for another ride
on the Avalanche or Safari.
Out, far out, at the end of a pier,
silhouetted against gray sky, gray water,
Morbid Manor rose up, Gothic and dreamy,
as children ran screaming from the exit door
chased by a ghost with a chain saw.
One child ignored it all; she lay with her face
pressed close to a knothole in the pier,
looking down, down, to the boiling black water.
“What do you see?” I asked,
but she didn’t move or answer me.
Long, narrow, and dark,
the Dutch, with its shifting clientele—
from summer weekend pickups to Ocean City regulars—
allows for strangers. We order Irish coffee,
then two more, and use our change to play an arcade game.
Aliens, half an inch high, in green armor,
drop out of a glowing sky and quickly multiply.
Our backs to the storm, we play out
old anxieties, losing each game to time and starting over:
we must save what’s being threatened and not ask why.
Musings in Winter: Cormac McCarthy
“It was a lone tree burning on the desert. A heraldic tree that the passing storm had left afire. The solitary pilgrim drawn up before it had traveled far to be here and he knelt in the hot sand and held his numbed hands out while all about in that circle attended companies of lesser auxiliaries routed forth into the inordinate day, small owls that crouched silently and stood from foot to foot and tarantulas and solpugas and vinegarroons and the vicious mygale spiders and beaded lizards with mouths black as a chowdog’s, deadly to man, and the little desert basilisks that jet blood from their eyes and the small sandvipers like seemly gods, silent and the same, in Jeda, in Babylon. A constellation of ignited eyes that edged the ring of light all bound in a precarious truce before this torch whose brightness had set back the stars in their sockets.”
American Art – Part III of V: Michael Garlington
In the words of one writer, “The work of photographer Michael Garlington has been described as David Lynch meets Leave it to Beaver.’ Michael Garlington is an acclaimed Northern California photographer and master printer. He began shooting his own images while working at Spindler Photography, a high-end lab in San Francisco that caters to the finest photographers working today. His work has been purchased by Yale, Dartmouth and countless private collectors.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Barbara Ellen Sorensen
Under warm New Mexico sun,
we watched the pelican place
himself down among the mallards
as if he had been there all along,
as if they were expecting the large,
cumbersome body, the ungainliness.
And he, sensing his own unsightly
appearance, tucked his head close
to his body and took on the smooth
insouciance of a swan.
Musings in Winter: Visar Zhiti
“Always carry a corkscrew and the wine shall provide itself.” – Basil Bunting, British poet, who was born 1 March 1900.
“At Briggflatts Meetinghouse”
Boasts time mocks cumber Rome. Wren
set up his own monument.
Others watch fells dwindle, think
the sun’s fires sink.
Stones indeed sift to sand, oak
blends with saint’s bones.
Yet for a little longer here
stone and oak shelter
Musings in Winter: Lisa Genova
“She liked being reminded of butterflies. She remembered being six or seven and crying over the fates of the butterflies in her yard after learning that they lived for only a few days. Her mother had comforted her and told her not to be sad for the butterflies, that just because their lives were short didn’t mean they were tragic. Watching them flying in the warm sun among the daisies in their garden, her mother had said to her, see, they have a beautiful life. Alice liked remembering that.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
“March Morning Unlike Others”
By Ted Hughes
Blue haze. Bees hanging in the air at the hive-mouth.
Crawling in prone stupor of sun
On the hive-lip. Snowdrops. Two buzzards,
Magnetized to the other,
Cattle standing warm. Lit, happy stillness.
A raven, under the hill,
Coughing among bare oaks.
Aircraft, elated, splitting blue.
Leisure to stand. The knee-deep mud at the trough
Stiffening. Lambs freed to be foolish.
The earth invalid, dropsied, bruised, wheeled
Out into the sun,
After the frightful operation.
She lies back, wounds undressed to the sun,
To be healed,
Sheltered from the sneapy chill creeping North wind,
Leans back, eyes closed, exhausted, smiling
Into the sun. Perhaps dozing a little.
While we sit, and smile, and wait, and know
She is not going to die.
Musings in Winter: Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“What is the opposite of two? A lonely me, a lonely you.” – Richard Wilbur, American poet, translator, and two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1957, 1989), who was born 1 March 1921.
“Boy at the Window”
Seeing the snowman standing all alone
In dusk and cold is more than he can bear.
The small boy weeps to hear the wind prepare
A night of gnashings and enormous moan.
His tearful sight can hardly reach to where
The pale-faced figure with bitumen eyes
Returns him such a God-forsaken stare
As outcast Adam gave to paradise.
The man of snow is, nonetheless, content,
Having no wish to go inside and die.
Still, he is moved to see the youngster cry.
Though frozen water is his element,
He melts enough to drop from one soft eye
A trickle of the purest rain, a tear
For the child at the bright pane surrounded by
Such warmth, such light, such love, and so much fear.
Musings in Winter: Randall Munroe
“Take wrong turns. Talk to strangers. Open unmarked doors. And if you see a group of people in a field, go find out what they are doing. Do things without always knowing how they’ll turn out. You’re curious and smart and bored, and all you see is the choice between working hard and slacking off. There are so many adventures that you miss because you’re waiting to think of a plan. To find them, look for tiny interesting choices. And remember that you are always making up the future as you go.”
American Art – Part IV of V: Alec Huxley
In the words of one writer, “Alec Huxley is a San Francisco based artist focusing primarily on representational paintings, anchored by haunting land and cityscapes definitively of the American West Coast and the ghostly remnants of it’s historic migration.”
A Seventh Poem for Today
“Raising the Titanic”
By Robert Heden
I spent the winter my father died down in the basement,
under the calm surface of the floorboards, hundreds
of little plastic parts spread out like debris
on the table. And for months while the snow fell
and my father sat in the big chair by the Philco, dying,
I worked my way up deck by deck, story by story,
from steerage to first class, until at last it was done,
stacks, deck chairs, all the delicate rigging.
And there it loomed, a blazing city of the dead.
Then painted the gaping hole at the waterline
Musings in Winter: Eckhart Tolle
Back from the Territory – Art: The work of Master drum maker Ken Decker
An Eighth Poem for Today
“Watering the Horse”
By Robert Bly
American Art – Part V of V: Troy Paiva
In the words of one writer, “Wandering the deserted backroads of the American Southwest, Troy Paiva has explored the abandoned underbelly of America since the 1970s. Since 1989 he’s been taking pictures of it . . . at night, by the light of the full moon.
A multi-discipline artist, Troy needed to find a new medium to create personal art while he worked in a heavily art directed graphic design job. Sitting in on a few night photography classes, he had a revelation when the subject of lightpainting came up. Here were techniques that would be perfect for capturing the atmosphere and mystery of the modern ghost towns and sprawling desert junkyards he had been already exploring since he was a teen.
After years of development, Troy’s early vision has been fully realized through his unique style and technique. The colored lighting is done with a flashlight or hand-held strobe flash masked with theatrical lighting gels. Its effect reanimates these dead places, turning them into mutant tableaus of some vaguely familiar parallel universe. The minutes-long exposures allow the stars to spiral around Polaris and the moving clouds to smear ethereally across the sky. Many of his subjects are already gone; bulldozed, burned down, subdivided, melted for scrap or simply vanished beneath the shifting desert sand.”
All the images below are from the series “Lost America”; they are photographs printed on Kodak Metallic Endura.