American Art – Part I of VIII: Jane Freilicher
Artist Statement: “When I start painting, it’s with this rush of feeling—an emotional reaction to something I find beautiful in the subject, which provides the energy, the impetus to paint. Then, as the process of painting evolves, other things enter into it—a discovery of what it is I think I’m seeing.”
“Everything that I did in life that was worthwhile, I caught hell for.” – Earl Warren, American jurist, politician, and the 14th Chief Justice of the United States (1953 – 1969), who was born 19 March 1891.
Some quotes from the work of Earl Warren:
“Many people consider the things government does for them to be social progress but they regard the things government does for others as socialism.”
“The censor’s sword pierces deeply into the heart of free expression.”
“The fantastic advances in the field of electronic communication constitute a greater danger to the privacy of the individual.”
“I always turn to the sports pages first, which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures.”
“I hate banks. They do nothing positive for anybody except take care of themselves. They’re first in with their fees and first out when there’s trouble.”
“In civilized life, law floats in a sea of ethics.”
“It is the spirit and not the form of law that keeps justice alive.”
“The most tragic paradox of our time is to be found in the failure of nation-states to recognize the imperatives of internationalism.”
Musings in Winter: Carl Sagan
“In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.”
American Art – Part II of VIII: Pia Fries
Artist Statement: “The viewer can roam through the picture responding viscerally and intellectually to the colors and forms, creating a chain reaction of associations.”
Musings in Winter: Sarah Williams
“What is lovely never dies,
But passes into other loveliness,
Star-dust, or sea-foam, flower or winged air.” – From “A Shadow of the Night,” by Thomas Bailey Aldrich, American poet, novelist, travel writer, and editor, who died 19 March 1907.
Some quotes from the work of Thomas Bailey Aldrich:
“What is more cheerful, now, in the fall of the year, than an open-wood-fire? Do you hear those little chirps and twitters coming out of that piece of apple-wood? Those are the ghosts of the robins and blue-birds that sang upon the bough when it was in blossom last Spring. In Summer whole flocks of them come fluttering about the fruit-trees under the window: so I have singing birds all the year round.”
“There must be such a thing as a child with average ability, but you can’t find a parent who will admit that it is his child.”
“Civilization is the lamb’s skin in which barbarism masquerades.”
“I like to have a thing suggested rather than told in full. When every detail is given, the mind rests satisfied, and the imagination loses the desire to use its own wings.”
“The man who suspects his own tediousness is yet to be born.”
“The ocean moans over dead men’s bones.”
Musings in Winter: Charles Kuralt
British Art – Part I of II: Morgan Penn
Here is one writer describing English artist Morgan Penn (born 1967): “Completely self taught, he works tirelessly in his Chelsea studio creating canvases that are seized upon by his growing number of devoted collectors.”
Musings in Winter: Douglas Adams
“We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.”
“What passes for wine among us, is not the juice of the grape. It is an adulterous mixture, brewed up of nauseous ingredients, by dunces, who are bunglers in the art of poison-making; and yet we, and our forefathers, are and have been poisoned by this cursed drench, without taste or flavour—The only genuine and wholesome beveridge in England, is London porter, and Dorchester table-beer; but as for your ale and your gin, your cyder and your perry, and all the trashy family of made wines, I detest them as infernal compositions, contrived for the destruction of the human species.” – From “The Expedition of Humphry Clinker,” by Tobias Smollett, Scottish poet and author best known for his picaresque novels, who was born 19 March 1721.
In addition to being a fine novelist (Orwell admired Smollett’s fiction.), Smollett was an excellent travel writer, and anyone who reads his “Travels through France and Italy” will likely be impressed by his insightful comments about people and places, as well as his refreshingly curmudgeonly disposition.
Musings in Winter: Seneca
British Art – Part II of II: Alain Choisnet
Here is the Artist Statement of British sculptor Alain Choisnet: “I was born in Britain at the foot of the magnificent castle of Ferns, but it is in a Paris suburb that I grew up. The benches of the school selected me to the call of working life that took me on a power more attractive than the calculation of the hypotenuse! Nevertheless philosophical studies, parallel university course, gave me a solid understanding of the human being. This knowledge helped me tremendously to assert myself as an artist. It is enough to seize a gesture, an emotion, then to set them while preserving the sincerity of moment and the fluidity of the movement.”
A Poem for Today
By Nick Carbo
If you come to Mojacar
and peel open an orange full of worms,
count how many there are because
those are the days it will take for your body
to decompose after you are buried.
If you come to Mojacar
and find a small green snake with its back
broken, don’t step on it or you’ll cause
an earthquake that will catch up to you
while you sleep in a continent far, far away.
If you come to Mojacar
and two brown long-legged spiders crawl
on your face and shoulders, keep a sharp eye
out for two individuals, a mother-son, or
sister-sister who will try to take your money.
If you come to Mojacar
and see a scorpion scurry by your feet,
note the direction it ran to, north, south,
east, or west. You must avoid going there
or risk the sting of losing a loved one.
If you come to Mojacar
and a cock crows ten times at three
in the morning, lock your door and all
the wooden windows because nightmares in silver
dresses will arrive to slip into your bed.
Musings in Winter: Christopher Hitchens
“Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the ‘transcendent’ and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.”
American Art – Part III of VIII: Gaston Lachaise
Born 19 March 1882 – Gaston Lachaise, a French-born American sculptor.
Musings in Winter: Thomas Jefferson
“Of the gladdest moments in human life, methinks, is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of Habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many Cares and the slavery of Civilization, man feels once more happy.” – Richard Francis Burton, English geographer, explorer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, spy, linguist, poet, fencer, and diplomat, who was born 19 March 1821.
In the words of one historian, “Burton’s best-known achievements include traveling in disguise to Mecca, an unexpurgated translation of ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ (commonly called ‘The Arabian Nights’ in English after early translations of Antoine Galland’s French version), bringing the ‘Kama Sutra’ to publication in English, and journeying with John Hanning Speke as the first Europeans to visit the Great Lakes of Africa in search of the source of the Nile. Burton’s works and letters extensively criticized colonial policies of the British Empire, to the detriment of his career. He was a prolific and erudite author and wrote numerous books and scholarly articles about subjects including human behaviour, travel, falconry, fencing, sexual practices and ethnography. A characteristic feature of his books is the copious footnotes and appendices containing remarkable observations and information.”
Some quotes from the work of Richard Francis Burton:
“The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself.”
“Home is where the books are.”
“Is not man born with a love of change — an Englishman to be discontented — an Anglo-Indian to grumble?”
“Travellers like poets are mostly an angry race.”
“The dearest ambition of a slave is not liberty but to have a slave of his own.”
Two selections from Burton’s translation of “Kasidah of Haji Abdu El-Yezdi”:
“And still the Weaver plies his loom,
whose warp and woof is wretched Man
Weaving th’ unpattern’d dark design,
so dark we doubt it owns a plan.”
“All faith is False, all Faith is true:
Truth is the shattered mirror strown
In myriad bits; while each believes
his little bit the whole to own.”
Musings in Winter: Charles Horton Cooley
Died 19 March 1610 – Hasegawa Tohaku, a Japanese artist and founder of the Hasegawa school of Japanese painting.
A Second Poem for Today
“Dinosaurs in the Hood”
By Danez Smith
Let’s make a movie called ‘Dinosaurs in the Hood.’
‘Jurassic Park’ meets ‘Friday’ meets ‘The Pursuit of Happyness.’
There should be a scene where a little black boy is playing
with a toy dinosaur on the bus, then looks out the window
& sees the T. Rex, because there has to be a T. Rex.
Don’t let Tarantino direct this. In his version, the boy plays
with a gun, the metaphor: black boys toy with their own lives,
the foreshadow to his end, the spitting image of his father.
Fuck that, the kid has a plastic Brontosaurus or Triceratops
& this is his proof of magic or God or Santa. I want a scene
where a cop car gets pooped on by a pterodactyl, a scene
where the corner store turns into a battle ground. Don’t let
the Wayans brothers in this movie. I don’t want any racist shit
about Asian people or overused Latino stereotypes.
This movie is about a neighborhood of royal folks —
children of slaves & immigrants & addicts & exiles — saving their town
from real-ass dinosaurs. I don’t want some cheesy yet progressive
Hmong sexy hot dude hero with a funny yet strong commanding
black girl buddy-cop film. This is not a vehicle for Will Smith
& Sofia Vergara. I want grandmas on the front porch taking out raptors
with guns they hid in walls & under mattresses. I want those little spitty,
screamy dinosaurs. I want Cicely Tyson to make a speech, maybe two.
I want Viola Davis to save the city in the last scene with a black fist afro pick
through the last dinosaur’s long, cold-blood neck. But this can’t be
a black movie. This can’t be a black movie. This movie can’t be dismissed
because of its cast or its audience. This movie can’t be a metaphor
for black people & extinction. This movie can’t be about race.
This movie can’t be about black pain or cause black people pain.
This movie can’t be about a long history of having a long history with hurt.
This movie can’t be about race. Nobody can say nigga in this movie
who can’t say it to my face in public. No chicken jokes in this movie.
No bullets in the heroes. & no one kills the black boy. & no one kills
the black boy. & no one kills the black boy. Besides, the only reason
I want to make this is for that first scene anyway: the little black boy
on the bus with a toy dinosaur, his eyes wide & endless
Here is part of the Artist Statement of Leone Holzhaus: ”Born 1948, raised in Bussum, Holland, I studied graphic design at Academie Artibus in Utrecht; however, as a painter I am self taught.
Empty chairs are a particular passion of mine, possibly suggesting a void in space and time, something left behind.”
Leone Holzhaus lives and works in Portugal.
Musings in Winter: Albert Einstein
Born 19 March 1946 – Ruth Pointer, an American singer, songwriter, and member of The Pointer Sisters.
American Art – Part IV of VIII: Ira Upin
Artist Statement: “I was born in Chicago, IL USA in 1948, went to college in Illinois and Maryland and settled in Philadelphia, PA in 1973 and stayed. Over the last 35 years I’ve gone back and forth between working at construction and working in my studio. At age 57 I decided to spend the rest of my time in the studio.
The two constants in my work have been the narrative and the intensity of the visual. I want the viewer to be intoxicated and perplexed by how I make my paintings and intrigued by the stories I’m trying to tell. I’m interested in human dynamics whether they be social, political, or emotional.”
A Third Poem for Today
“Breakfast for Supper”
By Ruth Stone
At IHOP, after the skinny brunette
with a band-aid covering her hickey
comes to whisk away burnt toast,
Mom mentions Theresa, face
brightening. She had a dream
about her—80s flip hair, smooth
complexion. I’ve been living
in Tulsa for eighteen years,
Theresa said. I understand.
Even as I watched men lower
her casket, I fantasized the witness
protection program had resettled her.
How funny we look, mother
and daughter laughing over
scrambled eggs, tears dripping
onto bacon, hands hugging
coffee mugs. For a moment Mom felt
Theresa there. Such faith. Freshen
your cup? the waitress asks me, poised
to pour. Cloudy in the cold coffee,
my reflection. I offer the mug.
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.”
Here is one writer describing the artistry of Iranian painter Parviz Payghamy (born 1961): “(His) paintings depict abstracted landscapes weaving together and creating a simulated motion. The rich tapestry of patterns curve and bend through the picture plane. The landscapes are poetic, which is appropriate as Parviz was dubbed ‘the poet painter’ by his friends, professors, and colleagues at the Tehran University where he studied. His fascination with poetry provides his paintings with the fleeting beauty of life and the melodic quality of color.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
“Elegy with Oil in the Bilge”
By Patrick Phillips
By the time we got out on the water
the sun was so low, it wasn’t like water
but a field of gray snow that we plowed
in one endless white furrow of water
as I skirted the rocks and wrecked trawlers
and abandoned old jetties just under the water,
while you moaned in the bow, slick with fever,
whispering back to whatever the water
chattered and hissed through the hull—
until at last there were lights on the water
and I let the old Mercury rattle and sputter
its steaming gray rainbows out onto the water
Here is the Artist Statement of Spanish painter Almeriane: “I was born in Almería, Spain in 1973 and I was raised in France. I started drawing at the age of 3. I tried many techniques like charcoal or pastel, before ending up painting in oil and watercolor primarily.
I travelled to France (because I lived and studied over there), to Spain (the Peninsula and Tenerife), California, and I finally came back to my hometown.
As I fell in love with the beauty of the Andalousian landscapes, I created my own style often described as ‘Art-Nouveau Andaluz.
’ I was also inspired by Poetry and Andalousian tales and Spanish coplas (songs).
Passion leads my brushes, poems inspire my oil paintings and watercolors.”
“Stop worrying about growing old. And think about growing up.” – Philip Roth, American novelist, two-time winner of the National Book Award for Fiction (for “Goodbye, Columbus” and “Sabbath’s Theater”)), two-time winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award (for “The Counterlife” and “Patrimony”), and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize (for “American Pastoral”), who was born 10 March 1993.
Some quotes from the work of Philip Roth:
“The only obsession everyone wants: ‘love.’ People think that in falling in love they make themselves whole? The Platonic union of souls? I think otherwise. I think you’re whole before you begin. And the love fractures you. You’re whole, and then you’re cracked open. ”
“He had learned the worst lesson that life can teach – that it makes no sense.”
“You put too much stock in human intelligence, it doesn’t annihilate human nature.”
“Because that is when you love somebody – when you see them being game in the face of the worst. Not courageous. Not heroic. Just game.”
“Literature takes a habit of mind that has disappeared. It requires silence, some form of isolation, and sustained concentration in the presence of an enigmatic thing.”
“No matter how much you know, no matter how much you think, no matter how much you plot and you connive and you plan, you’re not superior to sex. It’s a very risky game. A man wouldn’t have two-thirds of the problems he has if he didn’t venture off to get fucked. It’s sex that disorders our normally ordered lives.”
“You tasted it. Isn’t that enough? Of what do you ever get more than a taste? That’s all we’re given in life, that’s all we’re given of life. A taste. There is no more.”
“You cannot observe people through an ideology. Your ideology observes for you.”
“All that we don’t know is astonishing. Even more astonishing is what passes for knowing.”
“You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them on with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong. You might as well have the ‘brain’ of a tank. You get them wrong before you meet them, while you’re anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you’re with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again. Since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion empty of all perception, an astonishing farce of misperception. And yet what are we to do about this terribly significant business of ‘other people,’ which gets bled of the significance we think it has and takes on instead a significance that is ludicrous, so ill-equipped are we all to envision one another’s interior workings and invisible aims? Is everyone to go off and lock the door and sit secluded like the lonely writers do, in a soundproof cell, summoning people out of words and then proposing that these word people are closer to the real thing than the real people that we mangle with our ignorance every day? The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It’s getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That’s how we know we’re alive: we’re wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that–well, lucky you.”
“It’s best to give while your hand is still warm.”
“Everyone becomes a part of history whether they like it or not and whether they know it or not.”
American Art – Part V of VIIII: Helen Frankenthaler
In the words of one writer, “Born in 1928, Helen Frankenthaler was an influential and experimental painter. After seeing a Jackson Pollock exhibition when she was 22, Frankenthaler found her style and started pouring turpentine-thinned oil paints directly on raw canvas. This innovative staining technique inspired many artists of what became known as the Color Field movement. Frankenthaler, a New York native, was the youngest daughter of a New York Supreme Court judge, Alfred Frankenthaler. She grew up cultured and privileged, encouraged academically and artistically to pursue a professional career. This was a revolutionary idea for the time.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Judson Mitcham
But prayer was not enough, after all, for my father.
His last two brothers died five weeks apart.
He couldn’t get to sleep, had no appetite, sat
staring. Though he prayed,
he could find no peace until he tried
to write about his brothers, tell a story
for each one: Perry’s long travail
with the steamfitters’ union, which he worked for;
and Harvey—here the handwriting changes,
he bears down—Harvey loved his children.
I discovered those few sheets of paper
as I looked through my father’s old Bible
on the morning of his funeral. The others
in the family had seen them long ago;
they had all known the story,
and they told me I had not, most probably, because
I am a writer,
and my father was embarrassed by his effort. Yet
who has seen him as I can: risen
Musings in Winter: Carl Sagan
“How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant?’ Instead they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’ A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.”
“Art is inside us, it’s how we see things, everywhere and always, when we walk, when we look.” – Betty Goodwin, Canadian printmaker, painter, and sculptor, who was born 19 March 1923.
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Jo McDougall
American Art – Part VI of VIII: Eric Fischl
Artist Statement: “I think my work is most successful when the audience connects with what they are seeing emotionally, but what they are seeing is so complex that it never gets tied down. It’s like theater without a script, a set of relationships between people, the objects, and the place that they are in.”
Musings in Winter: Lillian Smith
A Seventh Poem for Today
By Carol V. Davis
How perfectly he has mastered
the car alarm, jangling us from sleep.
Later his staccato scatters smaller birds
that landed on the wire beside him.
Perhaps the key to success
is imitation, not originality.
Once, when the cat slinked up
the orange tree and snatched a hatchling,
the mockingbird turned on us,
marked us for revenge.
For two whole weeks he dive bombed
whenever I ventured out the screen door
lured by his call: first tricked into thinking
the soft coo was a mourning dove courting,
next drawn by the war cry of a far larger animal.
He swooped from one splintered eave, his mate from the other,
aiming to peck out my eyes, to wrestle
the baby from my arms, to do God knows what
with that newborn.
Musings in Winter: Lawrence M. Krauss
“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements – the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life – weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode. So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today.”
From the American Old West: Wyatt Earp
Born 19 March 1848 – Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp. In the words of one historian, “(He) was an American gambler, Pima County, Arizona Deputy Sheriff, and Deputy Town Marshal in Tombstone, Arizona, who took part in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, during which lawmen killed three outlaw Cowboys. He is often regarded as the central figure in the shootout in Tombstone, although his brother Virgil was Tombstone City Marshal and Deputy U.S. Marshal that day, and had far more experience as a sheriff, constable, marshal, and soldier in combat.”
Below – Wyatt Earp at about age 39; Wyatt Earp with his mother Virginia Ann Cooksey Earp, circa 1856; Tombstone in 1881 (the year of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral); Wyatt Earp (right) and Doc Holliday; Wyatt Earp at home on August 9, 1923, at age 75.
American Art – Part VII of VIII: Charles Marion Russell
“The West is dead… you may lose a sweetheart but you won’t forget her.” – Charles Marion Russell, artist of the Old American West, who was born 19 March 1864.
In the words of one historian, “Russell created more than 2,000 paintings of cowboys, Indians, and landscapes set in the Western United States and in Alberta, Canada, in addition to bronze sculptures. Known as ‘the cowboy artist,’ Russell was also a storyteller and author.”
Below – “The Tenderfoot”; “Smoke of a .45”; “Laugh Kills Lonesome”; “Bronc to Breakfast”; “The Scouts”; “Keeoma #3”; “A Quiet Day in Utica”; “The Custer Fight”; “Piegans”; “Lewis and Clark Meeting the Flathead Indians”; “For Supremacy”; “A Bad Hoss”; “Innocent Allies.” “Custer’s Last Stand.”
An Eighth Poem for Today
By Jane Hirshfield
Stay, I said
to the cut flowers.
their heads lower.
Stay, I said to the spider,
embarrassed for me and itself.
Stay, I said to my body.
It sat as a dog does,
obedient for a moment,
soon starting to tremble.
Stay, to the earth
of riverine valley meadows,
of fossiled escarpments,
of limestone and sandstone.
It looked back
with a changing expression, in silence.
Musings in Winter: Richard Dawkins
“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?”
Back from the Territory – Art: The work of Alaska artist Keith Greba
In the words of one writer, “Keith came to Alaska in the early ’70’s through a tour of duty with the U.S. Coast Guard as a shipboard navigator and traveled extensively throughout the state. Since completing his tour of duty in 1977, he attended the University of Alaska and studied art and worked summers as a commercial fisherman.
Throughout the years he has worked with a variety of art forms including decoy carving, ivory scrimshaw, pen and ink drawings, and painting in several mediums. He remembers winning his first art show in the third grade and his work has been accepted and placed in numerous art shows around Alaska.
He now resides in Sitka, painting in the winters from the inspiration and ideas he gets as a captain of his own charter boat which he operates in the summers.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Musings in Winter: William Least Heat Moon
“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.”
American Art – Part VIII of VIIII: June Felter
In the words of one writer, “June Felter is a figurative painter born in Oakland, California. She has never moved from the Bay Area. She studied at the Oakland Art Institute from 1937-1940, California School of Arts and Crafts,1954-1958, and the San Francisco Art Institute from 1960-1961.”