American Art – Part I of IV: Joan Jonas
Artist Statement: “It’s the shamanistic idea—the performer goes through the actions so that the audience can experience them also… It takes you into a space that you wouldn’t otherwise be in.”
A Poem for Today
“Golden Gate Hank,”
By Jill McDonough
I wake up with a toothache, think ‘I should write
about a toothache,’ make it somehow worthwhile.
It’s got everything: intimacy, decay, how the body’s
busy, night and day, doing you in. One of the hundreds
of jumpers’ corpses pulled from the bay had a note
in its pocket saying ‘No reason at all except
I have a toothache.’ Josey’s grandfather
shot himself after his fifth sinus operation failed.
Josey says Empty Nose Syndrome and I get confused—
how can hollows be hollowed? But then I go to
emptynosesyndrome.org, cup my poor nose
in horror, grateful for all I take for granted, can’t see.
Golden Gate Hank hates his nickname.
‘If you wanted to be called Serenity Hank,’
Ken tells him, ‘you shouldn’t have jumped
off the fucking bridge.’ The ones that live
all say they changed their minds in the four seconds
before they hit, tried to land feet first and managed it.
Ken says don’t tell people’ I think every day
of how I wouldn’t kill myself,’ they get the wrong idea.
I think every day of how I’d save myself, save
Josey: stab the bad guy, fall feet first, punch the Great White
in his eyeball, play dead in the bullet-ridden mass grave.
From the back seat of the Suburban, I heard
my mother say to my father ‘Driving across a high bridge
always makes me want to jump.’ You might live:
A seventeen year old boy hit feet first, swam to shore
and walked for help, saying his back was killing him.
Another guy realized he was alive and underwater, felt something
brushing his broken legs. ‘Great, now I get eaten by a shark,’
he thought. It happens. But this was a seal, circling,
‘apparently the only thing that was keeping me alive,
and you can not tell me that wasn’t God, because that’s
what I believe, and that’s what I’ll believe until the day I die.’
Fancies in Springtime: Emily Dickinson
In the words of one writer, “Here is how ‘The New York Times’ described Cosell’s impact on sports coverage: ‘He entered sports broadcasting in the mid-1950s, when the predominant style was unabashed adulation, [and] offered a brassy counterpoint that was first ridiculed, then copied until it became the dominant note of sports broadcasting.’”
Another quote from Howard Cosell:
“The importance that our society attaches to sport is incredible. After all, is football a game or a religion? The people of this country have allowed sports to get completely out of hand.”
In the words of one writer, “Born in 1936, Suhas Roy studied at the Indian College of Arts and Draughtsmanship, Calcutta. In 1956, he travelled to France on a Government of France French Cultural Scholarship. In Paris, he studied at the Atelier 17 and the Ecole National Superiere des Beaux Arts.
Suhas Roy’s preoccupation is primarily with the female face and form, and his subjects are romanticized, inhabiting the dreamlike world between sensuality and innocence. His work is usually inspired by life around him, but his themes are as much influenced by the everyday world as they are rooted in fantasy.”
Fancies in Springtime: Neltje Blanchan
A Second Poem for Today
“I still can’t get it right”
By Stripling Byer
I don’t know. I still can’t get it right,
the way those dirt roads cut across the flats
and led to shacks where hounds and muddy shoats
skulked roundabouts. Describing it sounds trite
as hell, the good old South I love to hate.
The truth? What’s that? How should I know?
I stayed inside too much. I learned to boast
of stupid things. I kept my ears shut tight,
as we kept doors locked, windows locked,
the curtains drawn. Now I know why.
The dark could hide things from us. Dark could see
what we could not. Sometimes those dirt roads shocked
me, where they ended up: I watched a dog die
in the ditch. The man who shot him winked at me.
Here is the Artist Statement of Japanese artist Shoichi Ida: “Art is not making a beautiful surface, or drawing a realistic apple. Art is getting to an essence, reaching the senses.”
Below – “Between Air and Water No. 2”; “Between Air and Water No. 7”; “Between Vertical and Horizon-Descended Triangle (E)”; “Garden Project – Wood, Paper, Fire and Rain – Between Vertical and Horizon.”
Fancies in Springtime: Roman Payne
“Did I live the spring I’d sought?
It’s true in joy, I walked along,
took part in dance,
and sang the song.
and never tried to bind an hour
to my borrowed garden bower;
nor did I once entreat
a day to slumber at my feet.
Yet days aren’t lulled by lyric song,
like morning birds they pass along,
o’er crests of trees, to none belong;
o’er crests of trees of drying dew,
their larking flight, my hands, eschew
Thus I’ll say it once and true…
From the Music Archives: Johann Sebastian Bach
“There’s nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.” – Johann Sebastian Bach, German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist of the Baroque period, who was born 21 March 1685 (Old System).
Fancies in Springtime: Epicurus
“Storytellers are a threat. They threaten all champions of control, they frighten usurpers of the right-to-freedom of the human spirit — in state, in church or mosque, in party congress, in the university or wherever.” – Chinua Achebe, Nigerian poet, novelist, and author of “Things Fall Apart,” who died 21 March 2013.
Some quotes from the work of Chinua Achebe:
“While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.”
“Nobody can teach me who I am. You can describe parts of me, but who I am – and what I need – is something I have to find out myself.”
“The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”
“To me, being an intellectual doesn’t mean knowing about intellectual issues; it means taking pleasure in them.”
“We cannot trample upon the humanity of others without devaluing our own. The Igbo, always practical, put it concretely in their proverb ‘Onye ji onye n’ani ji onwe ya’: ‘He who will hold another down in the mud must stay in the mud to keep him down.’”
“There is no story that is not true… The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.”
“When suffering knocks at your door and you say there is no seat for him, he tells you not to worry because he has brought his own stool.”
“One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised. ”
“A man who calls his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to save them from starving. They all have food in their own homes. When we gather together in the moonlit village ground it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.”
“People create stories create people; or rather stories create people create stories.”
“When we are comfortable and inattentive, we run the risk of committing grave injustices absentmindedly.”
“Privilege, you see, is one of the great adversaries of the imagination; it spreads a thick layer of adipose tissue over our sensitivity.”
“Some people flinch when you talk about art in the context of the needs of society thinking you are introducing something far too common for a discussion of art. Why should art have a purpose and a use? Art shouldn’t be concerned with purpose and reason and need, they say. These are improper. But from the very beginning, it seems to me, stories have indeed been meant to be enjoyed, to appeal to that part of us which enjoys good form and good shape and good sound.”
“Oh, the most important thing about myself is that my life has been full of changes. Therefore, when I observe the world, I don’t expect to see it just like I was seeing the fellow who lives in the next room. There is this complexity which seems to me to be part of the meaning of existence and everything we value.”
German Art – Part I of II: Edwin Scharff
Born 21 March 1887 – Edwin Scharff, a German sculptor who was influenced by Auguste Rodin. The Nazi Party classified Scharff as a “degenerate artist,” and so his work is obviously worthy of every intelligent person’s serious attention.
Below – “Man of the Border”; “A Likeness of the Actress Anna Mewes”; “Pandora”; “Female Torso”; “Sedentary.”
Fancies in Springtime: Adam Smith
A Third Poem for Today
By Wendy Videlock
I should be diligent and firm,
I know I should, and frowning, too;
again you’ve failed to clean your room.
Not only that, the evidence
of midnight theft is in your bed—
cracked peanut shells and m&m’s
are crumbled where you rest your head,
and just above, the windowsill
is crowded with a green giraffe
(who’s peering through your telescope),
some dominoes, and half a glass
of orange juice. You hungry child,
German Art – Part II of II: Walter Roos
Fancies in Springtime: Marty Rubin
“In Australia, not reading poetry is the national pastime.” – Phyllis McGinley, Australia-born American poet, author of children’s books, and recipient of the 1961 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (for “Times Three”), who was born 21 March 1905.
In the words of one critic, “(McGinley’s) poetry was in the style of light verse, specializing in humor, satiric tone and the positive aspects of suburban life.”
She said, If tomorrow my world were torn in two,
Blacked out, dissolved, I think I would remember
(As if transfixed in unsurrendering amber)
This hour best of all the hours I knew:
When cars came backing into the shabby station,
Children scuffing the seats, and the women driving
With ribbons around their hair, and the trains arriving,
And the men getting off with tired but practiced motion.
Yes, I would remember my life like this, she said:
Autumn, the platform red with Virginia creeper,
And a man coming toward me, smiling, the evening paper
Under his arm, and his hat pushed back on his head;
And wood smoke lying like haze on the quiet town,
And dinner waiting, and the sun not yet gone down.
Fancies in Springtime: Lucy Maud Montgomery
American Art – Part II of IV: Hollis Dunlap
In the words of one writer, “Born in northeastern Vermont in 1977, Hollis Dunlap is a painter living on the east coast of Connecticut in the USA. He paints modern paintings with a strong influence of old masters from Caravaggio to Vermeer. The color choices, brushwork, and compositions reflect the influences of various painters, from representational to more abstract in terms of composition and varying applications of paint.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
“Pity the Beautiful”
By Dana Gioia
Pity the beautiful,
the dolls, and the dishes,
the babes with big daddies
granting their wishes.
Pity the pretty boys,
the hunks, and Apollos,
the golden lads whom
success always follows.
The hotties, the knock-outs,
the tens out of ten,
the drop-dead gorgeous,
the great leading men.
Pity the faded,
the bloated, the blowsy,
the paunchy Adonis
whose luck’s gone lousy.
Fancies in Springtime: Unica Zurn
“It is a very beautiful day. The woman looks around and thinks: ‘there cannot ever have been a spring more beautiful than this. I did not know until now that clouds could be like this. I did not know that the sky is the sea and that clouds are the souls of happy ships, sunk long ago. I did not know that the wind could be tender, like hands as they caress – what did I know – until now?’”
From the American Old West: Ned Buntline
Born 20 March 1823 – Edward Zane Carroll Judson, Sr., known by his pseudonym Ned Buntline, an American publisher, journalist, writer, and publicist. In the words of one historian, “(Buntline) is best known for his dime novels and the Colt Buntline Special he is alleged to have commissioned from Colt’s Manufacturing Company.” Ned Buntline’s vivid literary imagination and impressive marketing skills are in some measure responsible for the almost mythic stature of Wyatt Earp and Buffalo Bill Cody in American history.
Arthur Lismer (1885 – 1969) was a Canadian artist and member of the Group of Seven, a group of landscape painters who worked from 1920 to 1933.
A Fifth Poem for Today
“Red Balloon Rising”
By Laurel Blossom
I tied it to your wrist
With a pretty pink bow, torn off
By the first little tug of wind.
I jumped to catch it, but not soon enough.
It darted away.
It still looked large and almost within reach.
Like a heart.
Watch, I said.
You squinted your little eyes.
The balloon looked happy, waving
The sky is very high today, I said.
Red went black, a polka dot,
Then not. We watched it,
Even though we couldn’t
Fancies in Springtime: Christina Rossetti
“A Wintry Sonnet”
A Robin said: The Spring will never come,
And I shall never care to build again.
A Rosebush said: These frosts are wearisome,
My sap will never stir for sun or rain.
The half Moon said: These nights are fogged and slow,
I neither care to wax nor care to wane.
The Ocean said: I thirst from long ago,
Because earth’s rivers cannot fill the main. —
When Springtime came, red Robin built a nest,
And trilled a lover’s song in sheer delight.
Grey hoarfrost vanished, and the Rose with might
Clothed her in leaves and buds of crimson core.
The dim Moon brightened. Ocean sunned his crest,
Dimpled his blue, yet thirsted evermore.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Italian painter Nicola Verlato: ”Nicola Verlato attempts to realize the “unreal” in his use of mythical references. Utilizing witches to explore the depths of sexuality, mysticism and power, the paintings are composed as conceptual cinematic storyboards and tell a story from multiple points of view. Invoking, at times, sexually explicit subject matter, the artist, who looks to a wide range of popular culture sources for visual inspiration including high-tech “first-person shooter” video gaming, renders a seemingly post-apocalyptic view of American society.”
Nicola Verlato lives and works in Brooklyn.
Fancies in Springtime: John Green
“Everything that comes together falls apart. Everything. The chair I’m sitting on. It was built, and so it will fall apart. I’m gonna fall apart, probably before this chair. And you’re gonna fall apart. The cells and organs and systems that make you you—they came together, grew together, and so must fall apart. The Buddha knew one thing science didn’t prove for millennia after his death: Entropy increases. Things fall apart.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Jared Harel
My grandmother never trusted calculators.
She would crunch numbers in a spiral notebook
at the kitchen table, watching her news.
‘Work harder and I’d have more to count,’
she’d snap at my father. And so my father worked
harder, fixed more mufflers, gave her receipts
but the numbers seldom changed.
There were silky things my mother wanted,
glorious dinners we could not afford.
Grandma would lecture her: ‘no more garbage,’
and so our house was clean. The attic spotless.
In fact, it wasn’t until after she died
that my parents found out how much she had saved us.
What hidden riches had been kept in those notebooks,
invested in bonds, solid blue digits
American Art – Part III of IV: Yvonne Jacquette
Yvonne Jacquette (born 1934) is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design.
Fancies in Springtime: Mary Oliver
I hear the thrush singing
in the glowing woods
he is only passing through.
His voice is deep,
then he lifts it until it seems
to fall from the sky.
I am thrilled.
I am grateful.
Then, by the end of morning,
he’s gone, nothing but silence
out of the tree
where he rested for a night.
And this I find acceptable.
Not enough is a poor life.
But too much is, well, too much.
Imagine Verdi or Mahler
every day, all day.
It would exhaust anyone.”
A Seventh Poem for Today
By Carol Light
Would I miss the way a breeze dimples
the butter-colored curtains on Sunday mornings,
or nights gnashed by cicadas and thunderstorms?
The leaning gossip, the half-alive ripple
of sunflowers, sagging eternities of corn
and sorghum, September preaching yellow, yellow
in all directions, the windowsills swelling
with Mason jars, the blue sky bluest borne
through tinted glass above the milled grains?
The dust, the heat, distrusted, the screen door
slapping as the slat-backed porch swing sighs,
the hatch of houseflies, the furlongs of freight trains,
and how they sing this routine, so sure, so sure—
the rote grace of every tempered life?
Fancies in Springtime: John Muir
“Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality.”
Back from the Territory – Art: The work of Alaska artist Doug Hudson
In the words of one writer, “A characteristic of Doug’s work, so highly regarded by collectors internationally, is his ability to bring life to the characters he represents so gracefully and sensually in wood. His compositions contain flowing, bold, earthy and ethereal forms that rise, stretch, glide and reach out to the viewer. His sculpture is amazingly diverse and his technical ability is unsurpassed.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Below – “Animal Spirit Transformation”; “Bird Spirit Transformation”; “Buddies”; “Blanket Toss”; “Coastal Spirits”; “Ghosts of Hunts Past”; “Sedna Eskimo Mother of the Sea”; “Whale Tales”; “Thanking the Spirits.”
An Eighth Poem for Today
By Jillena Rose
Bones are easier to find than flowers
in the desert, so I paint these:
Fine white skulls of cows and horses.
When I lie flat under the stars
in the back of the car, coyotes howling
in the scrub pines, easy to feel how those bones
are so much like mine: Here is my pelvis,
like the pelvis I found today
bleached by the sun and the sand. Same
hole where the hip would go, same
white curve of bone beneath my flesh
same cradle of life, silent and still in me.
Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan
“The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends on how well we know this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.”
American Art – Part IV of IV: Alex Katz
Artist Statement: “I make art for all people. However, I have difficulty reaching semi-intellectuals.”