American Art – Part I of V: Pat Steir
Artist Statement: “The self is like a bug. Every time you smack it, it moves to another place.”
Below – “Mountain in Rain”; “Mixed Marks, Landscape”; “Mixed Marks, Rorschach with Red Rectangle”; “Deep River”; “Moon Lake”; “Milky Way”; “Sunlight on Water I”; “The Wave – From the Sea – After Leonardo, Hokusai, and Courbet.”
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.” – From the “Farewell Address” of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States (1953 – 1961) and former five-star general in the United States Army, who died 29 March 1969.
Fancies in Springtime: Frank Herbert
“Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class — whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy.”
Born 28 March 1483 – Raphael, an Italian painter and architect who, with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, was one of the great masters of the High Renaissance.
“The good qualities in our soul are most successfully and forcefully awakened by the power of art. Just as science is the intellect of the world, art is its soul.” – Alexei Maximovich Peshkov, more commonly known as Maxim Gorky, a Russian writer, founder of the Socialist realism literary method, political activist, and author of “The Lower Depths” and (the wonderful) “Stories of the Steppe,” who was born 28 March 1868.
Some quotes from the work of Maxim Gorky:
“When everything is easy one quickly gets stupid.”
“Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and you learn at once how big and precious it is.”
“Keep reading books, but remember that a book’s only a book, and you should learn to think for yourself.”
“A good man can be stupid and still be good. But a bad man must have brains.”
“When work is a pleasure, life is a joy. When work is a duty, life is slavery!”
“You must write for children the same way you write for adults, only better.”
“Remembrance of the past kills all present energy and deadens all hope for the future”
“What I’d like is to meet a man I could take off my hat to and say: ‘Thank you for having got born, and the longer you live the better.’”
“Politics is something similar to the lower physiological functions, with the unpleasant difference that political functions are unavoidably carried out in public.”
A Poem For Today
By Patricia Jabbeh Wesley
One day, you will awake from your covering
and that heart of yours will be totally mended,
and there will be no more burning within.
The owl, calling in the setting of the sun
and the deer path, all erased.
And there will be no more need for love
or lovers or fears of losing lovers
and there will be no more burning timbers
with which to light a new fire,
and there will be no more husbands or people
related to husbands, and there will be no more
tears or reason to shed your tears.
You will be as mended as the bridge
the working crew has just reopened.
The thick air will be vanquished with the tide
and the river that was corrupted by lies
will be cleansed and totally free.
And the rooster will call in the setting sun
and the sun will beckon homeward,
hiding behind your one tree that was not felled.
Fancies in Springtime: Franklin D. Roosevelt
“The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world. In this long vigil he often has to vary his methods of stimulation; but in this long vigil he is also himself striving against a continual tendency to sleep.” – Marc Chagall, Russian artist, who died 28 March 1985.
“I had never been as resigned to ready-made ideas as I was to ready-made clothes, perhaps because although I couldn’t sew, I could think.” – Jane Rule, Canadian gay rights advocate and author of lesbian-themed novels, including “The Desert of the Heart,” who was born 28 March 1931.
Some quotes from the work of Jane Rule:
“Morality is a test of our conformity rather than our integrity.”
“If we don’t bear witness as citizens, as people, as individuals, the right that we have had to life is sacrificed. There is a silence, instead of a speaking presence.”
“People genuinely happy in their choices seem less often tempted to force them on other people than those who feel martyred and broken by their lives.”
“Coming out, all the way out, is offered more and more as the political solution to our oppression.”
“Every artist seems to me to have the job of bearing witness to the world we live in. To some extent I think of all of us as artists, because we have voices and we are each of us unique.”
“Love is the terrible secret people are suspected of unless they’re married, then one always suspects they don’t.”
“Morality, like language, is an invented structure for conserving and communicating order. And morality is learned, like language, by mimicking and remembering.”
“My private measure of success is daily. If this were to be the last day of my life would I be content with it? To live in a harmonious balance of commitments and pleasures is what I strive for.”
A Second Poem For Today
“One’s Ship Comes In”
By Joe Paddock
my way now will be
to continue without
plan or hope, to accept
the drift of things, to shift
from endless effort
to joy in, say,
that robin, plunging
into the mossy shallows
of my bird bath and
splashing madly till
the air shines with spray.
Joy it will be, say,
in Nancy, pretty in pink
and rumpled T-shirt,
rubbing sleep from her eyes, or
joy even in
just this breathing, free
of fright and clutch, knowing
how one’s ship comes in
with each such breath.
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Arthur Crudup
Died 28 March 1974 – Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, an American Delta blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist.
Fancies in Springtime: Henry David Thoreau
“To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity and trust.”
“Humor is perhaps a sense of intellectual perspective: an awareness that some things are really important, others not; and that the two kinds are most oddly jumbled in everyday affairs.” – Christopher Morley, American journalist, novelist, essayist, and poet, who died 28 March 1957.
Some quotes from the work of Christopher Morley:
“There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.”
“Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.”
“Beauty is ever to the lonely mind a shadow fleeting; she is never plain. She is a visitor who leaves behind the gift of grief, the souvenir of pain.”
“A man who has never made a woman angry is a failure in life.”
“In every man’s heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty.”
“There are three ingredients in the good life: learning, earning and yearning.”
“When you sell a man a book, you don’t sell him 12 ounces of paper and ink and glue – you sell him a whole new life.”
“From now until the end of time no one else will ever see life with my eyes, and I mean to make the best of my chance.”
“Life is a foreign language; all men mispronounce it.”
“The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets.”
“The enemies of the future are always the very nicest people.”
“Lots of times you have to pretend to join a parade in which you’re not really interested in order to get where you’re going.”
“The trouble with wedlock is that there’s not enough wed and too much lock.”
“We call a child’s mind ‘small’ simply by habit; perhaps it is larger than ours is, for it can take in almost anything without effort.”
“If we discovered that we only had five minutes left to say all that we wanted to say, every telephone booth would be occupied by people calling other people to stammer that they loved them.”
“People like to imagine that because all our mechanical equipment moves so much faster, that we are thinking faster, too.”
“The misfortunes hardest to bear are those which never came.”
“No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does.”
“The real purpose of books is to trap the mind into doing its own thinking.”
American Art – Part II of V: Robin Freedenfeld
Fancies in Springtime: Michael Shermer
“Myths, whether in written or visual form, serve a vital role of asking unanswerable questions and providing unquestionable answers. Most of us, most of the time, have a low tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty. We want to reduce the cognitive dissonance of not knowing by filling the gaps with answers. Traditionally, religious myths have served that role, but today — the age of science — science fiction is our mythology.”
“Advertising: the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.” – Stephen Leacock, English-born Canadian writer, teacher, political scientist, and humorist, who died 28 March 1944.
Some quotes from the work of Stephen Leacock:
“A half truth, like half a brick, is always more forcible as an argument than a whole one. It carries better.”
“There are two things in ordinary conversation which ordinary people dislike – information and wit.”
“Men are able to trust one another, knowing the exact degree of dishonesty they are entitled to expect.”
“Life, we learn too late, is in the living, the tissue of every day and hour.”
“I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”
“Many a man in love with a dimple makes the mistake of marrying the whole girl.”
“Each section of the British Isles has its own way of laughing, except Wales, which doesn’t.”
“In ancient times they had no statistics so they had to fall back on lies.”
“It is to be observed that ‘angling’ is the name given to fishing by people who can’t fish.”
“It’s called political economy because it is has nothing to do with either politics or economy.”
“What we call creative work, ought not to be called work at all, because it isn’t. I imagine that Thomas Edison never did a day’s work in his last fifty years.”
American Art – Part III of V: Charles Marion Russell
In addition to being a prolific painter, Charles Marion Russell (1864-1926) crafted bronze sculptures that depict activities associated with the American Old West.
Fancies in Springtime: Marcel Proust
“We have nothing to fear and a great deal to learn from trees, that vigorours and pacific tribe which without stint produces strengthening essences for us, soothing balms, and in whose gracious company we spend so many cool, silent, and intimate hours.”
A wonderful poem about Samuel Sewell:
By Anthony Hecht
Samuel Sewall, in a world of wigs,
Flouted opinion in his personal hair;
For foppery he gave not any figs,
But in his right and honor took the air.
Thus in his naked style, though well attired,
He went forth in the city, or paid court
To Madam Winthrop, whom he much admired,
Most godly, but yet liberal with the port.
And all the town admired for two full years
His excellent address, his gifts of fruit,
Her gracious ways and delicate white ears,
And held the course of nature absolute.
But yet she bade him suffer a peruke,
“That One be not distinguished from the All”;
Delivered of herself this stern rebuke
Framed in the resonant language of St. Paul.
“Madam,” he answered her, “I have a Friend
Furnishes me with hair out of His strength,
And He requires only I attend
Unto His charity and to its length.”
And all the town was witness to his trust:
On Monday he walked out with the Widow Gibbs,
A pious lady of charm and notable bust,
Whose heart beat tolerably beneath her ribs.
On Saturday he wrote proposing marriage,
And closed, imploring that she be not cruel,
“Your favorable answer will oblige,
Madam, your humble servant, Samuel Sewall.”
A Third Poem For Today
“Our Lady of Perpetual Help”
By April Lindner
The burnt church up the street yawns to the sky,
its empty windows edged in soot, its portals
boarded up and slathered with graffiti,
oily layers, urgent but illegible.
All that can be plundered has been, all
but the carapace—the hollow bell tower,
the fieldstone box that once served as a nave.
The tidy row of homes that line this block
have tended lawns and scalloped bathtub shrines.
Each front porch holds a chair where no one sits.
Those who live here triple lock their doors
day and night. Some mornings they step out
to find a smoking car stripped to its skeleton
abandoned at the curb. Most afternoons
the street is still but for a mourning dove
and gangs of pigeons picking through the grass.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help is gray,
a dead incisor in a wary smile.
A crevice in her wall allows a glimpse
into the chancel, where a sodden mattress
and dirty blanket indicate that someone
finds this place a sanctuary still,
takes his rest here, held and held apart
from passers by, their cruelties and their kindnesses,
watched over by the night’s blind congregation,
by the blank eyes of a concrete saint.
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Tete Montoliu
Born 28 March 1933 – Tete Montoliu, a Catalonian jazz pianist.
Fancies in Springtime: Howard Nemerov
“You cannot fashion a wit out of two half-wits.” – Neil Kinnock, English politician, who was born 28 March 1942.
American Art – Part IV of V: Wayne Thiebaud
Artist Statement: “There’s nothing really that I’ve ever found in other lines that is like an etched line–its fidelity, the richness of it, the density. You just don’t get that any other way.”
Nobel Laureate: Mario Vargas Llosa
“If you are killed because you are a writer, that’s the maximum expression of respect, you know.” – Mario Vargas Llosa, Peruvian-Spanish writer, politician, journalist, author of “The War of the End of the World” and “Death in the Andes,” and recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat,” who was born 28 March 1936.
Some quotes from the work of Mario Vargas Llosa:
“Since it is impossible to know what’s really happening, we Peruvians lie, invent, dream and take refuge in illusion. Because of these strange circumstances, Peruvian life, a life in which so few actually do read, has become literary.”
“Prosperity or egalitarianism – you have to choose. I favor freedom – you never achieve real equality anyway: you simply sacrifice prosperity for an illusion.”
“It isn’t true that convicts live like animals: animals have more room to move around.”
“No matter how ephemeral it is, a novel is something, while despair is nothing.”
Fancies in Springtime: 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.’”
Iranian Art – Part I of II: Mohammad Tabatabaei
“I am the penny whistle of American literature.” – Nelson Algren, American writer and recipient of the 1950 National Book Award (for “The Man with the Golden Arm”), who was born 28 March 1909.
Some quotes from the work of Nelson Algren:
“Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat at a place called Mom’s. Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own.”
“Chicago divided your heart. Leaving you loving the joint for keeps. Yet knowing it never can love you.”
“Yet once you’ve come to be part of this particular patch, you’ll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real.”
“Chicago is an October sort of city even in spring.”
“The great trains howling from track to track all night. The taut and telegraphic murmur of ten thousand city wires, drawn most cruelly against a city sky. The rush of city waters, beneath the city streets. The passionate passing of the night’s last El.”
“(It was) a city that was to live by night after the wilderness had passed. A city that was to forge out of steel and blood-red neon its own peculiar wilderness.”
“It’s the place built out of Man’s ceaseless failure to overcome himself. Out of Man’s endless war against himself we build our successes as well as our failures. Making it the city of all cities most like Man himself— loneliest creation of all this very old poor earth.”
“Big-shot town, small-shot town, jet-propelled old-fashioned town, by old-world hands with new-world tools built into a place whose heartbeat carries farther than its shout, whose whispering in the night sounds less hollow than its roistering noontime laugh: they have builded a heavy-shouldered laughter here who went to work too young.”
“And money can’t buy everything. For example: poverty.”
“Our myths are so many, our vision so dim, our self-deception so deep and our smugness so gross that scarcely any way now remains of reporting the American Century except from behind the billboards.”
“So he bought tickets to the Greyhound and they climbed, painfully, inch by inch and with the knowledge that, once they reached the top, there would be one breath-taking moment when the car would tip precariously into space, over an incline six stories steep and then plunge, like a plunging plane. She buried her head against him, fearing to look at the park spread below. He forced himself to look: thousands of little people and hundreds of bright little stands, and over it all the coal-smoke pall of the river factories and railroad yards. He saw in that moment the whole dim-lit city on the last night of summer; the troubled streets that led to the abandoned beaches, the for-rent signs above overnight hotels and furnished basement rooms, moving trolleys and rising bridges: the cagework city, beneath a coalsmoke sky.”
Fancies in Springtime: Rebecca Solnit
Iranian Art – Part II of II: Raoof Haghighi
Here is how one writer describes the artistry of Iranian painter Raoof Haghighi (born 1976): “Raoof’s paintings are built on his strong cultural traditions as well as his interest in the changing world of today. In his work he often uses contemporary ideas combines with strong traditional technique.
Raoof Haghighi now lives and works in England.
A Fourth Poem For Today
By Cathy Smith Bowers
I collect them now, it seems. Like
sea-shells or old
thimbles. One for
Father. One for
Mother. Two for my sweet brothers.
Odd how little
they require of
me. Unlike the
ones they were sent in memory
of. No sudden
shrilling of the
phone. No harried
midnight flights. Only a little
water now and
then. Scant food and
light. See how I’ve
brought them all together here in
this shaded space
beyond the stairs.
Even when they
Fancies in Springtime: Jostein Gaarder
“Our lives are part of a unique adventure… Nevertheless, most of us think the world is ‘normal’ and are constantly hunting for something abnormal–like angels or Martians. But that is just because we don’t realize the world is a mystery. As for myself, I felt completely different. I saw the world as an amazing dream. I was hunting for some kind of explanation of how everything fit together.”
Back from the Territory – Art: The work of Alaska artist Dick Miller
Dick Miller lives and works in Ketchikan.
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Below – “Breaking”; “Early Start”; “Eddystone Rock”; “Waterview – Ketchikan”; “Winter Wax Wings”; “Auntie Tene’s.”
A Fifth Poem For Today
By Barbara Schmitz
It is very hot—92 today—to be wearing
a stocking cap, but the adolescent swaggering
through the grocery store automatic door
doesn’t seem to mind; does not even appear
to be perspiring. The tugged-down hat
is part of his carefully orchestrated outfit:
bagging pants, screaming t-shirt, high-topped
shoes. The young woman who yells to her friends
from an open pickup window is attired
for summer season in strapless stretch
tube top, slipping down toward bountiful
cleavage valley. She tugs it up in front
as she races toward the two who have
just passed a cigarette between them
like a baton on a relay team. Her white
chest gleams like burnished treasure
as they giggle loudly there in the corner
and I glance down to see what costume
I have selected to present myself to
the world today. I smile; it’s my sky blue
shirt with large deliberately faded Peace sign,
smack dab in the middle, plus grey suede
Birkenstocks—a message that “I lived through
the sixties and am so proud.” None of the
young look my way. I round the corner and
walk into Evening descending.
Fancies in Springtime: Amit Ray
American Art – Part V of V: David True
Artist Statement: “If you’re going to be an artist, you might as well go ahead and do it. Stake it, stake it deep.”