American Art – Part I of V: Charline von Heyl
Artist Statement: “I started out as a painter in an environment where painting was something very powerful and I actually never lost that feeling. I never doubted painting.”
A Poem for Today
By Michael Metivier
When the townspeople
gave the teenaged Buddha
a glass of wine
so delicious he grew
to an unthinkable size
and froze into a blue statue
that shielded the town
from a wave that broke
upon his back
and would have swept away
the town if he’d not tasted
the wine and afterward the people
were overjoyed and said
they would do good deeds
like carpool their children to school
more often and plant lettuce
everywhere while the Buddha
melted into water and receded
into the calm sane sea.
Fancies in Springtime: Paul Sweeney
“Under a blazing mid-afternoon summer sky, we see the Seine flooded with sunshine . . . people are strolling, others are sitting or stretched out lazily on the bluish grass.” – Georges Seurat, French Post-Impressionist painter and draftsman who devised the technique known as pointillism, who died 29 March 1891.
Some quotes from the work of Amelia Barr:
“All changes are more or less tinged with melancholy, for what we are leaving behind is part of ourselves.”
“It is always the simple that produces the marvelous.”
“Kindness is always fashionable.”
“Old age is the verdict of life.”
“That is the great mistake about the affections. It is not the rise and fall of empires, the birth and death of kings, or the marching of armies that move them most. When they answer from their depths, it is to the domestic joys and tragedies of life.”
In the words of one critic, the figures depicted on the canvases of Swiss painter Raffaello Ossola (born 1954) should be regarded as “ Memories, distant recollections both past and future entwined in dreams, visions and journeys,” while Ossola prefers to call them “Timeless Images.”
A Second Poem for Today
“How You Know”
By Joe Mills
‘How do you know if it’s love?’ she asks,
and I think if you have to ask, it’s not,
but I know this won’t help. I want to say
you’re too young to worry about it,
as if she has questions about Medicare
or social security, but this won’t help either.
“You’ll just know” is a lie, and one truth,
“when you still want to be with them
the next morning,” would involve too
many follow-up questions. The difficulty
with love, I want to say, is sometimes
you only know afterwards that it’s arrived
or left. Love is the elephant and we
are the blind mice unable to understand
the whole. I want to say love is this
desire to help even when I know I can’t,
just as I couldn’t explain electricity, stars,
the color of the sky, baldness, tornadoes,
fingernails, coconuts, or the other things
she has asked about over the years, all
those phenomena whose daily existence
seems miraculous. Instead I shake my head.
‘I don’t even know how to match my socks.
Go ask your mother. She laughs and says,
I did. Mom told me to come and ask you.’
Fancies in Springtime: Daniel Quinn
“You’re captives of a civilizational system that more or less compels you to go on destroying the world in order to live. … You are captives—and you have made a captive of the world itself. That’s what’s at stake, isn’t it?—your captivity and the captivity of the world.”
From the Music Archives: Pearl Bailey
“Never, never rest contented with any circle of ideas, but always be certain that a wider one is still possible.” – Pearl Bailey, American singer and actress, who was born 29 March 1918.
“The Cat and the Sea”
“At least one way of measuring the freedom of any society is the amount of comedy that is permitted, and clearly a healthy society permits more satirical comment than a repressive, so that if comedy is to function in some way as a safety release then it must obviously deal with these taboo areas. This is part of the responsibility we accord our licensed jesters, that nothing be excused the searching light of comedy. If anything can survive the probe of humour it is clearly of value, and conversely all groups who claim immunity from laughter are claiming special privileges which should not be granted.” – Eric Idle, English comedian, actor, author, singer, and member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, who was born 29 March 1943.
A Third Poem for Today
“End of Market Day”
By Judith Harris
At five, the market is closing.
Burdock roots, parsley, and rutabagas
are poured back into the trucks.
The antique dealer breaks down his tables.
Light dappled, in winter parkas
shoppers hunt for bargains:
a teapot, or costume jewelry,
a grab bag of rubbishy vegetables for stew.
Now twilight, the farmer’s wife
bundled in her tweed coat and pocket apron
counts out her cash from a metal box,
and nods to her grown-up son
From the American History Archives: The Cumberland Road
29 March 1806 – President Jefferson authorizes the construction of the Cumberland Road, which would later become part of the National Road (Great National Pike).
In the words of one historian, “The Cumberland Road would replace the Braddock Road for travel between the Potomac and Ohio Rivers, following roughly the same alignment until just east of Uniontown, Pennsylvania. From there, where the Braddock Road turned north to Pittsburgh, the Cumberland Road would continue west to Wheeling, West Virginia (then part of Virginia), also on the Ohio River.”
Fancies in Springtime: Alan Lee
“I keep drawing the trees, the rocks, the river, I’m still learning how to see them; I’m still discovering how to render their forms. I will spend a lifetime doing that. Maybe someday I’ll get it right.”
American Art – Part II of V: Richard Tuttle
Artist Statement: “In our culture there is a job for art, because we can’t experience reality anywhere else.”
Below – “Deep, In the Snow”; “Deep, In the Snow”; “Deep in the Snow: #1”; “Naked I”; “Naked IV”; “Type: T.”
Fancies in Springtime: Bill Bryson
Here is one writer describing the artistry of Canadian painter John Hansen (born 1957): “For Hansen, sound craftsmanship applied in a proper theoretically grounded method is crucial as the effective means to express his reflections of life. Initially working from the imagination he creates the composition in his mind. Hansen then gathers reference materials by using a camera to record the image of the figure, and by documenting measurements along with small detail sketches. Hansen then sets to work in his preferred medium of oil.”
“Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale.” – From the last entry in the diary of Englishman Robert Falcon Scott, Royal Navy officer, explorer, and leader of the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition in Antarctica, who died 29 March 1912.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Iranian painter Javad Azarmehr (born 1948): ”Javad Azarmehr is like a story book to me. In front of the easel, in his studio, he paints everyday. There is something of a story even in the painting. With their clear and pure pastels, they are tranquil and tender. The paintings are created with patience, amazing skill and precision. The color compositions are often very simple, making the paintings straight forward and within reach. My personal favorites are the ones with the houses; they have such a peculiar tranquility. I wish I could be in Javad’s paintings; it must be a wonderful world, calm, tranquil and thoughtful.”
Fancies in Springtime: Karl Ove Knausgard
“The tree was so old, and stood there so alone, that his childish heart had been filled with compassion; if no one else on the farm gave it a thought, he would at least do his best to, even though he suspected that his child’s words and child’s deeds didn’t make much difference. It had stood there before he was born, and would be standing there after he was dead, but perhaps, even so, it was pleased that he stroked its bark every time he passed, and sometimes, when he was sure he wasn’t observed, even pressed his cheek against it.”
American Art – Part III of V: William Bailey
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of American painter William Bailey, who is Professor of Art Emeritus at Yale University: “Bailey is best known for his paintings of singular vessels arranged on table tops or ledges below large expanses of muted toned walls. The cups, bowls, jugs and egg cups, which may indeed exist, are painted from memory, described with a poignancy that sets the paintings outside of time and place. The monochrome expanses of the walls, which signify a minimalist eye and brush, further remove the works from any suggestion of a real setting. This is similarly true of Bailey’s paintings of female figures. The women are not artist’s models but are painted entirely from imagination. They are posed sitting or standing in strange interiors looking out at the viewer. They are often nude and set almost weightlessly in their imaginary rooms. All these works, for Bailey, are abstract. They do not pretend to be realistically described. The shadows may be a little off, the corners of the walls not quite right. The figures beg just about every question one can think of.”
“Look underfoot. You are always nearer to the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Don’t despise your own place and hour. Every place is the center of the world.” – John Burroughs, American naturalist, essayist, conservationist, and author of “Wake-Robin” and “The Art of Seeing Things,” who died 29 March 1921.
Some quotes from the work of John Burroughs:
“The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are.”
“One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: ‘To rise above little things.’”
“I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.”
“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life. ”
“If we take science as our sole guide, if we accept and hold fast that alone which is verifiable, the old theology must go.”
“Science has done more for the development of western civilization in one hundred years than Christianity did in eighteen hundred years.”
“To treat your facts with imagination is one thing, to imagine your facts is another.”
“If I were to name the three most precious resources of life, I should say books, friends, and nature.”
“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”
“Leap and the net will appear”
“A somebody was once a nobody who wanted to and did.”
“Communing with God is communing with our own hearts, our own best selves, not with something foreign and accidental. Saints and devotees have gone into the wilderness to find God; of course they took God with them, and the silence and detachment enabled them to hear the still, small voice of their own souls, as one hears the ticking of his own watch in the stillness of the night.”
“The longer I live the more my mind dwells upon the beauty and wonder of the world… I have loved the feel of the grass under my feet, and the sound of the running streams by my side. The hum of the wind in the treetops has always been good music to me, and the face of the fields has often comforted me more than the faces of men. I am in love with this world…I have tilled its soil, I have gathered its harvest, I have waited upon its seasons, and always have I reaped what I have sown. I have climbed its mountains, roamed its forests, sailed its waters, crossed its deserts, felt the sting of its frosts, the oppression of its heats, the drench of its rains, the fury of its winds, and always have beauty and joy waited upon my goings and comings.”
“For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice.”
“I go to books and to nature as the bee goes to a flower, for a nectar that I can make into my own honey.”
“The kingdom of heaven in not a place but a state of mind.”
“The secret of happiness is something to do”
“You can get discouraged many times, but you are not a failure until you begin to blame somebody else and stop trying.”
“The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention.”
“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.”
Below – A 2005 photograph of Slabsides, Burroughs’ cabin in West Park, NY, that was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1968; “Wake-Robin”; “The Art of Seeing Things” – a collection of some of Burroughs’ finest essays.
Fancies in Springtime: Ursula Le Guin
“I went to the springs while the sun was still up, and sitting on a rocky outcrop above the cave mouth I watched the light grow reddish across the misty pools, and listened to the troubled voice of the water. After a while I moved farther up the hill, where I could hear birds singing near and far in the silence of the trees. The presence of the trees was very strong…The big oaks stood so many, so massive in their other life, in their deep, rooted silence: the awe of them came on me, the religion.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By David St. John
Out in the orchards the dogs stood
Almost frozen in the bleak spring night
& Mister dragged out into the rows
Between his peach trees the old dry limbs
Building at regular intervals careful pyres
While the teeth of the dogs chattered & snapped
& the ice began to hang long as whiskers
From the globes along the branches
& at his signal we set the piles of branches ablaze
Tending each carefully so as not to scorch
The trees as we steadily fed those flames
Just enough to send a rippling glow along
Those acres of orchard where that body—
Sister Winter—had been held so wisely to the fire
Fancies in Springtime: Jostein Gaarder
“So now you must choose… Are you a child who has not yet become world-weary? Or are you a philosopher who will vow never to become so? To children, the world and everything in it is new, something that gives rise to astonishment. It is not like that for adults. Most adults accept the world as a matter of course. This is precisely where philosophers are a notable exception. A philosopher never gets quite used to the world. To him or her, the world continues to seem a bit unreasonable – bewildering, even enigmatic. Philosophers and small children thus have an important faculty in common. The only thing we require to be good philosophers is the faculty of wonder…”
American Art – Part IV of V: Vincent Giarrano
After obtaining a Masters in Fine Art from Syracuse University in 1985, artist Vincent Giarrano (born 1960) chose to pursue a career in illustration, working for the publishers of both DC Comics and Marvel Comics. In the words of one art critic, “About ten years ago, Vincent transitioned back to fine art and found that this was what he really wanted to do. He loves painting subjects that relate to real life experiences, wanting his paintings to reflect true moments of life. Capturing the quality of light in a scene is also an important element for him, especially the way in which it can enhance the mood he is portraying in the painting.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Jehanne Dubrow
We dreamed of glowing children,
their throats alive and cancerous,
their eyes like lightning in the dark.
We were uneasy in our skins,
sixth grade, a year for blowing up,
for learning that nothing contains
that heat which comes from growing,
the way our parents seemed at once
both tall as cooling towers and crushed
beneath the pressure of small things—
family dinners, the evening news,
the dead voice of the dial tone.
Even the ground was ticking.
The parts that grew grew poison.
Whatever we ate became a stone.
Fancies in Springtime: Rachel Carson
“The winds, the sea, and the moving tides are what they are. If there is wonder and beauty and majesty in them, science will discover these qualities… If there is poetry in my book about the sea, it is not because I deliberately put it there, but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out the poetry.”
Back from the Territory – Art: The work of Alaska artist Ann Miletich
Artist Statement: “Living in Alaska has opened up for me a visual world where large shapes intermingle with shining streaks of brilliant colors. Especially in Alaska, it is disrespectful to try to record landscape image, so in my work I try to capture the feeling of the place – not the place itself.
I’m fascinated by the use of line, color and graphic hard line separation of space, as it applies to our Alaskan landscapes. For me, Alaska has been a fruitful place. Its visual resources are endless.
People ask me, ‘What do you paint?’ I don’t know how to answer this question. Trying to say what the paintings are is to defect their purpose. So rather than talk about them, let me invite you to look, hopefully, to enjoy and join the feeling or idea that you see…”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Below – “Glacier Landscape”; “Between Ice Ages”; “Anticipating Spring”; “Run Into Color”; “Approaching the Glacier”; “Breakup, Yukon Lake”; “Moving Through Denali”; “The Front.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Todd Matthews
One hand slops suds on, one
hustles them down like a blind.
Brusque noon glare, filtered thus,
loosens and glows. For five or
six minutes he owns the place,
dismal coffee bar, and us, its
huddled underemployed. A blade,
black line against the topmost glass,
begins, slices off the outer lather,
flings it away, works inward,
corrals the frothy middle, and carves,
with quick cuts, the stuff down,
not looking for anything, beneath
or inside. Homes to the last,
cleans its edges, grooms it for
the end, then shaves it off
and flings it away. Which is
splendid, and merciless. And all
in the wrist. Then, he looks at us.
We makers of filth, we splashers
and spitters. We sitters and watchers.
Who like to see him work.
Who love it when he leaves
and gives it back: our grim hideout,
half spoiled by clarity.
Fancies in Springtime: Rick Hilles
American Art – Part V of V: William T. Wiley
Artist Statement: “What makes anything a viable alternative is the integrity of your approach to it…it doesn’t have anything to do with the materials, or the style…it is a kind of energy that comes into the particular sequence of events.”