American Art – Part I of III: Douglas Schneider
Artist Statement: “Empty Rooms are never really empty. They are filled with energies from the past, present and future.”
A Poem for Today
“The Mountain Cemetery,”
By Edgar Bowers
With their harsh leaves old rhododendrons fill
The crevices in grave plots’ broken stones.
The bees renew the blossoms they destroy,
While in the burning air the pines rise still,
Commemorating long forgotten biers.
Their roots replace the semblance of these bones.
The weight of cool, of imperceptible dust
That came from nothing and to nothing came
Is light within the earth and on the air.
The change that so renews itself is just.
The enormous, sundry platitude of death
Is for these bones, bees, trees, and leaves the same.
And splayed upon the ground and through the trees
The mountains’ shadow fills and cools the air,
Smoothing the shape of headstones to the earth.
The rhododendrons suffer with the bees
Whose struggles loose ripe petals to the earth,
The heaviest burden it shall ever bear.
Our hard earned knowledge fits us for such sleep.
Although the spring must come, it passes too
To form the burden suffered for what comes.
Whatever we would give our souls to keep
Is merely part of what we call the soul;
What we of time would threaten to undo
All time in its slow scrutiny has done.
For on the grass that starts about the feet
The body’s shadow turns, to shape in time,
Soon grown preponderant with creeping shade,
The final shadow that is turn of earth;
And what seems won paid for as in defeat.
Fancies in Springtime: Gary Larson
German Art – Part I of III: Max Ernst
Born 2 April 1891 – Max Ernst, a German painter, sculptor, graphic artist and poet, who was a pioneer in the Dada and Surrealism movements.
2 April 1917 – Jeannette Rankin (Republican – Montana) begins her term as the first female member of the United States House of Representatives. An ardent pacifist, Rankin was, in the words of one historian, “one of fifty members of Congress who voted against entry into World War I in 1917, and the only member of Congress who voted against declaring war on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.”
Fancies in Springtime: Gene Hill
Died 2 April 2001 – Charles Daudelin, Canadian sculptor and painter.
A Second Poem for Today
“Advice to a Prophet,”
By Richard Wilbur
When you come, as you soon must, to the streets of our city,
Mad-eyed from stating the obvious,
Not proclaiming our fall but begging us
In God’s name to have self-pity,
Spare us all word of the weapons, their force and range,
The long numbers that rocket the mind;
Our slow, unreckoning hearts will be left behind,
Unable to fear what is too strange.
Nor shall you scare us with talk of the death of the race.
How should we dream of this place without us?–
The sun mere fire, the leaves untroubled about us,
A stone look on the stone’s face?
Speak of the world’s own change. Though we cannot conceive
Of an undreamt thing, we know to our cost
How the dreamt cloud crumbles, the vines are blackened by frost,
How the view alters. We could believe,
If you told us so, that the white-tailed deer will slip
Into perfect shade, grown perfectly shy,
The lark avoid the reaches of our eye,
The jack-pine lose its knuckled grip
On the cold ledge, and every torrent burn
As Xanthus once, its gliding trout
Stunned in a twinkling. What should we be without
The dolphin’s arc, the dove’s return,
These things in which we have seen ourselves and spoken?
Ask us, prophet, how we shall call
Our natures forth when that live tongue is all
Dispelled, that glass obscured or broken
In which we have said the rose of our love and the clean
Horse of our courage, in which beheld
The singing locust of the soul unshelled,
And all we mean or wish to mean.
Fancies in Springtime: H.E. Davey
“In Japan, a number of time-honored everyday activities (such as making tea, arranging flowers, and writing) have traditionally been deeply examined by their proponents. Students study how to make tea, perform martial arts, or write with a brush in the most skillful way possible to express themselves with maximum efficiency and minimum strain. Through this efficient, adroit, and creative performance, they arrive at art. But if they continue to delve even more deeply into their art, they discover principles that are truly universal, principles relating to life itself. Then, the art of brush writing becomes shodo—the ‘Way of the brush’—while the art of arranging flowers is elevated to the status of kado—the ‘Way of flowers.’ Through these Ways or Do forms, the Japanese have sought to realize the Way of living itself. They have approached the universal through the particular.”
German Art – Part II of III: Kerstin Arnold
Painter Kerstin Arnold has stated that, “my pictures make a statement against the hectic rush that governs our society.”
“I am drawn to the magical efficacies of language as a political act.” – Anne Waldman, American poet, professor, editor, performer, scholar, and cultural/political activist, who was born 2 April 1945.
Art begins with a lie
The separation is you plus me plus what we make
Look into lightbulb, blink, sun’s in your eye
I want a rare sky
vantage point free from misconception
Art begins with a lie
Nothing to lose, spontaneous rise
of reflection, paint the picture
of a lightbulb, or eye the sun
How to fuel the world, then die
Distance yourself from artfulness
How? Art begins with a lie
The audience wants to cry
when the actors are real & passionate
Look into footlight, then feed back to eye
You fluctuate in an artful body
You try to imitate the world’s glory
Art begins with a lie
That’s the story, sharp speck in the eye.
Died 2 April 2012 – Elizabeth Catlett, an American-born Mexican printmaker and sculptor.
Fancies in Springtime: Giorge Leedy
A Third Poem for Today
By Michael Robbins
Fiddle no further, Führer. Rome is built.
It took all day. Now let us so
love the world. I’m just thinking out loud.
My stigmata bring out my eyes.
The smallpox uses every part of the blanket,
and the forest is a lady’s purse.
The Indian is a pink Chihuahua peeking
his head from the designer zipper.
Out here it’s mostly light from the fifteenth
century slamming into the planet.
I can’t see the forest for the burn unit.
All the planet does is bitch bitch bitch.
Fancies in Springtime: Henry David Thoreau
A Fourth Poem for Today
“I Leave Her Weeping”
By Liz Rosenberg
I leave her weeping in her barred little bed,
her warm hand clutching at my hand,
but she doesn’t want a kiss, or to hug the dog goodnight—
she keeps crying mommy, uhhh, mommy,
with her lovely crumpled face
like a golden piece of paper I am throwing away.
We have been playing for hours,
and now we need to stop, and she does not want
to. She is counting on me to lower the boom
that is her heavy body, and settle her down.
I rub her ribcage, I arrange the blankets around her hips.
Downstairs are lethal phonecalls I have to answer.
dying, I need to call.
My daughter may be weeping all my tears,
I only know
that even this young
and lying on her side,
her head uplifted like a cupped tulip,
sometimes she needs to cry.
Fancies in Springtime: Bob Black
“You are what you do. If you do boring, stupid, monotonous work, chances are you’ll end up boring, stupid, and monotonous. Work is a much better explanation for the creeping cretinization all around us than even such significant moronizing mechanisms as television and education.”
German Art – Part III of III: Sebastian Walter-Lilienfein
From the Music Archives: Emmylou Harris
“Mediocrity is gonna kill the world before Armageddon ever does.” – Emmylou Harris, American singer-songwriter, musician, and twelve-time recipient of a Grammy Award, who was born 2 April 1947.
Fancies in Springtime: Elton Trueblood
Fancies in Springtime: Robert Benchley
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Mark Smith-Soto
Chico whines, no reason why. Just now walked,
dinner gobbled, head and ears well scratched.
And yet he whines, looking up at me as if confused
at my just sitting here, typing away, while darkness
is stalking the back yard. How can I be so blind,
he wants to know, how sad, how tragic, how I
won’t listen before it is too late. His whines are
refugees from a brain where time and loss have
small dominion, but where the tyranny of now
is absolute. I get up and throw open the kitchen door,
and he disappears down the cement steps, barking
deeper and darker than I remember. I follow
to find him perfectly still in the empty yard—
the two of us in the twilight, standing guard.
American Art – Part II of III: Siddarth Parasnis
In the words of one writer, “Working in the space between abstraction and representation, San Francisco painter Siddharth Parasnis filters landscape and architecture through his imagination and subconscious, creating dynamic, light-filled compositions that almost seem to rise off the canvas. Each image possesses a unique color harmony that the artist captures in a single session, though he may continue to work on the painting for months or years afterward. Parasnis calls this capturing ‘the soul of the painting’; the act that gives the painting ‘life’ or ‘birth.’ Each painting’s structure, too, tends to arise organically, with forms based on places from the artist’s life and travels assuming new relationships and energy as he translates them into paint.”
Fancies in Springtime: Farely Mowat
“We have doomed the wolf not for what it is, but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be –the mythologized epitome of a savage ruthless killer – which is, in reality, no more than a reflected image of ourself.”
“America is the best half-educated country in the world.” – Nicholas Murray Butler, American philosopher, diplomat, educator, president of Columbia University, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, who was born 2 April 1862.
Some quotes from Nicholas Murray Butler:
“The one serious conviction that a man should have is that nothing is to be taken too seriously.”
“This desire of knowledge and the wonder which it hopes to satisfy are the driving power behind all the changes that we, with careless, question-begging inference, call progress.”
“Perhaps we should comprehend these things better were it not for the persistence of the superstition that human beings habitually think. There is no more persistent superstition than this.”
“The epitaphs on tombstones of a great many people should read: ‘Died at thirty, and buried at sixty.’”
“An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less.”
“The words that bore the deathless verse of Homer from bard to a group of fascinated hearers, and with whose fading sounds the poems passed beyond recall, are fixed on the printed page in a hundred tongues. They carry to a million eyes what once could reach but a hundred ears.”
“The mythologies represent genuine reflection and not a little insight. They reveal man’s simple, naïve consciousness busying itself with the explanation of things.”
“An important step, far-reaching in its consequences, was taken when man first sought the cause of change and decay in things themselves and in the laws which appeared to govern things, rather than in powers and forces outside of and beyond them. When the question was first asked, What is it that persists amid all changes and that underlies every change? a new era was about to dawn in the history of man’s wonder and his desire to know.”
“The maxim, ‘An unexamined life is not worth living,’ is the priceless legacy of Socrates to the generations of men who have followed him upon this earth. The beings who have stood on humanity’s summit are those, and only those, who have heard the voice of Socrates across the centuries. The others are a superior kind of cattle.”
“Education is in no small measure preparing the way for the intellectual life and pointing to it. Those who cannot enter in at its gates are doomed, in Leonardo da Vinci’s words, to ‘possess neither the profit nor the beauty of the world.’ For them life must be short, however many its years, and barren, however plentiful its acts. Their ears are deaf to the call of the indwelling Reason, and their eyes are blind to all the meaning and the values of human experience.”
Fancies in Springtime: Francis Hodgson Burnett
“How it is that animals understand things I do not know, but it is certain that they do understand. Perhaps there is a language which is not made of words and everything in the world understands it. Perhaps there is a soul hidden in everything and it can always speak, without even making a sound, to another soul.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
By James Doyle
The kitchen door opens onto dirt
and the second half of the country
all the way to the Pacific. Rusted
prairie trains out of the tall weeds
elbow the last century aside, rumble
from every direction towards Chicago.
My great-grandfather, who would be
150 years old today, put on his one
tall hat and took the big trip
to Omaha for my great-grandma
with the family ring on his vest
and winter wheat lying wait in seed.
He gave her all the miles he had
and she gave him the future I walk
around in every day. The mountains
were too far west to count so they
doubled back over the land and century
and the real weather kept coming from them.
“Leaving sex to the feminists is like letting your dog vacation at the taxidermist.” – Camille Paglia, American writer, teacher, social critic, self-described “dissident feminist,” and author of “Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson,” who was born 2 April 1947.
Some quotes from the work of Camille Paglia:
“Are we like late Rome, infatuated with past glories, ruled by a complacent, greedy elite, and hopelessly powerless to respond to changing conditions?”
“Woman is the dominant sex. Men have to do all sorts of stuff to prove that they are worthy of woman’s attention.”
“Men know they are sexual exiles. They wander the earth seeking satisfaction, craving and despising, never content. There is nothing in that anguished motion for women to envy.”
“If civilization had been left in female hands we would still be living in grass huts.”
“There is no female Mozart because there is no female Jack the Ripper.”
“Why has the Democratic Party become so arrogantly detached from ordinary Americans? Though they claim to speak for the poor and dispossessed, Democrats have increasingly become the party of an upper-middle-class professional elite, top-heavy with journalists, academics and lawyers.”
“Out with stereotypes, feminism proclaims. But stereotypes are the west’s stunning sexual personae, the vehicles of art’s assault against nature. The moment there is imagination, there is myth.”
“Beauty is our weapon against nature; by it we make objects, giving them limit, symmetry, proportion. Beauty halts and freezes the melting flux of nature.”
“Now that virtually every career is an option for ambitious girls, it can no longer be considered regressive or reactionary to reintroduce discussion of marriage and motherhood to primary education. We certainly do not want to return to the simplistic duality of home economics classes for girls and wood shop for boys.”
“The damage done to U.S. prestige by the feckless, buffoonish George W. Bush will take years to repair.”
“A serious problem in America is the gap between academe and the mass media, which is our culture. Professors of humanities, with all their leftist fantasies, have little direct knowledge of American life and no impact whatever on public policy.”
“Although I’m an atheist who believes only in great nature, I recognize the spiritual richness and grandeur of the Roman Catholicism in which I was raised.”
“I say the law should be blind to race, gender and sexual orientation, just as it claims to be blind to wealth and power. There should be no specially protected groups of any kind, except for children, the severely disabled and the elderly, whose physical frailty demands society’s care.”
“If feminism has receded in visibility and prestige, it is precisely because its vision of life’s goals and rewards has become too narrow and elitist.”
“It’s time for a recovery and reassessment of North American thinkers. Marshall McLuhan, Leslie Fiedler and Norman O. Brown are the linked triad I would substitute for Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault, whose work belongs to ravaged postwar Europe and whose ideas transfer poorly into the Anglo-American tradition.”
“Madonna can still produce a catchy pop song, but she hasn’t expanded her artistic vocabulary since the 1990s. Her concerts are glitzy extravaganzas of special effects overkill. She leaves little space in them for emotional depth or unscripted rapport with the audience.”
“Manhood coerced into sensitivity is no manhood at all.”
“Rule of art: Cant kills creativity!”
“Sotomayor’s vainglorious lecture bromide about herself as ‘a wise Latina’ trumping white men is a vulgar embarrassment – a vestige of the bad old days of male-bashing feminism.”
“Television is actually closer to reality than anything in books. The madness of TV is the madness of human life.”
“A woman simply is, but a man must become.”
“All objects, all phases of culture are alive. They have voices. They speak of their history and interrelatedness. And they are all talking at once!”
“And what do Democrats stand for, if they are so ready to defame concerned citizens as the ‘mob’ – a word betraying a Marie Antoinette delusion of superiority to ordinary mortals. I thought my party was populist, attentive to the needs and wishes of those outside the power structure. And as a product of the 1960s, I thought the Democratic Party was passionately committed to freedom of thought and speech.”
“Except for naval and air exercises, our military should be stationed on American soil, where service men and women can lead normal lives in close proximity to family and friends.”
“Heaven help the American-born boy with a talent for ballet.”
“High Romanticism shows you nature in all its harsh and lovely metamorphoses. Flood, fire and quake fling us back to the primal struggle for survival and reveal our gross dependency on mammoth, still mysterious forces.”
“I am a registered Democrat who is determined to return my party to the proletarian principles of the Franklin D. Roosevelt era.”
“I believe that history has shape, order, and meaning; that exceptional men, as much as economic forces, produce change; and that passe abstractions like beauty, nobility, and greatness have a shifting but continuing validity.”
“I certainly derived my skills as a prose writer from my scrutiny of poetry and of the individual word. But schools don’t do things like that anymore – tracking words down to their roots.”
“I despise the phony, fancy-pants rhetoric of professors aping jargon-filled European locutions – which have blighted academic film criticism for over 30 years.”
“I’m a professor of media studies as well as humanities, and I’m an evangelist of popular culture, but when there’s only media, then there’s going to be a slow debasement of language, and that’s what I think we’re fighting.”
“In an era ruled by materialism and unstable geopolitics, art must be restored to the center of public education.”
“My generation of the Sixties, with all our great ideals, destroyed liberalism, because of our excesses.”
“Nature, I have constantly argued in my work, is the real superpower of this godless universe. It is the ultimate disposer of human fate, randomly recarving geography over 10,000-year epochs.”
“Our presence in Afghanistan is not worth the price of any more American lives or treasure.”
“Over the past 20 years, I have noticed that the most flexible, dynamic, inquisitive minds among my students have been industrial design majors. Industrial designers are bracingly free of ideology and cant. The industrial designer is trained to be a clear-eyed observer of the commercial world – which, like it or not, is modern reality.”
“Perhaps there is no greater issue facing contemporary women than the choices they must make about balancing home and work.”
“The 1990s, after the reign of terror of academic vandalism, will be a decade of restoration: restoration of meaning, value, beauty, pleasure, and emotion to art and restoration of art to its audience.”
“The airheads of Congress will keep their own plush healthcare plan – it’s the rest of us guinea pigs who will be thrown to the wolves.”
“What has been forgotten is that there were major intellectual breakthroughs in the 1960s, thanks to North American writers of an older generation. There was a rupture in continuity, since most young people influenced by those breakthroughs did not enter the professions.”
“When anything goes, it’s women who lose.”
“Working moms commonly testify that they feel guilty when they are away from their children and guilty when they are not at their jobs. Devoted fathers certainly miss their children deeply, but it does not seem to be with the same gnawing, primal anxiety that often afflicts women.”
Fancies in Springtime: Ellen Glasgow
“Every tree near our house had a name of its own and a special identity. This was the beginning of my love for natural things, for earth and sky, for roads and fields and woods, for trees and grass and flowers; a love which has been second only to my sense of enduring kinship with birds and animals, and all inarticulate creatures.”
A Seventh Poem for Today
By Tara Bray
I climbed the roll of hay to watch the heron
in the pond. He waded a few steps out,
then back, thrusting his beak under water,
pulling it up empty, but only once.
Later I walked the roads for miles, certain
he’d be there when I returned. How is it for him,
day after day, his brittle legs rising
from warm green scum, his graceful neck curled,
damp in the bright heat? It’s a dull world.
Every day, the same roads, the sky,
the dust, the barn caving into itself,
the tin roof twisted and scattered in the yard.
Again, the bank covered with oxeye daisy
that turns to spiderwort, to chicory,
and at last to goldenrod. Each year, the birds—
thick in the air and darting in wild numbers—
grow quiet, the grasses thin, the light leaves
earlier each day. The heron stood
stone-still on my spot when I returned.
And then, his wings burst open, lifting the steel-
blue rhythm of his body into flight.
I touched the warm hay. Hoping for a trace
of his wild smell, I cupped my hands over
my face: nothing but the heat of fields
and skin. It wasn’t long before the world
began to breathe the beat of ordinary hours,
stretching out again beneath the sky.
Back from the Territory – Art: The work of Yukon artist Nathalie Parenteau
In the words of one writer, “Born in Montréal, Québec, Nathalie has retained the dramatic artistic tradition of the French Canadian culture. Emerging from a family background which cherished the arts, she found her artistic path at an early age. A love of nature and solitude also provided the fertile breeding ground for a rich and varied painting career. She arrived to this station after several detours which include volunteering with a youth group for a year after high school; living in the Yukon wilderness in tepees, wall tents, cabins and drafty trailers; earning a bachelor of sciences in biology at the University of Western Ontario; and traveling the globe. She now lives in Whitehorse, Yukon, where she works as a professional artist and shares her life with fiancé Peter, and Cozette, their intriguing terrier.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Below – “Caribou Family”; “Cranberry Moon”; “Encounter with Raven”; “Eternal Night”; “Fox Oracle”; “Purple Cloud Bisons”; “Snowy Owl Mandela”; “Spirit Bear”; “Coyote Family”; “Dancing Light”; “Denali.”
Fancies in Springtime: Neil Gaiman
Fancies in Springtime: Neil Gaiman
“There are some dogs which, when you meet them, remind you that, despite thousands of years of man-made evolution, every dog is still only two meals away from being a wolf. These dogs advance deliberately, purposefully, the wilderness made flesh, their teeth yellow, their breath a-stink, while in the distance their owners witter, ‘He’s an old soppy really, just poke him if he’s a nuisance,’ and in the green of their eyes the red campfires of the Pleistocene gleam and flicker.”
An Eighth Poem for Today
By Michelle Y. Burke
A man can give up so much,
can limit himself to handwritten correspondence,
to foods made of whole grains,
to heat from a woodstove, logs
hewn by his own hand and stacked neatly
like corpses by the backdoor.
Fancies in Springtime: Dennis Johnson
American Art – Part III of III: Matt Rogers
In the words of one writer, “In true California style, Matt Rogers’ paintings engage both landscape and Pop art, often creating an uncanny synergy between the two.”