April Offerings – Part III: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of III: Michael Shemchuk

In the words of one writer, “Shemchuk subtly references the world around us, placing it into new forms that are often only distinguished in ones subconscious. Abstract layers of color forming lines, shapes, and textures serve to ‘awaken the memories of color and light that are evident in all of us. They inspire our sensibilities to have a dialogue with these memories.’”

Below – “Tribe 1 Site Right”; “Tags 0116L”; “Totem 65”; “Tags 1715”; “Tags 0516.”
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From the Music Archives: Richard Thompson

“I’m glad there are a lot of guitar players pursuing technique as diligently as they possibly can, because it leaves this whole other area open to people like me.” – Richard Thompson, British guitarist, songwriter, and recording and performing musician, who was born 3 April 1949.

Canadian Art – Part I of III: Shannon Reynolds

Here is the Artist Statement of painter and portraitist Shannon Reynolds:
“Throughout its long history portraiture has provided a fascinating record of individuals, social documents of status denied or confirmed, and evidence of transactions between artists and models. But it is also remarkable for retaining, almost uniquely in the art world, some objective standards for evaluation. You can’t cheat a figure or a face. We all know the human form so well and recognize familiar faces so readily, that we see problems of representation instantly. So portraiture offers a genuine challenge to artists to create something that is both like and something that moves beyond mere documentation. I’m interested in who is painted by whom, and how the audience for portraits is changed by the role or fame of the sitter. Portraiture is often either public (as in official portraits of heads of state or significant people commissioned for public display); or private (as in portraits of individuals important primarily to the family and friends of the subject). In my own portraits I try to blend the public and private by attempting to represent both the identifiable likenesses of specific individuals and something of our common contemporary experience.”
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Reporter: “Do you pray for the senators, Dr. Hale?”
Dr. Hale: “No, I look at the senators and I pray for the country.” – Dr. Edward Everett Hale, American writer, historian, Unitarian minister, and author of “The Man Without a Country,” who was born 3 April 1822.

Some quotes from the work of Dr. Edward Everett Hale:

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
“Never bear more than one trouble at a time. Some people bear three kinds– all they have had, all they have now, and all they expect to have.”
“Look up and not down; look out and not in; look forward and not back, and lend a hand.”
“Make it your habit not to be critical about small things.”
“If you have accomplished all that you have planned for yourself, you have not planned enough.”
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Fancies in Springtime: George Orwell

“Windmill or no windmill, he said, life would go on as it had always gone on–that is, badly.”

Below: Pablo Picasso: “Don Quixote”
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The paintings of Dutch artist Barbara Wijnveld (born 1972) have won several prestigious awards.
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A Poem for Today

“Lilacs on My Birthday,”
By Joyce Peseroff

The flowerets look edible before they open,
like columns of sugar dots on tiny strips
I bought as a child. Hard to bite the candy without

some paper adhering, as adding machine tape will
to large, red numbers. Lilacs are like that: another year
unspools without major accomplishment,

while I question “major” and “accomplishment.”
And when I find in Costco those clusters
of pointillist pastel, I hope they will become

someone else’s nostalgia—honorable emotion
propelling Ulysses toward Ithaca, and a woman
to set lilacs in her dooryard as mother did.
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Here is one writer describing the artistry of Mexican painter Alejandro Rivera: “Rivera’s paintings transport viewers to a place where time has collapsed, allowing artifacts of disparate civilizations to engage in a continuous and complex dialogue. His works have a labyrinthine, densely narrative quality that both invites and rewards extended contemplation. Rivera’s ability to manipulate symbols has allowed for compositions that speak incisively about the timeless, collective nature of human experience.”

Below – “Still Life”; “The Origin of Flowers”; “Dusk and Dawn”; “Flora Awaken, The Birth of Flowers”; “Paradise Lost and Found.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Francis of Assisi

“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”

Below – St. Francis of Assisi and the Wolf of Gubbio
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From the Movie Archives – Part I of II: Marlon Brando

“An actor is at most a poet and at least an entertainer.” – Marlon Brando, an American screen and state actor widely considered to be one of the greatest actors of all time, who was born 3 April 1924.

Marlon Brando has portrayed memorable characters in many great films, including Terry Malloy in “On the Waterfront” (for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor), Vito Corleone in “The Godfather” (for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor), and Colonel Walter Kurtz in “Apocalypse Now.”

Canadian Art – Part II of III: Keith Miller

Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Keith Miller: “In purely technical terms he has accomplished that most difficult trick of the landscape painter; to suggest the play and movement of light and shadow, an envelope of shifting air. It is this strong impression of vacillating sunlight and scudding clouds which gives his botanical subjects their natural energy. This lifts them above the ‘pretty’ and the obvious to a poetic level where that appear vigorous and at the same time lyrical.”
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A Second Poem for Today

“The Toll of the Sea”
By Sally Wen Mao

‘The first Technicolor feature in Hollywood, a retelling of   “Madame Butterfly,”
 starring Anna May Wong’
green means go, so run — now — 
green the color of ‘the siren sea, whose favors are a mortgage upon the soul’
red means stop, before the cliffs jag downward
red the color of the shore that welcomes
white the color of the man washed ashore, from his shirt to his pants to his brittle shoes
white the color of the screen before Technicolor
white the color of the master narrative
green the color of the ocean, so kind, not leaving a stain on the white shirt
green the color of the girl, so kind — but why?
She speaks: ‘Alone in my garden I heard the cry of wind and wave’
In the green girl’s garden, the stranger clamps her, asks:
‘How would you like to go to America?’ A lie, soaked in the
red of the chokecherries that turn brown in the heat
red the color of the roses that spy
red the color of their fake marriage
white the color of the white man’s frown
She asks: ‘Is it great lark or great sparrow you call those good times in America?’
green the color of his departure
white the color of the counterfeit letters she sends to herself
white the color of their son
white the color of erasure
red the color of the lost footage
red the sea that swallows our stories
red the color of the girl who believed the roses
red the color of the ocean that drowns the girl
red the color of the final restoration
In every story, there is a Technicolor screen: black / white / red  / green
In every story, there is a chance to restore the color
If we recover the flotsam, can we rewrite the script?
‘Alone in a stranger’s garden, I run — I forge a desert with my own arms’
blue the color of our recovered narrative
blue the color of ‘the siren sea, which refuses to keep a white shirt spotless’
blue the color of our reclaimed Pacific
blue the ocean that drowns the liars
blue the shore where the girl keeps living
There she rises, on the opposite shore
There she awakens — prismatic, childless, free — 
Shorn of the story that keeps her kneeling
blue is the opposite of sacrifice

Below – Anna May Wong as Lotus Flower in “The Toll of the Sea” (1922 – a variation of the “Madame Butterfly” story).
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Italian Art – Part I of II: Pier Toffoletti

Italian painter Pier Toffoletti (born 1957) lives and works in Udine.
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A Third Poem for Today

“The Clearing”
By Carl Little

The sunbox lies in pieces,
its strips of aluminum foil
flaking away to the wind,
tanning platform broken up
for kindling. Planted grass
sprouts where the path once
sharply turned to the left
circumventing underbrush,
there the man (a boy then)
stumbled on beauty’s wrath:
pale sisters yelling him off,
scrambling for clothes to cover.

All has been cleared, thick
cat briar raked into piles
and set ablaze, invincible
ailanthus stacked for dump.
All’s clear and calm save
his childhood rushing head-
long through tearing thickets,
and the sisters, barely glimpsed
against reflective flashing,
laughing after him, then
lying back to catch
all the sullen autumn sun they can.
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Fancies in Springtime: James Thurber

“The dog has seldom been successful in pulling man up to its level of sagacity, but man has frequently dragged the dog down to his.”
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Italian Art – Part II of II: Giuseppe Tirelli

In the words of one critic, “Giuseppe Tirelli was born in Tanzania in 1957; he lives and works in Piacenza, Italy, where he attended the Institute of Fine Art in the late 80’s. The artist started his artistic journey through a very personal research combining the characteristics of classical sculpture with contemporary atmospheres projected into a cybernetic future. The great art critic Edward Lucie- Smith has placed Tirelli among the artists of ‘Italian neo-figurative sculpture.’ Tirelli works with important art galleries and his sculptures are appreciated also abroad: a lot of them have been bought by collectors who live in India, Brazil, the United States, Russia and Australia.”
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Giuseppe Tirelli sculpture

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Giuseppe Tirelli sculpture

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From the Movie Archives – Part II of II: Iron Eyes Cody

Born 3 April 1904 – Iron Eyes Cody, an American actor who portrayed Native Americans in Hollywood films.

Iron Eyes Cody was born Espera Oscar de Corti, and his parents were Sicilian immigrants living in Louisiana. Anyone who wants to understand both the reason for Cody’s insistence that that he was a Native American and the persistence of damaging stereotypes about Native peoples in American movies should watch the excellent Canadian documentary “Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian,” by Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond.

Fancies in Springtime: Peter Kreeft

“Our culture has filled our heads but emptied our hearts, stuffed our wallets but starved our wonder. It has fed our thirst for facts but not for meaning or mystery. It produces ‘nice’ people, not heroes.”
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Canadian Art – Part III of III: Ross Penhall

In the words of one writer, “Whether a shadowy forest, a cloud-filled sky or a more mitigated environment such as a park or agricultural lands, Penhall reveals his particular relationship to the land to be one of connectedness and harmony.”

Below – “Reminiscence”; “Just in Time”; “A Warm Shadow”; “Soft Circle.”
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A Fourth Poem for Today

“Five Years Later”
By Tony Gloeggler

My brother was on his way
to a dental appointment
when the second plane hit
four stories below the office
where he worked. He’s never
said anything about the guy
who took football bets, how
he liked to watch his secretary
walk, the friends he ate lunch with,
all the funerals. Maybe, shamed
by his luck, he keeps quiet,
afraid someone might guess
how good he feels, breathing.
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Here is the Artist Statement of Swedish painter Emanuel Javelid: “I have been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember, and began early inspired by classical painting. The technique I use is called layer painting, a classic and
time-consuming method. I begin with an under-painting, usually in acrylic and then continue with thin glazes of oil. The different layers give an optical effect and a depth of color that is not possible otherwise. I like to paint still life, but it is not about image or an object, but to convey a mood, a feeling, a light. My creativity starts with ideas that will mature and take shape, some fade away or driven out by other thoughts, but those that remain will eventually become a painting.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Daniel Dennett

“To put it bluntly but fairly, anyone today who doubts that the variety of life on this planet was produced by a process of evolution is simply ignorant—inexcusably ignorant, in a world where three out of four people have learned to read and write.”
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A Fifth Poem for Today

“One September Afternoon”
By Leo Dangel

Home from town
the two of them sit
looking over what they have bought
spread out on the kitchen table
like gifts to themselves.
She holds a card of buttons
against the new dress material
and asks if they match.
The hay is dry enough to rake,
but he watches her
empty the grocery bag.
He reads the label
on a grape jelly glass
and tries on
the new straw hat again.
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Here is one writer describing the artistry of Catalan painter Regina Saura: “Regina’ s loose, whimsical brushstrokes and bold washes of color lend her paintings an instinctual, child-like spontaneity that belies her sophisticated command of composition, balance, shape, coloration, and line. Singing with energy and vibrancy, her paintings capture the wonder and magic of life.
As with flowers and trees, in her use of newspaper scraps, Regina introduces pieces of her own daily life into her work. The touch of newsprint that comprises the houses of her native countryside–relate the paintings to a specific time and place, and serve as a reminder, no matter where they might be seen around the globe, of home. Refreshing in their quirky originality, yet profoundly symbolic, Regina’s paintings capture the brilliance and exuberance of the human spirit.”

Below – “Vladamat (Village in Spain)”; “Cep Blau”; “Good Morning”; “Transparencia”; “De Cami.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Bill Vaughn

“Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.”
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“If we kill off the wild, then we are killing a part of our souls.” – Jane Goodall, British primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, writer, United Nations Messenger of Peace, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and the Roots & Shoots program, and author of “In the Shadow of Man” and “Reason For Hope: A Spiritual Journey,” who was born 3 April 1934.

Some quotes from the work of Jane Goodall:

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
“We have the choice to use the gift of our life to make the world a better place–or not to bother”
“The greatest danger to our future is apathy.”
“Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, we will help. Only if we help, we shall be saved.”
“The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
“One thing I had learned from watching chimpanzees with their infants is that having a child should be fun.”
“Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don’t believe is right.”
“Michael Pollan likens consumer choices to pulling single threads out of a garment. We pull a thread from the garment when we refuse to purchase eggs or meat from birds who were raised in confinement, whose beaks were clipped so they could never once taste their natural diet of worms and insects. We pull out a thread when we refuse to bring home a hormone-fattened turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. We pull a thread when we refuse to buy meat or dairy products from cows who were never allowed to chew grass, or breathe fresh air, or feel the warm sun on their backs.
The more threads we pull, the more difficult it is for the industry to stay intact. You demand eggs and meat without hormones, and the industry will have to figure out how it can raise farm animals without them. Let the animals graze outside and it slows production. Eventually the whole thing will have to unravel.
If the factory farm does indeed unravel – and it must – then there is hope that we can, gradually, reverse the environmental damage it has caused. Once the animal feed operations have gone and livestock are once again able to graze, there will be a massive reduction in the agricultural chemicals currently used to grow grain for animals. And eventually, the horrendous contamination caused by animal waste can be cleaned up. None of this will be easy.
The hardest part of returning to a truly healthy environment may be changing the current totally unsustainable heavy-meat-eating culture of increasing numbers of people around the world. But we must try. We must make a start, one by one.”
“Farm animals are far more aware and intelligent than we ever imagined and, despite having been bred as domestic slaves, they are individual beings in their own right. As such, they deserve our respect. And our help. Who will plead for them if we are silent? Thousands of people who say they ‘love’ animals sit down once or twice a day to enjoy the flesh of creatures who have been treated so with little respect and kindness just to make more meat.”
“We have so far to go to realize our human potential for compassion, altruism, and love.”
“If we do not do something to help these creatures, we make a mockery of the whole concept of justice.”
“And if we dare to look into those eyes, then we shall feel their suffering in our hearts. More and more people have seen that appeal and felt it in their hearts. All around the world there is an awakening of understanding and compassion, and understanding that reaches out to help the suffering animals in their vanishing homelands. That embraces hungry, sick, and desperate human beings, people who are starving while the fortunate among us have so much more than we need. And if, one by one, we help them, the hurting animals, the desperate humans, then together we shall alleviate so much of the hunger, fear, and pain in the world. Together we can bring change to the world, gradually replacing fear and hatred with compassion and love. Love for all living beings.”
“Especially now when views are becoming more polarized, we must work to understand each other across political, religious and national boundaries.”
“We can’t leave people in abject poverty, so we need to raise the standard of living for 80% of the world’s people, while bringing it down considerably for the 20% who are destroying our natural resources.”
“I think the best evenings are when we have messages, things that make us think, but we can also laugh and enjoy each other’s company.”
“I became totally absorbed into this forest existence. It was an unparalleled period when aloneness was a way of life; a perfect opportunity, it might seem, for meditating on the meaning of existence and my role in it all. But I was far too busy learning about the chimpanzees’ lives to worry about the meaning of my own. I had gone to Gombe to accomplish a specific goal, not to pursue my early preoccupation with philosophy and religion. Nevertheless, those months at Gombe helped to shape the person I am today-I would have been insensitive indeed if the wonder and the endless fascination of my new world had not had a major impact on my thinking. All the time I was getting closer to animals and nature, and as a result, closer to myself and more and more in tune with the spiritual power that I felt all around. For those who have experienced the joy of being alone with nature there is really little need for me to say much more; for those who have not, no words of mine can even describe the powerful, almost mystical knowledge of beauty and eternity that come, suddenly, and all unexpected. The beauty was always there, but moments of true awareness were rare. They would come, unannounced; perhaps when I was watching the pale flush preceding dawn; or looking up through the rustling leaves of some giant forest tree into the greens and browns and the black shadows and the occasionally ensured bright fleck of blue sky; or when I stood, as darkness fell, with one hand on the still warm trunk of a tree and looked at the sparkling of an early moon on the never still, softly sighing water of Lake Tanganyika.”
“I understood why those who had lived through war or economic disasters, and who had built for themselves a good life and a high standard of living, were rightly proud to be able to provide for their children those things which they themselves had not had. And why their children, inevitably, took those things for granted. It meant that new values and new expectations had crept into our societies along with new standards of living. Hence the materialistic and often greedy and selfish lifestyle of so many young people in the Western world, especially in the United States.”
“Each one of us matters, has a role to play, and makes a difference. Each one of us must take responsibility for our own lives, and above all, show respect and love for living things around us, especially each other.”
“It is these undeniable qualities of human love and compassion and self-sacrifice that give me hope for the future. We are, indeed, often cruel and evil. Nobody can deny this. We gang up on each one another, we torture each other, with words as well as deeds, we fight, we kill. But we are also capable of the most noble, generous, and heroic behavior.”
“I thought how sad it was that, for all our sophisticated intellect, for all our noble aspirations, our aggressive behavior was not just similar in many ways to that of the chimpanzees – it was even worse. Worse because human beings have the potential to rise above their baser instincts, whereas chimpanzees probably do not.”
“Cultural speciation had been crippling to human moral and spiritual growth. It had hindered freedom of thought, limited our thinking, imprisoned us in the cultures into which we had been born . . . These cultural mind prisons . . . Cultural speciation was clearly a barrier to world peace. So long as we continued to attach more importance to our own narrow group membership than to the ‘global village’ we would propagate prejudice and ignorance.”
“Here we are, the most clever species ever to have lived. So how is it we can destroy the only planet we have?”
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Here is one critic describing the artistry of Yaroslav Kurbanov: “Kurbanov was born to artist-parents in Makhachkala, Dagestan and graduated from the Jamal Dagestan Art College.
The art of the Renaissance has been a powerful influence on Kurbanov, especially the work of Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci. He also spent hours copying the Flemish masters at St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum. Kurbanov is known for his figurative paintings. His forms are simplified and sensual, emphasizing sinuous lines and smooth flesh. The mood becomes quiet and introspective. Kurbanov’s female subjects often appear close to the viewer, filling the picture plane. When the composition is cut off, an interesting perspective is created and the figure seems to share the viewer’s space. Subjects that are larger than life take on a contemporary feel with a heightened sense of drama.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Neil deGrasse Tyson

“While the Copernican principle comes with no guarantees that it will forever guide us to cosmic truths, it’s worked quite well so far: not only is Earth not in the center of the solar system, but the solar system is not in the center of the Milky Way galaxy, the Milky Way galaxy is not in the center of the universe, and it may come to pass that our universe is just one of many that comprise a multiverse. And in case you’re one of those people who thinks that the edge may be a special place, we are not at the edge of anything either.”
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A Sixth Poem for Today

“Early Sunday Morning”
By Edward Hirsch

I used to mock my father and his chums
for getting up early on Sunday morning
and drinking coffee at a local spot
but now I’m one of those chumps.

No one cares about my old humiliations
but they go on dragging through my sleep
like a string of empty tin cans rattling
behind an abandoned car.

It’s like this: just when you think
you have forgotten that red-haired girl
who left you stranded in a parking lot
forty years ago, you wake up

early enough to see her disappearing
around the corner of your dream
on someone else’s motorcycle
roaring onto the highway at sunrise.

And so now I’m sitting in a dimly lit
café full of early morning risers
where the windows are covered with soot
and the coffee is warm and bitter.
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“A city is not gauged by its length and width, but by the broadness of its vision and the height of its dreams.” – Herb Caen, San Francisco journalist whose nickname was “Mr. San Francisco,” who was born 3 April 1916.

In 1996 Herb Caen was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize “for extraordinary and continuing contribution as a voice and conscience of his city.”

Some quotes from the work of Herb Caen:

“I hope I go to Heaven, and when I do, I’m going to do what every San Franciscan does when he gets there. He looks around and says, ‘It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.’”
“When a place advertises itself as ‘World Famous,’ you may be sure it isn’t.”
“The trouble with born-again Christians is that they are an even bigger pain the second time around.”
“A man begins cutting his wisdom teeth the first time he bites off more than he can chew.”
“The only thing wrong with immortality is that it tends to go on forever.”
“Cockroaches and socialites are the only things that can stay up all night and eat anything.”
“A city is where you can sign a petition, boo the chief justice, fish off a pier, gaze at a hippopotamus, buy a flower at the corner, or get a good hamburger or a bad girl at 4 A.M. A city is where sirens make white streaks of sound in the sky and foghorns speak in dark grays. San Francisco is such a city.”
“San Franciscans have a bond of self-satisfaction bordering on smugness.”
“Old San Francisco – the one so many nostalgics yearn for – had buildings that related well to each other.”
“Americans are pragmatic, relatively uncomplicated, hearty and given to broad humor.”
“I have a memory like an elephant. I remember every elephant I’ve ever met.”
“I tend to live in the past because most of my life is there.”
“A city is a state – of mind, of taste, of opportunity. A city is a marketplace – where ideas are traded, opinions clash and eternal conflict may produce eternal truths.”

Brazilian Art – Part I of II: Marta Penter

Here is the Artist Statement of Marta Penter: “What do I shoot? Silence itself. Or, in other words, in the midst of all the turmoil lies silence. That is what I encounter, that is what I photograph, that is what I paint. Because people may be there, all of them occupying the same place, but each one of them is within his or her own private and silent universe.”

Below – “Two Girls in Vienna”; “NYC 5th Ave Subway Station”; “The Cornershop”; “Café – The Chocolat Paris”; “Walking in Paris.”
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“Heresy is another word for freedom of thought.” – Graham Greene, English writer, playwright, literary critic, and author of “The Power and the Glory” and “The Quiet American,” who died 3 April 1991.

Some quotes from the work of Graham Greene:

“I don’t care a damn about men who are loyal to the people who pay them, to organizations…I don’t think even my country means all that much. There are many countries in our blood, aren’t there, but only one person. Would the world be in the mess it is if we were loyal to love and not to countries?”
“Media is just a word that has come to mean bad journalism.”
“Champagne, if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector.”
“The sense of unhappiness is so much easier to convey than that of happiness. In misery we seem aware of our own existence, even though it may be in the form of a monstrous egotism: this pain of mine is individual, this nerve that winces belongs to me and to no other. But happiness annihilates us: we lose our identity.”
“Like some wines our love could neither mature nor travel.”
“If only it were possible to love without injury – fidelity isn’t enough: I had been faithful to Anne and yet I had injured her. The hurt is in the act of possession: we are too small in mind and body to possess another person without pride or to be possessed without humiliation. In a way I was glad that my wife had struck out at me again – I had forgotten her pain for too long, and this was the only kind of recompense I could give her. Unfortunately the innocent are always involved in any conflict. Always, everywhere, there is some voice crying from a tower. ”
“But it is impossible to go through life without trust; that is to be imprisoned in the worst cell of all, oneself.”
“Hate is a lack of imagination.”
“Innocence is a kind of insanity”
“Most things disappoint till you look deeper.”
“Eternity is said not to be an extension of time but an absence of time, and sometimes it seemed to me that her abandonment touched that strange mathematical point of endlessness, a point with no width, occupying no space.”
“Point me out the happy man and I will point you out either extreme egotism, selfishness, evil — or else an absolute ignorance.”
“When we are not sure, we are alive.”
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Brazilian Art – Part II of II: Juliano Lopes

Painter Juliano Lopes (born 1977) lives and works in Porto Alegre.
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Fancies in Springtime: Patricia McConnell

“We humans may be brilliant and we may be special, but we are still connected to the rest of life. No one reminds us of this better than our dogs. Perhaps the human condition will always include attempts to remind ourselves that we are separate from the rest of the natural world. We are different from other animals; it’s undeniably true. But while acknowledging that, we must acknowledge another truth, the truth that we are also the same. That is what dogs and their emotions give us– a connection. A connection to life on earth, to all that binds and cradles us, lest we begin to feel too alone. Dogs are our bridge– our connection to who we really are, and most tellingly, who we want to be. When we call them home to us, it’s as if we are calling for home itself. And that’ll do, dogs. That’ll do.”
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A Seventh Poem for Today

“The Romance of Middle Age”
By Mary Meriam

Now that I’m fifty, let me take my showers
at night, no light, eyes closed. And let me swim
in cover-ups. My skin’s tattooed with hours
and days and decades, head to foot, and slim
is just a faded photograph. It’s strange
how people look away who once would look.
I didn’t know I’d undergo this change
and be the unseen cover of a book
whose plot, though swift, just keeps on getting thicker.
One reaches for the pleasures of the mind
and heart to counteract the loss of quicker
knowledge. One feels old urgencies unwind,
although I still pluck chin hairs with a tweezer,
in case I might attract another geezer.
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“There is a serene and settled majesty to woodland scenery that enters into the soul and delights and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations.” – Washington Irving, American writer, essayist, biographer, diplomat, and the author of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle,” who was born 3 April 11783.

Some quotes from the work of Washington Irving:

“Great minds have purpose, others have wishes. Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortunes; but great minds rise above them.”
“They who drink beer will think beer.”
“Love is never lost. If not reciprocated, it will flow back and soften and purify the heart.”
“Sweet is the memory of distant friends! Like the mellow rays of the departing sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart. ”
“There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse; as I have found in traveling in a stage coach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position and be bruised in a new place.”
“All these, however, were mere terrors of the night, phantoms of the mind that walk in darkness; and though he had seen many spectres in his time, and been more than once beset by Satan in divers shapes, in his lonely pre-ambulations, yet daylight put an end to all these evils; and he would have passed a pleasant life of it, in despite of the devil and all his works, if his path had not been crossed by a being that causes more perplexity to mortal man than ghosts, goblins, and the whole race of witches put together, and that was – a woman.”
“Others may write from the head, but he writes from the heart, and the heart will always understand him.”
“A tart temper never mellows with age, and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.”
“There are certain half-dreaming moods of mind in which we naturally steal away from noise and glare, and seek some quiet haunt where we may indulge our reveries and build our air castles undisturbed.”
“Poetry had breathed over and sanctified the land.”
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Here is one writer describing the background and artistry of Souad Mardam Bey: “Souad Mardam Bey is a Syrian artist born in Damascus. She studied philosophy at the Lebanese University, Beirut. Mardam Bey’s oversized canvases are brimming with undercurrents of emotion; layers of colour and intricate details which adorn her subjects, yet it is their eyes that leave you spellbound. Trapped behind hauntingly beautiful irises are tales derived from life. Her palette alternates from one painting to another; through scarlet backgrounds, violet turbans, and orange cloaks – the artist professes her passion for colour. Still, she grants each of her subjects a colourfully melancholic persona. Their plush lips are sealed, fencing in their deepest secrets, while their eyes ratify an ethereal disposition.
In this ethereal realm, you are held captive to the subject’s steadfast stare. The artist is not concerned with the exact shape of the eye; but focused on the expression those eyes relay, and the sensation that lies behind the iris. However, she is not telling a story; she is merely presenting one.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Mark Helprin

“A good river is nature’s life work in song.”

Below – Big River, California
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From the American History Archives: Jesse James

3 April 1882 – Robert Ford shoots and kills Jesse James.

Below – Jesse James; Robert Ford; the death photograph of Jesse James.
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In the words of one critic, “Israeli artist Yigal Ozeri (born 1958) seems to respond to today’s demand for high-definition television with paintings that take photorealism to a new level.”
Ozeri lives and works in New York.
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From the American Old West: The Pony Express

3 April 1860 – The Pony Express begins delivering messages, newspapers, mail, and small packages from St. Joseph Missouri to Sacramento, California by horseback, using a series of relay stations. In the words of one historian, “During its 18 months of operation, it reduced the time for messages to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to about 10 days. From April 3, 1860, to October 1861, it became the West’s most direct means of east–west communication before the telegraph was established and was vital for tying the new state of California with the rest of the country.”

Below – Frederic Remington: “The Coming and Going of the Pony Express.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Daniel J. Rice

“Every falling leaf reminds me that I too will soon be separated from these trees. Trying to capture freedom is like trying to catch a falling leaf. Occasionally you may grab one out of the air and hold it in your hands, but now what?”
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American Art – Part II of III: Merrilyn Duzy

Here is one critic describing the background of painter Merrilyn Duzy: “Merrilyn Duzy is an artist first and foremost; she is also a teacher, lecturer, curator and art collector. Her formal art education culminated with her Master of Fine Arts degree from the Los Angeles Otis Art Institute. Her informal education includes extensive traveling, and her on-going arts advocacy.”
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An Eighth Poem for Today

“Fireflies”
By Marilyn Kallet

In the dry summer field at nightfall,
fireflies rise like sparks.
Imagine the presence of ghosts
flickering, the ghosts of young friends,
your father nearest in the distance.
This time they carry no sorrow,
no remorse, their presence is so light.
Childhood comes to you,
memories of your street in lamplight,
holding those last moments before bed,
capturing lightning-bugs,
with a blossom of the hand
letting them go. Lightness returns,
an airy motion over the ground
you remember from Ring Around the Rosie.
If you stay, the fireflies become fireflies
again, not part of your stories,
as unaware of you as sleep, being
beautiful and quiet all around you.

Below – Kristen Fagan: “Fireflies”
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Back from the Territory – Art: The work of Alaskan photographer Carlos Rojas

In the words of one writer, “Carlos Rojas is an Alaska nature photographer who specializes in Alaskan Landscapes.”

Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
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Fancies in Springtime: Charles de Lint

“There were two forests for every one you entered. There was the one you walked in, the physical echo, and then there was the one that was connected to all the other forests, with no consideration of distance, or time.
The forest primeval, remembered through the collective memory of every tree in the same way that people remembered myth- through the collective subconscious that Jung mapped, the shared mythic resonance that lay buried in every human mind. Legend and myth, all tangled in an alphabet of trees remembered, not always with understanding, but with wonder. With awe.”
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A Ninth Poem for Today

“Rain”
By Peter Everwine

Toward evening, as the light failed
and the pear tree at my window darkened,
I put down my book and stood at the open door,
the first raindrops gusting in the eaves,
a smell of wet clay in the wind.
Sixty years ago, lying beside my father,
half asleep, on a bed of pine boughs as rain
drummed against our tent, I heard
for the first time a loon’s sudden wail
drifting across that remote lake—
a loneliness like no other,
though what I heard as inconsolable
may have been only the sound of something
untamed and nameless
singing itself to the wilderness around it
and to us until we slept. And thinking of my father
and of good companions gone
into oblivion, I heard the steady sound of rain
and the soft lapping of water, and did not know
whether it was grief or joy or something other
that surged against my heart
and held me listening there so long and late.
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Fancies in Springtime: Bart Bok

“For many years I have been a night watchman of the Milky Way galaxy.”
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American Art – Part III of III: James Wolanin

In the words of one writer, “Wolanin’s paintings transport the viewer to an effervescent, candy- coated world inspired by vintage advertise- ments, photographs, and the artist’s own childhood memories. Identifying with Pop artists like Andy Warhol and James Rosenquist, Wolanin taps into our culture’s collective visual conscious, creating vibrant, stylized reflections of American life. Sunny skies, bright smiles, and carefree Sunday drives characterize the artist’s Utopic vision, which blends a nostalgia for midcentury America with a contemporary aesthetic.”

Below – “Scarlet Love”; “The Patriot”; “Rocky Mountain Highway”; “Brooklyn Bridge”; “July Afternoon”; “New Romantics.”
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