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

American Art – Part I of IV: Alec Monopoly

In the words of one critic, “Alec Monopoly is the alias of a graffiti artist, originally from New York City. The artist has worked in the urban environments of New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Europe, Mexico and throughout Asia using varied materials (including stencils, spray paint, epoxies, varnishes and newspapers) to subversively depict various iconic pop culture characters.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Herman Melville

“There is no folly of the beasts of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men.”
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From the “Of Course It’s True Department”:

“Each Wal-Mart store should reflect the values of its customers and support the vision they hold for their community.” – Sam Walton, American businessman, who died 5 April 1992.
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A Poem for Today

“Cathay”
By Joshua Edwards

Wrongheaded and obsequious
on vacation, unnerved
by new surroundings, I miss
the bright feeling of belonging
and the familiar patterns of my country,
its virginity and schizophrenia,
my several stolen bicycles.

Below – Salvador Dali: “The American Dream”
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From the Music Archives – Part I of V: Johann Strauss II

5 April 1874 – The operetta “Die Fledermaus,” composed by Johann Strauss II, premieres in Vienna.

A Second Poem for Today

“Mother, Washing Dishes”
By Susan Meyers

She rarely made us do it—
we’d clear the table instead—so my sister and I teased
that some day we’d train our children right
and not end up like her, after every meal stuck
with red knuckles, a bleached rag to wipe and wring.
The one chore she spared us: gummy plates
in water greasy and swirling with sloughed peas,
globs of egg and gravy.

Or did she guard her place
at the window? Not wanting to give up the gloss
of the magnolia, the school traffic humming.
Sunset, finches at the feeder. First sightings
of the mail truck at the curb, just after noon,
delivering a note, a card, the least bit of news.
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Fancies in Springtime: Alex Shakar

“Cats are there to be indulged. That’s their function: to receive the love we never fully gave our parents. Not like dogs. Dogs are there to give us the love and devotion our children will never fully give us.”
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British Art – Part I of II: Harriet White

Artist Statement: “With my portraits I aim to reflect conflicting senses of intimacy and glamour, looking at luscious, over applied makeup and the heightened, synthetic colour which can evoke an immediate sense of dazzle and seduction. Yet there is something so private, almost confidential about the ‘beautifying’ routine that there is also an exposed, vulnerable quality. Imperfections are enlarged and presented for scrutiny, perhaps inviting a slightly uneasy sense of voyeurism from the viewer.
In a similar way the underwater world invites different interpretations according to personal experience and emotion – to one person the images might evoke a sense of calm and quiet, to another, panic or menace.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Will Cuppy

“A few alligators are naturally of the vicious type and inclined to resent it when you prod them with a stick. You can find out which ones these are by prodding them.”
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“Poetry is a natural energy resource of our country.” – Richard Eberhart, American poet and recipient of both the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the National Book Award for Poetry, who was born 5 April 1904.

“The Groundhog”

In June, amid the golden fields,
I saw a groundhog lying dead.
Dead lay he; my senses shook,
And mind outshot our naked frailty.

There lowly in the vigorous summer
His form began its senseless change,
And made my senses waver dim
Seeing nature ferocious in him.

Inspecting close maggots’ might
And seething cauldron of his being,
Half with loathing, half with a strange love,
I poked him with an angry stick.

The fever arose, became a flame
And Vigour circumscribed the skies,
Immense energy in the sun,
And through my frame a sunless trembling.

My stick had done nor good nor harm.
Then stood I silent in the day
Watching the object, as before;
And kept my reverence for knowledge

Trying for control, to be still,
To quell the passion of the blood;
Until I had bent down on my knees
Praying for joy in the sight of decay.

And so I left; and I returned
In Autumn strict of eye, to see
The sap gone out of the groundhog,
But the bony sodden hulk remained

But the year had lost its meaning,
And in intellectual chains
I lost both love and loathing,
Mured up in the wall of wisdom.

Another summer took the fields again
Massive and burning, full of life,
But when I chanced upon the spot
There was only a little hair left,

And bones bleaching in the sunlight
Beautiful as architecture;
I watched them like a geometer,
And cut a walking stick from a birch.

It has been three years, now.
There is no sign of the groundhog.
I stood there in the whirling summer,
My hand capped a withered heart,

And thought of China and of Greece,
Of Alexander in his tent;
Of Montaigne in his tower,
Of Saint Theresa in her wild lament.
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British Art – Part II of II: Thea Penna

English painter Thea Penna studied printed textiles at the Royal College of Art, London for two years.
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Fancies in Springtime: David Attenborough

“‎Using his burgeoning intelligence, this most successful of all mammals has exploited the environment to produce food for an ever increasing population. Instead of controlling the environment for the benefit of the population, perhaps it’s time we controlled the population to allow the survival of the environment.”
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From the Music Archives – Part II of V: Lonnie White

Born 5 April 1939 – Lonnie White, an American vocalist and a member of the group Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

Here is one critic describing the artistry of Dutch painter Jan Worst (born 1953): “In a photorealist painterly style, the Dutch artist Jan Worst creates views of rooms in palatial homes loaded with antique furnishings. In each he places two or three slightly creepy-looking children, disaffected adolescents or fashion models.”
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From the Music Archives – Part III of V: Allan Clark

Born 5 April 1942 – Allan Clark, an English vocalist and a founding member of the group The Hollies.

Here is one critic describing the character of Chinese painter
Pang Maokun (born 1963): “Pang Maokun is not the type of intellectual who seeks social reform or the salvation of mankind or the society. He is more concerned with his own independent spiritual exploration and artistic creation, adopting an attitude of benign indifference to the dramatic changes in social life and to the prevailing cultural mediocrity. While keeping a distance from the daily life, Maokun concentrates in the perfection of his own character and in his artistic exploration – a way of spiritual self-salvation. Exactly in this kind of dogged spiritual pursue, we sense the independence of Chinese intellectual in this era of changing urban culture.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Derrick Jensen

“One of the fables we live by is that some day the killing will stop. If only we rid ourselves of Chinese, white men will have jobs and white women will have virtue, and then we can stop killing. If only we rid ourselves of Indians, we will fulfill our Manifest Destiny, and then we can stop killing. If only we rid ourselves of Canaanites, we will live in the Promised Land, and then we can stop killing. If only we rid ourselves of Jews, we can build and maintain a Thousand Year Reich, and then we can stop killing. If only we stop the Soviet Union, we can stop the killing (remember the Peace Dividend that never materialized?). If only we can take out the worldwide terrorist network of bin Laden and others like him. If only. But the killing never stops. Always a new enemy to be hated is found.”
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5 April 1900 – Archaeologists in Knossos, Crete discover a large cache of clay tablets with hieroglyphic writing in a script they call Linear B.

Below – Knossos; Linear B.
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Spanish Art – Part I of III: Antoni Taule

Antoni Taulé (born 1945) is a painter of Catalonian origin living in France who was a longtime friend and collaborator of Salvador Dalí.
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A Third Poem for Today

“The Yellow Bowl”
By Rachel Contreni Flynn

If light pours like water
into the kitchen where I sway
with my tired children,

if the rug beneath us
is woven with tough flowers,
and the yellow bowl on the table

rests with the sweet heft
of fruit, the sun-warmed plums,
if my body curves over the babies,

and if I am singing,
then loneliness has lost its shape,
and this quiet is only quiet.
aFlynn

From the Music Archives – Part IV of V: Agnetha Faltskog

Born 5 April 1950 – Agnetha Faltskog (Anna Ulvaeus), a Swedish singer and a member of ABBA, perhaps the greatest semi-hard rock and death metal-like group in the history of music.

Spanish Art – Part II of III: Didier Lourenco

Artist Statement: “When I look around me, I get the feeling that I would like to live life at a slower pace, have time to take in everything that surrounds us: light, color, fragrance, landscapes, thought, the cat, the moon, the dog, the woman, the bar, the taste, the child, the sea.
The thought of collecting these small moments is what motivates me to go to the studio every day and try to stop time on canvas. I think that we live life at a very fast pace and I hope to stop time, if only for a brief moment.”
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From the Music Archives – Part V of V: Bob Hite

Died 5 April 1981 – Bob “Bear” Hite, the American lead singer of the blues-rock band Canned Heat.

Fancies in Springtime: Gary Kowalski

“Animals, like us, are living souls. They are not things. They are not objects. Neither are they human. Yet they mourn. They love. They dance. They suffer. They know the peaks and chasms of being.”
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Spanish Art – Part III of III: Oriol Angrill Jorda

Artist Statement: “I did not start like most of the artists I’ve met. As I’ve been listening, a majority of them had been enthusiastic about Art, almost since they were born, as a native desire to create or express themselves. Unfortunately, it wasn’t like that to me. It was like a research of what I did better. I really had no interest in drawing or art culture. I did not know there were people living and working on Art. Despite my childish ignorance, I had already a skill to draw, or rather, a facility to represent what I saw on paper.”
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A Fourth Poem for Today

“The Owl”
By Wendy Videlock

Beneath her nest,
a shrew’s head,
a finch’s beak
and the bones
of a quail attest

the owl devours
the hour,
and disregards
the rest.
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From the American History Archives: The Lava Lamp

5 April 1965 – Lava Lamp Day is first celebrated, and it has been observed every 5 April since.

I have never owned a lava lamp, and that fact indicates a serious deficiency in my character.

American Art – Part II of IV: China Adams

In the words of one writer, “Born in 1970 in San Francisco, China Adams has lived in Los Angeles for over twenty years. She earned a BFA
from UCLA (1995) and an MFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (2000). She has been featured in exhibitions around the world, including several solo shows at Ace Gallery, Los Angeles and Steve Turner Contemporary, Los Angeles. Adams makes conceptual art works in a range of media.”

Below – “Seventeen Names”; “Premonition Scrolls”; “Blood Consumption: Heather Thomason”; “Betsy Ross Perversion”; “Chime #1.”
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A Fifth Poem for Today

“Music Is Time”
By Jill Bialosky

‘Music is time,’ said the violin master.
You can’t miss the stop or you’ll miss the train.
‘One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four,
one, two, three, four.’

She clapped her hands together
as the boy moved the bow across the strings.
‘One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four,
one, two, three, four,’ the violin master shouted,

louder and more shrill so that her voice
traveled through the house like a metronome,
guiding him, commanding him to translate the beat,
to trust his own internal rhythm.

‘Good boy,’ she said.
‘See how hard you have to be on yourself?
How will your violin know who you are
unless you make it speak?’
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Fancies in Springtime: Walter Hagen

“You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”
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Nobel Laureate: Saul Bellow

“Unexpected intrusions of beauty. This is what life is.” – Saul Bellow, Canadian-born American writer, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, three-time winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, and recipient of the 1976 Nobel Prize for Literature “for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work,” who died 5 April 2005.

Some quotes from the work of Saul Bellow:

“A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.”
“People can lose their lives in libraries. They ought to be warned.”
“It’s usually the selfish people who are loved the most. They do what you deny yourself, and you love them for it. You give them your heart.”
“A man is only as good as what he loves.”
“Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door.”
“Boredom is the conviction that you can’t change … the shriek of unused capacities.”
“When we ask for advice, we are usually looking for an accomplice.”
“We are funny creatures. We don’t see the stars as they are, so why do we love them? They are not small gold objects, but endless fire.”
“One thought-murder a day keeps the psychiatrist away.”
“In an age of madness, to expect to be untouched by madness is a form of madness. But the pursuit of sanity can be a form of madness, too.”
“You can spend the entire second half of your life recovering from the mistakes of the first half. ”
“I feel that art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos. A stillness which characterizes prayer, too, and the eye of the storm. I think that art has something to do with an arrest of attention in the midst of distraction.”
“She was what we used to call a suicide blonde– dyed by her own hand.”
“I love solitude but I prize it most when company is available.”
“Readiness to answer all questions is the infallible sign of stupidity.”
“People don’t realize how much they are in the grip of ideas. We live among ideas much more than we live in nature.”
“I am a true adorer of life, and if I can’t reach as high as the face of it, I plant my kiss somewhere lower down. Those who understand will require no further explanation.”
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Here is one critic describing the artistry of Croatian painter Maja Vodanovic (born 1968): “In Vodanovic’s recent work each painting is a historical construction, where characters and places, objects and texts evoke real and imaginary events. The motionless images are deliberate syntheses condensing in a two-dimensional frame a temporal perspective. This visual construction of memory is produced by a constant and deliberate work of synthesis performed by our consciousness and our dreams.
With this work, we are able to orient ourselves in the chaotic stream of our experience. This fundamental dimension of our existence is represented in the theme as well as in the manner of Vodanovic’s works.”
Maja Vodanovic lives and works in Montreal.
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Fancies in Springtime: Hannah Arendt

“I’m more than ever of the opinion that a decent human existence is possible today only on the fringes of society, where one then runs the risk of starving or being stoned to death. In these circumstances, a sense of humor is a great help.”
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A Sixth Poem for Today

“The Coffins”
By Michael Chitwood

Two days into the flood
they appear, moored against
a roof eave or bobbing caught
in the crowns of drowned trees.
Like fancy life boats
from an adventurer’s flag ship,
brass plating and grips,
walnut sheen, scroll work,
they slip through the understory
on this brief, bad river.
What have they discovered
and come back to account?
Or is this the beginning
of the marvelous voyage
and they plan never to return?
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From the Movie Archives: Bette Davis

“A sure way to lose happiness, I found, is to want it at the expense of everything else.”– Ruth Elizabeth “Bette” Davis, American actress of film, television, and theater, who was born 5 April 1908.

An apt tribute to a great actress:

Fancies in Springtime: Raymond Chandler

“There are two kinds of truth; The truth that lights the way and the truth that warms the heart. The fist of these is science and the second is art.”
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American Art – Part III of IV: Peter Alexander

In the words of one writer, “Peter Alexander (born 27 February 1939) is an American artist. A member of the Light and Space artistic movement in southern California in the 1960s, he is best known for his resin sculptures from the 1960s and 1970s.”

Below – “Large Red Drip”; “Triptych”; “Ruby Box”; “10/8/14”; “Pink Cube.”
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“Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that’s what the poet does.” – Allen Ginsberg, American poet and member of the Beat Generation, who died 5 April 1997.

“A Supermarket in California”

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked
down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking
at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon
fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at
night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!
–and you, García Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking
among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops?
What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you,
and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy
tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the
cashier.

Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in a hour.
Which way does your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and
feel absurd.)
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade
to shade, lights out in the houses, we’ll both be lonely.
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automo-
biles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America
did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a
smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of
Lethe?
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Fancies in Springtime: Henry David Thoreau

“Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumacs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sing around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller’s wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons
like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the
hands would have been. They were not time subtracted from my life, but
so much over and above my usual allowance. I realized what the Orientals
mean by contemplation and the forsaking of works. For the most part, I
minded not how the hours went. The day advanced as if to light some
work of mine; it was morning, and lo, now it is evening, and nothing
memorable is accomplished.”
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Japanese artist Yoshiro Tachibana (born 1941) was raised in Japan, but he has spent considerable time in Spain, Germany, and Norway, in which places he was exposed to and influenced by the work of Paul Klee and other twentieth century European painters.

Below – “The Sirens”; “Nude with White Horse”; “Ying-Yang World”; “Adam and Eve in Blue”; “Flower, Vase, and White Moon”; “At Dawn”; “Tragic Human Boat”; “The Door Is Open”; “Nude with the Moon and the Sun.”
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A Seventh Poem for Today

“Bankruptcy Hearing”
By Dana Bisignani

They have us corralled
in the basement of the courthouse.
One desk and a row of folding chairs—
just like first grade, our desks facing Teacher
in neat little rows.

Upstairs,
wooden benches like pews and red
carpet reserved for those who’ve held out
the longest. No creditors have come to claim us
today. We’re small-time.

This guy from the graveyard shift
stares at his steel-toed boots, nervous hands
in his lap. None of us look each other
in the eye. We steal quick looks—‘how did you
get here. . .’

chemo bills, a gambling addiction,
a summer spent unemployed and too many
cash advances to pay the rent.
We examine the pipes that hang
from the ceiling, the scratched tiles on the floor,

the red glow of the exit sign at the end of the hall
so like our other failed escapes:
light of the TV at night,
glass of cheap Merlot beside a lamp,
a stop light on the way out of town.
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Fancies in Springtime: George Gordon Byron

“The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space.”
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Back from the Territory – Art: The work of Alaska artist William G. “Bill” Stewart

In the words of one writer, “Bill Stewart is an artist. His subjects are those things closest to his heart: Southeastern Alaska’s abundant scenery, wildlife and its people whose lifestyles and livelihoods are as varied as they are unique.
Bill paints and draws with an intensity of interest that comes from longstanding relationships with older Alaskans. To some degree he has experienced a lifestyle reminiscent of his aged mentors: working with boat builders and fishermen as a boy and later entering the logging industry. Along the way, he earned a degree in art from Seattle Pacific University and spent three years in Brussels, Belgium, as an illustrator.”

Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.

Below – “Calm Waters”; “Hooded Mergansers”; “Indian Point Sunrise”; “Time and Tide”; “Rounding the Cape”; “Wood Ducks.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Chief Luther Standing Bear

“Kinship with all creatures of the earth, sky, and water was a real and active principle. In the animal and bird world there existed a brotherly feeling that kept us safe among them… The animals had rights – the right of man’s protection, the right to live, the right to multiply, the right to freedom, and the right to man’s indebtedness. This concept of life and its relations filled us with the joy and mystery of living; it gave us reverence for all life; it made a place for all things in the scheme of existence with equal importance to all.”
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An Eighth Poem for Today

“Green Pear Tree in September”
By Freya Manfred

On a hill overlooking the Rock River
my father’s pear tree shimmers,
in perfect peace,
covered with hundreds of ripe pears
with pert tops, plump bottoms,
and long curved leaves.
Until the green-haloed tree
rose up and sang hello,
I had forgotten. . .
He planted it twelve years ago,
when he was seventy-three,
so that in September
he could stroll down
with the sound of the crickets
rising and falling around him,
and stand, naked to the waist,
slightly bent, sucking juice
from a ripe pear.
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American Art – Part IV of IV: Larry Holmes

Artist Statement: “The concerns that I have in my work range from the formal to the fanciful with several issues between the two extremes. In the process of juggling such a variety of ideas, my way of thinking about the images and the devices that I utilize has come to be largely about the psychology of what is depicted and the gaps that this subsequently leaves for the viewer to fill. Ultimately, I am creating pictorial situations that are intended to leave the audience amused or bemused (sometimes both) and to provide such experiences through what seem to be familiar genres, but are actually less so than what initial impressions might indicate.”
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