American Art – Part I of V: Andrea Rushing
“Large parties given to very young children . . . foster the passions of vanity and envy, and produce a love of dress and display which is very repulsive in the character of a child.” – Susanna Strickland Moodie, English-born Canadian writer and author of “Roughing It in the Bush: or, Forest Life in Canada” (1852), who died 8 April 1885.
Fancies in Springtime: Plato
“Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul.”
“Now is time for me to say that I consider you the greatest painter living and am proud to have you as my friend.” – Andrew Wyeth in a private letter (3 March 2003) to Odd Nerdrum, a Norwegian figurative painter who was born 8 April 1944.
Here is what critic Hilton Kramer wrote about the paintings of Odd Nerdrum in “The Triumph of Modernism: The Art World 1985-2005”: “When you see the work, you may very well dislike it intensely. But you will not soon forget it, and you will certainly not remain indifferent to it. Afterward, you may even find that a lot of contemporary painting looks perfectly trivial by comparison.”
Fancies in Springtime: Joshua Suya Pelicano
Died 8 April 1931 – Erik Axel Karlfeldt, a Swedish poet and recipient of the 1931 Nobel Prize in Literature (awarded posthumously).
“The Rhyme Smith”
Now, coarsely wrought iron from my thoughts’ own smithy,
my sledge shall test the utmost you can bear.
I know your chain’s links snap, that this is risky,
but likewise know there’s honest steel in there.
From my home mine and slash-burnt acres’ clamour
I gained my iron and charcoal for the fire,
I gripped – as once each sweetheart’s waist – my hammer
and fanned my forge’s flames with keen desire.
How bright the anvil’s song when dusk was swelling,
in evening coolness when my youth’s sun set!
The clanging, how it spread! From farm and dwelling
with chiming youthful voices it was met.
But out of sight, alone, hard iron unfurling,
toiled with great zest the half-apprenticed bard
and smiled at all the hot flakes round him whirling,
though many a spark his pitted skin still scarred.
“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” – Pablo Picasso, Spanish artist, who died 8 April 1973.
A Poem for Today
“An April Night,” by Lucy Maud Montgomery
The moon comes up o’er the deeps of the woods,
And the long, low dingles that hide in the hills,
Where the ancient beeches are moist with buds
Over the pools and the whimpering rills;
And with her the mists, like dryads that creep
From their oaks, or the spirits of pine-hid springs,
Who hold, while the eyes of the world are asleep,
With the wind on the hills their gay revellings.
Down on the marshlands with flicker and glow
Wanders Will-o’-the-Wisp through the night,
Seeking for witch-gold lost long ago
By the glimmer of goblin lantern-light.
Fancies in Springtime: Barbara Kingsolver
Liu Yuanshou (born 1967) is a Chinese Realist painter whose award-winning work has been exhibited throughout Asia. In the words of one critic, “While Liu Yuanshou hails from the austere north of China, he has become fascinated by the seductively temperate cultural and physical climate of the eastern coastal province of Jiangsu, which lies east of Anhui and north of Shanghai. Silkworm culture is and always has been an important part of Jiangsu’s history, as is the production of silk textiles. Perhaps because of this circumstance, silk is especially evident in Liu’s art, which primarily focuses on portraits of young women from the Jiangsu region.”
A Second Poem for Today
By Valerie Martinez
Seaside, and the fragment of one running—
calves, ribs, green eyes into water.
There he goes. Waves. Buoying up
as into sky. And the seagulls fly,
seeing it as relief, a story. Once
they were there, two on a white blanket.
The circumference of a shadow.
Sunlight around that shadow.
The relation of two: bathers,
robed figures configured as one.
And she touches him—tender—and it is done.
(I’ve gone back to it. I’ve, I’ve—
it’s not where I am. I give it away again.)
You’re there. It’s still in the sand.
It’s trying to chisel it in.
How it comes forth: the story.
Wanting it, carving it down to vision.
Architecture, a coliseum of bent light,
the beautiful scatter of broken stones.
(And I can turn it into stones.)
Love, love: a portico, a labyrinth.
And his simple aquatics, legs and arms
in the brackish, etched against white fish.
The song, under there, of how he’ll leave,
and naturally, like all living things:
animals, summer, daylight for the eves.
And the buildings, all shadows and beings:
block, angels, curves. With the love,
memory of all loves. The pediments,
Fancies in Springtime: Epicurus
Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war that we know about peace, more about killing that we know about living.” – Omar Bradley, American General and U.S. Army field commander in North Africa and Europe during World War II, who died 8 April 1981.
Some quotes from the work of Omar Bradley:
“Set your course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.”
“This is as true in everyday life as it is in battle: we are given one life and the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind, or whether to act, and in acting, to live.”
“Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death.”
“If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.”
“Wars can be prevented just as surely as they can be provoked, and we who fail to prevent them, must share the guilt for the dead.”
“We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.”
“I am convinced that the best service a retired general can perform is to turn in his tongue along with his suit and to mothball his opinions.”
“The way to win an atomic war is to make certain it never starts.”
“With the monstrous weapons man already has, humanity is in danger of being trapped in this world by its moral adolescents.”
Fancies in Springtime: Edward Abbey
“Philosophy without action is the ruin of the soul. One brave deed is worth a hundred books, a thousand theories, a million words. Now as always we need heroes. And heroines! Down with the passive and the limp.”
A Third Poem for Today
By Marie Sheppard Williams
I stood at a bus corner
one afternoon, waiting
for the #2. An old
guy stood waiting too.
I stared at him. He
caught my stare, grinned,
gap-toothed. Will you
sign my coat? he said.
Held out a pen. He wore
a dirty canvas coat that
had signatures all over
it, hundreds, maybe
to get everybody, he
I signed. On a
little space on a pocket.
Sometimes I remember:
I am one of everybody.
Fancies in Springtime: Francis Thompson
From the Music Archives: Marian Anderson
“When I sing, I don’t want them to see that my face is black. I don’t want them to see that my face is white. I want them to see my soul. And that is colorless.” – Marian Anderson, American contralto, who died 8 April 1993.
American Art – Part II of V: Frederick Childe Hassam
In the words of one art historian, “Frederick Childe Hassam (1859-1939) “was a prolific American Impressionist painter, noted for his urban and coastal scenes. Along with Mary Cassatt and John Henry Twachtman, Hassam was instrumental in promulgating Impressionism to American collectors, dealers, and museums. He produced over 3,000 paintings, oils, watercolors, etchings, and lithographs over the course of his career, and was an influential American artist of the early 20th century.”
Fancies in Springtime: William S. Burroughs
A Fourth Poem for Today
“Like Coins, November”
By Elizabeth Klise von Zerneck
We drove past late fall fields as flat and cold
as sheets of tin and, in the distance, trees
were tossed like coins against the sky. Stunned gold
and bronze, oaks, maples stood in twos and threes:
some copper bright, a few dull brown and, now
and then, the shock of one so steeled with frost
it glittered like a dime. The autumn boughs
and blackened branches wore a somber gloss
that whispered tails to me, not heads. I read
memorial columns in their trunks; their leaves
spelled UNUM, cent; and yours, the only head . . .
in penny profile, Lincoln-like (one sleeve,
Here is one critic describing the artistry of British painter Aldo Balding: “Aldo’s characters and many scenes are placed in timeless settings, they are a rich source for romantic nostalgia and potential drama. Aldo’s palett is muted: soft browns and ocher are his colours of choice. The tonal quality of the work emphasises the locale. This stylistic technique enhances the evocative atmosphere and mood, heightening our perception of a different era.”
Fancies in Springtime: Margaret Atwood
“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.” – Barbara Kingsolver, American novelist, essayist, poet, and author of “The Poisonwood Bible” and “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” who was born 8 April 1955.
Some quotes from the work of Barbara Kingsolver:
“Don’t try to make life a mathematics problem with yourself in the center and everything coming out equal. When you’re good, bad things can still happen. And if you’re bad, you can still be lucky.”
“There is no point treating a depressed person as though she were just feeling sad, saying, ‘There now, hang on, you’ll get over it.’ Sadness is more or less like a head cold- with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.”
“Listen. Slide the weight from your shoulders and move forward. You are afraid you might forget, but you never will. You will forgive and remember.”
“Everything you’re sure is right can be wrong in another place.”
“God doesn’t need to punish us. He just grants us a long enough life to punish ourselves.”
“Listen. To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know. In perfect stillness, frankly, I’ve only found sorrow.”
“The changes we dread most may contain our salvation.”
“What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness.”
“I attempted briefly to consecrate myself in the public library, believing every crack in my soul could be chinked with a book.”
“April is the cruelest month, T.S. Eliot wrote, by which I think he meant (among other things) that springtime makes people crazy. We expect too much, the world burgeons with promises it can’t keep, all passion is really a setup, and we’re doomed to get our hearts broken yet again. I agree, and would further add: Who cares? Every spring I go out there anyway, around the bend, unconditionally. … Come the end of the dark days, I am more than joyful. I’m nuts. ”
“A mother’s body remembers her babies-the folds of soft flesh, the softly furred scalp against her nose. Each child has it’s own entreaties to body and soul.”
“There is a strange moment in time, after something horrible happens, when you know it’s true, but you haven’t told anyone yet.”
“As long as I kept moving, my grief streamed out behind me like a swimmer’s long hair in water. I knew the weight was there but it didn’t touch me. Only when I stopped did the slick, dark stuff of it come floating around my face, catching my arms and throat till I began to drown. So I just didn’t stop.”
“It’s what you do that makes your soul.”
“What keeps you going isn’t some fine destination but just the road you’re on, and the fact that you know how to drive. You keep your eyes open, you see this damned-to-hell world you got born into, and you ask yourself, ‘What life can I live that will let me breathe in & out and love somebody or something and not run off screaming into the woods?’”
“In a world as wrong as this one, all we can do is make things as right as we can.”
“Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin.”
“When we traded homemaking for careers, we were implicitly promised economic independence and worldly influence. But a devil of a bargain it has turned out to be in terms of daily life. We gave up the aroma of warm bread rising, the measured pace of nurturing routines, the creative task of molding our families’ tastes and zest for life; we received in exchange the minivan and the Lunchable.”
“Pain reaches the heart with electrical speed, but truth moves to the heart as slowly as a glacier.”
“Misunderstanding is my cornerstone. It’s everyone’s, come to think of it. Illusions mistaken for truth are the pavement under our feet.”
“The most important thing about a person is always the thing you don’t know.”
“There’s such a gulf between yourself and who you were then, but people speak to that other person and it answers; it’s like having a stranger as a house guest in your skin.”
American Art – Part III of V: Edgar Alwin Payne
Died 8 April 1947 – Edgar Alwin Payne, an American artist. In the words of one writer, “Edgar Alwin Payne was an American Western landscape painter and muralist. Payne was born in Washburn, Barry County, Missouri, in the heart of the Ozarks. Washburn is in southwest Missouri, only nine miles from the Arkansas border. But that wouldn’t stop this turn-of-the-century Missouri teenager from seeing the world. Before Edgar was done he would crisscross the United States, travel to Mexico, Canada, and Europe and even spend the summer in the Alps. But, like John Muir before him, and Ansel Adams after, it was the American West that most appealed to his heart.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Bruce Guernsey
The potato that ate all its carrots,
can see in the dark like a mole,
its eyes the scars
from centuries of shovels, tines.
May spelled backwards
because it hates the light,
Fancies in Springtime: Chanctetinyea J.J. Ouellette
From the Movie Archives: Ben Johnson
“Everybody in town’s a better actor than I am, but none of them can play Ben Johnson.” – Ben Johnson, American actor, world champion rodeo cowboy, stuntman, and rancher, who died 8 April 1996.
Ben Johnson won the 1971 Academy Award for his performance as “Sam the Lion” in “The Last Picture Show.”
Fancies in Springtime: Albert Payson Terhune
“Any man with money to make the purchase may become a dog’s owner. But no man –spend he ever so much coin and food and tact in the effort– may become a dog’s Master without consent of the dog. Do you get the difference? And he whom a dog once unreservedly accepts as Master is forever that dog’s God.”
American Art – Part IV of V: Paul W. McCormack
Here is one writer describing some of the accomplishments of painter Paul W. McCormack (born 1962): “Sharing his knowledge on the fine art of portraiture, he has been on the faculties of the New Jersey Center for the Visual Arts, the Somerset Art Association, and the Newark Museum. Paul is currently teaching workshop intensives at notable institutions, including the Andreeva Portrait Academy, the Bay Area Classical Arts Atelier, and the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art. Workshops and classes are also offered in Paul’s private studio located in the Hudson Valley region of New York State.
Displaying equal skill and depth with his works in both oils and watercolors, he has exhibited widely with various establishments; these include the National Arts Club (NYC), the Salmagundi Club (NYC), the American Watercolor Society, the Montclair Arts Museum (NJ), the Noyes Museum (NJ) and the Butler Institute of American Art (OH). Mr. McCormack is also an elected member of the Allied Artists of America, the NJ Watercolor Society and the Hudson Valley Art Association.”
Fancies in Springtime: Mary Taylor Young
“I spent my summers at my grandparents’ cabin in Estes Park, literally next door to Rocky Mountain National Park. We had a view of Longs Peak across the valley and the giant rock beaver who, my granddad told me, was forever climbing toward the summit of the mountain. We awoke to mule deer peering in the windows and hummingbirds buzzing around the red-trimmed feeders; spent the days chasing chipmunks across the boulders of Deer Mountain and the nights listening to coyotes howling in the dark.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Robert Hayden
You could whistle me home from anywhere
in the neighborhood; avenues away,
I’d pick out your clear, alternating pair
of notes, the signal to quit my child’s play
and run back to our house for supper,
or a Saturday trip to the hardware store.
Unthrottled, wavering in the upper
reaches, your trilled summons traveled farther
than our few blocks. I’ve learned too, how your heart’s
radius extends, though its beat
has stopped. Still, some days a sudden fear darts
through me, whether it’s my own city street
I hurry across, or at a corner in an unknown
town: the high, vacant air arrests me—‘where’s home’?
Back from the Territory – Art: Morning Star Studio
In the words of one writer, “Morning Star Studio developed from a meeting of friends to share ideas about working with stained glass in 2002 to a studio and gallery offering stained glass, mosaics, flamework and fused glass. The studio also offers classes in working with glass.”
Morning Star Studio is in Homer, Alaska.
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Fancies in Springtime: Craig Childs
“The elk that you glimpse in the summer, those at the forest edge, are survivors of winter, only the strongest. You see one just before dusk that summer, standing at the perimeter of the meadow so it can step back to the forest and vanish. You can’t help imagining the still, frozen nights behind it, so cold that the slightest motion is monumental. I have found their bodies, half drifted over in snow, no sign of animal attack or injury. Just toppled over one night with ice working into their lungs. You wouldn’t want to stand outside for more than a few minutes in that kind of weather. If you lived through only one of those winters the way this elk has, you would write books about it. You would become a shaman. You would be forever changed. That elk from the winter stands there on the summer evening, watching from beside the forest. It keeps its story to itself.”
A Seventh Poem for Today
“Bach in the DC Subway”
By David Lee Garrison
As an experiment,
‘The Washington Post’
asked a concert violinist—
wearing jeans, tennis shoes,
and a baseball cap—
to stand near a trash can
at rush hour in the subway
and play Bach
on a Stradivarius.
‘Partita No. 2 in D Minor’
called out to commuters
like an ocean to waves,
sang to the station
about why we should bother
A thousand people
streamed by. Seven of them
paused for a minute or so
and thirty-two dollars floated
into the open violin case.
A café hostess who drifted
over to the open door
each time she was free
said later that Bach
gave her peace,
and all the children,
all of them,
waded into the music
as if it were water,
listening until they had to be
rescued by parents
who had somewhere else to go.
Fancies in Springtime: Ralph Waldo Emerson
American Art – Part V of V: Amy Paul
Amy Paul lives and works in San Diego.