American Art – Part I of V: bd Dombrowsky
Artist Statement: “My goal is to create work that is visually appealing, and accessible on different levels. My visual style is derived from an interest in children’s books, primers, comics, and stories; all the simple visual devices we use as a culture to educate and socialize ourselves.”
Fancies in Springtime: N. K. Jemisin
British Art – Part I of IV: Charles Holroyd
Born 9 April 1861 – Charles Holroyd, an English painter and etcher.
A Poem for Today
By Erika Meitner
The poem in which we drive an hour to the beach and Uncle Dave doesn’t get out
of his lawn chair once.
The poem in which we left the yellow plastic shovel behind and everyone is bereft.
The poem in which I can’t stop talking about how you walked deep into Lake Erie
and the water was still only up to your knees when you turned into a speck
past the rock jetty.
The poem in which everyone listens to celebrity gossip in the car on the way back.
The poem in which I pontificate on how ugly the fiancée of that Jonas brother is,
and how they’re too young to get married, and how my grandmother’s old
neighbor would have said, “Ugly? She can’t help that she’s ugly. It’s that she’s
so stupid,” and I would have yelled at her for assuming that all former hair-
dressers are dim.
The poem in which I turn into my grandmother’s old neighbor.
The poem in which I remember very clearly how they both stored tissues in their
The poem in which I think about how this would horrify your mother—the
pendulous breasts, the moist tissues, the dipping into the cleavage to retrieve
The poem in which your mother tries not to wince when I order whatever I want
from the menu despite her coupon for two medium 1-topping pizzas.
The poem in which I try to find a deeper meaning for why I notice the woman
ahead of us in line at Johnny’s Liquor Store who buys a pack of menthols and
asks the guy behind the counter if he knows her good-for-nothing brother. She
has hair that looks like cats got at a skein of yarn, and a tattoo above her ankle
that’s dark and unspecified. It’s far enough above her ankle that it’s nearly mid-
calf—like her ankle and calf are two different countries and the tattoo got lost
in the borderlands on the way to its actual destination.
The poem in which I am territory that is under dispute and no one will occupy it
because of fear and uncertainty.
The poem in which I reach the conclusion that this feeling is inspired by your
mother and the way she hums out-of-season carols while doing kitchen tasks,
though it’s not really about the humming but rather the time she asked me to
light the Hanukkah candles in the attic because it would be better if they were
out of the way for the Christmas party.
The poem in which you and I are in line waiting to buy a mixed six-pack of Great
Lakes and I am staring at a stranger’s tattoo and thinking about the fact that I
am not Anne Frank while the baby is in the car with your mother.
The poem in which I go into Walmart and buy the baby an olive-green cap that
looks suspiciously like Fidel Castro’s.
The poem in which I could eradicate the fact that I ever went into Walmart and
bought anything so the baby can one day start a revolution.
The poem in which we see a couple on the highway median in a stalled-out Buick
and don’t stop to help.
The poem in which the highway median looks like the spit of land between two
enemy trenches and I feel a deep longing for my childhood.
The poem in which I remember, for no apparent reason, the tornado instructions
taped to the sides of all the filing cabinets in one office I worked in that was on
the top floor of a mostly abandoned mall in Overland Park, Kansas. All that
was left: decorative fountains, floor tiles, mirrored ceilings, Nearly Famous
Pizza, the carcass of Sears.
The poem in which we leave Northeastern Ohio, The poem in which we return to
The poem in which it is night and we are lost in Northeastern Ohio and we keep
passing Amish buggies adorned with reflective tape.
The poem in which the moon is a vehicle for content, and is far less than a perfect
reflector of anything.
The poem in which we are all in some kind of limbo.
British Art – Part II of IV: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
“Love is the last relay and ultimate outposts of eternity.” – Dante Gabriel Rossetti, English poet, painter, and a founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, who died 9 April 1882.
I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.
You have been mine before,—
How long ago I may not know:
But just when at that swallow’s soar
Your neck turn’d so,
Some veil did fall,—I knew it all of yore.
Has this been thus before?
And shall not thus time’s eddying flight
Still with our lives our love restore
In death’s despite,
And day and night yield one delight once more?
A Second Poem for Today
By Dore Kiesselbach
“Take me with you”
my mother says
standing in her nightgown
as, home from college,
I prepare to leave
she must face
was once my concern
but like a bobber
by an inedible fish
into the life
he offered her.
It stopped occurring
to me she might return.
“I’ll be back” I say
and then I go.
British Art – Part III of IV: Julia Heseltine
Here is part of the Artist Statement of British painter Julia Heseltine: “My aim is to reach somewhere below the surface and to bring out in the picture the real character of the subject as I see it, so that whether you know them or not the portrait will come over as a whole person with depth. I am concerned that the picture is not just a true portrait but above all a painting worth looking at in terms of composition, colour, atmosphere etc, irrespective of who it is.”
Fancies in Springtime: Douglas Rushkoff
“If we could stop thinking of ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’ as artifacts of some divine creative act and see them instead as the yield of our own creative future, they become goals, intentions and processes very much in reach rather than the shadows of childlike, superstitious mythology.”
A Third Poem for Today
By Cecilia Woloch
I watched him swinging the pick in the sun,
breaking the concrete steps into chunks of rock,
and the rocks into dust,
and the dust into earth again.
I must have sat for a very long time on the split rail fence,
just watching him.
My father’s body glistened with sweat,
his arms flew like dark wings over his head.
He was turning the backyard into terraces,
breaking the hill into two flat plains.
I took for granted the power of him,
though it frightened me, too.
I watched as he swung the pick into the air
and brought it down hard
and changed the shape of the world,
and changed the shape of the world again.
British Art – Part IV of IV: Peter Layzell
Artist Statement: “Collecting images together for this website has proved a challenging exercise. The paintings take a long time to paint and once they are sold I rarely review them. This is partly because they are on the easel for so long, the appetite for looking at them again has diminished. I feared that the experience would be akin to finding a forgotten diary; curiosity at what my younger self thought instantly replaced with embarrassment at what the thoughts actually were.”
“The root of all superstition is that men observe when a thing hits, but not when it misses.” – Francis Bacon, English scientist, philosopher, statesman, jurist, and author, who died 9 April 1626.
Anyone interested in learning about the many contributions Francis Bacon made to the cause of human enlightenment should read “The Man Who Saw Through Time: Francis Bacon and the Modern Dilemma,” by Loren Eiseley.
Some quotes from the work of Francis Bacon:
“Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.”
“There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.”
“Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.”
“Knowledge is power.”
“He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.”
“It is impossible to love and to be wise.”
“A bachelor’s life is a fine breakfast, a flat lunch, and a miserable dinner.”
“I will never be an old man. To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am.”
“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.”
“In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.”
“If we do not maintain justice, justice will not maintain us.”
“Who questions much, shall learn much, and retain much.”
“The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.”
“Money is like manure, of very little use except it be spread.”
“There is no comparison between that which is lost by not succeeding and that which is lost by not trying.”
“Things alter for the worse spontaneously, if they be not altered for the better designedly.”
“The joys of parents are secret, and so are their grieves and fears.”
“Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority.”
“Wives are young men’s mistresses, companions for middle age, and old men’s nurses.”
“Nothing doth more hurt in a state than that cunning men pass for wise.”
“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts, but if he will content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.”
“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”
“It is natural to die as to be born.”
“Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.”
“Truth emerges more readily from error than from confusion.”
“Truth is so hard to tell, it sometimes needs fiction to make it plausible.”
“If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world.”
“People usually think according to their inclinations, speak according to their learning and ingrained opinions, but generally act according to custom.”
“Who ever is out of patience is out of possession of their soul.”
“Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.”
“Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted… but to weigh and consider.”
“Truth is a good dog; but always beware of barking too close to the heels of an error, lest you get your brains kicked out.”
“Antiquities are history defaced, or some remnants of history which have casually escaped the shipwreck of time.”
“Children sweeten labours, but they make misfortunes more bitter.”
“Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased by tales, so is the other.”
“Science is but an image of the truth.”
“Seek ye first the good things of the mind, and the rest will either be supplied or its loss will not be felt.”
“Studies perfect nature and are perfected still by experience.”
“The correlative to loving our neighbors as ourselves is hating ourselves as we hate our neighbors.”
“They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.”
“It is as hard and severe a thing to be a true politician as to be truly moral.”
“Nothing is pleasant that is not spiced with variety.”
“The subtlety of nature is greater many times over than the subtlety of the senses and understanding.”
“There is as much difference between the counsel that a friend giveth, and that a man giveth himself, as there is between the counsel of a friend and of a flatterer. For there is no such flatterer as is a man’s self.”
“We are much beholden to Machiavelli and others, that write what men do, and not what they ought to do.”
“When a man laughs at his troubles he loses a great many friends. They never forgive the loss of their prerogative.”
Fancies in Springtime: Andrew Mason
American Art – Part II of V: Frank Lloyd Wright
“Every great architect is – necessarily – a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age.” – Frank Lloyd Wright, American architect, interior designer, writer, and educator, who died 9 April 1959.
Some quotes from the work of Frank Lloyd Wright:
“I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.”
“A free America… means just this: individual freedom for all, rich or poor, or else this system of government we call democracy is only an expedient to enslave man to the machine and make him like it.”
“Give me the luxuries of life and I will willingly do without the necessities.”
“TV is chewing gum for the eyes.”
“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”
“The physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his client to plant vines – so they should go as far as possible from home to build their first buildings.”
“Form follows function – that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.”
“Less is only more where more is no good.”
“An architect’s most useful tools are an eraser at the drafting board, and a wrecking bar at the site.”
“There is nothing more uncommon than common sense.”
“The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization.”
“A great architect is not made by way of a brain nearly so much as he is made by way of a cultivated, enriched heart.”
“Art for art’s sake is a philosophy of the well-fed.”
“The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.”
“Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art.”
“The architect must be a prophet… a prophet in the true sense of the term… if he can’t see at least ten years ahead, don’t call him an architect.”
“The architect should strive continually to simplify; the ensemble of the rooms should then be carefully considered that comfort and utility may go hand in hand with beauty.”
“A man is a fool if he drinks before he reaches the age of 50, and a fool if he doesn’t afterward.”
“All fine architectural values are human values, else not valuable.”
“Buildings, too, are children of Earth and Sun.”
“Space is the breath of art.”
“The present is the ever-moving shadow that divides yesterday from tomorrow. In that lies hope.”
“An idea is salvation by imagination.”
“Toleration and liberty are the foundations of a great republic.”
“Freedom is from within.”
“Get the habit of analysis – analysis will in time enable synthesis to become your habit of mind.”
“Organic buildings are the strength and lightness of the spiders’ spinning, buildings qualified by light, bred by native character to environment, married to the ground.”
“Regard it as just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral.”
“Bureaucrats: they are dead at 30 and buried at 60. They are like custard pies; you can’t nail them to a wall.”
“Life always rides in strength to victory, not through internationalism… but only through the direct responsibility of the individual.”
“Mechanization best serves mediocrity.”
“No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.”
“Respect the masterpiece. It is true reverence to man. There is no quality so great, none so much needed now.”
“The heart is the chief feature of a functioning mind.”
“Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.”
“New York City is a great monument to the power of money and greed… a race for rent.”
“No stream rises higher than its source. What ever man might build could never express or reflect more than he was. He could record neither more nor less than he had learned of life when the buildings were built.”
“Noble life demands a noble architecture for noble uses of noble men. Lack of culture means what it has always meant: ignoble civilization and therefore imminent downfall.”
“The Lincoln Memorial is related to the toga and the civilization that wore it.”
“The space within becomes the reality of the building.”
“Youth is a quality, not a matter of circumstances.”
Fancies in Springtime: John Burnham Schwartz
Fancies in Springtime: Basho
A Fourth Poem for Today
“My Father’s Left Hand”
By David Bottoms
Sometimes my old man’s hand flutters over his knee, flaps
in crazy circles, and falls back to his leg.
Sometimes it leans for an hour on that bony ledge.
And sometimes when my old man tries to speak, his hand waggles
in the air, chasing a word, then perches again
on the bar of his walker or the arm of a chair.
Sometimes when evening closes down his window and rain
blackens into ice on the sill, it trembles like a sparrow in a storm.
The art of Mexican painter Fidel Garcia blends figurative realism and abstract expressionism. In the words of one critic, “His paintings call upon the viewer to experience the concurrency of our corporeal and spiritual selves, the coincidence of reality and fantasy, and the simultaneous existence of the physical and the metaphysical.”
Fancies in Springtime: Haruki Murakami
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Michelle Bennett
You find yourself in a narrow bed you’ve never slept in,
on a tree-lined grassy field you’ve never walked upon,
on a cold toilet seat you have not sat on,
in a place you now call your home, your learning, your future.
Red stone pathways expose the buildings that will house
the knowledge you seek,
and the information you want to gather.
You crane your neck to look up
at the 13-story brick tower rising from the ground,
looming over you as you walk past. The melodies
and beats of different songs mix,
create a sound of their own,
flow from open windows. Crushed leeks
Top Ramen noodles ground into a blue
and speckled carpet attract armies of ants
to the communal kitchen on the sixth floor.
You pull your jacket tighter against your body,
strong, salty wind whips off the Sound,
and up the hill as you walk through
Red Square toward the clatter of knives,
forks and digesting bellies.
Finally, you are released like a white dove
from the hands of its owner, allowed to fly
discovering your dreams,
discovering what you are made of.
Fancies in Springtime: Craig Childs
“Coyotes move within a landscape of attentiveness. I have seen their eyes in the creosote bushes and among mesquite trees. They have watched me. And all the times that I saw no eyes, that I kept walking and never knew, there were still coyotes. When I have seen them trot away, when I have stepped from the floorboard of my truck, leaned on the door, and watched them as they watched me over their shoulders, I have been aware for that moment of how much more there is. Of how I have only seen only an instant of a broad and rich life.”
Here is part of the Artist Statement of Canadian painter Susan G. Scott: “My work exists within the tradition of narrative figure painting, forming a contemporary extension of this classical format.
My studio practice incorporates working from direct observation as well as working from photographs of scenes which I stage using live models and costumes. The live action models provide immediacy and direct attention away from images which otherwise might become too generic. The process of working back and forth from model to photograph to canvas can continue for many months, creating a layering of reality and narrative interpretation.
Technically my work is based loosely on the pre-impressionist oil painting process of laying glazes over a well-delineated underpainting. Beyond the deep sense of continuity with the past which this technique provides me, I am involved in the dramatic effects of light and dark which underpainting and glazing allow. In recent series I have pushed this technique beyond its tradition to incorporate layers of acrylic and a pumice medium which provide an increased awareness of the surface as its own narrative.”
“I have come to the borders of sleep,
The unfathomable deep
Forest where all must lose
Their way.” – Edward Thomas, Anglo-Welsh poet, essayist, and soldier, who was killed in action during the Battle of Arras on 9 April 1917, shortly after he arrived in France.
Downhill I came, hungry, and yet not starved;
Cold, yet had heat within me that was proof
Against the North wind; tired, yet so that rest
Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof.
Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest,
Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I.
All of the night was quite barred out except
An owl’s cry, a most melancholy cry
Shaken out long and clear upon the hill,
No merry note, nor cause of merriment,
But one telling me plain what I escaped
And others could not, that night, as in I went.
Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Ukrainian painter
Katya Gridnewa (born 1965): “Katya Gridneva works mainly in oils, pastels and charcoal, focusing on figurative subjects. Her very skillful, characterful and attractive compositions are painted from life. Her work not only captures the flow of light across her subjects, but also exhibits her in-depth knowledge of the anatomical structure of the human body. She takes a special delight in painting the working bodies of dancers, capturing their grace and elegance.”
Katya Gridnewa lives and works in England.
Fancies in Springtime: Marc Bekoff
A Sixth Poem for Today
“Helping My Daughter Move into Her First Apartment”
By Sue Ellen Thompson
This is all I am to her now:
a pair of legs in running shoes,
two arms strung with braided wire.
She heaves a carton sagging with CDs
at me and I accept it gladly, lifting
with my legs, not bending over,
raising each foot high enough
to clear the step. Fortunate to be
of any use to her at all,
I wrestle, stooped and single-handed,
with her mattress in the stairwell,
saying nothing as it pins me,
sweating, to the wall. Vacuum cleaner,
spiny cactus, five-pound sacks
of rice and lentils slumped
against my heart: up one flight
Fancies in Springtime: Robert M. Pirsig
“What is in mind is a sort of Chautauqua…that’s the only name I can think of for it…like the traveling tent-show Chautauquas that used to move across America, this America, the one that we are now in, an old-time series of popular talks intended to edify and entertain, improve the mind and bring culture and enlightenment to the ears and thoughts of the hearer. The Chautauquas were pushed aside by faster-paced radio, movies and TV, and it seems to me the change was not entirely an improvement. Perhaps because of these changes the stream of national consciousness moves faster now, and is broader, but it seems to run less deep. The old channels cannot contain it and in its search for new ones there seems to be growing havoc and destruction along its banks. In this Chautauqua I would like not to cut any new channels of consciousness but simply dig deeper into old ones that have become silted in with the debris of thoughts grown stale and platitudes too often repeated. ‘What’s new?’ is an interesting and broadening eternal question, but one which, if pursued exclusively, results only in an endless parade of trivia and fashion, the silt of tomorrow. I would like, instead, to be concerned with the question ‘What is best?,’ a question which cuts deeply rather than broadly, a question whose answers tend to move the silt downstream. There are eras of human history in which the channels of thought have been too deeply cut and no change was possible, and nothing new ever happened, and ‘best’ was a matter of dogma, but that is not the situation now. Now the stream of our common consciousness seems to be obliterating its own banks, losing its central direction and purpose, flooding the lowlands, disconnecting and isolating the highlands and to no particular purpose other than the wasteful fulfillment of its own internal momentum. Some channel deepening seems called for.”
Some quotes from the work of Tom Lehrer:
“Bad weather always looks worse through a window.”
“An actress must never lose her ego – without it she has no talent.”
“I wish people who have trouble communicating would just shut up.”
“Apart from that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”
“On my income tax 1040 it says ‘Check this box if you are blind.’ I wanted to put a check mark about three inches away.”
“It is a sobering thought that when Mozart was my age, he had been dead for two years.”
“Think as you work, for in the final analysis, your worth to your company comes not only in solving problems, but also in anticipating them.”
“Be prepared, and be careful not to do your good deeds when there’s no one watching you.”
“I know that there are people who do not love their fellow man, and I hate people like that!”
“I went from adolescence to senility, trying to bypass maturity.”
“I’m not tempted to write a song about George W. Bush. I couldn’t figure out what sort of song I would write. That’s the problem: I don’t want to satirize George Bush and his puppeteers, I want to vaporize them.”
“In my youth there were words you couldn’t say in front of a girl; now you can’t say ‘girl.’”
“You can’t be satirical and not be offensive to somebody.”
“Irreverence is easy – what’s hard is wit.”
“The Army has carried the American ideal to its logical conclusion. Not only do they prohibit discrimination on the grounds of race, creed and color, but also on ability.”
“Political satire became obsolete when they awarded Henry Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize.”
Fancies in Springtime: Linda Hogan
“What finally turned me back toward the older traditions of my own [Chickasaw] and other Native peoples was the inhumanity of the Western world, the places–both inside and out–where the culture’s knowledge and language don’t go, and the despair, even desperation, it has spawned. We live, I see now, by different stories, the Western mind and the indigenous. In the older, more mature cultures where people still live within the kinship circles of animals and human beings there is a connection with animals, not only as food, but as ‘powers,’ a word which can be taken to mean states of being, gifts, or capabilities.
I’ve found, too, that the ancient intellectual traditions are not merely about belief, as some would say. Belief is not a strong enough word. They are more than that: They are part of lived experience, the on-going experience of people rooted in centuries-old knowledge that is held deep and strong, knowledge about the natural laws of Earth, from the beginning of creation, and the magnificent terrestrial intelligence still at work, an intelligence now newly called ecology by the Western science that tells us what our oldest tribal stories maintain–the human animal is a relatively new creation here; animal and plant presences were here before us; and we are truly the younger sisters and brothers of the other animal species, not quite as well developed as we thought we were. It is through our relationships with animals and plants that we maintain a way of living, a cultural ethics shaped from an ancient understanding of the world, and this is remembered in stories that are the deepest reflections of our shared lives on Earth.
That we held, and still hold, treaties with the animals and plant species is a known part of tribal culture. The relationship between human people and animals is still alive and resonant in the world, the ancient tellings carried on by a constellation of stories, songs, and ceremonies, all shaped by lived knowledge of the world and its many interwoven, unending relationships. These stories and ceremonies keep open the bridge between one kind of intelligence and another, one species and another.”
American Art – Part III of V: Matthew Peak
Artist Statement (partial): “The Start: I was born into a world revolving around art. My father was the renowned illustrator Bob Peak. With his artwork gracing major magazines and movie posters, coupled with my parents having met in art school, artistic exposure was a large aspect of my upbringing. By the time I was four years old I was spending a lot of time in my dad’s studio sitting on the rug drawing pictures and watching him paint. Little did I know this would lead to art becoming my lifetime pursuit.
Inspirations: Everyday there are countless miracles occurring around us. Only through our awareness and ability to feel to the fullest can we receive the pleasure these miracles have to offer. I feel that my social participation in art is to help increase the appreciation and awareness level of these miracles. Nature with all its beautiful relationships is the forefront of my artistic appreciation and expression. Whether it be the predominate subject itself, or a backdrop for figurative compositions, nature plays an integral role in virtually all of my artwork. Most of the master works that have inspired me are figurative in subject, whether they are paintings, drawings or sculptures.”
From the American History Archives: Lee Surrenders to Grant
9 April 1865 – General Robert E. Lee surrenders to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, effectively ending the American Civil War. The signing of the surrender documents occurred in the parlor of the house owned by William McLean.
Below – The McLean House in April 1865; the parlor of the (reconstructed) McLean House. Lee sat at the marble-topped table on the left, Grant at the table on the right.
Fancies in Springtime: Monica Dickens
“When I can’t ride anymore, I shall keep horses as long as I can hobble around with a bucket and a wheelbarrow. When I can’t hobble, I shall roll my wheelchair out to the fence of the field where my horses graze and watch them.
Whether by wheelbarrow or wheelchair, I will do likewise to keep alive-as long as I can do as best I can-my connection with horses.”
American Art – Part IV of V: Gwen Gorby
A Seventh Poem for Today
By Diane Glancy
There’s a farm auction up the road.
Wind has its bid in for the leaves.
Already bugs flurry the headlights
between cornfields at night.
If this world were permanent,
I could dance full as the squaw dress
on the clothesline.
I would not see winter
in the square of white yard-light on the wall.
But something tugs at me.
The world is at a loss and I am part of it
Everything is up for grabs
like a box of farm tools broken open.
I hear the spirits often in the garden
and along the shore of corn.
I know this place is not mine.
I hear them up the road again.
This world is a horizon, an open sea.
Behind the house, the white iceberg of the barn.
Fancies in Springtime: Barry Lopez
“I think of two landscapes- one outside the self, the other within. The external landscape is the one we see-not only the line and color of the land and its shading at different times of the day, but also its plants and animals in season, its weather, its geology… If you walk up, say, a dry arroyo in the Sonoran Desert you will feel a mounding and rolling of sand and silt beneath your foot that is distinctive. You will anticipate the crumbling of the sedimentary earth in the arroyo bank as your hand reaches out, and in that tangible evidence you will sense the history of water in the region. Perhaps a black-throated sparrow lands in a paloverde bush… the smell of the creosote bush….all elements of the land, and what I mean by ‘the landscape.’
The second landscape I think of is an interior one, a kind of projection within a person of a part of the exterior landscape. Relationships in the exterior landscape include those that are named and discernible, such as the nitrogen cycle, or a vertical sequence of Ordovician limestone, and others that are uncodified or ineffable, such as winter light falling on a particular kind of granite, or the effect of humidity on the frequency of a blackpoll warbler’s burst of song…the shape and character of these relationships in a person’s thinking, I believe, are deeply influenced by where on this earth one goes, what one touches, the patterns one observes in nature- the intricate history of one’s life in the land, even a life in the city, where wind, the chirp of birds, the line of a falling leaf, are known. These thoughts are arranged, further, according to the thread of one’s moral, intellectual, and spiritual development. The interior landscape responds to the character and subtlety of an exterior landscape; the shape of the individual mind is affected by land as it is by genes.
Among the Navajo, the land is thought to exhibit sacred order…each individual undertakes to order his interior landscape according to the exterior landscape. To succeed in this means to achieve a balanced state of mental health…Among the various sung ceremonies of this people-Enemyway, Coyoteway, Uglyway- there is one called Beautyway. It is, in part, a spiritual invocation of the order of the exterior universe, that irreducible, holy complexity that manifests itself as all things changing through time (a Navajo definition of beauty).”
Back from the Territory – Art: Byron Birdsall (Part I)
In the words of one writer, “Byron Birdsall is one of Alaska’s most renowned artists…His paintings feature brilliant landscapes, as well as uniquely Alaskan images such as puffins, eagles, and fishing boats.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Below – “Bright Night”; “Once upon a midnight dreary”; “Anchorage 2000”; “Aurora”; “City of Moose and Flowers”; “Forest Light.”
An Eighth Poem for Today
“Baby Wrens’ Voices”
By Thomas R. Smith
I am a student of wrens.
When the mother bird returns
to her brood, beak squirming
with winged breakfast, a shrill
clamor rises like jingling
from tiny, high-pitched bells.
Who’d have guessed such a small
house contained so many voices?
The sound they make is the pure sound
of life’s hunger. Who hangs our house
in the world’s branches, and listens
when we sing from our hunger?
Because I love best those songs
that shake the house of the singer,
I am a student of wrens.
Fancies in Springtime: Cormac McCarthy
“It was an old hunter in camp and the hunter shared tobacco with him and told him of the buffalo and the stands he’d made against them, laid up in a sag on some rise with the dead animals scattered over the grounds and the herd beginning to mill and the riflebarrel so hot the wiping patches sizzled in the bore and the animals by the thousands and the tens of thousands and the hides pegged out over actual square miles of ground the teams of skinners spelling one another around the clock and the shooting and shooting weeks and months till the bore shot slick and the stock shot loose at the tang and their shoulders were yellow and blue to the elbow and the tandem wagons groaned away over the prairie twenty and twenty-two ox teams and the flint hides by the hundred ton and the meat rotting on the ground and the air whining with flies and the buzzards and ravens and the night a horror of snarling and feeding with the wolves half-crazed and wallowing in the carrion.
I seen Studebaker wagons with six and eight ox teams headed out for the grounds not hauling a thing but lead. Just pure galena. Tons of it. On this ground alone between the Arkansas River and the Concho there were eight million carcasses for that’s how many hides reached the railhead. Two years ago we pulled out from Griffin for a last hunt. We ransacked the country. Six weeks. Finally found a herd of eight animals and we killed them and come in. They’re gone. Ever one of them that God ever made is gone as if they’d never been at all.
The ragged sparks blew down the wind. The prairie about them lay silent. Beyond the fire it was cold and the night was clear and the stars were falling. The old hunter pulled his blanket about him. I wonder if there’s other worlds like this, he said. Or if this is the only one.”
American Art – Part V of V: Anna Stump
In the words of one writer, “Anna Stump is an artist and arts educator living in San Diego. She earned her Bachelor’s degree at Occidental College and her Master of Fine Arts at San Diego State University. She was a Senior Fulbright Scholar to the Fine Arts Department at Anadolu University in Eskisehir, Turkey in 2006-2007. She teaches studio and art history courses at San Diego City College and Grossmont College.”