American Art – Part I of II: Danielle Nelisse
In the words of one writer, “Danielle Nelisse (née Homant) is an abstract artist who paints large scale contemporary abstract art paintings in oil on canvas. Nelisse’s preoccupation with visual effects, especially the impact of color, is a reflection of her main goal – to involve basic human emotions.
Danielle’s abstract paintings are best felt intuitively rather than understood: the question posed being typically: ‘’what does this painting make you feel?’ – rather than, ‘what is this painting saying?’”
From the Music Archives – Part I of VI: Bill Haley & His Comets
12 April 1954 – Bill Haley & His Comets record “Rock Around Clock.”
Here is the Artist Statement of Bulgarian painter Peter Mitchev (born 1955): “During the past century, there was too much aggression and hostility in art and life. Because of this, I have promised myself that I will paint for love and unity. For unity between all people, races, religions, man and nature, and for tolerance between the rich and the poor. For me, this is not an abstract idea, but my deep feeling and belief.
As humans, we need to remember some very simple things like joy, tears, happiness… This is why time in my painting is reflected by a stillness. The history and memory of mankind are gathered in one place.
My painting is a message to all people who need love and beauty. What everyone will see in them has already happened, is happening at the moment or will happen in the future. These images are inspired by the memory of mankind and the purest vibrations that people feel.
These paintings are like children to me and that is why I am thankful if they bring joy and satisfaction. For me, painting is a form of thinking. It is a way of living. It is a mission impossible to give up.”
A Poem for Today
“ABC Plus E: Cosmic Aloneness Is the Bride of Existence”
By Mary Jo Bang
A pack of young flirts was patrolling the party,
They were cultural outsiders, consumed with … what?
Their own notion of beauty as reflected in the shine-more mirror
Of a man’s pants? Or nothing
But midnight and no one is counting.
They were practitioners, they admitted to the barman,
Of psychological materialism, explaining they had read both
Sartre and Beauvoir and believed in the cerebellum,
The thalamus and the lower brain and that between
The lower and the upper parts there must be room for them,
Nant [ nothingness ] aside.
Indeed, the evening was a spectacular bacchanalia,
The girls lugging their blind-drunk partners around the floor.
One sitting it out with a volume of ’The Collected Camus.’
That one was “imperious” (the word is Beauvoir’s)
“The club was plunged into almost total darkness,
With violinists wandering about
‘Playing soulful Russian music’ into the guests’ ears.”
“‘If only it were possible to tell the truth,’
Exclaimed Camus at one point.”
There was vodka and champagne, both in quantities
Extremely beautiful and nice for getting tight. And dancing
Cheek to cheek, between the exchange of furtive kisses
And giggles every time one of the chaps said, “Don’t
Leave me, I love you, I’ll always love you.”
Which they took as irrefutable evidence
Of a general greed for human warmth,
I.e., for touch, even among the agonized
Post-adolescent dreamers who morphed on the dance floor
That night into naughty boys, echoing the girls’ questions
Of “how shall we live,” “what shall we do,”
Words without end, without weight.
Fancies in Springtime: James Hillman
“If you wrote a novel in South Africa which didn’t concern the central issues, it wouldn’t be worth publishing.” – Alan Paton, South African writer, anti-apartheid activist, and author of
“Cry, The Beloved Country” and “Ah, But Your Land is Beautiful,” who died 12 April 1988.
Some quotes from Alan Paton:
“Who knows for what we live, and struggle, and die? Wise men write many books, in words too hard to understand. But this, the purpose of our lives, the end of all our struggle, is beyond all human wisdom.”
“But the one thing that has power completely is love, because when a man loves, he seeks no power, and therefore he has power.”
“There is only one way in which one can endure man’s inhumanity to man and that is to try, in one’s own life, to exemplify man’s humanity to man.”
“When a deep injury is done us, we never recover until we forgive.”
“To give up the task of reforming society is to give up one’s responsibility as a free man.”
“Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply… For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.”
“I envision someday a great, peaceful South Africa in which the world will take pride, a nation in which each of many different groups will be making its own creative contribution.”
“You ask yourself not if this or that is expedient, but if it is right.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of VI: “Big” Joe Turner
12 April 1954 – “Big” Joe Turner releases “Shake, Rattle & Roll.”
Fancies in Springtime: Derrick Jensen
“So while this is a book about fighting back, in the end this is a book about love. The songbirds and the salmon need your heart, no matter how weary, because even a broken heart is still made of love. They need your heart because they are disappearing, slipping into that longest night of extinction, and the resistance is nowhere in sight. We will have to build that resistance from whatever comes to hand: whispers and prayers, history and dreams, from our bravest words and braver actions. It will be hard, there will be a cost, and in too many implacable dawns it will seem impossible. But we will have to do it anyway. So gather your heart and join with every living being. With love as our First Cause, how can we fail?”
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States and creator of the New Deal, who died 12 April 1945.
Some quotes from Franklin Delano Roosevelt:
“A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward.”
“Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.”
“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”
“True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.”
“In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”
“When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
“If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships – the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace.”
“Don’t forget what I discovered that over ninety percent of all national deficits from 1921 to 1939 were caused by payments for past, present, and future wars.”
“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.”
“Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.”
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
“The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize.”
“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”
“I am neither bitter nor cynical but I do wish there was less immaturity in political thinking.”
“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”
“In our personal ambitions we are individualists. But in our seeking for economic and political progress as a nation, we all go up or else all go down as one people.”
“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”
“I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”
“Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.”
A Second Poem for Today
“Walking to School, 1964”
By David Wojahn
Blurring the window, the snowflakes’ numb white lanterns.
She’s brewed her coffee, in the bathroom sprays cologne
And sets her lipstick upright on the sink.
The door ajar, I glimpse the yellow slip,
The rose-colored birthmark on her shoulder.
Then she’s dressed—the pillbox hat and ersatz fur,
And I’m dressed too, mummified in stocking cap
And scarves, and I walk her to the bus stop
Where she’ll leave me for my own walk to school,
Where she’ll board the bus that zigzags to St. Paul
As I watch her at the window, the paperback
Here is the Artist Statement of Scottish painter Peter Nigel Mansfield: “A dialogue has gradually developed in my work fueled by cultural and social questionings and discoveries. Influences are drawn from a combination of ongoing personal experiences that feed into the themes of my work, and connections that are made between them.
Firstly, experiencing life abroad, specifically in Pakistan, has continually brought forth comparisons made to my own Scottish way of living. The rich, decorative history of the country’s Persian empirical roots has influenced in an aesthetic and artistic sense whilst the overtly Islamic society and way of life has prompted reflection in a sociological and moral sense.
Secondly, archetypal religious iconography is referred to specifically in the way that it styles the beings it depicts. Whilst belief systems differ, often the visual language of composition, pattern, symbols, use of light etc. all serve the purpose of elevating, revering and/or attributing divinity to the subject (whether the subject be included or not). Overtly religious societies display such visuals throughout their lands yet our oppositely secular society appears not to fall short of such imagery itself. Densely media-clad pages, billboards and screens seem to project surprisingly similar themes and styles related to consumer goods, celebrity stars and cinema superheroes.
Thirdly, discussion of an apparently inherent nature in mankind: the capacity to aspire to perfection, to strive to ‘win’, to be the best. The revered ones that achieve the heights of the pages, billboards and screens may display these drives, but the rest of us surely do not lack them. Neither, it seems, are these yearnings exclusive to adulthood. In weekly community work with children from Dundee housing estates, desires to be crowned King of the Castle, fly like Superman or beat the bully in the after school punch-up are observed and remind of my own childhood memories, and also that such desires are intrinsic to being human.
Thus, direct links are purposely made between these combination of themes that are already present, but less obviously connected, in our visual world of mass media. It is by these means that my paintings seek to provide visual discourse around the aspirations of normal, everyday humanity to something more, something perfect.”
Fancies in Springtime: Anthony Douglas Williams
beside me in this garden
are huge and daisy-like
(why not? are not
oxeye daisies a chrysanthemum?),
shrubby and thick-stalked,
the leaves pointing up
the stems from which
the flowers burst in
sunbursts. I love
this garden in all its moods,
even under its winter coat
of salt hay, or now,
in October, more than
half gone over: here
a rose, there a clump
of aconite. This morning
one of the dogs killed
a barn owl. Bob saw
it happen, tried to
intervene. The airedale
snapped its neck and left
it lying. Now the bird
lies buried by an apple
tree. Last evening
from the table we saw
the owl, huge in the dusk,
circling the field
on owl-silent wings.
The first one ever seen
here: now it’s gone,
a dream you just remember.
The dogs are barking. In
the studio music plays
and Bob and Darragh paint.
I sit scribbling in a little
notebook at a garden table,
too hot in a heavy shirt
in the mid-October sun
into which the Korean mums
all face. There is a
dull book with me,
an apple core, cigarettes,
an ashtray. Behind me
the rue I gave Bob
flourishes. Light on leaves,
so much to see, and
all I really see is that
owl, its bulk troubling
the twilight. I’ll
soon forget it: what
is there I have not forgot?
Or one day will forget:
this garden, the breeze
in stillness, even
the words, Korean mums.
Fancies in Springtime: Diego Rivera
“From sunrise to sunset, I was in the forest, sometimes far from the house, with my goat who watched me as a mother does a child. All the animals in the forest became my friends, even dangerous and poisonous ones. Thanks to my goat-mother and my Indian nurse, I have always enjoyed the trust of animals–a precious gift. I still love animals infinitely more than human beings.”
From the Music Archives – Part III of VI: Jan Berry
12 April 1966 – Jan Berry, a member of the musical duo Jan and Dean, crashes his Corvette into a parked truck and suffers debilitating injuries.
A Third Poem for Today
“Occurrence on Washburn Avenue”
By Regan Huff
Alice’s first strike gets a pat on the back,
her second a cheer from Betty Woszinski
who’s just back from knee surgery. Her third—
“A turkey!” Molly calls out—raises everyone’s eyes.
They clap. Teresa looks up from the bar.
At the fourth the girls stop seeing their own pins wobble.
They watch the little X’s fill the row on Alice’s screen—
That’s five. That’s six. There’s a holy space
around her like a saint come down to bowl
with the Tuesday Ladies in Thorp, Wisconsin.
Teresa runs to get Al, and Fran calls Billy
at the Exxon. The bar crowds with silent men.
No one’s cheering. No one’s bowling now
except Alice’s team, rolling their balls
to advance the screen around to Alice, who’s stopped
even her nervous laugh, her face blank and smooth
with concentration. It can’t go on
and then it does go on, the white bar
reading “Silver Dollar Chicken” lowering and clearing
nothing, then lowering and clearing nothing again.
Here is the Artist Statement of British painter Nadia Lazizi: “My paintings centre around figurative representations of the human form. I work predominantly with oils on canvas/linen. I seek to represent and capture a fleeting moment in time, a transient image of contemplation that is a combination of dreams and reality.
This is achieved by a careful construction of mood and atmosphere which is created by the deliberate juxtaposition of the central figure against an ambiguous background, defined by intense artificial lighting and a restricted colour palette. This projects the image outwards towards the viewer, establishing its presence within the central frame of the canvas. The play of light and shadows conveys an effect that is both welcoming and remote, it distorts the image and produces an abstract quality arising from the gradual fading of parts of the image from sight.
It intensifies an ephemeral moment which is interpreted by the viewer in their own personal way, yet being guided by the ambience and composition of the image as a whole.
The works possess a contemporary tone which is achieved through the integration of a soft-focus, chiaroscuro and dry brush techniques combined with an illustrative edge.”
Fancies in Springtime: Scott Edward Shjefte
“Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture, or
kill any creature or living being.” – Mahavira, Jain patriarch and spiritual
teacher, who died 12 April 599 B.C.E.
Some quotes from Mahavira:
“There is no enemy ‘outside.’ The real enemies live inside you. They are anger, pride, covetousness, greed, attachments, and hate.”
“Don’t accumulate if you do not need. The excess of wealth in your hands is for the society, and you are the trustee for the same.”
“Can you hold a red-hot iron rod in your hand merely because some one wants you to do so? Then, will it be right on your part to ask others to do the same thing just to satisfy your desires? If you cannot tolerate infliction of pain on your body or mind by others’ words and actions, what right have you to do the same to others through your words and deeds?”
“There is no separate existence of God. Everybody can attain God-hood by making supreme efforts in the right direction.”
“Every soul is in itself absolutely omniscient and blissful. The bliss does not come from outside.”
“Kill not, cause no pain. Non-violence is the highest religion.”
From the Music Archives – Part IV of VI: Simon and Garfunkel
12 April 1969 – Simon and Garfunkel release “The Boxer.”
Fancies in Springtime: C.G. Rousing
A Fourth Poem for Today
“At the Bridal Shop”
By Joseph O. Legaspi
The gowns and dresses hang
like fleece in their glaring
the ruffled matrimonial love in which the brides-
in-waiting dance around, expectantly,
hummingbirds to tulips. I was dragged here:
David’s Bridal, off the concrete-gray arterial
highways of a naval town. I sink into the flush
bachelors’ couch, along with other men sprinkled
throughout the shop, as my friend and her female compatriots parade
taffeta dresses in monstrous shades of pastels—persimmons,
lilacs, periwinkles—the colors of weddings and religious
holidays. Trains drag on the floor, sleeves drape
like limp, pressed sheets of candied fruits,
ribbons fluttering like pale leaves. I watch
families gathered together: the women, like worshippers,
circling around the smiling brides-to-be, as if they were
the anointed ones. The men, in turn, submerge
deeper into couches, into sleep, while the haloed,
veiled women cannot contain their joy,
they flash their winning smiles, and they are beautiful.
Fancies in Springtime: Robert M. Pirsig
From the Music Archives – Part V of VI: Linda Ronstadt
12 April 1975 – Linda Ronstadt releases “When Will I Be Loved?”
Fancies in Springtime: Andres Ruzo
“Sometimes I’ll pick up the ‘heart of the jungle’ fossil on my bookshelf, or pull out my old field notebooks from my desk drawer, warped by Amazonian rains and the river’s steam, the scent of the jungle still on their pages. I do this to remind myself that fiction does not have a monopoly on the unbelievable.”
From the American History Archives: Fort Sumter
12 April 1861 – Forces of the Confederacy open fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina, thereby starting the American Civil War. By War’s end, 620,000 combatants had been killed in battle, 476,000 had been wounded, and 400,00 had been captured or were missing.
From the “Don’t Try This at Home Department”
No, please – try.
Fancies in Springtime: Bill Bryson
“The Moon is slipping from our grasp at a rate of about 1.5 inches a year. In another two billion years it will have receded so far that it won’t keep us steady and we will have to come up with some other solution, but in the meantime you should think of it as much more than just a pleasant feature in the night sky.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Hungarian-born Canadian painter Brigitta Kocsis: “Brigitta Kocsis’ recent work focused on investigating the shifting concepts of the human body and its environment. Contemporary discoveries in anatomical technologies have profoundly changed how one perceives the human body. Secret Mechanisms explores how technology can alter perception by interacting with the methods and processes involved in how the human body works. Kocsis is interested in the process of finding a place between abstraction and representation through creating elaborate layers of images, patterns and colors on canvas. In Secret Mechanisms she is creating a series of characters with multi-part anatomical and technological allusions with a specific ‘trade’ or ‘trait’ assigned to each character; like dysfunctional poetic super-heroes in a contemporary comic strip. The graphic images are painted in a layered, collage-like style combined with painterly expressions. The tension contained within the bodies of the characters due to the pervasive technologies, communicates a sense of contemporary environment in its fractured state.”
Fancies in Springtime: Hunter S. Thompson
From the Music Archives – Part VI of VI: Sonny Bono
12 April 1988 – Sonny Bono is elected mayor of Palm Springs, California.
A Fifth Poem for Today
“From the Plane”
By Marie Macari
It is a soft thing, it has been sifted
from the sieve of space and seems
asleep there under the moths of light.
“Since the beginning, Native Peoples lived a life of being in harmony with all that surrounds us.” – Dennis Banks, Native American leader, teacher, lecturer, actor, activist, and author, who was born 12 April 1932.
Some quotes from Dennis Banks:
“I have a Father’s Day every day.”
“Most importantly, the meaning of spirituality lays the seeds for our destiny and the path we must follow.”
“When you have a spiritual foundation, you look at poverty differently.”
“Every man should see the birth of his children.”
“It also called upon traditional people in the Four Directions to strengthen the healing ceremonies and asked people to heed the warnings of Mother Earth.”
“And Americans realized that native people are still here, that they have a moral standing, a legal standing.”
“It is an understanding with the Great Spirit or Creator that we will follow these ways.”
Fancies in Springtime: Linda Bender
“The belief that every living thing has an individual soul is called animism. (Anima, which means ‘soul,’ is also the root of the word ‘animal.’) Anthropologists have found this belief to be universal in children, though the children themselves don’t think of it as a belief. It is, to them, one of the most obvious features of the world around them, and the most obvious way of interpreting what goes on in that world.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Judy Loest
Leaves drift from the cemetery oaks onto late grass,
Sun-singed, smelling like straw, the insides of old barns.
The stone angel’s prayer is uninterrupted by the sleeping
Vagrant at her feet, the lone squirrel, furtive amid the litter.
Someone once said my great-grandmother, on the day she died,
rose from her bed where she had lain, paralyzed and mute
For two years following a stroke, and dressed herself—the good
Sunday dress of black crepe, cotton stockings, sensible, lace-up shoes.
I imagine her coiling her long white braid in the silent house,
Lying back down on top of the quilt and folding her hands,
Satisfied. I imagine her born-again daughters, brought up
In that tent-revival religion, called in from kitchens and fields
To stand dismayed by her bed like the sisters of Lazarus,
Waiting for her to breathe, to rise again and tell them what to do.
Here, no cross escapes the erosion of age, no voice breaks
The silence; the only certainty in the crow’s flight
Or the sun’s measured descent is the coming of winter.
Even the angel’s outstretched arms offer only a formulated
Grace, her blind blessings as indiscriminate as acorns,
Falling on each of us, the departed and the leaving.
Back from the Territory – Art: Byron Birdsall (Part IV)
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.
A Seventh Poem for Today
“On Our Eleventh Anniversary”
By Susan Browne
You’re telling that story again about your childhood,
when you were five years old and rode your blue bicycle
from Copenhagen to Espergaerde, and it was night
and snowing by the time you arrived,
and your grandparents were so relieved to see you,
because all day no one knew where you were,
you had vanished. We sit at our patio table under a faded green
umbrella, drinking wine in California’s blue autumn,
red stars of roses along the fence, trellising over the roof
of our ramshackle garage. Too soon the wine glasses will be empty,
our stories told, the house covered with pine needles the wind
has shaken from the trees. Other people will live here.
Fancies in Springtime: Barry Lopez
American Art – Part II of II: David Wing
In the words of one writer, “David Wing was born in California in 1947 and has been photographing the life and landscape of the American West for the past fifty years.”