American Art – Part I of VII: Jo Palasi.
15 April 1802 – William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy see a “long belt” of daffodils during the course of a walk, an experience that inspired Wordsworth to write one of his most famous poems.
“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Italian Art – Part I of II: Leonardo da Vinci
“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” – Leonardo da Vinci, Italian Renaissance polymath and genius, who was born 15 April 1452.
Some quotes from the “Notebooks” of Leonardo da Vinci:
“I have learned from an early age to abjure the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.”
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
“One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.”
“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.”
“The smallest feline is a masterpiece.”
“Learning never exhausts the mind.”
“There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.”
“As you cannot do what you want, Want what you can do.”
“The deeper the feeling, the greater the pain.”
“It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”
“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.”
“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.”
A Poem for Today
By Esther Belin
I like to travel to L.A. by myself
My trips to the crowded smoggy polluted by brown
indigenous and immigrant haze are healing.
I travel from one pollution to another.
Being urban I return to where I came from
survives in L.A.
Now for over forty years.
I drive to L.A. in the darkness of the day
on the road before CHP
one with the dark
driving my black truck
invisible on my journey home.
The dark roads take me back to my childhood
riding in the camper of daddy’s truck headed home.
My brother, sister and I would be put to sleep in the camper
and sometime in the darkness of the day
daddy would clime into the cab with mom carrying a thermos full of coffee and some Pendleton blankets
And they would pray
before daddy started the truck
for journey mercies.
Often I’d rise from my lullaby sleep and stare into the darkness of the road
the long darkness empty of cars
Glowy from daddy’s headlights and lonesome from Hank Williams’ deep and twangy voice singing of cold nights and cheatin’ hearts.
About an hour from Flagstaff
the sun would greet us
and the harsh light would break the darkness
and we’d be hungry from travel and for being almost home.
I know the darkness of the roads
endless into the glowy path before me
lit by the moon high above and the heat rising from my truck’s engine.
The humming from tires whisper mile after mile
endless alongside roadside of fields shadowy from glow.
I know the darkness of the roads
It swims through my veins
dark like my skin
and silenced like a battered wife.
I know the darkness of the roads
It floods my liver
pollutes my breath
yet I still witness the white dawning.
Italian Art – Part II of II: Rosario Catino
Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan
“One of the great commandments of science is, ‘Mistrust arguments from authority.’ (Scientists, being primates, and thus given to dominance hierarchies, of course do not always follow this commandment.) Too many such arguments have proved too painfully wrong. Authorities must prove their contentions like everybody else. This independence of science, its occasional unwillingness to accept conventional wisdom, makes it dangerous to doctrines less self critical, or with pretensions of certitude.”
American Art – Part II of VII: John Singer Sargent
“Cultivate an ever-continuous power of observation. Wherever you are, be always ready to make slight notes of postures, groups and incidents. Store up in the mind… a continuous stream of observations from which to make selections later. Above all things get abroad, see the sunlight and everything that is to be seen.” – John Singer Sargent, American artist considered the leading portrait painter of his generation, who died 15 April 1925.
Below – “Girl Fishing”; “Two Women Asleep in a Punt under the Willows”; “Robert Louis Stevenson”; “An Out-Of-Doors Study”; “Morning Walk”; “Muddy Alligators”; “Theodore Roosevelt”; “Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a Wood”; “Self-Portrait.”
“Our freedom is but a light that breaks through from another world.” – Nikolay Gumilev, Russian poet, literary critic, traveler, and military officer, who was born 15 April 1886.
“Moon over the Sea”
The moon relinquished sharp-edge cliffs at sea line,
And with transparent gold: the waters shine;
On board of their pointed boat, this evening
The friends enjoy their heated glass of wine.
When looking at the clouds passing swiftly
Through the reflection of the moonlight post;
Some of the friends will find those clouds closely
Resembling the holy women’s ghosts.
Another group imagine those clouds
As heaven bound souls of pious men;
The third of friends insist without doubts,
The clouds resemble caravan of swans.
Fancies in Springtime: Steven Pinker
“As educational standards decline and pop culture disseminates the inarticulate ravings and unintelligible patois of surfers, jocks, and valley girls, we are turning into a nation of functioning illiterates […].
English itself will steadily decay unless we get back to basics and start to respect our language again.”
French Art – Part I of II: Zabh
A Second Poem for Today
By Conrad Hilberry
Let midnight gather up the wind
and the cry of tires on bitter snow.
Let midnight call the cold dogs home,
sleet in their fur—last one can blow
the streetlights out. If children sleep
after the day’s unfoldings, the wheel
of gifts and griefs, may their breathing
ease the strange hollowness we feel.
French Art – Part II of II: Catherine Rebeyre
Fancies in Springtime: Annie Dillard
“I was in no tent under leaves, sleepless and glad. There was no moon at all; along the world’s coasts the sea tides would be springing strong. The air itself also has lunar tides; I lay still. Could I feel in the air an invisible sweep and surge, and an answering knock in the lungs? Or could I feel the starlight? Every minute on a square mile of this land one ten thousandth of an ounce of starlight spatters to earth. What percentage of an ounce did that make on my eyes and cheeks and arms, tapping and nudging as particles, pulsing and stroking as waves?”
American Art – Part III of VII: Thomas Hart Benton
“Art is not life, nor a reproduction of life, but a representation carried out within the specific terms, conversions and limitations of the particular art used. Hence, absolute truth, with reference to objective fact, is not to be found in the business. The most realistic art is considerably removed from reality. Art does not give real things or imitations of real things. The thing that art gives is strained first through the artist’s selections and judgments, and then through the specific techniques
which he used to present them. If you are to enjoy an art, you must first accept its terms.” – Thomas Hart Benton, American painter and muralist, who was born 15 April 1889.
Below – “Arts of the West”; “High Plains”; “The Wreck of the Old ‘97”; “Achelous and Hercules”; “Deep South”; “Persephone”; “Cut the Line”; “Ballad of the Jealous Lover of Lone Green Valley”; “Martha’s Vineyard”; “Trail Riders.”
Fancies in Springtime: Richard Dawkins
“When we look at a solid lump of iron or rock, we are ‘really’ looking at what is almost entirely empty space. It looks and feels solid and opaque because our sensory systems and brains find it convenient to treat it as solid and opaque. It is convenient for the brain to represent a rock as solid because we can’t walk through it. ‘Solid’ is our way of experiencing things that we can’t walk through or fall through, because of the electromagnetic forces between atoms.”
From the Music Archives: Bessie Smith
“There’s nineteen men livin’ in my neighborhood –
eighteen of them are fools and the one ain’t no doggone good.” – Bessie Smith, nicknamed “The Empress of the Blues,” American jazz vocalist, who was born 15 April 1894.
“I am a person before anything else. I never say I am a writer. I never say I am an artist…I am a person who does those things.” – Edward Gorey, American person who wrote and drew in a darkly charming style, who died 15 April 2000.
“A Vagabond Song”
There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood—
Touch of manner, hint of mood;
And my heart is like a rhyme,
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time.
The scarlet of the maples can shake me like a cry
Of bugles going by.
And my lonely spirit thrills
To see the frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills.
There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir;
We must rise and follow her,
When from every hill of flame
She calls and calls each vagabond by name.
Fancies in Springtime: Bert Holdobler
“The foreign policy aim of ants can be summed up as follows: restless aggression, territorial conquest, and genocidal annihilation of neighboring colonies whenever possible. If ants had nuclear weapons, they would probably end the world in a week.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Georgian painter Rafael Ruben: “He works mainly with a palette knife, with which he, in oil paint of course, builds complex compositions with very rich colour circuits divided over the complete canvas.
Each new artwork of Rafael seems a continuation of his previous work. Together they form an impressive, coloured carpet of mythical components, placed in tight alignment, in which the inspiration from oriental topics and cultures is clearly recognizable.”
Rafael Ruben lives and works in the Netherlands.
A Third Poem for Today
By Gary Dop
In Normandy, at Point Du Hoc,
where some Rangers died,
Dad pointed to an old man
20 feet closer to the edge than us,
asking if I could see
the medal the man held
like a rosary.
As we approached the cliff
the man’s swearing, each bulleted
syllable, sifted back
toward us in the ocean wind.
I turned away,
but my shoulder was held still
by my father’s hand,
and I looked up at him
as he looked at the man.
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Russell Libby
measuring the height
of a pine from
Rosa’s shadow stretches
seven paces in
low-slanting light of
late Christmas afternoon.
One hundred thirty nine steps
up the hill until the sun is
finally caught at the top of the tree,
twenty to one,
one hundred feet plus a few to adjust
for climbing uphill,
and her hands barely reach mine
as we encircle the trunk,
almost eleven feet around.
Back to the lumber tables.
That one tree might make
three thousand feet of boards
if our hearts could stand
the sound of its fall.
Fancies in Springtime: Derrick Jensen
“People say ‘what do you mean’ when you talk about ‘bringing down civilization.’ What I really mean is depriving the rich of the ability to steal from the poor and depriving the powerful of the ability to destroy the planet. That’s what I really mean.”
Some quotes from Abraham Lincoln:
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
“When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.”
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”
“The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession.”
“The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.”
“Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.”
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”
“Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable – a most sacred right – a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world.”
“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”
“A friend is one who has the same enemies as you have.”
“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”
“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”
“Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?”
“Life is not a having and a getting, but a being and a becoming.” – Matthew Arnold, British poet and cultural critic, who died 15 April 1888.
The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
Fancies in Springtime: Daphne Sheldrick
“Animals are indeed more ancient, more complex and in many ways more sophisticated than us. They are more perfect because they remain within Nature’s fearful symmetry just as Nature intended. They should be respected and revered, but perhaps none more so than the elephant, the world’s most emotionally human land mammal.”
American Art – Part V of VII: Carolyn Epperly
Artist Statement: “After working in several media, I finally discovered watercolor. The splendid colors and the transparency allowed me to succeed in my goal of depicting dramatic light on an object. Although my favorite subjects are figures, I am fascinated by the influence of light on colorand impact. In fact, as I work, I am actually painting the light and its effect rather than the subject itself.”
“I do not see a delegation for the four-footed. I see no seat for the eagles. We forget and we consider ourselves superior, but we are after all a mere part of the Creation. And we must continue to understand where we are. And we stand between the mountain and the ant, somewhere and there only, as a part and parcel of the Creation. It is our responsibility since we have been given the minds to take care of these things.” – Oren R. Lyons, Jr. (born 1930), a Faithkeeper (an upholder of history and traditions) of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga and Seneca Nations.
Some quotes from the work of Oren R. Lyons, Jr.:
“The law says if you poison the water, you’ll die. The law says that if you poison the air, you’ll suffer. The law says if you degrade where you live, you’ll suffer… If you don’t learn that, you can only suffer. There’s no discussion with this law.”
“It seems to me that we are living in a time of prophecy, a time of definitions and decisions. We are the generation with the responsibilities and the option to choose the The Path of Life for the future of our children or the path which defies the Laws of Regeneration.”
“500 years ago, you came to our pristine lands of great forests, rolling plains, crystal clear lakes and streams and rivers. And we have suffered in your quest for God, for Glory, for Gold. But, we have survived. Can we survive another 500 years of ‘sustainable development?’ I don’t think so. Not in the definitions that put ‘sustainable’ in today. I don’t think so.”
“Although we are in different boats you in your boat and we in our canoe we share the same river of life.”
“The environment isn’t over here. The environment isn’t over there. You are the environment.”
“The young generation can influence their elders and can make them understand the environmental problems that are faced by us today. The youth can make them see that our environment is deteriorating day by day.”
“Global warming is real. It is imminent. It is upon us. It’s a lot closer than you think, and I don’t think we’re ready for what’s coming. We’re not instructing our people, we’re not instructing our children, we’re not preparing for what is coming. And it surely is coming. We’ve pulled the trigger, and there is nothing we can do now to stop it. The event is underway.”
“The chiefs, and I personally, feel that we have not passed the point of no return. Not yet, but we’re approaching it. And the day when we do pass that point, there will be no boom, no sonic sound. It will be just like any other day.”
“We can still alter our course. It is NOT too late. We still have options. We need the courage to change our values to the regeneration of our families, the life that surrounds us. Given this opportunity, we can raise ourselves. We must join hands with the rest of Creation and speak of Common Sense, Responsibility, Brotherhood, and PEACE. We must understand that The Law is the Seed and only as True Partners can we survive.”
Fancies in Springtime: Yann Martel
“The three-toed sloth lives a peaceful, vegetarian life in perfect harmony with its environment. A good-natured smile is forever on its lips…I have seen that smile with my own eyes. I am not one given to projecting human traits and emotions onto animals, but many a time during that month in Brazil, looking up at a sloth in repose, I felt I was in the presence of upside-down yogis deep in meditation or hermits deep in prayer, wise beings whose intense imaginative lives were beyond the reach of scientific probing.”
American Art – Part VI of VII: Michael Lasoff
Artist Statement: “My work as an open story. All the elements of a narrative are present as individual images within the painting. The viewer may arrange them in his own way. That’s not to say I have no intentions in my work. I am deeply involved in the ‘human situation’ and in that almost obsolete word, ‘beauty.’ However the power of effective visual art is that it speaks through itself and not language. My paintings speak for themselves.
Over the years I have developed a style that has no name nor can be placed within a movement. It is my own style and I think uniquely my own. It makes me happy to paint and even happier when my paintings speak to people in a positive way.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Pat Mora
Mouths full of laughter,
the turistas come to the tall hotel
with suitcases full of dollars.
Every morning my brother makes
the cool beach new for them.
With a wooden board he smooths
away all footprints.
I peek through the cactus fence
and watch the women rub oil
sweeter than honey into their arms and legs
while their children jump waves
or sip drinks from long straws,
coconut white, mango yellow.
Once my little sister
ran barefoot across the hot sand
for a taste.
Fancies in Springtime: Barry Lopez
Back from the Territory – Art: Rie Munoz (Part II)
Artist Statement: “My artwork can best be described as expressionism. The term applies to work that rejects camera snapshot realism, and instead, expresses emotion by distortion and strong colors. My paintings reflect an interest in the day-to-day activities of Alaskans such as fishing, berry picking, children at play, crabbing, and whaling. I am also fascinated with the legends of Alaska’s Native people. While I find much to paint around Juneau, most of my material comes from sketching trips taken to the far corners of Alaska. I’ve taught school on King Island in the Bering Sea, traveled and sketched almost every community in Alaska.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
A Sixth Poem for Today
“How Is It That the Snow”
By Robert Haight
How is it that the snow
amplifies the silence,
slathers the black bark on limbs,
heaps along the brush rows?
Some deer have stood on their hind legs
to pull the berries down.
Now they are ghosts along the path,
snow flecked with red wine stains.
Fancies in Springtime: Hunter S. Thompson
American Art – Part VII of VII: Jon Barnes
Jon Barnes is a self-taught San Diego photographer.