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

American Art – Part I of IV: Kent Askew

In the words of one writer, “Kent Askew has lived in San Diego since early childhood. His photography evolved to artistic expression as he sought to explain in a pictorial way why changes to certain landscapes have such a profound effect on people.”

Below – “Boulder Oaks”; “Reality”; “Buckman Eyes”; “La Posta Spring”; “Zen Ranch.”
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“Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge where there is no river.” –Nikita Krushchev, Russian leader of the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War, who was born 17 April 1894.

Some quotes from Nikita Krushchev:

“When you are skinning your customers, you should leave some skin on to heal, so that you can skin them again.”
“The press is our chief ideological weapon.”
“Do you think when two representatives holding diametrically opposing views get together and shake hands, the contradictions between our systems will simply melt away? What kind of a daydream is that?”
“The purpose of the United Nations should be to protect the essential sovereignty of nations, large and small.”
“Call it what you will, incentives are what get people to work harder.”
Economics is a subject that does not greatly respect one’s wishes.”
“Revolutions are not made for export.”
“What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying.”

Fancies in Springtime: Novala Takemoto

“Snow falling soundlessly in the middle of the night will always fill my heart with sweet clarity”
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Argentinean painter Martin Riwnyi (born 1972) earned a Fine Arts National Professor degree from Prilidiano Pueyrredon National Fine Arts School.
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“Any society that will give up a little liberty for a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” – Benjamin Franklin, a Founding Father of the United States, writer, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, statesman, diplomat, and author of “Poor Richard’s Almanac,” who died 17 April 1790.

Some quotes from “Poor Richard’s Almanac”:

“Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”
“Love your Enemies, for they tell you your Faults.”
“There cannot be good living where there is not good drinking.”
“To all apparent beauties blind, each blemish strikes an envious mind.”
“He that drinks his cider alone, let him catch his horse alone.”
“Necessity never made a good bargain.”
“Marry’d in haste, we oft repent at leisure.”
“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.”
“To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals.”
“He that lives upon hope will die fasting.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Barry Lopez

“In Antartica, The Wright and half a dozen other valleys in the Central Transantarctic Mountains are collectively referred to as the dry valleys. It has not rained here in two million years. No animal abides, no plant grows. A persistent, sometimes ferocious wind has stripped the country to stone and gravel, to streamers of sand. The huge valleys stand stark as empty fjords. You look in vain for any conventional sign of human history- the vestige of a protective wall, a bit of charcoal, a discarded arrowhead.

Nothing. There is no history, until you bore into the layers of rock or until the balls of your fingertips run the rim of a partially exposed fossil. At the height of the austral summer, in December, you smell nothing but the sunbeaten stone. In a silence dense as water, your eye picks up no movement but the sloughing of sand, seeking its angle of repose.

On the flight in from New Zealand it had occurred to me, from what I had read and heard, that Antarctica retained Earth’s primitive link, however tenuous, with space, with the void that stretched out to Jupiter and Uranus. At the seabird rookeries of the Canadian Arctic or on the grasslands of the Serengeti, you can feel the vitality of the original creation; in the dry valleys you sense sharply what came before. The Archeozoic is like fresh spoor here.”

Below – Wright Valley, Antarctica.
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American Art – Part II of IV: Louise Nevelson

“I have made my world and it is a much better world than I ever saw outside.” – Louise Nevelson, Russian-born American sculptor known for her monumental wooden pieces, who died 17 April 1988.

Below – “Sky Cathedral”; “Royal Tide IV”; “Dawn’s Wedding Chapel III.”
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A Poem for Today

“Gathering Leaves in Grade School”
By Judith Harris

They were smooth ovals,
and some the shade of potatoes—
some had been moth-eaten
or spotted, the maples
were starched, and crackled
like campfire.

We put them under tracing paper
and rubbed our crayons
over them, X-raying
the spread of their bones
and black, veined catacombs.

We colored them green and brown
and orange, and
cut them out along the edges,
labeling them deciduous
or evergreen.

All day, in the stuffy air of the classroom,
with its cockeyed globe,
and nautical maps of ocean floors,
I watched those leaves

lost in their own worlds
flap on the pins of the bulletin boards:
without branches or roots,
or even a sky to hold on to.
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Fancies in Springtime: John Constable

“It is the soul that sees; the outward eyes
Present the object, but the Mind descries.
We see nothing till we truly understand it.”

Below – John Constable: “Wivenhoe Park”
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“I believe that economists put decimal points in their forecasts to show they have a sense of humor.” – William Gilmore Simms, American novelist, short story writer, poet, and author of “The Cassique of Kiawah,” who was born 17 April 1806.

According to Edgar Allan Poe, William Gilmore Simms was both “The best novelist which this country has, on the whole, produced” and “immeasurably the greatest writer of fiction in America.” It is therefore regrettable that Simms has all but disappeared from reading lists in the United States. Regrettable, but perhaps not surprising, since Simms, born and raised in South Carolina, remained steadfastly loyal to the Confederacy, even in defeat. In the words of scholar David Aiken, William Gilmore Simms was purged from the canon of American literature because of the “unpardonable sin Simms committed when he published an account of Columbia’s destruction in which he dared to deny the North a righteous victory.” Critic Donald Davidson has suggested that, “The neglect of Simms’ stature is nothing less than a scandal when it results . . . in the disappearance of his books from the common market and therefore from the readers’ bookshelf. This is literary murder.”

Some critics find similarities between Simms’ “The Yemassee: A Romance of Carolina” and James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales.

Some quotes from the work of William Gilmore Simms:

“The proverb answers where the sermon fails, as a well-charged pistol will do more execution than a whole barrel of gunpowder idly exploded in the air.”
“Genius is the very eye of intellect and the wing of thought; it is always in advance of its time, and is the pioneer for the generation which it precedes.”
“No errors of opinion can possibly be dangerous in a country where opinion is left free to grapple with them.”
“Neither praise or blame is the object of true criticism. Justly to discriminate, firmly to establish, wisely to prescribe, and honestly to award. These are the true aims and duties of criticism.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Jim Goad

“Beware of anyone who calls you bad names merely for asking honest questions.”
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Here is one critic describing the artistry of Roman Zaslonov:
“Roman Zaslonov is one of the most celebrated artists of our time. Born in 1962, he studied for 13 years at the Russian Academy of Fine Arts in Minsk. Upon moving to France, he won instant acclaim (including First Prize at the Salon d’Automne in 1997) and gained a vast international following.
His paintings are stunning — visually, intellectually and emotionally arresting. They are filled with the most fantastic imagination and wit. His work has been variously described as surrealist, fantastical, neo-romantic, theatrical — but it defies categorization. Zaslonov is in a world that is entirely his own.”
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A Second Poem for Today

“The Crow”
By Kaelum Poulson

So beautiful
but often unseen
a maid of nature
the street cleaner that’s everywhere
never thanked
never liked
always ignored
so elegant in a way no one sees
but without it we would
be in trash up to our knees
with the heart of a lion
the mind of a fox
the color of the night sky
a crow
the unpaid workman
that helps in every way
each and every day
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Fancies in Springtime: Norman Maclean

“Ahead and to the west was our ranger station – and the mountains of Idaho, poems of geology stretching beyond any boundaries and seemingly even beyond the world.”
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From the Music Archives: Eddie Cochran

Died 17 April 1960 – Eddie Cochran, an American musician and songwriter whose songs have been covered by many great bands.

Here is the Artist Statement of Dutch painter Jolanda Richter (born 1971): “I don’t paint fashion-paintings since fashion is fast moving. My art is influenced by the spirit of the age, though ageless. I want to touch the midst of the human-being.”
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17 April 1397 – Geoffrey Chaucer reads aloud the “Canterbury Tales” for the first time at the court of Richard II. Chaucer scholars have also identified 17 April 1387 as the date when the book’s pilgrimage to Canterbury begins.

Happily, we can emulate Chaucer in this matter any time we wish:

“Canterbury Tales, General Prologue,” ll. 1-18

Whan that Aprill with his shoures sote°
The droghte° of Marche hath perced to the rote,°
And bathed every veyne° in swich licour,°
Of which vertu° engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus° eek with his swete breeth
Inspired° hath in every holt° and heeth°
The tendre croppes,° and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne;1
And smale fowles° maken melodye,
That slepen al the night with open yë°—
So priketh hem Nature in hir corages2—
Than longen° folk to goon° on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,3
To ferne halwes,° couthe° in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
The holy blisful martir4 for to seke,°
That hem hath holpen,° whan that they were seke.°

If your Middle English is a bit rusty:

When that April with his showers sweet
The drought of March has pierced root deep,
And bathed each vein with liquor of such power
That engendered from it is the flower,
When Zephyrus too with his gentle strife,
To every field and wood, has brought new life
In tender shoots, and the youthful sun
Half his course through the Ram has run,
And little birds are making melody,
Who all the night with open eye do sleep –
Nature their hearts in every way so pricks –
Then people long to go on pilgrimage,
And palmers who seek out foreign strands,
To far-off shrines, renowned in sundry lands;
And specially, from every shire’s end
Of England, down to Canterbury they wend,
The holy blissful martyr there to seek,
Who had aided them when they were sick.
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Fancies in Springtime: Rebecca Solnit

“One of the functions of landscape it to correspond to, nurture, and provoke exploration of the landscape of the imagination. Space to walk is also space to think, and I think that’s one thing landscapes give us: places to think longer, more uninterrupted thoughts or thoughts to a rhythm other than the staccato of navigating the city.”
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Here is one critic describing the artistry of Australian painter Herbert Badham (1899-1961): “In his own work Badham tended to concentrate on domestic or mundane subjects which he recorded with meticulous detail but which also tend to be imbued with a sense of the uncanny. This busy scene with some of its perspective distorted by mirrors and windows is no exception, as we loose our ability to distinguish between what is real and what is reflection.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Hanshin

“All Heaven and Earth
Flowered white obliterate…
Snow…unceasing snow.”
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The Pulitzer Prize – Part I of II: Carl Sagan

17 April 1978 – Carl Sagan wins the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction for “The Dragons of Eden.”

“In general, human societies are not innovative. They are hierarchical and ritualistic. Suggestions for change are greeted with suspicion: they imply an unpleasant future variation in ritual and hierarchy: an exchange of one set of rituals for another, or perhaps for a less structured society with fewer rituals. And yet there are times when societies must change.” – from “The Dragons of Eden”
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Here is one critic describing the artistry of Thai painter Uab Sanasen (born 1935): “(He) is an artist whose creative vision, whilst not being so esoteric that it renders his work inaccessible, is still pitched far enough ahead to be thought provoking and instrumental in broadening the perspective of his audience.”
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Fancies in Springtime: W.G. Hoskins

“Poets make the best topographers.”

Below – Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.
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The Pulitzer Prize – Part II of II: Larry McMurtry

17 April 1986 – Larry McMurtry wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “Lonesome Dove.”

“It’s like I told you last night son. The earth is mostly just a boneyard. But pretty in the sunlight, he added.” – from “Lonesome Dove”
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A Third Poem for Today

“My name came from . . .”
Emmett Tenorio Melendez

My name came from my great-great-great-grandfather.
He was an Indian from the Choctaw tribe.
His name was Dark Ant.
When he went to get a job out in a city
he changed it to Emmett.
And his whole name was Emmett Perez Tenorio.
And my name means: Ant; Strong; Carry twice
its size.
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Fancies in Springtime: Reinhold Messner

“Seen from above, landscapes are made up of mountains and watercourses. Just as a transparent model of the human body consists of a framework of bone and a network of arteries, the earth’s crust is structured in mountain ridges, river, creeks, and gullies.”
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Here is the Artist Statement of Korean painter Park Min-Joon (born 1971): “The main subjects of my work are three: life, death, and eternity. These three subjects foam a foundation of all my work; each piece of artwork has specifically different stories. Those stories are based on Greek and Roman mythology, religious stories, Egyptian mythology and even the Eastern philosophy. However, I do not limit my thought in a particular philosophy. Actually, my work depicts stories of human beings: the current of time, nation and generation. On the one hand, my work looks more realistic when viewers see it through the lens of a traditional viewpoint. On the other hand, it looks enlightening when one sees it through the lens of a contemporary point of view. My work is located at the borderline between contemporary paintings and traditional paintings. That is I pursue the craftsmanship of great masters of the past while addressing contemporary issues at the same time.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Ali Benjamin

“If people were silent, they could hear the noise of their own lives better. If people were silent, it would make what they did say, whenever they chose to say it, more important. If people were silent, they could read one another’s signals, the way underwater creatures flash lights at one another, or turn their skin different colors.”
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“The air was cold to the lungs, the long grass dripping wet, and the herbs on it gave out their spiced astringent scent. In a little while on all sides the Cicada would begin to sing. The grass was me, and the air, the distant invisible mountains were me, the tired oxen were me. I breathed with the slight night-wind in the thorn trees.” – Karen von Blixen-Finecke, known by her pen name Isak Dinesen, Danish writer and author of “Out of Africa” and “Seven Gothic Tales,” who was born 17 April 1885.

Peter Englund, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, described it as “a mistake” that Blixen was not awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature during the 1930s.

Some quotes from Isak Dinesen:

“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.”
“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.”
“To be lonely is a state of mind, something completely other than physical solitude; when modern authors rant about the soul’s intolerable loneliness, it is only proof of their own intolerable emptiness.”
“When in the end, the day came on which I was going away, I learned the strange learning that things can happen which we ourselves cannot possibly imagine, either beforehand, or at the time when they are taking place, or afterwards when we look back on them.”
“Through all the world there goes one long cry from the heart of the artist: Give me leave to do my utmost!”
“What is man, when you come to think upon him, but a minutely set, ingenious machine for turning, with infinite artfulness, the red wine of Shiraz into urine?”
“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.”
“When you have a great and difficult task, something perhaps almost impossible, if you only work a little at a time, every day a little, suddenly the work will finish itself.”
“I think it will be truly glorious when women become real people and have the whole world open to them.”
“I don’t believe in evil, I believe only in horror. In nature there is no evil, only an abundance of horror: the plagues and the blights and the ants and the maggots.”
“Love, with very young people, is a heartless business. We drink at that age from thirst, or to get drunk; it is only later in life that we occupy ourselves with the individuality of our wine.”
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Fancies in Springtime: David Self

“So many other planets & stars — could all those stars set over barren planets, beauty wasted? Or, are sunsets witnessed throughout the universe?”
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American Art – Part III of IV: Carrie Graber

Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Carrie Graber (born 1975): “Carrie Graber is considered to be among the most talented, exciting and well-collected artists in the world today. With her warm tones and exquisite control of illumination creating a perfect composition of light and contrast, Carrie captures the beauty and subtlety of familiar environments, which are often overlooked. Her soft, realistic but also bold approach warms the viewers’ senses and creates a feeling of intimacy. This is the link between Carrie and one of her main influences, Dutch master painter Vermeer.


 Carrie Graber has always been fascinated with the human figure. 
Scholars and experts from several different institutions have predicted that as our aesthetics evolve, art will become less reliant on overt color, and come to depend more on the subtle interplay of light and shadow. Ms. Graber’s work is perfectly suited for the new millennium.”
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Fancies in Springtime: James Rozoff

“Forget scientists. The next space launch we should send up painters, poets and musicians. I’d be more interested in what they discover than anything that takes place in a test tube.”

A Fourth Poem for Today

“Bushwick: Latex Flat”
By D. Nurkse

Sadness of just-painted rooms.
We clean our tools
meticulously, as if currying horses:
the little nervous sash brush
to be combed and primped,
the fat old four-inchers
that lap up space
to be wrapped and groomed,
the ceiling rollers,
the little pencils
that cover nailheads
with oak gloss,
to be counted and packed:
camped on our dropsheets
we stare across gleaming floors
at the door and beyond it
the old city full of old rumors
of conspiracies, gunshots, market crashes:
with a little mallet
we tap our lids closed,
holding our breath, holding our lives
in suspension for a moment:
an extra drop will ruin everything.
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Fancies in Springtime: Mary Oliver

“Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness.”
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Back from the Territory – Art: Rie Munoz (Part IV)

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.

Below – “Nikita”; “Noatak”; “On the Yukon”; “Osprey and Ravens”; “Pearl.”
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A Fifth Poem for Today

“Prayer for the Dead”
By Stuart Kestenbaum

The light snow started late last night and continued
all night long while I slept and could hear it occasionally
enter my sleep, where I dreamed my brother
was alive again and possessing the beauty of youth, aware
that he would be leaving again shortly and that is the lesson
of the snow falling and of the seeds of death that are in everything
that is born: we are here for a moment
of a story that is longer than all of us and few of us
remember, the wind is blowing out of someplace
we don’t know, and each moment contains rhythms
within rhythms, and if you discover some old piece
of your own writing, or an old photograph,
you may not remember that it was you and even if it was once you,
it’s not you now, not this moment that the synapses fire
and your hands move to cover your face in a gesture
of grief and remembrance.
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Fancies in Springtime: Albert Payson Terhune

“Soon or late, every dog’s master’s memory becomes a graveyard; peopled by wistful little furry ghosts that creep back unbidden, at times, to a semblance of their olden lives.”

Below – Albert Payson Terhune with some of his Sunnybank collies; Robert Neralich, age 10, with Tippie, his dream dog.
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American Art – Part IV of IV: Leah Younker

Leah Younker is a San Diego-based artist.

Below – “Red Bus”; “Looking East”; “One-Note Song”; “Lucky Lady.”
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