American Art – Part I of IV: Minghua Nie
In the words of one writer, “Minghua Nie is a full time scientist and mother with a post-doctoral degree in Molecular Biology. She developed a serious interest in photography in 2010 and began capturing the scenic coastal city of San Diego.”
From the Music Archives: Alan Price
Born 19 April 1942 – Alan Price, an English musician best known as the original keyboardist for the British band The Animals.
Here is the Artist Statement of Indian painter Niladri Paul (born 1986): “I have been painting for as long as I can remember. Even before I knew it was called art. From the moment I first held a pencil in my hand, I started doodling , much to the exasperation of my parents and teachers. I would draw on anything and everything, from blank papers, walls, newspapers, sand and of course sketch books also at times, when provided. So it was a natural progression to join the art college and learn the fine nuances of the craft. And thus started the colourful journey of my life.
My art is not a social critique of our times, as I strongly feel that I am an artist and my language ought to be simple and forthright enough for everybody to understand and relate to, rather than just being read and applauded by a few art critics only.”
A Poem for Today
“Facing West From California’s Shores”
By Walt Whitman
Facing west, from California’s shores,
Inquiring, tireless, seeking what is yet unfound,
I, a child, very old, over waves, towards the house of maternity, the
land of migrations, look afar,
Look off the shores of my Western Sea–the circle almost circled;
For, starting westward from Hindustan, from the vales of Kashmere,
From Asia–from the north–from the God, the sage, and the hero,
From the south–from the flowery peninsulas, and the spice islands;
Long having wander’d since–round the earth having wander’d,
Now I face home again–very pleas’d and joyous;
(But where is what I started for, so long ago?
And why is it yet unfound?)
Fancies in Springtime: Richard Erdoes
“I think it was a sense of being completely swallowed up by nature that gave the prairie its powerful attraction. There is nothing like it in all of Europe. Even high up on a Swiss glacier one is still conscious of the toy villages below, the carefully groomed landscape of multicolored fields, the faraway ringing of a church bell. It is all very beautiful, but it does not convey the utmost escape. I believe, with the Indians, that a landscape influences and forms the people living on it and that one cannot understand them and make friends with them without also understanding, and making friends with, the earth from which they came.”
Today is known as Bicycle Day because, on 19 April 1943, Swiss chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann purposefully ingested 250 micrograms of LSD. He started to feel the effects of the drug while riding home on a bike, and thus unfolded the first intentional acid trip.
Here is a very different, and to my mind far more significant sort of “trip” that Hofmann experienced in his youth: “There are experiences that most of us are hesitant to speak about, because they do not conform to everyday reality and defy rational explanation. These are not particular external occurrences, but rather events of our inner lives, which are generally dismissed as figments of the imagination and barred from our memory. Suddenly, the familiar view of our surroundings is transformed in a strange, delightful, or alarming way: it appears to us in a new light, takes on a special meaning. Such an experience can be as light and fleeting as a breath of air, or it can imprint itself deeply upon our minds.
One enchantment of that kind, which I experienced in childhood, has remained remarkably vivid in my memory ever since. It happened on a May morning — I have forgotten the year — but I can still point to the exact spot where it occurred, on a forest path on Martinsberg above Baden, Switzerland. As I strolled through the freshly greened woods filled with bird song and lit up by the morning sun, all at once everything appeared in an uncommonly clear light. Was this something I had simply failed to notice before? Was I suddenly discovering the spring forest as it actually looked? It shone with the most beautiful radiance, speaking to the heart, as though it wanted to encompass me in its majesty. I was filled with an indescribable sensation of joy, oneness, and blissful security.
I have no idea how long I stood there spellbound. But I recall the anxious concern I felt as the radiance slowly dissolved and I hiked on: how could a vision that was so real and convincing, so directly and deeply felt — how could it end so soon? And how could I tell anyone about it, as my overflowing joy compelled me to do, since I knew there were no words to describe what I had seen? It seemed strange that I, as a child, had seen something so marvelous, something that adults obviously did not perceive — for I had never heard them mention it.
While still a child, I experienced several more of these deeply euphoric moments on my rambles through forest and meadow. It was these experiences that shaped the main outlines of my world view and convinced me of the existence of a miraculous, powerful, unfathomable reality that was hidden from everyday sight.” – from “LSD: My Problem Child”
Italian Art – Part I of II: Paolo Veronese
Died 19 April 1588 – Paolo Caliari, known as Paolo Veronese, an Italian Renaissance painter who lived in Venice.
Fancies in Springtime: Barry Lopez
“To grasp the movement of the sun in the Arctic is no simple task. Imagine standing precisely at the North Pole on June 21, the summer solstice. Your feet rest on a crust of snow and windblown ice. If you chip the snow away you find the sea ice, grayish white and opaque. Six or seven feet underneath is the Arctic Ocean, dark, about 29°F and about 13,000 feet deep. You are standing 440 miles from the nearest piece of land, the tiny island of Oodaaq off the coast of northern Greenland. You stand in each of the world’s twenty-four time zones and north of every point on earth. On this day the sun is making a flat 360° orbit exactly 23½° above the horizon.”
Hath been to me a more familiar face
Than that of man; and in her starry shade
Of dim and solitary loveliness
I learned the language of another world.” – From “Don Juan,” by
George Gordon Byron, English poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement, who died 19 April 1824.
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.” – From “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,”
Italian Art – Part II of II: Linda Carrara
Nobel Laureate: Octavio Paz
“No one behind, no one ahead.
The path the ancients cleared has closed.
And the other path, everyone’s path,
easy and wide, goes nowhere.
I am alone and find my way.” – Octavio Paz, Mexican poet, diplomat, writer, and recipient of the 1990 Nobel Prize for Literature “for impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity,” who died 19 April 1998.
“Between Going and Staying”
Between going and staying the day wavers,
in love with its own transparency.
The circular afternoon is now a bay
where the world in stillness rocks.
All is visible and all elusive,
all is near and can’t be touched.
Paper, book, pencil, glass,
rest in the shade of their names.
Time throbbing in my temples repeats
the same unchanging syllable of blood.
The light turns the indifferent wall
into a ghostly theater of reflections.
I find myself in the middle of an eye,
watching myself in its blank stare.
Fancies in Springtime: Marc Bekoff
“In my own field, I know that solid science can easily be done with ethics and compassion. There’s nothing wrong with compassionate or sentimental science or scientists. Studies of animal thought, emotions, and self-awareness, as well as behavioral ecology and conservation biology, can all be compassionate as well as scientifically rigorous. Science and the ethical treatment of animals aren’t incompatible. We can do solid science with an open mind and a big heart.
I encourage everyone to go where their hearts take them, with love, not fear. If we all travel this road, the world will be a better place for all beings. Kinder and more humane choices will be made when we let our hearts lead the way. Compassion begets compassion and caring for and loving animals spills over into compassion and caring for humans. The umbrella of compassion is very important to share freely and widely.”
Born 19 April 1898 – Sybil Andrews, a British-born Canadian printmaker best known for her modernist linocuts. (In the words of one art historian: “Linocut is a printmaking technique, a variant of woodcut in which a sheet of linoleum [sometimes mounted on a wooden block] is used for the relief surface. A design is cut into the linoleum surface with a sharp knife, V-shaped chisel or gouge, with the raised [uncarved] areas representing a reversal [mirror image] of the parts to show printed. The linoleum sheet is inked with a roller [called a brayer], and then impressed onto paper or fabric. The actual printing can be done by hand or with a press.”)
A Second Poem for Today
“To Katharine: At Fourteen Months”
By Joelle Biele
All morning, you’ve studied the laws
of spoons, the rules of books, the dynamics
of the occasional plate, observed the principles
governing objects in motion and objects
at rest. To see if it will fall, and if it does,
how far, if it will rage like a lost penny
or ring like a Chinese gong—because
it doesn’t have to—you lean from your chair
and hold your cup over the floor.
It curves in your hand, it weighs in your palm,
it arches like a wave, it is a dipper
Fancies in Springtime: Richard Powers
“Science is not about control. It is about cultivating a perpetual condition of wonder in the face of something that forever grows one step richer and subtler than our latest theory about it. It is about reverence, not mastery.”
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” – Charles Darwin, English naturalist, geologist, and author of “On the Origin of Species,” one of the most scientifically important and intellectually liberating books in the history of our species, who died 19 April 1882.
“An American monkey, after getting drunk on brandy, would never touch it again, and thus is much wiser than most men.”
“We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities… still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.”
“The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”
“If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.”
“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”
“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.”
“If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.”
“I am not apt to follow blindly the lead of other men.”
“I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my father, brother and almost all of my friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine.”
“The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognise that we ought to control our thoughts.”
“I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.”
“Blushing is the most peculiar and most human of all expressions.”
“Intelligence is based on how efficient a species became at doing the things they need to survive.”
“Besides love and sympathy, animals exhibit other qualities connected with the social instincts which in us would be called moral.”
“As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.”
“Nothing is easier than to admit in words the truth of the universal struggle for life, or more difficult–at least I have found it so–than constantly to bear this conclusion in mind.”
“We can allow satellites, planets, suns, universe, nay whole systems of universe, to be governed by laws, but the smallest insect, we wish to be created at once by special act.”
“Great is the power of steady misrepresentation”
“I am not the least afraid to die.”
Here is one crtic describing the artistry of French painter Denis Fremond: “His paintings have an inherent glamour, reminiscent settings favoured by authors such as F Scott Fitzgerald. The environments he paints are intimate yet reflexive. They exude mystery; while these settings are recognisable – a villa on the Amalfi, a Parisian brasserie, a New York apartment – the circumstances are ambiguous.
Cropped like movie stills, Fremond’s compositions often feature a lone figure, not the subject of the composition but a fixture: a piece of furniture or a prop. Reminiscent of the great American painter Edward Hopper, there is a loaded sense of some impending action or drama as we are transported beyond the canvas and into the realm of their thoughts. His paintings are spacious and airy, with a restrained palette rendering the scenes peaceful and meditative.”
Fancies in Springtime: Frank Herbert
“The thing the ecologically illiterate don’t realise about an ecosystem is that it’s a system. A system! A system maintains a certain fluid stability that can be destroyed by a misstep in just one niche. A system has order, flowing from point to point. If something dams that flow, order collapses. The untrained might miss that collapse until it was too late. That’s why the highest function of ecology is the understanding of consequences.”
A Third Poem for Today
By Patrick Phillips
Touched by your goodness, I am like
that grand piano we found one night on Willoughby
that someone had smashed and somehow
heaved through an open window.
And you might think by this I mean I’m broken
or abandoned, or unloved. Truth is, I don’t
know exactly what I am, any more
than the wreckage in the alley knows
it’s a piano, filling with trash and yellow leaves.
Maybe I’m all that’s left of what I was.
But touching me, I know, you are the good
breeze blowing across its rusted strings.
American Tragedy – Part I of II: Waco, Texas, 19 April 1993
“I’m not emotional.” – David Koresh, born Vernon Wayne Howell, American leader of the Branch Davidians religious sect, who died 19 April 1993. In the words of one historian, “A 1993 raid by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the subsequent siege by the FBI ended with the burning of the Branch Davidian ranch outside of Waco, Texas, in McLennan County. Koresh, 54 other adults, and 28 children were found dead after the fire.”
American Art – Part II of IV: Ryan S. Brown
Here is one critic describing the background of painter Ryan S. Brown: “By the time he was a senior in high school Ryan had decided to pursue art as a profession. This pursuit led him to Brigham Young University where he studied Illustration, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2002. While finishing his studies at BYU, Ryan became aware of the deficiencies in his University education. Because his interests were in the academic and naturalist traditions of the nineteenth century, it became necessary for him to get the foundational drawing and painting training not offered at the university. In his senior year at BYU, Ryan began studying with William Whitaker, a renowned portrait and figurative painter. Soon after this, Ryan entered the Florence Academy of Art, where he received his first taste of Academic training. The organized, intense and concise training of the Florence Academy provided Ryan with what he considers the beginning of his understanding of the craft of art. This training not only gave Ryan a deep understanding and love of drawing, but also developed in him a strong self-discipline and work ethic, as well as an insatiable appetite for learning.”
Fancies in Springtime: Henry David Thoreau
“In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and the future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line.”
American Tragedy – Part II of II: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 19 April 1995
“Based on observations of the policies of my own government, I viewed this action as an acceptable option.” – Timothy McVeigh,
the man convicted of the bomb attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The bombing killed 168 people and injured more than 680 others. In the words of one historian, “Motivated by his hatred of the federal government and angered by what he perceived as its mishandling of the 1993 Waco siege and the Ruby Ridge incident in 1992, McVeigh timed his attack to coincide with the second anniversary of the deadly fire that ended the siege at Waco.”
Fancies in Springtime: Keith Meldahl
“Colorado and Wyoming are America’s highest states, averaging 6,800 feet and 6,700 feet above sea level. Utah comes in third at 6,100 feet, New Mexico, Nevada, and Idaho each break 5,000 feet, and the rest of the field is hardly worth mentioning. At 3,400 feet, Montana is only half as high as Colorado, and Alaska, despite having the highest peaks, is even further down the list at 1,900 feet. Colorado has more fourteeners than all the other U.S. states combined, and more than all of Canada too. Colorado’s lowest point (3,315 feet along the Kansas border) is higher than the highest point in twenty other states. Rivers begin here and flow away to all the points of the compass. Colorado receives no rivers from another state (unless you count the Green River’s’ brief in and out from Utah).Wyoming’s Wind River Range is the only mountain in North America that supplies water to all three master streams of the American West: Missouri, Colorado, and Columbia rivers.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Rick Campbell
My heart was suspect.
Wired to an EKG,
I walked a treadmill
that measured my ebb
and flow, tracked isotopes
that ploughed my veins,
looked for a constancy
I’ve hardly ever found.
For a month I worried
as I climbed the stairs
to my office. The mortality
I never believed in
was here now. They
say my heart’s ok,
just high cholesterol, but
I know my heart’s a house
someone has broken into,
a room you come back
to and know some stranger
with bad intent has been there
and touched all that you love. You know
he can come back. It’s his call,
his house now.
Fancies in Springtime: Anne Sexton
American Art – Part III of IV: Forrest Rodts
Here is one critic describing the background and artistry of painter Forrest Rodts: “Forrest Rodts was born in 1960. Throughout his childhood he moved frequently with his family, but always spent his summers on Nantucket. Rodts traces his ancestry to some of the earliest settlers on the island. His family’s home in Siasconset was originally built by a whaling captain and has been passed down through the generations for more than 250 years.
Nantucket became the most important influence on his painting during his early years. A self-taught artist, Rodts began showing his paintings while still in college, with the Artist Association of Nantucket. In 1983 he graduated from Hobart College with a B.A. in Economics and a minor in Fine Arts. In 1988 he set up his first full one-man show at the New Street Gallery in Siasconset. Since then, Rodts has continuously exhibited on Nantucket, currently showing at Quidley and Company on Main Street.
In 1994 Rodts moved from Boston to Marblehead, Massachusetts, where he currently lives with his wife, Linda. With a shared interest in architecture and historic preservation, they set about restoring an antique home, and now raise their two boys there. Rodts finds Marblehead and the Cape Ann coast the ideal location for his study of sailing and of the complexities of water and light. His marine portraits exhibit a passion for maritime history. Through an exploration of his family’s whaling past and our country’s sailing tradition, Rodts captures the drama of breathtaking sunsets, explosive skies, sparkling blue seas and peaceful vistas. He combines color, light and meticulous draftsmanship in finely detailed acrylic landscapes, seascapes and still lifes that reflect his long-standing affection for the ocean and the serene New England coastline.”
From the American History Archives: The American Revolution
19 April 1775 – The American Revolution begins when Lexington Militia Captain John Parker collects his “Minutemen” and engages British troops, first on Lexington Common and then along the five mile “Battle Road Trail” to Concord.
“Concord Hymn,” by Ralph Waldo Emerson
(the original title of this poem was “Hymn. Sung at the Completion of Concord Monument, April 19, 1836”)
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set today a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Veronica Patterson
when I come late to bed
I move your leg flung over my side—
that warm gate
nights you’re not here
I inch toward the middle
of this boat, balancing
when I turn over in sleep
you turn, I turn, you turn,
I turn, you
some nights you tug the edge
of my pillow under your cheek,
look in my dream
Fancies in Springtime: Daniel J. Rice
Back from the Territory – Art: Rie Munoz (Part VI)
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.
Fancies in Springtime: Robert M. Pirsig
A Sixth Poem for Today
“Planting the Sand Cherry”
By Ann Struthers
Today I planted the sand cherry with red leaves—
and hope that I can go on digging in this yard,
pruning the grape vine, twisting the silver lace
on its trellis, the one that bloomed
just before the frost flowered over all the garden.
Next spring I will plant more zinnias, marigolds,
straw flowers, pearly everlasting, and bleeding heart.
I plant that for you, old love, old friend,
and lilacs for remembering. The lily-of-the-valley
with cream-colored bells, bent over slightly, bowing
to the inevitable, flowers for a few days, a week.
Now its broad blade leaves are streaked with brown
and the stem dried to a pale hair.
In place of the silent bells, red berries
like rose hips blaze close to the ground.
It is important for me to be down on my knees,
my fingers sifting the black earth,
making those things grow which will grow.
Sometimes I save a weed if its leaves
are spread fern-like, hand-like,
or if it grows with a certain impertinence.
I let the goldenrod stay and the wild asters.
I save the violets in spring. People who kill violets
will do anything.
Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan
American Art – Part IV of IV: Marshall Vanderhoof
In the words of one writer, “Marshall Vanderhoof is an award-winning fine art photographer based out of San Diego, California. He has the luxury of having the coast, mountains, and local deserts all within a short distance.
His great grandmother gave him his first camera so he could take pictures while I was at camp. From that point on Marshall has always had a passion for photography.
As he got older, instead of following his creative ideas and passions he spent 8 plus years in the U.S. Army, got a B.S. Degree in Accountancy from National University in San Diego, CA and a couple of years later finished an MBA at the University of San Diego, in San Diego, CA.
Since something was missing Marshall went back to his roots and started taking photographs in any free time he could find and started taking photography classes. In 2013 he graduated with honors with a Certificate of Photography from San Diego City College.”