American Art – Part I of VI: Stacy D’Aguiar
In the words of one writer, “Stacy D’Aguiar is an established San Diego artist whose work is known for having a wide range of styles from surrealistic to abstract.”
A Poem for Today
“A Workman to the Gods”
By Edwin Markham
Once Phidias stood, with hammer in his hand,
Carving Minerva from the breathing stone,
Tracing with love the winding of a hair,
A single hair upon her head, whereon
A youth of Athens cried, “O Phidias,
Why do you dally on a hidden hair?
When she is lifted to the lofty front
Of the Parthenon, no human eye will see.”
And Phidias thundered on him: “Silence, slave:
Men will not see, but the Immortals will!”
Born 23 April 1775 – J.M.W. Turner, an English landscape painter, watercolorist, and printmaker.
Below – “Ivy Bridge”; “Rain, Steam, and Speed – The Great Western Railway”; “Snow Storm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps”; “Heaving in Coals by Moonlight”; “Paestrum in the Storm”; “Self-Portrait.”
Fancies in Springtime: Christopher Lasch
“The contemporary climate is therapeutic, not religious. People today hunger not for personal salvation, let alone for the restoration of an earlier golden age, but for the feeling, the momentary illusion, of personal well-being, health, and psychic security.”
Literary Genius – Part I of II: Miguel de Cervantes
“It’s up to brave hearts, sir, to be patient when things are going badly, as well as being happy when they’re going well … For I’ve heard that what they call fortune is a flighty woman who drinks too much, and, what’s more, she’s blind, so she can’t see what she’s doing, and she doesn’t know who she’s knocking over or who she’s raising up.” –
Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish novelist, poet, playwright, and author of “Don Quixote,” one of the major works of Western literature, who died 23 April 1616.
Some quotes from “Don Quixote”:
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
“All I know is that while I’m asleep, I’m never afraid, and I have no hopes, no struggles, no glories — and bless the man who invented sleep, a cloak over all human thought, food that drives away hunger, water that banishes thirst, fire that heats up cold, chill that moderates passion, and, finally, universal currency with which all things can be bought, weight and balance that brings the shepherd and the king, the fool and the wise, to the same level. There’s only one bad thing about sleep, as far as I’ve ever heard, and that is that it resembles death, since there’s very little difference between a sleeping man and a corpse”
“Time ripens all things; no man is born wise.”
“Remember that there are two kinds of beauty: one of the soul and the other of the body. That of the soul displays its radiance in intelligence, in chastity, in good conduct, in generosity, and in good breeding, and all these qualities may exist in an ugly man. And when we focus our attention upon that beauty, not upon the physical, love generally arises with great violence and intensity. I am well aware that I am not handsome, but I also know that I am not deformed, and it is enough for a man of worth not to be a monster for him to be dearly loved, provided he has those spiritual endowments I have spoken of.”
“Virtue is persecuted by the wicked more than it is loved by the good.”
“Drink moderately, for drunkenness neither keeps a secret, nor observes a promise.”
“Make it thy business to know thyself, which is the most difficult lesson in the world”
“‘Destiny guides our fortunes more favorably than we could have expected. Look there, Sancho Panza, my friend, and see those thirty or so wild giants, with whom I intend to do battle and kill each and all of them, so with their stolen booty we can begin to enrich ourselves. This is noble, righteous warfare, for it is wonderfully useful to God to have such an evil race wiped from the face of the earth.’
‘What giants?’ Asked Sancho Panza.
‘The ones you can see over there,’ answered his master, ‘with the huge arms, some of which are very nearly two leagues long.’
‘Now look, your grace,’ said Sancho, ‘what you see over there aren’t giants, but windmills, and what seems to be arms are just their sails, that go around in the wind and turn the millstone.’
‘Obviously,’ replied Don Quijote, ‘you don’t know much about adventures.’”
Fancies in Springtime: Bill Watterson
“Some days you get up and you already know that things aren’t going to go well. They’re the type of days when you should just give in, put your pajamas back on, make some hot chocolate and read comic books in bed with the covers up until the world looks more encouraging. Of course, they never let you do that.”
Literary Genius – Part II of II: William Shakespeare
“Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage.” – William Shakespeare, English poet, playwright, actor, and both the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist, who died 23 April 1616.
Some quotes from the work of William Shakespeare:
“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”
“I would challenge you to a battle of wits, but I see you are unarmed!”
“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”
“We know what we are, but not what we may be.”
“Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find.”
“To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.”
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.”
American Art – Part II of VI: Gregory Calibey
Painter Gregory Calibey (born 1959) studied fine art at Wesleyan University and the University of North Carolina. Among the artists who have influenced him, he cites Degas, Sargent, and Rodin.
A Second Poem for Today
By Steven Huff
You used to be able to flag a ride in this country.
Impossible now—everyone is afraid
of strangers. Well, there was fear then too,
and it was mutual: drivers versus hitchhikers.
And we rode without seat belts,
insurance or beliefs. People
would see me far ahead on a hill like a seedling,
watch me grow in the windshield
and not know they were going to stop until
they got right up to me. Maybe they wanted
company or thought I’d give them
some excitement. It was the age
of impulse, of lonesome knee jerks. An old woman
stopped, blew smoke in my face
and after I was already in her car she asked me
if I wanted a ride. I’m telling you.
Late one night a construction boss pulled over.
One of his crew had been hit
by the mob, he said as he drove, distraught
and needing to talk to someone.
We rode around for a long time.
He said, ‘I never wore a gun to a funeral before,
but they’ve gotta be after me too.’
Then he looked at me and patted the bulge
in his coat. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said, ‘you’re safe.’
Fancies in Springtime: Thomm Quackenbush
“Snow is both our best friend and worst enemy. Best friend because it shows us in a concrete form the paths others have taken to get where they are. Worst enemy because it will tell such tales of us if we chance upon it. I find poetry in snow that cannot be resisted. In a way, it is the closest to time travel most civilians will ever manage.”
A Third Poem for Today
If there were a monument
to silence, it would not be
the tree whose leaves
nor would it be the pond
whose seeming stillness
by the quicksilver
surfacing of fish.
In the words of one art historian, “The artwork of Gabriel Bonmati (1928-2005) is a mixture of choice ingredients inspired by his travels around the world. It all started in Morocco in 1928, when he was born into a French/Spanish household. He began his studies in French, which eventually lead him to the Paris School of Fine Arts. From 1952-1965 he taught at a girls’ high school in Casablanca. At that time, he was also painting and began to exhibit his work in 1965. The same year he was appointed head of the Educational Documentation Center at the Nice Academy by the French ministry of Education. Although he had a successful career, he continued to paint and exhibit in Menton, Monte Carlo and Nice.
Growing up in Morocco, educated in France, and inspired by Quebec, Gabriel Bonmati dismisses nothing he was exposed to. His romantic paintings are an accumulation of his travels and experiences. He often paints women of nobility that are adorned with bejeweled headdresses in a middle-eastern décor, seemingly set in the mountains of Charlevoix. Every so often, he incorporates symbolic royal elements like kings and horses into his pieces. Most striking are his delicate female figures that seem to invite the viewer into the Bonmati world. In this imaginary world, they are the queens and we are their subordinates.”
Nobel Laureate: Halldor Laxness
“Whoever doesn’t live in poetry cannot survive here on earth.” – Halldor Laxness, Icelandic writer, author of “Independent People,” and recipient of the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his vivid epic power which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland,” who was born 23 April 1902.
Some quotes from the work of Halldor Laxness:
“Human beings, in point of fact, are lonely by nature, and one should feel sorry for them and love them and mourn with them. It is certain that people would understand one another better and love one another more if they would admit to one another how lonely they were, how sad they were in their tormented, anxious longings and feeble hopes.”
“Shortly afterwards it started raining, very innocently at first, but the sky was packed tight with cloud and gradually the drops grew bigger and heavier, until it was autumn’s dismal rain that was falling—rain that seemed to fill the entire world with its leaden beat, rain suggestive in its dreariness of everlasting waterfalls between the planets, rain that thatched the heavens with drabness and brooded oppressively over the whole countryside, like a disease, strong in the power of its flat, unvarying monotony, its smothering heaviness, its cold, unrelenting cruelty. Smoothly, smoothly it fell, over the whole shire, over the fallen marsh grass, over the troubled lake, the iron-grey gravel flats, the sombre mountain above the croft, smudging out every prospect. And the heavy, hopeless, interminable beat wormed its way into every crevice in the house, lay like a pad of cotton wool over the ears, and embraced everything, both near and far, in its compass, like an unromantic story from life itself that has no rhythm and no crescendo, no climax, but which is nevertheless overwhelming in its scope, terrifying in its significance. And at the bottom of this unfathomed ocean of teeming rain sat the little house and its one neurotic woman.”
“This was the first time that he has ever looked into the labyrinth of the human soul. He was very far from understanding what he saw. But what was of more value, he felt and suffered with her. In years that were yet to come, he relived this memory in song, in the most beautiful song this world has known. For the understanding of the soul’s defenselessness, of the conflict between the two poles, is not the source of the greatest song. The source of the greatest song is sympathy.”
“One boy’s footprints are not long in being lost in the snow, in the steadily falling snow of the shortest day, the longest night; they are lost as soon as they are made. And once again the heath is clothed in drifting white. And there is no ghost, save the one ghost that lives in the heart of a motherless boy, till his footprints disappear.”
“But he could not help it. No one can help it. One is a realist. One has put up with it all ever since childhood; one has had the courage to look it full in the eye, possibly courage enough to look it in the eye all one’s life long. Then one day the distances beckon with their floating possibilities, and in one’s hands are the admission tickets, two slips of blue paper. One is a realist no longer. One has finished putting up with it all, one no longer has the courage to look it in the eye, one is in the power of beckoning hospitable distances, floating possibilities, perhaps forever afterwards. Perhaps one’s life is over.”
“Strange though it may seem, people rarely show such enthusiasm as when they are seeking the proof of a ghost story—the soul gathers all this sort of thing to its hungry bosom.”
“The tyranny of mankind; it was like the obstinate drip of water falling on a stone and hollowing it little by little; and this drip continued, falling obstinately, falling without pause on the souls of the children.”
“And when the spring breezes blow up the valley; when the spring sun shines on last year’s withered grass on the river banks; and on the lake; and on the lake’s two white swans; and coaxes the new grass out of the spongy soil in the marshes – who could believe on such a day that this peaceful, grassy valley brooded over the story of our past; and over its spectres?”
“The farm brook ran down from the mountain in a straight line for the fold then swerved to the west to go its way down into the marshes. There were two knee-high falls in it and two pools, knee-deep. At the bottom there was shingle, pebbles and sand. It ran in many curves. Each curve had its own tone, but not one of them was dull; the brook was merry and music-loving, like youth, but yet with various strings, and it played its music without thought of any audience and did not care though no one heard for a hundred years, like the true poet.”
is of more account than the height of a roof beam. I ought to know; mine cost me eighteen years’ slavery. The man who lives on his own land is an independent man. He is his own master. If I can keep my sheep alive through winter and can pay what has been stipulated from year to year – then I pay what has been stipulated; and I have kept my sheep alive. No, it is freedom that we are all after, Titla. He who pays his way is a king. He who keeps his sheep alive through the winter lives in a palace.”
Fancies in Springtime: Neil deGrasse Tyson
American Art – Part III of VI: Darrell Hill
A Fourth Poem for Today
“What the Frost Casts Up”
A crown of handmade nails, as though
there were a house here once, burned,
where we’ve gardened for fifteen years;
the ceramic top of an ancient fuse;
this spring the tiny head of a plastic doll—
not much compared to what they find
in England, where every now and then
a coin of the Roman emperors, Severus
or Constantius, works its way up, but
something, as though nothing we’ve
ever touched wants to stay in the earth,
the patient artifacts waiting, having been lost
or cast away, as though they couldn’t bear
the parting, or because they are the only
messengers from lives that were important once,
waiting for the power of the frost
to move them to the mercy of our hands.
Fancies in Springtime: Miriam Joy
Fancies in Springtime: Robert Thurman
“To finish building the free society dreamed of by Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson, we must draw upon the resources of the enlightened imagination, which can be systematically developed by the spiritual sciences of India and Tibet. We have not yet tamed our own demons of racism, nationalism, sexism, and materialism. We have not yet made peace with a land we took by force and have only partly paid for. We are a teeming conglomeration of people from different tribes who have yet to embrace fully the humanness in one another. And none of us can be really free until all of us are.”
Spanish Art – Part I of III: Goyo Dominguez
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Spanish painter Goyo Dominguez (born 1960): “Goyo is one of those very few, enviable characters who very early in life realize that haste and noise are the principal enemies of happiness. He soon chose, both in his life and in his art, the road of wisdom; taking him far away from sterile competition and useless ambition, from false gods and passing glory. This is the way he found the peace and quiet that stimulate his soul.”
And from a second critic: “It is from within this state of peace that Goyo Dominguez composes his festive, alluring paintings, using his brilliant draftsmanship from several years in art school, his distinct mixture of dulled and bright colors, and his fascinating juxtaposition of detailed countenances and blurred backgrounds to transcend reality entirely. Goyo’s faith in and dependence on his paintings is clearly evident: he speaks through his subjects, and pleadingly gazes back at the viewer through his figures’ eyes.”
Fancies in Springtime: Gore Vidal
Spanish Art –Part II of III: Matias Quetglas
Fancies in Springtime: Joel Garreau
“He raises a copy of a poster. On the left is a quote from The New York Times dated October 9, 1903. It says,’ The flying machine which will really fly might be evolved by the combined and continuous efforts of mathematicians in from one million to ten million years’. On the right is a quote from Orville Wright’s diary, dated October 9, 1903. ‘We started assembly today’ it says.”
“Fish say, they have their Stream and Pond;
But is there anything Beyond?” – Rupert Brooke, English poet and soldier, who died 23 April 1915.
If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
Spanish Art – Part III of III: Josep Moncada Juaneda
Fancies in Springtime: Anthony Biglan
“Nearly all problems of human behavior stem from our failure to ensure that people live in environments that nurture their well-being.”
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Sergei Prokofiev
Born 23 April 1891 – Sergei Prokofiev, a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor.
Fancies in Springtime: Martin J. Rees
“The science done by the young Einstein will continue as long as our civilization, but for civilization to survive, we’ll need the wisdom of the old Einstein — humane, global and farseeing. And whatever happens in this uniquely crucial century will resonate into the remote future and perhaps far beyond the Earth.”
American Art – Part IV of VI: Julio Reyes
Artist Statement: “Beyond my parents, there exists an incredible family saga, transmitted to me around dinner tables and fireplaces one story at a time. Through those experiences, I learned that I come from a long line of Indians, witch doctors, and bootleggers, a lineage that stretches out across Mexico, and the American Southwest. I suppose it was there with my family that I got what I really needed to be an artist. It was in family and hearth that I discovered what it meant to feel deeply about things – the ability to move and be moved by others. At that dinner table, my soul was built up and made larger with noble thoughts. I learned that there were sacred things in life, and that I should devote myself to knowing them.
Very simply, I want to create art for the rest of my life according to my highest calling and fullest abilities — all else stems from this really. If I can transmit, through my work, even the smallest semblance of the love and awe that I have for life – I will have truly done something… I want to look back on a life of meaningful and serious works of art. Art that stands against the growing nihilism of our time, and with fixed purpose celebrates the beauty and immensity of life.”
Fancies in Springtime: Robert M. Pirsig
“But to tear down a factory or to revolt against a government or to avoid repair of a motorcycle because it is a system is to attack effects rather than causes; and as long as the attack is upon effects only, no change is possible. The true system, the real system, is our present construction of systematic thought itself, rationality itself, and if a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it is left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another factory. If a revolution destroys a systematic government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves in the succeeding government. There’s so much talk about the system. And so little understanding.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Roy Orbison
“Love hurts, love scars, love wounds, and mars.” – Roy Orbison, American singer-songwriter dubbed by one critic “the Caruso of Rock,” who was born 23 April 1936.
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Lee McCarthy
There’s a woman kissing a cowboy
across the street. His eight-year-old son
watches from the bus stop bench.
She’s really planting one on him,
his Stetson in danger.
It must have been some weekend.
Seeing no room in that embrace for himself,
the boy measures his future, legs
straight out in front of him.
Both hands hold onto a suitcase handle,
thin arms ready to prove themselves.
Fancies in Springtime: John Jeremiah Sullivan
“If we are part of nature, then we are synonymous with it at the metaphysical level, every bit as much as the first all-but-inorganic animalcules that ever formed a chain of themselves in the blow hole of a primordial sea vent. There is no magic rod that comes down three hundred thousand years ago and divides our essence from the material world that produced us. This means that we cannot speak in essential terms of nature—neither of its brutality nor of its beauty—and hope to say anything true, if what we say isn’t true of ourselves.
The importance of that proposition becomes clear only when it’s reversed: What’s true of us is true of nature. If we are conscious, as our species seems to have become, then nature is conscious. Nature became conscious in us, perhaps in order to observe itself. It may be holding us out and turning us around like a crab does its eyeball. Whatever the reason, that thing out there, with the black holes and the nebulae and whatnot, is conscious. One cannot look in the mirror and rationally deny this. It experiences love and desire, or thinks it does. The idea is enough to render the Judeo-Christian cosmos sort of quaint.”
American Art – Part V of VI: Daniel Sprick
23 April 1907 – Jack London and his wife Charmian set sail from San Francisco on the Snark. London had the forty-three-foot-long boat built in anticipation of a seven-year, around-the-world cruise. Unfortunately, while in the Solomon Islands London became sick with what he feared was leprosy (it proved to be a bad case of psoriasis), and after he was forced to spend five weeks in a Sydney hospital recovering, doctors in Australia convinced him to forsake the rest of his journey and return to California.
Below – The Snark; Jack and Charmian London on board the Snark; the book in which Jack London chronicled their adventures in the South Seas; the book in which Charmian London recorded the details of their voyage.
Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan
“Some 3.6 million years ago, in what is now northern Tanzania, a volcano erupted, the resulting cloud of ash covering the surrounding savannahs. In 1979, the paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey found in that ash footprints – the footprints, she believes, of an early hominid, perhaps an ancestor of all the people on the Earth today. And 380,000 kilometers away, in a flat dry plain that humans have in a moment of optimism called the Sea of Tranquility, there is another footprint, left by the first human to walk another world. We have come far in 3.6 million years, and in 4.6 billion and in 15 billion.
For we are the local embodiment of a Cosmos grown to self-awareness. We have begun to contemplate our origins: starstuff pondering the stars; organized assemblages of ten billion billion billion atoms considering the evolution of atoms; tracing the long journey by which, here at least, consciousness arose. Our loyalties are to the species and the planet. We speak for Earth. Our obligation to survive is owed not just to ourselves but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
“I stand alone at the foot ”
By William Kloefkorn
Back from the Territory – Art: Rie Munoz (Part X)
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 Seventh Poem for Today
“Veterans of the Seventies”
By Marvin Bell
His army jacket bore the white rectangle
of one who has torn off his name. He sat mute
at the round table where the trip-wire veterans
ate breakfast. They were foxhole buddies
who went stateside without leaving the war.
They had the look of men who held their breath
and now their tongues. What is to say
beyond that said by the fathers who bent lower
and lower as the war went on, spines curving
toward the ground on which sons sat sandbagged
with ammo belts enough to make fine lace
of enemy flesh and blood. Now these who survived,
who got back in cargo planes emptied at the front,
lived hiddenly in the woods behind fence wires
strung through tin cans. Better an alarm
than the constant nightmare of something moving
on its belly to make your skin crawl
with the sensory memory of foxhole living.
Fancies in Springtime: Barry Lopez
“When the stories were over, four or five of us walked out the home of our host. The surrounding land, in the persistent light of a far northern summer, was still visible for miles–striated, pitched massifs of the Brooks Range; the shy, willow-lined banks of the John River flowing south from Anaktuvuk Pass; and the flat tundra plain, opening with great affirmation to the north. The landscape seemed alive because of the stories. It was precisely these ocherous tones, the kind of willow, exactly this austerity that had informed the wolverine narratives. I felt exhilaration, and a deeper confirmation of what I had heard. The mundane task that awaited me I anticipated now with pleasure. The stories had renewed in me a sense of the purpose of my life.”
American Art – Part VI of VI: Stefanie Bales
Artist Statement: “The idea of subjectivity in representation has been a common thread in my work for years, even prior to my actively pursuing it as subject or form. As our imaginations instigate exaggeration, contradiction belies our perceptions. In my work, this takes the form of merging both realist and surrealist qualities under the umbrella of romanticism, creating playful, pictorial conversations about the illusions of place and space and time. While my work is a depiction of my own visual consciousness, all creative expression reveals a facet of the collective mind, and it is this contradiction I am interested in studying.
In my current body of work, I am exploring the transitory state of reality- where figures and spaces move circuitously, day and night exist in the same plane, and our waking lives and lucid dreams collide. This develops in ‘surreal’ landscapes which represent revelations of my own A priori, while simultaneously referencing visual idioms that are a part of a collective (sub)conscious. My paintings start with one inspiration and then evolve intuitively as I respond to color, texture and subject. Whether the result references a playful daydream, a clairvoyant reality or a corporeal conception, each is in some way a contradiction in figure and form, ground and space, lightness and darkness. Each is a pictorial conversation about truth and illusion.
I am interested in documenting the ineffably personal, yet universal experiences that make up the history of our lives, and of our dreams.”