American Art – Part I of V: Amy Abshier-Reyes
Artist Staztment: “Most of my works are painted as a mimicry of traditional portraiture, but are (as I see them) vehicles to another concept entirely. Almost all of them have a very tongue- in-cheek wryness about them as I explore themes ranging from self-image issues to historical oddities to the dissection of fairy tales and popular culture. They differ in emotion; some are just silly, while others are plainly macabre, but they are all simple illustrations to the subtle narratives underneath.”
Fancies in Springtime: Adalbert Stifter
“On increasingly warm nice days I liked to sit toward noon on the bench encircling the cherry tree and look at the bare trees, the freshly plowed fields, the green strips of winter planting, the meadows that were already sprouting, and through the fragrance which swells out of the ground with the advent of spring contemplate the mountains, gleaming with the colossal quantities of snow still on them.”
From the American History Archives: Cripple Creek
25 April 1896 – A fight in the Central Dance Hall in Cripple Creek, Colorado results in a fire that destroys the building. I mention this incident in order to have an excuse to post this:
A Poem for Today
“For a Coming Extinction”
By W.S. Merwin
Now that we are sending you to The End
That great god
That we who follow you invented forgiveness
And forgive nothing
I write as though you could understand
And I could say it
One must always pretend something
Among the dying
When you have left the seas nodding on their stalks
Empty of you
Tell him that we were made
On another day
The bewilderment will diminish like an echo
Winding along your inner mountains
Unheard by us
And find its way out
Leaving behind it the future
When you will not see again
The whale calves trying the light
Consider what you will find in the black garden
And its court
The sea cows the Great Auks the gorillas
The irreplaceable hosts ranged countless
And fore-ordaining as stars
Ukrainian Art – Part I of II: Inga Loyeva
In the words of one writer, painter Inga Loyeva “strives to put forth beauty and project a positive undercurrent into everything she creates.”
Loyeva lives and works in Florence, where she teaches drawing and artistic anatomy at the Angel Academy of Art and works on creative projects in her studio.
Fancies in Springtime: Christopher Lasch
From the Music Archives – Part I of VI: Ella Fitzgerald
“The only thing better than singing is more singing.” – Ella Fitzgerald, American jazz vocalist known as the “First Lady of Song,” who was born 25 April 1917.
A Second Poem for Today
“The Lady and the Tramp”
By Bruce Guernsey
As my mother’s memory dims
she’s losing her sense of smell
and can’t remember the toast
blackening the kitchen with smoke
or sniff how nasty the breath of the dog
that follows her yet from room to room,
unable, himself, to hear his own bark.
It’s thus they get around,
the wheezing old hound stone deaf
baying like a smoke alarm
for his amnesiac mistress whose back
from petting him is bent forever
as they shuffle towards the flaming toaster
and split the cindered crisp that’s left.
Ukrainian Art – Part II of II: Alexander Pavlenko
“A lost but happy dream may shed its light upon our waking hours, and the whole day may be infected with the gloom of a dreary or sorrowful one; yet of neither may we be able to recover a trace.” – Walter de la Mare, English poet, short story writer, and novelist, who was born 25 April 1873.
Another quote from Walter de la Mare: “All day long the door of the sub-conscious remains just ajar; we slip through to the other side, and return again, as easily and secretly as a cat.”
And his most famous poem:
‘Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses
Of the forest’s ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller’s head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
‘Is there anybody there?’ he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller’s call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
’Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:—
‘Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word,’ he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.
From the Music Archives – Part II of VI: Michael Brown
Born 25 April 1949 – Michael Brown, an American keyboardist, songwriter, and member of the group The Left Banke.
This is one of the hit songs Brown wrote for The Left Banke:
Fancies in Springtime: Lewis Thomas
“Statistically, the probability of any one of us being here is so small that you’d think the mere fact of existing would keep us all in a contented dazzlement of surprise. We are alive against the stupendous odds of genetics, infinitely outnumbered by all the alternates who might, except for luck, be in our places.”
American Art – Part II of V: Steven Lang
Artist Statement (partial): “I love to paint the Old West. I derive great satisfaction from creating images that stir the imagination and express the truths of the way it used to be. From the beginning of western expansion and Lewis & Clark to the early decades of the 1900s, America experienced a period of unparalleled adventures, hardships, triumphs and tragedies…I endeavor to depict all that was and is the legacy of the Western Frontier.”
A Third Poem for Today
“At a Certain Age”
By Deborah Cummins
He sits beside his wife who takes the wheel.
Clutching coupons, he wanders the aisles
of Stop & Save. There’s no place he must be,
no clock to punch. Sure,
there are bass in the lake, a balsa model
in the garage, the par-three back nine.
But it’s not the same.
Time the enemy then, the enemy now.
As he points the remote at the screen
or pauses at the window, staring
into the neighbor’s fence but not really seeing it,
he listens to his wife in the kitchen, more amazed
than ever—how women seem to know
what to do. How, with their cycles and timers,
their rolling boils and three-minute eggs,
they wait for something to start. Or stop.
From the Music Archives – Part III of VI: Freda Payne
25 April 1970 – Freda Payne releases “Band of Gold.”
Fancies in Springtime: Gaston Rebuffat
Italian Art – Part I of II: Mario Tozzi
From the Music Archives – Part IV of VI: Melanie
25 April 1970 – Melanie releases “Lay Down.”
Fancies in Springtime: Neil deGrasse Tyson
Italian Art – Part II of II: Vita di Milano
Here is artist Vita di Milano describing his “Women and Wheels” series of paintings: “”In an ideal world there would only be bicycles, roads smooth as silk and the wind always at your back. (Note: The first painting posted below is called “Against the Wind.”)
‘Women and Wheels’ is a tribute to women’s freedom from the dogmas and the doctrines of religion as imposed by misogynous men.”
Here is one critic writing about Milano’s work: “While Vita’s detailed and bluntly-honest figurative paintings may recall a narrative common to classic art, the intent imbedded in each of his works far exceeds what could be mistaken as an exercise in technique.
In his compositions the painter expresses his concerns about misconceptions and prejudice while elaborating on those socio/humanistic perspectives which are often masked by the veils of hypocrisy.”
From the Music Archives – Part V of VI: Stu Ulvaeus
Born 25 April 1945 – Stu Ulvaeus, a Swedish songwriter, composer, musician, writer, producer, and former member of ABBA, the greatest semi-hard rock group in music history.
I am dedicating this song to my sons, who for some inexplicable reason like it.
Fancies in Springtime: Robert Thurman
“Commercial interests with their advertising industry do not want people to develop contentment and less greed. Military interests in economic, political, ethnic or nationalist guises, do not want people to develop more tolerance, nonviolence and compassion. And ruling groups in general, in whatever sort of hierarchy do not want the ruled to become too insightful, too independent, too creative on their own, as the danger is that they will become insubordinate, rebellious, and unproductive in their alloted tasks.”
From the Music Archives – Part VI of VI: Stu Cook
Born 25 April 1945 – Stu Cook, an American bass guitarist best known for his work with Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Some quotes from the work of Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.:
“If the right to privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion.”
“Death is not only an unusually severe punishment, unusual in its pain, in its finality and in its enormity, but is serves no penal purpose more effectively than a less severe punishment.”
“Religious conflict can be the bloodiest and cruelest conflicts that turn people into fanatics.”
“The quest for freedom, dignity, and the rights of man will never end.”
“We do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so, we dilute the freedom this cherished emblem represents.”
Fancies in Springtime: Robert S. de Ropp
In the words of one writer, “(Gunn) was praised both for his early verses in England, where he was associated with The Movement and his later poetry in America, even after moving toward a looser, free-verse style. After relocating from England to San Francisco, Gunn, who became openly gay, wrote about gay-related topics—particularly in his most famous work, ‘The Man With Night Sweats’ in 1992—as well as drug use, sex, and topics related to his bohemian lifestyle. He won numerous major literary awards.”
“A Map of the City”
I stand upon a hill and see
A luminous country under me,
Through which at two the drunk sailor must weave;
The transient’s pause, the sailor’s leave.
I notice, looking down the hill,
Arms braced upon a window sill;
And on the web of fire escapes
Move the potential, the grey shapes.
I hold the city here, complete;
And every shape defined by light
Is mine, or corresponds to mine,
Some flickering or some steady shine.
This map is ground of my delight.
Between the limits, night by night,
I watch a malady’s advance,
I recognize my love of chance.
“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.” – Edward R. Murrow, American broadcast journalist, who was born 25 April 1908.
Murrow’s greatest moment – and one of America’s, as well – came when he publicly denounced the hideous Senator Joseph McCarthy.
Some quotes from the work of Edward R. Murrow:
“Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.”
“We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.”
“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.”
“Anyone who isn’t confused really doesn’t understand the situation.”
“A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices.”
“Our major obligation is not to mistake slogans for solutions.”
“Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices–just recognize them.”
“No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices.”
“Most truths are so naked that people feel sorry for them and cover them up, at least a little bit.”
“We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late. ”
“Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.”
“The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue.”
“The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.”
“We are in the same tent as the clowns and the freaks-that’s show business.”
“People say conversation is a lost art; how often I have wished it were.”
“When the politicians complain that TV turns the proceedings into a circus, it should be made clear that the circus was already there, and that TV has merely demonstrated that not all the performers are well trained.”
“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men – not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
“Superhero Pregnant Woman”
By Jessy Randall
Her sense of smell is ten times stronger.
And so her husband smells funny;
she rolls away from him in the bed.
She even smells funny to herself,
but cannot roll away from that.
Why couldn’t she get a more useful superpower?
Like the ability to turn invisible, or fly?
Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan
American Art – Part III of V: Justin Balliet
In the words of one critic, “Justin Balliet is a realist artist based out of Northeast Pennsylvania and a former apprentice of the Waichulis Studio. Balliet seeks to push his realism as far as possible, resulting in some of the most technically proficient work available today.”
“Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like his.” – “Flying at Night,” by Ted Kooser, American poet and Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004 to 2006, who was born 25 April 1939.
“A Letter in October”
Dawn comes later and later now,
and I, who only a month ago
could sit with coffee every morning
watching the light walk down the hill
to the edge of the pond and place
a doe there, shyly drinking,
then see the light step out upon
the water, sowing reflections
to either side—a garden
of trees that grew as if by magic—
now see no more than my face,
mirrored by darkness, pale and odd,
startled by time. While I slept,
night in its thick winter jacket
bridled the doe with a twist
of wet leaves and led her away,
then brought its black horse with harness
that creaked like a cricket, and turned
American Art – Part IV of V: Donna Reibslager
Artist Statement (partial): “I create art because I am compelled to do so. For many years, it was a fragmented process, pursued in a garage, on a back porch, or elsewhere, between work and family demands. Since 2002, I have had a dedicated studio space in which I can work every day, which has allowed me to establish continuity and to more fully develop ideas.”
Fancies in Springtime: Gore Vidal
“The planet Venus, a circle of silver in a green sky, pierced the edge of the evening while the wintry woods darkened about me and in the stillness the regular sound of my footsteps striking the pavement was like a the rhythmic beating of a giant stone heart.”
“There’s little to see, but things leave an impression. It’s a matter of time and repetition. As something old wears thin or out, something new wears in. The handle on the pump, the crank on the churn, the dipper floating in the bucket, the latch on the screen, the door on the privy, the fender on the stove, the knees of the pants and the seat of the chair, the handle of the brush and the lid to the pot exist in time but outside taste; they wear in more than they wear out. It can’t be helped. It’s neither good nor bad. It’s the nature of life.” – Wright Morris, American novelist, essayist, photographer, and two-time winner of the National Book Award for Fiction (for “The Field of Vision”  and “Plains Song: For Female Voices” ), best known for his portrayals of the people and artifacts of the Great Plains in words and pictures, who died 25 April 1998.
A few quotes from the work of Wright Morris, whose words, like his photographs, often capture a poignant sense of this fleeting world:
“After many months of writing, it occurred to me that it might be possible to photograph, in the flesh, what I was attempting to capture in words. I bought a Rolleiflex camera and began to take pictures of objects or structures that were used and abused by human hands.”
“Cats don’t belong to people. They belong to places.”
“The imagination made us human, but being human, becoming more human, is a greater burden than we imagined. We have no choice but to imagine ourselves more human than we are.”
Below – “Panama” (Nebraska); “Door Between Buildings”; “Uncle Harry”; “Farmhouse with Snowbank”; “Clothing on Hooks”; “Cupboard”; “Barber Pole and Hydrant”; “Fallen Out House”; “Second Bed (Ed’s Place).”
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Ruth Moose
The snail at the edge of the road
inches forward, a trim gray finger
of a fellow in pinstripe suit.
He’s burdened by his house
that has to follow
where he goes. Every inch,
he pulls together
all he is,
all he owns,
all he was given.
Fancies in Springtime: Barry Lopez
“Wilderness travel can be extremely taxing and dangerous. You can fall into a crevasse, flip your kayak, lose your way, become hypothermic, run out of food, or be killed by a bear. Far less violent events, however, are the common experience of most people who travel in wild landscapes. A sublime encounter with perhaps the most essential attribute of wilderness – falling into resonance with a system of unmanaged, non-human-centered relationships – can be as fulfilling as running a huge and difficult rapid. Sometimes they prove, indeed, to be the same thing.”
Back from the Territory – Art: Rie Munoz (Part XII)
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 Pirsig
“Like those in the valley behind us, most people stand in sight of the spiritual mountains all their lives and never enter them, being content to listen to others who have been there and thus avoid the hardships.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Todd Davis
On the ridge above Skelp Road
bears binge on blackberries and apples,
even grapes, knocking down
the Petersens’ arbor to satisfy the sweet
hunger that consumes them. Just like us
they know the day must come when
the heart slows, when to take one
more step would mean the end of things
as they should be. Sleep is a drug;
dreams its succor. How better to drift
toward another world but with leaves
falling, their warmth draping us,
our stomachs full and fat with summer?
American Art – Part V of V: Mark Allen
In the words of one writer, “‘Ethereal Waters’ is a photography series that focuses on the mysterious and aesthetic quality of water; how the human subject portrays their innermost consciousness when separated from the surroundings that might otherwise define them. This blissful weightlessness creates a scene unlike anything else in the natural world.”