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

American Art – Part I of VII: Bernal F. Koehrsen III

Artist Statement: “I have always been interested in the ethereal, either in visual art or music – allowing for escape into a world of beauty from the everyday mundane. Inspired by natural forms, astronomy, and many other things I find beautiful, I have worked for many years to create my own visual language. It is through this language that I aim to ask the viewer insert their own meaning, responding intuitively to the motifs, just as I do. The building of this language on the surface allows me to respond to successes and mistakes until I ‘see’ the completed painting, allowing some sort of visceral experience to tell me when a work is completed.”

Below – “Anahata”; “Penetrate the Landscape (Loss)”; “Autumn”; “To Lick Us with the First Born Lash of Dawn”; “A Distant Mystery”; “Going Inside Without Ever Leaving.”
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From the Music Archives – Part I of VI: Duke Ellington

“Gray skies are just clouds passing over.” – Duke Ellington, American composer, pianist, and bandleader of jazz orchestras, who was born 29 April 1899.

Fancies in Springtime: Ruth Stout

“I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.”
People walking among flowers in Keukenhof gardens, Lisse, Holland

Romanian painter Codruta Cernea lives and works in Bucharest.
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A Poem for Today

“The Wall”
By Alfred Corn

I try and try not to think about the Wall.
Its profile, massive height and roughcut stonework
All stir up fear, gloom, exaltation, pride,
And numbness, in a jumble hard to name.

No one knows who had it built, or when;
Five hundred years ago, the locals guess;
But sunset trumpet calls depict it gold
Enough to have been there more than a thousand.

The thing held off invasions, true—but not
Always, our history records defeats.
Nowadays we never get invaders,
Or else they’re us, going beyond its limits

To acquire new territory and subjects.
Though weaker stretches have sheared off and fallen,
Herders fence up their sheepfolds at the base,
And some blocks are dragged off to build new houses.

Topside, binoculars can sight its ramparts
Winding through dark-blue mountains farther north . . .
That monumental, chill indifference
Explains why boys graffiti names on it

(Or jokes), no matter if their scrawny slashes
In time begin to erode. Decades ago,
I gouged in mine, it wasn’t yet forbidden.
Luckily, dense vines screen the signature,

Made at an age when we assume our name
Amounts to more than permanent stone structures.
Oh, even now it sparks a vocal reflex
When I move the leaves and read it there again.
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From the Music Archives – Part II of VI: Carl Gardner

Born 29 April 1928 – Carl Gardner, an American singer and founder of The Coasters, a group best known for the song “Yakety Yak,” a song which spent a week as number one on the Hot 100 list.

Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“Before we invented civilization our ancestors lived mainly in the open out under the sky. Before we devised artificial lights and atmospheric pollution and modern forms of nocturnal entertainment we watched the stars. There were practical calendar reasons of course but there was more to it than that. Even today the most jaded city dweller can be unexpectedly moved upon encountering a clear night sky studded with thousands of twinkling stars. When it happens to me after all these years it still takes my breath away.”

Below – Thierry Cohen: “Darkened Cities: San Francisco”
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Born 29 April 1882 – Hendrick Nicolaas Werkman, a Dutch painter and printmaker who was executed by the Gestapo for being a member of the Resistance.
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Died 29 April 1943 – Sidney Keyes, an English poet killed in combat during World War II just days before his twenty-first birthday.

“War Poem”

I am the man who looked for peace and found
My own eyes barbed,
I am the man who groped for words and found
An arrow in my hand.
I am the builder whose firm walls surround
A slipping land.
When I grow sick or mad
Mock me not nor chain me:
When I reach for the wind
Cast me not down:
Though my face is a burnt book
And a wasted town.

“Elegy”

April again, and it is a year again
Since you walked out and slammed the door
Leaving us tangled in your words. Your brain
Lives in the bank-book, and your eyes look up
Laughing from the carpet on the floor:
And we still drink from your silver cup.

Below – Alex J. Ingram: “Takrouna – Two Miles West of Enfidaville, in Tunisia during World War II”: April blossoms.
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French Art – Part I of II: Moise Kisling

Died 29 April 1953 – Moise Kisling, a Polish-born French painter.

Below – “A Siesta in Saint-Tropez”; “Provencal Landscape”; “Portrait of Renee Kisling”; “Still Life”; “Nude on a Black Sofa.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Robert M. Pirsig

“I like the word ‘gumption’ because it’s so homely and so forlorn and so out of style it looks as if it needs a friend and isn’t likely to reject anyone who comes along. I like it also because it describes exactly what happens to someone who connects with Quality. He gets filled with gumption.
A person filled with gumption doesn’t sit around dissipating and stewing about things. He’s at the front of the train of his own awareness, watching to see what’s up the track and meeting it when it comes. That’s gumption.”
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A Second Poem for Today

“Banana Trees”
By Joseph Stanton

They are tall herbs, really, not trees,
though they can shoot up thirty feet
if all goes well for them. Cut in cross

section they look like gigantic onions,
multi-layered mysteries with ghostly hearts.
Their leaves are made to be broken by the wind,

if wind there be, but the crosswise tears
they are built to expect do them no harm.
Around the steady staff of the leafstalk

the broken fronds flap in the breeze
like brief forgotten flags, but these
tattered, green, photosynthetic machines

know how to grasp with their broken fingers
the gold coins of light that give open air
its shine. In hot, dry weather the fingers

fold down to touch on each side–
a kind of prayer to clasp what damp they can
against the too much light.
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French Art – Part II of II: Nadine Le Prince

Here is one historian describing the background of French painter Nadine Le Prince: “Born in Paris, she is the descendant of a long line of artists dating back to the sixteenth century. Her most renowned ancestor, Jean-Baptiste Le Prince, lived in the eighteenth century; he was a friend of Diderot’s and painter for the Russian Court.
As a child she showed an outstanding gift for drawing and practiced it passionately. At a very early age, she turned to painting still lifes and portraits of relatives and friends in oils. She was only seventeen when she first took part in an exhibition and was still a teenager when she joined the ‘Painters of Reality.’
The way she scrutinizes nature and translates light reveals how truly she admires the seventeenth century painting, which she updates with subjects chosen and composed in a new spirit.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Sunshine cannot bleach the snow,
nor time unmake what poets know.”
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“Virtual reality is just air guitar writ large.” – Robert J. Sawyer, Canadian science fiction writer and winner of the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, who was born 29 April 1960.

Some quotes from the work of Robert J. Sawyer:

“Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace.”
“Not darkness, for that implies an understanding of light. Not silence, for that suggests a familiarity with sound. Not loneliness, for that requires knowledge of others. But still, faintly, so tenuous that if it were any less it wouldn’t exist at all: awareness. Nothing more than that. Just awareness—a vague, ethereal sense of being. Being . . . but not becoming. No marking of time, no past or future—only an endless, featureless now, and, just barely there in that boundless moment, inchoate and raw, the dawning of perception . . .”
“The sky above the island was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel—which is to say it was a bright, cheery blue.”

American Art – Part II of VII: Lorado Taft

Born 29 April 1860 – Lorado Taft, an American sculptor.

Below – “The Solitude of the Soul” (Chicago); “Black Hawk” (Oregon, Illinois); “ Fountain of the Great Lakes” (Chicago); “Thatcher Memorial Fountain” (Denver); “Pastoral” (Chicago).
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A Third Poem for Today

“Alberto”
By Warren Woessner

When the wind clipped
the whitecaps, and the flags
came down before they shredded,
we knew it was no nor’easter.
The Blue Nose ferry stayed
on course, west out of Yarmouth,
while 100 miles of fog
on the Bay blew away.

The Captain let us stand
on the starboard bridge
and scan a jagged range.
Shearwaters skimmed the peaks
while storm petrels hunted valleys
that slowly filled with gold.
Alberto blew out in the Atlantic.
We came back to earth
that for days might tip and sway
and cast us back to sea.
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Boris Grigoriev (1886-1939) was a Russian painter and graphic artist. In the words of one critic, after studying at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg, “Grigoriev lived for a time in Paris, where he attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. In Paris he was strongly influenced by Paul Cézanne.
After his return to Saint Petersburg in 1913 he became part of the Bohemian scene in St. Petersburg and was close to many artists and writers of the time…Grigoriev was also interested in the Russian countryside, its peasants and village life. From 1916 to 1918 he created a series of paintings and graphic works, depicting the poverty and strength of the Russian peasantry and village life.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Edna Ferber

“But always, to her, red and green cabbages were to be jade and burgundy, chrysoprase and prophyry. Life has no weapons against a woman like that.”
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From the Music Archives – Part III of VI: Tommy James

Born 29 April 1947 – Tommy James (born Thomas Gregory Jackson), an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and leader of the group Tommy James and the Shondells.

German painter Christian Schad (1894-1982) was influenced by many of the most important art movements of the twentieth century. He is perhaps most highly regarded for his portraits.
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Fancies in Springtime: Neil deGrasse Tyson

“So what is true for life itself is no less true for the universe: knowing where you came from is no less important than knowing where you are going.”
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“There is a distinct difference between ‘suspense’ and ‘surprise,’ and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I’ll explain what I mean.
We are now having a very innocent little chat. Let’s suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, “Boom!” There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware the bomb is going to explode at one o’clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions, the same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: ‘You shouldn’t be talking about such trivial matters. There is a bomb beneath you and it is about to explode!’
In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed. Except when the surprise is a twist, that is, when the unexpected ending is, in itself, the highlight of the story.” – Alfred Hitchcock, English film director and producer who pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres, who died 29 April 1980.

An example of Hitchcock’s masterful work:

The paintings of Indian artist Ganesh Chougule have won many awards.
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Fancies in Springtime: Vera Nazarian

“No Temple made by mortal human hands can ever compare to the Temple made by the gods themselves. That building of wood and stone that houses us and that many believe conceals the great Secret Temple from prying eyes, somewhere in its heart of hearts, is but a decoy for the masses who need this simple concrete limited thing in their lives. The real Temple is the whole world, and there is nothing as divinely blessed as a blooming growing garden.”
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A Fourth Poem for Today

“Safari, Rift Valley”
By Roy Jacobstein

Minutes ago those quick cleft hoofs
lifted the dik-dik’s speckled frame.
Now the cheetah dips her delicate head
to the still-pulsating guts. Our Rover’s
so close we need no zoom to fix the green
shot of her eyes, the matted red mess
of her face. You come here, recall a father
hale in his ordinary life, not his last bed,
not the long tasteless slide of tapioca.
This is the Great Rift, where it all began,
here where the warthogs and hartebeest
feed in the scrub, giraffes splay to drink,
and our rank diesel exhaust darkens the air
for only a few moments before vanishing.
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American Art – Part III of VII: Kathy Jones

Artist Statement: “I was born in San Francisco and educated at Stanford University. My work is greatly influenced by my experience as a Californian, and by the affinity I feel for the Bay Area Figurative painters. My paintings are about silence, solitude, space, and shadows—about the moments between actions. I paint people waiting, or gazing, or pausing, or moving from one place to another.
The surface of the painting is as important to me as the image. I am always experimenting with surfaces and textures. I explore color relationships and the unexpected juxtapositions that happen while painting: the surface of the painting and layers of paint must be rich and exotic, the colors luminous and mysterious. I pull colors up– push them one against the other and look for places where the colors make the most of each other.
I never know where a painting will end up. The backgrounds and moods emerge and change as the work progresses. My goal is to create paintings that are challenging and provocative. My hope is that people who see my work are moved to bring their own history to the painting and to tell their own stories.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Robert M. Pirsig

“The result is rather typical of modern technology, an overall dullness of appearance so depressing that it must be overlaid with a veneer of ‘style’ to make it acceptable. And that, to anyone who is sensitive to romantic Quality, just makes it all the worse. Now it’s not just depressingly dull, it’s also phony. Put the two together and you get a pretty accurate basic description of modern American technology: stylized cars and stylized outboard motors and stylized typewriters and stylized clothes. Stylized refrigerators filled with stylized food in stylized kitchens in stylized homes. Plastic stylized toys for stylized children, who at Christmas and birthdays are in style with their stylish parents. You have to be awfully stylish yourself not to get sick of it once in a while. It’s the style that gets you; technological ugliness syruped over with romantic phoniness in an effort to produce beauty and profit by people who, though stylish, don’t know where to start because no one has ever told them there’s such a thing as Quality in this world and it’s real, not style. Quality isn’t something you lay on top of subjects and objects like tinsel on a Christmas tree. Real Quality must be the source of the subjects and objects, the cone from which the tree must start.”
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From the Music Archives – Part IV of VI: April Stevens

“When the deep purple falls over sleepy garden walls

And the stars begin to twinkle in the night

In the mist of a memory you wander on back to me

Breathing my name with a sigh.” – From “Deep Purple,” sung by April Stevens, American singer who performed with her brother Nino Tempo, who was born 29 April 1936.

April Stevens and Nino Tempo won the Grammy Award for Best Rock and Roll Record in 1963 for “Deep Purple.”

American Art – Part IV of VII: Leah Waichulis

Artist Statement: “I’m an artist living in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I like to paint places that I find interesting, mostly interiors and landscapes.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Barry Lopez

“The evening before I departed I stood on the rim of a lagoon on Isla Rabida. Flamingos rode on its dark surface like pink swans, apparently asleep. Small, curved feathers, shed from their breasts, drifted away from them over the water on a light breeze. I did not move for an hour. It was a moment of such peace, every troubled thread in a human spirit might have uncoiled and sorted itself into a graceful order. Other flamingos stood in the shallows with diffident elegance in the falling light, not feeding but only staring off toward the ocean. They seemed a kind of animal I had never quite seen before.”
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From the Music Archives – Part V of VI: Aretha Franklin

28 April 1967 – Aretha Franklin releases “Respect.”

Scottish painter Anthony Scullion (born 1967) is a graduate of the Glasgow School of Art.
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A Fifth Poem for Today

“Echo”
By Robert West

A lone
voice

in the
right

empty space
makes

its own
best

company.
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Fancies in Springtime: Neil deGrasse Tyson

“Every living thing is a masterpiece, written by nature and edited by evolution.”
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American Art – Part V of VII: Zaria Forman

Artist Statement: “The inspiration for my drawings began in early childhood when I traveled with my family throughout several of the world’s most remote landscapes, which were the subject of my mother’s fine art photography. After my formal training at Skidmore college I now exhibit extensively in galleries and venues throughout the United States and overseas.
In August 2012 I led Chasing the Light, an art expedition sailing up the northwest coast of Greenland, retracing the 1869 journey of American painter William Bradford and artistically documenting the rapidly changing arctic landscape.”
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From the Music Archives – Part VI of VI: “Hair”

28 April 1968 – The rock musical “Hair” opens at the Biltmore Theater in New York City and runs for 1,750 performances.

Fancies in Springtime: Robert M. Pirsig

“This inner peace of mind occurs on three levels of understanding. Physical quietness seems the easiest to achieve, although there are levels and levels of this too, as attested by the ability of Hindu mystics to live buried alive for many days. Mental quietness, in which one has no wandering thoughts at all, seems more difficult, but can be achieved. But value quietness, in which one has no wandering desires at all but simply performs the acts of his life without desire, that seems the hardest.”
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Greek artist Miltos Pantelias (born 1954) studied painting in Paris for eleven years. In the words of one critic, “Paper’s fragility and sensibility becomes a predilection place for his drawings with the blooming figures. The oscillation between painting and drawing under sepia undulations and his wanderings between the image and the script spread over his canvases a mist of palimpsest of matter and time, the time of the confused memory.
The fold in palimpsest, the ‘inhabited’ fold defines actually the new domain of his art language.”
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“You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
 This city will always pursue you.
You’ll walk the same streets, grow old
in the same neighbourhoods, turn grey in these same houses.
You will always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:
there is no ship for you, there is no road.
As you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,
you’ve destroyed it everywhere else in the world” – From “The City,” by Constantine Cavafy, a Greek poet who lived in Alexandria, who died 29 April 1933.

“Ithaca”

When you set sail for Ithaca,
wish for the road to be long,
full of adventures, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclopes,
an angry Poseidon — do not fear.
You will never find such on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, and your spirit
and body are touched by a fine emotion.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclopes,
a savage Poseidon you will not encounter,
if you do not carry them within your spirit,
if your spirit does not place them before you.
Wish for the road to be long.
Many the summer mornings to be when
with what pleasure, what joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time.
Stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase the fine goods,
nacre and coral, amber and ebony,
and exquisite perfumes of all sorts,
the most delicate fragrances you can find.
To many Egyptian cities you must go,
to learn and learn from the cultivated.
Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your final destination.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better for it to last many years,
and when old to rest in the island,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to offer you wealth.
Ithaca has given you the beautiful journey.
Without her you would not have set out on the road.
Nothing more does she have to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.
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Fancies in Springtime: Joseph Wood Krutch

“The snow itself is lonely or, if you prefer, self-sufficient. There is no other time when the whole world seems composed of one thing and one thing only.”
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American Art – Part VI of VII: Aaron Coberly

Here is one critic describing the artistry of self-taught painter Aaron Coberly (born 1971): “He has been drawing for as long as he can remember. He started taking art seriously as a teenager after being invited to attend a life drawing class. Living and traveling in Europe further inspired him. He began oil painting in 1999. His work is primarily figurative with a stylistic nod to the Masters and the Impressionists. Aaron runs an open painting and drawing session in Seattle. He resides in the greater Seattle area and is married with a young son.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends on how well we know this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.”
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A Sixth Poem for Today

“Geometry”
By Nancy Botkin

All the roofs sloped at the same angle.
The distance between the houses was the same.
There were so many feet from each front door
to the curb. My father mowed the lawn
straight up and down and then diagonally.
And then he lined up beer bottles on the kitchen table.

We knew them only in summer when the air
passed through the screens. The neighbor girls
talked to us across the great divide: attic window
to attic window. We started with our names.
Our whispers wobbled along a tightrope,
and below was the rest of our lives.
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Fancies in Springtime: Robert M. Pirsig

“There’s this primary America of freeways and jet flights and TV and movie spectaculars, and people caught up in this primary America seem to go through huge portions of their lives without much consciousness of what immediately surrounds them. The media have convinced them that what’s right around them is unimportant. And that’s why they’re lonely.”
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Back from the Territory – Art: Gail Niebrugge (Part IV)

In the words of one writer, “Gail Niebrugge (Knee-brew-ghe) born and raised in California has pursued art since childhood, winning a poster contest on the Johnny Jet television show at the age of twelve. The Niebrugge family fell in love with Alaska while on vacation in 1976 and never returned home, instead they established a residence in the remote interior settlement of Copper Center. Since 1995 Palmer has been home to the Niebrugges.
Traveling by mail plane, ski plane, helicopter, boat, raft, ATV, canoe, truck and camper as well as hiking on foot, enables her to gain first-hand knowledge and understanding of Alaska’s wilderness, wildlife, landscape and history. Returning home to work in the studio her love of these subjects is translated into colorful paintings.”

Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.

Below – “Tundra Bull”; “Vintage Valley”; “Wildflowers”; “Wing Dancing”; “Acappella”; “Copper River Country”; “Cotton Grass Bear.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Barry Lopez

“To inquire into the intricacies of a distant landscape, then, is to provoke thoughts about one’s own interior landscape, and the familiar landscapes of memory. The land urges us to come around to an understanding of ourselves.”
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A Seventh Poem for Today

“Visitation”
By Jeffrey Harrison

Walking past the open window, she is surprised
by the song of the white-throated sparrow
and stops to listen. She has been thinking of
the dead ones she loves–her father who lived
over a century, and her oldest son, suddenly gone
at forty-seven–and she can’t help thinking
she has called them back, that they are calling her
in the voices of these birds passing through Ohio
on their spring migration. . . because, after years
of summers in upstate New York, the white-throat
has become something like the family bird.
Her father used to stop whatever he was doing
and point out its clear, whistling song. She hears it
again: “Poor Sam Peabody Peabody Peabody.”
She tries not to think, “Poor Andy,” but she
has already thought it, and now she is weeping.
But then she hears another, so clear, it’s as if
the bird were in the room with her, or in her head,
telling her that everything will be all right.
She cannot see them from her second-story window–
they are hidden in the new leaves of the old maple,
or behind the white blossoms of the dogwood–
but she stands and listens, knowing they will stay
for only a few days before moving on.
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Fancies in Springtime: Neil deGrasse Tyson

“Some of the greatest poetry is revealing to the reader the beauty in something that was so simple you had taken it for granted.”
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American Art – Part VII of VII: John Folsom

Artist Statement: “My practice is concerned with constructing the ideal landscape, a representation of land that is both alluring and fictional. These environments have been termed “post-sublime” having both a sense of glory and irony. The panels function as giant billboards heralding a far away destination encouraging viewers to explore the natural world Sometimes the area photographed is relatively pristine and other times is under threat from onset erosion due to man made development. Viewers with a sense of yearning and romanticism move the images beyond their specific geography to a place born of personal memory. This has happened on a few occasions where an image taken at a certain place is moved by the mind of the viewer to someplace closer to home. By this measure these images do not exist in the real world but are dependant upon the viewers’ definition to achieve their sense of place. “

Below – “Fixed Focus I”; “Sundance Lost I”; “Excavate II (Whitemans Pond)”; “Frozen Bow”; “Creeper Lagoon #16”; “How to Disappear Completely IV”; “How to Disappear Completely VII”; “Billboard Atlantic II”; “Shaker Tree – 2012”; “Billboard IV.”
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