May Offerings – Part VII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of IV: Natasha Bowdoin

Natasha Bowdoin earned a BA from Brandeis University, an MA Double Major in Painting and Classics (Magna Cum Laude), and an MFA from the Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, PA and Rome, Italy (honors).

Below – “Paper Tiger”; “I Am Full of My Grace”; “Octopus Words”; “An Ocean Somewhere”; “Water Fable.”
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The Pulitzer Prize – Part I of III: Thornton Wilder

7 May 1928 – The Pulitzer Prize is awarded to Thornton Wilder for “The Bridge of San Luis Rey.”

“There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.” – From “The Bridge of San Luis Rey”
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From the Music Archives – Part I of IV: Ludwig van Beethoven

7 May 1824 – Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony premieres in Vienna. Michael Umlauf was the conductor, with Beethoven acting as his supervisor.

A Poem for Today

“Song for Baby-O, Unborn”
By Diane Di Prima

Sweetheart
when you break thru
you’ll find
a poet here
not quite what one would choose.

I won’t promise
you’ll never go hungry
or that you won’t be sad
on this gutted
breaking
globe

but I can show you
baby
enough to love
to break your heart
forever
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Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“A scientist places an ad in a Paris newspaper offering a free horoscope. He receives about 150 replies, each, as requested, detailing a place and time of birth. Every respondent is then sent the identical horoscope, along with a questionnaire asking how accurate the horoscope had been. Ninety-four per cent of the respondents (and 90 per cent of their families and friends) reply that they were at least recognizable in the horoscope. However, the horoscope was drawn up for a French serial killer. If an astrologer can get this far without even meeting his subjects, think how well someone sensitive to human nuances and not overly scrupulous might do.”
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Canadian Art – Part I of II: Tara Juneau

Artist Statement: “Art is my passion in life. Through painting I try to express the power that light and beauty have on my soul. I am always striving to know more – not only how to paint but also learning about what I paint. There is beauty and natural order in everything and I hope that through my work I can reveal that truth to others.”
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The Pulitzer Prize – Part II of III: Eudora Welty

7 May 1973 – The Pulitzer Prize is awarded to Eudora Welty for “The Optimist’s Daughter.”

“And perhaps it didn’t matter to them, not always, what they read aloud; it was the breath of life flowing between them, and the words of the moment riding on it that held them in delight. Between some two people every word is beautiful, or might as well be beautiful.” – From “The Optimist’s Daughter”
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Canadian Art – Part II of II: Joanne Tod

Artist Statement: “In realist painting, quality is assessed by the degree to which a depicted image resembles the model. This tradition is fundamental to the discipline of drawing. It is also a habit that has resulted in a deeply rooted consensus regarding what constitutes quality. Realism is a genre that conflates quality with accuracy, implying an absolute standard to which the work is held.
Yet paradoxically, when it comes to realist painting, the innocent pleasure associated with suspension-of-disbelief and the sensation of being-there, is just as firmly established in our collective consciousness. The notion of images having phenomenological attraction based on the seductive quality of illusory space is compelling.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Neil deGrasse Tyson

“If the whole world shared such experiences, we would then have common dreams and everybody could begin thinking about tomorrow. And if everybody thinks about tomorrow, then someday we can visit the sky together.”
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The Pulitzer Prize – Part III of III: Robert Lowell

7 May 1974 – The Pulitzer Prize for Poetry is awarded to Robert Lowell for “The Dolphin.”

“Dolphin”

My Dolphin, you only guide me by surprise,

a captive as Racine, the man of craft,

drawn through his maze of iron composition

by the incomparable wandering voice of Phèdre.

When I was troubled in mind, you made for my body

caught in its hangman’s-knot of sinking lines,

the glassy bowing and scraping of my will. . . .

I have sat and listened to too many

words of the collaborating muse,

and plotted perhaps too freely with my life,

not avoiding injury to others,

not avoiding injury to myself–

to ask compassion . . . this book, half fiction, 

an eelnet made by man for the eel fighting 



my eyes have seen what my hand did.
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From the Music Archives – Part II of IV: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

“I sit down to the piano regularly at nine-o’clock in the morning and Mesdames les Muses have learned to be on time for that rendezvous.” – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Russian composer, who was born 7 May 1840.

Fancies in Springtime: Robert M. Pirsig

“You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it’s going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.”
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German Art – Part I of II: Caspar David Friedrich

Died 7 May 1840 – Caspar David Friedrich, a German Romantic landscape painter and one of the most important and influential artists of his day. In the words of one historian, “He is best known for his mid-period allegorical landscapes which typically feature contemplative figures silhouetted against night skies, morning mists, barren trees or Gothic ruins. His primary interest as an artist was the contemplation of nature, and his often symbolic and anti-classical work seeks to convey a subjective, emotional response to the natural world. Friedrich’s paintings characteristically set a human presence in diminished perspective amid expansive landscapes, reducing the figures to a scale that, according to the art historian Christopher John Murray, directs ‘the viewer’s gaze towards their metaphysical dimension.’”

Below – “Wanderer above the Sea of Fog”; “Chalk Cliffs on Rugen”; “The Abbey in the Oakwood”; “The Sea of Ice”; “Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon”; “Memories of the Giant Mountains”; “Seashore by Moonlight.”
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7 May 1718 – The Founding of New Orleans

In the words of one historian, “La Nouvelle-Orléans (New Orleans) was founded May 7, 1718, by the French Mississippi Company, under the direction of Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, on land inhabited by the Chitimacha. It was named for Philippe d’Orléans, Duke of Orléans, who was Regent of the Kingdom of France at the time. His title came from the French city of Orléans.”

Below – Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville; The Big Easy at twilight.
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German Art – Part II of II: Kurt Mair

German painter Kurt Mair (born 1954) lives and works in Avigliana, Italy.
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Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan

“The total amount of energy from outside the solar system ever received by all the radio telescopes on the planet Earth is less than the energy of a single snowflake striking the ground.”
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A Second Poem for Today

“Elegy for an Old Boxer”
By James McKean

From my window
I watch the roots of a willow
push your house crooked,
women rummage through boxes,
your sons cart away the TV, its cord
trailing like your useless arms.
Only weeks ago we watched the heavyweights,
and between rounds you pummeled the air,
drank whiskey, admonished “Know your competition!”
You did, Kansas, the ‘20s
when you measured the town champ
as he danced the same dance over and over:
left foot, right lead, head down,
the move you’d dreamt about for days.
Then right on cue your hay-bale uppercut
compressed his spine. You know. That was that.
Now your mail piles up, RESIDENT circled
“not here.” Your lawn goes to seed. Dandelions
burst in the wind. From my window
I see you flat on your back on some canvas,
above you a wrinkled face, its clippy bow tie
bobbing toward ten. There’s someone behind you,
resting easy against the ropes,
a last minute substitute on the card you knew
so well, vaguely familiar, taken for granted,
with a sucker punch you don’t remember
ever having seen.
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From the Music Archives – Part III of IV: Glenn Miller

7 May 1941 – Glenn Miller records “Chattanooga Choo Choo” on RCA Victor’s Bluebird label, and by the following February it had become the first certified gold label, with sales of 1,200,000.

7 May 1763 – Pontiac’s War begins when Pontiac attempts to seize Fort Detroit from the British. In the words of one historian, “Pontiac’s War, Pontiac’s Conspiracy, or Pontiac’s Rebellion was a war that was launched in 1763 by a loose confederation of elements of Native American tribes primarily from the Great Lakes region, the Illinois Country, and Ohio Country who were dissatisfied with British postwar policies in the Great Lakes region after the British victory in the French and Indian War (1754–1763). Warriors from numerous tribes joined the uprising in an effort to drive British soldiers and settlers out of the region. The war is named after the Ottawa leader Pontiac, the most prominent of many native leaders in the conflict.”

Below – Artistic interpretation of Chief Pontiac painted by John Mix Stanley (1814-1872); In a famous council on April 28, 1763, Pontiac urged listeners to rise up against the British. (19th-century engraving by Alfred Bobbet).
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Fancies in Springtime: Douglas Woolf

“So they drove again, Vivien sitting up and looking now, but as navigator only, letting the desert scratch its own thorny poetry on the enormous moon.”
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Here is one critic describing the artistry of Romanian painter Dan Voinea: “A momentary rise of reason constitutes a deliberated exercise in sanity and the absurd in the realm of the surreal. By means of basic, sparse compositions and frugal coloring, the artworks depict every-day stereotypes in which the strange detail contaminates the apparent reality with the absurd. The logic commands a reading from right to left, while the suggested substance of the story is no longer the foundation of the whole, but merely a guilty last brush- stroke, the author’s unconditioned reflex.
Time is suspended, the characters are ageless, the backdrop minimal. Light itself hesitates between flooding the overexposed frame or whimsically set itself upon the shapes. The imperfectly square frames gather the characters into the center of a setting described more out of weakness for the real than for stylistic reasons.”
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Art Theft – Part I of II: Vermeer

7 May 1974 – The stolen painting “Guitar Player,” by Jan Vermeer, is recovered in London after having been missing for nearly three months.
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From the Music Archives – Part IV of IV: The Mamas and the Papas

7 May 1966 – The Mamas and the Papas’ song “Monday Monday” reaches number one on American popular music charts.

A Third Poem for Today

“Work Shy”
By Alex Phillips

To be poor and raise skinny children.
To own nothing but skinny clothing.
Skinny food falls in between cracks.
Friends cannot visit your skinny home.
They cannot fit through the door.
Your skinny thoughts evaporate into
the day or the night that you cannot
see with your tiny eyes.

God sticks you with the smallest pins
and your blood, the red is diluted.
Imagine a tiny hole, the other side
of which is a fat world and how
lost you would feel. Of course,
I’m speaking to myself.
How lost I would feel, and how dangerous.
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Art Theft – Part II of II: Munch

7 May 1994 – The stolen painting “The Scream,” by Edvard Munch, is recovered in Norway after having been missing for three months.
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7 May 1915 – German submarine U-20 sinks RMS Lusitania, killing 1,198 people, including 128 Americans. In the words of one historian, “The sinking turned public opinion in many countries against Germany, contributed to the American entry into World War I and became an iconic symbol in military recruiting campaigns of why the war was being fought.”
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American Art – Part II of IV: Erika Craig

Artist Statement: “I paint figures underwater, immersing my subjects in their surroundings. A person’s reflection in water is a constantly changing self, a distorted image with many sides. Near the surface, the familiar blends into the unknown. Color and shape break down. Things that seem separate become entwined.
Water is the source of life, bodily and spiritual renewal. It represents both life and death, existing in the same place as a continuation. It is the place of origins, and a place inside ourselves where we go to find peace. Making up most of the Earth and most of our bodies, it is the connectedness of things.
I occupy the world below the surface, the subconscious, a place of intuition and dreams. The vague ideas and emotions that don’t quite fit into words. I marvel at the world above the surface, past the limits of our perception. The unseen and unexplained, mysteries beyond our human reach. Reality is deep and complex. The more we delve and search, the more astounding layers we find. Yet in supreme chaos I see universal order. From galaxies to subatomic particles, the curve of a leaf and the human brain.
I prefer the organic to the mechanized, natural to manmade, timeless to modern. In nature, I see the essence of truth and beauty. As people disconnect from nature, they lose a vital understanding. We become preoccupied with the mundane, obsessed with tiny details of our daily lives, restless and struggling for meaning. Forgetting how small we are and how little we control. How strange it is to even exist.”
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“The general consensus seems to be that I don’t act at all.” – Gary Cooper, American actor, who was born 7 May 1901.

Despite the “general consensus,” Gary Cooper won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in “High Noon.”

Fancies in Springtime: Mehmet Murat Ildan

“In the empire of desert, water is the king and shadow is the queen.”
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Russian painter Evgeny Kuznetsov is one of the founders of the International Community of Artists “Solar Square.”
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“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” – Robert Browning, English poet and dramatist best known for his mastery of dramatic monologues, who was born 7 May 1812.

“Home-Thoughts, from Abroad”

Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray’s edge—
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
—Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!
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Fancies in Springtime: Robert M. Pirsig

“I hope later she will see and feel a thing about these prairies I have given up talking to others about; a thing that exists here because everything else does not and can be noticed because other things are absent.”
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The paintings of Italian artist Giovanni Marziano (born 1949) can be found in private collections around the world.
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A Fourth Poem for Today

“Early in the Morning”
By Li-Young Lee

While the long grain is softening
in the water, gurgling
over a low stove flame, before
the salted Winter Vegetable is sliced
for breakfast, before the birds,
my mother glides an ivory comb
through her hair, heavy
and black as calligrapher’s ink.

She sits at the foot of the bed.
My father watches, listens for
the music of comb
against hair.

My mother combs,
pulls her hair back
tight, rolls it
around two fingers, pins it
in a bun to the back of her head.
For half a hundred years she has done this.
My father likes to see it like this.
He says it is kempt.

But I know
it is because of the way
my mother’s hair falls
when he pulls the pins out.
Easily, like the curtains
when they untie them in the evening.
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American Art – Part III of IV: Warren Chang

Artist Statement: “My primary goal in painting the figure in interior is to capture an ambiance of mood and emotion through manipulation of light and space. I accomplish this working with a limited palette with emphasis on grays and browns along with the observation of close value relationships.
Much of my interior subjects are biographical in nature depicting my studio and classroom environment. I find an artist’s environment to be rich in character, including the people who inhabit the environment- the artists and models.”
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Fancies in Springtime: Robert M. Pirsig

“This forest silence improves anyone.”
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7 May 1986 – Canadian photographer and mountaineer Patrick Morrow becomes the first person to climb each of the Seven Summits – the highest peaks of all seven continents: Mount McKinley in North America (1977), Aconcagua (22,837 ft) in South America (1981), Mount Everest (29,029 ft) in Asia (1982), Elbrus (18,510 ft) in Europe (1983), Mount Kilimanjaro (19,341 ft) in Africa (1983), Vinson Massif (16,050 ft) in Antarctica (1985), and Puncak Jaya (16,024 ft) in Indonesia (1986).

Below – Patrick Morrow; Mount McKinley (more commonly known as Denali); Aconcagua; Mount Everest (Chomolungma); Elbrus; Mount Kilimanjaro; Vinson Massif; Puncak Jaya.
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Fancies in Springtime: Neil deGrasse Tyson

“Yes, the universe had a beginning. Yes, the universe continues to evolve. And yes, every one of our body’s atoms is traceable to the big bang and to the thermonuclear furnaces within high-mass stars. We are not simply in the universe, we are part of it. We are born from it. One might even say that the universe has empowered us, here in our small corner of the cosmos, to figure itself out. And we have only just begun.”
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Back from the Territory – Art: Nathalie Parenteau (Part V)

In the words of one writer, “When asked how her images take form, Northern artist Nathalie Parenteau promptly replies: ‘They take shape on their own. I just scratch the canvas with the paint brush and there they are.’ Or so it seems.”
Nathalie Parenteau lives and works in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.

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

Below – “Narwhal”; “Night Dive”; “Northern Lights”; “Outhouse”; “Ptarmigans”; “Raven Mother”; “Reaching High”; “Red Caribou”; “Red Fox.”
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A Fifth Poem for Today

“Moss”
By Bruce Guernsey

How must it be
to be moss,
that slipcover of rocks?—
imagine,

greening in the dark,
longing for north,
the silence
of birds gone south.

How does moss do it,
all day
in a dank place
and never a cough?—

a wet dust
where light fails,
where the chisel
cut the name.
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Fancies in Springtime: Robert M. 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. Some travel into the mountains accompanied by experienced guides who know the best and least dangerous routes by which they arrive at their destination. Still others, inexperienced and untrusting, attempt to make their own routes. Few of these are successful, but occasionally some, by sheer will and luck and grace, do make it. Once there they become more aware than any of the others that there’s no single or fixed number of routes. There are as many routes as there are individual souls.”
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American Art – Part IV of IV: Eric Zener

Artist Stat6ement: “The subjects in my paintings are voyagers and seekers of truth. Often alone or in a dream, they vulnerably explore their inner self and their quest for meaning.
Although I am cautious to ‘explain’ the meaning or purpose behind my work, as I believe that ‘meaning is in the eye of the beholder’, I will say that most of my work is an observation of the human condition of modern man and woman. Orphaned from the sanctuary of childhood we are faced with life’s challenges and the consequences of our choices. I use our relationship with water, nature and each other as a metaphor for personal transformation, refuge and renewal.
The quiet landscape of a body of water or a beckoning field provides both a literal and psychological place of discovery and confession; or simply a metaphoric snapshot for an ideal state of being.
The lone figure immersed in water illustrates the constant force and changing tides in our lives. Above the surface we may appear to be together and unaffected, however below the surface, subconsciously, we are in a constant state of transformation and illumination. It is my intention that the journey is hopeful and the ending enlightening.”

Below – “Spring”; “Breaking the Surface Tension”; “Summer Arch”; “Blue Voyager”; “Going Even Deeper”; “Melting Into”; “Returning.”
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